21 January 2008

8 Thoughts on Art

Heather tagged me with a meme, and since it is my personal blogging mission to bring an appreciation for the arts into the daylight of our blogging community I'm tweaking my answers to reflect the arts.
Heather's ok with that. She's a black-turtleneck-wearing-beatnik-bohemian-artist-type.

1. One art experience that changed your life.
I had a French teacher in 9th grade, Mrs. Jordan. She taught... French. But she took an entire quarter out of the school year to teach our class art appreciation. I'm sure she stuck to the French artists (there's more than a handful) so we could count it as "French cultural studies."
There's a distinct memory of the question in my mind at the time. As much as I was completely eating up these art appreciation lessons, I kept asking myself, "What in the world does this have to do with learning to speak French???"

Well, not much. And then again, quite a lot.

Through Mrs. Jordan's enthusiastic love of art- so much so that she would suspend her lesson plans and push the envelope of "pertinent educational topics"- I began my own journey of adoring the arts and seeing them as quite pertinent to all areas of life.

2. One artist you go back to over and over.
Michelangelo Buonarotti.
Isn't it completely flabbergasting how human hands and a chisel can make something so delicate from a hunk of stone? I am in awe.
The Florentine Pieta is probably my favorite piece of his. I could look at this all day long.
I really want to touch it someday.
I think they'd toss me in the slammer if I did.
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Florentine Pieta

Did you know that even though he is most famous for painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo never consider himself a painter? He underwent months of self-tutoring and interviewing other fresco painters before he even touched paint to plaster in the Sistine Chapel. Then he had to design and engineer his own scaffolding for the project (so he was also an engineer). And he was constantly frustrated with his work on that ceiling. And very glad to say goodbye to the Sistine Chapel.
Imagine Michelangelo's chagrin when the His Holiness, the Pope, called him nearly 25 years later. "Hey Mike, I've got another fresco job for you."

Sigh. What's a sculptor to do?

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Rebellious Slave

3. One piece you want in your living room.
I'd love one of Georgia O'Keefe's giant still lifes.
O'Keeffe, Oriental Poppies
This is called, Oriental Poppies.

Bottom line for my living room: Large scale. Bold colors.

4. One art documentary you'd tell the world to see.
Rowan Leaves and Hole

Rivers and Tides, with environmental artist, Andy Goldsworthy. Mr. Goldsworthy's use of natural elements and the manner in which he plays up time, seasons and perspective will knock your socks off. His diligent communion with the natural world is something that resonates deep inside each of us. Watching him work is a delight no matter how far removed from the pulse of nature one might be. City slickers and remote mountaineers alike will be blessed by Goldsworthy's sculptural interpretations of the ebb and flow of life on this planet. My kids were fascinated with this film.


5. One work that made you cry.
Frida Khalo's, The Two Fridas.

Kahlo's work used to really disturb me. It still does. Now that I know how disturbing her life actually was, I understand her art a bit better. I'm not so squeamish about all the gore. (The gore is where she makes her point though- her work hits you on a very visceral level. Kahlo strikes me as a very visceral personality. She certainly lived quite a visceral life.)
This self-portrait speaks volumes about the internal conflict Frida encountered on a daily basis. The chasm between who she wanted to be and the identity she presented to the world, what she once dreamed for her future and how that future really played out, the heartbreak she brought upon herself or continually suffered for one reason or another.
Of all the modern artists I've come across, Kahlo does the best job of capturing and portraying her inner world. She obviously felt things very deeply. Her art makes you want to either retch or weep or look away, so she succeeds at making the viewer feel deeply too. (Sly girl.)

6. One artist who's talent you wish you had.
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Leonardo Da Vinci.
He was so adept at so many things. I admire his ability to think mathematically and scientifically, and yet that he didn't allow his logic to stilt his art. Though he desgined flying machines and analyzed celestial orbits, his drawings and paintings remain always tender, fluid, and sensitive. It is a rare person with the talent to use both sides of his brain so effectively. He was a true renaissance man.
And I feel like a dolt next to him.

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7. Two artists you've recently become interested in.
(A) I recently vacationed in Kaua'i and found this fun artist. She works mostly in oils, but every painting I saw in the gallery had some kind of mixed media element incorporated, which is a big plus in my book. A playbill, an old cruise line ticket, a strip of metal flashing, sheet music...
Meet Brigitte D'Annibale.

This is called, Goodbye Surfer.
That turquoise, gold and red is fetching, isn't it?

The Spirit of Aloha

It's just not your typical Hawaiiana. I like the ragged edge. Her drippy paint approach adds an ethereal quality. (And any trip to Hawaii is near-ethereal in my book.)

(B) These are bright, quirky, outlandish pieces with quite a dose of humor. And the coolest thing of all?? They're QUILTS.
Pam Rubert and her PaMdora's Box series are simply amazing. I can only hope to have my skill set together like this one day.

Towers of Babble


Take Me to Your Dentist (complete with zipper teeth)


This is Late Date on the long arm quilting machine, so you'll believe me that these are quilts.


8. One book on creativity you're reading.
In a nod the the originating book meme that this used to be, I'll mention a book. I'm intrigued by this book anyhow so I might as well gush about it here.

I was looking for a volume of Emily Dickenson poetry over the weekend, just minding my own business, when I spied this title:
Make Us Wave Back.

Double take... "Huh? What's this?"
Triple take... "Such an intriguing title. What's this book about, I wonder?"

The complete title: Make Us Wave Back: Essays on Poetry and Influence, by Michael Collier. For some time now I've had a pedestrian interest in the influence that poets have on society. Given the luxury of time, I'd surely make a more serious study of this poet-philosopher phenomenon. So I bought the book. (In a pedestrian sort of way.)

Here's my first favorite bit- Collier recounting a memory of one of his university mentors, William Meredith,
In response to a question about his relatively low output of six poems per year, he (Meredith) said, "I wait until the poems seem to be addressed not to 'Occupant' but to 'William Meredith.' " ... As a teacher he was interested in getting his students to see that our job not just as writers but as men and women was to avoid the default status of 'Occupant.'
As an artist, how much of my work comes from me, deep down and truly from within me? Do I own it? Does it come from my identity, from my own footprints along the path of life? Am speaking of things I know nothing about, relying on hearsay?

I don't know a single person that enjoys looking at mass produced art, or sitting around reading books compiled of junk mail thoughts. May it never be that my words or my work is addressed from "Occupant."

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Anonymous heather a. goodman said...

I love it, as you knew I would, snap, snap, snap!
That film captivates me. One thought especially resonates with me--the work doesn't need me. I need it.
And the fact that people drain him but he's still a social creature.
And that he takes the work to the edge of its collapse.
Okay, I'll stop now.

3:54 PM  
Blogger Christianne said...

Erin, this post was brilliant on so many levels. I love that you took Heather's meme and made it your own. I love that it is so personal to you so that I get to know you as I get to know more about art. I love that you have such an eclectic taste in art but also a classical taste in art. I love the story of you and your French teacher and your mutual love affair with art. I guess there's just a lot of love flowing around in my response to your post here! :)

Thanks for sharing these bits about you and your loves.

8:49 PM  
Blogger Erin said...

Is it ok to tag you back on this and ask you to share your favorite artists and musicians??

You are so sweet to come visit me when you're so busy over there on Dreaming Lilies with political talk, deep soul reflection and birthday bashes. This is peanuts compared to the ground you've been covering lately.

But yeah, sometimes the cave troll comes out in the sunlight and visits an art museum. ;)

9:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, another lover of Goldsworthy....
Here is a four minute video that includes a ground art project inspired by Goldsworthy.... by another Scottish artist: Deryk Houston


1:14 AM  

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