Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Get 'em While They're Young

My four-year-old daughter, Evie Rose, watched the musical film Meet Me in St. Louis with me for the first time Christmas week. She has a passion for classic musicals, especially the old black and white ones and anything with Fred Astaire. The numbers she danced and sang to from this one: "Meet Me in St. Louis" and "Under the Bamboo Tree," the latter of which is posted below.

I can't tell you how many times we sang the lines 'We'll dance the Hoochee Koochee, I'll be your tootsie wootsie' from the title song in the days that followed. It's a catchy tune, and little ones intuitively know a good song when they hear and feel it. And because this feel for rhythm and melody comes so naturally when they're little, I think it wise to introduce children to music, musical theatre and dramatic expression when they're young. Exposure to the arts opens the curtains wider to the grand stage of their imagination as well as ontology, and as such allows them to see and make fluid connections between thought, feeling, creativity and self expression that accentuate the contextual narrative embedded within all life.

Watching the opera Dr. Atomic -- live from the Met -- televised on our local PBS station this Sunday, Evie Rose exclaimed, "It's a chapel!" How insightful, I think, and accurate in many ways. Children are open to seeing; they don't edit.

Here is the trailer for John Adams's Dr. Atomic. I find the opera nothing short of profound. It is a stunningly beautiful masterpiece, rich in symbolism and complex, interwoven, layers of meaning that chill to the bone.

Learn More: John Adams - Dr. Atomic

Friday, December 26, 2008

Visual Culture: The High Heel

A sexy, informative visual history of the rise of the shoe heel and its feminine attributes.

Fashion bound: Behind the scenes with Rodarte.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Glam Rocks The Art World in Dario Robleto's "Alloy of Love"

"Robleto continues to tell the history of popular music that relies on complex and intertwined degrees of separation. In the case of I've Kissed Your Mother Twice and Now I'm Working on Your Dad, the cast of an antique lipstick holder is crafted from three melted records: David Bowie's Rock 'n' Roll Suicide, The New York Doll's Trash, and The Sex Pistols' God Save the Queen. The choice of these specific records highlights the connection that exists among them as anthems of Glam Rock and the gender bending tactics of their lead singers and horde of followers. While the origin of the piece is from the world of popular music, the craftsmanship of the lipstick holders evokes the artistry and skill of previous generations' metallurgical designs."

From New Frontiers 3: Dario Robleto at the Mint Museum in Charlotte, December issue 1999.

I had the good fortune of seeing I've Kissed Your Mother Twice and Now I'm Working On Your Dad recently at the Frye Art Museum in Seattle. It is part of the exhibit "Dario Robleto: Alloy of Love," a 10-year survey of Robleto's career, currently on view through January 25, 2009, at the Tang Teaching Museum at Skidmore College, New York.

For more information on "Alloy of Love" visit: Art Beat

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Bearded Roman - Put a little hair on yer art luvin' chest

Bearded Roman - "Away For a Week" -- Came upon this today while searching for information on the Hungarian artist Mihaly Munkacsy. A worthwhile blog and post. Do make sure to visit the associated links as well. I think you'll find them to your liking.


"The Condemned"

The above painting is a relatively new favorite of mine. I wish I could find a larger image of it online. I saw this one on exhibit at the Frye Art Museum in Seattle this summer. I was immediately moved by Munkacsy's classical yet expressive brushwork, as well as his dramatic use of light and gesture. The tension in his work ensnares the viewer; it excites, enthralls, and even disheartens without ever becoming uncomfortable or overbearing. Though I feel the somber weight of Munkacsy's subject, I come away feeling comforted rather than condemned.

From whence does this calm reassurance, this feeling of protection, arise? At first glance it appears to be the result of various technical and stylistic elements such as lighting, color, brushwork, and spacial composition. Consider for a moment the corresponding relationships between the figure standing just inside of what appears to be the doorway, the horizontal line of the table, and the vertical thrust of the walls. Note how the standing figure and walls are harmonized; their force and weight balanced at each end of the table.

Upon second glance, I sense that this condemned man is being sheltered from his fate, buffered, albeit only marginally, by the solidity of the prison walls, the low, heavy ceiling, and by the table that separates him from the person, I assume, charged with taking him away. One could certainly argue that the oppressive solidity of the cell's walls symbolize the harsh reality of the man's inescapable fate bearing down upon him. Perhaps it is a little of both: a buffer and a gavel. Even so, I detect the presence of some profound power--Protection? Forgiveness? Grace? Surrender? Mercy?--swaddling Munkacsy's subject. Whatever this force may be, all I know for certain is that it is not cut from the swaddling cloths of sorrow and despair.

Where else is this feeling present within the above painting? I wonder if you feel it too. (Yes, I realize that you'll probably have to go see it for yourself or at least find a larger image of it online to know.)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Me Too

From PostSecret is an ongoing community art project where people mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a postcard.