We were so fortunate to experience the NW with two weeks (Aug. 8th-22nd) of gorgeous weather and rain only happening at night. So many flowers were in bloom still and I was able to identify online, all of them but one. I met up with the Rycheners in Seattle, had a day there, we flew to Anchorage, rented an RV and rolled around Alaska. I went back to Washington to meet up with my dad for camping and the art opening where my latest studio work was being shown.
Sunset from the plane
Gray clouds close over
Orange sliver in the west
Like sleepy eyelids
Seagulls and a bald eagle. Sourdough bread and chowder sampler bread at Duke’s – seafood, clam, and lobster. A-Frame duplex covered in vibrant flowers. Monkey Puzzle Tree. Barnacle and black seaweed covered steps. Massive freight barge, heavy with train cars, floats slowly down the Puget Sound. Maple’s red seedpods. Salty air.
Museum of Pop Culture
I think this is going to be a museum about Jimi Hendrix. It definitely looks trippy on the outside. The music playing in the lobby is standard auto-tuned pop of the 2010’s. Nothing calls to me visually or sonically. We are pressed for time anyways, so $30 a ticket isn’t a price we are willing to pay to explore and see if anything else of interest is beyond the entryway.
Pike’s Place Market
Creamy yellow Golden Trout with pink lips and middle stripe; Three and a half to four ft. long chrome King Salmon; Two inch round, two ft. long king crab legs on ice; Bouquets galore – white lilies with lavender edging, silver painted branches, poppy seedpods, dahlias
snowy mountain tops
melting into river trails
heading into bays
Glenn Hwy. overpass overlooking pale ice blue stream frothing on the edges; Spruce broom rust in the tree tops kept tricking me into thinking there was a baby bear up there; After watching the roadside for hours, in hopes of spotting an animal, I say, “It’s time to see a moose! That’s my declaration.” A few minutes later, while getting something out of my backpack, Todd yells, “A moose!” By the time I jump over to the window, it is already far in the distance. All I can see through the screen obscuring my view is a flash of a fuzzy moose and horns silhouette. Rocks arranged on bare dirt hillsides with names and animal shapes. We stay the night at a small RV park next to a glacial mountainside. I realize a glacier and iceberg are not the same thing. The cliffs across the street are speckled white in a couple of places. Through binoculars we can see they are dall sheep.
We stop in a small town named Nenana. We take our photos under an “Alaska” sign / photo booth on the side of the street. Wander around looking at the buildings and I spot a second bald eagle suddenly flying above me. My lens isn’t long enough to capture a great shot of it, but cool anyways. We stop in for lunch at a quaint little restaurant for lunch and the waitress offers us a zucchini from her garden, which lasts us several meals because as I mentioned, it was Alaska-sized! On the way out the door, we notice a book with names and dates next to it. I had just read American Gods, so between Mr. Rychener’s comments and that, I remember it is guesses of when the ice on a nearby body of water will melt after wintertime. Like in the book, something heavy is probably sitting on it that can fall in to prove the date. The winning guess gets a cash prize.
Tanana River whirlpools
To see a video of these strange river vortexes, visit: https://vimeo.com/236171268
We hear strange insect / birdlike sounds from the trees then realize it was these tiny red squirrels: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFQKzsz1j7s Two tasty local beers: Kodiak Brown Ale with ballistic Grizzly Bear on the can + Moose Drool light ale. Long-lasting jewel toned sunset. Pattering of drizzle on leaves sounds like a rain stick.
Surprise “use-at-your-own-risk” canoes; “Snowball flowers” (Cotton sedge grass); Boggy, mosquito ridden landscape. Deliciously mild low bush cranberries for days. I can’t get enough of them.; We see some birds fly in and out of the trees. Mr. and Mrs. Rychener say they are gray jays, but I don’t get a good look. ; Fisherman’s catch of silver with purple striped trout
Reindeer (caribou) dogs roasted over an open fire; Misty morning on Moon Lake; Raven honking on top of a tree sounded like geese
On the road near Eielson AFB
Cliff side’s jagged edges make easy climbing ledges for spray painting who loves who and favorite sports teams. A pipeline, suspended up high, stretched alongside the pavement. Trance inducing, the trees go on and on…
Flocks of Canadian Geese fly over the RV park; In hope of bread, ducks swim towards a girl and her brother fishing in the pond. A young one gets entangled in the fishing line. The boy goes for scissors while Todd helps unstring its wing. My good buddy / neighbor / coworker on Jeju Island, S. Korea, Dave picks us up and takes us to local hangout, The Golden Eagle Saloon, for a mini party with him and a musician friend, Isaac, who I also knew on the island.
Afterwards, we pick up some of his fellow Shakespearean actors living in an artists’ camp in a birch forest. They are both from Wisconsin, where I was born, and one happened to be from the graduating high school class of my dad! Those trees are known to be home to flying squirrels. A prop rests at the base of the trees – a wooden cutout of a ship with a red wig hanging over the bow.
Dave drives us out about an hour away under a lovely sunset. We carefully watch for moose while singing 70’s and 80’s rock songs or listening to jazz and electronic music playing on the radio. Finally we arrive at Chena Hot Springs. I can’t say enough good things about the place. I would go there every day if I could. The springs are enclosed in boulders that you can stretch, sit, or climb on. There is a fountain you can sit under. A strong sprayer to pound your shoulders with. The water ranges from warm to as hot as it can get before scalding you. We would have stayed much longer had they not been closing for the night.
The next morning, another dear friend I met in S.Korea, Carey, picked me up and then we swung around to get Dave for breakfast at The Oasis. Crab meat eggs benedict and good company. If you ever need some good reading about Alaska before your trip, visit the site Carey writes for, http://www.onlyinyourstate.com/
On the road again
Abandoned four-story, igloo shaped hotel. Beverage business yard sign announcing, “Yes. We have Red Bull smoothies!” *BLECH* Yellow and blue painted metal sign for True Value Hardware on A-frame cabin with wooden sun and rays above its garage door and windows. There are stops along the way where we have to sit for about ten minutes as construction is underway. A stout little native woman holds a sign up in the road reminding us to stop, then eventually gets into a “pilot car” pickup truck and leads us out of the maintenance area.
Denali National Park and Preserve
Our first night is spent in an RV spot in the preserve. The next morning, while hiking along Savage Creek, we hear a sharp squeaking sound, almost like a dog toy, but can’t find its source. Camouflaged with the rocks are these little chinchilla looking rodents, which someone correctly guess it is a pika. Pika facts: In order to warn its neighbors under the rocks, pika scouts looking out from above will give off a sharp squeaking sound when predators, including humans are nearby. It’s a prairie dog! No, it’s a ground hog! No, it’s an Arctic ground squirrel. This large rodent is digging away and pulling out plant roots, chewing them up like pretzel sticks.
Pretty river flow: https://vimeo.com/236217656
The next night we stay outside of the preserve, but near Denali, at an RV park called the Grizzly Bear. Just before sundown, we walk to the river access across the highway…
In the resort next to the river, we hear from a gift shop cashier that she saw a mother moose and calf around 9:30PM. We decide to take a night drive in hopes of having the same luck. I spot a young one cross the road so Todd stops the RV to watch. Several other cars stop as well. People are getting out and taking photos, but we can’t see from where we are so we get out too. We move into a fairly close vantage point but with plenty of shrubbery between us and the mother moose there. We are growing uncomfortable though because one of the people is clearly getting too close and making the cow nervous. We tell her so, but she didn’t seem to either understand or care. A tour bus driver tells us that we should back away, so we leave.
Moose (and willow) facts: Although moose are in the deer family they are given bovine names (bull, cow, and calf). People who use all of the parts of a dead moose use the brain to tan its hides. Females have 24 hrs. to breed. If male smells the mating hormone, he will slowly approach female and rest his head on her rump. If she is receptive, they will proceed.
Several types of willow, which contains vitamin c and the pain relieving acid used in aspirin, grow in Alaska, but I never saw a weeping willow. Most likely because many animals, including the moose, like to eat it in abundance, so it never gets a chance to grow large. They eat 7-10 times a day because they require 50-60 lbs. of food per day. In order to be able to recover from the feasting, part of the year willow puts out a chemical that animals cannot digest. That is when they begin eating other things.
A dewlap is a flap of skin under the chin of a moose. Experts are uncertain what the purpose is, but our shuttle driver, Bard makes us laugh when he says, “Let’s get our dewlap pierced!” Bard said that more deaths happen per year by female moose attacks than by any other cause. Be careful not to get too close, especially to a baby moose because it’s mother is nearby. According to my dad, if their ears go back, they are likely to charge you.
Horseshoe Lake, a gorgeous emerald body of water in a valley. Although we haven’t had luck spotting a moose, we discover moose tracks. There are impressively cut beaver dams and gnawed fallen trees. Female mallards and ducklings splash about and fish. We see a lone fish that Todd recognizes as a Arctic grayling because of its large dorsal fin. We stop to take a photo together against the lush colors and a gray jay lands on a tree near where we are sitting, so we get a good look at it. It’s really cute!
This video shows a creek full of of sediment from melted glaciers. It is uninhabitable by fish or amphibians: https://vimeo.com/236218216
We visit a sled dog kennel where the dogs are so mellow I wonder if they are sedated. When it comes time to put on a show for us though, they go wild – barking and jumping in hopes they will be the ones picked to perform and get treats. The canines are still used to run sleds up to high parts of the mountains that are inaccessible to vehicles, but where park staff are stationed.
To see the show, visit: https://vimeo.com/236217730
6,000,000 acres; Denali Mountain means “the high, big, or great one” in Athabascan. It was named Mount McKinley because a Republican explorer and gold prospector wanted to celebrate the presidential nomination of William McKinley, who had never even been to the state. President Obama officially renamed the mountain in efforts to restore respect back to Native Americans. It was too cloudy to get a glimpse of its peak while we are there because it is the tallest one in North America, so this opportunity is rare. We see so many other gorgeous ranges on our shuttle tour though such as the impressive Sable Pass, Polychrome Mountains, Geode Mountain, and Eielson. When I try to pick up one moose horn at one of the stops I can’t. I start cracking up over how heavy it is. Needless to say, they are massive animals.
Other things we see on the shuttle are: homosapiens in brightly colored rain gear; low level strips of water weaving around the riverbed is called a braided river; random ring of red leaved plants on a hillside; male moose bones scattered in a field from wolf pack attack, and a weird “fairy portal” made of birch in the middle of a field. Shuttle bus stops for us to see a few willow ptarmigan, the state bird of Alaska. They are ground birds from the grouse family and are hunted as a food source by humans. The consensus online is that they taste like quail and/or chicken. Despite all the bear activity warning signs at the trail heads, luckily we never see one close up on our walks. Fortunately, we see several from a distance. There is a grizzly that appears to be frolicking, but we are told it is injured. Blond grizzly mamas and cub twins foraging for berries on the hillsides. When salmon season is over, they change their food source. It’s hard to imagine they can get enough berries for those big bodies. A lone female moose far in the distance. Caribou (reindeer), which I am uncertain as to the sex of because both females and males grow antlers.
Mice with a red stripe down back running around the park’s Wilderness and Visitor Centers. One hangs out under a hanging planter, as it’s being watered by someone on a ladder, so it can lap up the liquid draining onto the ground below. They scurry too fast for me to catch a photo and I can’t find one on the internet.
Driving back towards Anchorage
Vegetables get enormous because there is so many hours of sunlight. Supposedly it went down completely at 3 AM and rose again at 4 AM. A zucchini about 18″ long and 5″ wide on the bottom end is sitting on the counter of The Flying Squirrel Bakery Cafe, Talkeenta, AK. They offer birch syrup drinks, but I really just want a sample of it so I know what it tastes like. The lady behind the counter gives me a couple of drops in a spoon. It tastes almost like molasses, but not as heavy. We enjoy a delicious smoked salmon bagel sandwich. The trees surrounding the place are draped in a soft green moss that I haven’t seen anywhere else we’ve traveled to. In the woodland trail I spy a dark-eyed junco (slate colored subspecies).
We stop because Barbara sees a trumpeter swan couple in a pond. In the next RV park, Montana Creek, we park in for the evening, we go for a walk by a creek and see a school of fish close to the opposite shore, probably salmon, appearing to swim in place. They are most likely laying eggs in the rocks. A large, dying one is swimming alone on the shore we are standing on. Seagulls fly overhead. I occasionally hear one swoop down to try and pick one up or hear a fish jump. Todd and his dad part ways with me to eat, while I obsess over lovely lichen patches with my close-up filter while talking and singing aloud to invisible bears that could walk up at any time, especially if they smell fish. Lichen are not plants, but a symbiotic relationship between algae and fungi. They absorb minerals from the rocks, trees, and bones they attach to and create soil by expediting the decay of those hard surfaces. Some varieties are then eaten for their mineral and protein content by moose and caribou.
I traverse through most of the woods there and stumble across a tunnel window. Just after taking a picture, I small man, with a strong resemblance to a leprechaun in his plaid paddy cap, white hair and beard walks into the passageway, carrying a bundle under his arm, grumbling fiercely to himself. I scramble up the hill to the train tracks because a petite woman alone in the wilderness should be especially cautious. Todd said he was probably grumbling because there wasn’t enough gold under the rainbow. Later I see him in an RV near ours. He no longer sports a sweatshirt, but a long sleeved tee with suspenders. I see that he is Asian and his beard was merely speckled with white, but the darkness of the tunnel must have only allowed that to show through.
A wild berries of Alaska poster at one of the trail heads helped us recognize the abundant high bush cranberries there. We sampled some. One was too tart, one was awfully overripe, one was just right. Still, I preferred the low bush type that we had a few days before.
Musk ox farm in Palmer, AK. They are raised here in order to harvest the down under their hair. This ultra-soft fiber, qiviut (KIV-ee-OOT), is warmer and softer than sheep’s wool. When these animals are grown, they looked like giant long-haired guinea pigs (with horns). Highly durable and waterproof scarves and other items are made from qiviut. Just a shake will dispel all the water even from a rain soaked garment! Their astounding spiral nasal cavities allow the air to warm up before reaching their lungs, so that they can endure -80 degrees fahrenheit! Obviously, qiviut has helped them survive those temps too. Oomingmak, as the animals are known to native peoples of the area, have been around as long as the woolly mammoth and fossils of them have been seen as far south as Florida. If have ever been a fan of the Cocteau Twins, here is a lovely song, named after these sweet animals: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CSKO2vDTfq4
has a bar called the Sleeping Lady where an art exhibit featuring work by living artists from Northwestern Native American tribes.
Snoqualmie National Forest, Washington, Denny Creek Campground
Dad picks me up after dark from the airport. He’s smaller than I remember. He says I am too. He says he shrank by two inches after he had spinal surgery. I don’t remember the conversation now, but I remember his is in a great mood and being funny. We haven’t seen each other in four years. I haven’t been to Washington in seven. We arrive in the forest after dark, but I can still see the massive trees. The sky is clear so I can finally see the stars! I don’t have a tripod with me, so I rest my camera on the ground supported by a flashlight.
In the morning, we eat sage sausage that he has made with fresh eggs. I take a walk by the creek (Denny) flowing through the park. It’s the prettiest creek I’ve ever seen. There are clear running waterfalls and pools along the trail. I become so engrossed there that I hardly even wander far from camp, but am gone for hours.
When I return Dad shows me his walking stick that he has hung feathers of Stellar’s Jay, woodpecker, and crow. He shows me a bone that is used to make an arrow shaft from a small tree branch. There are many robins but the light is too dim and they are moving too quickly for me to get a good shot. I did manage to get one of a hairy woodpecker. At night we make a campfire and act silly.
The next day we have breakfast, then head over to Columbia City neighborhood in Seattle, when I am participating in an art exhibit. To see images from that show, visit my other blog post: https://haikuflash.wordpress.com/2017/09/06/su-casa-es-mi-casa
My friend in Alaska, Dave, tells me to go to a diner in North Bend because it’s the one everyone hangs out at in the surreal murder mystery series Twin Peaks. We just happen to be staying 20 minutes from there, so plan to head over for breakfast, pie, and coffee. I have been watching Twin Peaks: The Return every Sunday, so am excited to be in one of the three-dimensional locations I have seen on the two-dimensional screen. We are greeted by a flashing open sign with a blue neon mug and red marquee lights above it representing steam rising from its hot liquid. I’m pretty sure it was in one of the episodes.
The props and memorabilia sprinkled throughout the place definitely lend to the feeling that the show is superimposed on top of the charming diner. I can see close up, the panoramic landscape painted in a strip along the entire wood paneled wall. My cup is emblazoned with the logo for Twede’s Cafe along with their slogan “The Home of Twin Peaks Cherry Pie and ‘A Damn Fine Cup of Coffee’.” A rectangular wooden sign with letters carved out and painted white: TWIN PEAKS Population 51, 201, sits on top of the pie case. A man, appearing to be the manager, sports a t-shirt with a Twin Peaks Sheriff Department decal on the back. To top it off, as we are leaving, we see an FBI Agent smoking out back with one of the waiters as a sun dog glows above us, just like in the intro scene of every Twin Peaks: The Return episode. In fact, that entire fictitious town, invented by David Lynch and Mark Frost, is situated in that area, including other regular scenes depicted in the show, the Snoqualmie Falls (named for a branch of the Salish tribe) and “Crying Man” mountain, Mount Si.
To see this gorgeous misty waterfall in action, visit: https://vimeo.com/236171694
After brunch and a walk to the aforementioned falls, we go hiking up to Franklin Falls, which feeds the creek running through our camp, Denny Creek. On the way up, we see many small trees growing from hollowed out dead tree trunks that have filled with dirt; cozy cabins; a tree trunk remnant that serves as a rocking bench, which I enjoy with a random little girl on the trail; a tree base that looks like a giant spring onion; and tiny black squirrels. It’s a sunny day, so at the apex we see many rainbows in its mist. The water is cool and fresh. Dad finds an arrowhead along the rocky shore. We see a young guy climbing the cliff side really fast like he is a billy goat. We walk off our Twede’s, so have room for grilled steak, compliments of dad’s friend who owns cattle and uses no hormones or antibiotics. Needless to say it was super flavorful and fresh.
The next morning, we are considering going into the city to meet with the Rychener’s to view the eclipse, but are worried about the traffic, which has been insane the past couple of days. Instead we drive out to the highway near the campground where we have a clear view of the sun. The peak of the eclipse is supposed to be at 10:20, but it is still pretty bright outside, which I am not expecting because I had already seen one in the 80’s that was much larger (lower in the sky because it was evening time) and probably closer to totality because it got much darker. It did cool down noticeably though. I try to capture a shot at 1/8000th of a second, ISO 100, and f32, but my lens isn’t very long and when I review the image, it doesn’t look like much…until I see it on my monitor! So pretty! Very different than the cell phone pix I take, which only show a tiny trace image of a crescent sun shape off to the side.
We enjoy lunch and a pint at my favorite Irish restaurant, Kell’s. They have the best soda bread and so many delicious seafood choices. It’s right on the wharf, so we stroll over to the aquarium, which was closing soon and cost too much for the amount of time we would have in there. Still, we get a good view of the water, boats, and gulls. We have some time to kill before heading to the airport, so we make our way to the Discovery Park lighthouse, West Point Light. The park is non-existent without getting a special permit first, so dad drops us off and comes back to get us later. The nostalgic looking building has been renovated and has been automated since 1985.
I don’t want to leave the wilderness to return to Austin traffic and heat, but I know that the bitter cold will catch up with the Northwest shortly after we leave. Luckily for them, they get the Northern Lights as consolation. We are too early to catch any. It isn’t dark enough. I hope to go back another time for their electric show and go to Valdez too, which is highly recommended by several people.
To see more photos from this trip, visit: https://haikuflash.photoshelter.com/gallery/Alaska/G0000nLeUEupIxYA/C0000wXadIR1Yr_g AND https://haikuflash.photoshelter.com/gallery/Washington-State/G0000lWJERtcV3d4/C0000wXadIR1Yr_g
Some shots from the juried exhibit, Gimme Shelter, at Columbia City Gallery in Seattle, where I am showing my project, Su Casa es Mi Casa (video and building cards). According to the gallery’s website, Gimme Shelter “speaks to the many types of dislocation happening in society today both locally and internationally. Artists working in 2D, 3D and video address issues of homelessness, gentrification and refugee dislocation.”
My project focuses on twelve meandering months of sacrificing stability to focus on art by completing an MFA, showing work abroad, having difficulty trying to find employment during school and after graduation, and thus also trying to find a long term residence, especially where rising rent costs are prohibitive. Here, 26 surfaces slept in during that time are the focal point. Some while house sitting, dog sitting, renting cheap rooms briefly, or visiting far away friends.
The images are rendered in impermanent media in a style touching on the vulnerability and fragility of a dollhouse, yet in some cases are also reminiscent of an interior blueprint. They are primarily recollections from memory vs. photographic representations. Therefore, the room renderings are wrought with inaccuracies and omissions. Words are imperceptible in the disorienting layered monologue which ponders the meaning of “home” for someone who has accepted nomadism and expansion through travel and creativity over domesticity, yet longs for a place to settle down. The disquieting incompleteness and constant change provides comfort through spaciousness and balances the alternative by thwarting staleness. On the other hand, constant movement is contrary to the stillness needed to support long term goals. Therefore, balance must be found between the two, just as it is required to build a house of cards. The concentration, energy, and persistence needed to succeed during this period of transition is apparent in the tension of the monologue and motion of the builder and camera operators, Stephanie Reid and Todd Rychener.
Camera operation: Stephanie Reid and Todd Rychener
Illustrations, Direction, and Editing by Stephanie Reid
Detailed images of the cards: http://haikuflash.photoshelter.com/gallery/Su-Casa-es-Mi-Casa/G0000UW0W15mhFLE/C0000nFrmMwTH.y4
Stills from a handmade book, Creatures in the Moon, that I made in collaboration with Todd Rychener to be sent to Telavi State University (Republic of Georgia) as a gift for their library. Book artist / educator, Miriam Schaer, will be delivering the books in person during her Fulbright awarded trip to teach and research felt and embroidery in art book making. Todd and I illustrated our book with colored pencils, gel pens, paint pigment, and gouache. The story is the third in a series of book films I am currently working on.
In between larger, complex projects, I do simple ones like this little series of photos, Winter Shadows (a follow up to my Autumn Shadows series from 2015) in collaboration with another Austin artist, Todd Rychener, for the Weather show at Lower Level Creative Space in Denver with colleagues Lindey Anderson from Colorado (Gallery Director), Asher Mains from Grenada, and Andy Spaziani from Canada.
This summer the Transart Institute is hosting a Triennale, in Berlin, on the theme Imperceptible Self, a term coined by philosopher Rosi Braidotti.
I have curated a blog post, entitled Dissolve, of three photographers’ works which I feel poetically embody this theme. (*Not for viewing by children*).
To view it on the Triennale site, along with access to other entries for the festival, view it here: http://www.transarttriennale.org/blog/dissolve
OR view it below.
Approaches to art that are perpetually bright and sunny lack dimension as they ignore the darker aspects of life. The Surrealist André Breton coined the term “l’humour noir”, also known as black comedy or gallows humor, which takes a cynical approach to sensitive topics. It often makes light of them, sometimes in offensive ways, in order to prompt serious contemplation. L’humour noir writing usually concludes that life is meaningless, yet absurdly comical.
Similarly, in Umscheid’s “Ghosts” we might coin the term gray comedy. Here he represents the mental blind spots where our motivations are still secreted away from consciousness. This is the stage where we function as shades of ourselves. Yet the apparitions he depicts are sympathetic characters. Some are caught between oblivion and manifestation / ego and non-ego, not quite ready to surrender to the mystery of becoming-imperceptible. Like small children trying to find their way, he keenly describes their awkwardness. Their grasping at the invisible strings of the world as if it were a puppet is futile. Their imbalance and uncertainty causes them to collide into delicately gorgeous and vaguely humorous consequences. Even the “Made in Korea” marking sewn onto the borders of the fabric are part of the haphazard nature of these ghosts’ encounters. In Falter, a ghost drags its paint covered foot as if it had accidentally stumbled into it and is now attempting to wipe it off. In Fallen Petals, the apparition props up a dead flower on its hip as a final protest to fading away. The two almost seem to empathize with each other. In Pool’s Bottom, the phantom gives a shudder and impulsively attempts to maintain muscular control in the final throes of losing corporeality.
Others in his series appear as if they have finally succumbed to their dissolution. In Becoming the Other, individual personalities are lost as they merge to become new forms. In To the Heavens, lets its limp limbs float with the stars. Finally, in Uncloaking, it appears as if one is already levitating, and about to be unveiled after an incubation period. It has touched the invisible and is now prepared to function with a new mind state perpetually open to flux.
(proposed physical size 18″x 27″ prints on matte photo paper, framed in in 24” x 36” white metal or wood)
(Models: Dandie Doyle, Kate Kubala, Heather Sanford, Mechelle Gonzales, Rachel Theobald, and Jordan Schiappa)
How can men learn from the feminine Jungian archetype, the anima, theorized to be inside them all? She is said to visit their dreams to guide them towards enhancing intangible abilities such as intuition, receptivity to the irrational, and depth of emotion, all of which will balance their lives. In his Post Morality series, Angelovski has done just that by listening to his inner visions and dreams about how to proceed with a portrait session requested by the model.
Despite the collection seeming to be influenced of Joel Peter Witkin, after getting to know the model better, Jan Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring suddenly came to the photographer’s mind. That famous painting is sometimes considered a tronie, a 16thand 17thcentury term for Dutch and Flemish paintings of heads of universal character types, usually wearing costumes, and portrayed to show distinct expressions descriptive of those characters. A youth might be making a funny face or a witch might appear to be laughing hysterically. Sometimes the faces were obstructed by shadows to create a more dramatic image.
A subsequent dream of the model wearing one of artist Polly van der Glas’s “facebags” became the catalyst for the costume in these photos. Similarly to the ploy of shadows in tronies, the woman’s face is totally covered here leaving the expression to be found on the mask itself, which might be indicative of what the character is thinking. However, the fact that the figure is masked reveals to us that she embodies the skill of looking inward in contemplation. Perhaps even better able to communicate with the child in her womb. Angelovski then, has shown in these images a potent connection between spirit and flesh, not only of one’s self, but with others. What better archetype to embody this ideal than a mother?
Finally, it is very fitting that while trying to find a third person for this exhibition, I had a vision of George’s face in a dark stairwell with a spiral staircase. A few days later, I saw this Post Morality series and it dawned on me that it was the missing link between the other two artist’s works here.
(proposed physical size 8″x 10″ in 11”x 14” ornate wooden frames remniscent of frames tronie paintings, or possibly as an installation using rope and clamps to imply a cradle)
(in collaboration with her brother, Andrés
Where is the beginning and ending of our flesh? When we empathize with another? When we are outsiders who do not function by the status quo? When we build our lives around genuine passion and devotion to our work? When we commune with our environment?
Here, Analia explores these questions by seeking the answers in the story of the unusual life circumstances of herself and her brother, Andrés. Although they have the same parents, he was first born with a natural genetic alteration causing physical disfigurements and a mental disorder, whereas she was born after genetic adjustments were made to ensure she was healthy. In opposite ways, how they were brought into the world is very different from the majority of humans. Together they are outside of societal norms. Their portrait together tenderly expresses her attempt to empathize with and protect him, hiding his protruding rib cage and face, while at the same time gently placing her hand on his. In her second piece the gyroscopic panorama of the kitchen in a restaurant where Andrés is a potato peeler, he again only shows his lovely, dedicated hands to us. In the final photograph of this diptych, she explains that her series of misshapen potatoes represent the ones he discards at work. Thus either revealing his commonality with or mirroring of the majority, the compulsion to discard that which is not uniform.
**Below is a still image from a 360 degree interactive gyroscopic image, entitled José, after the owner of the restaurant when Andrés works.
To view it, click here, then scroll left, right, up and down, for the full view: http://analiasirabonian.esy.es/jose/
(proposed physical size: 12”x 12” in 14″ x 14″ frames + 1 large monitor with internet access and mouse for interactive 360 gyroscope panorama)
As shock, grief, and anger worked its way through me over this event I took my time to write out my thoughts and feelings over it before really discussing it publicly.
Friday, November 13th, 2015: Attacks in Paris. Over 300 deaths and injuries, such as possibly debilitating ones like bullets in the legs. Many people, including those who have bad mouthed France, and especially Paris, to me colorize their Facebook pages in the colors of the French flag or the peace symbol with Eiffel Tower graphic in support. I refrain because I don’t want to be misunderstood as simply jumping on the bandwagon or not caring about attacks elsewhere in the world. I hope those who though ill of Paris before have had a change of heart after seeing how well they stuck together. My thoughts below are in my constant defense of the City of Light. Have you seen a sunset there or on a train from Paris to the SE coast? It is indescribably lovely. The pink light on centuries old carved stone, the river, the twinkling tower on the hour, the fairy tale chateaus and hills dotted with sheep. Then there is the food! Don’t get me started. Paris & France are not better than anywhere else, but unique in a marvelous way.
Saturday, November 14th, 2015: I’m not going to hide the fact that I resent people trying to make us feel guilty for our grief over Friday’s attacks in Paris or worse yet acting like the people who were killed had it coming to them because their governments are corrupt. I had seen it mentioned in the news just as I had seen the attacks in the Kenyan university in April and the almost constant attacks in the Middle East. I read all of them and cried but know not what to do, so have to quickly separate myself from it. What would you have us do, stare into the face of terrorism every day? Have it effect our entire life when we have no control over it? I’m not going to apologize for not wanting to be in pain every day. So, if two other people hadn’t brought it up that night in more detail I probably would have moved on with my life and not given it more of my energy, despite the fact that I have been to Paris several times, spent enough time there to feel I know it well, and spent a lot of time practicing speaking French.
However, as details were revealed, on top of feeling like a dear friend has been hurt and a large number of people injured or killed while they were in her arms, I am seeing the effect of this on music. I spend a great deal of time in concert halls and venues. Not only has the entire city been shut down for days, but many musicians have lost their livelihood by having their shows canceled there. If you know nothing about Paris, you should at least know that creativity has thrived there for decades. A vast list of talented people flock to, are accepted, and thrive there…Nina Simone, Salvador Dali, Coco Chanel, Albert Camus, Brassaï, Marcel Duchamp, Josephine Baker, Vincent Van Gogh, Daguerre, The Lumière Brothers, Les Nubians, Birdy Nam Nam…If these names mean nothing to you perhaps this is why you can’t understand how tragic this feels. I am an artist, so it hits me hard.
A man made a song as an emotional response and way to cope with this situation and people are commenting on his Soundcloud page that he is trying to cash in and/or get attention in the wake of this tragedy (despite him not selling the song). Seriously?! If you have no understanding of the need to express yourself artistically, please find an outlet. Art is not a crime and neither is a party or being fabulous. This sound artist was trying to heal himself with his artform and thankfully many responses were positive, including from a 10th arrondisement resident who said it was therapeutic while dealing with the aftermath. Others angrily wanted to know why he didn’t write a song for the people who died in Beirut or Baghdad…
Have you ever been to Paris? Yes, many of us in the west know a great deal more about it than those two cities because we have been there. I have been welcomed there on several occasions and had an amazing time. No, I don’t buy into the, “Everyone is rude in Paris,” line because I have never had anyone be rude to me there. It’s a big city. Just because you spent a lot of money on your vacation to get there, doesn’t mean everyone is going to want to be your best friend once you arrive. If someone bumps into you in the sidewalk because you were standing in the middle of foot traffic looking at your map expecting them to say, “excuse me” is ridiculous (True story). Trust me, if someone in Paris, New York, or Miami wants to get rude with you, it will be blatantly clear.
Like most major cities, Paris is very multicultural, meaning it welcomes people around the world to represent it. Pulling out the, “You’re only upset about this because white people got hurt,” card is extremely insensitive, two-dimensional, and well, I hate to say it, but racist. The musician I wrote about in the previous paragraph is black. I implore people with this sentiment to check the list they have made so far of people who died in that concert hall and soccer arena, then think a little harder before jumping to spread more hatred in this world. Unless one has personally found a remedy to the situation in Syria, or anywhere else there is bloodshed, they are not morally superior to those who feel more personal grief for a place they are familiar with than a place they are not. If someone has a peaceful solution, I wish they would share it with us. I am sure there are millions of people who would join to enact it. Many of us pray for peace in this world and act as consciously as we can to be sensitive to other people’s plights. We wait for our current leaders try to undo the mess the ones before them have made. We wait for them to make the best decisions and when it’s not working, we must wait some more until they try something different. We must voice our opinions and hope they listen to reason. We must keep peace and tolerance on an individual and local level. It has a domino effect. We must find assertive ways to try to change the minds of people who are racist and aggressive.
In the meanwhile, please don’t tell others they shouldn’t be upset or supportive of the people, in a place we feel an affinity for, after vicious bloodshed. How would it feel if my friend’s home and your family’s home were bombed and I told you that people shouldn’t be upset about your home because that would mean they don’t care about my friend’s home being bombed? That doesn’t even make sense! Peaceful people don’t want anyone in the world to suffer and there are many of us out there. I daresay we are the majority, despite what fear mongerers would like to believe and have you do the same. The anti-muslim sentiments need to stop as well. No one wants to feel like an outsider or be harassed because of their upbringing. I can’t believe that on this day someone smeared pages torn from the Koran with feces on the walls of a mosque in a suburb of my city. The interview on the radio was with a Muslim man who is American born and a member of that house of worship. He was beside himself with trying to figure out how to explain this obscenity to his children.
Sunday, November 22nd, 2015: Oh and here’s a good one…victim blaming. I read someone post about how the empires have colonized the rest of the world for centuries and now the European colonizers are “getting theirs”. Then as an after thought, a statement of sympathy for the people of Paris and those who died. Pardon me? How is it that any of the people who were harmed responsible for history? Talk about opportunism! Then there are politicians saying they brought it on themselves because they were listening to death metal. Apparently they have never heard of primal scream therapy or had a healthy thrashing about to release anger without hurting anyone.
Here’s the thing that needs to be said over and over, whoever is responsible for these atrocities can not be allowed to make us live in fear or turn against each other. United we stand, divided we fall. This is a fact, not a nationalistic cliché.
Monday, November 23rd, 2015: I think I can finally put this to rest after watching this Parisian man discuss the attacks with his young son in such a brave and kind way. Bon courage mes amis. Je t’aime toujours, peu importe ce que quelqu’un dit ou fait.
Fair Market on E. 5th Street in Austin hosted another enjoyable Pop International art fair October 23rd – 25th. Smartly designed to be quite different from their event last year’s, the theme of Illumination featuring a installation work which utilized wide variety of lighting techniques including neon, video, colored bulbs and LEDs, black lights, fiber optics, and holograms.
Educator and PsiPlay partner Jerome Morrison uses a Kinect motion sensor to create interactive videos. At Illumination he created a video installation room with several television monitors and headphones for an intimate viewing experience and communion with an entity from the heart and soul of the broadcast universe.
Nonotak art partners, Noemi Schipfer and Takami Nakamoto mesmerizing installation video clip:
Other pieces in this section included:
Lili Lakich’s “Soul to Soul: Portrait of Stevie Ray Vaughn” wall sculpture made from cut aluminum in the shape of the guitar hero himself, holding a real guitar, and animated with neon and crackling krypton gas filled tubes, which simulates lightning.
Cut metal symbols, such as the infinity loop, inset with colored light bulbs by Alyssa Taylor Wendt.
Neon and plastics sign by Matthew Lapenta.
Backlit, mixed media acrylic painted panels, reminiscent of a landscape, by Claudia Meyer.
Bale Creek Allen showed cast metal tumbleweeds at the last Pop International show in Austin. This time around he made a row of right-side up and upside-down white neon crosses.
Lisa Schulte hung a massive wall with neon emoji symbols.
I’m always surprised when I meet someone who has been here for several months and still hasn’t been to any of the nature spots, bar / music venues, or longstanding restaurants that give Austin deep character. I’ve lived here for 20 years, so I feel pretty qualified to write this post. Most of these eateries have well seasoned grills, which really comes through in the food as a seasoned iron skillet does. Finally, they are all pretty damn cheap with generous helpings. It’s sad to learn that people only know about what is a corporate chain, trendy, and/or posh here. Not that some of those places aren’t really great too, I’m all for innovation, but my favorite locally owned spots are so down-to-earth, funky, and friendly, like the heart of Austin. I hope you love it as much as I do. I haven’t put any sushi places here because in my opinion, any of our sushi restaurants are better than most places in the world with wide variety and unique rolls. Music and art shows are day by day, check the Chronicle, but I threw a few long standing venues in here always feature Austin’s best bands. Enjoy! P.S. Please share with your friends. Thanks!
Food and Drink
#1 All Time Favorite – Curra’s Grill Mother of Mex (not Tex-Mex) on Oltorf between I-35 and Congress. If the lot is full, park on Rebel St. This is one of the only places where I can order anything on the menu for breakfast, lunch, or dinner and feel as satisfied by it as my previous favorites. If you’re there for breakfast, you must get a Oaxacan (wa-ha-kan) coffee. Soft corn tortillas. Red corn tortillas. If you like smoky Scotches, get a Mezcal (smoky tequila) drink or try their avocado margaritas. Not many places serve those.
2 – Polvo’s on South 1st. I crave their salsa bar. Three types. All delicious. My fav is always the Goliath Burrito with fish, but any filling is delicious and includes squash and other veggies.
3 – Guero’s on South Congress near the river. Delicious raspberry puree margaritas. I usually either get the El Presidente Burrito, but sometimes a Sante Fe enchilada, which comes with a fried egg on top.
4 – Matt’s El Rancho on South Lamar. Really great patio if it’s not too hot. Food’s good too.
5 – Maria’s Taco Xpress on South Lamar. Migas breakfast taco is the bomb! The only place in town that serves chimichurra salsa at their bar. It’s the one that is made primarily of cilantro and chilis, not liquid like most salsa. Funky style old school Austin setting.
6 – El Alma on Barton Springs. The only place good enough to stay in business in the tricky spot. They even have a parking lot across the street now. My drink of choice is the Chilanga, an very orangy margarita with chili salt on the rim. I go in when I just want a happy hour drink and appetizer of their jack and shrimp tostaditos that come with a side of escabeche (ay-ska-bay-chay) which is picked veggies. I don’t even normally like that stuff, but theirs is special.
7 – Habana Cuban on South Congress. Best Cuban sandwich. Best tres leches cake (with cinnamon). Theirs is not too dry or too wet. Great mojitos with the option for mango or coconut rum. Little straw cabana booths outside for when the weather is nice.
*****Can you tell I’m a Southside girl 😉
8 – 888 Asian (Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese) Their wide noodles with seafood is my fav. The scallops are especially impressive for this price. I’ve tried friends’ plates and those almost made me wish I’d ordered what they had. Of course, family style is also an option. Open very late although there might be a line.
9 – IM Thai. Sunset Valley (SW Austin). Ok this is one is fairly new, but they have the best som tam of anywhere in Austin. I lived in Bangkok for two years, so am picky about Thai food. Get the one on their House Specials menu and share it with your friend. That one comes with marinated meats and sticky rice.
10 – Conan’s Pizza on Stassney. Not only do they serve great pizza, especially the thick, but this location has an antique piano that you might be lucky to be accompanied on or even get to play.
11 – Square Rut Kava Bar on South Congress. Direct from the South Pacific pure kava beverage in a coconut shell cup. Different strains for different effects. Talk to the bartender. If you are sensitive to bitter, drink slowly and get them add flavoring such as chocolate caramel. There’s one on the Northside too if you stay there.
12 – Maudies on South Lamar. Nachos baked on thick chips.
All over town:
1 – Taco Shack. El Nino breakfast tacos (If you can handle it!) egg, chorizo, pickled jalapenos and cheese.
2 – Trudy’s. Again, all good for breakfast, lunch, dinner. Even their mix and match 3-5 vegetarian dishes are sooo good, especially considering they aren’t a veggie restaurant. Best broccoli ever.
3 – Chi’Lantro’s trucks (ck Twitter for the location that day) or storefront on S. Lamar. Ok, these guys are new school, but local and started in a trailer. Bulgogi fries w/ special sauce. Sick! In a good way though.
4 – East Side King trucks and storefront on S. Lamar. Also pretty up and coming, but is my favorite since my favorite Thai restaurant, Spin closed down, which Sway on S. 1st is similar to. Everything on the ESK menus, which vary by location, is delicious and inexpensive.
Downtown / Central / Campus Area:
1 – Ruby’s BBQ. Off of Guadalupe on 29th. They smoke it there in the back. Rich red sauce and great sides. Shiner and other brews by the bottle.
2 – Spider House on Fruth St. coffee shop with cool patio full of funky vintage furniture and decor. Rust and time. Outdoor stage with regular shows. Their venue around the corner from their parking lot also has regular concerts where all my favorite bands play.
3 – Pubs: Fado’s Irish food and pub on 4th Street and around the corner from it AND Gingerman on Lavaca with over 50 beers on tap. I preferred their old building, but the new one is similar.
1 – El Azteca on E. 7th. Chipotle chicken
2 – Licha’s Cantina on E. 6th. Ok, pretty new establishment, but in a cute older house with patio covered in stencil art. One of the few places serving huitlacoche (hweet-la-co-chay), AKA corn truffle 🙂 Have you ever tried hibiscus flower quesadillas? Now is your chance! Wide selection of mezcal.
3 – Takoba on E.7th and Onion. Again, not really longstanding, but I have to rave about their mojito. They grind the mint up so you REALLY get the flavor of it. Smart. Delicious food. A little pricier than the others.
4 – El Chile on Manor Rd. Essentially the same as El Alma on the Southside.
5 – Mi Madres on Manor Rd. I heart their burritos with french fries inside. They are the only place that serves café de olla (cinnamon stick coffee in a clay mug).
6 – Hoover’s Southern Food on Manor Rd. I usually go here for New Year’s Eve to get my lucky black eyed peas. Lot’s of other delicious down home style offerings though.
7 – Blue Dahlia French Cuisine on E. 11th. In my opinion, moules et frites (mussels and fries) and ratatouille are their specialties. Pretty garden dining.
8 – Juan in a Million on E Cesar Chavez. Famous for their Don Juan breakfast taco. No one makes one like this. Semi mashed potato, cheese, egg, and crumbled crispy bacon.
1 – Fonda San Miguel. Gorgeous interior Mexican decor. You know colored tiles, old carved wood furniture, lots of plants. Wonderful food. Sunday brunch extravaganza.
2 – Korea House on Anderson Lane. Most generous variety of banchan (tiny appetizer bowls). A large menu of sushi options. If you want, you can take a table with a galbi grill in the center. There you can prepare the meats as is popular in Korea.
*Bonus: Terra Toys is super close in case you want to go in and play a bit.
3 – Din Ho on 183. Chinese spot with delicious seafood. BBQ pork on sticky buns. Dim Sum.
Veggie Heaven; Mother’s (still my favorite veggie burger in town); Casa de Luz – macrobiotic in a lovely setting; See Trudy’s write up above; Mr. Natural on South Lamar or E. Cesar Chavez
Music and Drinks
1 – Flamingo Cantina on 6th Street. The only place on Dirty 6th that I frequent regularly. World, Soul, and Reggae music in a funky space with great outside upper deck overlooking the stage.
2 – Sahara Lounge. Far NE. Worth the drive. Always bumpin’ world music. Latin, African, Jamaican, etc. etc. in a shack filled with old African instruments and jazz, reggae, and world music concert posters and photos. A large backyard including lots of picnic tables. Signature drink: Sahara Slant ginger and cinnamon buzz.
3 – Whip In on S.IH35 access road between Riverside and Oltorf. Vintage Indian decor in the stage area for local acts. Wooden booths. 2nd outside patio and stage. Beer and wine bar. Inexpensive home style Indian food.
4 – Continental Club / The Gallery (upstairs) AND C-Boys Heart and Soul both on South Congress. Always primo acts.
5 – Hole in the Wall on the Drag (Guadelupe across from UT campus). Many talented bands got their start here because the owners were willing to take a chance on them. Well known musicians have played here too though. Now East Side Kings, one of our best Thai food vendors, is sharing the space with them.
6 – Waterloo Records on South Lamar. I hadn’t added this at first bcz I thought it didn’t need to be mentioned. Then I heard someone say they were going to order a CD online of a local band bcz they didn’t know this longtime music vendor would have it. Call first. If they don’t have it, they will get it fast and call you. Support local. Four point five rows of vinyl. Lots of used CDs. Videos. Listening stations. In store mini concerts. Toys. Books. Gear. This place kicks ass.
7 – Book People on South Lamar. Ok some books are cheaper online, but spending time browsing a great book / magazine store like this is just plain old fun. It’s two stories. Coffee shop. Gifts and cards. In store author lectures / book signings.
8 – Elephant Room under Congress. Underground jazz bar. Always featuring great acts. Brannen Temple and Ephraim Owens are the ultra talented stars of this scene.
9 – Half Step on Rainey Street (South Central). Classy newish place in an old Rainey Street house with comfy booths. The bartenders put on an entertaining drink making show, sometimes those big square ice cubes. Kind of trendy drink menu, but low key. Great patio. Highly talented bands like improv funk / soul / jazz crew Canned Beets playing on Wednesday nights and teen blues act The Peterson Brothers on Thursdays.
10 – Russia House on E. 5th St. I haven’t eaten there yet, but I heard it’s good. I have sampled from their wall of flavored vodkas though. It’s like digging into a bag of Jelly Bellies. Name the flavor and they’ve infused their vodka jars. Bands play on some nights.
11 – Vortex Repertory Theater on E. Manor Rd. All original productions including fantasy, fairy tales, hip hop, sky dancers in this intimate space. The Butterfly Bar is attached. There is a courtyard of picnic tables to enjoy the weather and eat a meal from one of their trailers serving Italian and ?
12 – Skylark Lounge on Airport. East Austin Soul. Originale patio.
13 – Ginny’s Little Longhorn Saloon on Burnet. Feels like a country shack inside. Friendly staff. Tiny stage with talented country acts. Fiddlin’. Chicken Shit Bingo on some Sundays.
(besides Zilker Park, Botanical Garden, and Barton Springs)
1 – Mayfield Park is a centrally located. Lovely water ponds and peacocks amongst huge palm trees. There is a walking trail if you want to go down to the water.
*Bonus: Laguna Gloria is right there next to it. This is an old, well maintained villa converted into art museum. Walking trail to the left has my all time favorite climbing tree in the world! You will see it. There is a bench underneath to help petite people like me get up.
2 – Greenbelt secret mini waterfalls trail! The Greenbelt goes all around town as the name suggests, but I usually love to enter through parking lot of Retreat at Barton Creek Apts. on S. Lamar Blvd. Park in a visitors spot by the office / pool. To the right of those, you will see a space between the back and side buildings where a bamboo grove stands. To the left of the grove there is a trail going all the way down to the river. Very private.
3 – Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center in very Southwest Austin. Best in spring. Go up the tower to see the fields or walk around the gardens and trails. Vast blankets of color.
4 – McKinney Falls State Park is in near SE Austin.
5 – If you have time to get out of town, Enchanted Rock! Pink granite mounds. Ancient Native American sacred place. If you are sensitive, you can feel the magic. I love going around Thanksgiving when the leaves are turned. If you climb up the rock (it’s pretty steep, but if you have strong legs or a walking stick, you can do it!), you get a beautiful vista view of the autumn trees. It’s fun in the spring too though when the wildflowers are blooming. I’ve seen roadrunners and an armadillo there.
(besides downtown – Mexicarte, The Contemporary, The Blanton)
1 – Women & Their Work on Lavaca. Super cool and fun. A sidewall in foyer holds big square brochures of past exhibits for several years. Gift shop with local artisan jewelry, books, and unique gifts. Open Mon-Sat business hours.
2 – Canopy art complex on Springdale houses Big Medium, Co-Lab, Art.Science.Gallery, a coffee shop, high quality craftwork shops, and studios. Ck hours before going.
3 – Laguna Gloria (see Mayfield Park above)
4 – grayDUCK on E. Cesar Chavez. From what I’ve seen is always showing top quality Austin artist’s work.
5 – Dougherty Arts Center Gallery on Barton Springs. This humble place often gets overlooked because although it has been promised funding for a face lift after winning votes in the bond election twice, it has never gotten it. It has so much heart. Please drop in. Community or two person shows exhibit here. Always lovely. Check the theater schedule for performances.
Place to stay next time you’re in town in group of people
Contemporary architecture with Balinese decor. Fresh and gorgeous. Filled with quirky artwork. Lush gardens. Pool. Firepit. Screened in patio with swings. Super nice proprietor. Currently I am the groundskeeper here.
All images copyright © 2014 by Stephanie Reid
Click any image below to enlarge
To view the area from a different angle, take a walk on the Chelsea High Line, an elevated railroad track that has been converted into a boardwalk and garden.
If you’re a foodie, be sure to check out the Chelsea Market which holds a wide array of gourmet restaurants, a fresh spice vendor, books, and sometimes an arts and crafts bazaar inside a beautifully restored National Biscuit Company factory. This is also where The Food Network has its offices.
Also recommended is the cozy Co Pane pizza serving 17 unique, wood-fired combos.
Fashionistas! Check out the Comme des Garçons shop. It’s like being in a toyshop elf’s closet. Besides pointy shoes, apparel becomes outrageously fun wearable sculpture in here.
Chelsea Gallery Tour Favs:
Murray Guy Gallery, Lucy Skaer’s exhibit Sticks and Stones takes two forms cut from a dissected mahogany tree and duplicates each in a variety of materials. This successful interpretation of belonging to a group with similarities while retaining individuality gives new, exciting meaning to sculpture.
Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, Peggy Preheim’s exhibit Archipelago combines nostalgic pencil drawings of people in found photos with pressed leaves or other natural materials such as feathers and fur. The delicate illustrations ask us to imagine stories of interaction between gentle humans and nature.
Gagosian Gallery, Takashi Murakami’s exhibit In the Land of the Dead, Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow is exhilarating in its scale and use of cutting edge materials. Taking queue, as Murakami does, from graphic design precious metals sheets are embossed with skulls then over painted with acrylic landscapes and characters straight from a comic book and screened designs of acidic suns. Thick glossy lacquers embedded with glitter enhance the dimensional quality of the works where mandalas of Buddhist masters beckon neophytes to walk the thin line between the land of living and dead, their insane gestures and eyes give warning of what we will experience there. Gigantic guardian sculptures guard the gates of Nirvana and fight those who try to enter before they are well prepared. The gorgeous scent of ancient wood permeates the front gallery which is entered through a replica of a shinto shrine.
303 Gallery, Mike Nelson’s exhibit Gang of Seven takes found objects collected on his tour of the west coast of the United States and Canada and turns them into imaginative and sometimes disturbing sculpture.
During the winter residency for my grad school MFA program, I had the pleasure of visiting several places that I love in New York. In this post, I will share some of the highlights of my first stop, the Museum of Modern Art.
*Henri Matisse Cutouts show. Excellent curation. For those of you are less familiar with art history, the painter Matisse became disabled as he aged and was confined to a wheelchair. This was when he produced a new phase of works from collaged paper cutouts. With the help of his lovely assistants, he was able to create monumental murals and even chapel stained glass designs.
Enter the exhibit: A room of playful works commissioned by Verve Magazine. The circus themes and flowing shapes of the Icarus myth are prevalent. A quote from the artist elucidates his experience making those cutouts, “You have no idea how, during the cutout paper period, the sensation of flight which emanated forms helped me better to adjust my hand when it used scissors…It’s a kind of linear and graphic equivalence to the sensation of flight.”
Next: A room meant to mimic his studio with mockups, paper samples, and photos of him, scissors in hand surrounded by scraps of paper which had fallen to the ground – negative spaces of shapes he had cut. Two long walls hold examples of his “Oceania” series which were printed into wallpaper – sandy beige backgrounds with all white cutouts of seagulls, flora and fauna of the waters.
A darker room: Watch a film of Matisse working with an assistant to design vestments (cloaks) for the Chapelle du Rosaire de Vence. Stained glass sections are lit from behind. *In the gift shop I purchased holiday cards with tinted acetate covers to look like one the chapel windows maquettes, La Nuit de Noël (Christmas Night).
The monumental works: The highlights in the last few rooms are works inspired by Islamic art such as Large Decoration with Masks which is approximately 11′ x 32′. You will also see the joyful, immersive work The Parakeet and the Mermaid, which is approximately 11’ x 25’ and meant to give the sensation of being in a garden. It was completed towards the end of his life when he was no longer to enjoy his own garden as he once had.
Souvenir: Amongst prints and lengthy books about the artist’s life and career, I found a gem produced by MoMa who commissioned a cutout artist to create illustrations about Matisse and his inspiration from nature and his garden. By printing it on matte surface paper, the book better represents his cutouts, especially in the bonus gatefold pages of his works.
*In the contemporary art gallery, adjacent the Matisse Cutouts, I discovered a contemporary artist whose work I would like to share here. Her name is Kerstin Brätsch. These works are large scale oil on paper:
*A choice selection from the permanent collection of modern masters was on display. They are hard to capture in photos, especially when they are behind glass and A Starry Night and The Persistence of Memory are now. Sadly, some of the life has been sucked out of them by this addition, which was not there the last time I saw those pieces on tour. I was not in awe of the vortex pulling me in as I had been when Van Gogh’s masterpiece was on view in Houston. This is what happens when people insist on touching the art or using flash! Luckily the Guggenheim had some of his work out (sans glass) and I got a taste of that vibrance on this visit. Less famous, but not less important than the above mentioned paintings, my favorite Matisse oil, Goldfish and Palette, was on view as a nice counterpart to the cutouts exhibit. Other pieces I adore by Léger, Brancusi (Mademoiselle Pogany sculpture below), Cornell, Picasso, and Klimt were present as well.
*In the design section, Tomáš Gabzdil Libertinya presented a vessel slowly made by bees using a “vase-shaped scaffold” for a beehive which was removed to reveal the waxen vase seen here:
*Another special exhibit was a retrospective, entitled The Heart is Not a Metaphor, of the sculptor Robert Gober‘s work. Seemingly irreverent with its wallpaper of penis and vagina line art, other rooms papered like a fall forest scene with objects protruding out of wax torsos and crotches coming out from the bottoms of walls , and the like, his work has a serious tone which requires us to think of domesticity, sexuality, and religion more closely. Within the vast, sparse rooms, I felt less claustrophobic than I normally do when thinking of a permanent home. Sexuality felt like an ordinary and mundane activity that might take a turn for the bizarre if one becomes too familiar with it. A sinister underbelly is exposed inside of a fireplace full of girls disembodies legs, pink Mary Jane shoes and bobby socks intact. A nearby installation of a large vintage suitcase had its bottom cutout to accommodate a sewage grate installed into the gallery floor where below a softly lit scene of rocks and water plants swayed in flowing water and bubbles. This somehow lessened the blow of the previous difficult subject matter by offering an escape for the mind before exiting the show. The denouement of his story played out gently with an easy chair covered in custom designed fabric of pink, yellow, and blue florals and birds and other digestible fare.
*Soul of the Underground, an exhibit featuring works by Jean DuBuffet, contained prints, paintings, and sculptures made from dirt, sticks, aluminum foil, grass, and other common materials used in unexpected ways to evoke gritty, playful, and sometimes shamanistic imagery as antithesis of la bourgeoisie. In the third image below, Landscape with Bulldog, random objects were inked, pressed, and then reassembled to create the final composition.
*Modern Photographs from the Thomas Walther Collection 1909-1949 reminded me of the fun and experimentation I had when I started taking black and white photos in the 80’s. The surprise revealed on paper in the darkroom is unparalleled by digital photography and I look forward to working in one again someday. At the height of film photography we can see here that playing with light, shadow, form, and perspective are emphasized when color is taken out of the equation. The luxurious platinum, palladium, and silver surfaces reminded me of a treasure box. This is truly an art form that has been lost, but many young people are recognizing this and word has it that shuttered analog photo departments are being revived around the country. This news has helped relieve some of my melancholy around the matter. For a virtual tour, visit the MoMa page below:
*Finally, I would like to give mention to the Making Music Modern: Design for Ear and Eye section which showcased vintage stereo equipment, posters, and album art. Especially inspiring to me is this print by Koichi Sato for New Music Media and this stereo with swinging, detachable speakers by artist Mario Bellini and Manufactured by Brionvega S.p.A., Italy.
*To see what is on showing at MoMa for during your next visit to Manhattan, check their calendar: