Have been so distracted by the holidays that I forgot to post this.
I went to this jazz club in Oakland called Cafe Van Kleef to just check out whomever was playing that night and to get some tasty drinks. An artist named Dave Rocha was playing that night. He’s a trumpet player who has been inspired by Mile Davis and John Coltrane. I’m not too much of a jazz music fan but my maternal grandfather was a jazz player. Tenor saxophone was his instrument. I enjoy places like Cafe Van Kleef because it takes me back to my childhood listening to my grandfather play. Rocha was a delight to listen to and thought his performance was superior. I’ll probably go out to Cafe some time soon as my husband enjoys the place immensely. Plus, the bar’s decor is so much fun to look at! It’s done up like New Orleans’ Bourbon street, which taxidermy creatures, beads, and other random weird things. Love it!
Back in October, I took a visit out to the Legion of Honor art museum. Normally, I’m not all that fond of the museum. It tends to not have interesting works or exhibitions that involve works that I enjoy. My husband however loves to go there, so we decided to take in the exhibition of the Le Nain brothers before it closed. I am not normally attracted to artworks that are considered Classical. This is mostly due to my unfamiliarity with subject manners that involve religious themes. However I do appreciate the painting techniques of the artists while the images themselves do not usually evoke any kind of emotional reaction within me. The special exhibition was not that particularly interesting to me for this reason, however the one painting that did intrigue me was the final image in the exhibit titled Allegory of Victory. This painting stands out starkly against the rest of the images on display mainly because of how its composition is strangely laid out. What is most strikingly peculiar about the painting for me is that of the second female figure in which the angel is standing on. First, I noticed was how her back is arched awkwardly; if someone was standing on one’s torso, they wouldn’t be arching their back upwards quite like that. Secondly, the bottom figure is oddly placed underneath the angel, with no indications of weight being distributed on the torso. It is as if she was added into the painting as an after-thought by the artist. The feet of the bottom figure also appear to be turning into a serpent’s tail, which is a bit visually jarring when trying to understand the story the image is telling. An intriguing aspect about the bottom figure is how her legs almost appear to be slowly vanishing. The landscape in the background is seeping through her legs, which adds to my theory that this figure was added on after the victorious angel was completed. An alternative to this thought is that the paint used is slowly fading away due to degradation. The background landscape also is visually odd in that towards the bottom there are very small figures meant to indicate a perception of depth, but instead creates an unusual visual contradiction in comparison to the two female figures in front. All of the paintings peculiarities is what draws me into it further. I became fascinated with the curvature of the angel’s form and the way the wings spread across the top of the painting so beautifully. I was disappointed I couldn’t purchase a copy of the image to hang in my home, as this is one of the few classical artworks that I could make a connection with. Overall, this was the one painting that struck an emotional response, which is why I love art so very much. There was an exhibition on art books next door that was really cool to see. On the wall was a series of Pablo Picasso images where he took the same image and did it twenty distinctly different ways. The last image ended up resembling random abstract shapes and figures. Yet another reason Picasso was a great! Still, the Legion remains otherwise dull to me.
First one: A Trip to SFMOMA!
I enjoy this museum immensely because each time I visit I find new works to fall in love with. The one artist whose work intrigued me the most on this trip was Mark Grotjahn. His works features abstract geometric shapes that resemble optical illusions. The paintings I was drawn the most towards were from his Butterfly series. These are works that are based upon Renaissance perceptive principles involving the horizon line and a vanishing point. One large image is of a rainbow spectrum of colors forming parallel horizontal lines that slant inward towards the center of the painting, resulting in an abstracted butterfly wings illusion. If one stares at for a few minutes the lines pulsate, as if the wings are fluttering. The lines appear to stretch and shrink at the same time. Another smaller image on the other side of the colorful one has a similar horizontal line layout, but the colors are only black and creamy white and the two distinct vanishing points in the center are placed on different spots. One point is above the other vanishing point. I found that staring at it sideways made the image sort of swirl, like one of those old three dimensional images with a hidden picture in it. The hidden swirl I noticed was probably the result of the small dashes that are placed not quite in a circular fashion towards the center of the painting. I found myself just sitting in front of these two images with my head tilted, simply enjoying the feelings of staring into a colorful geometric abyss. This was why Grotjahn’s work is so fascinating to sit and stare at; the visual version of mental static white noise that is as soothing as waves crashing. Each of his images in the Campaign for Art exhibition were fun to just sit and stare at and watch the lines sway or swirl, defying their stationary positions on the canvas. I walked up to the exhibition that had mostly abstract paintings, which I believe were on the 5th floor. Huge, to almost ridiculous levels of height some of these were. I couldn’t even image what it was like to complete those. Overall it was another delightful visit to MOMA, and I fully expect to do it again soon.