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Letters to the Editor 

Week of Wednesday, January 7, 2004

A Master in the Shadows

Too bad this great artwork isn't more publicly visible: Reading Ron Russell's article on the Diego Rivera mural at City College brought back memories for me ["Secret Rivera," Dec. 17]. Twelve years ago a friend of mine was publishing a small local paper in the Mission. He gained access to the CCSF theater lobby for us to view the mural, and told me to bring my camera. I snapped a few shots, and he used one to accompany an article about the mural.

Russell's article mentions the plans to move the mural to a library on City College's campus. What a shame it still is not as accessible to the public as was originally intended.

Janice Rothstein
Richmond District

The mural explodes with passion!: As a teacher at CCSF for many years, I have admired the magnificent Diego Rivera mural. Prior to teaching, I studied at the famed Les Académies in Paris in the 1960s. Art has always been my love. I went on to teach law by fate.

I learned in France that modernism in the arts was a movement of liberation from old problems and solutions. One can feel that in Rivera's murals of expression such transformations have affected those who enjoy the arts, and this enlightened populace would formulate new political and ethical structures. The artist's work glows with this. Thus the artist, the scholar, and the art lover like myself can enjoy and share the modernist's innocently impassioned faith in progress in the power of art to redeem humanity across ideological lines.

One can see this in the master's work. He painted human culture and he told a story. He was unique. One who could feel a submerged agenda of primitivism. His murals and paintings continue to draw large, emotionally engaged audiences. The new spirit spread fast. For comparison in 1907 Picasso painted Les Demoiselles d'Avignon. Four years later, Matisse painted his Red Studio. The example of these two titanic modernists would weigh heavily on American artists for some decades. So would that apply to Mexico and Rivera. The late artist painted statements with an expression culminated with modern intent. He succeeded in the beautiful CCSF mural.

I feel that it is a public-spirit mural, producing a documentary history of our nation from many points of view. His painting shows to me a consolidation of style. Looking at its colors, one can feel the enormous harmony in his style. Diego Rivera mixed his colors like passion. He mixed his colors with heart. They burn with an unforgettable vision of his culture.

Our world today is made of interconnecting vessels, and it is our culture that has made us this way in art expressions. His life was truly dramatic, and Ron Russell wrote of unforgettable dangers in his native country prior to coming to San Francisco. It is a collector's gem, well written! Our art can be addressed not only to the vast audience of young people but also to intellectuals, thinkers, and poets. It has always been so! Let us unveil this hidden secret and direct the eyes of the art world to my favorite institute of learning, City College of San Francisco!

Marvin Michel Le Grier II
San Francisco

Oh, Please

Your critic's condescension gives me a headache: Michael Scott Moore takes the opportunity in his review of The Death of Meyerhold ["An Irreverent Death," Stage, Dec. 24] to trash Angels in America a few times, including the following: "the usual maudlin swoon that directors of epics go in for, no matter what their politics ... is the worst kind of bourgeois habit -- someone please notify Tony Kushner." Oh please, tell him yourself, Michael, since you purport to have a superior overview of theater. Your condescending affectation is the worst kind of bourgeois theater criticism, and a real drag to read.

Paul Shepard

One Over-the-Hill Hobbit

Gene Hackman as Frodo? Surely you jest: In his review of Return of the King, Gregory Weinkauf is wrong about Frodo's age ["Upper Middle Earth," Film, Dec. 17]. Hobbits live to be about 100 years old. Frodo is 33, not 50 like Weinkauf wrote, and is considered to be "coming of age," which makes Elijah Wood the perfect age for the character.

Weinkauf suggested that Gene Hackman play Frodo? Is he trying to sound ridiculous? He should get his facts right if he's going to offer insightful criticism.

Bill Sweeney
Inner Sunset


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