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Off the Walls: A Work in Progress

One of the most innovative components of the Artist Fellows program is the goal to reveal the process of artistic creation—the weeks (even years) of planning, the evolving ideas, and the constant back-and-forth that foments creativity. Throughout the month of July, Artist Fellow Sarah Wilson and her artistic partners, Catch Me Bird (C. Derrick Jones and Nehara Kalev), have been exhibiting this collaborative process as they work together to produce Off the Walls. A multimedia performance that melds Wilson’s dynamic jazz-oriented music with Catch Me Bird’s dance and aerial performances, Off the Walls is inspired by the painter Aaron Douglas, whose painting Aspiration is a highlight of the de Young’s American painting collection.

Sarah Wilson and Catch Me Bird

Artist Fellow Sarah Wilson with C. Derrick Jones and Nehara Kalev of Catch Me Bird

Love Letters from the Harlem Renaissance Through the Generations

Love Letters from the Harlem Renaissance tells the story of the relationship between Alta Sawyer Douglas and her husband, Harlem Renaissance painter Aaron Douglas. Catch Me Bird’s C. Derrick Jones, the great nephew of this seminal American painter, shares his family’s story with guest blogger Elspeth Michaels. Tonight at Friday Nights at the de Young Jones will speak about the factors that propelled his great uncle to establish himself as one of the 20th century's visionary artists. This fall Catch Me Bird, in collaboration with Artist Fellow Sarah Wilson, will premiere a brand new production inspired by the art of Douglas entitled Off the Walls. The performance combines music, aerials, and dance as an expression of Douglas's painting Aspiration, which is currently on view in Wilsey Court.


Aaron Douglas (American, 1899–1979). Aspiration, 1936. Oil on canvas. 1997.84

From Native Culture to Indigenous Couture

The influence of a variety of non-western cultures can be seen throughout the collections featured in The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk. Tonight at Friday Nights at the de Young, we honor the origins of these influences with an evening of Indigenous Couture curated by Native American artist, dancer, and designer Eddie Madril.

Arctic Influences

The Third Tapestry

This month, Laurel Roth and Andy Diaz Hope begin their year as de Young Artist Fellows by setting up a research studio in the Kimball Education Gallery. Roth and Hope will use this time in the Artist Studio to design the third piece in a triptych of tapestries, which will be known as The Conflicts

Man in the Mirror

Tonight, Friday Nights at the de Young celebrates the history of the dandy from Oscar Wilde to Jean Paul Gaultier. Whereas Oscar Wilde’s aesthetic style was derided as too feminine, Jean Paul Gaultier embraces gender bending, dressing men in skirts and women in exquisitely tailored suits. In this way, Gaultier's designs approach a new androgyny and subvert established fashion codes. The designer toys with standard concepts of the masculine and feminine throughout the special exhibition The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk , but one exhibit in particular literally speaks to this issue. He is the Man in the Mirror.

Jazz at the de Young

Seven years ago, the de Young hosted its first jazz performance in partnership with Intersection for the Arts. Jazz at Intersection at the de Young came about through my relationship with Kevin Chen of Intersection for the Arts. Together we invited a wide range of local jazz composers and musicians to create and perform music inspired by the museum’s special exhibitions and permanent collection.

The Wild Woman of Jazz

Composer, trumpeter and singer-songwriter Sarah Wilson technically grew up in a vineyard, but her coming of age as a musician took place in New York City. At her first performance as an Artist Fellow at the de Young tomorrow, Friday, May 25, Wilson presents new work inspired by both the rolling hills of the Napa Valley and New York City’s wild women of jazz.

Wilson began her yearlong fellowship last November with a 10-day residency at Stags’ Leap Winery, where the vineyards—their colors and moods—served as muse for the new compositions Night Still and Color, both of which will be featured in tomorrow’s performance.

Stags' Leap

Photo by Sarah Wilson

Music, Muses and Divas in the Art of the Victorian Avant-Garde

Tomorrow, May 12, 2012, the Legion of Honor presents Music, Muses and Divas , public programs associated with The Cult of Beauty: The Victorian Avant-Garde, 1860–1900 (on view through June 17). Premier scholars of Victorian art Tim Barringer and Peter Trippi lecture on the complmentary topics of music and theater in the context of the Aesthetic Movement. We asked our lecturers a few questions about their respective talks to provide insight into the day’s presentations.

Saint Cecilia

John William Waterhouse, Saint Cecilia, 1895, oil on canvas. Private Collection

Our People, Our Queen

Today’s guest blogger is 2012 de Young Artist Fellow Monique Jenkinson (aka Fauxnique). During her yearlong fellowship, she is focusing on the Museums’ costume and textiles collection, particularly the work of Jean Paul Gaultier as represented in the special exhibition The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk (on view at the de Young through August 19). This Friday Night at the de Young, April 27, Jenkinson presents Making Scenes, a curated evening that includes a new dance/installation piece entitled Our People, inspired by the work of Gaultier—his icons, his fetishes and his light-hearted, humanistic irreverence. Here she shares with us the creative process behind the making of Our People.

Monique for Our People

Monique in costume for Our People. Photo courtesy of Arturo Cosenza


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