Trees behind a fence

Go on a virtual nature tour

Last week I gave you a collection of virtual art. This week, with John Muir’s birthday on April 21st and Earth Day April 22nd, it is natural to talk about nature in the Bay Area.

Screenshot of the Oakland Zoo grizzly bear cam.

If you are looking for animals the Oakland Zoo has some webcams for bears and elephants. On my latest visit I did not see any animals, but this might be a virtual hunt (https://www.oaklandzoo.org/webcams)? 

Screenshot of jellyfish at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

I was luckier at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the otters were frolicking around (https://www.montereybayaquarium.org/animals/live-cams/sea-otter-cam), the jelly cam mesmerized me with some minimalistic sounds and the slow movement of the jellyfish (https://www.montereybayaquarium.org/animals/live-cams/jelly-cam). 

If your love for animals is on a smaller scale, you can watch a few YouTube videos of insects by the Essig Museum of Entomology (https://essig.berkeley.edu/bugged/). 

To explore interesting articles by Bay Area Nature magazine (https://baynature.org/category/explore/) is always a great pastime.

How about a virtual garden tour? Bringing back the Natives Garden Tour (https://www.bringingbackthenatives.net/2020-virtual-tour) will zoom you to native gardens in the Bay Area the next  three Sundays from 10 am – 3 pm, registration is required, donations are appreciated.

A virtual park experience is promised by the East Bay Regional Park District (https://www.ebparks.org/activities/digital_learning/default.htm). Park Naturalists tell you everything from how to dissect a flower to why you should count worms in your soil.

Participate in the City Nature Challenge, April 24th – 27th, 2020! You’ll have to download the free iNaturalist app and upload your findings (https://citynaturechallenge.org/).

Or how about playing a nature bingo? (https://drive.google.com/file/d/121rcsGxlSuXQ7ekmkKzEO-h9H-4xqova/view)

On May 6th you can join the live streamed walk of the Los Gator Creek, RSVP required (https://www.savedbynature.org/event-info/creek-tales-nature-walk). Saved By Nature is an amazing organization whose goal is to bring nature to the people that can’t physically go and see it themselves. In the old times this meant persons by illnesses bound to their beds. 

Screenshot of the parktracks website.

For a calming 12 minute listening experience I recommend ParkTracks, a compilation of nature sounds (https://findyourpark.com/about/news/parktracks).

There are many resources out for you to explore. Let’s all enjoy nature close to home right now, so we can flatten the curve. 

Happy Earth Day!

Judy Chicago interviewed in 2018 at the Stanford University.

Go on a virtual tour

Week five for shelter-in-place for the Bay Area has me going a bit stir crazy and longing for some art. I do get my daily art fix from Google’s arts & culture app. I really like the art projector where you can really zoom in on a masterpiece, for example, Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring.

If you’d like to explore the local art scene without using up gas in your car (yeah we are really doing something for the climate now) here are some links to virtual tours.

Rosie Lee Thompkins crazy quilt at the BAMPFA, Berkeley.

Larry Rinder, BAMPFA Director and Chief Curator, walks us through Rosie Lee Tompkins: A Retrospective. Rosie Lee Tompkins was a quilter in a wider sense, and I am really thankful for Mr. Rinder’s explanations of her works. My favorite quilt was the crazy quilt, a style where different shapes are combined. (1 h 12 min, https://bampfa.org/rosie-lee-tompkins-slideshow#rlt-video) I recommend clicking on the link and watching it in full screen on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=232&v=T8NL3KAA8wQ&feature=emb_title).

The Hearst Museum of Anthropology has a few links to keep you busy, from online exhibits, over recorded lectures, to the sound and light archive. (https://hearstmuseum.berkeley.edu/hearst-from-home/).

The Oakland Museum of California (https://museumca.org/omca-at-home) and the Cantor Arts Center (https://museum.stanford.edu/museums-home) have an ‘explore from home’ section.

Time-laps installation of Sonya Rapport biorhythm at the San Jose Museum of Art.

If you want a look behind the scenes of an art museum you should click on the link for the San Jose Museum of Art (https://sjmusart.org/we-are-listening).

MACLA is bringing you Stories from La Sala (https://maclaarte.org/stories-from-la-sala/) your daily dose of contemporary LatineX art.

The NUMU invites you to take a virtual spin through their exhibitions (https://www.numulosgatos.org/virtual).

And the Palo Alto Art Center teaches virtual art classes (https://www.cityofpaloalto.org/gov/depts/csd/artcenter/news/displaynews.asp?NewsID=4878).

While virtual tours cannot replace seeing artwork in person, kind of like looking at a cookbook doesn’t satisfy the need to eat, it helps in times when we are all housebound to get our minds off things.

I hope everyone is safe and healthy!

Antique bottles filled with essential oils, at the Aftel Archive of Curious Scents.

Treat yourself to a smelling adventure

I usually try to find inexpensive things to do in the Bay Area. So I was reluctant to go to this little museum with a $20 entrance fee. But the sensory experience was totally worth it!

Little labels on the flasks tell you to Smell This, at the Aftel Archive of Curious Scents.

I’m talking about the Aftel Archive of Curious Scents in Berkeley. You can get tickets for this museum of scents online but they also welcome walk-ins. We were greeted warmly by Devon, who equipped us with some instructions, some strips to sample our own smells, and a wool cloth to neutralize our noses. 

Apothecary cabinet with elemi resin, dried roses, at the Aftel Archive of Curious Scents.

There are two apothecary cabinets with dried resins, woods and flowers. We spent most of our time here rubbing things and putting others up to our noses. The Elemi Resin, a dried tree sap, reminded my husband of the smell in an art studio. 

Book aficionados will enjoy the hundred year old books on fragrances and creating perfumes, and the window bench to relax and carefully turn the pages.

Not all smells are pleasing here – some Hyrax poop anyone? – but you learn that to create a perfume you have to have three levels of depth.

Perfume organ at the Aftel Archive of Curious Scents.

The centerpiece of the archive is the perfume organ, hundreds of little flasks filled with natural essential oils. You can dip your three strips into some oils to take home. 

The last experience is Mandy Aftel’s creation of edible essential oils that you spray onto chocolate, e.g. raspberry. These create the most amazing burst of flavor from the dark chocolate that is the baseline to the more floral or fruity oil.

The family business is only open Saturdays 10 am – 6 pm.  Admission is $20.

During the week Mandy Aftel is a perfume composer. You can buy her creations online or on your visit.

Have you been to the Aftel Archive of Curious Scents?

BAMPFA sign, Berkeley

Explore the Dimensions of art

A rainy Sunday is a great excuse to go to a museum. I convinced my family that the Dimensionism exhibit at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) would be worthwhile.

On the first floor the Harvey Quaytman: Against the Static is on display till January 27th and an excellent beginning of a study of shapes, textures, and colors. There will be a gallery talk on January 24th, at 5:30: Artist John Zurier joins curator Apsara DiQuinzio for a multifaceted look at Harvey Quaytman’s art.

A new exhibit that was not yet open last Sunday still brought me a lot of joy by just peeking at it and I can tell this will be a new highlight. Unfortunately you can’t touch the furry creations of Masako Miki but MATRIX 273 opened January 9th and runs till April 28th, 2019.

All these forms, shapes and colors will introduce you to the next level (on the lower level): Dimensionism: Modern Art in the age of Einstein. The modern artists interest in science, named Dimensionism, includes Kandinsky, Miró and Picasso. I really enjoyed the works of Isamu Noguchi, his sculptures representing the cosmic view with pleasing shapes.

Harold Edgerton’s Milkdrop Coronet was fascinating, not only the image, but the fact that he in 1933 invented the stroboscopic method of taking photographs with stroboscopic light, creating the illusion of freezing an action.

Staircase in the BAMPFA, Berkeley

The blood red stairway up to the Babette Cafe felt like being captured in an Andy Warhol print. But the friendly staff and yummy cake were well worth the transformation!

Thanks to Discover & Go, a service our library offers, we were able to get in for free. Usually adults pay $14, but there are many discounts available. People under 18 are always free. On the first Thursday of the month gallery admission is also free. The museum is open Sunday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 11 am – 7 pm, Friday and Saturday 11 am – 9pm. Since everything can change, it’s best to check online.

What is your favorite Dimension?

Off to the races

Off to the races

A beautiful racetrack right by the Bay, Dollar Day Sundays, and some (over 18) gambling excitement. The Golden Gate Fields racetrack Dollar Days, every Sunday until June 10th, 2018, include $1 parking, $1 entry fee, $1 program, $1 mimosas, $1 beer and $1 soda and water.

Betting starts at a minimum of $2.

They welcome newbies and have a booklet to teach you all the important aspects.

Spectator at Golden Gate Fields, BerkeleyThe audience is very eclectic, from college students to families to retired persons. The people-watching is part of the experience. Collections of interesting headwear, the groups gathered around TV screens to follow other races, and the owners and jockeys posing for pictures after the races.

The large amount of smokers surprised me. The place itself felt like a Casino without the one-armed bandits. One can almost smell lost hopes. Tickets on the floor  at Golden Gate Fields, Berkeley

 

But when the race starts and everyone either shouts out the name or the number of the horse they bid on, willing it to run faster, every sad thought is forgotten and you are, at least for these moments, excited in the experience.

Horse  at Golden Gate Fields, BerkeleyWhatever your strategy is for choosing a horse, statistics, names, numbers or looking at the horse prior to the race, there is a lot of luck involved.

Please drink and gamble responsibly.

 

 

Have you ever been to the races?

 

part of the poems at Poetry Walk in Berkeley

Delect the poems at Poetry Walk

One of my first stops on a recent visit to Berkeley was Poetry Walk on Addison Street, between Shattuck Ave and Milvia Street. I love public art and curious things out of the ordinary. Putting poems on a sidewalk counts in my book as a creative showstopper.

Moment poem at Poetry Walk, BerkeleyIn 2003 the city of Berkeley installed more than 120 individual cast iron plates with porcelain enameled text on Addison Street. Robert Hass, former US Poet Laureate and a Professor at the University of California at Berkeley, selected the poems that represent the history of Berkeley. The whole project was really a team effort, that got rewarded with multiple awards. (https://www.cityofberkeley.info/uploadedFiles/City_Manager/Level_3_-_Civic_Arts/PoetryWalkEssays.pdf)

Make Art, brick artwork, at Poetry Walk, BerkeleyThe first thing I noticed was that I was the only one admiring and stopping to read the prose. Some scaffolding prevented me from seeing them all.

From the Cold Mountain poems by Han-shan, Poetry Walk, BerkeleyA person cleaning the sidewalk got interested in one of Han-shan’s Cold Mountain poems after I told him I just recently learned about him. “He was a real person?” He asked. “Yes” I said and he looked again closer, reading the poem.

 

 

I also stepped into the tourist information center on Addison, and came out with lots of material about Berkeley to cover.

What poem would you like to see on this walk?

Resources:

Berkeley Installs Three Tons of Poetry in the Downtown Arts District

Berkeley Poetry Walk Receives Downtown Berkeley Association’s President’s Award

 

Science not Silence, pin designed by Penelope Dullaghan

Stand up for science

April 22nd 2017 is Earth Day and you can support your scientist by marching. Many of the marches end with an Earth Day celebration, or with activities for kids. A great way to introduce the importance of marching for democratic rights to your children.

Science not Silence, pin designed by  Penelope Dullaghan
Science not Silence pin designed by
Penelope Dullaghan

Like the Women’s March on January 21st, the March for Science’s biggest crowds are expected in Washington D.C. But there are eight satellite marches in the Bay Area where you can show your support:

 

San Francisco Start: Justin Herman Plaza, 11:00 AM; End: Civic Center Plaza

San Jose Start: San Jose City Hall, 11:00 AM; End: Plaza de Cesar Chavez

Santa Cruz Start: Santa Cruz City Hall, 10:00 AM; End: San Lorenzo Park

Pacifica Start: 2:30 PM, from Linda Mar Beach to Rockaway Beach and back

Walnut Creek Start: Civic Park, 10:00 AM

Livermore Start and End: Livermore High School; 1:00 PM

Hayward Start: Hayward Shoreline Interpretive Center, 10:00 AM

Berkeley Start: Sproul Plaza, 4:00 PM

Here is a list of Earth Day events in the Bay Area:

http://www.bayareaearthday.org/bayareaearthdayevents/

 

Will you stand up for science?