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Indispensable: Sasha Petrenko
Indispensable: Sasha Petrenko

“Indispensable” is a series that asks the de Young’s Artists in Residence to describe a tool that is essential to their work.

The headset microphone is a favorite tool of corporate presenters, motivational speakers, aerobics instructors—the peppy, the positive, people who “stay on message” and want you to “hang in there.” But it’s put to a more complicated use in Sasha Petrenko's hands. “It makes me think of TED talks, an expert who has it all figured out. But the more I learn, the less I know, and I realize I might just be better off not knowing.”

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Indispensable: t.w.five
Indispensable: t.w.five

“Indispensable” is a series that asks the de Young’s Artists in Residence to describe a tool that’s essential to their work.

“I cut myself all the time. She never does.”

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A New Frontier: Trailblazing Methods to Display Ruscha Books
Forming a custom book mount

Museum Mountmaker Emily Meyer forming a custom book mount.

Heather Brown, Mellon Fellow in Paper Conservation

There are seven books in the Ed Ruscha and the Great American West exhibition, which provided paper conservators the opportunity to exercise our skills in mounting books in an invisible way. Though the techniques appear simple, they required a good amount of planning and collaboration to achieve the perfect combination of physical support, visual unity, and aesthetic beauty.

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How to Defy Gravity
Woman's headcover

Woman's headcover (adghar ibrdane tasslit), early to mid 20th century Morocco. Anti-Atlas, Ait Abdellah people, 61 x 33 7/16 in. FAMSF, museum purchase, Textile Arts Council Endowment Fund

Anne Getts, Mellon Assistant Textiles Conservator

On the Grid: Textiles & Minimalism, currently on view in the Textiles Gallery at the de Young, presented the textile conservation lab with a variety of mounting challenges. Among these challenges was determining the ideal way to display a dip-dyed and hand painted Moroccan woman’s headcover, or adghar ibrdane tasslit, with a bulky tassel located at each of the four corners.

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Video: Playing with Food (for Art and Science)

Ed Ruscha, Fruit - Metrecal Hollywood, 1971. Color screenprint on copperplate deluxe paper, torn and deckle edges, 14 5/8 x 42 1/4 in. FAMSF, museum purchase, Mrs. Paul L. Wattis Fund

Our latest video takes you to our conservation lab where the paper conservation team set up a screen-printing station to investigate prints that Ed Ruscha made with foods including Heinz Baked Beans and caviar. In November 2015, Heather Brown, Mellow Fellow in paper conservation, shared the latest progress on her research.

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Photo Competition: “A Ruscha With Words”
The image on the far right (OK) should be cropped to eliminate the black strip at the bottom (it's background, not a part of the image). This might require the detail to be enlarged a bit to fit the rectangle.

L-R: Ed Ruscha, Rancho (detail), 1968. Oil on canvas, 60 x 54 in. The Museum of Modern Art, New York, gift of Steven and Alexandra Cohen, 2006; Ed Ruscha, There and Here, State II (detail), 2007. Color lithograph, 18 5/8 x 27 15/16 in. Gift of the Artist; Ed Ruscha, God Knows Where (detail), 2014. Acrylic on canvas, 48 x 48 in. Collection of Robert Lehrman, courtesy of Aimee and Robert Lehrman; Ed Ruscha, OK (State II) (detail), 1990. Color lithograph, 27 1/16 x 35 15/16 in. FAMSF, museum purchase, Mrs. Paul L. Wattis Fund. All images © Ed Ruscha

Along with a passion for California and the West Coast, a key theme in Ed Ruscha's work and Ed Ruscha and the Great American West is the abundance and playfulness of words. Throughout his career, Ruscha experimented with words, song lyrics and sayings, even filling notebooks with them and waiting for the moment that the temperature of a word becomes "really hot."

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