About the show, I have entered from time to time, including winning an award at their inaugural event 34 years ago. The best part is having a painting hanging in the Yosemite Museum for a number of months! It’s also a good excuse to visit the valley…as if I ever need one!
The show is very eclectic with photography, sculpture, and paintings from traditional to modern interpretations. Yosemite Renaissance 34 will open February 22, 2019 and will run to May 5, 2019. The exhibit will then travel to several other California art centers.
AKA Bracebridge Bucket List
AKA You Win Some, You Lose Some
The Bracebridge Dinner is an extravaganza and theatrical performance in Yosemite Valley’s Majestic Hotel’s dining room during the month of December. A tradition since 1927, for a few weeks, the grand dining room is transformed into a Renaissance scene of Bracebridge Hall patterned after Washington Irvings writings. The four hour event includes a stunning array of singers and actors who tell the story of Lord Bracebridge and people of his household. A number of the cast are from the San Francisco Opera company. All this happens during a 7 course feast. The Wall Street Journal noted in 2006: “Bracebridge is, without much doubt, the country’s, if not the world’s premier Christmas dinner.”
I have long wanted to attend the Bracebridge Dinner at the Ahwahnee (recently renamed the Majestic Hotel) in Yosemite Valley. In times past it was so popular, you could only get in by lottery, but now can just make reservations. My wife had never heard of it, so educated her a bit about it, and we decided it would be my somewhat extravagant birthday present.
We booked a package deal, two nights at Yosemite Lodge, the Bracebridge Dinner, and a portrait package, for Wednesday Dec 13-Friday Dec 15, with the dinner on Thursday night.
Monday night prior, I woke up in the middle of the night with what appeared to be a mild case of food poisoning. It continued into Tuesday, and I was afraid I was coming down with something, so took it easy all day. I didn’t want to miss this as it is all prepaid with no refund, and quite pricey! By Tuesday evening I was doing better, and Wednesday morning felt pretty good, so we made our way to Yosemite Valley arriving late afternoon, and checked into Yosemite Lodge.
Thursday morning, I originally was planning on painting, but was still recovering a bit from whatever hit me Monday night so I didn’t want to sit in the frigid cold. The big dinner was tonight and I did’t want a relapse, so just a morning walk was in order. Josie joined me in the 40 degree cold for a walk from the Lodge to Swinging Bridge. Click on the below thumbnails for larger pictures–
Sentinel Rock. If you look close, you can see Josie on Swinging Bridge.
Josie on Swinging Bridge
Josie and Cathedral Rocks.
Donald and Cathedral Rocks
Half Dome over the Merced River
I have been to Yosemite dozens and dozens of times, and I have never seen it this deserted! We encountered not one person on our mid morning walk!
That afternoon, I drove over to the Majestic to get our tickets, and they also gave us two souvenir menus for the event–
I also drove around the valley and took more pictures–
It’s a formal affair, so after getting gussied up, we headed to the Majestic late afternoon to get our portrait taken, and wait to be seated.
The coat check girl took our picture
Waiting for dinner in the lounge
At our table were couples from the SF Bay area, Chicago, and Orlando. I won’t go into a lot of detail about the four hour feast, as there is a good write up here which was similar to our experience. We sat at the very back, facing the stage. This is actually a good seat in the house as we were right by the entrance where the performers would enter and exit, plus much of the action was right by us.
No pictures were allowed during the dinner but we could pose with the cast members afterward. There are lots of official pictures on the above mentioned websites.
Josie with Andrea Fulton the director of the show
Josie and the Minstrel
Me and cast members
Josie and cast members
It was about everything I expected. The performers, costumes, vocals, and everything else was spectacular. The food was wonderful, and was reminiscent of a nice cruise ship dinner, although slightly better. There were lots of courses, but they were all small portions spread out over hours, so by the end of the evening, was just full enough.
Friday morning, once again I passed on painting as it was even colder, below freezing, so took a short walk prior to packing up and heading home. I didn’t get any painting done on the trip, but gathered a few photo studies which would make good studio paintings.
So, I won with the Bracebridge Dinner, but lost on the painting endeavors!
If you are seriously considering going…my overall impression is, if you can afford it and Yosemite fairly accessible, it is a once in a lifetime event to do. It is not for everyone, as it attracts an older crowd and most younger people may not enjoy it. If you are interested in going, the weblog found here is very informative, plus many of the comments are worth reading.
Enjoy this short video of a 90 minute demo I did for the Society of Western Artists reduced down to about two minutes. After watching this, it seemed I was turned around talking to the audience as much as I was painting!
You can also read about this demo and a revolutionary new painting technique on my weblog here.
It was a great two hours of demoing, technique, and jokes with a lively crowd constantly peppering me with questions. Here’s a few pictures during the demo– Click on the thumbnails for a larger picture
I am usually not crazy about my demo paintings, but this one was turning out well, even though it was only half done, so I was anxious to complete it back in the studio. Here is a picture of the piece as I was nearing the end of the demo–
After loading up, and heading out for the hour drive home, as soon as I entered the freeway, realized I had left the wet demo painting on top of the car! I pulled over, and it was gone! So, I turned around, went back, and found the painting face down in the middle of El Camino Real, the busy main boulevard. It was in the middle of the lane and didn’t look run over, but one corner was damaged. Here is a recreation of the scene with the painting in the road.
…and the painting now looked like this:
The asphalt had gouged out spots all over the surface and my misty Yosemite painting had turned into a snowstorm! I just accidentally discovered a new way to paint snowstorms! What a great new technique! Just do your painting, then go out and rub it on the road! Asphalt probably works best, but maybe I can try cement streets also!
To top it off, a copy of a Neff original, even though half done, is now in the asphalt of San Bruno, albeit a reverse image. Maybe I should charge them?!?
All tongue in cheek of course, and I actually don’t recommend you transport paintings this way!
So now, the decision is: 1) pick out a few pieces of asphalt, trim the bad corner off, leave it as is and finish it; 2) paint back over it; or 3) start a new painting. The corner was damaged enough I started a new painting since at most a couple hours painting time was lost during the demo. Here is the new painting at about the same development as the demo was before the snowstorm–
I spent the next few days finishing the painting —
So now, what do I do with the original snow storm painting? Any suggestions?
BTW, we are planning on producing a short video of the demo as SWA videoed much of it, so stay tuned!
Continuing my seasonal miniature paintings, here are three more, all in Yosemite National Park. I have already sold a number of miniatures this season and am departing slightly the 6×6 square format to other sizes.
Dropping a total of 2,425 feet, Yosemite Falls is the highest waterfall in Yosemite National Park, and one of the highest on the globe.
Here’s another 6×6 in Yosemite National Park. This is one of the falls or cataracts as the Merced River tumbles out of Yosemite Valley.
Built in 1922, Yosemite Creek Bridge is the oldest stone bridge in Yosemite Valley, spanning Yosemite Creek below Yosemite Falls (shown above).
Here’s three more 6×6 mini’s. I started with the Elkhorne piece, then decided to do a few more misty moods. Maybe I should have named them Mystic Moods, after the orchestra popular in the 60’s and 70’s. You have to be pretty old to remember them!
Elkhorn Slough is a tidal slough and estuary on Monterey Bay. It is the largest tract of tidal salt marsh in California outside of the San Francisco Bay.
Garrapate State Park is just south of Carmel, CA, and my favorite place to paint on the Pacific Coastline. I actually took a scene in full daylight and changed it to a foggy day…they call it artistic license.
What can I say about Yosemite? I did this painting almost exactly from a photo I took in 2010. This might make a good subject for a larger painting…what do you think?
I was accepted into the Yosemite Renaissance show this year, so went to attend the opening reception with a short visit to Yosemite Valley. Of course, I’ll use any excuse to visit Yosemite, as if I need one!
The art reception went well. The show is very eclectic with everything from abstract to photography to textiles to sculpture. It was a strong show, and my painting was probably the most traditional, quiet painting there…which is fine with me!
If you plan on being in Yosemite Valley the next few months, be sure to stop by the Yosemite Museum to see the show!
The weather forecast kept changing, but as it turned out, it was clear sunny weather the entire time, but cold! Upon arrival to the valley, I started the above painting, but after recently recovering from a mild case of pneumonia, didn’t want to push it, so only got about half done and finished it when I got back to the studio. I wanted to do a plein air piece which would fit in my recent ‘vertical water’ series, so did a painting of Yosemite Falls reflecting in the Merced River. This is the ninth in the “vertical water” series, but so far the only plein air piece and a little smaller than the others which you can see here.
During my adolescent years growing up in Pasadena, CA, we used to make trips to Yosemite National Park, camping in both the valley and the high country. I remember well, while camping in the valley we would shuffle out in the dark to the middle of a meadow to watch the Firefall. It used to be called the parks most famous spectacle where each evening during the summer months, a huge bonfire was built high above the valley at the edge of Glacier Point. At 9pm the glowing coals were pushed over the edge creating a luminous glittering waterfall of fire tumbling some 3200 feet. Here is a picture I gleaned off the internet —
In 1968 due to a variety of reasons, the Firefall was discontinued. However, today, there is an even more wonderous and totally natural Firefall. Each year for a week or two in February the setting sun beams up the valley and illuminates Horsetail Falls, and when conditions are perfect, it glows orange and red for a brief time. It’s hit and miss because the sky must be relatively clear, and there has to be enough flowing water in the falls. Due to the drought in California there has been no Firefall the last five years.
I happened to be in Yosemite Valley for an art opening, so was anxious to see it if conditions permitted. It was quite a crowd…hundreds of photographers and nature enthusiasts were out. The park service accommodates everyone by blocking off one lane of the road for about a mile of parking. I got lucky and there was an empty parking spot right by the best viewing area.
Of course, I have seen many pictures of it over the years, and always thought the photos had to be enhanced or touched up. Not so…I wasn’t disappointed. The falls were just glowing a bright orange for about 10 minutes. It was like someone hung a giant glow stick over the edge of the cliff. Below are photos taken with my iPhone which are not touched up or enhanced in any way.
Bucket List — Check!!
Stay tuned as I am working on a short video of my quick visit to the valley, along with video of the Firefall, plein air painting, lots of running water, and other wonders.