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New, previously unseen photos of Marilyn Monroe are hitting the auction block!  Sound familiar?  It seems that every other week more photos of Monroe are “discovered” in someone’s drawer or in a box somewhere.  Did this woman, possibly the most famous woman in the world then and now, ever live an undocumented moment in her life?  Why, 50 years after her death, are we still hell bent on consuming her in any form?  She is the subject of a current NBC drama, a recent movie starring Michelle Williams, and countless books, documentaries, and television shows.  Even her diary, with its revelations and private worries, has been published.

And yet I find myself wanting more, and I’m not alone.  For those of us who still can’t get enough, the estate of Monroe’s longtime friend and makeup artist Allan “Whitey” Snyder have partnered with Julien’s Auctions to sell an extensive collection of photos (including copyrights) and other ephemera.  The auction will take place March 31st and April 1st live and online.

Detail from a collection of slides to be auctioned this weekend

Slides from the auction to be held this weekend

For more information on the auction, click here.

-Jayme Catalano

Looking at Richard Diebenkorn’s geometrical, abstract paintings, one might assume he had been inspired by architecture and the straight lines of civilization and modernity.  His inspiration, however, came from the natural, rolling hillside he could see from his studio window.  As Susan Stamberg says in her NPR piece on the artist, “Diebenkorn, looking up at the Ocean Park hills through his studio’s big windows, didn’t paint the landscape; he painted the quality of light on the landscape, framed by the angled geometry of those windows.”  The Orange County Museum of Art is currently staging the first major exhibition of the artist’s celebrated Ocean Park Series through May 27th.

Ocean Park #79 by Richard Diebenkorn

For more information on the exhibition, visit the museum website; for more on the artist, click here.

-Jayme Catalano

The Compound Gallery in San Francisco has an answer to the ubiquitous wine and produce subscription services:  art subscription!  Just like a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), subscribers answer a few questions about their likes/dislikes and how often they’d like to receive their $50 deliveries.  Instead of organic produce, however, they receive artwork in a variety of mediums by Bay Area artists.  Featured artists have included ceramicists, print makers, painters, etc.

A recent subscriber box containing work by Jeanne Lorenz.

Visit Art in a Box to sign up.  Click here for more work by Jeanne Lorenz.

-Jayme Catalano

When I first encountered ‘Pope Innocent X’ at the Doria Pamphili Gallery in Rome, I was struck by one over-whelming and unshakeable impression:  that man looks exactly like Gene Hackman.  The resemblance is uncanny.  Maybe we’re all walking around with recycled faces, our own doppelgangers lost in obscurity.  One thing is for certain:  Gene Hackman’s own double lived more than three hundred years ago, he schemed and plotted to obtain ultimate power, and he is forever immortalized in Diego Velazquez’ masterpiece of intensity and psyche.

From left to right, actor Gene Hackman and detail from 'Pope Innocent X' by Diego Velazquez.

To see the full painting, visit this website.

-Jayme Catalano

The Gold Scab by James Abbott McNeill Whistler, 1879.

James Whistler is most famously known for the boldly composed painting of his mother, ‘Arrangements in Grey and Black No. 1.’  ‘The Gold Scab’ is a stark departure:  modern, angry, and comical.  It resembles something out of the oeuvre of Picasso or Dr. Seuss, not a Victorian artist known mostly for sweet portraits of women in somber grey or billowy white.

Directly before embarking on a costly and ruinous libel suit against art critic John Ruskin, Whistler was commissioned to “touch up” a decorative mural in the home of Frederick Leyland.  His task was to “harmonize” the room, improve upon the work done by another interior decorative artist.  Instead, Whistler “went on-without design or sketch-putting in every touch with such freedom…I forgot everything in my joy in it.”  He created a room awash in brilliant blue-green and gold leaf, a complete re-design of the original; he called his masterpiece ‘Harmony in Blue and Gold:  The Peacock Room.’  Leyland, furious with the drastic and unauthorized changes, refused to pay Whistler’s commission fee.  The loss of this much-needed income, a ruined reputation with other art patrons, and his disastrous libel suit against Ruskin resulted in bankruptcy.  Whistler’s beloved White House and his belongings were auctioned off by his creditors, including Leyland.

The enraged artist painted a caricature of Frederick Leyland as a greedy, vain and contemptible peacock sitting atop Whistler’s beloved White House.  The painting is an aggressive personal attack on Leyland and a bitter representation of Whistler’s own anger and disappointment.  He left the painting hanging prominently when his home and its contents were seized, a giant middle finger to Leyland and his other creditors.  The painting and a life-size photographic reproduction of the Peacock Room are currently being exhibited at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco through June 17.

For more information on The Cult of Beauty:  The Victorian Avant-Garde, 1860-1900, visit the Legion of Honor website.

-Jayme Catalano

We enjoyed attending the Arts Council Napa Valley Meet the Makers 2nd Annual Reception and Fundraiser at the beautiful Mumm Winery.  Despite the frigid weather, we indulged in bubbly, Buttercream bites, and beans.  We were delighted to meet Israel Valencia who graciously shared his unique take on portraiture.  Here’s his fun portrait of Rancho Gordo founder Steve Sando.

Portrait of Rancho Gordo founder Steve Sando by Israel Valencia

Portrait of Rancho Gordo founder Steve Sando by Israel Valencia

Steve Sando of Rancho Gordo by Israel Valencia

10492062_10154326950705237_2906088444357064083_nJayme Catalano 

Art that has moved me: Francesco Clemente, John Singer Sargent, Richard Avedon, Caravaggio, Seraphine Louis, Frida Kahlo

I crave: Brussels sprouts, kale, beets, curry and gingerbread

My evil twin is: Carnivorous and fur-wearing

Person who knows me best: My husband

I love:  Cooking, my little dog Pippy, beaches, adventures in Europe, whiskey sours with fresh lemon juice, letterpress, Northern New Mexico, mid-century modern, fashion design, Hawaii, and my husband

You couldn’t pay me enough to: Skydive

My favorite form of play: Dancing, Stand Up Paddle Boarding

I am inspired by art that: Captures the complexity of the human experience

I am at my best when: I have a creative challenge or project to tackle

Completely outrageous thing I would like to own: A sanctuary for farm animals, horses and dogs