Monday, March 17, 2008

Herbarium Amoris

I was surfing around and found The Human Flower Project and this post in particular which is about an exhibition of flower photography by Edvard Koinberg - Herbarium Amoris - a tribute to Carl Linnaeus of Sweden (whose 300th birthday was last year).

Go to this site - to see more of his photos.

This photo was my favorite. It seemed less predictable - more free or something than most of the photos. Some of them reminded me of botanical drawings - in their subject and composition. Lovely - but a bit stiff.

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Turning Weather

Wednesday it was nearly 60 Degrees out. I painted at McCormick's Creek. There were a few icicles near the falls, some ice on the steps - not any Spring growth yet. But it's close. Lots of water from snow melts and rain coming down the falls.

Yesterday was another 60 degree day. We had had some things pop out of the ground what with having intermittent warm days. But yesterday got more things going. A greenish tint to some willows - they are among the first to go green. Also some daffodils and crocuses decided it was safe for their leaves to come up. Of course there have been snowdrops and early risers. I thought it may have looked like a yard of yellow something north of the IU campus yesterday.

I took a little hike along Griffey Lake. As I was walking I heard noises getting louder and louder as I got closer. There was sort of a wet lands area - it seemed to be frogs, toads, bugs, birds - but I couldn't see any animals or insects.

There are some trees there that look nice without leaves - I'll have to go back before it changes too much.

Moshi - the Cat Goddess

This morning - I listened to a lecture by Martin Rossman, MD on UCTV about guided imagery and stress management. He encourages people to allow themselves to relax just as cell phones that need to be recharged. While people could meditate on a flame or their breath, for instance - he encourages people to imagine some nice, relaxing place. To imagine the sights, smells, sounds, feel - to use ones senses. I think it's probably just as well to keep it simple.

Another thing that he suggests is to have a mental discussion with an "inner guide" which would be like prayer if you believed in God. He suggested imagining someone who was full of love and wisdom - it could be a goddess figure or whatever. So after the show - I figured that I would try that. I imagined a woman in a robe sitting across a fire from me. Meanwhile our cat, moshi, was sitting on a stool or chair and moving so that the chair was rocking. This went on for like 10 minutes - for awhile it seemed like a distraction - and then I decided that Moshi is a cat goddess.

She had some good advice about various people and things. And then she got down off her stool and came over and let me pet her (which is VERY unusual on her part) just a little bit. She thinks that Abby (our aging dog) would like having a puppy around. I forgot to ask her how she would like it. (If Moshi is full of love and wisdom - she mostly hides it :)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Goat and the Tree

Click on image to see Animation of Goat - determined to be the oldest known animation sequence - painted on an ancient Iranian earthenware bowl discovered in a grave at the 5200-year-old Burnt City.

The image is of a goat jumping up to eat the leaves of a tree.

From The Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies:

The image is a simple depiction of a tree and wild-goat (Capra aegagrus) also known as 'Persian desert Ibex', and since it is an indigenous animal to the region, it would naturally appear in the iconography of the Burnt City.

The wild goat motif can be seen on Iranian pottery dating back to the 4th millennium BCE, as well as jewellery pieces especially among Cassite tribes of ancient Luristan. However, the oldest wild goat representation in Iran was discovered in Negaran Valley in Sardast region, 37 kilometers from Nahok village near Saravan back in 1999. The engraved painting of wild goat is part of an important collection of lithoglyphs dating back to 8000 BCE.

However, wild goat representation with a tree is associated with Murkum, a mother goddess who was worshipped by all the Indo-Iranian women of the Haramosh valley in modern Pakistan, which culturally had closer ties with Indus and subsequently the Burnt City civilisations, than Mesopotamia, which could had influenced the ancient potter who made this unique piece.

The Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Organization authorities (Iran) are insisting that it a depiction of the 'Assyrian Tree of Life’ even though it was created 1000 years before the Assyrian civilization. That is one way that goddess related imagery goes unrecognized or is lost.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

"Running the Numbers"

This is pretty cool artwork by Chris Jordan @ - attempting to show the quantity of consumption in this country... (cross posted at Universal Jellyfish )

First image depicts two million plastic beverage bottles, the number used in the US every five minutes - 60x120"- /second a detail.

An American Self-Portrait

This series looks at contemporary American culture through the austere lens of statistics. Each image portrays a specific quantity of something: fifteen million sheets of office paper (five minutes of paper use); 106,000 aluminum cans (thirty seconds of can consumption) and so on. My hope is that images representing these quantities might have a different effect than the raw numbers alone, such as we find daily in articles and books. Statistics can feel abstract and anesthetizing, making it difficult to connect with and make meaning of 3.6 million SUV sales in one year, for example, or 2.3 million Americans in prison, or 410,000 paper cups used every fifteen minutes. This project visually examines these vast and bizarre measures of our society, in large intricately detailed prints assembled from thousands of smaller photographs. The underlying desire is to emphasize the role of the individual in a society that is increasingly enormous, incomprehensible, and overwhelming.

My only caveat about this series is that the prints must be seen in person to be experienced the way they are intended. As with any large artwork, their scale carries a vital part of their substance which is lost in these little web images. Hopefully the JPEGs displayed here might be enough to arouse your curiosity to attend an exhibition, or to arrange one if you are in a position to do so. The series is a work in progress, and new images will be posted as they are completed, so please stay tuned.

~chris jordan, Seattle, 2007


Some of his other images:

Plastic Cups, "Depicts one million plastic cups, the number used on airline flights in the US every six hours."

Barbie Dolls, "Depicts 32,000 Barbies, equal to the number of elective breast augmentation surgeries performed monthly in the US in 2006."

Plastic Bags, "Depicts 60,000 plastic bags, the number used in the US every five seconds."

Handguns, "Depicts 29,569 handguns, equal to the number of gun-related deaths in the US in 2004."

Cigarettes, "Depicts 65,000 cigarettes, equal to the number of American teenagers under age eighteen who become addicted to cigarettes every month."

Paper Cups, "Depicts 410,000 paper cups, equal to the number of disposable hot-beverage paper cups used in the US every fifteen minutes."

Cans Seurat, "Depicts 106,000 aluminum cans, the number used in the US every thirty seconds."

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Painted Quilts

One of my concerns at the Indiana Heritage Quilt Show was how some quilter's tried to make their quilts look like paintings. I was googling to find links to the Gee's Bend Quilt show and found this blog - outofthebasement. Kay seemed to share some of the same concerns.

I tend to not like quilts that seem to be about mimicking painting. Some go so far as to be landscapes or portraits. Some of the landscapes don't look too bad - but I haven't seen a portrait that I like. One thing that I esp. don't like is when people cut out fish images from fabric to be "fish" in their quilts. I prefer the fabric and it's pattern to be considered an abstract element.

There were some cases where fabric was painted various colors in a washy way - and that was ok.

A couple of my favorite quilts were Peggy Brown's Art Quilts. They seemed to be mostly ignored by the quilt enthusiasts - but I could see them being popular at art fairs or galleries. From her web site I can see that her watercolor and her quilts are of a similar, abstract style.

This quilt, Winter Water, was one that was at the Quilt Show. Her description laid out how she adhered white interfacing and tissue paper to cotton with acrylic emulsion and painted it with watercolors. (I think the colors in this digital image is more intense that in real life). It had quite an icey feel to it.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Inside/Outisde (Winter)

I was going through some stuff and came across this that I wrote a couple of weeks or so ago:

Sitting in a heated room with fluorescent lights,
chairs of wood, tables of wood particles
covered in wood-grain plastic,
plastic covered floors,
cement walls,
fan blowing, people sitting
thinking about sitting in a cold woods with sunlight,
bright snow, rocks,
water flowing,
plants growing among the dead leaves,
birds flying and singing,
fresh air,
working (painting)

The IU Art Museum and Tape Art at the Met

The experience at the Democracy and Politics panel (which IU President McRobbie kicked off with a speech congratulating everyone) which I discussed in this post inspired me to write to Adelheid Gealt, the director of the museum. The experience mostly concerned me bringing up in an open forum the problem of the IU Museum having so few works by women on their walls. (They do have several jewelry pieces in a case - but I think that the images that people have in their minds - the things that are hung on the walls are especially significant. Jewelrey is significant in other ways).

Ms. Gealt did favor me with a reply in which she wrote,
"I'm... very proud of the fact that our most recent major acquisition involves a painting by the leading German woman artist: Gabriele Munter -(for which all the funds were donated). That will be placed on display when our curator, Jennifer McComas, has the time to plan and implement it. A guiding factor in the selection of this artist, was the fact that she was a major figure among German Expressionists- and was a woman artist. Given our strong holdings of German Expressionism- it was important to have an example by her.

So that will be something to look forward to. In addition to that, Ms. Gealt wrote that there are works by Barbara Hepworth, Vigee Lebrun and Claire Zeissler on continuous display (I'll have to see if they are actually on the walls or on some little partition somewhere - because I only saw one work by a woman, at the most, when I did a survey of what was up). She wrote that other things rotate being up, including a sculpture by Nevelson and a painting by Janet Fish. Though she admitted that there may not often that much women's art up at any given time.

I hope that I didn't annoy Ms. Gealt too much with my questions (inquisition?). And hopefully there will be more attention paid in the future.

As far as quilts being included in by the art establishment (part of my question to the Democracy and Politics panel) - There are art museums that have hosted quilt exhibitions - like the Indianapolis Museum of Art and their recent Gee's Bend exhibit. But often it seems that such things are not included in the same space as paintings, for instance. Museums often have the "decorative arts' areas. As if the paintings are not decorative (many people insist that they are not - or not "merely"). I suppose the idea is whether or not the painting or quilt or whatnot is transcendent. As if a painting can be transcendent and a quilt could not. As if a painted geometric patten is superior to one that is sewn.

I think a lot of confusion still exists when it comes to expressions by people - what they mean and what should be considered to be importatant, exemplified, or whatever and what should not. Of course that has been part of the whole 20th+ century question. Started with dada and all that.

And then there is transitory art. ...One of the more interesting things that the Metropolitan had up was an installation by a woman that was little rolled up circles of tape (pins helped hold it up - but you couldn't really see the pins). Tara Donovan at the Met
Tara Donovan (American, b. 1969) is known for working with commonplace manufactured materials such as tape, Styrofoam cups, or drinking straws to create abstract sculptural installations that often take on a biomorphic feel or resemble topographical landscapes. For a new work conceived specifically for this exhibition, the artist uses Mylar tape to create a wall-mounted installation that encompasses the entire gallery. Through a vast accumulation of webs of metallic loops, laboriously assembled, Donovan transforms the space into a unique phenomenological experience for the viewer.

I do tend to like art that is tangible, longer lasting - but with the state of the world - temporary art makes a lot of sense. Like flowers that come and go.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Crocheting a Coral Reef

I love this project, Want to Save a Coral Reef? Bring Along Your Crochet Needles, described by PATRICIA COHEN for the New York Times (also posted at UNIVERSAL JELLYFISH). It's a great example of taking a traditionally women's creative activity and turning it on it's head for social activism and commentary.

One thing that is great about it is for it to make an effective statement - it takes many people to be involved.

I never learned how to crochet - but this project has me wanting to learn. (I do a very little knitting - enough to be able to make scarves and that's it).

Crochet seems to be the perfect thing for this - for creating the shapes of coral and sea urchins and such, and for getting people involved in an issue (the destruction on coral reefs through global warming, industrial fishing, carelessness, etc.) that may not have been aware.

(I also like how the photo goes with my color scheme :)

Monday, March 3, 2008

Quilts and Graffiti

Friday afternoon I went to the Indiana Heritage Quilt Show in Bloomington.

Later, I went to panel discussion on Democracy and Politics in the Arts in conjunction with the Writing on the Wall exhibit at IU's School of Fine Arts Gallery. That exhibit included the work of five local graffiti artists who were asked to create something specifically relating to democracy.

Of course the quilters created their works on whatever theme they wished. While many were abstract, nature and family were often referenced. There was one quilt from Germany that addressed the problem of industrial encroachment on farms and farm life. And one of my favorites was "Turtles all the way down" by Jan Hutchison which ""refers to an infinite regression belief about cosmology, the nature of the universe"".

It was interesting to me how many women (and a couple men) attended the quilt show. While it's an annual event (the 17th), I had never been, although I heard people saying how impressed they were by the quilts. Quilts have historically been a terrific bonding experience for women, especially when they work as groups making quilts for important life events for each other. They are also a wonderful way for women (mostly) to be creative.

In the days when women made many of the families clothes, quilts might have various pieces of cloth from clothes that represented various stages of a person's life. Whether a quilt was made to hang on the wall or be something which provided warmth and comfort, quilts carry a lot of meaning for people.

I had the pleasure when I co-managed an apartment complex for the elderly to work on a group quilt project. We had about 16 of us creating squares which were pieced together and then quilted on a quilt rack. While many of the quilts at the quilt show had been machine quilted - the experience I gained in hand quilting - learning from those experienced women gave me an appreciation for the process that I wouldn't have had otherwise.

As far as Writing on the Wall goes, it was also a good show. In addition to the grafitti there were several panels where people had been invited to write their ideas of democracy. I enjoy these kinds of group projects as well. It's somewhat quilt-like in a way–not as organized, not something to keep, but a group effort nonetheless. The first participants often take up lots of room, while later ones must try to squeeze their message in.

The four men and one women graffiti artists who were invited created some interesting work on their assigned panels. I liked the one of the American flag (more or less) that included dollar signs and the word, "fear" sprayed over and over so much you couldn't read it but it looked organic.

There was some discussion about graffiti artists vandalizing others properties and perhaps being excluded from traditional expressive outlets from respect in general. An anarchist way of making his angst and opinions known. In some places graffiti is the expression of gangs - a bonding outlet not so unlike quilters groups. Except that they see themselves at odds with society and the law - where quilters would be integrated to an extent.

It did become an issue in the 20th century as part of feminism, that women's arts are generally ignored by the art establishment - while men's are celebrated. That was part of Judy Chicago's message with her Dinner Party work. That work included many of the sorts of art that women typically have done that have been ignored by art museums. The banners, the quilted and embroidered table runners, place settings. Of course by having "in your face" plates that referenced women's genitalia the work was controversial enough to get attention and to become an important part of American culture and the American art world. I'm glad I finally saw it in person.

Meanwhile, as was brought up in the panel discussion, graffiti artists like Keith Haring have been embraced by the Art Establishment. And not because of anything profound that I know of. I brought up the lack of art by women in the IU Art Museum. Nobody was very interested in the topic. Joe Lamantia suggested as a response that children's art should be featured as well. So it seemed that people either didn't get it, didn't care, or something.

I had done a survey of the art shown in the modern section of the IU Art Museum and there was one art work by a women that hung on the walls. One floor piece and a few pieces of jewelry in a case. It disturbs me that images created by women are not included. Women do often have a different point of view. Like Mary Cassatt and so many images of mothers and small children. Georgia O'Keefe and her sensual images of plants.

Going into the future, images and iconic types of artists may become a thing of the past. As art becomes more democratic, perhaps it becomes less about the individual. But I think that there will always be famous artists. I hope that it's not mostly those who are able to shock people the most - but the ones with the most profound insights and abilities to express them.

Looking back at the Texture post and the Monumenta project... sometimes I wonder if there is some kind of subconscious (or conscious) effort to keep Men's art in the forefront. In other words - as women got more involved in the art scene - art changed to embrace more typically male enterprises and aesthetics. To some extent - the world changes and art changes with it. But I think people should be skeptical if the art world mostly revolves around whatever the males of the species are doing.