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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Instant Love: Selfies Through the Ages at the Museum of Performance and Design

Posted By on Tue, Jan 13, 2015 at 12:48 PM

click to enlarge R. Donati and F. Lohmeier of the San Francisco Opera, 1949 - ALEXANDER MCADAM MURRAY
  • Alexander McAdam Murray
  • R. Donati and F. Lohmeier of the San Francisco Opera, 1949
"Call for selfies!" exclaimed a banner on the website of SOMA's Museum of Performance and Design's website. Part of the museums upcoming Instant Love, performers of all backgrounds were encouraged to send in their favorite backstage moments. These moments include enough nerves and excitement to power a small country: some body-conscience people stripping down to their skivvies during quick-changes, the personalities that comes along with being a “crazy artist" — Instant Love has the potential to become one of the more intimate shows of the season.

In fact, in SF Weekly’s most recent “Top 10 San Francisco Instagram Accounts to Follow” the number one pick was none other than San Francisco Ballet’s top principal dancer, Maria Kochetkova. It was this intimate look behind-the-scenes (and kooky captions and killer fashion sense) that drove her to the top spot.

And with millions of selfies floating around Instagram (a number that seems to be, if anything, gaining speed), there’s more than enough material to create a show based entirely off of these images. However, Instant Love isn’t exclusively selfies. In fact, rounding out the show are selfies of the past, or as they used to be called; photographs, and sketches.

The MPD has collected a series of sketches from acclaimed cartoonist Don Freeman (probably best known as the creator of the children’s book Corduroy); they depict the life of New York City performers — specifically Broadway actors and local circus acrobats in the dynamic and demanding world of the 1930s and 1940s performing arts scene.

Fom the 1950s through the 1960s the medium of Instant Love turns to abstract paintings by Katherine Barieau. Created in Berkeley, the modern pieces share colorful moments of a performer's life.

In Ira Nowinski’s signature moody black-and-white photographs, the former official photographer of the San Francisco Opera — and 1973 graduate of the San Francisco Art Institute — rarely focuses on backstage drama, which isn’t to say his work isn’t striking. In fact, by focusing more on the unpredictable moments that happen during live performance, Nowinski’s work captures a wide range of genuine emotions from some of the greatest singers to take stage at our War Memorial Opera House in the past four decades.

And perhaps the most sought-after pieces in the show: a modest collection of backstage sketches by the legendary Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova. Known for her sylph-like presence, Pavlova’s surprisingly ruddy sanguine illustrations combine the fragility of her physical presence with the toughened personality that comes with being the first female dance to ever break tradition and tour the world as a solo artist.

Instant Love, and all current Museum of Performance and Design content, is overseen by current Executive Director and former San Francisco Ballet principal dancer/local ballet bigwig, Muriel Maffre. And after 17 years at SFB, fingers are crossed that at least a couple personal moments from Maffre make their way into the exhibition.

Museum of Performance and Design presents Instant Love at 5:30 p.m. and continues through Mar. 21 at the Museum of Performance and Design (893b Folsom ). Admission is free; call 255-4800 or visit
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Laura Jaye Cramer


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