erica vogt

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May 10 through June 4, 2015

Simone Subal

May 8th, 2015
ron nagle

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May 5th, 2015
Katharina Grosse


Through June 21, 2015

Johann Koenig

May 3rd, 2015

Thanks to David Leonard

May 1st, 2015
Cameron Jamie


May 1 – May 30, 2015

Barbara Gladstone

Thanks to Bruce M. Sherman

May 1st, 2015
dewey nelson

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New Silver Works and Paintings

30th Annual UCLA Pow Wow
May 2nd & 3rd, 2015
UCLA North Athletic Field

UCLA Pow Wow

April 29th, 2015
Drought Frames Economic Divide of Californians

NY Times Published: APRIL 26, 2015

COMPTON, Calif. — Alysia Thomas, a stay-at-home mother in this working-class city, tells her children to skip a bath on days when they do not play outside; that holds down the water bill. Lillian Barrera, a housekeeper who travels 25 miles to clean homes in Beverly Hills, serves dinner to her family on paper plates for much the same reason. In the fourth year of a severe drought, conservation is a fine thing, but in this Southern California community, saving water means saving money.

The challenge of California’s drought is starkly different in Cowan Heights, a lush oasis of wealth and comfort 30 miles east of here. That is where Peter L. Himber, a pediatric neurologist, has decided to stop watering the gently sloping hillside that he spent $100,000 to turn into a green California paradise, seeding it with a carpet of rich native grass and installing a sprinkler system fit for a golf course. But that is also where homeowners like John Sears, a retired food-company executive, bristle with defiance at the prospect of mandatory cuts in water use.

“This is a high fire-risk area,” Mr. Sears said. “If we cut back 35 percent and all these homes just let everything go, what’s green will turn brown. Tell me how the fire risk will increase.”

The fierce drought that is gripping the West — and the imminent prospect of rationing and steep water price increases in California — is sharpening the deep economic divide in this state, illustrating parallel worlds in which wealthy communities guzzle water as poorer neighbors conserve by necessity. The daily water consumption rate was 572.4 gallons per person in Cowan Heights from July through September 2014, the hot and dry summer months California used to calculate community-by-community water rationing orders; it was 63.6 gallons per person in Compton during that same period.

Now, California is trying to turn that dynamic on its head, forcing the state’s biggest water users, which include some of the wealthiest communities, to bear the brunt of the statewide 25 percent cut in urban water consumption ordered by Gov. Jerry Brown. Cowan Heights is facing a 36 percent cut in its water use, compared with 8 percent for Compton.

Other wealthy communities that must cut 36 percent include Beverly Hills and Hillsborough, a luxury town in Silicon Valley. Along with Compton, other less wealthy communities facing more modest cuts include Inglewood, which has been told to reduce its water consumption by 12 percent over what it was in 2013.

The looming question now, with drought regulations set to be adopted next month, is whether conservation tools being championed by this state — $10,000-a-day fines for water agencies, higher prices for bigger water users or even, in the most extreme cases, a reduction in water supplies — will be effective with wealthy homeowners. Since their lawns are more often than not tended to by gardeners, they may have little idea just how much water they use.

As it is, the legality of conservation — the practice of charging higher water rates to people who consume more for big water use — came under question when a court ruled that a tiered-pricing system used by an Orange County city ran afoul of the State Constitution and sent it back to allow the city to try to bring it into compliance.

“The wealthy use more water, electricity and natural gas than anyone else,” said Stephanie Pincetl, the director of the California Center for Sustainable Communities at the University of California, Los Angeles. “They have bigger properties. They are less price sensitive. So if you can afford it, you use it.”

“Then it becomes a moral question,” she said. “But lots of wealthy people don’t pay their own bills, so they don’t know what the water costs.”

Brown Lawns vs. Lush Ones

In Compton, where residents often pay their bills in cash or installments, lawns are brown and backyard pools are few or empty. In Cowan Heights, where residents are involved in a rancorous dispute with a water company over rate increases, water is a luxury worth paying for as homeowners shower their lush lawns and top off pools and koi ponds.

“Just because you can afford to use something doesn’t mean you should,” said Aja Brown, the mayor of Compton, as she sat in her second-floor office with windows overlooking the light-rail Blue Line tracks that cut through town. “We’re all in this together. We all have to make sure we consume less.”

Hints of class resentment can be heard on the streets of Compton.

“I have a garden — it’s dying,” said Ms. Barrera, the housekeeper, as she left the water department at Compton City Hall, where she had just paid a $253 two-month water bill. “My grass is drying. I try to save water. In Beverly Hills, they have a big garden and run laundry all the time. It doesn’t matter.”

Rod Lopez, a contractor from Compton who tends to homes here and along the wealthy Newport Beach coast, said he was startled at the different attitudes he found toward water consumption in communities just 30 miles apart.

“I work in Newport Beach: I see water running all day long,” he said. “We’ve gotten so tight over here. Everything is irrigated over there. They may get fined for it — they don’t care. They have the money to pay the fines.”

Compton and Cowan Heights, which is 10 miles from Disneyland, could hardly be more different, and it is not only a matter of water. The median household income in Compton is $42,953, and 26 percent of the population lives below the poverty line; 67 percent of the population is Hispanic. In North Tustin, the census-designated community that includes Cowan Heights, the median household income is $122,662, and less than 3 percent of the population lives below the poverty line; 84 percent of the population is white.

Since the first homes sprang up in Cowan Heights in the 1950s in what had been hilly horse pastures, water and money have made this neighborhood of doctors, lawyers and wealthy retirees bloom. Even as the drought has worsened and water rates have climbed, residents have continued consuming hundreds of gallons a day and paying — albeit with more than a little grousing — water bills that have soared to $400 or $500 a month.

Many people say they are trying to use less: They are capping their sprinkler systems, installing expensive new drip-watering systems or replacing their thirsty lawns with starkly beautiful desert landscapes. But they can also afford to buy their way out of the drought, assuming that fines will be the primary punishment for those who do not conserve, and that the water will keep flowing for those who can pay.

Some Cowan Heights residents say their neighbors have enough money not to pay heed to rising prices, and are content to let their landscapers use as much water as necessary to keep their homes in bloom. Landscapers’ trucks are parked around nearly every twisting road, tending to avocado and lemon trees, plush lawns, and riots of purple hibiscus and scarlet bougainvillea.

“They don’t even think about it,” said Gail Lord, a resident who keeps a blog cataloging the gardens around Cowan Heights.

On Deerhaven Drive, Craig Beam and his wife saw their water-scarce future after a landscaper stomped at the base of their Chinese elm and declared the roots hollow and parched. “Nobody’s going to go broke around here paying their water bills,” Mr. Beam said.

Still, in a sign that even the wealthy have their limits, the drought is exacerbating a dispute between Cowan Heights residents and their for-profit water provider, the Golden State Water Company, offering a glimpse of fights to come as local water agencies impose higher prices to meet California’s new conservation mandates. The neighborhood is bristling with lawn signs reading, “Stop the Water Ripoff!”

Calculating Costs

Residents complain their water bills have soared as Golden State Water imposed a three-tier pricing system that charges more for higher water use, the kind of conservation pricing that state water regulators are championing. The company is now seeking to add a fourth, even higher price tier. “Golden State Water’s rates reflect the true cost to operate and maintain the water system,” said Denise Kruger, a senior vice president of the company.

That has not appeased water users.

“Water is a necessity of life,” said Mr. Sears, the retired food-company executive, whose bimonthly water bills regularly run $400 or $500 but went as high as $756 last September. “It should not be sold as a commodity.”

Thirty miles away, the economy in Compton is on the upswing as this region comes out of the recession. Still, Compton Boulevard, the axis around which the 127-year-old community was settled, is filled with reminders of the poverty and crime that are still here: Check-cashing stores and bail bondsmen. Many homes have gates over their windows.

Compton has a storied history of gang wars and has produced some of the bigger names in rap music, including Kendrick Lamar and Ice Cube. The unemployment rate in Compton was 11.8 percent in February, compared with 6.7 percent statewide. (There are no comparable numbers for Cowan Heights, since it is an unincorporated region.)

This city is a neat grid of postage-stamp-size front lawns, many of them brown or choked with weeds. There are few pools or ornamental fountains in this part of the county; the fountains in front of City Hall have been turned off.

After not budging for 25 years, water prices began rising in 2005 and have increased about 93 percent since then. The city, which has 81,963 water consumers, has also set up a two-tiered system to charge heavier users more, though it remains to be seen if that and other tiered systems will be challenged in the wake of the court ruling in Orange County last week. A typical water bill here is $70 a month.

Continue reading the main storyContinue reading the main storyContinue reading the main story
“To me the issue is keeping down the cost,” said Ms. Thomas, 41, the stay-at-home mother. “Conservation is a cost-saving thing for me.” She leaned over the fence of her home that she shares with her husband and children, looking over her compact patch of lawn that surrounds her home and another small cottage, where her mother lives.

Chad Blais, the deputy director of public works at Compton, said people often paid their water bill in cash or pleaded for an extension. “We do have a large community that is month-to-month on their pay,” he said. “They don’t have a high water usage mainly because they can’t afford it. They’ll call and tell us they’re choosing to pay for food or medicine.”

Under Governor Brown’s 25 percent statewide reduction order, about 400 local water agencies are responsible for cuts ranging from 4 percent to 36 percent. Water companies are limiting how often people can water their yards — twice a week for Golden State customers — and barring them from washing down pavement or using drinking water to wash a car.

If water providers cannot get customers to conserve enough voluntarily, they can resort to financial penalties: Golden State said it would fine offenders in Cowan Heights and other communities it serves $500 a day.

California’s water-control board has zeroed in on Cowan Heights and its 5,399 water customers as some of the most spendthrift water users. The benchmark measurement from last summer put it high on the list of 94 water districts that must cut their water use by 36 percent under the proposed new rules.

“It is somewhat of an outlier,” Toby Moore, the chief hydrogeologist for Golden State Water, said of Cowan Heights. “There’s been a lot of investment into those properties, so water use is higher to address the landscaping of those properties.”

Some people in Cowan Heights are planning to let their lawns go brown, though more out of a spirit of conservation than economic necessity.

“We’ll replace that with rocks,” said Dr. Himber, the neurologist, as he and his landscaper walked the grounds.

Ms. Lord, the blogger, walked around her home, tucked amid flower-splashed hillsides behind a stately automated gate, and surveyed her roses with a fatalistic eye. “Doomed,” she said, nodding at the flowers, blooming wedding-white and dance-hall pink. “Doomed.”

‘A Bad Message’

About 80 percent of the water in this state is used by agriculture, so the amount of water that might be saved by cuts in wealthy and relatively sparsely populated areas will not be large.

But the disparity in behavior is a matter of concern among state water regulators, as is the worry that high prices will not have the same kind of impact on water use in, say, Cowan Heights as they might in Compton.

“That is the challenge,” said Jeffrey Kightlinger, the general manager of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which provides water for about 19 million people. “We are finding it works with 90 percent of the public. You still have certain wealthy communities that won’t bother. And the price penalty doesn’t impact them. It sends a bad message.”

David L. Feldman, who studies water policy at the University of California, Irvine, said a big risk for state water regulators would be if the public concluded that water-conservation policies were “falling disproportionately on those who are less able to meet those goals.”

Ms. Barrera, the housekeeper, said she had thought she was doing her part, and she spoke of the lush gardens and sweeping pools she sees in Beverly Hills.

“I’m using a lot less,” Ms. Barrera said. At that, she glanced down at the just-paid water bill she was still holding in her hand. “But I guess it’s not enough.”

April 29th, 2015
Mark Grotjahn

Screen shot 2015-04-28 at 2.30.55 AM
Untitled, (Indian #5 Face 45.50), 2014
Oil on cardboard mounted on linen
50 3/8 x 40 1/4 inches

15 Paintings
May 1 — June 20, 2015

Blum and Poe

April 28th, 2015
Los Angeles Jazz With Kamasi Washington and Others

NY Times Published: APRIL 24, 2015

A few weeks ago, the jazz tenor saxophonist Kamasi Washington stood onstage at a club in Hermosa Beach, Calif., with his band, the Next Step, ending a version of the ballad standard “My One and Only Love” with an improvised closing tag, like a group cadenza.

But it sprung open a whole new chapter of the song. Mr. Washington’s playing spread through the group into a sustained volcanic surge, with a front line of two saxophones and trombone; Miles Mosley’s upright bass and Brandon Coleman’s keyboards run through distortion and wah-wah pedals; and two drummers, Ronald Bruner and Tony Austin, making enfolded, clattering patterns. A series of melodies and rhythms developed on the fly, with Mr. Washington building up to hoarse, Pharoah Sanders-like cries, and then the tailing off commenced Mr. Washington finished last. He closed up his solo in whispers, removed the horn from his mouth and pulled on the loose curls in his hair, smiling absent-mindedly.

The unusual circumstances — a surf-side rock club, a performance during a motley tribute concert — suggested a test case. Jazz in Los Angeles doesn’t have much cultural capital outside a small cohort, and this was not Mr. Washington’s crowd. The audience members acted indifferent at first; then they tuned in, cheering at the catharsis points, quieting at the silences.

It might have tuned in sooner if it had known it was watching the leading figure in a new Los Angeles jazz scene, who is about to release a triple-disc debut called, factually, “The Epic.” (It comes out May 5 on the label Brainfeeder.) Or that his work as a soloist and arranger helps define the sound of Kendrick Lamar’s “To Pimp a Butterfly,” one of the most important hip-hop records of the last several years. Or that this group represents a special resource of the area: it’s one of the best jazz groups I’ve heard in a long time, and has hardly performed outside of California.

As of now, if you want to see them, you have to go to Los Angeles.

There is an old story about the lack of broader recognition around Los Angeles jazz musicians, stretching back to the 1960s and before, to the time of the saxophonists Teddy Edwards and Eric Dolphy (before he moved to New York), the big-band composer Gerald Wilson, and Horace Tapscott, leader of the Pan-Afrikan Peoples Arkestra. It has to do with New York being the center of the jazz-performance business, and Los Angeles, the center of the soundtrack and television business. But it also has to do with the temper of life in Los Angeles, the possibility for working in a less-pressured and lifelong artistic community, the artist’s sense of security against New York hustle.

“You know the lackadaisical thing people talk about out here?” Mr. Washington said in a talk we had a year ago, at Mr. Mosley’s house in Marina del Rey. “When you’re focused, that lackadaisical thing turns into freedom. You can do what you want. No one’s going to put a label on you.”

A true, intuitive, cross-listening, family-like sound at this level is rare enough in jazz to be exciting; it’s the thing sought for. Most developing groups don’t perform regularly enough to achieve that coherence. The lack of demand affects supply.

But over the last few years, Mr. Washington, 34, and a dozen or so other musicians in their early 30s — most of whom come from the same general area of South Los Angeles, playing in the same school ensemble and in one another’s church bands — have figured out their solution to the problem. They formed a cooperative group called the West Coast Get Down, and created residencies for themselves over the past four years, first in the Leimert Park neighborhood and later in Hollywood spots including the Piano Bar, where they tend to play twice a week. The coherence of the band, all those coordinated surges, sounds emphatic in a cultural scene that otherwise can feel transient.

“Los Angeles is a large city, sprawled out, and we’re all in our cars,” Mr. Mosley said. “The likelihood of you stumbling across a scene is unlikely, which is why we’ve done so well in our residencies. You go there, and it doesn’t feel like the L.A. you’ve signed up to experience.”

In late 2011, they pooled their resources for a gargantuan recording session at a bare-bones studio in Echo Park: For about a month, 10 players made seven albums with sub-groupings of various sizes, each one featuring a different leader. (Mr. Austin, the drummer, doubled as the engineer.) They were forgoing other work, too: Most of them make livings as sidemen. Mr. Washington plays with Chaka Khan, Mr. Coleman with Rachelle Ferrell and Babyface, and so forth. The albums are just beginning to emerge, all of them different.

Mr. Washington’s is the first and the densest, about 175 minutes of music. His band amounts to two piano trios — double drummers, bassists and keyboardists — with horns in front; later he added strings and a choir. “The Epic” is full of swing and funk and long solos, ecstatic highs and drawn-out tensions, dense arrangements, a few places that come close to musical theater, and a direct line — sometimes startlingly direct — to black American church music. It is also cosmic, in both ’70s-retrograde and futuristic ways. Palms will be read to this music, miracles foretold.

Mr. Washington is a big, dreamy, rather brilliant guy from a family of six children, whose parents spent their careers in the Los Angeles public school system; his life has been rooted in local music and education. His mother, Valerie, is a science teacher; his father, Rickey, a recently retired music teacher, was in one of the first classes to graduate from Locke High School, near Watts, built in response to the riots of 1965. He was taught — as well as Rickey’s friends Patrice Rushen and Ndugu Chancler, who went on to some fame in jazz and pop — by Reggie Andrews, an important educator in the area. By the time Kamasi went to high school, Mr. Andrews was still teaching, and looking out for young players.

“In the ’80s, a lot of kids, if you were kind of bright, you got bussed to schools out of your community,” Mr. Washington said. (He attended Hamilton, in West Los Angeles.) “So you wouldn’t know the talented musicians who lived around the corner from you. Reggie used to figure out who was talented around Central L.A., and he’d pick us up after school. We’d all go to Locke.”

The “multi-school” band at Locke also contained Stephen Bruner, Ronald’s brother, now known as Thundercat, a virtuosic electric bassist known through his work with Erykah Badu and Flying Lotus (and on Mr. Lamar’s new album as well). Four of the band’s members, including Thundercat, made a record in 2004 as the Young Jazz Giants; the current West Coast Get Down is made up entirely of players from the same school band. If it seems like an abstraction that great teachers move jazz forward, this group is the proof.

Mr. Washington drifted away from jazz for a while — he lived close to Compton, and the rappers of N.W.A. were his local heroes — but at 11, a cousin played him a tape of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, and something connected. “It was the rhythms he played,” Mr. Washington said. “West Coast hip-hop had that heavy sense of the beat, and Art Blakey played with that, too. It sounded like something that Dre would have sampled.” A few years later, after he started playing saxophone, he connected with John Coltrane’s album “Transition,” and his hearing was changed; Coltrane, as well as Wayne Shorter and Kenny Garrett, come out most strongly in his sound.

On May 4, Mr. Washington and his band, in a typically sweeping gesture, will perform all of “The Epic” at the Regent Theater in downtown Los Angeles, the way it’s supposed to be heard, with strings and choir. There will also be a kind of story line, supplied by Mr. Washington as narrator. It turns out that Mr. Washington dreamed a narrative to the music during the long months he was working on it, and the dream determined the sequencing of the album.

“There’s a dude on top of this mountain, and he stands in front of this gate and guards it,” he explained. “There’s lots of carnage around him; he’s been defending this gate for a long time. At the bottom of the hill there’s a little bitty village, with all these people, and all they do is train to challenge this dude, so if they beat him, they get to become him.”

A bunch of things happen next, but in general the story is about real and imagined figures of authority, and special entry into special places. It is possible that there is a metaphor here about jazz, but the music tells you all you need to know.

April 28th, 2015
Anne Truitt

Installation view of Anne Truitt ’62–’63

Through June 27, 2015

Matthew Marks

April 26th, 2015
Julia Fish

JF53334Living Rooms : NorthWest — One, with lights, action
oil on canvas
32 1/2 x 33 3/4 in

Through April 25,2015

David Nolan

Thanks to MC

April 24th, 2015
Reviving Giacometti’s Legacy

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Giacometti outside his atelier in Paris in 1956. Credit Pierre Vauthey/Sygma, via Corbis

APRIL 16, 2015

PARIS — For much of his life, the Swiss sculptor Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966) lived and worked out of a cramped and cluttered atelier in the 14th Arrondissement of Paris where paint-stained surfaces were covered with busts and figurines and walls were sketched and scrawled over. The artist toiled day and night in this spartan setting, pausing for meals with plaster still stuck in his hair.

That 270-square-foot studio will be recreated exactly as he left it as part of the new Institut Giacometti, a research center and exhibition space that will open to the public late next year in the same arrondissement, or district, according to Catherine Grenier, the director of the Fondation Alberto et Annette Giacometti. The space will be an outpost of the foundation, which manages most of the estate and owns the world’s largest collection of the artist’s works.

After its creation in 2003, the foundation became mired in disputes with rival bodies and Giacometti family members over the right to represent the artist and make posthumous casts of his sculptures — some of the originals have fetched more than $100 million at auction. Now Ms. Grenier, a former deputy director of the Pompidou Center, aims to open the foundation to the world and start a more peaceful chapter. “When I got here a year ago,” she said in an interview, “this foundation was not at all well known, for one essential reason: It was closed to the public. My priority is to make its activities and its extraordinary collection accessible.”

The foundation has other ambitions as well. It is publishing Giacometti’s first catalogue raisonné and lending more extensively to exhibitions around the world from its collection of about 250 sculptures, more than 90 paintings, and thousands of drawings and photographs. The largest will be a retrospective at Tate Modern in London in 2017, Ms. Grenier said. (Tate confirmed the exhibition but not the year.)

The last few decades have been tumultuous for the estate. Individuals and institutions representing it have clashed in and out of court, costing the estate money and frustrating research on the artist’s works even as their prices soared. Considered among the great sculptures of the 20th century, “Chariot” (1950) sold in November for $101 million at Sotheby’s in New York, and “Walking Man I” (1960) brought $104.3 million in 2010, then a record for any artwork sold at auction. Challenging that, Christie’s said last week that it would auction the 1947 bronze sculpture “L’Homme au Doigt (Man Pointing)” in May for an estimated $130 million.

Giacometti’s death at 64 with no will or succession plans set his widow, Annette, on a crusade to safeguard his legacy. Sabine Weiss, a photographer friend of the couple, said that when he died, his widow asked her to photograph “everything.” “I took pictures of whatever we could find, in the atelier, at the homes of Paris collectors,” Ms. Weiss said, adding that she also photographed works by Giacometti in museums and collections in Switzerland and Spain.

Annette Giacometti decided to bequeath the material she owned to a foundation for which she bought stately Left Bank headquarters near the Odéon Theater in 1986, while awaiting government authorization. “Things dragged on and on, so Annette said let’s set up an association in the meantime,” said Ms. Weiss, who was later its president but is no longer involved in its affairs. (Art foundations were harder to set up than associations, requiring approval from the Culture and Interior ministries.)

When the Fondation Giacometti was finally born in 2003 — a decade after Annette Giacometti’s death — it refused to acknowledge the association, run by Annette Giacometti’s former secretary, Mary Lisa Palmer, a Giacometti expert. The two entities operated in parallel, and wrangled in court. In 2013, the foundation’s director at the time, Véronique Wiesinger, lost a separate lawsuit she had filed to compel the other representatives of the estate — Swiss family members and the Alberto Giacometti Stiftung in Zurich — to allow her to cast new bronzes without their prior consent.

Today the foundation is changing direction, thanks to Ms. Grenier and a new president of the board, Olivier Le Grand, who was appointed in 2011. The association has been dissolved, allowing the foundation to move into its Left Bank premises, and most lawsuits (except those involving Giacometti fakes) have been abandoned.

In addition to the Tate exhibition, a show of Giacometti portraits is planned for the National Portrait Gallery in London this year. Next year, the 50th anniversary of Giacometti’s death, there are plans for a Picasso-Giacometti show at the Musée Picasso here for an exhibition at the Yuz Museum in Shanghai, founded by the billionaire collector Budi Tek, that will consist exclusively of foundation loans.

The new 3,770-square-foot institute in the 14th Arrondissement, with the artist’s studio at its heart, is the foundation’s flagship project. Giacometti moved to 46 rue Hippolyte Maindron in Paris in 1926, when he was 25. He lived there for four decades, except for the three years he spent in his native Switzerland during World War II. Peeking over the gates today, you can still see an atelier with a mezzanine and a large bay window overlooking an old courtyard.

Visitors will see (through a protective glass pane) the mythical studio as it was at the artist’s death in January 1966: a bed, surrounded by bronzes, plasters and abandoned fragments; his desk, covered with paintbrushes and dozens of little turpentine bottles; his easel and sculpture stands; and the works that death interrupted — tiny clay and plaster portraits, mainly of the Surrealist photographer Eli Lotar and of the sculptor’s brother Diego.

“We don’t have the money to open a museum,” Ms. Grenier said. “We’d like to show the public what we hold in our reserves: absolutely everything that was in the atelier at the time of Giacometti’s death.”

She said that financing the foundation was a challenge, because its undisclosed endowment is not big enough to cover costs. Philanthropists are starting to step up: Mr. Tek is backing the institute’s research program, and the French construction company Emerige is sponsoring the opening of the institute itself. Ms. Grenier is hoping to attract a strong American component, given that the Museum of Modern Art and a few collectors in New York were among Giacometti’s earliest buyers.

The foundation arranges one or two sales a year — via the Gagosian Gallery and the Galerie Kamel Mennour in Paris — of posthumous bronze casts commissioned by Annette Giacometti (with other estate representatives’ consent) to ensure the works’ longevity, Ms. Grenier said, adding that few such bronzes were left and no additional ones were planned. She said that proceeds from such sales should help pay for original works to add to the collection — like the 1929 bronze “Homme (Apollon),” purchased for around $1.19 million from Christie’s London in February. It was the first such purchase by Ms. Grenier.

The foundation’s Paris dealer, Mr. Mennour, said Ms. Grenier was highly reluctant to part with artworks and described her as “a kind of guardian of the temple.”

To avoid the mudslinging that bedeviled Giacometti’s succession, Ms. Grenier said she hoped that other artists would learn from it and do more planning. “If we want artists and their works to be preserved in perpetuity, their succession has to be organized, preferably before their death,” she said. “They are the only ones who can do it.”

April 22nd, 2015

Agnes Martin Interview (20:00 version, 1997) from Chuck Smith on Vimeo.

Thanks to Daniel Payavis

April 20th, 2015
peter saul

Screen shot 2015-04-20 at 12.00.20 PM
Art and Money, 2015, acrylic on canvas, 60 x 72 inches (152.4 x 182.9 cm)

Saturday, May 2 through June 20, 2015

David Kordansky

April 20th, 2015

First National, 1964
Steel, painted
55 × 113 × 116 15/16 inches (139.7 × 287 × 297 cm)

APRIL 17 – MAY 30, 2015


Thanks to GG and MP

April 14th, 2015
Centuries of Italian History Are Unearthed in Quest to Fix Toilet

Luciano Faggiano and his sons were digging to fix a pipe in Lecce, Italy. They found a buried world tracing back before Jesus. Credit Davide Monteleone

NY Times Published: APRIL 14, 2015

LECCE, Italy — All Luciano Faggiano wanted when he purchased the seemingly unremarkable building at 56 Via Ascanio Grandi was to open a trattoria. The only problem was the toilet.

Sewage kept backing up. So Mr. Faggiano enlisted his two older sons to help him dig a trench and investigate. He predicted the job would take about a week.

If only.

“We found underground corridors and other rooms, so we kept digging,” said Mr. Faggiano, 60.

His search for a sewage pipe, which began in 2000, became one family’s tale of obsession and discovery. He found a subterranean world tracing back before the birth of Jesus: a Messapian tomb, a Roman granary, a Franciscan chapel and even etchings from the Knights Templar. His trattoria instead became a museum, where relics still turn up today.

Italy is a slag heap of history, with empires and ancient civilizations built atop one another like layers in a cake. Farmers still unearth Etruscan pottery while plowing their fields. Excavation sites are common in ancient cities such as Rome, where protected underground relics have for years impeded plans to expand the subway system.

Situated in the heel of the Italian boot, Lecce was once a critical crossroads in the Mediterranean, coveted by invaders from Greeks to Romans to Ottomans to Normans to Lombards. For centuries, a marble column bearing a statue of Lecce’s patron saint, Orontius, dominated the city’s central piazza — until historians, in 1901, discovered a Roman amphitheater below, leading to the relocation of the column so that the amphitheater could be excavated.

“The very first layers of Lecce date to the time of Homer, or at least according to legend,” said Mario De Marco, a local historian and author, noting that invaders were enticed by the city’s strategic location and the prospects for looting. “Each one of these populations came and left a trace.”

Severo Martini, a member of the City Council, said archaeological relics turn up on a regular basis — and can present a headache for urban planning. A project to build a shopping mall had to be redesigned after the discovery of an ancient Roman temple beneath the site of a planned parking lot.

“Whenever you dig a hole,” Mr. Martini said, “centuries of history come out.”

Ask the Faggiano family. Mr. Faggiano planned to run the trattoria on the ground floor and live upstairs with his wife and youngest son. Before they started digging, Mr. Faggiano’s oldest son, Marco, was studying film in Rome. His second son, Andrea, had left home to attend college. The building was seemingly modernized, with clean white walls and a new heating system.

“I said, ‘Come, I need your help, and it will only be a week,’ ” Mr. Faggiano recalled.

But one week quickly passed, as father and sons discovered a false floor that led down to another floor of medieval stone, which led to a tomb of the Messapians, who lived in the region centuries before the birth of Jesus. Soon, the family discovered a chamber used to store grain by the ancient Romans, and the basement of a Franciscan convent where nuns had once prepared the bodies of the dead.

If this history only later became clear, what was immediately obvious was that finding the pipe would be a much bigger project than Mr. Faggiano had anticipated. He did not initially tell his wife about the extent of the work, possibly because he was tying a rope around the chest of his youngest son, Davide, then 12, and lowering him to dig in small, darkened openings.

“I made sure to tell him not to tell his mama,” he said.

His wife, Anna Maria Sanò, soon became suspicious. “We had all these dirty clothes, every day,” she said. “I didn’t understand what was going on.”

After watching the Faggiano men haul away debris in the back seat of the family car, neighbors also became suspicious and notified the authorities. Investigators arrived and shut down the excavations, warning Mr. Faggiano against operating an unapproved archaeological work site. Mr. Faggiano responded that he was just looking for a sewage pipe.

A year passed. Finally, Mr. Faggiano was allowed to resume his pursuit of the sewage pipe on condition that heritage officials observed the work. An underground treasure house emerged, as the family uncovered ancient vases, Roman devotional bottles, an ancient ring with Christian symbols, medieval artifacts, hidden frescoes and more.

“The Faggiano house has layers that are representative of almost all of the city’s history, from the Messapians to the Romans, from the medieval to the Byzantine time,” said Giovanni Giangreco, a cultural heritage official, now retired, involved in overseeing the excavation.

City officials, sensing a major find, brought in an archaeologist, even as the Faggianos were left to do the excavation work and bear the costs. Mr. Faggiano also engaged in extensive research into the eras tiered below him. The two older sons, Marco and Andrea, found their lives interrupted by their father’s quest.

“We were kind of forced to do it,” said Andrea, now 34, laughing. “I was going to university, but then I would go home to excavate. Marco as well.”

Mr. Faggiano still dreamed of a trattoria, even if the project had become his white whale. He supported his family with rent from an upstairs floor in the building and income on other properties.

“I was still digging to find my pipe,” he said. “Every day we would find new artifacts.”

Years passed. His sons managed to escape, with Andrea moving to London. City archaeologists pushed Mr. Faggiano to keep going. His own architect advised that digging deeper would help clear out sludge below the planned bathroom, should he still hope to open his trattoria. He admits he also became obsessed.

“At one point, I couldn’t take it anymore,” he recalled. “I bought cinder blocks and was going to cover it up and pretend it had never happened.

“I don’t wish it on anyone.”

Today, the building is Museum Faggiano, an independent archaeological museum authorized by the Lecce government. Spiral metal stairwells allow visitors to descend through the underground chambers, while sections of glass flooring underscore the building’s historical layers.

His docent, Rosa Anna Romano, is the widow of an amateur speleologist who helped discover the Grotto of Cervi, a cave on the coastline near Lecce that is decorated in Neolithic pictographs. While taking an outdoor bathroom break, the husband had noticed holes in the ground that led to the underground grotto.

“We were brought together by sewage systems,” Mr. Faggiano joked.

Mr. Faggiano is now satisfied with his museum, but he has not forgotten about the trattoria. A few years into his excavation, he finally found his sewage pipe. It was, indeed, broken. He has since bought another building and is again planning for a trattoria, assuming it does not need any renovations. He has no plans to lift a shovel.

“I still want it,” he said of the trattoria. “I’m very stubborn.”

April 14th, 2015
Magdalena Suarez Frimkes | New Works

Screen Shot 2015-04-11 at 5.03.10 PM
Donald Duck, 2015
ceramic and glaze
7.5 x 4.75 x 3.5 inches

April 13 through May 19, 2015

South Willard Shop Exhibit

April 11th, 2015


Brennan and Griffin

April 9th, 2015
matt connors


April 16 through May 30, 2015

Markus Luttgen

April 8th, 2015
Let Prisoners Take College Courses

NY Times Published: APRIL 4, 2015

ATTICA, N.Y. — EVER wonder what prisoners do and talk about? Well, at the Attica Correctional Facility, we’re all tucked away in cellblocks watching TV. We watch a lot — all day, all night. Then we talk about what we’re watching. Conversation tumbles through the bars, about movies, ball games and the news on CNN. I hear voices, as if in a trance, rap along to Bobby Shmurda’s new music video on BET. The lyrics — about dealing drugs, toting guns and committing murder — sound like an anthem for the lives many of us have lived.

We don’t have access to the Internet but prison officials are all for TVs in the cells. It’s called the “TV program.” When prisoners watch TV instead of going to the yard, there’s less violence. We’re entertained and confined and everyone’s happy. But the TVs could be put to better use.

What if, a few times a week, massive open online courses, or MOOCs, were streamed on the prison’s internal station, channel 3? Companies like Coursera already record university lectures — in subjects like psychology, sociology, existentialism, economics and political science — and stream them online for free. The MOOCs, which are free for the rest of the world, could help American prisoners become more educated and connected.

Education was once an integral part of prison life. In the early 1980s, there were 350 college degree programs for prisoners nationwide. It was part of the “rehabilitative era.” School buildings in prisons were like satellite campuses of colleges, and federal and state grants paid prisoners’ tuitions.

But the following years brought unemployment, crack cocaine, the Willie Horton debacle and tough-on-crime rhetoric. When the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act and other legislation quashed educational grants for prisoners in the ’90s, nobody seemed to care. Today, we live in the “retributive era.” The prison population has soared.

When the colleges left, the hope did, too, and when uneducated prisoners get out, they often come back. There are still some small college programs in prison, funded by philanthropists like Doris Buffett and George Soros who understand that education will provide us with a competitive advantage when we’re released. And the alumni of these programs rarely return to prison. In Sing Sing, for example, one forward-thinking educational program, launched in 1998, has a recidivism rate of less than 2 percent.

But too few can attend classes. At Attica, I’m one of 23 enrolled in a privately funded college program where we meet at night and study things like history, art and literature. We’ll be graduating with associate degrees this spring. But we’re the privileged 1 percent; there are 2,300 prisoners in Attica.

In February 2014, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced a plan to expand programs like these, by allocating $1 million of the almost $3 billion corrections budget for college courses in prison. I had hopeful conversations with other inmates who were looking forward to classes.

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But then, some in the public balked. I imagine this is what they thought: We obey the law, pay taxes, stuff 529 savings plans to pay our kids’ college tuitions — and now prisoners are getting a free college education?

“Hell No to Attica University,” read the petition published online later that month, by former State Senator Greg Ball, Republican of New York’s 40th Senate District. Mr. Cuomo scrapped the plan in April.

I was convicted of drug dealing and murder in 2004, and sentenced to 28 years to life. When I entered the prison system I was in my mid-20s and had a ninth-grade education. I hated myself. I hit rock bottom in 2008, in a different prison, where I was jumped by another prisoner and stabbed six times with an ice pick. My lung was punctured.

After that, I was transferred to Attica and in 2010 joined a creative-writing workshop. Though I didn’t have much of a sense of self-worth, I learned I did have some untapped talent. Discovering this has brought with it another set of challenges, though. As I’ve discovered the satisfaction of learning, I’ve realized that I deprived the man I killed of ever discovering his potential, his human essence. I grapple with this shame.

My neighbor, Roberto Rivera, also wants to change his life. He’s a thugged-out 28-year-old from the Lower East Side, serving six years, his second prison stint, for selling drugs. He hears me typing during the day on an old word processor I use, sees me heading to class at night. He asks about what I’m learning.

So I tell him about the theories and concepts — Machiavellianism, Marxism, social Darwinism — that my cranky and brilliant instructor weaves through all of his lectures. I show Roberto my writing, pass him my subscriptions, sections of this newspaper, issues of The New Yorker and The Atlantic. I try to make education and intellect look cool. It seems to work.

Roberto had his own harrowing experience in 2013 on Rikers Island, where he found himself in the middle of an hour-and-a-half-long rumble.

“It was the Dominicans against the blacks,” he told me. “I’m Puerto Rican but once someone hit me, I had to go for mine.”

In the end, Roberto’s head and face were carved up and a broken broomstick was stuck in his eye. It took more than an hour for the corrections officers to come and peel him off the floor and send him to the hospital. Today his head is covered in scars and he’s blind in that eye.

By the time a prisoner finds a seat in a college program it’s likely he’s experienced, or at least witnessed, similarly traumatic events — and has had enough.

I helped Roberto write an essay about why he should be considered for the Attica college program. He took the entrance exam, hoping to land one of the 20 open slots, but he’s competing against about 200 other prisoners. What if Roberto doesn’t make the cut? His hope may dwindle. He’ll lift weights and watch TV. He’ll grow physically and languish mentally. Then he’ll get out.

MEANWHILE, if he had the option, I’m sure he’d turn to channel 3 and watch college lectures. Then he and I, and maybe a handful of others in earshot, could have intellectual discussions through the bars.

MOOCs are no substitute for the existing college programs, and no excuse not to develop them further. (I’d love to see Mr. Cuomo’s plan gain some traction, see those programs receive more funding and be expanded.) MOOCs should be a welcome addition, a much-needed backup, for those who might not make it into regular classes.

A majority of us will leave prison one day. I’ll go back to Brooklyn. We’ll find neighborhoods transformed — a new class of professionals and hipsters strolling the streets and supermarket aisles. I wonder if they’ll bristle when they hear us talk and learn about where we’ve been. We need to be prepared to return to the outside world and stay there. But have hope for us when we’re inside, too. We need opportunities to educate ourselves. My mother used to tell me something that obviously took me a long time to figure out: “How you think is how you act.”

April 8th, 2015
Teaching our children to write, read & spell


A Developmental Approach Looking at the Relationship of Children’s Foundational Neurological Pathways to their Higher Capacities for Learning

Susan R. Johnson MD,FAAP
Published: 2/3/2014

The Development of the Balance and Proprioceptive Systems:

There is a widely held belief that if we start teaching children to write, read, and spell in preschool and kindergarten, they will become better writers, readers, and spellers by the time they reach the first and second grades. This, however, is not what I have seen clinically. The truth is that children should be only taught to write, read, and spell when their neurological pathways for writing, reading, and spelling have fully formed. There are many neuropsychologists, developmental specialists, occupational therapists, and teachers who are concerned that our current trend in this country of pushing “academics” in preschool and kindergarten will result in even greater increases in the number of children, particularly boys, diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorders, conduct disorders, as well as challenges in visual and auditory processing.

First, children need to develop a strong sense of balance, both when their bodies are moving and when their bodies are still. Even in utero the fetus is moving and stimulating the three semicircular canals within both inner ears. The semicircular canals are situated so that each one responds to a different direction or plane of movement, such as up/down, forwards/backwards, and left/right. The shell-shaped organ for hearing and the three semicircular canals for balance share the same 8th cranial nerve to the brain. If the brain is not getting correct information from the semicircular canals, it cannot easily maintain the uprightness of the body. In this case, children need to think and concentrate to maintain uprightness, and therefore the movements of their bodies are not yet mind-free. The ability to retain verbal information when sitting or standing depends on the mind being free. This is why a 6 1/2 year old child may be able to remember a sequence of four verbal requests when lying flat on the floor or snuggling in a parent’s lap but not when sitting still in a chair, and especially not when standing still. Fluid behind an ear drum also impacts a child’s ability to hear as does brain inflammation (resulting from an inflamed intestinal lining known as “The Leaky Gut Syndrome”), but these children have difficulties hearing and understanding language in all positions, whether lying down, sitting in their parent’s lap, sitting in a chair, or standing upright.

In order for a child to be able to sit still, pay attention, and visually remember the shapes of letters and numbers, the child first needs to have developed his or her proprioceptive system, a sense of the body in space. From the time the child is born into gravity, movements of the child’s trunk and extremities will activate proprioceptive receptor sites within the muscles, joints, tendons, and ligaments. This sensory information then travels to the cerebellum at the base of the cranium as well as to the the parietal lobes, located on each side of the brain, before connecting to all the other brain areas, including the frontal lobes. Movements on the right side of the body are mostly perceived in the left side of the brain, while movements on the left side of the body are mostly perceived in the right side of the brain.

If these proprioceptive pathways have been able to fully develop, by the time children are 7 to 8 years of age (a little younger for girls and sometimes older for boys), their brains will have mapped the location of all the muscles, joints, tendons, and ligaments on both sides of their bodies. Also around this same time period, the right and left sides of their brains will be developing connections with each other, otherwise known as bilateral integration. This will allow children to move the right and left sides of their bodies at the same time. When children can proprioceptively perceive their trunks and extremities and have connected the right and left sides of their brains and therefore their bodies together, they will have developed spatial awareness, a full sense of their bodies in 3-dimensional space (ie. forwards, backwards, up, down, left and right). Their brains and their physical bodies will be now deeply connected. They will be able to locate their trunk, arms, hands, fingers, legs, and feet even when they are sitting still, standing still, or lying in bed with their eyes closed. Their minds will no longer be needed to help keep their bodies upright or judge spatial distances. Their minds will be free to pay attention, focus, and learn, and their minds will also be free to notice the nonverbal social cues given by other children and adults.

In my clinical practice I see children who are being asked to sit still at a desk when they cannot yet maintain uprightness while sitting or standing, and can not yet “feel” or perceive their bodies proprioceptively. These children have to constantly move their muscles and joints and often need to seek external pressure to locate their bodies in space. These children often wiggle in their chairs (sometimes falling out of them), lean on their desks, sit on their legs and feet when in chairs, and/or wrap their feet around the legs of chairs just to help their brains better locate the positions of their trunks and extremities. In addition, when the proprioceptive system has not yet fully developed, children will have difficulties balancing on each foot for 8 to 10 seconds while remaining still when their eyes are closed. Since these children do not yet perceive their bodies in three-dimensional space (ie. forwards/backwards, right/left, and up/down), they also will have difficulties copying forms, especially forms containing diagonal lines, such as the triangle or diamond. Usually we expect children to be able to copy a triangle by 5 years of age and to copy the diamond shape by 7 years of age. Children who cannot proprioceptively locate their thumbs or fingers when trying to hold pencils or crayons cannot draw easily. In addition, if a child’s brain and mind has not yet started to develop that sense of the body in 3-dimensional space, then diagonal lines will be especially hard for that child to copy. In fact, children will not be able to perceive diagonal lines that are firmly drawn on their backs by a finger, such as in the letters M, W, V, or X or the number 7, until they have fully developed the sense of their bodies in 3-dimensional space. Until that time, diagonal lines drawn on children’s backs will feel like vertical, horizontal, or curved lines.

Children, if not coached by a parent or teacher, will draw their brain’s proprioceptive connections to their bodies when they are asked to draw a picture of a person. Children less than two years of age usually only scribble when asked to draw a person. Their brains have not yet connected proprioceptively to their bodies. Girls around two years of age and boys around three years of age usually draw a circle for a head with dangling, vertical sticks for legs and horizontal sticks for arms, all extending out from the circle. This means that these children are making proprioceptive connections from their brains to their arms and legs but not yet to their trunks, hands, fingers, or feet. Usually when girls are around three years of age and boys are around four years of age, they will draw full stick-figures with stick-like arms and legs, originating from stick-like or circular trunks. These children may also draw three to five stick fingers on each of the hands, letting us know that they are beginning to perceive their fingers proprioceptively as well.

Starting around 5 years of age, children should start to experience their bodies in 3-dimensional space (ie forwards/backwards, left/right, and up/down) so their drawings of a person will start to show some dimension. Now their drawings will show clothes (ie. triangular shaped dresses or rectangular-shaped pants and shirts), instead of just stick-like or circular, trunks. Their will be tubular or rectangularshaped (rather than stick-like) arms, hands, fingers, legs and feet. The drawings will become more detailed along with the appearance of a neck around 7 years of age. When children draw these types of dimensional drawings for a person, then their brains and minds are getting ready to read phonetically and simultaneously to create mental pictures and scenes from the words they are reading.

If children’s proprioceptive pathways have not yet fully developed or have been partially blocked by unresolved cranial compressions (which can occur during the birth process), their drawings of a person will look like those of younger children, often consisting of scribbles or being stick-like in their forms. It also is important to realize that the social and emotional behaviors of children will parallel the development of their proprioceptive systems. If a child’s drawing of a person proprioceptively appears like that of a younger child, the child’s social and emotional behaviors will probably be at the age-level of the child’s drawing. This is because a child’s mind needs to be free in order to note social cues. These children will also tire easily and become easily stressed when they are in new environments or social situations because their minds are doing so much multitasking.

Often children whose proprioceptive pathways have not completely developed are labeled as having Attention Deficit Disorders because they appear fidgety in their movements and have difficulties paying attention and focusing. They often appear stressed and they easily fatigue because of all the multitasking that their minds are doing to help their brains keep their bodies upright and judge spatial distances. This multitasking causes children to live predominately in the “flight or fight”, (ie. sympathetic) portion of their autonomic nervous systems. Being in the stressed portion of their autonomic nervous system also causes their pupils (ie. the dark portion of their eyes) to appear large when they are in moderate indoor light. In addition, the movements of these children are often jerky, rather than flowing, and they often seem anxious and/or hyperactive. Their behaviors can be impulsive and even explosive at times. Often these children have challenges with fine motor finger movements, as well, since they may not yet fully perceive proprioceptively the fingers in their hands. Some of these children may still write with the younger, fistlike grip of their pencils or show lots of tension in their fingers and thumbs when holding crayons or pencils. Once again, these children will be seen as having struggles with peer relationships, because their minds are not yet free and available to notice nonverbal social cues.

Children with proprioceptive challenges may also be labeled as having learning challenges in visual processing (for example, dyslexia or other types of nonverbal learning disabilities), because they have difficulties imprinting and remembering the correct spatial orientations of letters and numbers when they are asked to write them by memory. If proprioceptive pathways are fully developed, children can look at the shapes of letters and numbers, use their eyes to track the exact directions of the lines and curves, and then correctly imprint this spatial information in the left parietal area of their brains. When this happens, children’s minds can form accurate mental images of the numbers and letters they are seeing. If children’s eye tracking, eye convergence, and/or proprioceptive pathways are not yet fully developed or their pathways are partially blocked, these children will confuse letters such as “b” and “d” or may reverse numbers, like 2, 3, or 7, when writing and reading.

The proprioceptive system can also impact children’s lives in other ways. It can affect children’s ability to fall asleep at bedtime and/or remain asleep throughout the night. For these children, closing their eyes at night makes their bodies seem like they disappeared because their minds have not yet mapped the internal connections to their muscles, joints, tendons, and ligaments. This is why children may frequently wake up during the night and seek physical contact with their parent(s) in order to fall back asleep. When children’s proprioceptive systems are not yet fully developed, they will want to lie next to a parent in order to receive external pressure on their bodies, continually activating the pressure receptors in their skin and the proprioceptive receptors in their muscles, joints, tendons, and ligaments, so they can fully perceive their bodies externally, and therefore relax and fall back to sleep. This is also why children often want a light on when they go to bed. They need to be able to see their bodies because they cannot yet feel or perceive their bodies proprioceptively when the lights are out.

The proprioceptive system is developed and strengthened in children by having them do large and small physical movements, especially movements where they experience pressure, using their fingers, hands, arms, trunks, legs, and feet. Movements like digging with a shovel, pushing a wheelbarrow, carrying groceries, moving rocks, pulling weeds, hanging from the monkey bars, circle games where their hands are clapping and feet are stomping, jumping, hopping, galloping, and skipping are all wonderful activities for developing and strengthening proprioceptive pathways.

Learning to Write, Read, and Spell:

Our current educational system is teaching children to read in a way that does not make sense developmentally. Children in preschools and kindergartens are expected to read words when only the right side of their brains have developed. From around three to seven years of age, children are myelinating the right sides of their brains, so they only have access to this right hemisphere of their brains for reading. The right brain can only read individual words by sight recognition or sight memory. So preschool and kindergarten-aged children have to use this developing, right frontal area of their brains to guess at words. Yet the right frontal area of the brain has a much more important task than trying to figure out words by sight. Children need the frontal area of their right brains (and eventually the frontal area of their left brains) to create and analyze mental pictures when they are listening to stories or reading books for themselves. If children have to use the frontal area of their right brains to recognize words by sight, this area of the brain is not free to create inner mental pictures and scenes associated with the words they are hearing or reading. Furthermore, it is the myelination of the left side of their brains, usually around 6 1/2 to 7 1/2 years of age for girls and at least another year or two later for boys, that enables children to hear the separate sounds within a given word, (ie. phonemic awareness) and string the individual sounds together to sound-out words phonetically.

True reading happens when children can form and create mental pictures in the frontal areas of their right brains, while simultaneously sounding-out phonetically the corresponding words using the left side of their brains. It is the formation of these mental pictures while reading that gives children a deep comprehension and enjoyment for what they are reading. It is this forming of mental pictures while reading that enables children later to make sense of math word problems, algebra, biology, chemistry, and physics and deeply to understand literature, poetry, and history. Mental picturing while reading allows children to verbally express and write down their thoughts and ideas, using their own words, and helps them remember what they have read (ie. pictured) for their entire lives. In addition, when children read phonetically, by sounding-out the words using the left side of their brains, they will have a much easier time with spelling.

In the past, children were taught to recognize only a few hundred words by right brain, sight recognition. These words were usually very short (ie. is, a, and, at, the, are) and did not carry any associated mental pictures. If children cannot create or form mental pictures while reading, they are forced to memorize the words they see. When these right brain, sight readers are then asked to write a report, they can only parrot back the words or sentences they have memorized. These are the children who plagiarize or copy something verbatim from a book word for word when they are asked to write reports. This is because they can only recall the exact words that they read and memorized by sight, and they cannot refer to mental pictures. It is mental picturing that enables children to summarize, condense, and more deeply comprehend what they are reading. This is how and why our current educational curriculum, which pushes reading in preschools and kindergartens, is creating problems with attention and nonverbal learning disabilities in our children.

I have noticed that when children use their right brain, sight memory, to guess at a word’s identity, they mostly focus on the first and last letters of a word, the word’s overall shape, and its length. This means that the children are often oblivious to the sequence of letters within the middle of the words. Usually the children that have been pushed to read since preschool and/or kindergarten have memorized thousands of words by right brain, sight memory. Therefore, these children do not usually notice any differences when shown the sentences, “GAOTS LKIE GARSS” versus “GOATS LIKE GRASS”, “CTAS HVAE TIALS” versus “CATS HAVE TAILS”, or “BAERS LVOE HNOEY” versus “BEARS LOVE HONEY”. Children can look individually at each letter and compare the spelling of each word, if asked, but they do not see the differences right away when reading. On the other hand, a child that is reading phonetically, because he or she is sounding-out the words, immediately notices all the misspelled words and even tries to phonetically sound-out the nonsense words.

I have noticed in children that phonetic-based reading, using the left hemisphere of the brain, usually starts to develop around the same time as the bilateral integration pathways (ie. the pathways that connect the right and left sides of their brains, and therefore their bodies, together). A physical sign that children have developed their bilateral integration pathways is shown by their abilities to perform the cross-lateral skipping pattern (ie. opposite leg to arm, extending) without having to think or concentrate. This is because moving the extremities on the right side of the body is connected to the frontal motor area in the left side of the brain. Conversely, moving the extremities on the left side of the body is connected to the frontal motor area in the right side of the brain. If children can move their opposite arms and legs at the same time, the right and left hemispheres of their brains are “talking with” or connected to each other. If children can only skip using their feet or only skip extending the same arm with the same leg (ie. the homolateral skip), they are not yet ready to read, since they cannot access both sides of their brain simultaneously. Jumping rope by themselves in a flowing double jump pattern for every single swing of the rope, both forwards and backwards, also means that bilateral integration pathways are forming.

Doing lots of cross-lateral movement activities, in general, helps to strengthen children’s bilateral integration pathways. Movements like jumping rope by themselves, noncompetitive swimming lessons, rock wall climbing, hiking with poles, snow shoeing with poles, cross country skiing with poles, (bouncing a ball from one hand to the other while on a balance board), contra or square dancing, ballroom dancing (in middle school or high school), certain EXTRA lesson movements, and of course Therapeutic Eurythmy (which in my opinion is one of the most powerful movement therapies for strengthening bilateral integration) are all great. Circle time in kindergarten through the 4th grade at Waldorf and Waldorf-Method schools often includes cross-lateral movements. Doing Spacial Dynamic movements in the older grades is also helpful.

When children are in the older grades, they can do a circus skills camp some summer (e.g. learn how to ride a unicycle while juggling) or learn how to paddle while upright on a flat surf board in still water (a popular sport in Hawaii right now). Even kayaking, canoeing, and rowing are rhythmic, cross-lateral activities because the trunk and lower extremities hold tension while the arms are paddling. All of these activities will strengthen bilateral integration and proprioceptive pathways. Practicing form drawing (also done in Waldorf and Waldorf-Method schools) and writing in cursive, in a flowing manner without pausing between each letter, will also strengthen bilateral integration pathways. Printing just requires the left hemisphere of the brain while cursive writing requires the right and left sides of the brain working together. Older children who have not yet fully developed their bilateral integration pathways will find cursive writing very challenging and will prefer to print.

As an aside, we also ask children to hold a pencil and write before they are developmentally ready. I see very young children in preschool and kindergarten being asked to write with one of their hands while they still have overflow movements occurring in the fingers of their opposite hands. Before six or seven years of age, the vertical midline of the child usually is not fully integrated. Therefore, when a child moves the fingers of one hand, the fingers on the other hand will also move, often without the child’s conscious awareness. Children should not be made to write until this vertical midline is integrated. Children’s vertical midline is usually integrated after they have developed bilateral integration pathways between the right and left sides of their brain. When this happens, children can cross over the middle of their bodies (ie. cross their midline) with their dominant hands to pick up objects placed on the other side of their bodies. Also if we force children to hold a pencil or pen and write, before they have integrated their vertical midlines and before they have located their thumbs and fingers proprioceptively, they will show tense pencil grips, cramped handwriting, and spatially compromised and jerky penmanship.

My greatest concern is that I am seeing more and more fourth through eighth graders from public and private schools who are still reading mostly by right brain, sight memory and therefore cannot picture and deeply comprehend what they are reading. For example, when I give these children the following sentences to read; “Six byos wnet on a vaccaiton tohgeter. Tehy wnet fsihing in a bule baot. One boy cuahgt a big fsih. The ohtres did not ctach a tihng. Tehy dediced to go hmoe”, they often do not notice any of the misspelled words. Furthermore, when I have these same children read the same sentences with the words correctly spelled, they often tell me that both sentences are exactly the same or maybe only note one or two words, such as “Hmoe or Fsih”, that are misspelled and then tell me that the rest of the words are spelled correctly. Once again, these children are reading both the misspelled sentences and the correctly spelled sentences by sight memory, using only the right side of their brains.

I worry that these children were pushed to read too early, when only their right brains were developed enough for reading. They compensated by learning to read everything using sight word recognition. When the left side of their brains finally developed (or myelinated) for phonetic-based reading, they did not easily switch sides and still now read mostly by sight memory. It was only when these children were given new words, words they had never seen before or when they became stuck in their reading, that they would slowly attempt to sound out the words phonetically. Some children had a strong visual memory for the sequences of letters in words, and they noted misspelled words easily, though they still were reading words by sight recognition rather than sounding them out. This was easy to tell by asking these children to read the words; TRAMS, STOP, and WARTS, backwards. If the children were reading phonetically then it was easy for them to sound-out the words backwards and quickly respond; SMART, POTS, and STRAW. If children were only reading the words by sight recognition, they struggled trying to read these words phonetically backwards.

Most importantly, none of the children that were predominately reading by right brain, sight memory could easily make mental pictures or create scenes while reading words. Some of these children told me that they never formed pictures in their minds when they read, and they only made pictures in their minds when someone else read to them or if they listened to books on tape. Some children, who were reading mostly by sight memory, told me they saw a few isolated pictures in their minds when reading but not whole scenes, they did not always fully understand what they were reading, and therefore, they did not like to read. Other children told me that they could create pictures in their minds as long as they read words very slowly. In this way they could first memorize the words in a sentence, and then they could silently repeat back the sentence to themselves and therefore form mental pictures as a second step.

For children 4th grade and older who are predominately reading by right brain, sight memory, I often recommend a phonetic-based reading program to switch their reading pathways to their left side, as long as their sensory processing pathways of balance in stillness, eye tracking, eye convergence, proprioception and bilateral integration are fully developed. If children are showing any signs of sensory processing/integration challenges with touch, balance, proprioception, bilateral integration and especially with their eye movements, then I first recommended Biodynamic Cranial Osteopathic treatments or cranial treatments by a specialized Chiropractor, board certified both in Atlas Orthogonist and Functional Neurology, to help gently, and often non-manipulatively, resolve the cranial compressions. I then recommend that the child do specific movement therapies such as Therapeutic Eurythmy, Extra Lesson, Parelli horseback riding lessons (especially bareback), Bal-A-Vis-X, Brain Gym, HANDLE, or sensory integration therapy with an occupational therapist that specializes in working with children. These movements need to be noncompetitive, and the therapists need to avoid over stimulating the children and activating their fight and flight “stress” responses. Therefore, these therapists need to live in the present movement, be in their relaxed autonomic nervous systems, love their work, and enjoy the children. Neurological pathways do not form well when children are experiencing external stressors in their environments and internally stressed in their autonomic nervous systems.

There are many causes for having unresolved cranial compressions, which often occur over the cerebellum and brain stem areas at the back of the head and base of the skull. These cranial compressions usually occur at birth, since the cranium consists of plates that can overlap and are very moldable. Often children who have experienced a C-section birth, prolonged labor (more than 12 hours), a very fast delivery, pitocin induced labor, or the use of vacuum suction forceps at delivery are at risk for still having unresolved cranial compressions. In addition, these children need a lot of strengthening of their vestibular-balance, eye tracking, eye convergence, proprioceptive, and bilateral integration pathways once these pathways have more fully opened.

Once these pathways and connections are formed and strengthened, many of these older grade children will still need tutoring to strengthen their phonetic-based reading skills since their right brain’s, sight recognition of words became so strong. Phonetic-based tutoring is usually only needed for 1 hour, twice a week. First, children’s phonemic awareness is strengthened (ie. their ability to hear the separate sounds within a given word). Next children need to gain a thorough understanding for word families (e.g. sat, mat, cat, etc.) and the different sounds that vowels can make within words. Finally, these children will need to learn the spelling rules that determine which sounds particular vowels make within a given word. All of these activities will strengthen children’s left brains for phonetic-based reading. Even if these older grade children were taught word families and phonetics in the first and second grades, they may need to revisit these reading skills, since the left side of their brains was probably not developed enough to learn these skills when they were in the earlier grades. If the tutoring does not stick in children’s minds from week to week, then I know that their sensory processing pathways are not yet fully opened and/or developed, so tutoring is slowed or stopped until children have more cranial and/or movement therapies to completely open their pathways.

In summary, reading should be taught in schools only after children have developed the left side of their brains for phonetic-based reading and also developed bilateral integration pathways (connecting the right and left side of their brains together). This will enable children to read phonetically, using the left side of their brains, while simultaneously creating internal mental pictures in the frontal area of the right side of their brains (and augmenting or analyzing these pictures by processing language in the frontal area of the left side of their brains, as well). Children who can simultaneously sound-out words phonetically, using the left side of their brains while creating mental pictures in the frontal area of the right side of their brains, will be able to read easily, and simultaneously create visual images and pictures in their minds related to the content of what they are reading. They will be able to discuss or write about what they have read, using their own words, because they can replay the mental pictures and scenes that they generated in their minds while reading.

Prevention of Learning Disabilities:

Overall, schools and parents can support a child’s learning by serving healthy foods rich in protein, good quality fats (especially omega 3 fatty acids and coconut oil), fresh fruits, and vegetables, while eliminating foods that are highly processed, full of sugar, and contain partially-hydrogenated oils and trans fats that occur when cooking or frying foods in vegetable oils (ie. corn oil). Adequate sleep will increase the percentage of rapid eye movement or REM sleep. A lack of sleep leads to less REM sleep, and therefore, less consolidation of short term visual memories into long term visual memories from the previous day’s lessons. Extremely limiting screen time (television, videos, and computer games) and eliminating it altogether on school nights, will keep children’s minds free to do their own picturing. Also, their minds will not be stressed by trying to comprehend and process the often violent images shown on screens, and the visual memories that children form while learning at school will not have to compete with or be diluted by the rapidly flashing visual images on screens. Regular rhythms and routines in eating and sleeping, as well as physical activity will promote a more relaxed and integrated nervous system for learning.

In addition, children cannot learn and neurological pathways cannot form as easily when children’s nervous systems are experiencing stress. Forcing young children to write, read, and spell and requiring them to take standardized tests especially on computers, in the early grades, before they are even developmentally ready to read and write, will further stress their autonomic nervous systems and therefore slow development of their brains, bodies, and minds. In addition, children who are pushed to read and write before they are neurologically ready, will dislike reading and writing and will not enjoy learning or even going to school. If we insist on pushing writing, reading, and spelling before children’s minds are neurologically fully developed, we will continue to create an epidemic of behavior, attention, and learning challenges in all our children and especially in our boys.

First grade is the time to introduce lots of form drawing and learn the shapes of capital letters by relating them to pictures. Because the reading center (frontal lobe area) in the right brain can visualize individual letters as pictures, it makes sense to first teach children the shape of a letter and its corresponding sound by relating the shape of the letter to actual pictures that children can understand and draw. For example, the letter “M” can be represented by two mountain peaks, covered by a layer of snow, with a valley in between. As teachers we can tell children that the sound “M” is the first sound one hears when saying the word “mountains”. Other examples might include drawing a king out of the letter “K”, a bunny or gentle bear out of the letter “B” or waves out of a “W”. What does not make developmental sense is expecting children to just memorize the abstract shapes of the letter “F” or memorize phrases like “F” as in the word FOX, “B” as in the word BOY, or “C” as in the word CROCODILE. These words do not make any visual sense to the reading center in the right brain. The letter “F” doesn’t look like a FOX, the letter “B” doesn’t look like a BOY, and the letter “C” does not look like a CROCODILE. A number can be first taught by relating the number to the actual number of objects that the number represents (e.g. using counting stones or pictures of objects that the children actively count).

Also in first grade, we can have children practice drawing cursive forms, like drawing small case letters in a repetitive row (e.g. drawing the cursive form of “c”, over and over to represent the crest of the waves in an ocean or drawing cursive “w’s” in a row that look like waves). Children can also copy printed letters and numbers from the board and draw letters using their fingers (for example the letter M as represented by two mountains) on each other’s back or in the sand. However, do not expect them to easily write numbers or letters by memory, since they will still show reversals if their proprioceptive systems are not fully developed. I have learned that it is harder for children to learn to write cursive words in a flowing manner during first grade, since their bilateral integration pathways are still developing. However, children can have fun drawing these cursive forms in form drawing exercises, and later they will later be surprised and delighted, when they see these same forms again as they are learning to write words in cursive and not just print them.

Starting in the second and third grades, many of the children will have developed their proprioceptive systems and connected the right and left sides of their brain together, and therefore can be more formally taught to write in cursive, to read phonetically, and to spell without developing attention problems and learning challenges. This assumes that children do not start first grade until they

Therefore, it is time to remove the desks from kindergartens and preschools. Our preschools and kindergartens need to fill their curriculums with play consisting of lots of sensory integration activities that will strengthen fine motor movements, visual motor abilities, listening skills, balance, muscle tone, proprioception, as well as strengthen children’s social and emotional skills and most importantly, strengthen their imaginative and picture making capacities by promoting play, using puppets and marionettes to visually act out stories for the children to see, and by telling children lots of stories and reading them lots of books (initially with pictures representing the moral qualities of goodness, truth, and beauty). Activities like climbing, running, jumping, hopping, skipping, walking the balance beam, playing circle games, singing, playing catch, doing meaningful chores, painting, coloring, playing hand clapping games, doing string games, cutting with scissors, and finger knitting will all strengthen children’s minds for learning. Children need these healthy, harmonious, rhythmic, and noncompetitive movements to develop the connections between their brains and their bodies, which will later free their minds for learning, problem solving, and creative thinking. For it is the movements of our bodies and our love for learning that create strong foundational, neurological pathways that free the mind for reading, writing, spelling, mathematics, problem solving, and most importantly, creative and imaginative thinking.


April 6th, 2015
California Drought Tests History of Endless Growth

The state’s history as a frontier of prosperity and glamour faces an uncertain future as the fourth year of severe shortages prompts Gov. Jerry Brown to mandate a 25 percent reduction in non-agricultural water use. Photograph by Damon Winter

NY Times Published: APRIL 4, 2015

LOS ANGELES — For more than a century, California has been the state where people flocked for a better life — 164,000 square miles of mountains, farmland and coastline, shimmering with ambition and dreams, money and beauty. It was the cutting-edge symbol of possibility: Hollywood, Silicon Valley, aerospace, agriculture and vineyards.

But now a punishing drought — and the unprecedented measures the state announced last week to compel people to reduce water consumption — is forcing a reconsideration of whether the aspiration of untrammeled growth that has for so long been this state’s driving engine has run against the limits of nature.

The 25 percent cut in water consumption ordered by Gov. Jerry Brown raises fundamental questions about what life in California will be like in the years ahead, and even whether this state faces the prospect of people leaving for wetter climates — assuming, as Mr. Brown and other state leaders do, that this marks a permanent change in the climate, rather than a particularly severe cyclical drought.

This state has survived many a catastrophe before — and defied the doomsayers who have regularly proclaimed the death of the California dream — as it emerged, often stronger, from the challenges of earthquakes, an energy crisis and, most recently, a budgetary collapse that forced years of devastating cuts in spending. These days, the economy is thriving, the population is growing, the state budget is in surplus, and development is exploding from Silicon Valley to San Diego; the evidence of it can be seen in the construction cranes dotting the skylines of Los Angeles and San Francisco.

But even California’s biggest advocates are wondering if the severity of this drought, now in its fourth year, is going to force a change in the way the state does business.

Can Los Angeles continue to dominate as the country’s capital of entertainment and glamour, and Silicon Valley as the center of high tech, if people are forbidden to take a shower for more than five minutes and water bills become prohibitively expensive? Will tourists worry about coming? Will businesses continue their expansion in places like San Francisco and Venice?

“Mother Nature didn’t intend for 40 million people to live here,” said Kevin Starr, a historian at the University of Southern California who has written extensively about this state. “This is literally a culture that since the 1880s has progressively invented, invented and reinvented itself. At what point does this invention begin to hit limits?”

California, Dr. Starr said, “is not going to go under, but we are going to have to go in a different way.”

An estimated 38.8 million people live in California today, more than double the 15.7 million people who lived here in 1960, and the state’s labor force exploded to 18.9 million in 2013 from 6.4 million people in 1960.

California’s $2.2 trillion economy today is the seventh largest in the world, more than quadruple the $520 billion economy of 1963, adjusted for inflation. The median household income jumped to an estimated $61,094 in 2013 from $44,772 in 1960, also adjusted for inflation.

“You just can’t live the way you always have,” said Mr. Brown, a Democrat who is in his fourth term as governor.

“For over 10,000 years, people lived in California, but the number of those people were never more than 300,000 or 400,000,” Mr. Brown said. “Now we are embarked upon an experiment that no one has ever tried: 38 million people, with 32 million vehicles, living at the level of comfort that we all strive to attain. This will require adjustment. This will require learning.”

This disconnect, as it were, can be seen in places like Palm Springs, in the middle of the desert, where daily per capita water use is 201 gallons — more than double the state average. A recent drive through the community offered a drought-defying tableau of burbling fountains, flowers, lush lawns, golf courses and trees. The smell of mowed lawn was in the air.

But the drought is now forcing change in a place that long identified itself as “America’s desert oasis.” Palm Springs has ordered 50 percent cuts in water use by city agencies, and plans to replace the lawns and annual flowers around city buildings with native landscapes. It is digging up the grassy median into town that unfurled before visitors like a carpet at a Hollywood premiere. It is paying residents to replace their lawns with rocks and desert plants, and offering rebates to people who install low-flow toilets.

At the airport that once welcomed winter-chilled tourists with eight acres of turf and flowers, city officials are in the early stages of replacing the grass with cactus, desert bushes and paloverde trees. The city had hoped to replace the entire lawn, but the project’s $2 million price tag forced it to begin instead with three acres, said David Ready, the city manager.

“Years ago the idea was, come to Palm Springs, and people see the grass and the lushness and the green,” Mr. Ready said. “We’ve got to change the way we consume water.“

Fallow Fields

Other places face different threats to their way of life. Mayor Robert Silva of Mendota, in the heart of the agricultural Central Valley, said unemployment among farmworkers had soared as the soil turned to crust and farmers left half or more of their fields fallow. Many people are traveling 60 or 70 miles to look for work, Mr. Silva said, and families are increasingly relying on food donations.

“You can’t pay the bills with free food,” he said. “Give me some water, and I know I can go to work, that’s the bottom line.”

Richard White, a history professor at Stanford University, said the scarcity of water could result in a decline in housing construction, at a time when there has been a burst of desperately needed residential development in cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco.

“It’s going to be harder and harder to build new housing without an adequate water supply,” he said. “How many developments can you afford if you don’t have water?”

Greg Smith, 51, a web developer who works from his home in Escondido, said he was considering moving to Washington State because of his distress at what he described as the state’s slow response to the drought.

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“If this gets out of control, I’ll probably end up leaving,” Mr. Smith said. “This has been a problem for as long as I’ve been alive.”

“I’ve watched this state get trampled by developers,” he added. “They keep building homes, but where’s the water going to come from?”

The governor’s executive order mandates a 25 percent overall reduction in water use throughout the state, to be achieved with varying requirements in different cities and villages. The 400 local water supply agencies will determine how to achieve that goal; much of it is expected to be done by imposing new restrictions on lawn watering. The 25 percent reduction does not apply to farms, which consume the great bulk of this state’s water.

State officials signaled on Friday that reductions in water supplies for farmers were likely to be announced in the coming weeks, and there is also likely to be increased pressure on the farms to move away from certain water-intensive crops — like almonds.

A New Normal

Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles, pointing to Mr. Brown’s executive order and his own city’s success in reducing water consumption, said he was confident that the state would find ways to deal with an era of reduced water supplies, in a way that would permit it to continue to grow and thrive.

“We have to deal with a new normal,” Mr. Garcetti said. “That said, do we have enough water to sustain life here? Absolutely. Do we have enough water to grow economically? Absolutely.”

“Cities that are much drier and truly desert — Phoenix, Las Vegas — have shown the ability to have economic growth,” he said.

Allan Zaremberg, president of the California Chamber of Commerce, rejected the idea that the drought and the state’s response to it would prompt industries to move away or stop adding jobs. “The rest of the economy is managing it, learning how to deal with it,” he said.

This is hardly the first crisis California has faced; there has always been a tension between the natural beauty and delights of living in California and the external threats, be they the dizzying ups-and-downs of the state budget, the rolling blackouts during the energy crisis in 2000 and 2001, the earthquakes or periodic droughts.

“People on the East Coast always want to say that the glow of California is gone,” said Felicia Marcus, the head of the State Water Resources Control Board, which is putting into effect the 25 percent reduction in water use ordered by Mr. Brown last week. “It isn’t. I don’t see it as any diminishment about our prospect of growth. There has to be a more evolved way about using the resources we have. We have a long way to go before we have tapped out our resources.”

The critical question is the extent to which Mr. Brown has succeeded in persuading people here to shake long-held habits and assumptions.

“I’m not going to stop watering,” said Matthew Post, 45, referring to the gardens around his Benedict Canyon home. “The state does not know how to arrange the resources they have, and so we have to pay for it,” he said. “They say that they will raise the prices because there is a drought, but when the drought ends, will they reduce the prices?”

Much like the Gold Rush more than 150 years ago or the rise of Silicon Valley, the assumption of cheap and abundant water has been a crucial part of California’s identity, history and economy.

And until recently, it seemed that the California dream was sustainable: booming cities, wide lawns in the suburbs, green golf courses in an otherwise parched landscape and, above all, a vibrant agricultural sector in places not much wetter than a desert.

Although there were serious droughts in the mid-1970s and late 1980s, the current water shortage and last week’s executive order are a turning point for the state, and the West more generally, water experts say.

“The idea, at least until the latter part of the 20th century, was that water would be cheap and plentiful and the focus was on developing new supplies,” said Heather Cooley, water program director for the Pacific Institute, an environmental research group based in Oakland. “Folks realize we have now reached the limits of supply, so the focus is on demand.”

While the mandatory cuts in home water use are the first ever, efficiency has been slowly gaining ground in recent decades. Total water use in Los Angeles, San Francisco and many other urban areas is now lower than it was in 1980, despite the huge economic growth and population increases.

The latest restrictions represent a cultural change, as well as a lifestyle one, going well beyond taking shorter showers or forgoing the Sunday afternoon ritual of hosing down the family car.

Half of residential use is outdoors, primarily lawns, Ms. Cooley said. “And what Californians see as beautiful,” she said, “has been a lawn that has been the standard for front yards and backyards.”

Now, with utilities paying people to replace thirsty traditional grass turf with water-sipping native plants and other drought-tolerant shrubbery, long-held aesthetics are shifting. “This will change what Californians see as beautiful,” she said.

But even a significant drop in residential water use will not move the consumption needle nearly as much as even a small reduction by farmers. Of all the surface water consumed in the state, roughly 80 percent is earmarked for the agricultural sector.

“The big question is agriculture, and there are difficult trade-offs that need to be made,” said Katrina Jessoe, assistant professor of agricultural and resource economics at the University of California, Davis.

Bill Melzer, 72, a bond broker walking his dog on a sunny morning in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, said he was worried about the drought, about the prospect of higher fines for using too much water and about what might happen to the agriculture industry. But he said he was not worried about the future of his state.

“The dream of California now is probably different than back in the 1960s,” he said. “Now it’s more financial opportunity. I think before it was what we’re looking at now — great weather, beach weather, tremendous diversity of lifestyle. Really, if you cannot find your lifestyle in this state, there is something wrong with you.”

Dr. Starr, the University of Southern California historian, said the crisis would force California to do what was needed to carry on. “Our destiny is not just to be a fantasy place,” he said. “As much as we enjoy the good life in California, we have to come to terms with Mother Nature, with our arid environment.”

“Every time California has a problem — we ran out of electricity in the early 2000s, then we ran out of money, and now we are running out of water — people say California is over,” Dr. Starr said. “It’s not over. It’s too important a part of American culture to be over. But it will change itself.”

April 4th, 2015
Our Land, Up for Grabs

NY Times Published: APRIL 2, 2015

San FRANCISCO — A BATTLE is looming over America’s public lands.

It’s difficult to understand why, given decades of consistent, strong support from voters of both parties for protecting land, water and the thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic benefits these resources make possible.

Last week, the United States Senate voted 51 to 49 to support an amendment to a nonbinding budget resolution to sell or give away all federal lands other than the national parks and monuments.

If the measure is ever implemented, hundreds of millions of acres of national forests, rangelands, wildlife refuges, wilderness areas and historic sites will revert to the states or local governments or be auctioned off. These lands constitute much of what’s left of the nation’s natural and historical heritage.

This was bad enough. But it followed a 228-to-119 vote in the House of Representatives approving another nonbinding resolution that said “the federal estate is far too large” and voiced support for reducing it and “giving states and localities more control over the resources within their boundaries.” Doing so, the resolution added, “will lead to increased resource production and allow states and localities to take advantage of the benefits of increased economic activity.”

The measures, supported only by the Republicans who control both houses, were symbolic. But they laid down a marker that America’s public lands, long held in trust by the government for its people, may soon be up for grabs.

We’ll get a better sense of Congress’s commitment to conservation this year when it decides whether to reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund, created in 1965 and financed by fees paid by oil companies for offshore drilling. The program underwrites state and local park and recreation projects, conservation easements for ranches and farms, plus national parks, forests and wildlife refuges.

Nearly $17 billion has gone to those purposes over the years, including 41,000 state and local park and recreation projects, some of which my organization has helped put together. (Another $19 billion was diverted by Congress to other purposes.) The program expires Sept. 30 unless Congress keeps it alive.

Land protection has long been an issue for which voters of both parties have found common cause. Since 1988, some $71.7 billion has been authorized to conserve land in more than 1,800 state and local elections in 43 states. Last year, $13.2 billion was approved by voters in 35 initiatives around the country — the most in a single year in the 27 years my organization has tracked these initiatives and, in some cases, led them.

But this consensus is being ignored, and not just in the nation’s capital.

In November, for instance, 4.2 million Florida voters approved a state constitutional amendment to provide $22 billion over the next 20 years for land and water protection. But some legislative leaders want to use the money mostly for programs other than the land protections voters expected.

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New Jersey voters also approved a constitutional amendment in November to dedicate corporate business tax revenue to preserve open space, farmland and historic places in the nation’s most densely populated state. Again, support was lopsided, with 65 percent of voters in favor. But Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, is now proposing to divert a quarter of the funds to purposes other than land acquisition and preservation.

And in Maine, money approved by voters for a popular state program called Land for Maine’s Future is now caught up in a political tussle. The program was founded in 1987 to conserve land and has protected 560,000 acres. It has enjoyed wide support; in 2012, new bond financing was approved by 60 percent of voters casting a ballot. But Gov. Paul R. LePage, a Republican, is refusing to spend about $11 million unless his plan to increase timber harvesting on state-owned lands is approved.

What’s often lost in these debates is that these public lands provide enormous economic benefits.

In 2013, the country’s national parks, wildlife refuges, monuments and other public lands had an estimated 407 million visits, which contributed $41 billion to the economy and helped to support 355,000 jobs, according to a report by the Department of the Interior last year.

It is difficult to understand the hostility of some elected officials these days to public lands, given the historical, bipartisan commitment to protecting our land and heritage. This summer, millions of Americans will get outdoors and enjoy these wise investments.

The writer Wallace Stegner saw “geographies of hope” in our remaining wild places, and wrote that visiting them is “good for us when we are young, because of the incomparable sanity it can bring, as vacation, and rest, into our insane lives.” And, he added, “it is important to us when we are old because it is there — important, that is, simply as an idea.”

Rather than selling off the lands we all own, or looking for other uses for the money approved at the ballot box for conservation, our leaders should listen to voters and find ways to protect more of the places that make America special.

April 2nd, 2015

thanks to jonathan maghen

March 31st, 2015

March 29th, 2015
Small Sculpture

Frank Benson
Untitled, 2011
11 X 7 X 4 3/4 inches

March 28 – April 25, 2015

Alma Allen
Darren Bader
Frank Benson
Chris Bradley
Nancy Brooks Brody
Joanne Greenbaum
George Herms
Alice Hutchins
Matt Johnson
Shio Kusaka
Jason Meadows
Miki Mochizuka
William J. O’Brien
Anthony Pearson
Puppies Puppies
Amanda Ross-Ho
Hayley Tompkins
Nick van Woert
Lisa Williamson

Shane Cambell

March 29th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-03-26 at 4.16.13 AM

By Kathleen Hale
Elle Published: March 24, 2015

“You are calling me from a cell phone,” Fran Lebowitz , the cultural critic, writer, and sometimes actress announces, mere seconds after I say hello. She says it’s the worst connection in the history of the world, and she’ll only continue with the interview if I call her from a landline.

Not having one of those, I suggest we meet at Burger Heaven, where I find her waiting behind a fountain soda the size of a lectern. Eventually she forgives me for being four minutes late, and launches into a series of mini-lectures on fashion—including topics such as: “Yoga pants are ruining women,” “This most recent revival of platform shoes embodies everything that’s wrong with young people,” and “Men in shorts are disgusting”—as well as many other sartorial tirades.

Kathleen Hale: You don’t have a uniform, per se, but you wear a jacket, a men’s shirt with cufflinks, Levi’s jeans, cowboy boots, two gold rings, and tortoiseshell glasses every single day.

Fran Lebowitz: Yes.

Walk me through your outfit.
This jacket is from Anderson and Sheppard in London. I don’t go there, they come to me. Or they did. Now they have a dummy made of me.

What people don’t know is: Clothes don’t really fit you unless they’re made for you. Especially when you wear men’s clothes, like I do. American women think that clothes fit them if they can fit into them. But that’s not at all what fit means.

These cufflinks, actually, were a gift. They’re made from a dice that was cut in half.

I get all my shirts made at Hilditch and Key. There’s one in Paris and one in London. There’s not one here, I don’t know why. They’re men’s shirts—they don’t really fit—but I don’t really care if shirts fit perfectly. I have all my suits and jackets made, but I’ve never had a shirt made. I’ll have them shortened, so that there’s not three yards of cloth hanging down. But it’s not as important to me that they fit perfectly.

I used to buy all my shirts at Brooks [Brothers], but that was completely ruined about 20 years ago. They discontinued the shirt I liked. If I had only known this—I mean, if you’re going to discontinue an item that thousands and thousands of people buy, announce it. Say, ‘We will no longer be making our excellent Brooks Brothers cotton shirts that we made for 5,000 years. We’re going to change them in some awful way. We’re alerting you so you can buy a lifetime supply.’ Shirts don’t go bad, they’re not peaches.

I feel very strongly that almost the entire city has copied my glasses. I went to a fashion show during fashion week, and everyone there had on my eyeglasses. Warby Parker has also copied my eyeglasses.

Here’s what started happening: A few years ago, kids—and by which I mean, my friends kids—started coming up to me and saying, ‘Fran, where’d you get those vintage glasses?’

And I said, ‘They’re not vintage. I’ve just owned them for a long time. They are vintage in the way I am.’

I’m not unhappy that everyone has copied me. There was a period when everyone was wearing those black, oblong glasses. These are better.

As with my perfect white shirts, it never occurred to me that they’d stop making my original tortoiseshell eyeglasses—the ones I started with—but then they did. So now I have glasses that are like the originals, sort of like the originals, kind of like the originals…I have made several attempts to recover what I once had.

The ones I’m wearing right now, I had them made. Now, for someone who didn’t grow up in the depression, but who basically behaves as if I did (because I was raised by people who did) it’s crazy to me that I didn’t ask up front how much it would cost. They cost so much that I never did it again. I was traumatized by it.

Would you say how much they cost?
I wouldn’t. I’m mortified.

But like, maybe in comparison to something? Like, “My eyeglass frames were about as much as…”
A car.

A real tragedy.

So we’ve covered most of what you’re wearing…except for your jeans, and your boots.
I’m wearing my very old cowboy boots because it’s going to pour. But when I was young, shoes were made in New England and I used to wear Bass penny loafers. Or before that I wore Old Maine Trotters, which aren’t made anymore.

But then I got something called a bone spur on my ankle, which there’s no cure for, and I couldn’t walk (it was very painful). And the doctor told me that what would help was wearing shoes with a heel, like cowboy boots. And I was like, great, because I’m 5’6″ in cowboy boots.

So I had my cowboy boots made. It’s very hard to find this man who makes them. (And I’m not going to give out his name because I don’t want you to know what they cost.) I have one pair of very good ones, and two pairs of ones that are ripped to shreds—the ones I have on are ones that I save for the rain.

Why did you have them made? What don’t you like about regular cowboy boots?
I don’t like the pointy toe or the square toe. I have the only pairs I know of that are wingtip cowboy boots.

Have you always worn the same kind of jeans?
I always wore 501 Levi’s. They used to make them in San Francisco. Every size was the same size, which sounds obvious, but you would be surprised—and then, I don’t know, at some point during globalization they started making them in Mexico, and like every other thing they branched out to places you’d never heard of. So now every single size of Levi’s is a different size. They cost less, too, which doesn’t make any sense. I wish that real estate were cheaper and clothes were more expensive. But that’s what young people want: $2 T shirts that fall apart in the wash.

People care more about trends now than they do about style. They get so wrapped up in what’s happening that they forget how to dress, and they never learn who they are because they never learn how to take care of anything. So much of what my generation was taught regarding clothes was how to make them last. How to wash and care for them.

I take very good care of my clothes. When I get home, I instantly hang up my jacket. If it’s hot outside, I’ll hang it on the shower rod so that it can air out a bit before I put it away. That’s the first thing I do. Then I’ll hang up my shirt if I’m going to wear it again that night, and I change into another shirt that I just wear around the house. It’s from high school and has holes in it. I love it because it’s mine and because nobody sees me in it, ever. I put my cufflinks in their little box. I shoeshine once a week. My jeans go in the washing machine, my shirts go out (they’re starched), and my clothes that need to be dry-cleaned go to the most expensive dry-cleaner. I dry-clean as infrequently as possible—not only because it’s psychotically expensive, but also because who knows what it does to the clothes? Dry…clean. These words don’t go together. Wet clean—that is how you clean. I can’t even imagine the things they do at the drycleaner. I don’t want to know.

How did you arrive at your current style?
I think I always had it, but my tastes just became more expensive.

The biggest difference is that when I was young, I wore sweaters. Crewneck sweaters, with button-down shirts and jeans, every single day. And I think at a certain point in my twenties, I decided that was childish. So I gave away all my beautiful sweaters.

Blue jeans are childish too, obviously. But luckily everyone my age kept wearing them. It used to be that adults did not wear jeans—not men, unless they were construction workers—only teenagers wore them. But I guess my generation just said, “We’re going to keep wearing them until we die, because we’re almost there.”

Besides your sweater phase, was there ever a period in your life where you indulged a style other than your current one—perhaps something you look back on and think, “I can’t believe I did that?”
No. For instance in the ’60s I never wore bellbottoms. I thought they were ridiculous. It’s a horrible line. I never wore tie-dye, either. If it comes from the ’60s I never wore it.

That’s not true. The army jackets. We used to buy clothes ironically at the Army Navy stores. So I had one of those khaki jackets, which was, you know, covered in anti-war pins and stuff.

But that’s it. Everything else I hated. The first time I ever saw platform shoes in the ’70s, I knew they’d been revived from the ’40s, and I felt sickened. And for whatever reason, they keep getting revived. They’ve come back four times. I wish we could let them die. They want to die. They were horrible then, they’re horrible now. The lines on bellbottoms don’t flatter, and neither do the lines on platforms.

But I guess they have to keep making them because teenagers see them and go, ‘Wow, that’s edgy.’ If you’re 18 right now, you think you invented platform shoes. You think you’re doing something new. You think you’ve invented something so ugly that it’s beautiful.

When we were young, we knew things. We knew basic history, even as it related to fashion. Now, when something reappears, an 18 year old has no clue that it’s a revival. Despite the fact that they’re almost always online they don’t get references.

I think that’s part of why visual things are becoming so derivative. Designers now, they all have these things called mood boards. I suppose they think a sense of discovery equals invention. It would be as if every writer had a board with paragraphs of other writers—’Oh, I’ll take a little bit of this, and that, he was really good.’ Yes, he was really good! And that is not a mood board, it is a stealing board.

What’s the point of being young if you’re not going to make new things, I wonder? It’s their job to innovate. That’s the entire point. It’s why they’re here. But I feel like they’re not holding up their end. I think someone my age should look at what young people are wearing and think, ‘What the hell is that?’ Instead I’m totally bored.

To me, the main difference between young people now and the people I was young with isn’t so much style, it’s the relationships they have with their parents. Their parents like them much more than ours liked us. Our parents weren’t our friends. They disapproved of us. All our parents cared about was how we behaved, not how we felt, not what we wanted. But now I see my friends on the phones with their, what, 30-year-old kids? And they’re talking about feelings. You would think this kind of relationship would make this adult children more relaxed, but instead they’re more concerned. Parent-child relationships have become so collegiate. And so when these grown children go into the world, they expect a certain amount of attention. And they’re very disappointed.

Do you think what you’re describing influences the fashion choices of that generation?
Because of the Internet everybody sees the same stuff. You can buy the clothes of New York, even if you’re not living there. So I think that the accessibility, in this case, drives buying choices more than anything else.

More people should be dressing like we dress in New York anyway. Not everyone in New York looks great, but you have a higher chance.

I have to say that one of the biggest changes in my lifetime, is the phenomenon of men wearing shorts. Men never wore shorts when I was young. There are few things I would rather see less, to tell you the truth. I’d just as soon see someone coming toward me with a hand grenade. This is one of the worst changes, by far. It’s disgusting. To have to sit next to grown men on the subway in the summer, and they’re wearing shorts? It’s repulsive. They look ridiculous, like children, and I can’t take them seriously.

It’s like any other sort of revealing clothing, in that the people you’d most like to see them on aren’t wearing them. And if they are, it’s probably their job to wear them. My fashion advice, particularly to men wearing shorts: Ask yourself, ‘Could I make a living modeling these shorts?’ If the answer is no, then change your clothes. Put on a pair of pants.

You know when George Plimpton died, someone told me, ‘He was so eccentric. He used to ride his bike in a suit and tie!’ and it drove me crazy. I said, ‘What’s eccentric is the bicycle. Everyone here used to wear suits and it was lovely! But only children rode bicycles.’ The trademark of New York City fashion used to be that we dressed more seriously here. More formally. Now people need special costumes to ride bicycles. I mean, a helmet, what, are you an astronaut??

To a certain extent people still dress formally. Of course, more people should wear overcoats than those damned down jackets. Please. Are you skiing, or are you walking across the street? If you’re not an arctic explorer, dress like a human being.

All these clothes that you see people wearing, the yoga clothes—even men wear them!—it’s just another way of being in pajamas. You need more natural beauty to get away with things like that. What’s so great thing about clothes is that they’re artificial—you can lie, you can choose the way you look, which is not true of natural beauty. So if you’re naturally beautiful, wear what you want, but that’s .01% of people. Most people just aren’t good looking enough to wear what they have on. They should change. They should get some slacks and a nice overcoat.

For instance: remember when the style was incredibly messy hair? That’s great if you’re a model. But if you’re not a model, you would look better if you washed your hair, because you are not beautiful.

On the one hand I think it’s hilarious that so many people think they look fantastic, because they’re wearing clothes that you should only wear if you look fantastic. If you walked around New York you would think there was a terrible mirror famine. There might be drought here, a wheat famine there, but in New York you have a mirror famine. Because everything people wear, you have to assume they bought it.

Where was the mirror? I sometimes feel like handing out citations.

Let’s do it. I’m going to name some names, and you let me know if one deserves a citation.

Michael Jackson.
I danced with Michael Jackson. After Social Studies came out. Andy [Warhol] invited him. My best friend Lisa Robinson knew him from the time he was a child. So she introduced me to him, and he asked me to dance. And I danced. I was a great dancer. Not as great as Michael Jackson, but good. I don’t remember what he was wearing. I don’t remember caring.

What about Dolly Parton?
I know Dolly. What about her?

What do you think about her style?
It’s great because she invented it for herself and she can wear it. It never caught on because you have to be Dolly. The extreme, exaggerated femininity is, for most people, not so great a look. Except for drag queens, because that’s what drag queens do.

I mean, I always thought it would be much wittier for drag queens to dress in this very drab way. You know, the yoga pants? Well, what if drag queens just really let themselves go, pretending not to try, like most women?

But there are no drag queens like that, because drag queens know how to wear clothes. Can you imagine if women tried as hard as drag queens? We’d be a much more attractive culture. I wouldn’t have to give out so many yoga pants citations.

What about Hillary Clinton?
I think her lack of style comes naturally. I do, I really do. She has no style, zero. Of course there’s millions of women like this, it’s just that not everyone’s looking at them constantly.

But I would not say her look (I won’t even call it style) is so imposed on her. Yes, there’s a narrow parameter for a woman that public, but I don’t feel that inside of Hillary Clinton there’s a Jane Birkin waiting to get out. I don’t think she cares. I don’t think she is interested in how her house looks, where her furniture is from—I don’t think she has any visual interests. And there’s nothing wrong in not caring. A man who doesn’t care about what he looks like, he’s applauded. We say, ‘Oh, he’s not superficial!’

I, myself, am deeply superficial.

What do you look for in a woman’s outfit?
I notice her clothes if she knows how to wear clothes. It’s a trait, not a talent. A person who actually knows how to wear clothes…they would look good in any clothes. You see this especially at the Academy Awards. Even if the dresses are beautiful and expensive and important, the actresses can’t always carry them. Sometimes I feel like saying to them, ‘Act! You know how to act, you’re an actor. You’re about to win an award for (I don’t know) convincingly playing that Venezuelan nun who went to war. Now act like you can wear this dress.’

Maybe it’s superficial to exude a sense of confidence in one’s clothes. But it’s also integral. Yes, if you cover a man’s eyes, he legitimately might not remember what he has on. But is that really worth celebrating, or imitating? Personally I don’t think we need to emulate that level of stupidity. Because look, we have an appearance. Not all of us are beautiful. But we can appear fine looking. So we should. Feeling good about an outfit is the point at which that outfit finally becomes good.

Thanks to DK

March 26th, 2015
Utilities wage campaign against rooftop solar

SolarCraft workers Joel Overly, left, and Craig Powell install a solar panel on Feb. 26 in San Rafael, Calif. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

By Joby Warrick
The Washington Post Published: March 7, 2015

Three years ago, the nation’s top utility executives gathered at a Colorado resort to hear warnings about a grave new threat to operators of America’s electric grid: not superstorms or cyberattacks, but rooftop solar panels.

If demand for residential solar continued to soar, traditional utilities could soon face serious problems, from “declining retail sales” and a “loss of customers” to “potential obsolescence,” according to a presentation prepared for the group. “Industry must prepare an action plan to address the challenges,” it said.

The warning, delivered to a private meeting of the utility industry’s main trade association, became a call to arms for electricity providers in nearly every corner of the nation. Three years later, the industry and its fossil-fuel supporters are waging a determined campaign to stop a home-solar insurgency that is rattling the boardrooms of the country’s government-regulated electric monopolies.

The campaign’s first phase—an industry push for state laws raising prices for solar customers—failed spectacularly in legislatures around the country, due in part to surprisingly strong support for solar energy from conservatives and evangelicals in traditionally “red states.” But more recently, the battle has shifted to public utility commissions, where industry backers have mounted a more successful push for fee hikes that could put solar panels out of reach for many potential customers.

In a closely watched case last month, an Arizona utility voted to impose a monthly surcharge of about $50 for “net metering,” a common practice that allows solar customers to earn credit for the surplus electricity they provide to the electric grid. Net metering makes home solar affordable by sharply lowering electric bills to offset the $10,000 to $30,000 cost of rooftop panels.

A Wisconsin utilities commission approved a similar surcharge for solar users last year, and a New Mexico regulator also is considering raising fees. In some states, industry officials have enlisted the help of minority groups in arguing that solar panels hurt the poor by driving up electricity rates for everyone else.

“The utilities are fighting tooth and nail,” said Scott Peterson, director of the Checks and Balances Project, a Virginia nonprofit that investigates lobbyists’ ties to regulatory agencies. Peterson, who has tracked the industry’s two-year legislative fight, said the pivot to public utility commissions moves the battle to friendlier terrain for utilities. The commissions, usually made up of political appointees, “have enormous power, and no one really watches them,” Peterson said.

Industry officials say they support their customers’ right to generate electricity on their own property, but they say rooftop solar’s new popularity is creating a serious cost imbalance. While homeowners with solar panels usually see dramatic reductions in their electric bills, they still rely on the grid for electricity at night and on cloudy days. The utility collects less revenue, even though the infrastructure costs — from expensive power plants to transmission lines and maintenance crews — remain the same.

Ultimately, someone pays those costs, said David K. Owens, an executive vice president for Edison Electric Institute, the trade association that represents the nation’s investor-owned utilities.

“It’s not about profits; it’s about protecting customers,” said Owens, said. “There are unreasonable cost shifts that do occur [with solar]. There is a grid that everyone relies on, and you have to pay for that grid and pay for that infrastructure.”

Whether home-solar systems add significant costs to electric grids is the subject of intense debate. A Louisiana study last month concluded that solar roofs had resulted in cost shifts of more than $2 million that must be borne by Louisiana customers who lack solar panels. That study was immediately disputed by clean energy groups that pointed to extensive ties between the report’s authors and the fossil-fuel lobby.

Other studies commissioned by state regulators in Nevada and Mississippi found that any costs are generally outweighed by benefits. For one thing, researchers found, the excess energy generated by solar panels helps reduce the strain on electric grids on summer days when demand soars and utilities are forced to buy additional power at high rates. Other experts note that the shift to solar energy is helping states meet new federal requirements to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while also producing thousands of new jobs. The residential solar industry currently employs about 174,000 people nationwide, or twice as many as the number of coal miners.

“Independent studies show that distributed solar benefits all ratepayers by preventing the need to build new, expensive power plants or transmission lines,” said Matthew Kasper, a fellow at the Energy & Policy Institute, a pro-solar think tank. “Utilities make their money by building big, new infrastructure projects and then sending ratepayers the bill, which is exactly why utilities want to eliminate solar.”

Residential solar panels have been widely available since the 1970s, but advances in the past decade have transformed home solar energy in many areas from an expensive novelty to a cost-competitive alternative to traditional power.

The average price of photovoltaic cells has plummeted 60 percent since 2010, thanks to lower production costs and more-efficient designs. Solar’s share of global energy production is climbing steadily, and a study last week by researchers from Cambridge University concluded that photovoltaics will soon be able to out-compete fossil fuels, even if oil prices drop to as low as $10 a barrel.

In the United States, utilities have embraced solar projects of their own making, building large solar farms that produce nearly 60 percent of the electricity that comes from the sun’s rays.

“We are pro-solar,” said Edison’s Owens. “We are putting in more solar than any other industry.”

But the arrival of cheaper solar technology has also brought an unexpected challenge to the industry’s bottom line: As millions of residential and business customers opt for solar, revenue for utilities is beginning to decline. Industry-sponsored studies have warned the trend could eventually lead to a radical restructure of energy markets, similar to earlier upheavals with phone-company monopolies.

“One can imagine a day when battery-storage technology or micro turbines could allow customers to be electric grid independent,” said a 2013 Edison study. “To put this into perspective, who would have believed 10 years ago that traditional wire line telephone customers could economically ‘cut the cord’?”

Support from conservatives

The utility industry’s playbook for slowing the growth of residential solar is laid out in a few frames of the computer slide show presented at an Edison-sponsored retreat in September 2012, in a lakeside resort hotel in Colorado Springs, Colo. Despite a bland title—“Facing the Challenges of a Distribution System in Transition”—the Edison document portrays solar systems as a serious, long-term threat to the survival of traditional electricity providers.

Throughout the country, it noted, lawmakers and regulatory agencies were “promoting policies that are accelerating this transition — subsidies are growing.” The document, provided to The Washington Post by the Energy & Policy Institute, called for a campaign of “focused outreach” targeting key groups that could influence the debate: state legislatures, regulatory agencies and sympathetic consumer-advocacy groups.

Two-and-a-half years later, evidence of the “action plan” envisioned by Edison officials can be seen in states across the country. Legislation to make net metering illegal or more costly has been introduced in nearly two dozen state houses since 2013. Some of the proposals were virtual copies of model legislation drafted two years ago by the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, a nonprofit organization with financial ties to billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch.

SolarCraft worker Craig Powell carries a solar panel on the roof of a home in San Rafael, Calif. The average price of photovoltaic cells has plummeted 60 percent since 2010. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Most of the bills that have been considered so far have been either rejected or vetoed, with the most-striking defeats coming in Republican strongholds, such as Indiana and Utah. There, anti-solar legislation came under a surprisingly fierce attack from free-market conservatives and even evangelical groups, many of which have installed solar panels on their churches.

“Conservatives support solar — they support it even more than progressives do,” said Bryan Miller, co-chairman of the Alliance for Solar Choice and a vice president of public policy for Sunrun, a California solar provider. “It’s about competition in its most basic form. The idea that you should be forced to buy power from a state-sponsored monopoly and not have an option is about the least conservative thing you can imagine.”

Where legislatures failed to deliver, power companies have sought help from regulatory agencies, chiefly the public utility commissions that set rates and fees that can be charged by electricity providers. Here, the results have been more encouraging for power companies.

Last month’s decision to slap monthly surcharges on solar customers in south-central Arizona was hailed as a breakthrough for the utilities in a state that has turned back several similar attempts in the past two years. The Tempe, Ariz., Salt River Project, one of Arizona’s largest utilities, approved the new fee despite furious opposition from solar users, including about 500 people who packed the commission’s hearing room for the Feb. 26 vote.

Solar companies already have filed suit to stop a similar fee increase approved last year by Wisconsin commissioners, and others are watching closely to see if New Mexico’s Public Service Co. will adopt a proposal to impose a monthly surcharge of up to $35 on solar customers there.

Regulators in each of the three states have cited fairness as the reason for the proposed increases. But solar advocates say the real injustice is the ability of electric monopolies to destroy a competitor that offers potential benefits both to consumers and to society.

“It’s really about utilities’ fear that solar customers are taking away demand,” said Angela Navarro, an energy expert with the Southern Environmental Law Center. “These customers are installing solar at their own cost and providing a valuable resource: additional electricity for the grid at the times when the utilities need it most. And it’s all carbon-free.”

March 23rd, 2015
Frank Gehry

Frank Gehry’s Winton Guest House will be offered at auction. A work of art forced to relocate, this Giorgio Morandi-inspired structure stands like a piece of art. Wright will find a new steward for this important structure.

May 19, 2015. 12 PM

Images at Wright

Thanks to RS

March 20th, 2015
peter shire

Screen shot 2015-03-18 at 7.49.11 PM
Big Sur, 1986
melamine, foam, wool upholstery
37.8 x 82.7 x 37.8 inches

Opening Reception: Friday, March 20, 2015. 6:30PM
Through May 30, 2015

Italian Cultural Institute

March 19th, 2015
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