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.
Due to my plague victim status, I haven’t had a chance to finish this part.
I know that it’s a Dada poem, which means I grab a newspaper and cut out an article. Then I cut out each word from the article, place them in a bag, shake it, and then each word I pull out glue down to form a odd nonsensical poem. I just need to put it all together and take photos. This was difficult to do when coughing up a lung.
It’s done! My Chance art project for my Conceptual strategies class is finished, at least on my end. I found a bunch of magazines and some of the art journal do dads I’ve got, cut like a madwoman, grabbed a bag, my 20 sided die (because I’m a geek), glue, and a large piece of Bristol paper. See? I’m all prepared like a Girl Scout:
I rolled a 19 for the images and pulled out my 19 images and arranged them on my paper as such:
I took out of the bag what I wasn’t going to use and threw in the words that I cut out, and shook the bag. I rolled the 20 sided die again and it came up 13, so I reached into the bag and pulled out 13 words. I arranged them together to form a kind of poem that actually worked out perfectly with the way the collage was laid out. Here’s what the poem turned out to be:
The poem reads as: “Every morality cancer damaged life look with wanted made beauty from tempted sleep.” I arranged the poem on the paper, grabbed the glue and secured them down. After it dried, I grabbed the mod podge and sealed the collage down. I was so very happy with how it all turned out!! I think I’ll find a frame to put this in and hang it up in my house later. Check it out:
I think Hannah Hoch is very proud of me.
For my first art project in my Conceptual Strategies class, it involves working with the concept of “chance”. The instructor asked for 3 ideas for what we could do for this project.
Doing an abstract painting involving creating a simple pendulum that can create some amazing Spirograph images was one thought I considered. All I need is two chairs, some string, paint, a cup, and some sort of canvas. I’d have no control on the outcome of the design as the kinetic energy would be controlling how the paint moved about the canvas. But I wasn’t sure if this was enough.
A second idea was to fill up some water balloons with paint, pinning them to a canvas, and popping them to create a Jackson Pollock like image. In regards to choosing colors to use, I’d assign a number to six different colors on a throwing die, roll three times, and whichever three numbers comes up is the color I will use. The chance would be found in the color options and the way the paint lands on the canvas when the balloon is popped. Again, this sounded like fun, but it wasn’t quite outside of my artistic box.
For my third option, and being that I’m a lover of the Dada movement, I was leaning more towards doing a collage piece similar to artists such as Hannah Hoch, one of the most prominent female artists in the movement (though her male counterparts, ironically, maintained the misogyny of the time towards her). Regarded as one of the first artists to work with photomontage, many of her works involving political themes in which she critiques the Weir German government. Her works would inspire Picasso and fellow Dada artist Kurt Schwitters, who’s own work with collage would be part of what inspired me for this project as well. I figured since I’ve always wanted to play with doing some Dada inspired collages that this could be a good way to give it a try.
Its very simple in how it works: simply grab a bunch of magazines, images, pieces of paper, etc., cut out images, texts, sentences, body parts, objects, etc., and put it all in a box or a paper bag. Dump the contents onto the canvas and glue each piece wherever it lies creating a unique composition. Another option is to instead of dumping the contents, pull out random pieces and, like a jigsaw puzzle, put them together to form some sort of image. This should create some incredibly twisted and odd shaped compositions depending upon the images. Any text that was pulled can be arranged together or at random throughout the collage. Essentially, the image can end up much like Hoch’s The Beautiful Girl (1920) image seen here:
To create one of these collages, I begin with getting the materials to work with. I tend to lean towards magazines and images from the 1950’s to the 1970’s as the imagery tends to be outlandish and comical in their appearance, and the advertisements would feature more poignant language. Also, I searched around for just random kinds of paper materials, including coloring books, photographs, or books of paper dolls. I found much of what I needed at the Alameda Flea market, as well as some current women’s magazines and a National Geographic. I’ll go over them, cut out a bunch of different things, throw the images into a box or bag and the text in another. I’ll roll a twenty sided die to determine the amount of images to pull out and arrange them on a canvas. For the text, I’ll roll the die one more time for how many pieces I’ll pull and arrange them on the canvas as a poem, which is something that Dada artists did.
Hopefully this should be fun!
My first assignment for my Conceptual Strategies class is to research three artists that are intersecting art with science, technology, and culture. One of the first artists I thought of was the Brazilian artist Vik Muniz. He’s a photographer and sculptor that creates mixed media pieces made from everyday materials to recreate iconic masterpieces or pop culture imagery thereby re-exploring what those images may represent in our current settings. One example of this is the documentary he did titled “Wasteland”, in which the artist travels back to his home country to document the largest garbage dump in Brazil and the people that pick through it looking for recyclable items. During filming, Muniz found himself shifting the focus of the film away from his artwork and on the individuals he was working with. Throughout the film, the artwork begins to reflect not only the culture of the people who pick through the garbage, what motivates them to live this kind of life, but also to how wasteful we as a society are. He creates these massive pieces where he begins with a photograph of either just the picker going about their business, or a recreation of a famous artwork with one of the pickers as the model. Then he projects the image onto a large canvas where it is then recreated via actual trash taken from the dump. He then photographs the final piece. The project reflects how many view these people as “trash” in how they chose to live their lives in actual trash, almost like its the visual representation of “one man’s garbage is another man’s treasure”. The ecological messages that shine through his work on this project also evoke an emotional response of revulsion at the mountains of garbage they swim through, and when they are done, the amount that was easily recycled is equally as revolting. A perfect example of Muniz’s work for this project is his recreation of the Jacques-Louis David’s painting “The Death of Marat”, seen here:
The film also documents how Muniz’s project effected each of them, some of them seeing beyond the dump for the first time ever in their lives.
Another artist I thought of was the street artist known as JR. His medium of choice is photography, but his installations are out in the streets. He views the world as his own personal art gallery, which presents a defiant question about the exclusivity of how art is more conventionally accessed by the masses that can afford to enjoy it. His projects focus on how art can be used to start a dialogue between cultures, and how art can be capable of triggering political action in how it is presented. His one project titled “Face-2-Face”, is extremely powerful in its message of how historical hate distorts perception. In this project, which was a highly illegal and extremely dangerous feat to create, involved large portraits of Palestinian and Israeli, who in pairs do the same thing in life, being pasted together side by side on both sides of the wall that separates the cities as well as throughout the cities in the area of the wall. None of the images are marked as to who is from where, which presents the simple question to the viewer: “Who’s is from where? How can you tell?”. All the images evoke thoughts of how we in reality are all the same, that we all talk the same and at our very basic core are human beings that are allowing a distorted perception of “differences” build walls between us. Here is an image of how the images along the wall were laid out:
For my third and final artist, I did a Google search for “artists working with technology” to find someone I may have not heard of before. I happened upon an article on Make, which is an online magazine that focuses entirely on making things. The Maker’s Faire that happens here in SF every year is featured on the site. The article I found didn’t interest me, but a link to another article on the site did, which led me to the kinetic artist Anthony Howe. His work involves the “mechanical complexity” of wind turbines as sculptures. His metal sculptures are immensely large, in that they designed to withstand at least 90 mph winds, and when in motion are like watching a steel kaleidoscope in action. Complex in their intricate layouts, the patterns he creates move and flow like water in a stream when air flows through them. He provides videos of each of his pieces in motion for viewers to get lost in, one of which is here:
Its as if the sculpture is breathing and swimming at the same time. His work is simply hypnotic to watch, sensual in how it moves, and soothing in its gracefulness. Through the scientific principals of how kinetic energy works, he is able to design artworks that embody those principals with a visionary elegance.
This summer has been an interesting and soul searchingly hard one for me. Interesting in that I’ve spent most of it being depressed, lonely, isolated, and trying to make as much art as I could. Interesting in how I had to drop the plans of transferring to a different college to finish up my degree because it offers more studio art classes, yet the cost of the school was way beyond my financial reach, even with assistance. Interesting in that I went to gym more then I usually do and not one pound fell off my fat ass.
The Soul Searchingly Hard part was my therapist helping me accept that being without a job and/or school means I’m without a purpose which leads to me beginning to spiral. Add in isolation from not having any sort human contact, and my brainmeats turn further inward with a laser-like focus on every single one of my flaws completely the Spiral of Self Destruction that I am so unbelievably talented at! Seriously, I win the gold medal in this sport!
So where does that leave me as this summer comes to an end and another semester is set to begin at the end of the month? It leaves me feeling a bit of the weight off my shoulders in that I know another of my limitations and have a general idea of what I need to do to fix it. I have at least these last two semesters left to complete my degree, which should be this time next year fully graduated with a BA in Studio art with a minor in Art History. Provided I factored in all of the classes correctly. We’ll see. And in July I’ll be working on my parents 50th wedding anniversary party right after school is done, so in way, I’ll have a job right out the gate to work on for 2 months. After that? That’s where things need to be planned out before that in some fashion.
Hubby suggested that I have two options for myself at that point. I could find any sort of job, even a part time one, and do my art on the side like a hobby. My paychecks can be 100% used to pay off my school loan, making the debt go down faster than it might if I wasn’t working. He expects to be making more then he is now so we’ll have a bit more coming in that we can also look into me renting a small art studio outside of the house, where I treat it like going to an office every day. I could even look into sharing it with someone. There, I’m not worrying about doing damage to the place too much like at home, which means I can go crazy in the place. I could even find one that will let me bring Daisy with me, so she’s getting out of the house during the day, and there wouldn’t be anything there that could distract me like the TV. He tells me that he doesn’t care what I do, as long and I do not do what I’ve been doing………..ripping myself apart internally until I break.
For now I just make things, get through my next semester, dig through the bullshit in my brainmeats to find the good, learn new things, and live life. One of my most recent paintings I did was inspired by most favorite artists Vincent Van Gogh. I didn’t draw it out first, I was messy with painting it, and I concentrated on my love of his art in my mind while I worked. I’ll fully admit, Doctor Who is what got me more interested in his work. But it was in learning about him that I found a connection to him as person. We see the world in similar ways in that the world around us is beautiful, even in the most simplest things like sunflowers or the night’s sky. A few days, I’ll be standing in front of his most famous of works, Starry Night (1893) and I’ll probably break down crying while I stare into its mastery. When Van Gogh painted that image, he was in the asylum in Saint Remy, after having cut off his ear in a hysterical fit. A fit which many including myself theorize was brought on by Paul Gauguin’s perceived “abandonment” of Vincent when the two’s friendship dissolved and Paul left town. He wasn’t allowed to paint at night in the hospital so he worked during the day based on memory of the previous night’s sky. Vincent wrote letters during that time about how he much preferred how the night sky looked, how it moved, how it glistened with life much more than daylight. That painting is Vincent Van Gogh’s soul at that moment in his life. To see it in person,……………I will most certainly need a moment people. So, I did a painting to pay homage to my beloved Vincent:
Hubby was gobsmacked when he saw it. He actually said, “Don’t be offended, but I think it’s your best one”. There was a small part of me, I call her Veruca, that was irked a bit by him as she was all “So you’re saying the rest of my stuff is crap, eh?!” But I kicked her and she quieted down. Of all the paintings I did this summer, I’ll admit this is my favorite one. I want to try to do more like it. I signed up for the painting class this semester so we’ll see how that goes. The interesting part will be along with that, my other studio art class is a conceptual one. I’m hoping that during this semester I find a bit more of my artistic voice. I need it right now.
So once more, I find myself crawling out of my own wreckage. I am almost at the point of dusting myself off and straightening my hair bow with a sense of “I’m gonna rock this bitch” attitude. For now, its me gearing up for our vacation trip to see Lilymonster this week. Art, food, and love. Oh, and I might get lucky and get into a taping of the Daily Show!!! Tonight however, I get to live out a teenage missed opportunity. I’m seeing Guns and Roses live tonight! \m/ !! Small things of joy allow for the bigger things to come through.