Issue:  Vol. 47 / No. 42 / 19 October 2017

Art-loving down on The Farm

Out There

Auguste Rodin, "The Age of Bronze" (1875-76), bronze, cast c. 1920, part of a reinstallation of the Cantor Arts Center's Rodin galleries. Photo: Courtesy Cantor Arts Center
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When Out There goes to an art museum, there's always one initial, telling click of an art buzz, like that moment when the caffeine kicks in after downing a double espresso. When we visited the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University (students call it "The Farm") earlier this month, that click came in front of an oil painting by Alice Neel , "The Arab" (1976), a striking portrait composed in the artist's spare but vivid style. We were high on art.

That canvas hung alongside some great examples from the work of Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, Wayne Thiebaud , Richard Diebenkorn , Claes Oldenburg and a small but very beautiful Wassily Kandinsky. As wall texts make clear, the Cantor's art collection was very much selected with teaching in mind. So there are representative if not exhaustive displays of various disciplines in, say, Asian Art, and some pretty great totems and masks from Oceania, but only a few.

That's how it goes throughout the museum, in Early European, African and Native American Art, and art of the Ancient Americas. We sought out the very strong Modern & Contemporary Art galleries. Two small untitled Philip Gustons from 1969 (a KKK conehead, a gloved hand) are all you really need to know about the artist's great late period. There's one Calder, one Noguchi , but they are of the highest caliber. One Edward Hopper urban nightscape could be, well, is a textbook illustration of his work.

For all its roots in art history, the Cantor shows a strong sampling of 21st-century art: a large, untitled Barry McGee work in 125 individual pieces (2015); a print from Isaac Julien's Baltimore series, "Angela in Blue #1" (2003); a Todd Hido photograph from his Outskirts series (2001, printed 2016); a Nick Cave soundsuit (2015). We also visited the quite current exhibit "Nina Katchadourian : Curiouser," a diverse presentation of conceptual and sound art throughout the museum and outside; it shows until Jan. 7, 2018.

But the Cantor is worth a visit for its wealth in the work of the great sculptor Auguste Rodin alone. "Rodin: The Shock of the Modern Body" is ongoing, a recent reinstallation of nearly 100 Rodin sculptures drawn from the Cantor's holdings, the largest collection of bronzes by Rodin in any American museum. They fill a few galleries and a sculpture garden outside, and include his great expressive portal to the "Gates of Hell."

Right next door is the bold new building for The Anderson Collection at Stanford University, a beautiful installation of the famous cache of American paintings and sculpture bestowed by Harry W. and Mary Margaret Anderson and Mary Patricia Anderson Pence . The treasures are given ample room to breathe, including a stunning Mark Rothko, "Pink and White over Red" (1957), oil on canvas. A current exhibition, "Manuel Neri: Assertion of the Figure," runs through Feb. 12, 2018.

Coming soon to the Cantor are three exciting new exhibits: "The Crown under the Hammer: Russia, Romanovs , Revolution," "Earthly Hollows: Cave and Kiln Transformations" and "The Buddha 's Word @ Stanford," all opening Oct. 18. Find more info at


The terrace at The Clement Palo Alto. Photo: Courtesy The Clement

Luxe lair

We stayed overnight at The Clement Palo Alto, a small, high-end hotel that graciously offered us hospitality. It's like staying in a luxurious villa where you have run of the place. They offered us dinner in the dining room, the living room, or out on the terrace.

Staff attention was impeccable. Waiting for us in our well-appointed suite were a bottle of chilled Italian white wine (our favorite beverage), roasted almonds (fave snack), lemonade (thirst-quencher). There was ice in a silver bucket after turndown without our having to ask for it. They brought us The New York Times to go with our breakfast, just like home. They shined our boots. We sure could get used to having a personal concierge!

The Clement is offering guest packages including tours of Stanford, day spas, shopping trips and wine tastings. Expect to pay for this level of service, but if you have the lucre, by all means consider a visit down the Peninsula. Info:


Grad, schooled

Being back at Stanford University was bittersweet nostalgic for OT, because we went to grad school and taught classes there some years ago: freshman comp and a course with curriculum we developed ourselves, for the IAC program. We called it "Literature of the Gay Male Experience," and led seminars on novels by James Baldwin, Jean Genet and Thomas Mann. Later, students told us it appeared on their transcripts as "Gay Male Experience." We'll take credit for that.

A few years ago, at a fashionable dinner party, somehow the topic came up and we told a woman we'd just met that we were a Stanford grad. "Every single person I've ever met who went to Stanford," she said, "has told me within 20 minutes of meeting me that they went to Stanford."

We had to admit she had a point. And now we've just done the same to you. Busted!


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