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The lighting design, by Michael Oesch, is stunning, bathing dancers in warm sunshine as they open their faces to the sky, or highlighting them with sharp shadows as they turn their backs to us. The costumes, designed by veteran Smuin dancer Susan Roemer, are a little reminiscent of vintage Star Trek uniforms, and I’m not sure of the significance of the dancers switching between vibrant blue and flesh-toned outfits. However, that is a minor distraction; Haskins’ new work is quite lovely.
Now in its 23rd season, Smuin is a Bay Area gem, Artistic Director Celia Fushille engages high-caliber choreographers to create a stream of exciting new works, The dancers are athletic, musical and expressive, and their partnering and group dance shoes for seniors unison work are impeccable, Catch this new program, in Walnut Creek, San Francisco and Carmel through early June, Who: Smuin Contemporary American BalletWhat: Dance Series 02, Where: Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro St., Mountain ViewWhen: May 5-7Tickets: $56-$72..
There have been plenty of exhibits about 20th-century industrial and commercial design, including everything, in my experience, from streamlined plastic radios of the 1930s to molded-fiberglass chairs of the 1940s and even a 1950s Kaiser Darrin sports car. A new exhibit at Stanford’s Cantor Arts Center (through Aug. 21) displays some of the classics: an IBM Selectric typewriter, a Chemex beaker-style coffee maker, an Olivetti portable typewriter, a chrome lounge chair designed by Mies van der Rohe.
However, the idea behind “Creativity on the Line: Design for the Corporate World, 1950-1975” is not just to admire the finished product, An array of documents, sketches and prototypes reveals the process leading up to the assembly line — and credits many virtually unknown designers, How many of us knew that the prosaic 3M allergy filter mask, shaped like a fabric shell, had a designer? It was Sara Little Turnbull, who also designed the Corning stacking glass containers on display, The ray-gun-style electric drill dance shoes for seniors for Millers Falls was designed by Garth Huxtable in the 1950s, the Princess telephone by Henry Dreyfuss, circa 1960..
The exhibit isn’t confined by the 25-year time period that the title suggests. It begins with an intriguing display of German design from earlier in the 20th century, with bold graphics and sleek machine-age furniture. The one oddity is a delicate, antique-looking brass teapot, designed by Peter Behrens, What’s it doing here? It’s a 1908 electric teapot. (Later in the exhibit, there’s a convulsive “Atomic” espresso maker, designed right after World War II.). Corporate and industrial design really took off with international marketing after the war, using some wartime technology. Those were boom years for designers, although the exhibit text notes that they and the business managers “both needed but never totally trusted each other.”.
Among the highlights of the following decades are a fiberglass classroom chair with attached desktop designed by Charles Eames and his wife Ray; a bright-red Olivetti “Valentine” portable typewriter by Ettore Sottsass and Perry King; and Verner Panton’s sculptural, molded plastic chair for the enterprising Herman Miller furniture company, And don’t miss “The Swinger,” Henry dance shoes for seniors Dreyfuss and James Conner’s updated 1965 camera for Polaroid, Saul Bass is one of the designers represented in a wall of quotations at the end of the exhibit, “Sure enough,” he says, “big business embraced design and promptly turned it into a commodity.”..
In the context of the Cantor exhibit of industrial and commercial design, you could almost call Stuart Davis a commercial artist, so fascinated was he with the subjects of billboards, storefront signs, packaging and retail products. Although he began his career early in the 20th century, inspired by the “Ashcan School’s” depictions of gritty scenes of urban life, he quickly absorbed modernist ideas, grabbing Cubism and making it his own — and translating it from Parisian to “Americanism.”.
“Stuart Davis: In Full Swing,” on view at the de Young Museum in San Francisco through Aug, 6, skips the artist’s early work to explore his lively, colorful, graphic work — themes and variations that continued up until the night before he died in 1964, The 1950s Atomic Espresso maker for Brevetti Robbiati, by an anonymous Italian designer, is on view in “Creativity on the Line at the Cantor Arts Center, (Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum)Picasso and Braque and Matisse may have influenced him, since Davis spent time studying in Paris, And Andy Warhol and other Pop artists appropriated his use of consumer culture, But there’s nothing like his own works — this array of 59 paintings and dance shoes for seniors 14 sketches at the de Young, It remains dazzling, fresh and contemporary in feeling..