Sunday, May 30, 2010

On a Sunday

He spent the day doing watercolors at MM's house. Nothing else to do but paint. He has divided the dining room table between acrylics and watercolors. Dolce fare niente  except paint and listen to music. Today  Pink Martini , 1940s Jazz at the Philharmonic, and Schubert.
The air conditioner kept pace with the heat and humidity.

These are WC works in progress. They need to sit for day or so. As the day ended he sat in the screened porch, fan on and absorbed the day's end reading Wallace Stevens and William Carlos Williams. He has renewed his undergraduate love of poetry; lost for 50 years. It comes back full circle. He read and drew until the light failed enjoying the silence that was given beyond the city's background steady presence; then there was a lightening flash and thunder and rain.  The peace of rain and the visual surrounding greenness and the smell of the tropics. He has missed this, has never known this, but he knows he has missed/needs it and it renews him for the days to come. The frogs signal and the baby birds call from their nests in the ravine and thunder sounds in the distance. Here are other acrylics in progress. He is OK.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Words of Wisdom

Sometimes The Professor gets a paper turned in that he enjoys.
This is so totally honest, he wants to share.

The Menil Experience
As you are walking up to the Menil building you feel a sense of stillness. That stillness continues as you walk through the doors and down the large hallways. Even though there is the constant flow of museum visitors moving past the art, I felt as though I was in a cafeteria lunch line, looking but never really taking anything from it. Nothing moved. There was no sense of interaction. Just you, staring at the art, wondering at which moment you would understand where the artist was coming from and what they were trying to portray.

As I look closely, fixed on one particular piece of art, I notice a short, dark figure stealthily moving my way. I hear “don’t touch that!” I turn in response to the phrase and say “I didn’t touch it!” The figure now comes in clearly, it is a short, red haired woman dressed in all black, holding a walkie-talkie. She reminds me of a special agent of some sort. She is just one of the individuals dressed in all black that uphold the strict, no touching, no breathing, on, near, or around the artwork, rules. I like to call them, the Museum Nazis. These are the persons lurking behind you every step of the museum watching your every move, interjecting when they feel you might be contemplating doing something that’s not in the rule book. They feel as if it’s their personal and moral obligation to protect each and every molecule of artistic yield inside their museum jurisdiction. As I hurry to finish appreciating this section of the museum I see another Museum Nazi, this time making another museum patron feel as though they have breeched some sort of invisible force field around a piece of art work, “Please stay behind the line on the floor!” she spits out. I hear the visitor reply, “Oops! Sorry, I didn’t see that”. By ‘the line’ she means the black broomstick looking piece lying on the floor in front of a large gold circle. At this point I am thinking it would be in the museum’s best interest to invest in some bright yellow caution tape to mark off and protect the collections of art. Rather than make their visitors feel that at any moment they might be thrown into an art concentration camp of some kind. This was not the way I had hoped my Menil museum experience would begin.

I meander from art work to art work finally coming to a collection that the museum is calling Witnesses to a Surrealist Vision. “This could be interesting.” I think to myself quietly. Maybe it could be some kind of insight to what the artists were like. I walk through the curtains and turn my focus to a plaque on my left, it reads, The objects in this exhibition were either owned by the Surrealists or are in the spirit of those they collected. This is the eclectic collection that makes you wonder, what kind of person would put this in their home? The large black mannequin centered in the room stands out first. It is covered in outward pointing spikes and is seriously demented looking. This immediately makes me shift my mind to the 1987 horror flick Hellraiser. I find it interesting that someone would have this in their home for some sort of inspiration or even aesthetic value. It’s just downright creepy. As I continue to walk in the small room there is a table of random knick knacks enclosed in glass, a string of dead birds, and a stereoscope among other things. Leaving the room I wonder what it must be like to have seen these things and thought them of personal importance.

The Steve Wolfe on Paper was an uninteresting exhibit until you found out that these books and papers were not just that. They were recreations of them, made to look torn and tattered. As I walked through the exhibit the first time I was not very impressed. I was wondering why in the world anyone would call old torn books art. I walked out of the gallery and noticed a pamphlet. I snatched one up and skimmed through it. A light bulb went off in my head about halfway down the second page. I definitely needed to walk through this exhibit one more time. This time, looking a little more closely trying to imagine just how he had accomplished such a feat. To recreate these images so well must have been painstakingly difficult. Attention must be paid to each square inch of the books in order to put out an almost exact image.

I think the strangest and most realistic of all the artists in the collection had to be Maurizio Cattelan. I was wandering around the corner of one of the galleries when all of a sudden I looked up. I gasped. There it was! Or should I say, there she was. The sculpture was of a girl dressed in white shirt and her auburn hair pulled back into a pony tail. She was strung on a cross and bound with what looked to me like hospital bed restraints. She also looks to be crucified inside of a packing crate. I had to look closely to insure that this indeed was a sculpture. There was a large gold circle leaning against one of the walls with a mirror leaning on the wall diagonal from it with a painting of a couple on it. The couple looked as though they were admiring the reflection of the large gold circle. It was like two works of art were working to produce three separate works of art. Another one of Cattelan’s bizarre creations is the taxidermied horse with the letters INRI posted on a board stuck into the horse’s side. I read in the pamphlet that the meaning of this is to not beat a dead horse. I would not have thought this to be the meaning but once it was explained I could understand why it was meant to be interpreted in that way. The piece de resistance has to be the piece called All. It is setup in one large room all by itself. When walking into this particular room an eerie blanket falls over you. The piece consists of nine marble figures lined up in the middle of the floor. It’s almost as if you are at a crime scene where a mass murder has taken place and the police are lining bodies up to be taken away by the coroner.

The Menil collection was overall an experience in itself. Some of them good, some of them bad, most of them strange. I think for now I’ll stick to my fifty percent off Hobby Lobby paintings. You don’t have to think about them and you don’t have to worry about people touching them.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Dick Wray Exhibition

Thursday The Professor went to Dick Wray's show at his Houston Gallery. The pictures were all in black and white. Xeroxed copies of his drawings, glued and then enhanced by paint. They are quite exceptional: The Professor believes that art is a form of beautiful agression. These certainly were that.
Rough & Tumble...Full Tilt Boogie-Woogie, if you have ever heard Mead Lux Louis on piano or the late work of Miles Davis you get it.
These definitely do not behave themselves, full of Joy and Sex and Energy.
Here's Dick with his fans talking to Jim Edwards and
with the Professor and Gerutrude Barnstone.
Here are some samples of his work. People should snap them up.

Then The Professor went next door to another show and had one of those OH NO moments. He should have known because he is never shocked at what is put on the walls of a gallery, but after Dick's, these were really a LOW, Fey, Decorative, Cute, Dribble meant only to decorate and blend into decor, EMPTY!!!!!!! He went upstairs and it did not improve in the other galleries.
The Professor does not enjoy going to galleries especially openings except for his friends who he respects. He really dislikes graduate school, art magazine  rehashed  "yes - yes get on with-it", seen it too many times, vapid stuff. He gets invitations via e-mail and wonders what is he missing?
I love this Wray guy. He makes it still possible to believe.
The next night he went to Ms. Pope's new bistro/ice house on Sawyer and Washington in his old neighborhood with his friend for an appetizer and drink (vodka infused with habonero and crushed cucumber)..only one, then to Jones Hall to hear Pink Martini with the Houston Symphony. How good. check them out. Today, Monday The professor had a good painting day.