Saturday, February 28, 2009

Spending Sunday at the Asian; Free films AND free admission


Zorig Chusum: The 13 Traditional Handicrafts

10:00 am–1:00 pm

(Directed by Werner Wiedling, 2003, in English)

This four-part series is comprised of rare films commissioned by the Royal Government of Bhutan to document the country’s thirteen traditional handicrafts (zorig chusum). Among the crafts featured are: Woodworking, textile arts, painting, pottery, slate-carving, metalworking, papermaking, block prints, and calligraphy.

At 2 PM: Bhutan:Taking the Middle Path to Happiness is a feature documentary film featuring the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan and the Government’s effort to bring "Gross National Happiness" to its people. Imagine a country where happiness is the guiding principal of government. Imagine a people who see all life as sacred and the source of their happiness, a place with an abundance of clean and renewable energy, a nation committed to preserving its culture. Imagine a Kingdom where the King lives in a simple wooden cottage and judges his progress by the country's "Gross National Happiness." Can a place like Bhutan really exist? Can such ideals be realized? Can this small, geographically isolated country tucked away in the Himalayans truly protect its environment and culture as they open their doors to the West?
All events are free
Asian Museum Y-Tube Page (how cool is this?): http://www.youtube.com/user/AsianArtMuseum

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Book Club of California: Julian Bell: Growing up in Bloomsbury


Julian Bell - the son of Quentin and Anne Olivier Bell, the grandson of Vanessa and Clive Bell, Julian is more than qualified to speak on Bloomsbury. Born in 1952, he read English literature at Oxford University but has since made his living as a painter based in southern England. Over the past twenty years he has written many features about art for the Times Literary Supplement, the London Review of Books, and The New York Review of Books. His exploration of art theory, What is Painting?, appeared in 1999, and his introduction to art history, Mirror of the World, in 2007.

an impromptu talk at the Book Club of California | MONDAY, MARCH 2, 2009 | 5 - 7 PM
312 Sutter | suite 510 | San francisco 94108 | 800.869.7656 | fax 800.781.7537
club room hours: mondays, 10 am to 7 pm | tuesday-friday, 10 am to 5 pm

www.bccbooks.org
Julian Bell's website:
http://www.jbell.co.uk/home/index.htm

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Dragon's Gift


Wonderful review and photos up at SF Mike's blog - he captures the saturated colors and the spirit of the show much better than I could:
http://sfciviccenter.blogspot.com/

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Dragon's Gift: The Arts of Bhutan at the Asian

When I went to the preview last Wednesday, it was raining for the first time in months. One of the organizers joked that the rain was a gift from the Dragon of Bhutan. If that were true, then this exhibit is another gift. Originally organized by the Honolulu Academy of Arts in conjunction with the Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs of the Royal Government of Bhutan, The Dragon’s Gift: The Sacred Arts of Bhutan is one of the most ambitious and eagerly anticipated exhibitions of Buddhist art in many years. Bhutan is a tiny kingdom in the Himalayas, wedged between the two superpowers of China and India. It was never conquered, never colonized and still survives as both an ancient independent kingdom and the world's newest democracy. The Dragon’s Gift explores Bhutan’s Buddhist cosmology through its sacred visual arts and ritual dance (cham), using Buddhism as a lens through which to explore the full range of Bhutanese culture.
Vajrabhairava is a wrathful form of Manjushri, the bodhisattva of wisdom (* see Tom Christensen's blog for a delightful exposition of this "blue meanie)

The exhibition includes more than one hundred works of art with a wide iconographic scope. Exhibited materials include thangkas (textile mounted paintings), sculptures, metalwork, textiles, and ritual objects, all made for use in a Vajrayana (Tantric) Buddhist context. Many of the items date from the 17th to the 19th centuries – a golden age in the Buddhist arts of Bhutan.

Monks practicing one of the many cham, or sacred dances.
In a major innovation, the exhibition also explores the ancient ritual Buddhist dance and movement tradition known as cham, as a fundamental manifestation of Bhutan’s religious culture. Cham is a form of danced yoga in Tantric Buddhism. Indeed, “The Dragon’s Gift” is the first exhibition of its kind in having been jointly organized by art historians and dance historians. Unlike the situation in many other areas of the Himalayas, such as Tibet, where ancient traditions of Cham are disappearing due to political and cultural pressures, the Cham of Bhutan has survived largely intact.

Seated Goddess, posssibly Kongtsedemo (7-8th century), one of the twelve local goddesses knowsn as the twelve tenma who protect Buddhism.

Nearly all of the works of art presented in the exhibit are from active temples and monasteries and remain in ritual use, which is one of the main reasons this exhibit is so astonishing. These are not artifacts from a long dead civilization; they are deeply revered icons of Bhutan and the focus of worship.
Guru Dragpo Marches (19th Century, Ink and colors on cotton)

A visitor to the exhibit also becomes a participant as monks will be continuing their religious practices throughout the museum space. So, by visiting the museum you will obtain merit and lessen your negative karma (surely a good thing!). From Friday through Sunday (until the exhibit closes), two monks from a Bhutanese monastery will perform daily purification rituals and prayers (puja) for sacred objects in the exhibition. Watch them create offerings for a Buddhist altar installed in the museum court in an ancient practice of Buddhist rituals. To immerse oneself in this exhibit is to understand (to some extent), the Buddhist concept of time and the Bhutanese links with the past.
The present does not remain
The past and future do not exist
Wherever you look, you cannot see them
So the three times are called imperceptible.
Dharma Protector Dorje Yudronma (19th century), a female deity who is one of the protectors of Bhutan.
There is an altar at one end of the courtyard, with numerous statues of the Buddha in niches above the altar and offerings in front. Along one wall is a section from a temple with prayer wheels which you can turn to offer prayers. I gave them a turn or two myself with a prayer for peace in these troubled times:
May all beings everywhere plagued
with sufferings of body and mind
quickly be freed from their illnesses.
May those frightened cease to be afraid,
and may those bound be free.
May the powerless find power,
and may people think of befriending
one another.
May those who find themselves in trackless,
Fearful wilderness--
the children, the aged, the unprotected--
be guarded by beneficent celestials,
And may they swiftly attain Buddha hood.

The lavishly illustrated catalogue is a "must buy" for anyone who wants to understand Buddhist and Bhutanese art, history, culture and religion. The twelve superb essays cover all aspects of the exhibit including conservation techniques and Buddist philosophy. It also includes a DVD of Cham dance performances, probably the first time these dances have been ever seen outside Bhutan.

200 Larkin St, SF: Through May 10, 2009 - check the website for a list of ongoing events organized about this exhibit which will include lectures, films and interactive activities for the whole family.
http://www.asianart.org/index.html
7 Junipers: http://7junipers.com/log/
images courtesy of the Asian

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Patrick Dougherty at Civic Center

Ever wonder what’s up at the plaza in front of City Hall? Artist Patrick Dougherty has been working on his woven tree sculptures for the last month or so. The site-specific piece is beginning to blossom and it’s well worth a visit.

There’s a great essay on him up at Venetian Red:
http://venetianred.net/2009/02/18/san-franciscos-upper-crust/
and a three part photo essay with commentary at Mike’s Civic Center Blog
http://sfciviccenter.blogspot.com/2009/02/patrick-doughertys-civic-center-trees-3.html
Plus another nice piece from Marisa Nakasone, art reviewer for the Examiner:
http://www.examiner.com/x-533-SF-Art-Examiner~y2009m2d13-Per-SFist--Whats-up-with-these-trees-at-City-Hall

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Judy, Judy, Judy


In my on-going exploration of feminist art, I went looking at for Judy at our SFMOMA. I was not surprised to find that the museum has very few works by her, and (as far as I can see), nothing from the iconic, ground-breaking, still controversial
DInner Party. It showed here in 1979 at the old SFMOMA on Van Ness, was exhibited around the country for about 10 years and then, was in storage until 1977 when it found a permanent home at The Elizabeth Sackler Center for Feminist Art in Brooklyn, NY.

This major project created a firestorm of criticism (mostly by the mainstream media) while speaking to the hearts of those of us not invested in maintaining the status quo. Her gender politics, sometimes abrasive personality and focus on sexual imagery to represent women, as well as bringing to the fore the millions of women who have been written out of history are as controversial now as they were in 1979. There still seems to be little understanding of the complexities of the 70's and feminist art is STILL "written out" or seen as marginal or irrelevant. What's the famous quote - those who don't know history are domed to repeat it? Unfortunately, the younger generations of feminists are, by and large, ignorant of their own foremothers and waste a lot of time reinventing the wheel.

David Evett pointed out in a 1981 review that the Dinner Party, like Nude Descending a Staircase, forced viewers to think about their basic assumptions regarding art. Critics like Hilton Kramer were obsessive in their criticism of the piece’s attraction to the masses, mostly women and certainly not part of the NY art establishment. So much for disinterested artistic theory but again, so much for the theory of high art, created by mostly males, always individualistic who worked in oil or carved marble.

Of course, some of the conflict between high art and lowbrow kitsch came from within the feminist movement itself. Judy Chicago wanted The Dinner Party to be viewed as high art. When studying china painting prior to starting the project, she saw herself as a “serious” artist as opposed to the housewives who were taking the class to fill up their free time.


Yet, in a recent interview, she went on to say, “What I have been after from the beginning is a redefinition of the role of the artist, a reexamination of the relation of art and community, and a broadening of the definitions of who controls art and, in fact, an enlarged dialogue about art, with new and more diverse participants.”

Because feminists had (and have) an interest in challenging elitist systems of value, the fact that the Dinner Party was inaccessible for most of the last two decades speaks volumes about the place of feminist art. The use of the female labia as the central iconography of the piece speaks to the need to examine it as a serious work placed with its historical setting, with ramifications beyond the 70’s. Berger’s theory on the gaze is as relevant then as now – the difference between the naked and the nude. The Dinner Party’s pudenda imagery is nothing if not naked, proudly and defiantly so, and all the more “shocking” because the work was created by a body of (mostly) women, using the “womanly” crafts of pottery, china painting and embroidery. Portrayals of male and female genitalia abound in art but as part of a larger image; this was the first time that the part that had discretely veiled was so openly displayed without apology.

Amelia Jones (ed). Sexual Politics. Judy Chicago’s Dinner Party in Feminist Art History. 1996
David Evett, Movable Feast, Northern Ohio Live, May 1981
http://www.brooklynmuseum.org/exhibitions/dinner_party/
http://www.sfmoma.org/multimedia/videos/170

How Art Can Effect Political Change


Interesting discussion considering my recent posts on feminist art in the 70's (and there's more to come!)

"How can art effect political change? The question implies an integral, activist role within a progressive agenda, yet the history of politics and art since Jacques-Louis David is fraught with paradoxes and complexities. Art’s essential element–its ability to transcend the circumstances of its creation–can be best described as “news that stays news.” But to do so would be to quote the radical modernist American poet and Fascist sympathizer, Ezra Pound. And so you begin to sense the difficulty of the problem."

"Political change requires a collective engagement with a clear set of goals. While self-criticism is helpful and at times mandatory, nothing can be accomplished without a steadfast commitment to the cause. Art’s staying power is embedded in its interrogatory, multifaceted, subversive, uncomfortable and often self-contradictory apprehension of truth. It questions and reveals, exalts and purges." continued at..

http://blog.art21.org/2009/02/17/sade-20/

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Robert Indiana's iconic image - too beautiful not to share (SF MOMA)

Valentine's Day: Museum of Broken Relationships

I Just can’t imagine why anybody over the age of 10 would be somewhat cynical about Valentine’s Day (ahem). But if you are, check out the exhibit at Roots Division, an alternative art space on the fringes of one of the more colorful parts of the Mission. Their current show, “The Museum of Broken Relationships,” displays anonymously donated objects from all around the world in an effort to expunge and heal painful memories of past loves. The tongue in cheek exhibit opens on Saturday (from 7-10 PM).

So, let go of of those memories by donating them to the collection, smile at the motley collection of objects from former loves and support a local art space.
ROOT DIVISION GALLERY
3175 17th Street (at S. Van Ness)
San Francisco, CA 94110
415.863.766
www.rootdivision.org
images from Root Division Website

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Monday, February 9, 2009

U.N.C.L.E.: United Network Command for Law and Enforcement

It’s the 60’s and I was in high school, living in Florida at the time, right down the road from the missile sites. We all thought that we’d go up in atomic smoke when the Cuban Missile crisis hit and missile launches made our whole school shake. Our English class read books on post-atomic America, seriously discussed the possibility of WW III and everybody, even the girls, belonged to some type of rocket club. In fact, there were so many homemade missiles thudding on the beach that it’s a miracle that none of us got hurt. Spies, Sputnik, the cold war, James Bond and international intrigue were on everybody’s mind – even more so because we were a military family living in a town full of military, scientists and technicians all dedicated to getting that damn missile up there and beating the Ruskies.

One night, I turned on TV. I’d read somewhere, probably in TV Guide, about a new spy show. It was amusing but nothing special until the last frame when a pale blond god, in the form of David McCallum showed up for about two minutes in the last frame. I was hooked. I watched the show religiously afterwards and was upset when David McCallum, aka Illya, didn’t get more screen time. I was bored with the smooth Solo character; suave “old” guys like Robert Vaughn didn’t interest me at all. But Illya – mysterious, cool, smart, beautiful in a way that I never imagined a man could be beautiful rang every bell in my underage body. Apparently he did the same for a whole host of other teenagers because he became enormously popular – in fact, you can almost see the weekly increase in his popularly as the show gave him more and more screen time. I was a fan, and what a fan! My best friend in high school and I formed a fan club and sent away for whatever we could get our hands on about McCallum. If I couldn't have him, I wanted to be him or, as a second best, be his partner. I knew that I would be a better secret agent than Solo and the bit of gender switching didn't bother me at all. I bought every fan magazine that I could get my hands on, made up scrapbooks, and wrote stories (OK – lots and lots of stories. Mary Sue wasn’t invented yesterday, you know). I made up organization charts for U.N.C.L.E. , had fantasies about being an U.N.C.L.E. agent and fixated so much on Illya that it’s a miracle I wasn’t imprinted forever with an image of the desirable male as unobtainable, blonde, mysterious, foreign and very very smart.
Oh wait. I was. Francis Crawford of the Lymond Chronicles comes to mind.


But life moved on and I moved with it, getting into other things, not having a TV for years and just never imaging that the series would be re-released. The couple of remakes weren’t very good and I just assumed that my teenage crush had been on something not very good. I assumed that it wouldn’t have held up well. After all, very little TV does. For me, the best was always The Avengers (with Secret Agent in second place and a whole host of other shows milling around in no special order).

So I was surprised when several of the episodes of the first season of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. reached the level of sophistication, wit, flat-out action, and a dead-pan, slightly surreal atmosphere that so-often marked John Steed's and Miss Emma Peel's delightful adventures. The special effects are laughable, even cheesy, by today’s standards and Solo’s character still doesn’t do much for me but overall, the episodes are a delight to watch. The show took a while to find its balance; the first two episodes are pretty humdrum but I held out for the Illya sightings. In that, I was not disappointed.

U.N.C.L.E.’s main adversary was Thrush, a criminal organization bent on world domination. Their resources were endless and their ability to attract a motley assortment of the mean, the nasty, the pathological and the beautiful (to give Solo somebody to romance about every other episode) never faltered, no matter how many times they failed (probably about 23 time per season). But they persevered. Hope sprang ever eternal in their nefarious plans or at least it did for three and a half seasons.

As Napoleon Solo aptly put it, "Thrush believes in the two-party system: the masters and the slaves." Although often on first name basis with Thrush agents, and not above trading witty banters with the opposing force, or Solo romancing the beautiful spy of the week, our intrepid heroes didn’t hesitate to blast away at the villains at the drop of a hat. The show was violent, although not gruesome. There were no camera shots lingering on dismembered bodies and no visible blood. When it came to the killing, the tone was light, but agents got shot dead (which must have been a boon for dozens of grade B actors – dead this week, a guest spot next week). Again, Solo put it best about Thrush's ruthlessness when he stated "Thrush kills people like people kill flies."

The show would open with the jazzy tunes of Jerry Goldsmith as the camera followed Solo and Kuryakin into a cramped, basement-level tailor shop and through a primitive, dark changing room. With a push of a coat hook, they entered the fabulous offices of U.N.C.L.E. There was always some witty banter with the receptionist before our twosome would report to Mr. Waverly and the adventure of the week. Throughout the M-G-M back lot "New York," U.N.C.L.E. and Thrush agents pop in and out of unlikely holes, and false-fronts, and anonymous delivery vans and city taxis like jack-in-the-boxes, battling each other with impunity on the oblivious streets of Manhattan, or “India” or “the Caribbean” or the high seas. The perfect portal to this veiled world of mayhem was the series' most ingenious audience hook: an ordinary person, often a woman or a Mr. Nobody from nowhere.

They get drawn into the weekly adventure, playing a pivotal role in unmasking the villain of the week. While spy films had often utilized such a plot device, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. made it a central theme of its show, placing the audience surrogate (mememee) squarely in the middle of the action - something the Bond films and other TV spy series never did. Bond is essentially a Superman agent, who has an encyclopedic knowledge of wine, women, clothes, and combat, who can always save the day, and rarely, if ever, with the need of assistance from another person. He’s also a lot more sexually predatory while UNCLE’s agents played the sex angle with a light hand. The Man From U.N.C.L.E. subverts that, often making the case that the competent agents (who would, sadly, become more cartoon like as the series progressed) absolutely needed the aid of "the innocent" to pull off their various operations.

This theme fit well with the producers' choices of actors to play the leads here. Vaughn and McCallum, certainly not as physically prepossessing as Sean Connery, seem like more down to earth, believable spies, if you will (until the gradual outlandishness of the series defeated that feeling). Their physical capabilities, while never in question, certainly aren't infallible. They're just as much "thinking" spies as "shooting" spies, and as such, more open to utilizing someone else's talents to complete their mission. This, along with "the innocent" often being a woman who finds a certain kind of liberation and newfound freedom after working with the U.N.C.L.E. agents, were additional departures from the conventions of most mid-60's TV. They weren't feminist; all the romantic slock with Solo's character prevented that but they were, shall we say - proto-femnist.

As the show's popularity increased, however, the stories began to tip toward silliness. Still, season two continued to increase Kuryakin's presence in the show's storylines, as it was by this point readily apparent that McCallum was a breakout star. For his part, McCallum didn't use this newfound spotlight to oversell his character; his Kuryakin is just as humorous and mysterious as the character was in the previous season (even if the situations he and his co-star were being placed in were becoming increasingly absurd). My favorite episode from season two was "The Discotheque Affair," which has Kuryakin going undercover as an ultra-hip bass player (dig those shades and turtleneck!).

Illya Kuryakin, International Man of Mystery
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a5_48RQha9U

Then came season three where the show had definitely jumped the shark. This season is more or less universally acknowledged as the period in the show's run where the show’s balance teetered undeniably into the silly and over-the-top.

The truncated season four seems like an attempt to right the ship. But while the element of danger returns with these episodes and the overall tone is clearly much more even, the backpedaling wasn't enough to save the show (and the competing spinoff The Girl From U.N.C.L.E. probably didn't help), making the fourth season the last of the series.

Perhaps the biggest keys to the success of The Man From U.N.C.L.E., however, were its two stars. Robert Vaughn and David McCallum made a great team, and it is the personalities of their characters-whether they're appearing together or separate during an episode-that really make the show compelling. However, I personally think that it was McCallum’s Kuryakin that gave the show its edge. We got a more mysterious but every bit as capable operative. The writers gave him a wry, deadpan sense of humor; to the point that oftentimes it's hard to predict what he's going to say in a given situation. And while both actors clearly understand the tongue-in-cheek nature of the proceedings, McCallum gave Kuryakin a subtly mischievous smile that sold this self-awareness really well.

It’s also worth noting the contribution of Leo G. Carroll as Mr. Waverly, who, as Vaughn rightly asserts in the supplements, brings real class to the show. His perpetual seriousness (although he gets his own little moments of levity now and again) kept the show grounded, and Mr. Waverly ultimately becomes a key steadying presence of U.N.C.L.E..

Robert Vaughn's character did nothing for me then and that has not changed. I realize that he's a good actor but the smug, "suave" Solo is simply not something that I find interesting nor is it a character that has held up very well. 60’s sexism is as dated as the hairdos and makeup of the women actors. But David McCallum, as Illya, has held up well - he underplayed the part and the writers probably found him the more interesting character of the two. The first two episodes - before the Illya character began to take off - are pretty boring. In fact, I fast forwarded until I got to the Illya bits and did that in other episodes where there was too much Solo (boring and dated). But as his character began to come more to the fore, the series really improved and it's worth waiting for his dry comments and delicious smiles. That part has not changed in 40+ years,

'The Man From U.N.C.L.E.' boasted a series of high profile guest stars eclipsed only by the dazzling array of talent to be found on display in the 'Batman' TV series. Among them were such notables as Vincent Price, Angela Lansbury, Ricardo Montalban, Martin Landau, Joan Collins, Slim Pickens, Carroll O'Connor, Kurt Russell, Jack Palance, Janet Leigh, Sonny and Cher and Joan Crawford. One of the more intriguing pairings came in ‘The Project Strigas Affair’ which starred William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, two years before they stood shoulder to shoulder on the bridge of 'Star Trek’s' USS Enterprise.

‘Uncle’ was yet another window into the mood of a bright breezy and optimistic decade now forever lost to us. It was simple fun, produced in a more colorful clear-cut time where right and wrong was still clearly defined, and heroes had a moral code. Responsibility and moral commitment were preferable to unchecked power and absolute greed. Loyalty, courage and ethics were more important than winning the battle at any cost. The result – especially the first season - was a classic series of imagination and atmosphere.








http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iC88U1SyQQw
http://www.manfromuncle.org/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_McCallum
http://www.wickedlady.com/mfu/
http://www.televisionheaven.co.uk/mfu.htm


I wish to thank the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement without whose assistance this review would not be possible.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Mai-Thu Perret at SF MOMA

Mai-Thu Perret, Unsold goods a thousand years old, 2008; courtesy of Timothy Taylor Gallery, London; photo: Christian Altengarten; © 2008

Since 1999, Swiss artist Mai-Thu Perret has been developing The Crystal Frontier, a fictional account of a group of women who found a small utopian community in the desert of southwestern New Mexico in an attempt to escape the impositions of capitalism. Employing part imagined and part annotated diary fragments, letters and texts from handbills, she sketches a kaleidoscopic image of a group of women who have retreated, disillusioned, from the city and from Western, i.e. capitalist, society. They pick up their lives again in the desert of New Mexico but on a different footing with work, nature and themselves. According to an essay written for the Renaissance Society, she sees feminism, as a distinct tradition of self-empowerment and a master narrative in its own right

In addition to this script in the form of texts fragments, Perret's nascent oeuvre comprises objects of various kinds that she describes as 'hypothetical products' of this women's commune. Included are a series of small ceramic objects, made in 2003, each one produced in the commune workshops.

"Perret's work is first and foremost anachronistic. Although The Crystal Frontier is set in the present, nothing could be more frozen in time than the idea of establishing a feminist commune. If anything, The Crystal Frontier is a trope for exhuming not just a recent past but any and all points along the historical continuum of feminism. In her alternate universe, however, feminism does not serve to complement Utopian thought. It is, rather, the other way around. Utopian thought is accountable to feminism. Functioning as a master narrative coextensive with Modernity, feminism becomes a binding agent for Utopian thought, be it grounded in fact or fantasy." And I say - huh?

What I find ironic is that, in order to understand even a fraction of what she is trying to say, you have to resort to theoretical essays, cloaked in the thickest art speak. What ever happened to discussing the elements and principles of design in a work of art? These are the fundamentals in which to evaluate the success or failure of a piece. I guess now the evaluation is based on the art object's market value, exhibition track record, previous owners, and to what degree the studio employees and assistants participated in its execution. In addition, if you are making political art, you don't let the image speak for your politics; you weave a huge, scholarly narrative around it and hope (trust) that the viewer will have the patience and desire to read it.

One can define visual art as making ideas visible through form. Art and object can be made to serve other additional functions, in this case political ones. But if you can't communicate primarily through form, it's not visual art. It's really text, and in this case, text that's put up on a wall in a museum because no publisher would be interested in turning it into a book. A further irony is that recently there was an extended discussion on Edward Winkleman's blog about the works of Emily Jancar, a Palestinian woman artist and the need to explain these works through copious wall text. Many who commented felt that if art needed such explanation, it was not fulfilling it's purpose. Without the text and some essays found via the Internet, Mai-Thu's work is completely obscure. It did not speak to me of feminism or even resonate with the sources that she is supposed to have used. The ceramic wall pieces "work" as art but certainly don't - for me -- justify the hype.

But - as they say. Your mileage may varry. YMMV.

Mai-Thu Perret, The dragon gave birth to a golden phoenix that shattered the turquoise blue sky, 2008; courtesy of Timothy Taylor Gallery, London; photo: Christian Altengarten; © 2008

Essay at the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago:
Interview: http://blog.sfmoma.org/
http://edwardwinkleman.blogspot.com/2009/01/if-you-have-to-apologize-for-it-you.html
images from SFMOMA and Renaissance Society website

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Coraline at the Cartoon Art Museum



Scene from Coraline (2009). Image: Cartoon Art Museum


In a special, limited-time exhibition from January 24 through February 15, the Cartoon Art Museum presents original art from the new animated movie, Coraline. This exhibition features the storyboards, puppets, sets, costumes, and other exclusive items from the stop-motion animated feature, the first of its kind to be filmed in 3-D!

Fantastic, in-depth review of the film at Wired:
http://blog.wired.com/underwire/2009/02/coraline-review.html