Wordless Wednesday: Warm Water Cove Revisited

A bright return to an old favorite, Warm Water Cove Park on San Francisco’s central waterfront.

Wordless Wednesday: Radio Tower

Radio tower atop “Communications Hill” in San Jose, California.

Wordless Wednesday: Bronze Texture

Wordless Wednesday: Equinox (Sutro Tower and Sunbeams)

Wordless Wednesday: Garden of Stones

As we count down to the start of Passover, we look back at my visit to the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York last November. The Garden of Stones is a living memorial to the holocaust, with an arrangement of trees and stones that complement and contrast the architecture of the building. From this perspective, they also frame 1 World Trade Center quite nicely.

CatSynth Pic: Merce, Jomox Resonator Neuronium, MicroKORG, and Fluxus

Our friend Merce joins us again, with the Jomox Resonator Neuronium along with the MicroKORG. He also shares this classic Fluxus piano piece by George Brecht.

When you can’t even get a Fluxus piece right. George Brecht, “3 Piano Pieces,” from Water Yam, 1962

Even we at CatSynth sometimes find it hard to Fluxus right in these anxious times.

Wordless Wednesday: Alien San Francisco

A combination of Hipstamatic presets turns an industrial section of San Francisco into an alien landscape.

Wordless Wednesday: Shadow and Brick

Hipstamatic image from our neighborhood of San Francisco.

MoMA 2019, Part 2: Sur Moderno, David Tudor Rainforest V, Contemporary Galleries

We pick up our report from our recent visit to the Museum of Modern in Art where we left off after Part 1. Working my way gradually downstairs, I came to the special exhibition Sur moderno: Journeys of Abstraction―The Patricia Phelps de Cisneros Gift. This is a major exhibition that fills several galleries with modernist works by South American artists through the 20th century.

As in other parts of the world, South American artists embraced abstraction in the decades following World War II, with lines shapes of minimal color palettes. In his aptly named Curves and Straight Series, Argentine artist Alfredo Hlito takes this to an extreme with thin lines and curves against an off-white background, while Uruguayan artist María Friere used bolder lines and colors in her Untitled.

Alfredo Hlito. Curves and Straight Series / Curvas y series rectas, 1948. Oil on canvas. 27 3/4 × 27 3/4″ (70.5 × 70.5 cm) 
María Freire (Uruguayan, 1917–2015). Untitled. 1954. Oil on canvas, 36 1/4 × 48 1/16″ (92 × 122 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Patricia Phelps de Cisneros through the Latin American and Caribbean Fund in honor of Gabriel Pérez‑Barreiro

Both of these pieces feel like they could have been three-dimensional pieces of design, and in fact, the exhibition does include several striking three-dimensional works. When seen head-on, Jesús Rafael Soto’s Double Transparency appears to be a plat painting or print, but from the side the depth becomes apparent.


Jesús Rafael Soto. Double Transparency  / Doble transparencia, 1956 . Oil on plexiglass and wood with metal rods and bolts. 21 5/8 × 21 5/8 × 12 5/8″ (55 × 55 × 32 cm) 

The lines-in-space motif is also used in Ocho cuadrados (Eight Squares) by Gertrud Goldschmidt, also known as Gego.

Gego (Gertrud Goldschmidt). Ocho cuadrados / Eight Squares, 1961. Painted iron. 66 15/16 × 25 3/16 × 15 3/4″ (170 × 64 × 40 cm) 

The recurring motifs in many of the works show the influence of Piet Mondrian, not just the most familiar neoplastic pieces but his earlier and later work as well. Indeed, I was happy to find Broadway Boogie Woogie hanging in this exhibition after not seeing it in the main collection display. As much as any work in MoMA’s permanent collection, I have a regard for this painting as if it were a friend and not just a work of art.

Piet Mondrian. Broadway Boogie Woogie, 1942-43. Oil on canvas. 50 x 50″ (127 x 127 cm) 

But perhaps the most extreme interpretation of the grid was found in Antonieta Sosa’s Visual Chess.

Antonieta Sosa. Visual Chess / Ajedrez visual, 1965. Acrylic on wood 
37 1/8 × 37 1/16 × 1 3/16″ (94.3 × 94.2 × 3 cm) 

As part of its expansion, MoMA launched a new gallery space called the Marie-Josée and Henry Kravis Studio, or simply “the Studio”, a space dedicated for live, interactive, and multimedia art. The inaugural exhibit was Rainforest V, an evolution of David Tudor’s Rainforest. Originally a score for a collaboration with Merce Cunningham, it evolved into a performance installation. The latest version, realized by Composers Inside Electronics (CIE), is controlled by computer rather than live performers, as visitors wander through the space.

The installation is constructed from everyday objects, such as a metal barrel, a vintage computer hard disc, plastic tubing, wood crates, and more. The objects and materials are fitted with a vast array of speakers and become resonators that shape and amplify the sound.

The best moments are getting close to an object, such as the barrel or balsa-wood box with simulated earphones, and standing for a moment then walking around. I regret that an iPhone in a crowded gallery is not the best way to record and share it with readers – it really music be seen in person.


There was still more to see, including the newly expanded second-floor gallery for contemporary (1980s-present) works. This period has traditionally been a more mixed one for me, but there are gems and inspirations to be found. There was a large gallery-spanning work by Keith Haring.

Keith Haring

An equally monumental piece by Julie Mehretu called Empirical Construction: Istanbul a fantastic futuristic cityscape radiating in multiple dimensions.

Julie Mehretu. Empirical Construction: instanbul, 2003. Acrylic and ink on Canvas.

On the opposite scale is Eduardo Kac’s Reabracadabra, a video piece realized as graphics inside a vintage Minitel terminal.

Eduardo Kac. Reabracadabra, 1985. Minitel terminal and digital poem transferred to video (0:35 min).

Kac’s piece reminded me of my interest in vintage electronics finding new life as dynamic art pieces.

We end with one panel from a larger work by the artist Zarina, Home Is A Foreign Place.

Zarina. Home Is A Foreign Place, 1999. Woodcuts with letterpress additions mounted on paper.

There is something bleak about an entire musical score made of rests, but also intriguing, and even curious. It is perhaps a reminder that exploring a museum top to bottom invites one to escape one’s comfort zones even at the same time as seeking comfort and solace. I’m glad this visit afforded opportunities for both.

Wordless Wednesday: Lute (New York)

Lute sculpture in Battery Park at the southern end of Manhattan.