Drengson to create floral piece for de Young Museum
The folks of Glen Ellen
Bouquets to Art
With spring set to explode tomorrow, the place you’ll want to be is in San Francisco at the de Young Museum and its annual flower show, Bouquets to Art 2013. The show starts today, March 19, and continues through March 23, with many events.
Some of the most creative and innovative floral designers in the Bay Area exhibit spectacular floral arrangements to complement various pieces of art in the de Young’s permanent collection.
This year, as has been the case for the past 17 years, Glen Ellen hometown gal, floral designer Natasha Drengson will be drawing inspiration from a unique piece of art in creating a complementary bouquet to be featured during the weeklong show in San Francisco.
The painting that Tasha will be working with this year is Chiuri Obata’s “Mother Earth” in Gallery 29. Tasha says this is the first year that her top choice was awarded her. She loves this moody and lovely painting that depicts, as Tasha says, a “Yoko Ono-type of character.” Obata’s soft-figured woman with long, long black hair that drapes off her shoulders like a cloak, stands in a redwood forest, dreaming the world into being. Tasha is creating a spirit house for this mother earth using flowers.
Jason Jacobsen, who is Tasha’s sweetie, is busy creating tiny ladders that will lead the mother earth character through her spirit house.
While looking for more about Obata’s “Mother Earth,” I learned that Chiuri’s wife, Haruko Obata, was an artist, too. Her medium of expression was not paint, but flowers: the art of ikebana. Their granddaughter, Kimi Kodani Hill, writes, “The husband and wife often combined their talents at exhibitions – an Obata painting would serve as a backdrop to Haruko’s ikebana arrangement.” That from Kimi Kodani Hill’s “Topaz Moon: Chiuri Obata’s Art of the Internment Camps.” Yes, the Obata family was actually locked up with everyone else of Japanese descent during the Pacific War. Part of the time they were at Tanforan, after it was a racetrack where Sea Biscuit ran, and before it was a shopping center, it was a prison camp.
I’m eager to see Tasha’s interpretation of this assignment so I’m headed to the city this week. I’ll enjoy Obata’s painting and Tasha’s floral homage. Maybe I’ll see you there, too.
Easter Bunny joins GEFD
Other events in our town that are worthy of the news include the Firefighters annual Easter Egg Hunt at Dunbar School the Saturday before Easter. That is, March 30. The event, open to all Valley children begins on the Cunninghame field (named for former Dunbar principal Max Cunninghame, whose name I always spell correctly thanks to Tina Shone’s advice many years ago) at Dunbar School on the corner of Henno and Dunbar roads promptly at 10 a.m. Separate areas are designated for different age groups so that toddlers don’t have to battle the big kids, as they roar and rush through the grass collecting eggs, both golden and standard pastels.
This year, as every year, firefighter and Easter Egg Hunt coordinator Edmond Joseph invites egg-dyeing helpers to join him on Friday afternoon, immediately after school. Local kids help boil and color the thousands of eggs that are hidden that night (or is it early the next morning?) by the firefighters.
So, upper elementary, middle and high school students: If you show up at the firehouse on Friday afternoon, March 29, after school, you will be able to help Joseph and his crew create the magic that unfolds the next day.
Then, early on the morning of Saturday, March 30, all children are invited to arrive at the school playground early with basket or bucket in hand. Don’t be late. In short order, all the eggs are collected and the events ends. But there is still time for children to redeem their golden eggs for chocolate eggs and candy prizes as well as meeting the Easter Bunny. When our boys were of the age, their most popular event was climbing and sitting on one of the antique fire engines. It’s a good hometown day all around.
Hoban captures Cat in Hat
I thought Index-Tribune photographer Bill Hoban’s shot of the Cat in the Hat racing down the aisle of the Dunbar School’s multipurpose room was priceless. The assembled crowds of children are a blur as the Cat flies through the room, smiling and singing. What a hoot. Bill captured the scene perfectly. I was there that day, the rousing excitement of the children was palpable, and their shrieks of delight were deafening. Makes one’s heart sing to know this is all in honor of reading, an activity that I dearly love.
I was at Dunbar that day to read in the classrooms of two of my current favorite teachers at the school. Sonoma Market manager and Dunbar parent Frank Crook was entertaining in Renea Magnani’s classroom of second- and third-graders when I arrived. He was reading the rapt, attentive students a terrific “Goose Bumps” story, which enlightened me as to how good those books actually are. The kids hung on his every word and he smiled his knowing smile in return, very much a Seussical character himself; it was a pleasure to hear him read. I’m most accustomed to seeing Mr. Crook at the market, so this was an unexpected and pleasant surprise, and part of why I love living in a small town.
Next up, it was my turn to engage Renea’s little charges so I shared one of my favorite Dr. Seuss books with the children. Then I was off to the fourth-grade classroom of Wendi Wellander where her students were sitting straight and tall, awaiting the next story. Again, I shared a favorite Dr. Seuss story, then a book about the famous Japanese Dog, “Hachiko,” whose statue is in the Tokyo train station. While the story is a bit sad, it is primarily a tale of friendship and loyalty, a fitting subject matter for fourth-graders I felt.
Turns out that the students read many more pages than they’d ever done before. The school’s top reader was Luna Michelis, a fourth-grader, who says her favorite books are the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling.
Other friends of the mentor center who read at Dunbar School that day included Helena Friedman, Amy Tsaykel, Mary Ann Allen and plenty of others. I also saw former school board member Barbara Martin and her sweetie in one of the classrooms, ready to read. They have two grandchildren at Dunbar and are frequent visitors there still. Happiest surprise of the day for me was running into my favorite librarian, Sonoma Children's Librarian, Clare O'Brien, who read to children in three classrooms. All in all, it was a very successful reading day at Dunbar.
Chalk painting in West Marin
Over the weekend, sweetie and I attended a class at Audubon Canyon Ranch in their volunteer canyon, a beautiful redwood-filled canyon that harbors egret families, who begin their courtship in the late winter, egg laying in the spring and raise fledglings in the late spring and summer.
Last weekend, however, was not for birding, but for drawing. Although my sweetie may well be an artist (I think he is; others agree), I am most certainly not. Not trained, not competent, not gifted, yet, despite all this, eager to enjoy drawing.
We’d both signed up for a weekend away to do chalk painting. It seems odd to me to call drawing with chalk “painting,” but that’s the way the expert instructor Ane Carla Rovetta puts it. And she should know.
Ane’s been a practicing artist for much of her life and she’s become more than an expert. Her paintings are full of life and liveliness, depictions of a more perfect world than truly exists. I love her artwork and admire her skills. Ane blends her own chalks, from soil and rock, which gives her artwork a reality that can’t be found in commercial boxes of chalk.
For the weekend, we were housed in the old bunkhouse at Audubon Canyon Ranch. With open slats between the boards, it’s a cool and drafty place to spend the night, with spiders and bats in abundance. The best part of that open-air bunkhouse is the lovely foresty smell mixed with ocean breezes. Tells me this isn’t Glen Ellen, and, as such, makes it even more of a holiday.
Even with spiders and bats, it’s better, I’d say, than the main farmhouse, a relic from the Victorian age. On the second floor are a few bedrooms that are always snatched up by early arrivals for classes and workshops. They come with an eerie guest.
Victorian ghost vexes visitors
That weekend, Ane shared the story of the ghost who roams the property, particularly the upper story of the old Victorian farmhouse. Her name is Enid Thompson and she lived (and died) in that house in the 19th century.
Many say that her spirit still haunts the house and plenty of folks swear they have experienced her. Enid doesn’t appreciate change, and she’s apt to let folks know. Even when they aren’t the ones responsible. Several folks have experienced Enid’s disapproving distemper, though she has never actually harmed anyone; merely frightened them. And added a little unexpected excitement to a country weekend. The real charm here is Ane Rovetta’s ability to tell a good tale, and thereby keep us all enthralled.
Enid, according to Ane, has been know to perch outside the upper story windows scratching on the glass to get folks attention, which isn’t so hard, given how creepy that must be at midnight.
As for we Crawfords in the bunkhouse (a stroll away from the Victorian farmhouse) … yes, Enid did visit us. We couldn’t see her, but we definitely heard her roaming the bunkhouse around 3 a.m. Come morning, there was nary a sign of her visit, just a lingering feeling that she’d been there (a further testament to Ane’s story telling skills).
The ground outside the bunkhouse was covered with a light frosty hoar that was beginning to sparkle in the rising sun. The air cold and damp, helped us awake. Inside the bunkhouse, the only comfy place was snuggling well under the covers. But arise we did, to the scent of warm coffee wafting from the kitchen, a wander away over the damp grass.
Bolinas Lagoon, and then Point Reyes
Early risers (motivated by Enid?) had prepared strong doses of the black brew to bring us all into artistic mode. Sweetie and I downed our coffee and headed out onto the trail, following Ane to find a good drawing spot. We sat in one drawing location for the morning, another for the afternoon, and a third on the next day. I produced several drawings, as did sweetie. His look like a real landscapes, portraits of where we were. Mine are clearly fantasy landscapes, but all the more loved by me. I plan to frame both (one from each of us) and hang them together as reminders of a good weekend.
We spent the remainder of Sunday afternoon at one of our favorite place, Point Reyes, the national park and the town, Point Reyes Station. Sweetie and I love walking through the Giacomini Wetlands trails just off C Street in Point Reyes Station. It’s a beautiful stroll through what was once a dairy farm and is now a natural wonderland. The simple path, winding through the wetlands and along a creek bank highlights all the beauty of that windswept western town. You have views of the sky, Tomales Bay and close ups of that wetland from this trail; views entirely unexpected right in the center of town.
The restoration of the Giacomini wetland was developed and managed entirely by Glen Ellen’s own Doug Hanford. It’s one of his most beautiful projects that I know of. Doug’s office helper and coordinator, horse rider Chris Kline was his manager on this big job, which was completed in 2010.
Ever since then, when sweetie and I are in town – that is, in Point Reyes Station – we stop by Bovine Bakery for fueling and then wander for an hour or so on those trails that Doug so nicely completed, before we head out to our favorite stroll, Abbott’s Lagoon. Abbott’s is where we can bird watch, and gaze at the setting sun.
A final note: A happy birthday to Morris Watson Ayers tomorrow. It would be his 100th, if I've done my arithmetic correctly. A poor boy from Georgia he found love and happiness in California for which I am grateful.
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