In Japan, kimono is a generic word that literally means “thing to wear”. While this could cover a wide range of garments, it is usually used to describe the full-length robe that people associate with Japanese attire.
In earlier times, Japanese clothing closely resembled Chinese-style robes. “During the Nara period (AD 710-794), however, garments resembling the kimono began to appear, and after Japan suspended contact with China. . . a style began to emerge that became uniquely Japanese” (Jenni Dobson. Making Kimono and Japanese Clothing. London: Batsford, 2008).
Through October 19, the Art and Music Center will display a contemporary art style kimono designed by Northern California fiber artist Sharon Cahn. Colorful reproductions of book covers from books about kimono are displayed as well.
For further reading, the following books may be of interest:
The authors compare their mission of preservation with environmental conservation: "a broader and more sophisticated understanding of environmental quality [should] encompass natural and man-made factors that make up our environment." They lay stress on preserving a "sense of place" and "cultural continuity." They also maintain that in most cases, older buildings were better constructed and better suited to the native climate.
Splendid Survivors is primarily an inventory of 790 buildings in San Francisco's Financial District, South of Market, Union Square and Market Street districts. This inventory includes the address, the name of the building, the date of its construction and when available the architect(s). Most entries include a paragraph about the building and a photograph. They also rate the buildings on a scale from A to D - the "A" buildings having "outstanding qualities of architecture, historical values and relationship to the environment."
This book also includes an excellent essay by Michael R. Corbett entitled "Historical Background" that traces the architectural history of downtown San Francisco. It also details the buildings that survived the 1906 earthquake and fire buildings.
In light of the construction boom that took place in San Francisco in the late 1990s and early 2000s the work that went into this book probably played a role in preserving San Francisco's architectural character. It also documents the City as it was before this transformation.
Strolling with this book through San Francisco's downtown, one can truly develop an appreciation for the layers of historic and the dynamics of change on the City's streets.
Don't forget to check out two new exhibits at the San Francisco Public Library.
Punk Passage: San Francisco First Wave Punk 1977-1981 in the Jewett Gallery on the Lower Level of the Main Library is an exhibit of photographs taken by Ruby Ray for the magazine Search And Destroy. In addition to the striking photography there is are also 'zines, flyers, posters and other ephemera, including material from the Art, Music and Recreation Center Collection.
Additionally, in the Lower Cafe Exhibition Case opposite the Jewett Gallery the library is presenting Punk Penelope. This is a small display includes original artwork, albums, lyric sheets and other ephemera from Penelope Houston's days with The Avengers.
Both exhibits will be on display from September 12 through December 6, 2009. Visit the library's web page for related events.
A booklist for the San Francisco / Bay Area punk scene
The 4th Floor Art, Music and Recreation Desk has reference vertical files related to Penelope Houston (Avengers), Club Foot Orchestra, The Contractions, Dead Kennedys, Dils, Flipper, The Mutants, The Nuns, Tuxedomoon and Dirk Dirksen.
Allied Monuments Officers Recovering and Safeguarding Stolen Art (source: website for the 2006 documentary film The Rape of Europa)
It started with a simple reference question. A person needed to write a report on Nazi degenerate art. He asked if I had heard of it and if the library had any books on it. When I replied in the affirmative, he looked relieved. “I’ve been to many bookstores” he said “and you wouldn’t believe the strange looks I’ve been getting with this request”.
Coincidentally, I was currently embroiled in a novel at home that also dealt with the Nazis and art entitled Pictures at an Exhibition. Written by local author Sara Houghteling, the story masterfully weaves in historical figures of the Paris art world of the 1930’s and 1940’s while focusing on the Nazi’s systematic looting of French museums, art galleries and private art collections. I realized that I was being introduced to a whole new perspective on the history of the Third Reich and of World War II.
Before World War I, avant-garde German art was at the forefront of the 20th century modern art movement. Despite an encouraging atmosphere for German contemporary artists, there was also a growing opposition movement of conservatives that viewed their art as “degenerate.”
The move to rid Germany of all its modern art began in earnest when Adolf Hitler became Chancellor-President in 1933. He passed laws dictating what art forms were acceptable. He believed that it was the state’s responsibility to prevent people from being driven to madness by purging those things that he viewed as corrupt and degenerate. German artists, art dealers and museum officials were given four years to comply with the new standards of what was acceptable.
Artwork that was not in compliance was confiscated by the Gestapo. Confiscated art was then sold to support the Third Reich or dismembered, defaced, destroyed or buried. Many avant-garde artists fled the country; those who stayed were not allowed to work. Art that met Hitler’s standards became at risk as well, as he and some of his officers began to collect and acquire artifacts for their personal collections.
In her book The Rape of Europa, Lynn H. Nichols writes: “When the German occupation of Poland, France, the Low Countries, and finally Italy began, a colossal wave of organized and casual pillage stripped entire countries of their heritage as works of art were subjected to confiscation, wanton destruction, concealment in damp mines, and perilous transport across combat zones.” All of Europe’s cultural treasures were at risk of becoming lost forever.
In the years following the end of World War II, an international corps of “Monuments Officers” worked tirelessly to sort through the huge Nazi cache of stolen art and return the works to their rightful homes. To this day, thousands of artifacts remain missing. Museum officials continue to work with governments and individuals to recover the treasures that were looted by the Nazis.
The San Francisco Public Library offers many books for the reader who wants to learn more about this unique time in cultural history: