Opulent Textiles from the California Missions

This past weekend I had the distinct pleasure of visiting the de Sassiet Museum at Santa Clara University for a Costume Society of America Western Region program, led by Elise Rousseau,  on the collection of liturgical vestments of the California Mission era.

The skill and craftsmanship displayed within these examples are a beautiful sight to behold – regardless of any personal religious affiliations. They included delicate metallic embroidery, stump-work, lace, and other high quality hand-work. The textiles themselves included rich brocades, chenille pile velvets, taffeta’s, and other delicate objects of finery (all VERY old, especially for California). The de Saisset Museum houses one of the most important collections of ecclesiastical garments and liturgical accessories dating from the founding of Mission Santa Clara de Asìs in 1777 through the 1920s. This collection had been hidden behind a false wall for years, unknown to the collections staff until a recent 2005 renovation revealed it.

Mission-Era Vestments from the Permanent Collection (on view to December 2) presents only a small portion of what may very well be the largest known collection of California Mission Vestments. Groups of 17th and 18th century copes, dalmatics, chasubles and accessories demonstrate a range of styles and purposes, as well as fabric and production origins.

The composition and use of these textiles offered a glimpse into the history and role of the global silk trade with far east Asia on the Spanish Galleons during the height of the Spanish Empire, Colonial Nueva España, and into the Franciscan Missions in California.

For more, check out the gallery of images below:

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From Tutus to Trunks: The Shaping of Dance Design with Connie Strayer

Saturday, November 17, 2012
10 am

Costume design by Connie Strayer for Sunken Cathedral, choreographed by Mark Foeringer for Mark Foeringer Dance Project

From the heavy and concealing costumes for dance in the time of Louis XIV to the more revealing body hugging costumes of today, design for dance has evolved alongside fashion, but has been molded by individuals in the field with vision and/or purpose. They are artists, choreographers, directors, and the dancers themselves. Political upheavals, literature and art movements, as well as technical advancements have made their mark on the visuals of dance. These major events coupled with unique individuals have brought us to a bounty of visual riches in dance today. In this lecture we will take a whirlwind tour into the origins of dance design up to the current day, and beyond.

Connie Strayer is a Costume Designer and Senior Lecturer in Design in the Department of Theatre and Performance Studies at Stanford University.

This event will be held at the de Young, Koret Auditorium, de Young Museum, San Francisco:

Details: http://deyoung.famsf.org/deyoung/calendar/tutus-trunks-shaping-dance-design-connie-strayer

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CSA Western Event: Mission Vestments at the de Saisset Museum

Mission Period Ecclesiastical Vestments from the de Saisset Museum Permanent Collection and Annual Membership Meeting
November 10, 2012

de Saisset Museum, 500 el Camino Real, Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, CA

Join us for a presentation and tours of the richly-textured, exotic and clandestine histories of the Vestment and Liturgical Garments used in Alta California’s Missions. Guest speaker Elise Yvonne Rousseau will discuss their worldly origins, spanning more than two centuries and four continents.

Photo credits: Elise Yvonne Rousseau – ACdR 2001. 17th c. metallic banana silk brocade – Phillipines, 16th c. silk brocade, with metallic braid trim – Spain, 18th c. silk brocade – Mexico City, Nueva Espania, 18th c. flat silk embroidery – Peking, China

Reservations must be received by Nov. 1, 2012

Tickets include lunch:
• CSA Members $30
• CSA Student Member(s) $20
• Non-Member(s) $40
• Student Non-Member(s) $25
• Special: SCU Student and Faculty/Staff Non-Members
With lunch $25
Without lunch $15

Download the registration form to sign up and get information about the schedule, lunch, directions and special hotel rates.

Registration Form

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News Alert: Museum of Craft & Folk Art to close December 1st

Thursday September 20, 2012


The Museum of Craft and Folk Art (MOCFA) on Yerba Buena Lane announces that it will be closing its doors on December 1, 2012 at the end of the run of its current international exhibition “Fiber Futures: Japan’s Textile Pioneers.”

Sustainability in the current economic climate, with reduced funding for the arts, was a significant factor in the decision, but Museum leadership also felt that, in many ways, MOCFA had achieved its essential mission.

“MOCFA has been a leading platform for critical discussions and a change in perspective around craft and folk art in the contemporary art field,” says MOCFA director Jennifer McCabe. “Contemporary artists who engage in craft traditions are now embraced by the contemporary art market and by larger venues including leading museums, which was generally not the case when we began. We would like to frame the closing of the Museum on its 30th anniversary as a celebration of the incredible contributions MOCFA has made in the Bay Area and beyond. The organization should be remembered for its groundbreaking exhibitions, a commitment to arts education in schools, and its strong ties in the community. We would like to thank the generosity of our funders, not all of who can be mentioned here but include: MOCFA Board of Directors, Fleishhacker Foundation, Gertrud and Harold Parker, Grants for the Arts/San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund, Kimball Foundation, Bernard Osher Foundation, Walter & Elise Haas Fund, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Zellerbach Family Foundation, Millennium Partners, and all Museum members and friends.”

MOCFA Board Chair, Elaine Connell adds, “The Museum of Craft and Folk Art is proud of its 30-year history, but due to material changes and the economic climate, the Board of Directors is saddened to inform the public of MOCFA’s imminent closure. While decisions of this magnitude are never easy, we are proud to be closing at such a high point in the organization’s history, and thankful for the leadership of Director Jennifer McCabe, along with Curator Natasha Boas, Educator Linda Janklow, and all the amazing staff who have contributed immensely to exhibitions and public programs.”

Founded in 1982 by craft artist and patron of the arts Gertrud Parker, the Museum’s mission has been to “provide exhibitions and educational programs to enrich and inspire, honor cultural traditions past and present, and celebrate the creative spirit.” MOCFA has provided innovative exhibitions and educational programs that have been designed to connect with and inspire diverse communities and served the Bay Area, as well as San Francisco visitors.

As the only folk art museum in Northern California, the Museum has been recognized for its rich offering of focused and unique exhibitions of traditional and contemporary folk art and craft from around the world — demonstrating how folk art, contemporary craft, and fine art are all part of the same continuum.

Over the past 30 years, the Museum has exhibited hundreds of artists and significant local and national craft and folk art collections such as “Will the Circle Be Unbroken: Four Generations of African-American Quiltmakers”;  “Emblems of Passage: Art of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas”;  “June Schwarz: Enameled Bowls and Wall Pieces”;  “The Road to Heaven is Built by Good Works: Southern Visionaries”;  “Not So Naive: Bay Area Artists and Outsider Art”; “The Art of Gaman: Arts and Crafts From the Japanese Internment Camp 1942-1946”; and “Simply Shaker: The Ben and Toby Rose Collection of Shaker Arts and Crafts.”

In the new Yerba Buena Lane space, MOCFA enjoyed critical acclaim and strong admission numbers for its lively and engaging exhibitions, such as “E is for Everyone: Celebrating Sister Corita”; “Volver: Mexican Folk Art into Play”; “Clare Rojas: We They, We They”; “Rhythm and Hues: Cloth and Culture of Mali”; “Open Source Embroidery”; “Inside/Outside: Artist Environments”; and “The Shape of Things: Paper Traditions and Transformations.”

The Museum has been dedicated to working with artists on commissions of new work as well as promoting artist-led projects and public programs.

MOCFA’s monthly CRAFT BAR series in partnership with ETSY has become a San Francisco tradition with an avid following of makers who converge on the Museum and on Yerba Buena Lane to socialize, learn new skills, and take something handmade home. CRAFT BAR has become a model for many national museums like the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian and has been presented at meetings of the California Association of Museums and American Association of Museums, as well as at Maker Faire and the American Craft Council. The program Thinking by Hand was created as a quarterly conversation platform that takes place in MOCFA’s gallery and engages the growing number of constituencies interested in the nuances of materiality and its creation of meaning, and has included such guests as Heath Ceramics, Christina Kim of DOSA, and textile expert Yoshiko Wada. Make It @ MOCFA is a monthly family-friendly workshop designed in conjunction with exhibitions and in collaboration with visiting artists.

MOCFA’s award-winning educational outreach program has explored global artistic traditions and innovations through hands-on art making workshops customized for K-12 grades fostering self-esteem and respect for cultural diversity.

“Craft and folk art traditions infuse today’s most dynamic artists and artistic practices and San Francisco has always been a locus for serious experimentation in arts and crafts and social practice,” says Natasha Boas, MOCFA Curator. “It is our hope that the innovative exhibitions, public programs, and conversations that have been seeded at MOCFA will continue to be promoted and supported by our larger San Francisco arts institutions.”

In lieu of a closing party, please join the MOCFA board, staff and volunteers for a members’ reception for Fiber Futures x2 from 5-8 pm on Friday October 12, 2012. Visit mocfa.org for more information.”

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San Francisco Silent Film Festival: today – July 15, 2012

Louise Brooks in Pandora's Box (1929)
The Spanish Dancer (1923) costume sketch by Howard Greer (AMPAS)

Starting this evening, the San Francisco Silent Film Festival begins with a showing of Wings (1927) – a film about a lady aviator (or ‘flyer’) starring ‘it girl” Clara Bow. It is one of my favorite silent films, the story AND the costumes are great. Stella Dallas (1925), Mantrap (1926), Spanish Dancer (1923) and Pandora’s Box (1929) are some other favorites with great clothes and great characters. These — plus, the Mark of Zorro (1920) and The Cameraman (1928) with Buster Keaton–make this a killer line-up. The full list of films is below, do yourself a favor and go !

(More details are available here)

17th Annual
San Francisco Silent Film Festival
July 12-15 at the Castro Theatre, San Francisco

View the Full Program Now! Tickets & PassesNow on Sale!

July 12
7:00 pm Opening Night Film
WINGS (1927)
9:30 pm Opening Night Party at
McRoskey Mattress Company
July 13
10:30 am Amazing Tales from
the Archives
1:00 pm LITTLE TOYS (1933)
4:00 pm THE LOVES OF PHARAOH (1922)
7:00 pm MANTRAP (1926)
July 14
10:00 am FELIX THE CAT SILENT CARTOONS (1925-1929)
12:00 noon THE SPANISH DANCER (1923)
2:30 pm THE CANADIAN (1926)
5:00 pm SOUTH (1919)
7:00 pm Centerpiece Film
10:00 pm THE OVERCOAT (1926)
July 15
10:00 am THE MARK OF ZORRO (1920)
12:00 noon THE DOCKS OF NEW YORK (1928)
2:00 pm EROTIKON (1920)
4:30 pm STELLA DALLAS (1925)
7:30 pm THE CAMERAMAN (1928)
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Dance Archives Open House (including Costumes!)


Dance Archives Open House

Museum of Performance and Design,

Saturday, June 30, 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm

On the occasion of the Dance/USA Conference held this year in San Francisco, Museum of Performance and Design will display, for one day only, a selection of unique documents and costumes from the dance archives. The Museum will also give a tour of the regional hub of Dance Heritage Coalition’s Secure Media Network, which is hosted locally at MPD. The Secure Media Network is an online searchable database of streaming archival-quality dance footage.

This event is free and open to the public.



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Irish People, Irish Linen: Sunday, May 20 in San Francisco


Sunday, May 20 at the UICC, 4pm Irish People, Irish Linen with Author Kathleen Curtis Wilson. Presented by the Irish Literary & Historical Society of the San Francisco Bay Area.

The Irish Literary & Historical Society welcomes Kathleen Curtis Wilson who will speak about her highly acclaimed book Irish People, Irish Linen – the story of the craft, industry, and traditions of the Irish linen trade. The story of Irish linen is a story of the Irish people. Many thousands of men and women made Irish linen a global product and an international brand. Into this cultural history Ms. Wilson weaves personal narratives and the words and songs of individual spinners, factory workers, and out-workers like Sarah McCabe, who created fabulous linen lace. The book has garnered high praise, with one scholar proclaiming “Kathleen Curtis Wilson eloquently describes the saga in her beautifully illustrated book on linen, the queen of fabrics.”

Ms. Wilson arrived at her passion for textile crafts early in life, captivated by a chest full of Japanese fabrics she found in her grandparents’ attic, she pursued weaving from the age of 12 under expert tutelage. She became a renowned authority on Appalachian crafts, and became increasingly drawn to the Scots-Irish roots of Southern textiles, and linen in particular. This took her on a path of discovery to Northern Ireland and the treasures of linen craft that have been handed down for generations. Please join us for this very special event, a reception will follow the presentation

When: Sunday May 20, 4pm

Where: The United Irish Cultural Center, 2700 45th Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94116. (Saint Francis Room)

Admission: $5 for visitors, free for ILHS members

More information: www.ILHSsf.org or call Kathy Hall, Membership Secretary ILHS at 650-235-6862

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Costume sale at the Museum of Performance and Design

Saturday, June 9, 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Choose from thousands of opera, theatre, dance, musical theatre and film-related items. These items are duplicate material from our library collection. Pay one admission for each time you pass through the Sale in the Main Gallery and take away as much as you can carry in one arm load. Individually priced items will be available for sale in the adjacent Reception Gallery. Proceeds benefit the preservation of MPD’s collections.

Members-Only Hour, 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM, $20 (Purchase Tickets)

General Public , 12:00 PM – 4:00 PM, $25 (Purchase Tickets)

Museum of Performance & Design,
Veterans Bldg., 401 Van Ness Ave, Suite 402
San Francisco, CA 94102
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Herb Ritts: LA Style at the Getty

Wrapped Torso, Los Angeles, 1989, Herb Ritts, platinum print. © Herb Ritts Foundation (Getty Museum)

Following in the footsteps of  other important fashion photographers such as George Hurrell, Horst P. Horst, Louise Dahl Wolfe, Irving Penn, and Richard Avedon, 1980s photographer Herb Ritts (1952–2002) is now the center of an exhibition titled Herb Ritts: LA Style, through August 26, 2012, at the Getty Center, West Pavillion in Los Angeles. Best known for his fashion photography, nudes and celebrity portraits in dazzling black and white his photographs seem to search for and elevate pure beauty.

The online component of the exhibition includes a brief overview, and of the above photograph, explains:

“To show off this dress by Issey Miyake, Ritts selected a dark backdrop and had model Karen Alexander adopt a ballet-like pose. Lighted from above, the semitranslucent fabric both reveals and obscures the contours of the model’s body. The photographer’s choice of the platinum printing process over the less expensive and more common gelatin silver process gives the photograph a significantly wider range of tones and a luxurious matte surface.”

Greg Louganis, Hollywood, Herb Ritts, 1985. © Herb Ritts Foundation

Tomorrow evening, visual studies scholar Jonathan Katz will give a lecture titled “Aide/AIDS-mémoire: Herb Ritts and the Picture of Health.” His lecture will, in part, resituate “Ritts’s work in the social and cultural context of the worst years of the plague” and argue “that his commercial and critical import stem in large part from the fact that he was an openly gay photographer who nonetheless proffered a utopian dream…”


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