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Dec 13 11

Retracing my Steps

by mana
The Medici Fountain

The Medici Fountain in Jardin du Luxembourg

I traversed the Luxembourg garden for many years during my studies at the Université de Panthéon Assas. The Medici fountain is centuries old. Its calm, unchanging presence always gave me a feeling of peace.

Université Paris 2, Panthéon-Assas

Université Paris 2, Panthéon-Assas

Just across the street, the bustling students hurry about the modern university.

The Carousel du Louvre on a rainy day

The Carousel du Louvre on a rainy day

Paris contains many worlds within.

Nov 16 11

Crème de la Crème

by mana

When most Americans hear the word Chantilly, they think of the 1958 rock and roll hit by the Big Bopper, Chantilly Lace.

But of course, Chantilly is really a town in France and near the town is the beautiful Château de Chantilly. Of all the many fine châteaux in France, this is my favorite.

Château de Chantilly

Château de Chantilly

The Château de Chantilly has a unique charm that results from the manner in which it was developed. In the Middle Ages, it was a fortress of seven towers surrounded by an irregular moat. In the 17th century, its aristocratic owners decided to preserve these old structures and to build the garden around them. Other Châteaux such as the Palace of Fontainebleau feature a rectilinear layout in which the central axis of the gardens bisects the main house at right angles to the main elevation. At Chantilly, necessity compelled the eminent landscape architect André Le Nôtre to adopt a daring design. The axis runs parallel to the front of the château, with the central focus on an impressive equestrian statue of Anne de Montmorency, the 16th-century Constable of France and the château’s onetime owner.

Château de Fontainebleau, interior frescoes

Château de Fontainebleau, interior frescoes

As you approach, you see the horse and rider against the sandy paths; as you get closer the statue shifts against a different background, the sky. Only when you reach the moat does the château itself come into view. In this design, the gardens dominate the architecture but each element, sand, sky, water, gardens comes into view in a dynamic manner, creating a very intimate and poetic feel. The castle also houses the Musée Condé, one of the finest art galleries in France, second only to the Louvre, as well as one of the most magnificent libraries in France.

In April, 1671, Louis de Bourbon, the Prince of Condé, held an extravagant banquet at the Château in honor of Louis XIV. There were 2000 guests and the Prince spared no effort to make a good impression on the King. According to legend, his maître d’hôtel, Francois Vatel, grew so upset when the fish arrived late that he committed suicide by running himself through with his sword. It is also claimed that Crème Chantilly was served for the first time on this occasion. Whether this is true or not, it is indisputable that the Château became a symbol of refined food at a time when the French were raising cookery to a fine art.

Crème Chantilly is whipped cream sweetened with sugar and often flavored with vanilla. You might like to try it this Thanksgiving on your pumpkin pie. As you enjoy your food and company, be glad that you do not have the 2000 guests of the poor Vatel.

Oct 30 11

Paris, Who Are You?

by mana

Eugène Delacroix; Liberty Leading the People

Baudelaire wrote of Eugène Delacroix that
he was passionately in love with passion, but coldly determined to express passion as clearly as possible. I thought of this as I visited the Musée National Eugène Delacroix in the artist’s old apartment on the rue de Fürstenberg. For me, Paris has always stirred many passions.

Delacroix’s well-known painting of Liberty leading the people captures the ideological ferment that has always been part of Paris in a single brilliant scene. The figure of Liberty is symbolic, yet she seems to fit naturally into the crowd, striding right out of the picture at the viewer. The fighters surrounding her represent the whole range of social classes, from the young bourgeois in his top hat to the masses of poor people. The young boy with pistols is said to have inspired the character of Gavroche in Les Misérables, which made such a strong impression on me as a child.
The scene commemorates the Revolution of 1830, but could apply just as well to many episodes in the long struggle toward democracy in France.

Delacroix's Atelier

Delacroix's Atelier

The painting was at first kept out of public view by the French government, which considered it too inflammatory. Only after the revolution of 1848 was it finally put on display by the new ruler, Napoleon III. Today, it resides in the Louvre and is seen by millions of visitors.

In my imagination, Paris is dark and black just like scenes from Les Misérables, the 19th century Paris with black cobblestone streets, men walking in their black hats, a shabby Paris. I remember the tears running down my face when I was eight years old, reading the story.

Then came the Paris of the Steins, Leo and Gertrude, buzzing with the new ideas of Modernism and the art of Picasso, Matisse, Cezanne, and so many others. The walls of their apartment on the rue de Fleurus are crowded with paintings. The air is thick with the excitement of innovation and discovery.

Palais des Etudes; Cour vitrée

Palais des Etudes; Cour vitrée

Paris, who are you? A shabby Paris? An avant-garde Paris? A Ritzy Paris? Drinks at the bar at Plaza Athenee have lights in them. Paris, who are you? The Paris of the cafes? La Palette, so close to the Ecole Nationale des Beaux-Arts, is the café where Cezanne and Braque drank. Now Lonely Planet ranks it number 1267 of 1466 things to do in Paris.

Pont Neuf

Pont Neuf

Paris, who are you? Under the Pont Neuf bridge, on a gorgeous night with the Seine and the lights just like a Vermeer painting, a man sleeps in his bag but he is made of flesh and blood. Hollande vs. Sarkozy, what will be the outcome of the elections? I think that the man will still sleep there in any case.

Delacroix’s passion was stirred by the struggle between the old and the new, and his own art was revolutionary in its technique. The same artistic struggle was carried forward by the Modernists whose work the Steins encouraged so effectively. When I am in Paris today, I still feel the conflict between the old and new. The energy that comes from it is what I love about this city.

Oct 3 11

The Politics of Savage Beauty

by mana

Alexander McQueen's Exhibit at the Met

Alexander McQueen's Exhibit at the Met; photo by Chez Mana

During the summer of 2011, Savage Beauty, an exhibit of Alexander McQueen’s work at the Met caught my attention and the attention of a million others.

As I waited in the long line to reach the Costume Institute on the second floor, my eyes wandered over the artifacts in the Ancient Middle Eastern Art galleries. When I finally reached the exhibit, I was not disappointed.

I had not followed McQueen before but I found myself increasingly interested in what I saw. Among the wide assortment of his work on display, many reflect an aggression that confronts the viewer. His themes include gender, identity, nature and history. It was the last of these that affected me the most.

Arms and Armors

Arms and Armors gallery; photo by Chez Mana

McQueen’s parents were Scottish and he had strong patriotic feelings for his ancestral land. His collection Highland Rape was based on the Jacobite Risings and the ensuing Clearances: after suppressing the Jacobite uprising in 1745, the English began a policy of “clearing” the Scottish Highlands. This caused great hardship to the Highlanders and put an end to their traditional way of life. In McQueen’s words

This collection was a shout against English designers doing flamboyant Scottish clothes. My father’s family originates from the Isle of Skye, and I’d studied the history of the Scottish upheavals and the Clearances. People were so unintelligent they thought this was about women being raped – yet Highland Rape was about England’s rape of Scotland.

The dramatic Dress number 13, from his spring-summer 1999 collection, has an echo of the same theme. Inspired by installation artist Rebecca Horn, a model in a pure white dress on a circular platform is threatened by two robots that surround her and spray the dress with brightly colored paints. Model Shalom Harlow felt that this symbolized sexual submission, but I see a different interpretation.

The model has come between two technologically sophisticated competitors, who draw lines across her dress dividing the territory between them. She has no control over her destiny, reminding me of another English conquest. In the late summer of 1941, Great Britain and the USSR launched a surprise attack against Iran and quickly overran it. The scene of the two robots spraying and drawing lines on the white dress epitomizes that conquest to me. The purpose was to gain control of Iran’s oil and to secure supply lines into the Soviet Union. The occupation continued until the end of the war.

Arms for Man and Horse

Arms for Man and Horse, etched steel, Wolfgang Groschedel; photo by Chez Mana

In its aftermath, Iran entered a turbulent political era. The old Shah had died during the war and his son took his place. The reformist prime minister Mohammad Mossadegh nationalized the oil industry, setting in motion a series of confrontations with Great Britain that culminated in his overthrow in a coup that was supported by the British and US intelligence services. Mossadegh’s foreign affairs minister, Hossein Fatemi, was executed. These events set the stage for the close association between the Shah and the government of the United States, which eventually unraveled in 1979. Perhaps there might have been a very different outcome if Mossadegh had been able to remain in power.

The Met is a fascinating place. It embraces 5000 years of human creativity. A visit to the Arms and Armor gallery on the first floor completed my thoughts on dress number 13. The armors were beautiful. There is art even in savagery.

Leaving the Met, I took a last picture of a worker on its beautiful roof.

Looking up at the Met

Looking up at the Met; photo by Chez Mana

Sep 16 11

Reaching the Clouds

by mana

Reaching the Clouds

Reaching the Clouds; Photo by Chez Mana

New York is a place like no other. It is shaped by people from diverse cultures that have converged, driven by their historical struggles and in search of their individual freedom, constantly striving towards a vision they can never reach. I started discovering this city during my recent short stay, beginning each day with a view of the Hudson River from my apartment in Manhattan. Looking at the sky with the buildings in the background, I thought of the movie Man on Wire. It tells the story of the French funambulist Philippe Petit, who committed the “artistic crime of the century. “ He walked on a wire 1350 feet above the ground while 100,000 New Yorkers watched. After many years of planning, problem solving and practice, he realized his dream of reaching the clouds, expressing himself in a unique and astonishing way.

In the evenings, friends filled my apartment while during the day the cultural treasures of New York stimulated my senses. As I visited the world-class museums and attractions, one theme ran through my mind. New York, and all of humanity, has been shaped by individual realities and the struggle to express the emotions within them, which come to life through movies, musicals, architecture, and other types of art. The result is an aesthetic culture which conveys the struggles of people in such a poetic way. It is our duty not only to nurture this aesthetic but to democratize it and make it available to all people, since it helps us to live our lives in a more connected and optimistic way.

Dining room of Morris-Jumel mansion

Dining room of Morris-Jumel mansion; Photo by Chez Mana

I began my explorations with a visit to the nearby Morris-Jumel Mansion in Washington Heights. This Palladian mansion was the place for fashionable parties during the decade before the Revolutionary War. George Washington used it as his headquarters during the Battle of Harlem Heights in the fall of 1776. The young Continental Army repulsed a much stronger British force for their first battlefield victory under Washington. In later years, Washington dined there with his Cabinet, including Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, and John Adams.

View of George Washington Bridge from Fort Tryon Park

View of George Washington Bridge from Fort Tryon Park; Photo by Chez Mana

Further uptown, the beautiful Fort Tryon Park filled my day. This park is a country jewel inside bustling New York with views of the George Washington Bridge, trails for jogging, a beautiful garden and the Cloisters.
The Cloisters

The Cloisters; Photo by Chez Mana

The Cloisters is the branch of The Metropolitan Museum of Art devoted to the art and architecture of medieval Europe from the Romanesque period to the Gothic era. Its collection includes architectural fragments shipped from Europe by the Rockefeller clan that have been incorporated into the fabric of the neo-medieval building in a manner suggesting their original functions and situation. An amazing project fulfilling the dreams of one man that is now available to all, its peaceful setting is a sharp contrast with the busy city all around it.

Continuing on to Harlem was quite fascinating. Harlem today has rebounded from its past decline and once again resembles the vibrant cultural scene of the Prohibition era. It offers a well-preserved architecture of brownstones and fantastic nightlife. Although jazz originated in New Orleans, it reached its height here thanks to radio, recording, music publishing, and the way the clubs circumvented Prohibition. Today, I found that there is still great music at The Shrine and the Lenox Lounge, which occupies a gorgeously restored 1939 art deco bar. In the back, its Zebra Room is where Miles Davis, Billie Holiday and John Coltrane all performed. Next door, you can even try President Barack Obama’s fried chicken at the Red Rooster restaurant.

Inside the Cloister

Inside the Cloister; Photo by Chez Mana

Two performances that I saw brought the struggles of people in other times and places to life in the context of New York. With some Trinidadian friends, I saw the movie The Help, which depicts the complex relationships of class and race in Mississippi during the civil rights era. The Broadway musical Billy Elliot, which won 10 Tony awards, portrayed the dilemmas of a young man whose ambition to become a ballet dancer fits awkwardly in the working-class English mining culture in which he lives. The general mining strike of the 1980’s and the extinction of this way of life form a backdrop to his story.

A visit to the Bronx, one of the country’s poorest urban areas, showed a conflicting landscape. The Bronx contains one of the five poorest Congressional Districts in the U.S. while the Bronx Zoo is the largest metropolitan zoo in the United States. It houses more than 4500 animals, all well taken care of.

In contrast, Soho offers high end boutiques and is a playground for the young and the rich. The Housing Works Bookstore Café, an attractive two level bookstore and café carries second-hand books and gives all the proceeds to support services for people living with AIDS. It is a pleasant place to browse or sit and think about living life in a poetic way.

It is the search for the expression of individual realities and the human struggles to express those emotions that shapes the different parts of New York. And in that sense we all are New Yorkers. No other city epitomizes that expression of the human spirit better than New York.

Aug 13 11


by mana
Festival International de Jazz de Montréal

Festival International de Jazz de Montréal; Photo by Chez Mana

In the summer of 2011, I traveled across many borders, rediscovered friends, savored music and feasted on works of art that throughout questioned notions of identity, and physical boundaries.

At the Montreal Jazz Festival, three outstanding musicians caught my attention. Anouar Brahem, a Tunisian composer and master of the oud who combines Arab classical music with jazz, and traditional folk performed his Voyage De Sahar. He was accompanied by two French artists, Francois Couturier on piano, and Jean-Louis Matinier on accordian. That night, the world felt like an enchanting place.

Anouar Brahem's Poster

Anouar Brahem's Poster; Photo by Chez Mana

The delicately complex tunes carried me to all the regions that had left an imprint on their work. The humming of Anouar Brahem added a chanting mood. The whimsical accompaniment of the accordion and the way that the piano adapted itself to the rhythms of the oud made me feel as if I was flying over a varied landscape. The music came and went in such precision and innovation that it felt light in its complexity and rigor.

Chez Mana with Anouar Brahem and Jean-Louis Matinier

Chez Mana with Anouar Brahem and Jean-Louis Matinier

Next to me sat one of my favorite Canadian painters, Sophie Lambert.
As we absorbed the energy of the performance, I felt togetherness. The sounds transcended physical boundaries while preserving the individuality of each. The duo between Matinier and Brahem was so tango-like that I felt uneasy listening in between them, yet happy to have the opportunity.

Talking to Brahem afterwards, I learned that one of his collaborators was unable to get a visa to come to Canada. I then remembered the real world which is wonderful and horrible at the same time. It is the aesthetics that helps us tolerate the unhappier part of the world.

Anouar Brahem, Francois Couturier, Jean-Louis Matinier; Photo by Chez Mana

In Paris, I met with former classmates from grade school and university. The first reunion was at the Espace Louis Vuitton, where the exhibit Trans-Figurations represented eleven contemporary Indonesian artists. Tintin Wulia displayed her project (Re)Collections of Togetherness. With her work, the topic of borders, and boundaries came back. Wulia studies the relationship between political borders and personal identity. In this installation, Wulia’s chosen symbol of borders was passports. Through her work, she dissolves the physical boundaries in the modern world and shows that boundaries have meaning because of the social values that we attach to them. Our own identities cross many boundaries.

The feeling of togetherness continued when I met my friends and acquaintances. Nowadays, we were dispersed all over the world as a result of the historical events that had swept over us like a giant wave. The joy of being there was all the greater because of the many roads we had traveled from our common starting place.

Then came the breathtaking work of Michal Rovner at the Louvre. She explores the themes of archaeology, memory, and territory with works that are deeply influenced by the conflicts in the Middle East.

Rovner chose to install her exhibition at the Louvre in the rooms devoted to Syria, Jordan, and Palestine and the medieval moat. She creates her works in situ, projecting her videos directly onto the walls and ancient objects creating a dialogue between her moving figures and the ancient inscriptions. With her work, she abolishes the borders between periods and cultures, reinforcing the feelings of togetherness through human social experiences.

In this summer of 2011, I reconnected with old friends and found new connections to artists whose work I had not previously known. Through it all, there ran a feeling of togetherness, of bonds that are enriched by our origins and movements across boundaries. Those bonds remain rooted in our social identities through different cultures, which we construct ourselves despite the forces that may drive us to different places and ways of life.

Jun 10 11

A Solitary Journey

by mana

Régate à la Baie des Chaleurs

Régate à la Baie des Chaleurs, Prix du Public , Exposition Collective, Academie Nortaise, Brittany, France, 2004.

Sophie Lambert’s two paintings Régate à la Baie des Chaleurs and Le Solitaire offer a striking contrast. The first depicts an endless array of sailboats, each distinct but all quite similar, the participants in a regatta. They seem a community, like-minded people joined by their common interest.

Le Solitaire

Sophie Lambert, Le Solitaire

The other shows a single boat against a background that suggests an infinite expanse of sky and open sea. Three seagulls are flying by, but the feeling of solitude is palpable. Looking at these paintings stirred a number of reflections in me.

The isolation of the boat in Le Solitaire almost overwhelms me, especially when put in contrast with the closely connected group in Régate. It seems so alone, cut off from the rest of the world. Yet the prospect is thrilling as well as fearful . The solitary captain is completely in control of her fate, on a journey with no limits.
Life’s exigencies often put us in the position of that captain, driven apart from our communal roots and finding our own path through the clouds and waves. We know the same mixture of loneliness and anticipation, rejoicing in our self-reliance while regretting the loss of our former connections.

Exile and longing are themes that are explored by many artists, among them the Iranian-British visual artist Kourosh Salehi. His video Longing expresses the sadness of one who is cut off from his homeland. Combining Eastern and Western modes of expression, the generation of diaspora tries to resolve the discontinuity between their roots in a world that has now vanished and the familiar but not quite meaningful context of their present lives. The separation in time and space from where they once expected to spend their lives creates powerful feelings of longing and a desire for a new way of existence that can only emerge slowly and with great difficulty.

The music in the video is called Under this rock and is by British composer and musician Jocelyn Pook. Among her many accomplishments, Pook was chosen by legendary filmmaker Stanley Kubrick to score his final picture, 1999’s Eyes Wide Shut.

Political events sometimes trigger artistic expression, but the universality of art transcends politics. The feelings of solitude and longing expressed in Lamber’ts paintings and in Kourosh Salehi’s video are the same, though the contexts are very different. By discovering the common themes underlying the works of artists, you get a deeper understanding of realities which shape our common histories and our personal ones.

The lone sailor in Le Solitaire faces a daunting journey through solitude, but with the freedom to shape her own destiny, I like to think that she will find her way to the warm embrace of like-minded friends in Régate à la Baie des Chaleurs.

The painting Solitude is available for sale through Chez Mana along with other of Sophie Lambert’s paintings.

May 22 11

The Science of Swing

by mana

Mana Lewis greeting Andrei Broder

Mana Lewis greeting Andrei Broder; photo courtesy P. Gyulai (

When I was studying Economics, I realized that it is not a science in the same way as, say, Physics. Its theories depend on assumptions about how people and systems behave that ultimately cannot be separated from politics. I was dissatisfied with such subjective criteria for truth, so I turned to the more quantitative field of econometrics. Later, while political events were changing my life and the lives of millions of others, I searched for beauty in the truth of a simple mathematical theory or algorithm by taking refuge in computer science. Truth and certainty kept me grounded.

Eventually, I realized the limits of this way of seeing the world. Our experiences have objective causes but our subjective impressions form the essence of our view of reality.

Guests at Swing in the Spring

Guests at Swing in the Spring; photo courtesy Peggy Gyulai

These thoughts came to me as I reflected on Swing in the Spring, the Chez Mana event that took place on May 14th. The gathering brought together a fascinating variety of talents and perspectives. We had a sculptor, painters, skilled dancers, beautiful singers and wonderful musicians from every corner of the world, representing many artistic influences, cultures, and traditions.
A look at Swing in the Spring

Photo courtesy Peggy Gyulai

The audience too was varied and accomplished. The full room included leading researchers and entrepreneurs. The energy in the room was high, and it was exhilarating to participate in the interactions of so many different elements. Noam Eisen’s swing quintet, with vocalist Ariel Eisen, had the additional singing talents of Shannon Wolfe and Jonathan Poretz.
Ariel Eisen, Noam Eisen, Sam Rocha, Pete Cornell, Adam Goodhue (L to R); photo courtesy P. Gyula

Ariel Eisen, Noam Eisen, Sam Rocha, Pete Cornell, Adam Goodhue (L to R); photo courtesy P. Gyulai

While they performed lively swing music, the dancers showcased their skills and helped those who were not at ease to become more courageous.
Anna Sidana, Mana Lewis, Jonathan Poretz at table; Cityshapes - Island by Jeremy Sutton in background

Anna Sidana, Mana Lewis, Jonathan Poretz at table; Cityshapes - Island by Jeremy Sutton in background

Every table was decorated with the art work of Salma Arastu, and the paintings of Jeremy Sutton and Vannina Malekzadeh were displayed on all sides. As the guests ate, danced and discussed, they too became a part of the performance. The whole assembly became an organic whole bigger than the sum of its parts.
Vannina Malekzadeh and Shannon Wolfe; photo courtesy P. Gyulai

Vannina Malekzadeh and Shannon Wolfe; photo courtesy P. Gyulai

Swing in the Spring was driven by my vision of the creative possibilities that can arise from bringing together the right set of artistic elements in the proper setting. Finding the connection between different artists and the realities they want to communicate is similar to a methodically scientific search. As Caltech professor Matilde Marcolli remarks “one of the most exciting things in science is seeing unexpected connections between different things. At any given time you are just looking at a very small detail of this great big picture, and you try to connect as many dots as you can.” The intuition that lets us find these unexpected connections is based on objective analysis but is represented very subjectively. The abstract world of paintings and music is not much different from the abstract world of mathematics. Each is a search for beauty expressed in the creation of theories that represent the common properties between its elements and their relationships.

June 18th Exhbit - Sophie Lambert
One small area of the room showcased artworks by the talented Canadian painter, Sophie Lambert. Lambert’s work is characterized by bold use of color and most often depicts scenes of nature with great intensity. Her style is influenced by Turner, Thomson, and Monet among others. She has received many prizes and accolades. There will be an extensive exhibition of her work on June 18th. Further details will be forthcoming in the next week.

A final note on the wonderful artist behind most of the photos of the event. They were taken by Peggy Gyulai. She is a a San Francisco-based artist who has received many awards for her paintings and drawings.

May 10 11

Swing, Sway and Syncopate

by mana

Syncopation is the creation of rhythmic surprise. This can often be done by accenting certain notes or by unevenly timing the beats. When you hear syncopation, it makes you want to move, because the music has swing.

Music with swing has a forward momentum that drives you to dance and sway to the rhythm. Often this is done by dividing each beat into a pair of 8th notes, but playing the first note slightly longer than the second one (or vice versa), so that the first note “steals” some of the second note’s time. This is often called “swing time.”

At Swing in the Spring on May 14th, a fascinating mixture of performers and artists will create their own unique rhythm through their interactions. There will be improvisation and surprises which will hopefully make you want to dance! If not, just enjoy the music and the artists.

Sway with me

Vannina Malekzadeh, Sway with me, 2011, acrylic and collage

Vannina Malekzadeh creates elements of surprise and movement in her painting Sway with me. You do not see the faces of the dancers but only the movement of the skirt, the shadows of legs that are dancing with the other legs. In their shadow is a collage of buildings, cities, colors, a world that belongs to our imagination. One leads and the other follows but they do syncopate and express their individual time sequences together on a floor whose perspective leads you toward new discoveries.

Sway with me will be on display at Swing in the Spring along with other of Vannina’s paintings and works by renowned San Francisco artist Jeremy Sutton. Joining them will be sculptor and painter Salma Arastu, along with live entertainment from an impressive group of musicians. Three talented vocalists will sing Swing, Latin and blues: Shannon Wolfe has a lyrical and shimmering voice (click to hear her); Ariel Eisen will add bossa nova tunes in Portuguese, and Noam himself will take a turn, in addition to his regular duties at the piano.
Come out and swing Green Note and syncopate! For ticket information, click the button below.

Register for Swing in the Spring in Los Altos Hills, CA  on Eventbrite

Noam Eisen on piano

Bandleader and pianist Noam Eisen is from Toronto and studied classical music at the Royal Conservatory of Toronto, though his greatest passion is for jazz. Noam moved to San Francisco in 2001 following three years of living a cultural dream in Paris. He has an MS in Engineering from Stanford University, and an MBA from HEC Paris, and complements his musical activities with a career in pharmaceutical research. He is currently performing with San Francisco’s “Cosmo Alley Cats” and will debut his own Swing band quintet at Swing in the Spring.

Peter Cornell on saxophone

Pete Cornell is a versatile and talented Bay Area saxophonist. He has performed with the legendary Dan Hicks and for many years with Lavay Smith and Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers, appearing on her recent CD, Miss Smith To You.” He is a charter member and music director of the famed salsa band Mazacote producing their debut CD, Timbolero. Pete has played his music from Japan to Prague and Italy, and performed at the Monterey, San Jose, and San Francisco Jazz Festivals. He is currently appearing with the Cosmo Alleycats and with the sizzling 19-piece Pacific Mambo in SF. He enjoys sharing his love of music and rhythm with people of all ages and backgrounds.

Shannon Wolfe

With her lyrical and shimmering voice, the performance talents of vocalist Shannon Wolfe span opera and classical chamber music to swing and jazz ballads. A radiant and versatile performer, she has performed throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico. Miss Wolfe is the singer for the Skylark Trio, a vintage-inspired ensemble that brings to life the popular dance and film music of the 1920’s 30’s 40’s and 50’s. She appears with Noam Eisen as a duo act performing tailor-made concert and sing-along programs featuring the best of American musical theater and film song, retro jazz standards, cabaret, and operetta.
Miss Wolfe is a featured soloist with The Classical Revolution, whose mission is to ‘bring chamber music back to the streets’ and was recently heard singing for the Bach Birthday Bash at the San Francisco Palace of the Legion of Honor. She is a founding member of Vocallective, a consortium of classical singers, pianists and instrumentalists dedicated to preserving and performing chamber music masterpieces both old and new.
Based in San Francisco, Miss Wolfe holds a Master of Music degree from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music as well as a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology from Northern Arizona University. She is on the voice faculty of the Holy Name Conservatory of Music and maintains a private voice-teaching studio in San Francisco.

Ariel Eisen

Ariel Eisen

Ariel Eisen has been singing since she could make a joyful peep, and began writing music in her early teens, drawing inspiration from Paul Simon and Joni Mitchell to Billy Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Antonio Carlos Jobim. Her music recalls an earlier era, with messages that delve into the universal realities of our times. Her lyrics are potent and insightful, while her angelic voice and jazzy guitar carry the words in exquisite partnership.
She has performed throughout the United States, including The Forecastle Festival 2010 in Louisville, KY, the Cornstalk Festival, MN, the Yippie Museum of New York and an appearance at the Green Room of Chicago. She helped run and curate an art center in Honolulu and performed her original music on the islands for weddings, street fairs and the famed HawaiiSlam poetry slam.
She has been living in San Francisco for the past year and has performed at the Misson Cultural Center, MAPP, Savannah Jazz Club and the Makeout Room. She has been a featured guest on Diamond Dave’s Pirate Cat Radio. She is thrilled to have entered into a musical partnership with pianist Noam Eisen.

Sam Rocha

Sam Rocha on bass

A native son of Fresno in California’s central valley, Sam Rocha has been playing string bass since he was introduced to it at age 16. By his senior year of high school, he had received awards for outstanding musicianship from the Reno Jazz Festival and the Fresno City College Jazz Fest and was also offered scholarships by the CalArts and Berklee schools of music. At this time he was leading a youth jazz band known as “The Raisin Babies Jazz Band”, a group of West Coast youngsters pursuing the tradition of New Orleans jazz. Sam has since performed at major jazz festivals all across the United States and Canada. In addition to studying jazz on the acoustic bass, Sam has also extensively studied jazz tuba and sousaphone. He currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area where he is a freelance musician. He also travels with the highly esteemed Blue Street Jazz Band, playing jazz festivals and offering clinics for aspiring young jazz musicians.

Adam Goodhue

Adam Goodhue on drums

Drummer since birth, music has been the caravan that has brought Adam Goodhue to stages and studios all over the world. Always musical, focusing on tone, feel, groove, and the ability to draw from so many styles is what Adam brings to every musical endeavor.

Below is a list of some of the stars Adam has performed with, either live or in the studio:
Maria Muldaur, Bonnie Raitt, Kenny Washington, Larry Vuckovich, Freda Payne, Sharon McNight, Rita Moreno, Petula Clark, Bonnie Hayes, Austin De Lone, Blackalisious, Linda Clifford, Mimi Fox, Aram Danesh, Super Human Crew, Calvin Keys, Kai Eckhart, Sony Holland, Melodye Perry (the Honey Cone), Valarie Pettiford , Sherry Payne, Alo, Ray Obiedo, Johnny Talbot, Freddy Hughes, Markus James, Paula West, Steve Freund, Rusty Zinn, Joan Rivers, Sally Kellerman, Joe Craven, K.I. Nicholas, Alvon Johnson, Jubu Smith, Chris Cotton.

Sutton in front of "Moment in Time"

Jeremy Sutton studied life drawing, sculpture and etching at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art, while at the same time earning a degree in Physics from Pembroke College, Oxford. He then studied lithography and life drawing at the Vrije Academie in The Hague before moving to San Francisco. His first one-man show was a series of colorful pastel portraits at the Gordon Biersch Restaurant in Palo Alto, California, in 1989. He was first introduced to using the computer as a fine art tool in 1991, and has been exploring the digital medium ever since. In 1994, he transitioned from selling superconducting magnets as a career to becoming a full time artist. Sutton works across multiple media, blending traditional and modern art tools in creating expressive contemporary portraiture.

Besides being an artist, Sutton is also an author, educator and speaker. He teaches workshops and seminars throughout the world.

Vannina Malekzadeh with "Chaussures et Ville"

Vannina Malekzadeh comes from Corsican roots and has recently moved to the Bay Area from France. She paints with acrylics on canvas and combines it with collages. In her view, the two forms complement each other. Acrylics give great freedom to play with colors and create something entirely new, while collage depends on the accumulation of small details. Together, they present a striking contrast. She also combines acrylics with digital imagery. She seeks to turn everyday life into a more textured reality. Effective use of color is one of her hallmarks.

Salma Arastu

Salma Arastu was born in Rajasthan, India. She has been painting for more than thirty years, since earning her degree in Fine Arts from Maharaja Sayajirao University in Baroda, India in 1974.
In her present works the theme is people. Crowds of people, moving together, merging together, in groups, conversing, dancing or arguing. People of all lands with their colorful fabrics and intimate gestures, lyrical movements and intricate patterns.

Her work ranges in style from Indian folk and miniature art to abstract. She merges Eastern spirituality and western techniques of painting. Through the contrasting elements in her work, she searches for unity and when that unity or balance is achieved, it brings about a tranquility and joy. Her use of continuous and lyrical line is influenced by her native culture and her experiences living in Iran and Kuwait before coming to the US in 1987.

Dancing with the Stars

Salma Arastu, "Dancing with the Stars", 2010, steel and copper

The 8′ tall metal sculpture Dancing with the Stars was installed at the Port of San Diego on 18th October 2010. It is cut with water jet technology in steel and then copper stars were glued on. The work will remain at the Port for one year and it was juried to become part of San Diego’s Urban Trees 7 program.

Register for Swing in the Spring in Los Altos Hills, CA  on Eventbrite
Please join us on May 14th.

Apr 17 11


by mana
Chaussures et Ville

Vannina Malekzadeh, Chaussures et Ville, 2010, Acrylic and collage, 24" x 38"

Vannina Malekzadeh’s painting challenges our preconditioned perceptions of reality and forces us to become more sensitive to our surroundings. Her playing with reality and illusion takes us into a new way of understanding and seeing the world. In this subjective world, it is form that creates the content. The red high-heeled shoes are prominent in the foreground. What do they represent? The distant city with its lights and tall buildings is impersonal. The city could be a place where you get lost, a place where nobody knows you. These shoes with their size, shape and color are sensual, personal. The contrast between the individual and the large city is a theme in many of Vannina’s paintings. The effect of juxtaposing familiar objects is poetic, using ordinary things in an unusual way to create a new awareness.

In art, the combination of familiar elements in a new setting often brings surprising insights. In my Swing in the Spring event, I am trying to achieve something similar in a social setting. A variety of art forms and artistic traditions will be represented, from Indian folk art to Impressionism to modern abstraction, along with the popular art of swing music. The theme of movement and dance runs through all of it. The artists themselves will be present to interact with each other and with the audience. I hope that everyone present will not only enjoy themselves thoroughly, but perhaps will leave feeling enriched with new insights from this unique mixture of artistic perspectives.

Register for Swing in the Spring in Los Altos Hills, CA  on Eventbrite