Tag Archives: Richard Misrach

A journalist discovered, undercovered: Vivian Maier

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The most mind-blowing fact about Vivian Maier isn’t that she managed to shoot more than 120,000 photos while supporting herself a nanny. Or that the families for which she worked had little clue about her double life. Or even that she often took her charges into rough Chicago neighborhoods while she captured intimate images of life on the street. What’s hardest to comprehend is that she acquired such an exquisite sense of composition while never seeing most of her shots, which were discovered as undeveloped negatives shortly before her death in 2009 at the age of 83.

Now Maier’s vast and breathtaking body of work is coming into view via photography books, documentaries, and exhibitions like See All About It: Vivian Maier’s Newspaper Portraits at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism’s newly endowed and just-christened Reva and David Logan Gallery of Documentary Photography in North Gate Hall. Featuring 23 beautifully printed photos drawn from the Jeffrey Goldstein Collection, the exhibition officially opens Wednesday April 2 with a late afternoon reception and lecture by Richard Cahan and Michael Williams, authors of Vivian Maier: Out of the Shadows (the show remains on view through May 1). … Continue reading »

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Richard Misrach: Photographing beauty can be tricky

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“It’s impossible to photograph clouds for their beauty anymore. We know too much about what is going on,” said photographer Richard Misrach wistfully on a recent weekday evening.

He should know. The Berkeley-based photographer has made a name for himself capturing striking images of man’s impact on the planet — which includes the creation of natural-looking clouds by oil none other than oil refineries.

The David Brower Center, a downtown Berkeley hub for environmental and social action, is currently showing a selection of the photographer’s images taken at Mississippi River’s Cancer Alley, in conjunction with related work by landscape architect Kate Orff. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley’s Kala Art Institute auction supports local artists

Christopher Brown
Early Ohio, 2013, Oil on canvas, 12" x 16" Courtesy of the artist and John Berggruen Gallery.
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By Marcia Tanner

Art lovers looking to do well by doing good, while having fun and maybe coming home with new treasure, will want to show up for “Kala-fornia: State of the Art 3,” Kala Art Institute’s 2013 gala auction this Saturday, April 27.

This year’s auction features over 175 contributions. Most are artworks in a wide variety of media, donated by the artists themselves, but there are also fine wines, museum memberships, spa services and getaways, and other alluring goods and services. The artists represented are mostly from California; many have shown at or been affiliated with the Berkeley-based Kala as participants in its printmaking residencies, fellowships and workshops.

The live auction offers pieces by such well-known artists as Squeak Carnwath, Jim Melchert, Richard Misrach, Naomie Kremer, and Christopher Brown. Kremer contributed a lush, richly colorful painting, Secret Garden, based on the video-projected “sets” she created for the opera The Secret Garden performed at UC Berkeley’s Zellerbach Hall in March. … Continue reading »

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Reminder: Share your Firestorm memories at BAM

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As part of a series of public events supporting its current exhibition by Berkeley photographer Richard Misrach, the Berkeley Art Museum is inviting the local community to gather at the museum this Sunday afternoon to share memories of the 1991 Oakland-Berkeley Firestorm.

At the BAM/PFA “Tell Your Stories: Open Mic in the Galleries” event, the museum is turning the microphone over to the community. People will be encouraged to talk about their memories amid Misrach’s compelling photographs, taken 20 years ago during the week following the Firestorm and unveiled for the first time in this exhibition. … Continue reading »

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With elegy book, community becomes part of exhibition

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Speaking about his new exhibition of photographs which opened simultaneously at the Berkeley Art Museum and the Oakland Museum of California this week, Richard Misrach says it is as much a community event as an art show.

The haunting images, taken 20 years ago in the wake of the 1991 Oakland-Berkeley Firestorm, document the aftermath of a disaster that touched everyone who lived or worked locally. And, now, because the photographs have never been shown before, people who lost homes — or perhaps even family members — are seeing these large scale, beautifully composed images for the first time. The impact is bound to be strong and responses are likely to be emotional.

Misrach knew he wanted to create a way for community members to articulate their reaction to the photographs and contribute to the exhibition directly. So he decided to create two handcrafted elegy books, one for each museum. Exhibition goers are encouraged to write in the books — or include photos or drawings — and the tomes will become part of the museums’ exhibition archives.

The design of the books fell to Brian Scott of San Francisco’s Boon Design, who worked with Misrach 20 years ago on his book, Bravo 20, and Berkeley bookbinder John DeMerritt. Scott and DeMerritt share a love of ledgers — the type that banks or courthouses would use in the past, or that hotels still sometimes have on display as guest books. … Continue reading »

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Looking for familiar landmarks, seeing what little was left

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By Risa Nye

October 23, 1991: At the foot of Broadway Terrace, I squeezed into a police car with another couple. We rode in silence, afraid and anxious to get close enough to see what remained of our homes and our streets. We weren’t allowed to drive ourselves in yet; hazardous sparks and hot spots still glowed in some places. Fallen power lines might still be live. Some reports said that everything that could have burned, did. Still, I didn’t know quite what to expect.

It was so odd. Things at the bottom of the hill looked normal. Houses, cars, the golf course, blocks of undisturbed homes left untouched by the fire. But then, a block or so further up the hill, it all came into view.

The first thing I noticed were the chimneys, tall brick columns still attached to their hearths punctuating wide expanses of black, all the way up to the top of the hills. And it was quiet. No birds, no other cars, no people.

The hills of our destroyed neighborhood resembled a moonscape: a post-apocalyptic expanse of scorched earth, blackened trees and chimneys standing like sentinels left to watch over the ruins. Gray foundations marked the footprints of houses no longer there. We were shocked at the vastness of the damage. Stone cherubs stood in what had been a backyard; a fountain surrounded by ashes; skeletons of patio furniture. … Continue reading »

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On 20th anniversary, community remembers Firestorm

Berkeley photographer Richard Misrach captured the devastation caused by the Firestorm. An exhibition of his work opens at BAM on October 11.Photo: copyright Richard Misrach
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As the 20th anniversary of the 1991 Oakland-Firestorm approaches, the community is preparing to commemorate it in a number of different ways, including with city initiatives and collaborative cultural experiences.

While Oakland was much more affected by the devastating fire than Berkeley — only 63 of the homes destroyed that fateful day in October 1991 were in Berkeley, from a total of 3,354 — geographical boundaries became irrelevant as the whole community experienced the trauma of the experience as one.

The cities of Berkeley and Oakland have joined with other community partners to mark the anniversary with a formal commemorative ceremony of remembrance, and they are also taking the opportunity to remind people to take emergency preparedness measures.

On October 22, people are invited to gather at the Rockridge BART Firestorm Memorial Wall at 9:00am. Later, at 10:30am, Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates and Berkeley Fire Chief Debra Pryor will speak at the remembrance ceremony which will take place at the Gateway Emergency Preparedness Exhibit Center on Tunnel Road and Caldecott Lane. At noon, a Family Preparedness Fair will be held at Lake Temescal, at 6500 Broadway. Fire trucks, kids’ activities and information booths are all on the agenda. Find information on the city of Berkeley website. … Continue reading »

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20 years on, share your memories of a disaster

The Oakland-Berkeley hills in the aftermath of the 1991 Firestorm. Photo: Richard Misrach
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Twenty years ago next month, on a sunny Sunday in October, a raging fire took hold and — driven by hot, dry northeasterly winds — swept through the Oakland-Berkeley hills causing massive destruction and loss.

The flames jumped two freeways, eventually spreading across 1,520 acres, incinerating more than 3,300 homes at an average rate of 11 seconds each and, ultimately, injuring 150 people and leaving 25 dead.

The Oakland-Berkeley Firestorm still looms large in the collective memories of our community. Nobody who … Continue reading »

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Richard Misrach: A focus on the after-story

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Richard Misrach is nothing if not patient.

When, in 1997, the renowned photographer moved into a home in the Berkeley hills and decided to capture his new view of the Golden Gate Bridge, he didn’t just take a few dozen shots and leave it at that.

Rather, over the course of three years, he shot hundreds and hundreds of photographs. The result was Golden Gate [Aperture, 2005], 85 beautiful meditations on the iconic bridge seen through the seasons from a single … Continue reading »

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