The art behind all the drama
by Roberto Friedman
Inspired by the world premiere of Bauer by Bay Area playwright Lauren Gunderson that opened at San Francisco Playhouse last weekend (reviewed in this week's issue), Out There visited the Weinstein Gallery on Geary St. in Union Square to take in The Realm of the Spirit, a Rudolf Bauer retrospective spanning five decades of his oil paintings and works on paper. He lived from 1889 until 1953.
The gallery's executive director Kendy Genovese gave us an in-depth tour of the exhibit, which covers Bauer's career from his earliest drawings and magazine illustrations through his breakthrough in "non-objective painting," his term for abstract art as one of its earliest practitioners. Originally championed by the captain of industry/art collector Solomon R. Guggenheim , Bauer's art formed the centerpiece of Guggenheim's first museum. But drama and scandal followed art-world success – now we know all the juicy details – and in 1952, his work was banished to the basement of the Guggenheim Museum. Bauer's place in art history was effectively erased. The play explores the arc of this true and tragic story.
Viewers to the gallery will be surprised, as we were, to find the extent of Bauer's early representational work, as well as his forays into styles associated with Futurism and Cubism. Audiences of the theatrical work will hear the whole sordid story of why this early adapter abandoned his art practice. In both places, art meets the messy business of life.
On the block
Last weekend auction house Premiere Props sold off a collection of 34 newly uncovered photos of James Dean , along with their negatives, at their headquarters in El Segundo, CA. The photographs were taken by Gus Vignolle , photojournalist for Sports Illustrated. Vignolle covered Dean when the movie star raced in a new Porsche Speedster for the first time, in Palm Springs in March 1955. Vignolle also published the sports-car newspaper MotoRacing in October 1955, which included some of these photos in a four-part series. The negatives had been missing for over 50 years when Vignolle's daughter Zaz Vignolle Clark uncovered them while sorting through her father's effects. Vignolle had met Dean at the actor's first auto race, and Dean raced only two more times before the fatal accident in his new 550 Porsche Spyder on his way to a race in Salinas, CA. He lived fast, died young.
In addition to these photos, Premiere Props auctioned over 1,000 movie and TV props, costumes and rare classic posters, including the curtains that adorned the windows and doorways in Tara in Gone With the Wind – some were subsequently used by Scarlett (Vivien Leigh) to create her famous "Curtain Dress"; Ingrid Bergman 's custom dress form and stand used at Selznick's Studios during the 1940s, when David O. Selznick put her under contract; a Roman Army shield from Cleopatra; a gorilla horse soldier head from Planet of the Apes; strands of James Dean's hair obtained by Gordon Bau, the make-up supervisor on Giant; strands of Elvis Presley's hair kept by Presley's hairstylist and barber, Homer M. Gilleland; and strands of Marilyn Monroe's hair found by make-up artist Sydney Guilaroff on the set of the ill-fated, unfinished feature Something's Got To Give. We don't know about you, but we think it's kind of creepy that make-up and hair people were saving the stars' clippings in order to cash in on them later. But that's Hollywood!
Thanks are due to the Hyatt Regency Monterey for inviting Out There and Pepi down the coast for a two-night stay on the Monterey Peninsula last week. While OT is quite the city mouse, we find it's a necessary restorative to get out of the metropolitan area every now and again to gain some perspective. As Northern California is truly one of the most beautiful places on earth, it's easy enough to take off and visit somewhere great. The Monterey-Carmel-Big Sur area is only two hours away by fast car, and by that we mean a car that Pepi is driving.
We stayed in a room with a king-size bed and a balcony overlooking the golf course, so we came to recognize the metallic ping when a golf club hits a new, porcelain-sounding golf ball. We saw the latest thing in golf bags, which provide their own locomotion by remote control. We had a luxurious dinner at TusCA Ristorante, treated to a tasting menu devised by the charming Chef Mike Behan . And we lunched at Knuckles Sports Bar, where we considered asking management to switch the channel on our in-booth TV from all-sports, all-the-time to Russia Today. A great sojourn; we were in good hands thanks to the hotel's Julie Sherman, Joelle Morris, David Lambert and Joe Manuguerra .
Also last week, The Epiphany Hotel , the new Joie de Vivre Hotel on Hamilton Ave. in Palo Alto, invited us to a media preview dinner at its restaurant Lure + Till. The indoor-outdoor restaurant's innovative Northern Californian cuisine is prepared by Executive Chef Patrick Kelly, formerly of Gitane and Angele. The sneak peek highlighted Lure + Till's craft cocktail program, house-made tonics and sodas, and experimental offerings, including barrel-aged Negronis. We sampled bar manager Carlos Yturria's excellent P.D. (Smirnoff vodka, rhubarb and lemon), Peninsula Punch (Kappa Pisco, lemon and pineapple), and Bright Idea (La Vida Mezcal, prickly pear, lemon agave nectar and absinthe). The repast included raw Hamachi and Alaskan halibut; Black Chitarra pasta and lobster; tagliarini, hen jus, slow-cooked egg and turnip; Black Kingfish with black trumpet mushrooms, Meyer lemon confit, cauliflower puree and treviso; and New York Strip, braised oxtail, whipped bone marrow, broccoli raab, and potato croquette. An excellent feast all around.
In the men's room, one urinal is emblazoned with the UC Berkeley logo, there for the peeing pleasure of the Stanford community. A proud alumnus, we took good aim.