January 7, 2011
CRIME SCENES: Photographer Angela Strassheim, whose first major solo museum exhibition was mounted at the Monterey Museum of Art, has recently been named winner of the Women in Photography Lightside Individual Project Grant for her unusual explorations of the world of forensic evidence in a project she calls “Evidence.” No, she’s not freelancing for the C.S.I. franchise – but she is fascinated by the emotional and aesthetic underpinnings of the world of crime. For the experiment, she visited more than 140 crime scenes, often talking her way inside to homes whose occupants were unaware of their grisly history. “The crime scene is presented on two levels; it is both an accurate, tragic, and dramatic transcription of the event and a mysterious backdrop onto which one can project their imagination,’’ Strassheim writes in her blog about the project. www.wipnyc.org/blog/angela-strassheim
“Perhaps we have all processed a question in certain love relationships: Could we be a victim of violence or perform an act of violence against a loved one out of our immense capacity to feel jealousy or desperation in a moment of extreme desperation? These photographs allow for the viewer to entertain the idea that this situation could involve any of us…The crime scene is presented on two levels; it is both an accurate, tragic and dramatic transcription of the event and a mysterious backdrop onto which we can project their imagination.”
For those in the mood for less potentially spooky forms of entertainment, MMA’s free Art After Hours series promoting art, music, food – and networking - continues on the third Thursday of every month. 2011’s debut event, which features jazz flutist Kenny Stahl, takes place from 5-7pm, Thursday, Jan. 20. Information: www.montereyart.org/category/events/ or 372-5477.
THE ADAMS FAMILY: In other art news, the controversy over the provenance of a “missing” series of photographs allegedly by the late master Ansel Adams continues to rage. The dispute was ranked third in the year-end list of “Top 10 local (and not-so-local) arts and culture stories’’ by Reyhan Harmanci and Jeanne Carstensen of Bay Citizen.org, the Bay Area-based website which also features regular contributions to the New York Times.
As they put it: “…the announcement by a Fresno man that he had proved that 65 glass plate negatives bought at a garage sale 10 years ago were the work of Ansel Adams rocked the photo world. The appraiser, who turned out to be a convicted felon with limited art experience, put the worth at $200 million. Within a few days, though, an 87-year-old Oakland woman came forward with an alternate theory: that her uncle, Earl Brooks, was the real photography.” Along with the alleged Pebble Beach art “heist,” this is one story that could keep the legal profession well-heeled for years. The Fresno man, Rick Norsigian, has since counter-sued the Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust for “slander,” alleging they said mean things about him.
LOCAL ANGLES: As Jerry Brown headed to the Governor’s office again, he lived up to at least part of what green supporters had hoped for, naming veteran Santa Cruz legislator John Laird as his new Secretary of Natural Resources. Laird had fought a valiant, but quixotic campaign for the state senate seat vacated by former Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado, ultimately succumbing to Sam Blakeslee in a district that had been designed long ago in a fashion unfriendly to liberal Democrats. Brown has a long history of favoring bomb throwers (although one suspects Laird would prefer a different term) to the position, appointing ardent environmentalist Huey Johnson to serve as his Secretary of Resources from 1976 to 1982. Johnson pushed for solar and wind farms, growing chemical-free food and embarking on a politically difficult, but successful campaign to save California’s Wild Rivers. All of this marks a sharp contrast to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s cockamamie plan for expensive and potentially wasteful new water projects. Laird is less flamboyant than the famously contentious Johnson, but equally committed. You can’t keep a good man down.
Even the real estate in the “new’’ Sacramento has local connections. Brown famously refused to live in the Governor’s mansion when he first got elected, preferring a bachelor’s apartment (and a 1974 Plymouth from the state car pool instead of an official limousine.) Now that he’s married to former Gap attorney Ann Gust Brown, he briefly considered moving into the mansion for nostalgic reasons, but his bride put her foot down—and the couple rented an appropriately hip loft in downtown Sacramento.
In a curious quirk of fate, the former governor’s mansion, which has been unoccupied since 1967, when Ronald and Nancy Reagan left it after three months, calling it a “firetrap,” has local roots, at least of a sort. As Romney Steele explains in her 2009 memoir, Nepenthe—Bohemian Tales of Food, Family, And Big Sur, her grandmother, the painter Jane Gallatin Powers, was the daughter of Albert Gallatin, “a successful businessman who built for his family what is now the historic California Governor’s Mansion in Sacramento, where Jane grew up from the age of nine…Jane’s son, Gallatin Powers, my grandmother’s uncle, later returned to Carmel and opened two fabled restaurants, the Crocodile’s Tail at Bixby Bridge and Gallatin’s Restaurant in the historic Stokes Adobe in old Monterey…”
Here’s to better days in the New Year, and more prosperity throughout. Tips for this blog are welcome, as always, at email@example.com.