I like to pretend I’m a member of a tribe when I paint a skull. I imagine it’s going to be used for a ceremony. This is one of the deer skulls I got last week: a wonderful specimen, probably a pretty young buck with developing antlers.
In 1916, W. B. Yeats wrote a dance play, “At the Hawk’s Well”, inspired by Japanese Noh theatre (to which he had been introduced by Ezra Pound) and Irish folklore.
The Japan Society recently had an exhibit of UK artist Simon Starling’s commemoration of the 100th anniversary of Yeats’ work, along with some of the art that inspired both him and Yeats.
I watched the beautiful video of the hawk dancing several times
and then I drew masks until my hand cramped up and my legs hurt from standing.
When I looked at the drawings, it struck me how humans have always struggled to understand and live their lives well. We are united in both sorrow and dignity, all cultures, throughout history, all over the earth.
One thing I use and sell art-wise are my greeting cards. My supply was running low so I got the assembly line going: cut up the painting, rubber cement onto the blank cards, leave under a brick for a while and then draw some more on the image and outline. It’s very relaxing.
Yesterday I took the train to Baltimore to see the Matisse/Diebenkorn exhibit at the Baltimore Museum of Art. Wow! but no photos allowed, so I’ll talk a bit about it at the end of the post. But…the Cone Collection! I had totally forgotten it was there too. The Gauguin cellist, above, stopped me in my tracks.
The Cone sisters amassed an amazing collection of early 20th century art. Plenty of Matisse, like the figures and dancer above.
I loved this tiny Renoir landscape.
And I had never seen this Van Gogh landscape either. The brush strokes are almost like stitching.
The museum also has many other rooms of modern art, and the painted wood relief sculptures above, by Gertrude Greene and Burgoyne Diller, reminded me of something Nina would do.
I’m keeping in mind this portrait by Max Beckmann for my self-portrait series.
There are also smaller collections of European and African and Asian art. I thought this mask from Angola complemented Raphael’s luminous and also enigmatic painting.
But my very favorite item outside the Matisse/Diebenkorn exhibit was this cabinet decorated with reverse painted glass by Richard Lee.
I was introduced to Richard Diebenkorn by Nina in 1976 when he had a retrospective at the Whitney (she was working there at the time). You can see a selection of the work on view now in Baltimore on the website, here, but as is true with any artist that works large scale, a reproduction can’t even begin to give the experience of the actual work. Matisse was an inspiration to Diebenkorn throughout his painting life, and the juxtapositions of the works makes that clear. Both artists: just wow.
There are plenty of figural drawings, too, and one common element was the reworking of the page in a way that layered all the different lines of the different attempts. An example of Matisse’s work is below, a reminder that even great artists do not achieve satisfaction or perfection even after many lines have been drawn. They just keep working to get there.
Kerfe and I haven’t posted in a while and we decided that today would be a good day to return. My life has been topsy turvy since my husband had a stroke in August.
Kerfe and I did a show a while back. It was an Art Walk in my town. We were pretty well received. I wound up falling in love with Kerfe’s piece “Black Barbie” and bought it. It’s the large collage in the center of the first picture.
We have missed everyone and we hope to get back to regular posting.
“I feel like every time I make a piece of artwork I express myself strongly so that a person can feel something.”
honest layers that
witness hurt, test memory,
note the silences
of secrets, now unhidden
with forgiveness and regret
Ronald Lockett’s “Trapped” series records the complex relations between humans and the living world. How do we treat animals? the environment? each other?
I managed to visit the retrospective of Lockett’s found art last week at the Museum of American Folk Art, right before it closed. These are powerful works.
Lockett felt the world deeply, as the works from his Oklahoma City bombing series, above, show. “You try to be honest about what you are trying to say,” he said about them. He acknowledged his debt to quilts in their construction.
His responses to the homeless
and the holocaust
are reminders that the importance of bearing witness has no time frame.
Lockett also made many tributes to those he knew and admired. Above, a work honoring Jesse Owens, intricately formed in tin.
He painted “Instinct for Survival” when his brother went missing in the Gulf War.
And his tin tributes to his great aunt Sarah Lockett, the woman that raised both him and his cousin, the artist Thornton Dial, reflect both her love of gardening, and her quilts.
Ronald Lockett died in 1998 at age 32 from AIDS-related pneumonia.
You can read more about him here.
My poem uses the secret keeper’s words this week
WIT – HURT – NOTE – HONEST – TEST
…because what better way to spend the weekend than cleaning out the garage? Actually I will need a dumpster for that task. Husband is inside going through boxes of old papers, one by one. It is a sad sight (I’d just dump them but he can’t).
This is a photo taken by my father of me painting a large landscape for the window of a store. It was painted on some kind of fabric as I recall. I didn’t have the heart to toss it so I’m making it immortal as part of this blog.
“I don’t get it…do I have to get it?…does the artist get it?…”
–overheard at the Whitney Museum this week
Nicole Eisenman’s “1/2 the artist…”, above, was a favorite in the Whitney’s widely varied show containing a selection of portraits from its collection. And the young woman’s overheard observation seems a good summary of the state of the world right now.
Annette Lemieux’s 30 photos of raised fists.
de Kooning’s “Woman and Bicycle”
John Wilde painted mystery into this portrait of his wife Helen.
Calder’s hanging wire portrait was echoed in its shadow.
Charles Henry Alston’s “The Family”
Jay DeFeo was represented with an enigmatic photo collage.
This grid portrait by Byron Kim is ongoing as the artist continues to paint and rearrange squares reflecting the skin colors of his friends.
Alice Neel’s haunting portrait of Andy Warhol was another highlight for me.
This is a wonderful show. And Stuart Davis is at the museum now too.
I have to say this week has left me particularly disoriented. I will be catching up with myself and everybody else slowly I think.