Archive for January, 2010

Homage to Nevelson

January 30, 2010

I get a kick out of my kids sometimes and how they just move along. Recently, I put together a double screen video presentation for second grade after watching an interview of Nevelson with Barbaralee, coupled with a Photostory 3 presention of her work. Unfortunately, the technology which allowed it to go on the computer monitor, did not allow it to be seen on the Activision screen. So the kids standing by the double image of the computer, also saw giant Activa screen single image of work and went back and forth to watch the work, with a “wow.”

It was hard to motivate them towards creating a 3D piece, using what they had: a painted box, paper of the same color, limited time. But as usual, once one kid gets it, the light bulb goes off for a lot of the rest. The ones that the bulb does not go off for, sometimes leads to an interesting and new take, which I walk away with knowledge about. The boxes were laid out on a table and put together by another group of students, as those who had done this project had to leave.

In the ’78 clip, bygone days, it is fascinating to watch the even-then-American-icon, Nevelson talk about her work. I was quite surprised two years ago, to be at the Farnsworth, in Rockland and see examples of her work*. I think of the space in Maine, where she lived, and wonder, because the box work is really very New York. Hopper’s work, has more of a feel, even in his New York City mode for Maine light and space. We always associate her with the box art, forgetting for example the earlier 2D work and the later prints.

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Students set up artwork on table top. Shot from a chair. Blocked background with Photoshop, correcting perspective with Gimp.

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*I realize costs are a lot, but twelve dollars seems like a lot for this museum, no photography, and a limited collection in two separate housings. For the money, I like the Portland Museum of Art better, with a hipper collection. A real bargain is the Bowdoin College Museum of Art, which costs nothing.

By a simple keypunch, I was able to get the Activision file to be recorded by CamStudio, so I could post this on YouTube. It was interesting to see Nevelson on with Barbaralee Diamonstein (she now has a hyphenated name), still a force in the arts. While I re-cut the 29 minute interview to 8, it was fun to switch things around to have a different flow. Nevelson was so natural, watch how the cameraman caught her at a perfect angle with her hands. I put the second screen together after recording the sound with Total Recorder, using the soundtrack as a basis for the second screen. For the second screen,  I used Photostory 3, which is wonderful for all those pans and zooms, both in and out. Quite exhilarating when doing sculpture, especially some of the great indoor shots of the black sculptures.

Playground

January 9, 2010

Gaudi, La Pedrera, MILÀ HOUSE, roof, Barcelona

In a way, the world really is a playground. Like kids in the sandbox, our communication to one another still resembles this interaction. We haven’t changed that much, except to disregard it, figuring we are adults and more than that. As I get older, I love to watch people in museums, as it always intrigues me what happens when their guard is down. Who worries about being cool. Who really is watching what goes on. The difference, per ce, between looking at the Avedon show at the SFMoMA, to those looking at the O’Keefe/Evans show, to those trying not to look at A Sac of Rooms All Day Long by Alex Schweder, was amazing.

I love the guards at Museums. The ones in Philly really were very interested in their charges. At the DC National Gallery, you can often get a guard to talk about a piece and get their feeling about it. MoMA guards have more of a sense of humor about the pieces. Museums are somewhat guarded playgrounds, like libraries, but playgrounds none the less.

So, no matter where you travel, or where you are. From the sidelines, adults, cool, or not, still remind me of kids in the playground. There is a joy to seeing art, there is even a exhilarating bewilderment in seeing greatness. Whether it be the first time you go to a zoo or aquarium, a landscape, a citysite or a museum. The world provides us with endless opportunities to become fresh, new and intrigued by things in our own backyards.

Visualizing greatness: Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao by base of Khufu, Giza

This is a link to the first Photostory3 essay I ever did. I did it for my kids in school, but rarely bother with it today. They were more interested in being in their “playground”, than watching about it.

Left your heart: Thanks, Mr. Jasper Johns.

January 1, 2010

Everybody always thinks of Warhol as the king of Pop. And in some ways he was, as I was reminded this summer in San Francisco, looking back on images of superstars from the Factory. I always wonder a little what Warhol would have had to say about this period, as he was always a step ahead.

But lemme tell ya, if you want to get a good snoot of culture, get yourself out to the SF-MoMA. There was so much stuff to see, I haven’t felt like that since the time I was in the NY Met, where including everything else to the wonderful collection, the Met had a show of Cartier or Chanel. The SF-MoMA is the coolest. Wonderful architecture and a showing of the patron saint of Sante Fe, O’Keeffe (and Walker Evans), but a wonderful show of the work of Robert Frank and Richard Avedon. The Avedon show got people excited and enthused, as shows rarely do. It was a shame, that the wonderful installation, A Sac of Rooms, did not get the same response by most viewers.

Now, I won’t say all the other stuff, too, that floored me, including the wild Brazilian sculptor Neto’s pink thing (my niece said it looked like bubble gum!) and wonderful sculpture on the top floor, but some other real little gems. And there you will find one flag by Jasper Johns.

Frank and Johns go together in my head in some ways. They both reverberate as seekers out of the 50s. Frank was exploring America with his camera, in a way people would only start seeing and speaking about America a decade on. Johns with his flags and targets was beginning to put Pop together in his head. I think of that wonderful bronze Ballentine beer cans. But the flags always come to mind first, before that only cartoonists saw that bold, graphic image as something outside nationalism. Never irreverent, but in the same way that Warhol would go on to do the Marilyns, and Liz and the electric chair. Something iconic.

One has to take their hat off to Johns. More aesthetic than Warhol, more intellectual than Rauschenberg, Johns created and recreated many themes over and over again in his life. Maps, words, patterns, three dimensions repeat like a musician trying to create a perfect theme. Only Roy Lichtenstein could be compared in Pop as broader in his approach, and Oldenburg for being physically grander (i.e.-giant eraser in the sculpture garden in DC).

A little homage done for the flags. Thanks, Mr. Johns.


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