Pan American Unity Mural, Diego Rivera at City College of San Francisco

April 11, 2014

Yesterday a trip to San Francisco to deliver my art to a show at CCSF  lead to viewing Diego Rivera’s Pan American Unity Mural for the first time. It knocked my socks off…and I still can’t find them!

You may feel a desire to click on images to see them enlarged.  Indulge yourself!

section of Pan American Unity Mural by Diego Rivera

Section of Pan American Unity Mural by Diego Rivera



Helen Crlenkovich, graceful diver from CCSF


Central motif of Diego Rivera's mural at CCSF

Coatlicue, Central motif of Diego Rivera’s mural at CCSF

Coatlicue is the central unifying image of the mural.  She is divided in half, flesh and stone sculpture on the left (South) side, and industrial steel on the right (North).  I have to keep reminding myself that Rivera thought of the industry of the North as something good.  He could not know the peril that the oil wells and the deforested redwoods – which he so lovingly depicts – would bring us to.

The title of this work – translated – is “The Marriage of the Artistic Expression of the North and of the South on this Continent”.  It is curious that the shape of Coatlicue’s nipple is repeated in the nightmarish panel showing part of the North’s contribution to this marriage.

Section of Diego Rivera's mural at CCSF

Hitler, Stalin, Lenin, Charlie Chaplin

At the tip of the soldier’s outreached fingers, it looks like the tip of a bomb.  Coatlicue is the Mexican mother goddess, holder of life, death, and rebirth.  It is appropriate that the light/dark of the South be repeated with light/dark in the North.  Oh, but such a darkness!

Frida Kahlo in Diego Rivera's mural at CCSF

Frida Kahlo in Diego Rivera’s mural at CCSF

At the foot of Coatlicue, Rivera painted Frida Kahlo who being from the South with Roots in the North becomes the compositional hinge, the human marriage of the North and South. (Frida and Diego were re-married in San Francisco City Hall around the time of this painting.)


This composite is borrowed gratefully from

Rivera painted the Pan American Unity Mural on 10 steel framed panels during the Golden Gate International Exposition on Treasure Island in 1940.  It measures 74ft wide and 22ft high.  It was intended for the new library at CCSF, but then World War 2 began, and funding for the library stopped.  The monumental mural was kept in storage until 1961;  then it was installed in the foyer of the new theater at CCSF.  The only negative thing to say about the mural is that it does not command the kind of space it needs to be seen comprehensively.

But, OH!, the color, and the masterful visual organization of the narrative!  Don’t miss this one.

City College of San Francisco
50 Phelan Avenue, San Francisco, CA. 94112
(415) 239-3000

Monday, 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Tuesday, 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Wednesday, 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM
Thursday, 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Friday, 10:00 AM – 3:30 PM

The Diego Rivera Mural will be closed during school holidays.


Open to the public and free of charge.
Donations greatly appreciated.


Viewing Hours: 415 / 452-5313
Directions: 415 / 452-5550
Purchase Posters: 415 / 452-5210

The Bus

March 29, 2014

thebusSome of you may wonder where I have been, and what I have been up to for the past several weeks.

Well, here’s a short video I made about a bus ride.  It’s for anyone who has ever been in a place (physical, spiritual, professional….) where they would rather not be.

I made the “music” on a “keyboard” on an iPad, then transferred the sound to Garage Band.  I then edited the whole mess in Premiere.

You can see “The Bus” here.  (1 minute, 50 seconds)

Pop corn optional.

Artist Books in the Digital Age

February 23, 2014

Just in case you are in the northern San Francisco Bay Area on Sunday, March 23, 2 – 4PM, check this out:

artist book by Jan Dove

Jan shows and tells at the McCune Collection.

There is a rare book and print treasury at the JFK Library in Vallejo called the McCune Collection.  Jan has been invited to lecture for about an hour in the McCune room on currents in the contemporary Artist Book making world.  She will show examples of some of her favorite contemporaries and then talk about some of her books which will be installed in the room. Q&A to follow.

It’s easy to find the library.  To find the McCune Room you must go around to the back parking lot.

You can enlarge this map by clicking on it.

map to McCune Room

Go around to the back parking lot.

The McCune Room is located on the lower level of
the John F. Kennedy Library
505 Santa Clara St.
Vallejo, CA 94590

Trip to Oakland, ProArts

February 13, 2014

Granted, this is really not a “road” trip for us, but for someone living in Denver it could be….

After months of a dehydrated rainy season, we finally got some rain.  Oola and I are waterproof, so umbrellas in hands we headed out to an Opening Reception for a show at ProArts Gallery, in Civic Center, downtown Oakland.  Works in this show were chosen by peer review — a novel premise for a show and an instructive process.  We were not disappointed with the results.  There were so many great pieces it was hard to choose what to write about.

I was happy to find my artist book “Wave” displayed in a generous space to its best advantage –

artist book, "Wave"

“Wave” in good company

and in the best of company.

I was completely smitten by Michael Koehle’s “Sink”.  It has the translucent depth of layers and layers of wax.  I’m not sure how it was done, but the drawing (pigment print) seemed to float somewhere in the middle of those layers. Poetic merging of content and medium.  Exquisite linear quality.  Love it!

"Sink", print on wax surface

“Sink” by Michael Koehle

Nearby are two paintings by Bernadette Jiyong Frank.   At first they only whispered to me.

Paintings by Bernadette Jiyong Frank

Spaces in Between (Glacier Blue) and Untitled (Red)

Then, on the second go-round — all forty layers of nearly transparent paint sucked me in.  A memory of listening to Mozart intensely and hearing (for the first time) the silence between the notes, the minute space between the end of one sound and the beginning of the next sound — that memory jumped to mind.  Later Bernadette told me about the Japanese concept of “Ma” which is about the spaces in between — in time, in space.  Something like what artists call negative space, which is not negative at all, but can be considered to be the form between the forms, or that which gives the forms their shape.  Exceptional work!

All the way on the other side of the gallery is a pair of embroidered silk hangings by Tali Weinberg.  She tells us that the strong text is from her conversations with Bay Area women — artists, activists, and scholars.  The strength, directness and weight of the stitching underlines the intensity of the verbal sentiments.

These complex works really need to be seen with light coming through them.  The strands of red on the back, strangely compelling and reminiscent of dripping blood, are as strong as the words on the front.

Light as a breeze through drying laundry, heavy as a dying social construct.

One more — though there are so many good ones!  Dear to my heart are the folded elephant-hide paper constructions of Goran Konjevod.

Folded paper constructions by Gordon Konjevod

Folded paper constructions by Goron Konjevod

I asked him if he had thoughts of making larger constructions.  The problem is finding the paper strong enough to resist the force of gravity.  “Perhaps in Bronze”, Oola said.  “Maybe”, said Goron.  He’s working on the “how” of it now.

I felt proud to be included in this collection from Bay Area artists.  The artists will be talking about and taking questions about their work on Saturday Feb. 15th, starting at 2PM in the gallery.  The show is up through Feb. 21.

You can visit Bernadette Jiyong Frank’s blog to see unobstructed views of more work in the show.

ProArts Gallery
150 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza,
Oakland, CA  (Close to 12th St. BART station)

www.proartsgallery.org510 763 4361

Gallery hours: Tuesday through Friday, 10AM to 5PM, and Saturdays 11AM to 4PM.

Open Road

January 7, 2014

There are times when one must accept that one is not going to go on a road trip — of the physical type, anyway — for a while.  That is when a trip by poetry can provide what is needed.  I went back to Leaves of Grass by Walt Witman and was once again adrenalized by the exuberance and abundance of his spirit.  I had this little set of linoleum print scraps sitting on the back burner of the studio, and I discovered that his “Song of the Open Road” felt perfect for these images.

Click on any image to view an enlargement.

San Francisco Center for the Book

December 23, 2013

Oola walks to the San Francisco Center for the Book

Click on any image to see an enlargement.

Here we are in San Francisco, looking north to the financial district.  Oola is crossing Rhode Island St. at 17th, and the San Francisco Center for the Book is on the right.

The SF Center for the Book is an extraordinary resource for artists and book lovers, a mecca for LetterPress aficionados.

Oola and I enter the large, airy main room with the high ceiling, clean tables, and 6 Vandercook presses.  Memories of art school flood into my brain, but not into Oola’s because all that was before her time.  But I digress.

In this tale it is early in the day.  The place is so quiet, so pristine, so serene that the posted rules — even the signs that in an art school would usually say “Your mother doesn’t work here. Clean up your own mess” — These signs look like broadsheets.

clean up

Clean up Manifesto

Only one artist is printing,

Terry Horrigan has been a printer for 30 years.  She said she once had her own press, but sold it and now she works at SFCB.  You can see broadsides and books from her Protean Press publications at  

Oola discovers that there are more treasures: a bindery and platen presses and more drawers of metal type.  She wants to start taking classes here.

On the north wall of the main room is an exhibition space and a show that is the reason I made this trip to SF. “Uncommon Threads” contains work by two artist whose work redefines “book”. Brought together by Curator Donna Seager — a champion of the artist book and partner in the Seager Gray Gallery in Mill Valley — these two artists’ work are connected on many levels.  The most noticeable is the involvement with re-purposed books and the use of thread.  In their work I find that I am drawn by those threads backwards through years and space to a place with a palpable sense of personal history, the mystery of an individual’s existence on this planet, the ancestor roots, the riddle of existence in a given place – then and now, specific and universal.

Jody Alexander‘s pieces have a meditative lyricism.  Look long enough and you will find yourself totally absorbed.

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Lisa Kokin’s work parallels that plus a sense of environmental/social urgency and a wicked sense of humor.

repurposed books

“Fauxliage, No Birds Sing”

repurposed book

“Fauxliage, No Birds Sing” detail

In the detail shot of “Fauxliage” you can see that the leaves have pieces of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring stitched into them.

altered books

“Panacea Pizpireta”

Lisa has this thing about self-help books.  This don’t-worry-be-happy piece, stitched together from the spines of self-help books, is “bound” to assist with personal difficulties!

Both Jody and Lisa have huge bodies of work.  Both are fascinating and challenging.  Check them out.

But Wait, There’s More.  In a gallery behind this exhibit Oola found the work of Barbara Alexandra Szerlip in “A Visit to Mad Geppetto’s Workshop”.  Barbara is a writer who also makes book sculptures.  Intriguing, Informed, Acerbic.  Don’t miss her.

repurposed book


On the Knowledge side is a torn up book; on the Power side, shredded U.S. currency.

artist book/sculpture


Those “teeth” are 1950′s vintage hamburger sleeves.

A book is a way to transfer knowledge and experience and story.  What is the shape of a book?  In the hands of an artist, who can tell?

These are compelling artists in an amazing setting.  If you are in the SF Bay Area, don’t miss any of it.  The shows are up until February 1, 2014.

San Francisco Center for the Book
375 Rhode Island Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 565-0545

Be well.

Trip to Sausalito

November 7, 2013

This weekend Oola and I took a ride over to Sausalito to the Opening Reception for “Big is Beautiful”.  This is a show of large work sponsored by Art Contemporary Marin in the BIG building that houses the Bay Model Visitor’s Center.

The Bay Model building foyer

The Bay Model building foyer

This trip turned into a twofer, the first being the show in the foyer of this building.  The photo above shows about half of the show, an eclectic array of work from the Bay Area where I found both kindred spirits and new ideas to mull over.

large art scroll


This was my piece in the show, a page from my Homeless Furniture artist book.  The linear elements and accompanying elements were drawn directly into the computer and the digital photographs added in Photoshop.  All is digitally printed on Japanese paper and hand finished.

Close by is a work by Jeannie O’Connor, “Ettie Street”.

" Ettie Street "

” Ettie Street “, painted film over chalk pastel, 36″ x 34″

Jeanne has a special way of working with intensity of light by printing on transparent and translucent film.  In this piece she painted on the back of the print.  The effect really can’t be seen in a reproduction. But up close and personal, this work tugged at my vital organs with it’s sense of intense compression (as if I had landed between the two sides of the film).  Strong sense of more-here-than-meets-the-eye.

Another work that stopped me in my tracks is John Brendan Williams’s “Dowski in WTF Land”.  Again, a reproduction can’t do justice to this work, especially because it is too large — 73″ x 51″ — to successfully reduce to screen size.

Dowski in WTF Land

Dowski in WTF Land

This is one of those pieces that you can get lost in, swallowed by detail, never to be seen again.  A 3000hour drawing printed and shaped on canvas!

Funnystrange to be so attracted to works that demand minute scrutiny in a show of BIG art!

But I said this day was a twofer.  On the other side of this great wall is an acre and a half sized model of the San Francisco and area waterways.  And here, for certain, pictures are better than words.  Click on images to see enlargements.

Bay Model, San Francisco area

Bay Model, San Francisco area from the east

Bay Model, San Francisco area

The Golden Gate. To the right I thought I saw the first glimmer of the future.

The tide flows in and out every 14 minutes.  We watched carefully but the little sailboats were not carried out to the ocean.

A great visualization of a powerful yet fragile system, this is a wonderful educational tool.  And it is free!

9 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.
2100 Bridgeway, Sausalito. (415) 332-3871
Plenty of free parking.  Beautiful Bay vista.  This site includes a short video with historical footage showing the postwar plans to dam the SF Bay.  This model was built to demonstrate the catastrophe that would have ensued.

I said this trip was a twofer.  But when we left the model and came back to the art show we were delighted to find a  thirdfer:


The Siren Sisters

singing in striking harmony some steam-punk-child-ballads of doomed love.  The Siren Sisters are a subset of Pink Sabbath

If you are in the area you must take in “Big is Beautiful” (until Dec 31, 2013) and the Bay Model.  You won’t be sorry.

Words Are People Too

October 29, 2013
cover of Bob Pitta's book

Words Are People Too

Well, he finished it!  After seven years of research and rare insight, Bob Pitta (my demented brother and Oola’s long lost ….uh…. relative) has published his Encyclobodomy.

Back cover of Bob's book

Back cover of Bob’s book

A short example of middly placed words:



Definition: The Person in charge — on the job or on the jury

Etymology:  Because mankind only has five fingers on each of his hands, and because prior to the invention of colleges, he needed one of his hands to count the number of fingers on the other of his hands — for many years, mankind could only count to five.  Most men in those precollege days worked for someone else.  Most bosses, in order to guarantee that each of his men was working on whatever job was assigned, promoted the smartest guy in each group of five guys to be responsible for the productivity of the other four guys.  This ingenious method of dividing up the workforce allowed the guy who was promoted to crew boss to match a worker to each of his free fingers on one hand.  He used the other hand to count with.  The guy who was promoted generally saved one digit, usually the thumb, to represent himself.  Each crew boss was named THE FOREMAN, obviously because he had four men to keep track of.  The reason that they spelled it FOREMAN instead of FOUR-MEN was because, as previously noted, college hadn’t been invented yet.

Check it out, read more excerpts, and support my brother in his quest for higher knowledge at

Visual Bon-Bon

October 13, 2013

Getting close to finishing an Idea which hatched during my residency at Blue Mountain Center, and that is a box of visual bon-bons.  In actuality they are geometric puzzles to which I added photographs, prints and drawings.  You can find these puzzles on the internet by searching for “flexagons”.

One fairly simple puzzle with an impossible flap grew into a little book named “Membranes”.

Click on any image to see an enlargement.

Artist Book by Jan Dove

impossible flap puzzle grows into a book

“Membranes” is finished off with some batik cotton and coptic binding.

coptic binding

Next project: finish the box of bon-bons of which this book is one piece — I think.

Paul Farinacci, artist of social commentary

October 1, 2013

It has been a while since Oola and I traveled on any “plane”.  That foolishness dealt with, I would like you to meet — if you haven’t already — one of my fellow travelers at Blue Mountain Center.

Paul Farinacci is an artist with whom I spent a few whiles in pleasant discussion of the kinds of stuff Artists talk about.  Paul gave the suggestion — and the hand –  to light one of my book installations by candles (big citronella buckets, if you are into details).  But mostly he was bent on getting two pieces done for a show.  He worked longer into the beautiful Adirondack nights than I ever did.

Paul’s work is the kind that you might pass by if you are not the kind to take close, slow looks.  At first it reminded me of Grimm’s fairy tales. The more I looked, the more Daumier and Dorothea Lange and Mark Fiore came to mind.  It even made me wonder how Goya would deal with the social issues we are facing in our place/time.

During our residency Paul was working on 2 paper maché sculptures in his series about testing school children on their academic progress. Each work is covered in NY State testing pages.

Click on any image to see its enlargement.

“Death by #2″ is another of my favorites.

deathby#2Paul makes sculptural buildings which are lighted inside, so that you can play the voyeur to see what is going on.

And another favorite:


Assisted Living

Paul also makes huge drawings of which you can see representations at the New York Foundation for the Arts website:

If you are in New York, you can visit his work at the Lyceum Gallery, Suffolk Community College (Riverhead NY) until Oct 26.

Well worth a second, third, and fourth look!


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