Daniel Burnham (American 1846-1912)


Daniel Burnham had a plan, and being part of the City Beautiful movement, he felt that beauty could increase quality of life. He imagined that San Francisco could be redesigned to compete with Paris and other major cities.

His vision was an overall plan that would create a unity in design for the entire city, based on classical architecture. From the region of the Civic Center, he envisioned a wide artery that lead from Market Street to the top of Twin Peaks. A grand staircase would be accessible to all, culminating in a beautifully protected natural amphitheater at the top on the eastern side.

Burnham’s Plan for San Francisco

On the eastern side of the highest peaks of San Francisco he observed a stunning valley with water ways running to the Pacific Ocean, by way of Lake Merced. Today the Muni Train “M”  cuts through these peaks and travels through this valley as it exits the West Portal Tunnel and continues to San Francisco State located near the lake. He dreamed of preserving the vale with its sparkling streams and uninterrupted views.

The view that inspired Burnham to save this area of SF

He had proved his talent in design as the Director of Works for the World’s Fair in Chicago, known as the World’s Colombian Exposition, or “White City.” He also designed the Grand Central Station in NYC, the Rookery Building in Chicago and other large-scale innovative projects around the world.

The Rookery Chicago, where he held his office with partner Root.

Burnham was an advisor for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco, where he got to revisit his ideas for SF after most of his them were scrapped after the earthquake of 1906. Unfortunately, this natural disaster shook up the city and stalled his grand plans. This could have been an opportunity to invest full force into the plan but the scale of the destruction was too large. Burnham was only able to influence the design of City Hall and surrounding areas.


To hear a great account of his style and determination, check out the historical novel “The Devil in the White City.” The book gives a great sense of what life was like at the time of his life during the turn of the century, following Burnham and America’s first serial killer during the  Worlds Fair in 1893. Many people today look back to that time and wish to return to that era of innovation. The wonder and accomplishment of that  has left a lasting impression.

Union Station, New York

Burnham envisioned Chicago to be the “Paris on the Prairie,” and was able to use some of his plans for the exposition to make that happen. Still in Chicago, not all of his ideas were realized, however, it is fun to imagine where you would be walking if his plans had been completed. The elegant classical forms would have been inspiring and one might get the feeling of being inside Maxfield Parrish painting with its greek columns and unified design.


“Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood. ”

“Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will not die. ”

Daniel Burnham 1846-1912

Daniel Burnham


Skinner is a California Artist from Sacramento. He has been very successful with commercial art including toys and other merchandise. His art has been featured on record covers and band posters, including the stage decoration for last year’s “Outside Lands Concert” in Golden Gate Park.


Outside Lands 2011
White Walls Gallery
White Walls Gallery


Battle Under a False God
Primus Poster


Fear You May Know


I need to get a quote from Mr. Skinner


Check out his website at: www.theartofskinner.com



Leslie Shows


The Sky Becomes Sediment 2008

Leslie Shows is a local Bay Area artist whose paintings have titles like ” The Arrangement of Salts and Metals by Properties,” where she succeeds in melding elemental natural tones with moody pychedelic lightning and rainbow crystals.  The vibrant colors and the explosive use of paint in Leslie Shows work, balanced with the subtle greys and stone.  Her paintings reunite the rift between science and art by utilizing color and form to explain what is happening in our real world sometimes on such a grand scale that we are usually unable to notice.  The first image is detail of her painting called “The Nitrogen Cycle.” She magically displays working concepts on thge working of our physical world by combining elements to create something as basic as the air we breathe. Everything is located on a grand Geologic Time Scale which surpasses our normal experience of the world by millions of years and can destroy our reality with one shift.

I especially love the displays of lightening in her art. She is using the paint as a medium often without use of a brush to create gradients and layers like the sedimentary layers of the earth.  There are many textures created by metals and remnants of the manufacturing process being scratched through the painted surface. The fractal physics of liquid dynamics is visible on a smaller scale.

Here is a brillant installation which suits her work on a grand scale at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. She brings a timeless element to a world that is always changing and we are just a passing moment in it.



Leslie Shows from bartolos.com

Frida Kahlo (Mexican 1907 – 1954)


Magdalena Carmen Frieda Kahlo y Calderón de Rivera

July 6, 1907 – July 13, 1954

Frida Kahlo has intrigued me since I was a child. She was the second female artist I recognized, after Georgia O’Keefe, when I saw her work in a museum in Fort Worth, Texas. It was her poignant portrayal of pain that shocked me and made me aware of a new aspect of life I hadn’t considered. Of course this was a very marked aspect of herself that she dealt with through out her life.  As a teenager she was in a streetcar accident that fractured her spine, pelvis, collarbones and forced her to wear full torso body casts and be in bed for much of her life. She also suffered in a relationship with Diego Rivera, a famous muralist that was 20 years older that her. They were in love and overcome many obstacles, but not without sadness that you see expressed in her art.

Kahlo in Deigo Rivera Mural, “Panamerican Unity

Frida Kahlo was painted in this mural in 1940 by Diego Rivera. The couple had recently divorced when he came up to San Francisco to participate in Art in Action. During the World Faire held on Treasure Island that year, he painted this fresco which was later transferred to San Francisco City College.  The couple remarried shortly afterwards and they lived in a specially designed house with a bridge between the two separate parts.


This is a painting of Frida’s father who took many pictures of her growing up and encouraged her as an artist. She had a multicultural background. Her father was a Hungarian Jew and her mother was of Mexican and Native Indian decent.


Frida is most famous for her self portraits which give us a glimpse of what her life may have been like at the time. While she didn’t recieve much fame during her life, she is now the subject of a major movie and her image is found everywhere in gift shops and museums around the world.

The Little DeerI especially appreciate her visceral images of nature and was struck by this painting I originally saw in the Kimball Museum at age 8.

She and Diego were very political, housing the soviet refugee Leon Trotsky. They actively held communist party meetings in there home and had a very lively social life. In 1953 she had her first and only Solo Exposition in Mexico. Doctors orders were to stay in bed so she had her bed delivered in an ambulance so she could attend the opening.

“I suffered two grave accidents in my life…One in which a streetcar knocked me down and the other was Diego.

“I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best.”

“I used to think I was the strangest person in the world but then I thought there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me too. Well, I hope that if you are out there and read this and know that, yes, it’s true I’m here, and I’m just as strange as you.”

-Frida Kahlo (1907-1954)

Leonora Carrington (British 1917 – 2011)

Leonora Carrington is a Mexican Surrealist Artist who was born in Britian in 1917 and died this year, 2011. She met artist Max Ernst in London and escaped the NAZI occupation of Paris she fled to Mexico City. She is one of the top three female surrealist artists of all time and remained in Mexico for the rest of her life.

Her paintings are very detailed and they portray a secret or obscured aspect of the world. She uses many symbols and ritual shapes to express the mystical order and activities in the universe that most people do not notice. She was very well educated in europe but left it all to pursue art and express her point of view.


She wrote and illustrated this children’s book in 1977 and she also made sculptures and masks for theatre.

“You may not believe in magic but something very strange is happening at this very moment. Your head has dissolved into thin air and I can see the rhododendrons through your stomach. It’s not that you are dead or anything dramatic like that, it is simply that you are fading away and I can’t even remember your name.”
-Leonora Carrington The Hearing Trumpet

“We went down into the silent garden.
Dawn is the time when nothing breathes, the hour of silence. Everything is transfixed, only the light moves.” -Leonora Carrington

Remedios Varo (Spanish 1908 -1963)

Born María de los Remedios Varo Uranga

Remedios Varo was born in Spain. During the Spanish Civil War she escaped to Paris with her husband Benjamin Peret a Surrealist Poet. However she again escaped to live in Mexico as a politcal exile and she stayed there the rest of her life. There she met other the artist Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo and Leona Carrington.

She developed a unique style all her own which was influenced by psychology, mystic traditions, pre-colombian art and surrealists like Breton, Picasso and el Greco. She often includes architecture, nature, and detailed line work in her paintings which critique science, culture and women’s roles in society and art. Ultimately she brings a deep curiosity and intrigue into the transformation from within.


Celestial Pablum 1958
Transito en Espiral
Still life reviving 1963
Woman leaving the psychiatrist's office

Visit to the Plastic Surgeon
Reflejo Lunar

Varo in mask made by Leona Carrington



“On second thought, I think I am more crazy than my goat.

-Remedios Varo

Jackson Pollock (American 1912-1956)

Jackson Crouching over a Painting

This post on Pollock has almost as many pictures of him painting in his studio then actual paintings. I think his work has to be appreciated close up because it is all about texture, layering and colors. They way he paints is an important aspect of his style because he broke conventions about what a painting is supposed to be and was harshly criticized for it. I like to see the progression of how his paintings changed and what eventually held his focus was the more abstract.

Pollock Painting
Easter Totem



She Wolf


The Motion

Georgia O’Keefe (American 1887 – 1986)


Georgia O’Keefe has always been my favorite artist because she and I share the same birthday. She captures the essences of those things that seem simple and pure, but are actually complex and common if you only change the way you look at it.


Portrait by Steiglitz
Jack in the Pulpit No. 6
From the Lake No. 1
Pelvis with Distance
Blue and Green Music

Georgia O'Keefe


“To create one’s own world in any of the arts takes courage.”

-Georgia O’Keefe

Julia Morgan (American 1872 – 1957)

Julia Morgan

Julia Morgan was one of the first women to graduate from University of California at Berkeley with a degree in civil engineering, the first to graduate with an architecture degree at the prestigious Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris and the first woman to work as a professional architect in California. During her 45-year career, she designed more than 700 homes, churches, office buildings, hospitals, stores, and educational buildings, including the famous Hearst Castle.

The pool at Berkeley City Club
Hearst Castle Interior Swimming Pool
The Neptune Pool - Hearst Castle

I especially love the pools she designed with blue mosaic and sometimes gold glass inlaid.  She also designed Hearst’s Summer House in N. California called Wyntoon, right on the river.

Drawing of Wyntoon
Exterior Murals - Wyntoon

Several other places she designed include Asilomar Conference Center in Pacific Grove, Chapel of the Chimes in Oakland, Redo of the Fairmont Hotel in SF after the Earthquake and YWCA’s in Oakland, Utah and Hawaii.

Chapel of the Chimes
Hearst Castle
Julia Morgan at Hearst Castle

Julia Morgan Quotes:

“Never turn down a job because you think it’s too small; you don’t know where it can lead.”

“Architecture is a visual art, and the buildings speak for themselves.”

“My buildings will be my legacy… they will speak for me long after I’m gone.”

Read more:http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/topics/topic_architecture.html#ixzz1EdJzc5mp