Last Friday I spent the afternoon in San Francisco. I wanted to visit two museums; I ended visiting only one, and patronizing a wine bar after.
First stop, the Cartoon Art Museum. It is a small museum with few rooms; even if I took my time, my visit lasted only an hour and a half. The museum is dedicated to the cartoon art, but also to illustrated art.
One thing: the museum’s name is misleading. It should have « American » in it, because except for an 18th century French drawing, everything is American. Don’t look for Tintin, Asterix, mangas or japanese prints, there is none of it there. Once this is understood, you’re in for a nice tour.
The first exhibit is called I See What You Say: Visual Stories and Narrative Art. Sketches, final prints and illustrated books make us understand there is no right way to draw a story, each artist has its own.
Sam Kieth, Samplings and Dabblings is a compilation of works by Sam Kieth, an artist that I did not know. He worked at Marvel and draw the series « Sandman ». He is a gifted artist; visitors can see complex drawings that took many hours of work.
But the jewel of the temporary exhibits is the one dedicated to Chuck Jones, the famous animator and creator of Looney Tunes characters such as Bunny, Daffy Duck, Roadrunner, Coyote, Porky Pig, Pépé the Pew. As a bonus, a TV broadcasts Looney Tunes continually. The exhibit presents sketches of these famous characters, but also paintings and watercolors of « more serious » objects.
The second to last section explains the birth of the (American) modern comics, from the first drawings in early 20th century newspapers (The Yellow Kid, Little Lulu, Lil’ Abner) until the modern characters of Doonesbury, Peanuts and others, with Popeye and The Spirit in between. It is more of an overview than a complete survey of American comics.
In conclusion, this museum has a limited scope, but if you like comic art, it is a very interesting stop. However, the museum store has also a limited scope: since you can buy mangas everywhere else, why give them so much shelf space?
Then I tried to visit the Museum of Craft and Folk Art, but it had closed its doors in December 2012 after 30 years of operation. Instead I went to the Press Club wine bar, located in front of what was the museum.
Once again I was hit by « the curse of the lone woman in a bar/restaurant ». For too many people in the restaurant industry, a lone woman = unprofitable customer, and then you get a very minimal service. I would have liked to tell the waiter that the cabernet was too hot, but he went AWOL the whole time that I sipped my wine. I finally managed to catch his attention, then I ordered a snap pea salad and the check.
This is quite a posh place, but since San Francisco has a high rate of techno millinaires in jeans, do as I did and don’t be shy about ordering the happy hour specials.