Monday, November 1, 2010
Friday, September 24, 2010
It was over three months ago when I traveled to New York City by means of the ever famous, often dangerous Fungwah Mega Bus. My bags were packed and ready for a weekend of first timers: the first anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death, the first A-list celebrity spotting (that being Adam Sandler), the first taste of ARTICHOKE pizza (found in East Village and highly recommended) and the first time ever in an early morning conga line at a 24 hour diner in the meat-packing district (this was not planned, I swear). Out of all these “firsts”, I most simply cherish my first live jazz concert seen at The Jazz Standard between Park Avenue South and Lexington Ave. As the closing act of New York’s Carefusion Jazz Festival, a remarkable quintet played a smooth and chilling forty-eight minute set that, without any idea that this would happen, sent me into a sort of mind play, with various images in the style of a 1940s silent film, directed by my thoughts and masterfully sounded by Ambrose Akinsimure (trumpet), Mark Turner (alto-saxophone), Jason Moran (piano), Justin Brown (drums) and Harish Raghaven (upright bass).
Out of the entire performance, I was completely transfixed by their second song. Noted as the newest of Ambrose’s composition, Tear Stained Suicide Manifesto was definitely a turning point in my personal recognition and appreciation for Jazz. Unlike those who have been naturally converted by the compositions of John Coltrane or Miles Davis, Charlie Parker or Louis Armstrong, it was the living, breathing Ambrose Akinsimure who converted me into this artistic faith. Throughout Tear Stained Suicide Manifesto, the Ambrose Akinsimure Quintet magically illustrated a tranquil story full of depth and human emotion. I wouldn’t classify my experience as a sort of inception, but rather a moment of reaching a deeper level of consciousness. This was a trance that can only be revisited by pressing the repeat button over and over again, each time walking away with a greater reflection: a suffocating cry for humanity, while swallowing pills of sadness. It was unlike anything I’ve ever heard before and being able to witness it live only enhanced my chilling imagery of a broken girl and the men who composed sounds of her final moments on earth.
For this, I have attempted to re-illustrate what I saw through improvisational writing (edited and restructured together below) while listening to this song over and over again (literally over and over and over again). For Allen Ginsberg once used Jazz music as a forum for his poetry and prose, it only seemed appropriate to do the same. So as the wine glasses clunked and the silverware clicked and clanged, and Ambrose’s eyes reached the ceiling in one fierce intimate stare, I was released into this story upon a long exhale into his first piercing note of Tear Stained Suicide Manifesto. This is what I saw, in present tense to be read with music streaming in the background (coming soon, I promise):
The horns blow steady. The cymbols crash and the wind stays calm. Silence ignites her ever changing emotions. The piano chords sting scores of beautiful thunder and she sits alone on a train headed toward an unknown destination. Her face remains solemn, with her jaw clenched shut and her eyes dolled open. A woman with no baggage, she carries just the clothes on her back and a hole in her heart.
Cymbols clash for freedom, drums roll for progress
and the train continues down the track.
beautiful, dissatisfied, alone
A trumpet blows a sorrowful yet cryptic tune: one of loss and hardship that is instantly enlightened with the cool mystical thoughts of the present. The journey she has taken several times before now seems as real as the pressed cushion on her back and the intercom running through her ears. She stares into a lifeless image of leather seats and metal shelving. The windowpane looks clear out to her escape: a distant view of cold, empty, dried-out land. Passengers ignore the lonely scenery in exchange for an equally lonely gadget. The conductor travels through the aisles like a prisoner pacing back and forth in his cell. She looks forward neglectful of what she has witnessed several times before.
The train stops and the conductor exhales harshly through his tired whistle. The passengers exit in one long single filed line, like a zipper linking one by one until its silver edges are no longer apart. She wanders around the dirty, unpaved roads into a town of desperation. The trumpet and saxophone hum towards the sadness in the eyes of the hopeless followers exiting the terminal and continuing down to a valley of leather skinned children and metal headed country folks. The breeze settles the shuffling dirt upon her bare feet. Once hungry for life, her appetite has dwindled into the arms of her forgetful soul. She feels nothing.
Drained of light, her intestines are filled with toxic sorrow – the chemicals that outweigh rationality with the burden of disappointment. She walks along in search of a dull horizon and a ledge of freedom, walking away from the man she once loved and entering into a relationship with Mother Earth. A piano plays alone while she passes through civilization into the clear breeze and sounding trees, toward that horizon of her fixation. Strands of long brown hair come lifted off her shoulders and she smiles, hopelessly.
She stands upon the ledge, tears sliding down her pale cheeks, one after the other her pupils blackened and her lips dark blue. Her palms face outward with wisdom, her shoulders rest forward delicately showing signs of a tired lonely woman defeated by life’s existential angst.
Her feet creep forward with every inch bringing her closer to her last step.
She lifts her body forward
Clash, clash, clashes of hope
Cymbols slamming into an encore of movement
The bass drum rolls as the piano man gives birth to the textural setting.
Settling in and out, note after note,
Horns hold steady after she has passed
Mister saxophone gives up his last breath for her tears
Sir trumpet gives up his blow for her pain
And together they create stillness in the crowded woods of purgatory,
Together they bid farewell
And the piano man sings to her
For some people it is important to study music history because it categorizes who they are as musicians and where their influences are rooted. But why should a studied interpretation of albums released by Billy Holiday or Jimi Hendrix shape who we are as listeners? Aren't we all tuning in for the same reasons: a common interest and pleasure in sound? A smooth way to spend your afternoon should not be justified by autobiographical citings and trivial facts. What makes music so beautiful is its ability to universally connect. Music is art and, with art, we are all linked to the same colorful language. With that being said, open your heart to the sound and you will find yourself sitting in front of blank pages waiting to be filled by your own musical interpretation.
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
You are one of the greatest people I know and am so lucky to have as my brother.
Watching the roads you've traveled to make it to where you are today serves as an inspiration for anyone who comes along your path. So as one who has also been inspired, I, with the help of Shaina, decided to recreate stages of your life through photographs. This is my virtual present to you. With love, art and liberation, I hope you enjoy!
As I remember quite vividly,
you never seemed to like sports very much growing up. Instead, you were rocking to your own beat and rolling with that sweet rebellion.
This was what you were meant to do and your contributions never fail to bring all those melodies home.
As the only actual male actor in our home videos (not counting myself, Jade or Shaina as the cross dressing fools we played in half the skits), you always brought comedy, creativity and darkness to each scene.
Infamous for your role as Mr. Norman Bates, your leading lady has returned from the dead for another psycho scream!
So there it is; your casual, crazy, exciting personalities compiled into a two day shoot by your two favorite cross dressing fools. After viewing this, I want you to grab some (organic) chocolate syrup, shoot some patron off of Stella's beer belly at the Motherload and celebrate the first day of your twenty-third year flying on Planet URTH!!
Thursday, August 26, 2010
“One pill makes you larger and one pill makes you small..”1 When Alice was tiny she’d get along quite well with the works of Charles LeDray! His works in many ways are all about dimensions, small ones, but considerably more. New York based LeDray creates perfectly scaled objects from incredibly detailed clothing to a really wild range of ceramic vessels.
His most recent work in his survey show at the ICA in Boston is Throwing Shadows, 2008-10. This is, in many ways, an unbelievably complex work that features more than 3,000 vessels around 2” high made from black porcelain. The works are arranged on a large, rectangular, white surface enclosed in glass with multiple light sources casting overlapping shadows. As much as I tried it didn’t seem as if I could find any two alike! The details on these pots were obsessive to the point where he may need help…! The overall effect is very disconcerting as if one was 25’ tall looking down and in on a display of actual vessels.
He showed three other similarly sized works of these types of ceramics displayed on a stacked series of square glass shelves with steel supports, each about 3’ square standing a total of around 6 feet high, these though were in full color! One was Untitled, 2002, glazed Ceramics. Again each one looked unique among thousands. Here was a very wide range of shapes, round, elliptical, spotted, wavy, some with loops and handles, others with spikes. I saw a number that looked like miniatures of ones I am convinced I have seen and handled before! Once again his distinct skills for the creation of these was fantastic. I was consistently remarking, “How did he do that?”
LeDray’s skill and vision is by far not limited to the ceramic medium. He showed many other scaled down objects from furniture, to intricate structures, various multiple arrangements and lots of clothes. One of the primary pieces in the show was Men’s Suits, 2006-09, shown here for the first time in the U.S.A. In a separate gallery were three scaled tableaux of sections from second hand clothing stores, maybe at ¼ scale. We are looking down [again] into the store in two and the storeroom in one. We are seeing these from above the suspended ceilings; years of dust and grime are obvious on the top of the hanging tiles that could only be seen from this vantage point. Just one example of his unwavering eye for inclusion of details. Everything is scaled down, the racks, the hangers, light fixtures, tile flooring and the amazing clothes of course. In the storeroom there is a canvas cart full of jumbled and unfolded clothes just as one might see in the back of such a store.
Charles LeDray, MENS SUITS (installation view), 2009. Courtesy of the artist nd Sperone Westwater, New York. Photo: John Kennard.
LeDray’s work goes way beyond scale. One of the aspects of many contemporary works I have seen is just about scale such as wall size photographs that while massive have no substance other than their size. Charles LeDray scales his objects down but instills in them a communal meaning; an inherent quality that speaks to the obsession modern society has with possessions and the acquiring of more “Stuff.” One comes away thinking about what it means to have all the objects many of us have in our homes and questioning the need for so much.
1 White Rabbit, Grace Slick, 1965-66
WORKWORKWORKWORKWORK Charles LeDray, at the ICA – Boston till October 17th. http://www.icaboston.org/exhibitions/exhibit/ledray/
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
I've been playing around with my mom's old Minolta SR-T 202 for the past three months. My weekly routine has turned into a series of outdoor photography shoots (due to a broken flash and a strong dislike for artificial light) with living or non-living things. My picture taking adventures are followed by a trip to the local CVS photo lab where my friends, Mark and Tim take charge in printing. Once one-hour has passed, we spend time and go over the film: what worked with color, where focus was beneficial and how the subjects responded in the prints. It has become my new hobby that I would now like to share with you. All pictures will be posted on a separate website within the next month or so...
There were no other colors removing the viewer from the content of the interview considering the artist herself was sporting a black metallic bra with a velvet cropped suit coat fitted to her petite frame. Red lips and nails polished off the overall glamour of the set. Not only did it add color, but it also directed most of my attention to her mouth: physically prominent and full, the controller of all verbal communication for a strong figure in music, art, and philosophy.
Furthermore, though famous for her corky wig choices, Gaga seemed to be reliving moments of the past over any other of her looks seen before. Displaying a very retro short blonde do, I felt as though I was watching an adaptation of Madonna's 1980's "Truth or Dare" documentary or clips from Edie Sedgwick's "Poor Little Rich Girl."
It all seemed channeled from another era, consciously emphasizing the timelessness of these fashions while synthesizing her own attitude into a combination of stylish appeals. But instead of addressing the overall aesthetic as "unoriginal" or "already done", we should consider how our individual fashion sense relates to past decades. If we can be inspired, why can't she?
Plus, I wouldn't mind wearing a black bra and jacket out in public. We must embrace the cycle of fashion and continue to be inspired by those who aren't afraid to re-make statements into their own.
Watch interview here: http://showstudio.com/project/in_camera/lady_gaga
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
He was one of the first artists to create a number of inventive and innovative works, many in his signature blue, that he called IKB – International Klein Blue. He used this hue in most of his works and starting around 1958 created the majority in IKB. Some of his most interesting, original and, at the time, unusual pieces were his figurative works. In these, he first painted color onto naked models and then had them either lie on blank canvas or roll on it. The results were strikingly abstract but recognizable images that were humorous and seductive. They were not prurient in their seduction but inviting. One is immediately taken by the forms and after a few moments recognizes the human figure.
In many of these works such as Anthropométrie de l’époque bleue (ANT 82), 1960 110” x 61”, he repeated the images a number of times. In this work, we see five partial figures seemingly moving across the canvas. These are female images from the breasts to the knees.Together they become something other than what they are individually. There is clear expression in their movement and placement. The title translates to Anthropometry of the blue time. Anthropometry is defined as the measurement and study of the human body and its parts and capacities1. Using this definition, we can see Klein’s possible jab at the artistic use of anatomy. As artists, we are trained in anatomy, to understand the proportions of the human body and to think about the scale and interrelationship of the parts in our work. In these and many other works, he plays with this concept by not painting the body on the canvas but painting the body and placing it on the canvas! The resulting works are marvelous.
Anthropométrie de l’époque bleue (ANT 82), 1960
Pigment pur et résine synthétique sur papier monté sur toile
155 x 281 cm Achat, 1984 AM 1984-279 © Adagp, Paris 2007
Klein created quite a large oeuvre considering the short period he had to work. His art was influential from the start and still is today. His works are shown to and discussed with today’s art students who see that what many of them think is wild and unusual was already done by Klein over 50 years ago! There is presently an excellent retrospective of the work of Yves Klein at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C. that is more than worth the trip. Just remember to wear Blue!
Yves Klein: With the Void, Full Powers, Hirshhorn Museum, Washington D.C., May 20 - September12, 2010: http://hirshhorn.si.edu/exhibitions/view.asp?key=1&subkey=252
Saturday, July 3, 2010
To say that I was amazed by this show is an understatement. I was in Rome mainly to see the Caravaggio show and on my way there passed the Palazzo delle Esposizioni and saw the banner for this show.
I have always loved De Chirico’s work and had recently seen a show in Firenze (Florence) that dealt with his influences on the work of Max Ernst, Magritte, Balthus, and other Surrealists. This was a fine show but the one in Roma was far more spectacular!
It was a very hot day in Roma and very cool in the museum which is housed in a marvelous, neo-classical building built in 1883. The show was on the ground floor that has a massive, three story open rotunda styled after the Pantheon with a skylight at the occulus. The open rotunda had eight sides with seven galleries accessible from it (the eighth side was the entrance to the museum). Over 120 of De Chirico’s works arranged in these galleries each one dealing with a specific aspect of Nature, Water, Air, Earth, etc. The exhibition was mounted to celebrate 100 years since the birth of Metaphysical Art, what De Chirico called his work.
I would spend time in one gallery then go to the rotunda that had four large couches, each 4-sided in the center with small speakers suspended about ten feet above constantly playing De Chirico discussing his work. I'd lounge a while and then move on to the next gallery. I had two goals: take my time, relax and really see the show and use up time as my return train to Firenze was @ 7:45 p.m. Having seen and studied De Chirico’s work, I realized right away there were so many here I’d never seen, known about or hadn’t ever been shown before.
I discovered many things about De Chirico. For example, he had many paintings in the show that were signed with a date sometimes 30 years before he actually painted it. There might be a work signed Giorgio De Chirico 1927 that the gallery card noted was actually painted in 1963! He had a great sense of humor not only with this but also with the juxtaposition of objects in many of his works.
In the gallery that dealt with Water many of the paintings were from a series called I bagni misteriosi [The Mysteries of the Baths.] These were extremely surreal, but somewhat frightening and funny, enigmatic to the max! In I bagni misteriosi II, 1935-6 we see a man in a business suit sitting on a box looking at three unclothed men, two standing (?) waist deep in the bagno, the third knee deep. The pool contains three mysterious platforms supported by angled logs. On each is a sort of cabana with a different type of closed door. There is a second clothed man standing further away with his back to us. This all exists in De Chirico’s signature, starkly lit and shadowed, vast surreal plane.
The water is usually rendered as a series of lines that are triangular repetitions, here in black and orange, like angular waves; the same way an opera set might be constructed to show moving waves. These “bagni” in which all of the figures stood could be miles long but consistently narrow with the occasional circular bulge. There would always be at least one fully clothed (suit & tie) man either standing or seated. The paintings had a very strange atmosphere, very dream-like but edgy. At first you didn’t really see what was [possibly] happening. After viewing a whole gallery of around 12 of these I was easily taken into their world.
Then there were a series of Furniture paintings: La mobilia nella valle (The furniture in the valley), La mobila nell’oceano (at the ocean), at least 5-8 of each. In each of these there would usually be a large, high-backed armchair, a mirrored, tall vanity, usually with a bit of flourish at top and a bookshelf, all usually on a carpet. They would just be arranged in the valley, or on the mountain (La mobila sulla montagna) or on the seashore, as if someone had placed them there to use as an outdoor room. These never contained any figures. The way he painted these was, of course, all about atmosphere. The unusual placement was never in question, but where was everyone? Had they just left and were they coming back?
Being able to see a complete range of De Chirico's work emphasized his significance as one of the most important innovators and artists of the 20th century. He managed to create, populate, and establish a seemingly endless world of images that hold just as much ambiguity, humor, and unanswerable questions when viewed today in our society of instant information and high tech solutions, truly Misteri.
Links to the two shows mentioned:
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
In Woody Allen's "Annie Hall”, the cynical protagonist, Alvy Singer, takes a trip from his beloved Manhattan to the somewhat equally smoggy Los Angeles for a comedy show and a series of social gatherings with friends. Throughout his stay, Singer doesn’t hesitate when vocalizing his bitterness toward the lifestyle cultivated in what many consider to be a superficial, cultureless city. Thus, in his attempts to emphasize Los Angeles' society and its faults, Alvy Singer goes on to say one of my favorite lines in the film: "I don't want to move to a city where the only cultural advantage is being able to make a right turn on a red light."
Not saying that traffic laws serve as the only perk of the town, but it does have something to say about the city’s underwhelming cultural appeal. However, spending two weeks in West Hollywood, I focused on the brighter side of the city, which many find comfort in and love. With that being said, I was under speculation as to why those who come in search of their dreams stay longer once the fantasy has been shattered. I realized there’s more culture than we would and/or should ever know.
Throughout my stay in Los Angeles, I went through a series of questions concerning the motives of those who reside here from all over the country. As you know, LA is a transit city, so it is only natural to assume that each and every one of its inhabitants are living, working and breathing with a bigger dream. However, through all the scene-ster run-ins and Freudian couch sessions with mediocre actors and pompous screenwriters, I could only see that the potential of many has been weakened by social networking or lack there of.
So, I got to wondering…
Are people blinded from their potential because of their close proximity to the spot light? If so, would this make them feel that they shouldn’t work as hard? Why do people strive for something out of reach from themselves? Should it be an example of how we should all be? Are they really happy with their limitations?
Maybe this city is more of a rude awakening to American culture. It’s that image we all subconsciously aspire to reach; that pivotal moment of individual success, where money secures family and its happiness. However, when truly faced with the lifestyle fortune and social status brings upon one's life, there seems to be feelings of bitterness in the midst of it all. Whether or not one believes they are affected by society's ideals of money and status, it is America's means to live. Freedom is for those who take the initiative and work. Freedom is for those who collect welfare from the government in order to secure a roof over their heads. If they're motivation ends there, something should still be said about mankind’s contribution to material things. Everyone is a part of it and once they live in a city that glorifies it, then somehow we are turned off by its superficiality and lack of culture. Don't get me wrong, I find no great culture in this city, just like I find no great culture in many parts of the United States. But, what much of Los Angeles represents is the influx of our country's number one fans. The people who embrace our society's materialistic constructs by purchasing high-end clothing, mingling with well-known industry types, and maintaining a below-average weight to enhance their above average facial features.
Of course, not all of the United States focuses its money and time on materialism and the ideals of perfection. However, America is a consumer society, harvested by corporate mentalities telling us what we should have and want in order to achieve success, happiness and status. I discovered the only reason some of us hate this place is because of everything it represents. It's like looking at your body naked. Some embrace it, running around and adapting to the shape, size and color they were given, while others can only stand it for so long before having to confine their parts with clothing. This clothing is the world we place ourselves in to secure the heat. Maybe there are only a few nudists who can see their way to the top while the rest stay content standing on the sections of the stepping stool, fully clothed. Until we figure out who we are and where our contributions lie in America, we will continue to live our lives as cultureless dreamers searching for an easy way out.
Friday, May 14, 2010
Hold me while my wrists stay locked in chains;
and your nose presses against my ribs
I want you to breathe with me.
That sweet, hot heat blown down
d o w n
d o w n
(make it heavy
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
During its first couple weeks on view, several articles were written in regards to what the ICA considers to be "playful, naughty, and often intentionally vulgar" that ultimately "challenges social norms by blurring cultural identities." The Boston Globe, Weekly Dig and Phoenix (to name a few) printed favoring reviews, overall condoning any flaw within the museum's curation. Thus, I leave it to Marc "MCCLUMP" Mannheimer to counteract these opinions with a brief interpretation of his own.
Lakra's work is all about surface. For me the gimmick wore off after the 7th or 8th one. While I appreciated his appropriation of diverse images and his obvious eye for form and the unusual, these were works that didn't resonate. There were a number of his pieces that did effect me such as the insect-parts portraits and his take on the Mexican convention of family cut-outs. The only work that stood out for me was the mural on the back wall, Not the one comprised of African & Meso-American sculptures. Here he was painting, composing and playing with the space. This didn't seem so contrived as most of the other images did. The erotic photos weren't, but that was probably his point. What operated for me was eventually his work became, "Hey, what can I paint tattoos on now?" Very, hip, now and surface. Not intellectual, though of course art needn't be.
Marc and I became good friends while I was working at a local gelateria over the summer 2009. He has spent time in Italy, indulging in Renaissance culture and creating his own pieces from the country's mystical air of beauty and inspiration. With great knowledge in the field of art, he has always been a reliable source and mentor for my anxious self, looking to reach further into the historical content and purpose of an artist's work. I have always enjoyed his retrospective insights and his ability to reach beyond typical observations in the least pretentious way. With this, I felt inclined to share his points of view with the Tea Room readers.
Hey! It might even be more refreshing than a Iced Tea Boba @Urth Cafe (LA) or a revitalizing cup of Mate @ L'Aroma (BOSTON). Either way, Bebelotodo!
Monday, April 26, 2010
Carlo Mollino (1905-1973) started his career as an architect and engineer, designing homes and furniture throughout his native Turin. However, his passion lied in photography and he based much of his earlier work on architectural models and interior designs along with images from hobbies such as skiing, driving, and flying. By the 1950s, Mollino focused on the objectivity of women, and began displaying their provocative nature in semi-pornographic polaroids for New Year's cards and personal archives.