On a recent Saturday, I went with a friend to the newly renovated San Francisco Modern Art Museum (SFMOMA).I checked my bag but brought in my Aquajournal and pencil case.

We headed up to the 6th floor, which we were informed was not very crowded because it contained German art since 1960. I turned to my friend and challenged him to exclaim, “That isn’t art!!” when a piece was a fine example of a white painted canvas  masquerading as “fine art” or a similar example of an artist extracting large sums of money  from a wealthy patron with a minimal amount of talent (or effort).

We  headed down to the fifth floor and the impressive and massive canvases of Chuck Close. Here too were a few Ruschas and Rauschenbergs. We entered a gallery and a tall, thin  pyramid of white florescent lights elicited a “That isn’t art!!” from my companion. Wow, that didn’t take long!

I wandered into a gallery called “British Sculptors” and a Gordsworthyesque circle of stones caught my attention. I took out my journal and started to sketch. I started with a light pencil sketch to capture the form and then I chose that black weapon of death, the Ultra Fine Point Sharpie, from my holster. I had been spotted! The blue-suited gallery guard stood in front of me and asked the mystifying question, “Is that a ball point?” This question was so odd that I asked the guard to repeat the question. Is that a ball point? No, I thought, can’t you see that it’s an Ultra Fine Point Sharpie?! Any pillock can see that! The guard informed me that only pencils and not Ultra Fine Point Sharpies were allowed in the museum. And so my sketch was left half finished, halted by the pen police.


Busted with a  ball point (the weapon was really an Ultra Fine Point Sharpie). And Richards Serra’s amazing work, Sequence (2006).

A highlight of the MOMA was an amazing sculpture by the San Francico born Richard Serra. The sculpture was titled Sequence and was remanisant of Serra’s pieces I have sketched last spring at the Guggenheim Bilbao. Walking in between the twisted rusted steel plates gives the viewer a 360 degree experience and the feeling of passing through a narrow Utah canyon.

I ended my visit with  two sketches, a sketch of one of my favorite pieces, Robert Arneson’s California Artist and another of the exterior from Yerba Buena Gardens. This museum was a little easier to sketch than Gehry’s Spanish Silver-flying-fish!

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