Friday, September 22, 2017

Friday Poem: Myth by Muriel Rukeyser

Goddess. 2017. @ Nancy Ewart
Long afterward, Oedipus, old and blinded, walked the 
roads.      He smelled a familiar smell.        It was 
the Sphinx.      Oedipus said, "I want to ask one question. 
Why didn't I recognize my mother?"      "You gave the 
wrong answer," said the Sphinx.     "But that was what 
made everything possible," said Oedipus.      "No," she said. 
"When I asked, What walks on four legs in the morning, 
two at noon, and three in the evening, you answered, 
Man.      You didn't say anything about woman." 
"When you say Man," said Oedipus, "you include women 
too.      Everyone knows that."       She said, "That's what 
you think."

Thursday, September 21, 2017

How to be an artist by Joseph Albers

Josef Albers, Interaction of Color, 1963. Francis Frost.
 Take three colors and turn them into four.

When Albers began his famous course on color, he asked his students to choose a red sheet of paper from a pack that included various different shades of the hue.

“Though there are innumerable colors—shades and tones—in daily vocabulary, there are only about 30 color names,” Albers explained in his book Interaction of Color (1963). For this reason, Albers found little use in talking about color, believing our lexicon was far too limited to capture its nuance.

Instead, he led his students through a series of trial-and-error experiments, so that they could teach themselves about the relativity of color: how a single color can take on a different quality or intensity depending on the colors that surround it.

For Albers, colored paper was the perfect tool for these exercises—it was cheap, flat, uniformly colored, and (as a bonus) mess-free. In one study, he asked his students to select three pieces of paper, all of different colors, and manipulate them in such a way that they appeared as four distinct hues. In another, he challenged them to do just the opposite—make four colors appear as three.

“In order to use color effectively, it is necessary to recognize that color deceives continually,” Albers wrote of these assignments.
In 2013, the Yale University Press released an iPad version of Albers’s color studies in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Interaction of Color. The app features virtual colored paper, which users can digitally cut and paste to sensitize their eyes to the illusions of color.

 Draw your name backwards and upside down.

To demonstrate the focus that drawing required, Albers led his students through a simple exercise. First, he asked them to write down their names on a sheet of paper and hold up their hands when they completed the task. The students scribbled their names and shot their hands up within seconds. Then, Albers challenged them to write their names backwards—and hands took longer to rise. Finally, he invited his students to write their names backwards and upside down.

To do this accurately, the students needed to focus, taking their time to envision the letter forms in their minds before writing anything down. This state of intense concentration, Albers told his students, is needed for every act of drawing.

Use your hands to make newspaper sculptures

Draw the spaces between the chair legs

hough he demanded focus, Albers also wanted his students to be absorbed by mundane visual phenomena, whether that be the flash of light when a television turns off, or the movement of color when a tea bag enters hot water. According to Albers, artists needed to have open eyes, sensitive to the lines, forms, and hues that are often overlooked.

Drawing the shapes (or “negative spaces”) between objects—whether that be chair legs, milk bottles, or plant leaves—would help students develop this sense of heightened perception. If students focused more on these in-between forms, they would learn to make stronger compositions, and might even become better people.

For Albers, art lessons always doubled as life lessons, and he believed that students who cultivated “visual empathy” would also develop social empathy. “Respect the other material, or color—or your neighbor. Respect the one you weren’t paying attention to,” he told his classes.

In so doing, Albers wanted to rid art and society from hierarchy. “We no longer draw distinctions between ‘carrying’ and ‘being carried’; we no longer admit divisions between ‘serving’ and ‘being served,’ between ‘decoration’ and ‘that which is decorated,’” he taught his students. “Every element must simultaneously help and be helped by the whole, support and be supported.”

Embodying these lessons, as you might imagine, takes time. Fifteen years after he graduated from Albers’s classroom, Rauschenberg admitted, “I’m still learning what he taught me.”

Complete article at

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Stanford celebrates the lasting impression of artist and educator Pedro de Lemos

Let us now praise men who should be more famous because of what they did. The arts are too often neglected when it comes time to pass around prizes so this celebration comes as welcome recognition of an man who was far more important than most of us realize.

Pedro Joseph de Lemos (1882-1954) was a visionary and guardian of art at Stanford.

As the first director and curator of the Thomas Welton Stanford Art Gallery (now the Stanford Art Gallery), de Lemos transformed the exhibition space into one of the most important artistic venues in California. He also served as director of the Stanford University Museum (today’s Cantor Arts Center) after it was damaged in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.

De Lemos’ impact, along with the centennial anniversary of the Stanford Art Gallery, will be celebrated as the Department of Art and Art History presents Lasting Impressions of Pedro de Lemos: The Centennial Exhibition, which runs from Oct. 3 through Dec. 3.

More at:

How to get there and shuttle Information:

Monday, September 18, 2017

On this day: Anthonij (Anton) Rudolf Mauve

September 18, 1838. Anthonij (Anton) Rudolf Mauve (18 September 1838, Zaandam, North Holland - 5 February 1888, Arnhem) was a Dutch realist painter who was a leading member of the Hague School. He signed his paintings 'A. Mauve' or with a monogrammed 'A.M.'. A master colorist, he was a very significant early influence on his cousin-in-law Vincent van Gogh. In this image: Morning Ride on the Beach (1876), oil on canvas, Rijksmuseum.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Degas' pastels

Drawn in Colour: Degas from the BurrellThe intensity and sensuality of Edgar Degas, the great voyeur of late 19th century art whose pastels are as potent as his paintings, should scintillate in this exhibition of his works from Glasgow’s Burrell Collection.
National Gallery, London, from 20 September until 7 May.
From the Guardian on Line

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

She had some horses by Joy Harjo.

She had some horses.
She had horses who were bodies of sand.

By Joy Harjo
I. She Had Some Horses

She had some horses.
She had horses who were bodies of sand.
She had horses who were maps drawn of blood.
She had horses who were skins of ocean water.
She had horses who were the blue air of sky.
She had horses who were fur and teeth.
She had horses who were clay and would break.
She had horses who were splintered red cliff.

She had some horses.

She had horses with eyes of trains.
She had horses with full, brown thighs.
She had horses who laughed too much.
She had horses who threw rocks at glass houses.
She had horses who licked razor blades.

She had some horses.

She had horses who danced in their mothers' arms.
She had horses who thought they were the sun and their
bodies shone and burned like stars.
She had horses who waltzed nightly on the moon.
She had horses who were much too shy, and kept quiet
in stalls of their own making.

She had some horses.

She had horses who liked Creek Stomp Dance songs.
She had horses who cried in their beer.
She had horses who spit at male queens who made
them afraid of themselves.
She had horses who said they weren't afraid.
She had horses who lied.
She had horses who told the truth, who were stripped
bare of their tongues.

She had some horses.

She had horses who called themselves, "horse."
She had horses who called themselves, "spirit," and kept
their voices secret and to themselves.
She had horses who had no names.
She had horses who had books of names.

She had some horses.

She had horses who whispered in the dark, who were afraid to speak.
She had horses who screamed out of fear of the silence, who
carried knives to protect themselves from ghosts.
She had horses who waited for destruction.
She had horses who waited for resurrection.

She had some horses.

She had horses who got down on their knees for any saviour.
She had horses who thought their high price had saved them.
She had horses who tried to save her, who climbed in her
bed at night and prayed.

She had some horses.

She had some horses she loved.
She had some horses she hated.

These were the same horses.

Born Today. Ben Shahn

September 12, 1898. Ben Shahn (September 12, 1898 - March 14, 1969) was a Lithuanian-born American artist. He is best known for his works of social realism, his left-wing political views, and his series of lectures published as "The Shape of Content." In this image: Lithuanian-born American social realist painter Ben Shahn is seen at his studio on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, Dec. 12, 1938.

Owl #1

Susannah and the Elders
The Shape of Content:

The Passion of Sacco and Vanzetti.

Images from Wikipedia and the Smithsonian page on American Art