Archive for the ‘Random Art Bloggery’ Category

Mexico 2019 Part 4.

Thursday, March 12th, 2020

More city center stuff! Before we delve into that, let’s look at a sign that made me feel a variety of emotions simultaneously – rage, despair, confusion, sadness, other ones. Here it is.

Now I spend my entire day creating signage like this so I have trained my eye to catch bad choices. Therefore the epic tragedy of this sign might not be immediately obvious to you. That’s why I made these helpful notes to bring you into my world of sorrow.

Ughhh. I know there are amazing designers in the country, go find one and rectify this.

I also wanted to show you the symbol of Mexico because it pops up periodically. You can see it on the flag. It’s an eagle holding a snake in its claw on top of a cactus with a indigenous thing under the cactus. I’m not being disrespectful. I asked numerous times what the thing was. It looks kind of like a pillow with thick twig branches. No one could tell me except that it was part of the pre-Hispanic era.

I looked on Wikipedia. It says the symbols are:
The eagle, in a combative stance
The snake, held by a talon and the beak of the eagle
The nopal on which the eagle stands; The nopal bears some of its fruits (tunas)
The pedestal, on which the nopal grows, immersed in the Aztec symbol for water
Oak and laurel leaves encircling the eagle cluster; tied together with a ribbon with the Mexican flag’s colors

Okay, so that’s more information than I had before. I still want to get clarification on the details but that’s good for now. Related: Since our tour ended near sunset I got to watch the folding of the giant flag.

CHARCH! We went to the cathedral. Unfortunately, like most places of conquest the cathedral was built on the site of the previous religion’s destroyed house of worship. These were the original steps.

Surprise: The churches and cathedrals, despite being build during the Baroque period which is the most gaudy period in ever, are surprisingly tasteful. I mean there are splashes of WayTooMuch but the whole interior is not bad. The only gold-encrusted excessiveness was the organ and the altar. The organ is very cool, it has organ tubes sticking directly out and it’s double-sided.

Here’s the altar. It’s very Baroque.

But the rest, lovely. Clean. Simple.

I saw a pendulum in the middle of the aisle. I’ve seen those before and they’re usually to show the rotation of the earth throughout the year but this one is different. Since the city is slowly sinking into the mud this one shows how much the cathedral is shifting.

The city has a lot of tilting, a lot of sagging. Near the end of the tour we saw a two buildings where they needed to spackle between them because they were ever so slowly sliding away from each other.

Outside the cathedral is the main square. The cathedral is a major center of Catholicism. It may seem obvious but it’s important. Directly in front of the cathedral were people sitting in front of blankets. I assumed they were selling trinkets but no, they had herbs and candles and other objects. And they were practicing pagan rituals taught down throughout the generations from their ancestors. I heard a sound that concerned me, it sounded like a man AGGRESSIVELY vomiting but it was one of the shamans doing a bark / growl combo. He was cleansing a woman of demons because she was possessed. This is real. Did I mention this was happening in front of the cathedral? And is that a child’s skull on that blanket? It was at that time that I left. I did not need that answered.

Time for candy and snacks. We went to a ye olde candy shop that sold traditional Mexican sweets. The interior and signage is intact and unchanged.

The guide Pau pointed out one particular snack, a brick of seeds. She said:

“You know, this was banned when the Spanish got here.”

Me: “?”

Pau: “It is amaranth held together with honey.”

Me: “Sounds nice.”

Pau: “But it used to be held together with human blood.”

Me: “Ok, there it is.”

After that we went past the Palacio de Bellas Artes. It looks like a glorious Europen turn of the century building.

But if you get up close there are smatterings of Mexican imagery. Like the man wearing the jaguar head and the snakes around the doorway.

See? If you’re not looking you could totally miss it.

There were a few other things we saw that were notable. One is the inability of the Mexicans to carve lions in the 1500 – 1600s. They had jaguars. They did great jaguars. Imagine a jaguar with a fluffy mane, right? Nope. Janky dog-monkeys for days.

Coming up next: Murals and craftsmen.

Mexico 2019 Part 3.

Friday, February 21st, 2020

I apologize for the tardiness between posts. My whole family thought my dad was DYING. We were doing the whole bedside vigil thing at the hospital which, as you can imagine, is very time-consuming. Over time we settled on Dying?? and then it turned into straight-up Not Dying and now he’s in a elderly care facility. I still split my time between working and helping my mom and there was no blogging. But now that he’s in a home and stable I can return to my regular activities. I would like to share my favorite picture from this whole ordeal and it’s when they transferred my dad from the hospital to the home.

Uhhh, that doesn’t look right, with the seat belts all higglety-pigglety like that. What is he, Hannibal Lecter? I sent the photo to Cricket who has locked many a person onto a stretcher in the same way and he simply wrote back “All of that is wrong.” I started laughing and couldn’t stop while I took this picture. Look at my father’s face. His expression says “Is this mockery absolutely necessary?” (It was.)

Before we get back to Mexico proper let’s look at some rando pics I have and wish to share.

Art Nouveau stained glass.

Extremely large cactus. The Moomins for scale.

Coffee maker. I had them explain how it works. You put water in the golden container on the right and light the little flame underneath it. The water boils and goes through the tube into the glass container with the coffee grounds in it. Then the flame is extinguished and the vacuum created causes the now coffee-infused water back into the golden container. You open that wee spigot in the front and you’ve got your coffee. I think it’s pretty cool.

Okay, onto the actual topics of the day. We went on a tour of the main part of Mexico City in the morning and then a tour of the murals in the same area. First we explored the center of the city. The guide (who’s name was Pau, she was awesome) said if we take one thing away from this tour it is “Don’t build your city on a lake.” There was originally an island in the center and then the island-dwellers made proto-islands all around that to grow crops and then they became legit islands and then the lake was drained and now everything is on squishy ground and is sinking down in the most inconvenient way. This is a major church in the middle of the city.

The property of the church is a solid four feet below the street level because it is heading on down and they can’t lift it up, churches are very heavy. So now there are stairs and that’s just how it is.

This is the city square. It is the third largest city square in the world: First there’s the one in Moscow, then Tiananmen Square in China and this one.

Off to one side was a section where someone was digging to create a structure and oh look it’s an archeology site and now we can’t dig anymore.

It was very cool. There was a snake, possibly a feathered serpent:

But the thing that I found the most helpful was a 3D map that showed all the islands that the original dwellers made to grow crops.

Hospital! Pau took us to a hospital, the most mundane-looking hospital you can imagine. If I had to describe it I would use the words “unexceptional and satisfactory.” Here’s a picture of a hallway.

I couldn’t fathom why we were there until Pau took us inside. Turns out the bleh hospital was built around a colonial hospital and that was secret-y and beautiful.

You can see a bit of the present hospital built around this courtyard.

Here’s the entry on Wikipedia about the history of this hospital.

The Church and Hospital are supposedly located at the spot where Hernán Cortés and Moctezuma II met for the first time in 1519, which was then the beginning of the causeway leading to Iztapalapa. Cortés ordered the hospital built to tend to Aztec soldiers wounded fighting with the Spanish.

In his last will, Cortés states that he wanted the hospital to be built for the sons of the Aztec warriors who had perished in battle during the Conquest of Tenochtitlan. This was not an institution for wounded Spanish soldiers.

In 1646, the hospital was the site of the first autopsies performed on the American continent, performed to teach anatomy to medical students of the Royal and Pontifical University of Mexico. In 1715, the hospital published the Regia Academia Mariana Practica Medica to promote more professional practices in the field of medicine in New Spain. The building today continues to function as a hospital.

On the second level a class was being taught to the hospital staff. Did you know nurses still wear those WWII origami hats? I did not.

I was delighted to see that someone built anatomy models out of clay as opposed to buying fancy plastic ones. Crafts! For science!

Now, I came with The Moomins to Mexico City to see the murals by all the famous artists (there will be a post about them later). I am ashamed to say my favorite murals were the ones surrounding the outer edge of this courtyard painted in the 1970s by no one of note. I thought they were so smooth and magical, like a combination of Rousseau and Where The Wild Things Are. I found a photo of the panel representing the meeting of Cortés and Moctezuma.

The Wikipedia entry says that the strip above the mural is original from the 1600s and I’d like to believe that, but Wikipedia also says these murals were painted by the famous Mexican artist Orozco and that is definitely wrong. This is the mural.

And this is a typical example of Orozco’s work.

Yeah, no. I don’t care who you are, you can see that. So the entire second floor has this mural representing the typical life of  pre-Colonial and a bit of post-Colonial societies. There is symbolism everywhere. For example, the reason the little kid is holding a bunny near the moon is because the bunny represents the moon. I found that so cool because Japan has the same folklore. It’s amazing how distant cultures have the same mythologies.

This is a wedding. The bride and groom tied their garments together during the ceremony which Mexicans still do but on a smaller scale like tying handkerchiefs together. The elders on either side are whispering wisdom to each other and those marks coming out of their mouths represent talking. It’s so cool that they look like our speech bubbles but the pictograms were created hundreds of years ago and were translated when the Aztec Codexes were found. People have always been people.

This panel represents magic and occurrences that foretold the future. That’s what the comet represents as well as the conjoined twin.

In addition to corn, squash and beans, the food staples of the indigenous people, insects were and are a big part of the diet (as mentioned in an earlier post). The two big edible bug groups are grasshoppers and maguey worms. The woman is covered in maguey worms and no one knows what the artist was going for but the common theory is that she is the spirit and source of the vital protein.

Once outside again we saw a cornerstone of a Spanish building. When Cortés ‘n’ Crew arrived they wanted to convert everyone to Catholicism so the Spanish knocked down all the existing temples and scattered the stones so the temples could not be reassembled. After a substantial amount of time Catholicism was the official religion and the Spanish could ease up on the oppression of the local belief system. Someone found this cool stone and used it as the cornerstone, probably not realizing it is the head of the most important god of the original Mexicans, Quetzalcoatl the Feathered Serpent.

Coming up next: More Mexico City tour with Cathedral.

Mexico 2019 Part 2.

Tuesday, January 21st, 2020

We’re going to talk about Gods and Death, big day, but first – eatin’ bugs.

Mexico is not afraid to talk about their penchant for insect consumption and that’s how we stumbled on this exhibition:

What enticed us in were the very large wicker ants gracing the foyer and balcony.

The actual exhibit had photos of local insects with recipes which I neglected to copy down so now we will never know the proper way to prepare moth stew or whatever.

And I was delighted by the print of an anthropomorphic beetle reading an important document to a rapt audience of winged critters.

Unrelated but still on the topic of food: I had no idea that Lebanese cuisine had such an influence in Mexico. But I saw shwarma stands all over the place.

I learned that shwarma is a Lebanese influence. Mexico has a whole bunch of different influences. From Wikipedia:

During the 19th century, Mexico experienced an influx of various immigrants, including French, Lebanese, German, Chinese and Italian, which have had some effect on the food. During the French intervention in Mexico, French food became popular with the upper classes. An influence on these new trends came from chef Tudor, who was brought to Mexico by the Emperor Maximilian of Habsburg. One lasting evidence of this is the variety of breads and sweet breads, such as bolillos, conchas and much more, which can be found in Mexican bakeries. The Germans brought beer brewing techniques and the Chinese added their cuisine to certain areas of the country. This led to Mexico characterizing its cuisine more by its relation to popular traditions rather than on particular cooking techniques.

Okay, on to the main topic. Day 1 started with a trip to the Anthropological Museum. It is a totally awesome museum, especially in layout. There’s an big open middle plaza between all the buildings that make up the museum. The plaza is covered by cement and it’s supported by an enormous pillar with indigenous symbols. Bonus: It’s also a fountain. Like a giant tree surrounded by a waterfall. It’s great. This is my picture and it’s crappy. However you can get a sense of scale. That small man with his arms up at the bottom? That’s Cricket and he’s 6’2″.

Here are some better pics I found on the web.

As we entered the first exhibition hall we were greeted by this sculpture.

And this display of a necklace made from human teeth.

I was like “Oh, you’re not going to warm me up with an icebreaker? We’re gonna go right into it? Alright, okay.”

I saw this article when I got home and I understood it. Crystal clear. The Pre-Columbian people were not cute. They would eat your children and make a tiara of the leftover phalanges if they felt like it.

One of the best displays was the outdoor temples. Now remember, we’re in the middle of a city with limited space so whoever designed this did a kickass job. The temples are nestled in thick foliage and you really couldn’t hear the cars even though you were right next to the street.

I saw of my favorite exhibition items, like a mummlet (what I call a mummy that’s in the crouching position, bonus points if they’re stuffed in a ceramic urn).

A selection of shrines with offerings.

Some excellent filigree work done with gold.

Clarification of filigree and why it’s so impressive.

That’s tough to do today with modern tools, imagine how difficult it was to do way back then.

Here’s a supremely janky looking snail.

A screaming badger.

This smiling… frog, maybe? We’ll go frog.

There was a recreation of mural (because the original is some cave in the mountains) and I loved how the brown and black elements overlapped and interacted with each other.

There were some tombs with their contents.

What appeared to be a quaint little KKK meeting rendered in clay.

When I first saw this pair of earrings I immediately went “Nazi!! Nazi earrings!!” but when I got closer I realized my error. From farther away they distinctly resemble something Fuhrer-y.

The cafe downstairs had very nice offerings and if I go back I want to get the salad with the grasshoppers.

And I liked the way you donated to the museum. You dropped coins in the mouth of the snake and they zippered their way down to the bottom. Good design.

Mexico 2019 Part 1.

Monday, December 30th, 2019

Mexico! I went a ways back to Mexico City and Puerto Vallarta for the beading intensive with my dream beading artists so I’m not going to cover everything because I did a considerable amount already (see here for the last trip). Anything new I will share aggressively; I accrued a lot. Let’s start with the flight to Mexico City. As we lined up to board I was next to some men that had a really specific look going on. After studying their tattoos (skulls, Satanic pentagrams, skulls with Satanic pentagrams, horned demon faces, flames, upside-down crosses, naked ladies making bad choices, etc.), their black clothing and their guitar cases I came to the (correct) conclusion that these gentlemen were in a band. I did some research when I saw the stickers on their luggage and their name is Belphegor. Belphegor is listed as “blackened death metal” because apparently “death metal” didn’t adequately get the point across. Some of their albums are Blood Magick Necromance, Infernal Live Orgasm and my personal favorite, Bondage Goat Zombie. What was most surprising is they were very nice. I don’t know what I expected, maybe they would eat raw meat or something but they didn’t do any of that. One of them had a neck pillow covered in other band’s names which was rather sweet. The only problem I had was – you know when you’re finding your seat and you’re putting your luggage in the overhead bins and the plane is playing pleasant stuff? The lead singer called in “scheisse musick” and I was like sir, this is Fleetwood Mac’s “Hold Me” and while it is not everyone’s taste it’s a classic, I’m sorry AeroMexico is not blasting some festive number about a cockroach-infused undead woman so settle down with your snotty comments. Drink your beer and eat your snacks and hush.

Please enjoy their logo.

My main purpose for going to Mexico was two-fold: One was to show The Moomins the Diego Rivera murals and Teotihuacan and to go to the studios of the artist who made the alebrijes I saw in Puerto Vallarte. In case you don’t remember I went to a gallery called Peyote People where I was introduced to this exquisite work:

http://design-newyork.com/blog/2016/05/24/mexico-part-3-and-done/

Yeah. I felt a lot of feelings but the pieces were thousands of dollars and that’s more dollars than I have. I did end up buying some small pieces and I was right – going directly to the artists’ studio dropped the prices considerably. An added bonus is watching them work and meeting them in person. That was pretty miraculous.

Here are a few loner images to whet the appetite.

This place was not open so I don’t know what they were selling. I will never know.

I really liked this chandelier with the flame-shaped glass caps over the actual bulbs.

You’re damn right I paid to take a picture with the Mexican Freddy Mercury. That’s not an opportunity you can pass up.

At a church there was this campaign to make items for handicapped people using soda tops. I liked both the idea and the designs.

There were almost no Chinese restaurants which as an American made me feel confused and uncomfortable so when I saw this one I felt compelled to take a picture of it.

The skyline of Mexico City main square at sunset. I like this picture. It’s so black and spiky.

More to come.

Growth and knowledge via the Internet.

Saturday, December 21st, 2019

I went to Mexico! To look at art! And Oakland California! Where I ended up looking at art! Now I’m back. While I go through my gross dirty laundry and my stack of photos please enjoy these informative treasures.

 

1. This is a long read but it’s totally worth it. I was blown away.

https://pricklylegs.tumblr.com/post/188456524966/synebluetoo-costumersupportdept

 

2. There’s a man who makes things and I delight in watching him work. His name is Bobby Duke and not only is he talented as hell, he is also charming and has a Southern accent. I do love me an accent.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkbJemDY-00

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GBcjGlXuQAI

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dSFPG1ACz5g

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=taF0nY9GqMg

 

3. I saw a video where a gorgeous male elk walked reeeeeeal close to some men who I think were fishing. The elk was so majestic. He turned his face toward the camera and made his call which sounded… piercing and otherworldly. I don’t know what I expected an elk call to sound like but it wasn’t this.

https://pricklylegs.tumblr.com/post/188374421161

I thought this elk might have been an anomaly but apparently not

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20PET6-Hr_c

I think it’s pretty amazing. People compare it to the sound the undead tormented nazguls make in Lord of the Rings but now that I know it comes out of such a cool creature I don’t find it frightful at all.

 

4. No one think of the cameraman.

https://blizzardofjj.tumblr.com/post/188492221581/nobody-thinks-of-the-cameraman

 

Update: Apparently EVERYONE knows the sound an elk makes except me. I am disappointed in myself for not knowing the calls of antlered mammals but I guess you can’t know everything. Hopefully this disappointment will ebb.

Update on the update: It has not ebbed.

Rotting never looked so good.

Wednesday, October 30th, 2019

We’ll get into the title topic but first: I went to the new ‘n’ improved MoMA! They got the building next door and expanded into that new space. It is a very big museum now. My friend G is a member and got me in for $5 so it was well worth my time. We went through all the new stuff (they have structures covered in bells that I thought were great) and we went through the older, most established collection (Picasso, Monet, Van Gogh, etc.) That’s where I saw the cat.

That cat is so very special. It reminded me of the naive style of Rousseau.

Untrained, simple, clean. Not a great grasp of three-dimensional space. That was when I noticed a detail of the cat painting.

That is a perfectly rendered lion sculpture. Exact proportions. The light hits exactly where it’s supposed to. Which means the artist could have painted a nice normal cat but chose to make this janky-ass busted cat-thing with no back legs and eyes that look right through your torso laying on a really disorganized couch. I have questions for this artist. Several questions.

Okay, back to the title. I love love love when artists take aspects of life we as a culture consider ugly and make it beautiful. That’s where Kathleen Ryan comes in. You remember those foam fruit impaled with sequins on your grandma’s table? It was a very popular look in the 1960s.

Kathleen Ryan makes larger-than-life fruit and covers the surface with semi-precious stones and steel pins to mimic mold and the natural process of the fruit breaking down. It is stunning work. Her style and where she chooses to place the stones and shells and pearls are so creative.

There’s a video of how Kathleen works. It loops. I might have watched it four times in a row.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B2ekksLBx-2/

I would like to steal this idea and make something similar. I have many beads I don’t know what to do with, I inherited them or someone gave them to me, this would be a terrific way to use them up.

Broadway.

Sunday, September 22nd, 2019

I don’t often go to the theater because it’s absurdly expensive (about $100++ a ticket) and the audience is filled with people. I don’t know if you know this but people as a whole are really badly behaved. They fool around on their phones. They forget to turn off the ringer even after being reminded 72 times. They unwrap crinkly plastic wrappers on candy for what seems to be forty-five minutes. I read this nugget this morning that chilled me to the bone.

Horrifying. So I tend to stay home. But sometimes I forget, decide to go out there, brave the masses and absorb culture straight from the source. I saw the play referenced above, Betrayal. It was really well done. I had never seen Pinter’s work before. The show was nice and brisk, 90 minutes with no intermission. It was dry and British and a solid classic play. Tom Hiddleston was great but I though Charlie Cox (Daredevil on Netflix) was such a terrific actor he made the other two look subpar. That man is talented as hell. As soon as the audience stopped clapping at the end I booked it out of there with great haste. I did not want to get enmeshed in the hordes of women vibrating with desire outside the stage door. There was so, so many of them.

On Wednesdays Broadway shows have a matinee at 2:00 and another show at 7:00 or 8:00 so I made the choice to double-punch my theater experience. I got a ticket for Dear Evan Hansen (musical) at 2:00 and To Kill A Mockingbird (play) at 7:00. Even though Dear Evan Hansen came out a few years back I have done an excellent job of learning as little as possible about it. I knew one song in its entirety and a chunk of one other and that’s it. I had a rough idea of the plot but nothing concrete. So there was many components that I did not anticipate. Hooooo, that show gutted me like a fish. It’s about social anxiety and feeling alone and high school which exacerbates the social anxiety and isolation because in case you forget high school is straight-up the worst. It incorporates social media because things are different now, everybody can know everything in zero seconds and once it’s out there it’s out there forever. I’m going to try to tell you the smallest amount while explaining my experience so if you go to see the show it’s not spoiled too much for you. The show started, set up the characters (it feels like more but there’s only eight actors total) and the first song kicked in. It was fine, it felt pretty standard, I was whelmed. I settled in for an adequate time. And then song #2 happened and I was like, “Oh no, this is going to be a ride, I can tell.” I made it all the way into Act II after the intermission before I teared up. I made almost all the way to the end before the choking crying started. It gave me great comfort to hear all the sniffling and gulping around me, we were feeling all the feels. After the show ended I stood up, exited my row and did some deep breathing in the hallway. I would highly recommend this musical. The role of Evan Hansen is exceptionally difficult to perform and it’s worth seeing the show to see the actor portray the role. It’s tough but it’s worth it. Try to see a matinee (Wednesdays and Saturdays) so when you exit you aren’t walking out into nighttime and then promptly going home and going to sleep. You need some time to digest. Here’s a video of the original cast which basically gives you the identical amount of information I just did, so not major plot points, only the basics.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OCqoj1Y4PiQ

After eating a pastrami sandwich moistened with my tears I walked about 40 feet to the other theater where To Kill A Mockingbird was playing (the Broadway theaters are very close to each other). That show was great. I loved the book when I read it in school and I think this production did a stellar job of capturing those emotions. The three lead kids were played by adults and I didn’t think I could get past that but they were effective at portraying children and I didn’t notice after a while. Aside from the horrendous racism, and there is plenty, there are some funny moments. It’s a wonderful example that no feeling is isolated, there’s always some grief and some humor and some anger all mixed in together. The scenery moves a bit too much but other than that, big fan. Also highly recommend.

NYC stuff.

Monday, September 16th, 2019

A few select items:

1. I walked past a deli specializing in pickles and this sign was in the window.

I will now start wishing people “May The Lord of Pickles smile upon your crocks.” You don’t even have to like pickles and it still feels good to say. Bonus: Don’t tell people what you’re referencing. Just hit ’em with the good wishes, include a sweeping arm gesture and walk away. Leave ’em blessed and confused.

2. Moomins and I finally went to the Whitney Museum in the meatpacking district of New York (more on that later) and in the process we went to Chinatown to the restaurant where my father proposed to my mother, Hop Kee. The ambience is not great, think really clean 1980s office bathroom, tile and florescent lighting for days. The food is amazing though. While Moomins was attacking a steamed fish like Jack the Ripper I looked behind her head and saw a sign that tells a thousand stories.

“If ONE MORE PERSON asks me where the G****MNED BATHROOM IS I will straight up throw a piece of crockery at them. Try me. TRY. ME.”

3. Now on of the big elements of New York activity. The Moomins and I have been meaning to go to what used to be the new Whitney Museum (we put it off so long that it’s now just the Whitney). I struggle with modern art. Some of it is good, some of it is bad and all that’s fine but then some of it is straight smoke and mirrors and I am 100% done with that. I thought I would make it into the actual exhibition space before I started fuming but I was wrong. While Moomins was sorting out the ticket situation I ambled into the gift shop and started perusing the usual niceties – big coffee table books, scarves, umbrellas, etc. In a table case there was some pleasant enough jewelry and whatnot… And then I saw it. It was a not particularly well-made two hump porcelain candle holder, one hump per candle. Since there were two of them on display I could see they were made from a mold. Next to the candle holders were some basic white candles. All of this is fine. The comment next to it was you would buy this candle holder and you would get ten candles that come with it. And when you burn the candles you become part of the artwork because each one is unique. And it was selling for $900. Yeah okay here’s the thing: That’s how all candles work. You burn them, they drip all over and there’s your unique sculpture. And I would have understood this for $50. But $900? With the two zeros and everything?

Point is I checked my umbrella into coat check in a rage. I ended up being really impressed with the museum’s collection. It’s an enormous collection of American artists, predominantly painters. What I liked was each painting was made in a cross-section of time and place, x and y axis, and you get a sense of what America was like at that time. There was a portrait done of a Communist leader when this country was close to becoming Communist and in addition to the portrait itself you can see the painting style that was emerging at that time, the colors of the clothes, the tablecloth, etc. There were some paintings done in shortly before the Great Depression of the Ford factory that were like the calm before the storm (the storm being the epic unemployment to come). tt was done in a style I was unfamiliar with called Precisionism where lines are put in specific areas that span across the painting and give it the impression of a clean stained glass window. It’s like the opposite of Impressionism. Where Impressionism is soft and ethereal, Precisionism is crisp lines everywhere. Not a loose stroke to be had. The most famous piece in that style is this:

So I have no regrets in regards to the classic collection. Then there was the moderny modern section. Many years ago I had the experience where on my college campus they got sculptural elements and put all over in random spots (in front of the library, in the courtyard near the humanities building, etc.). One day I was walking past the student apartments where I saw a massive pile of wood and fabric so I did a circle around it to see if there was a placard about the artist who made it. It was at that time I realized it was a pile of garbage. It was a moment of clarity for me. “If the art is indistinguishable from trash, it’s trash.” I’ve now expanded that to “If a cleaning lady comes into the gallery and mistakes your art for trash and throws it away, it’s trash.” I’ll give you some examples.

These were very large hollow plastic shapes. They looked like enormous chrysalises, the casings that caterpillars make to turn into butterflies. Did I fully understand? Not really. Could I clearly tell this was art? Yes I could.

And then there was this.

What is that, tape and floor tile and wood or something? Yeah, that’s not gonna make the cut.

Pass…

…Fail.

I went outside because I needed a breath of fresh air and the topper on the cake was the sculpture that greeted me. When I was in Vienna last winter I was in a museum that had a whole gallery devoted to a plaster cast of a woman tweezing her mustache with a shard of broken glass and farting frankincense. I wish I was kidding. Here’s the post, complete with pictures. I thought that that chapter of my life was done. I was wrong. I wasn’t really sure what this sculpture was and I didn’t look at it for very long. There’s a figure on a dolly being pushed or pulled or something like an ox and then the smoke kicked on.

Are those Mets socks? I imagine I made several art patrons uncomfortable when I semi-yelled, “Is it POSSIBLE for me to not see any more things with smoke coming out of the butthole??? Is THAT something I can opt for???” With context that is an extremely concerning statement so I understand the people that carefully moved away from me. I stared at the skyline which was very nice until I collected myself and then calmly took the elevator down to the ground floor to wait for The Moomins. I would encourage you to visit the Whitney Museum because the permanent collection is excellent. And the space is great. And the views are also great. And the restaurant looked pretty good. May The Lord of Pickles smile upon your crocks and may you not encounter any vaping anuses. I wish that for each and every one of you.

New Orleans. I knew I’d get to it eventually.

Thursday, August 8th, 2019

In February (yeah I’m aware it’s August, hush your judgmental self) I went to New Orleans to take a surface beading class where I did precisely no surface beading whatsoever. It’s where I worked on St. George. Snorth and her husband Speeb and I made a trip of it. While the class was only three days we went there for five because it’s important to see as much as possible. New Orleans continues to be one of my favorite destinations in America. I have a list.

– They have no snow. That means no slippy slidey slushy sadness. Yes, it’s oppressively hot and muggy but you know what I’m not going to do in that muggery? Get betrayed by physics and gravity and have my feet shoot out from under me, potentially damaging my body and definitely damaging my mental state. Ain’t nobody need that.

– You like making props and costumes? All year. They do it all year. There’s not only Mardi Gras, there’s also some big party at Halloween. People makes bikes with critters on them (more on that later). They make carts with musical instruments and all manner of flashing blinking whatnot and roll it around the neighborhoods for no reason. When Snorth and I went to the major float provider I found out they do sets for shows and brands and really anyone who needs something, not only Mardi Gras. They’re busy all year round. I asked what it takes to work there and I seriously considered quitting my job and going down there to live my best life but decided against it because it’s wildly reckless and very unrealistic. But I’m still thinking about it. Secretly. In the back of my mind.

– The people. The people there love their ugly folk. I don’t mean it’s a city entirely comprised of trolls and sewer-dwellers. It’s that in New York there’s a ton of high fashion and models and that’s valued and important. Chanel and Versace and Prada and Fashion Week. In New Orleans there’s no Prada and there’s no supermodels. Regular people leading regular lives. Wearing what they want. All the beautiful people I saw weren’t being pretentious, they were dressed in super-cool clothes and clearly unconcerned with people’s perception of them. It seems that your story-telling or music or art you make is more valuable than your appearance. Appearance still matters in New Orleans, it’s just not the top of the list. Quite the breath of fresh air.

I’ve been to New Orleans before and blogged about it (see here) so I’m going to do a very truncated version.

The class was offered in the Mardi Gras Museum of Costumes and Culture and I learned quite a bit. For example it is not uncommon for someone participating in the parade to wear elements of their career in their costume. The woman wearing this was a nurse, hence the syringe and the stethoscope and the caduceus.

 

The museum had the nutria bike I’d seen previously, I was super-psyched to meet it in person as you can imagine. His name is Napoleon and his whiskers are zip ties.

Some of the other notable items in the museum: The Erté dress with the dog made from a lawn holiday decoration of a reindeer on wheels.

There was the mannequin with a large, concerning lump on his neck.

There was a beaded patch that caught my eye. Often these beaded elements are roughly sketched out and the creators are more concerned with conveying a message than intricate technique. This patch is a portrait and it is a very good representation of Big Freedia. Big Freedia is called the Queen of Bounce which is a style of dance music that I have difficulty listening to. But I find Big Freedia a delightful person and I love her fashion choices. She’s a killer and she works hard.

In the back was a metal skirt that women wear at giant balls and parties. The rings hold champagne glasses and the wearer glides around the floor where you can pick up champagne from her.

That was fine. What was NOT fine was what was perched on top of one of those skirts. I walked to the back of the museum only to be confronted by the most nightmarish thing ever: a papier-maché crawfish (an already rough-lookin’ critter) but gigantor and falling apart. It was broad daylight in a well-lit room and I still shrieked like it had snuck up on me. Look at the skirt for scale.

Huge. In my face. Nightmares. Greeting me. Every morning.

During the class we got meet one of the premier beaders of New Orleans, Demond Melancon. He went from being a dishwasher in local hotels to having his work shown in museums and sold in galleries. Demond makes crazy complex costumes which are used for battling. Instead of battling with knives and guns, two people wearing these kinds of costumes go up to each other and display off the stories they have been working on for that year. There are all those layers so when you think you’ve seen it all the wearer pulls a panel away and paplow! Another panel. You slide an arm flap and there’s a whole different section you hadn’t noticed. If you know how heavy glass beads are you can only imagine how heavy this whole ensemble is. I think showing dominance over others in non-violent ways and using talent and storytelling skills is awesome so keep it up, everyone. One of my favorite things is the beaders brag about how small the beads they use are. The smaller the beads, the more detail, the more time invested, the more skill. The higher the number the smaller the bead. So while everybody else is using 6s and 8s, Demond is out there yelling “10s and 11s! You hear me? 10s and 11s!” Every so often I’ll talk to Snorth and I’ll say, “10s and 11s! Look at it! 10s and 11s!”

We went to Demond’s studio which is a large artist’s collective in a big warehouse. Outside his door is the studio of the people who made Napoleon the Nutria bike. I got very excited.

Since Demond (and his wife, the unsung hero of his success, she needs accolades for her work) do such large projects there’s an ingenious solution to get beading done on such a large scale. They get old dining room tables, take the tops off and staple-gun the thick cotton or linen to the table edges. That way they can draw with markers on this taut surface and see underneath when they’re beading. They had a table off to the side with only the marker drawing on it.

Here’s a video where you can see his studio and some of his work.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jrG8xgZCwTo

Snorth and I went back to my happy place which was Mardi Gras World where the floats are made. I’ve already covered this place (glorious bliss heaven) but there were some cool new things I thought I’d address.

Look at this excellent painting job! These coins are really great.

I’m glad someone is repairing the giant snail. The snail deserves only the best.

In order to cut down on foam carving time for non-Mardi Gras-related items (like a recent project the Chik-Fil-A cow) they have a computerized carving machine. It’s huge, it takes up a whole room. Which is why most people might not notice the Buddha off in the corner with the DJ Deadmaus’ signature head on it. But I did. I noticed.

They had the usual pile of randomness. Some I took because of the incongruity of one piece next to another. Some I took because of the excellent painting or carving. Some because their expression is hilarious.

Two other New Orleans sights that I want to address – the shoes I would have killed for at 10 years old (wouldn’t mind them now either):

And the Squirrel Carousel. It lit up. It spun. I wanted it. It was $4000. I did not buy it. I have regrets.

I have seen things, virtual things.

Thursday, July 11th, 2019

1. Are you aware of this? So cool.

https://l-ile-des-confidences.tumblr.com/post/177811016113/erdal-enci-who-clones-multiple-recordings-of

 

2. This is the best art. I want to live in this place more than anything. I ache to rest my tired body in a giant cat, or a fox, or a bunny in an ice cave covered with orb-shaped blue birds. Make sure you click on Page 2 to see all of them.

https://ruinedchildhood.com/post/185958521684/illustrator-imagines-a-world-where-gentle-giant

 

3. Was this a necessity? Did the world crave this to the point it needed to be made? It’s very… specific.

4. This animation is stellar. The rotoscoping* of Cab Calloway as a ghost is particularly great.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bFBx3qYGxL8

 

*To rotoscope is to trace a live action film frame by frame to create an animation precise to actual movements and forms. A well-known example is the “Take On Me” video.

 

5. In the process of looking for A-Ha gifs I found this (make sure your sound is on):

https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=503281129866329

Which led me to this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zv02k3blZZw

Which led me to THIS (which really has very little to do with the other two but is too great not to share):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iDXIa8ivFEc

Now I’m following @Ghetto.Spider on Instagram. I may watch this video ten times in a row for I snort-laugh every time I see it. I want to be in that parking lot so bad.

https://www.instagram.com/p/ByYaNEhh-Np/