Monday, March 29, 2010

Elder Marcus

My little bro (serving a mission for our church in Florida) is the BOMB, he is so funny. His letter this week was so classic that I just have to replicate parts of it here. Note that some of it shows we definitely come from the same art-analytical family background:

I also read up on Abinadi and his enduring ever-faithful testimony and sticktoitiveness to preach the gospel. And I've noticed again, that he probably wasn't an old man. Probably a younger guy. And King Noah was DEFINATELY not a big fat dude, with a palm tree on his head, and with babylonian shoes like Arnold Friberg portrayed. The guy has an epic long battle up a flight of stairs. If he was a big jabba-the-hutt man, he'd have a heart attack and die the first 3 steps up the tower. I think we really need to switch all the "famous book of mormon pictures" done by Friberg, and put in Walter Rane's work. He's undeniably my favorite LDS artist. I used to like Liz Lemon Swindle alot, and still do, but Rane's work is verrrrry appealing to me, and have a much broader sense of realism, and a much greater scope of emotion. You should look up his work. Tis good...

...Have a blessed week. Work out your own salvation. (emphasis on the work, not just say, "save me" and your good) I'm getting really tired of born agains. We've talked to alot lately, and I'm tired of proving them wrong. :) YAY!!!!!


Elder M. Dewaine

(Me again) So cute. And maybe a little prideful. And still so cute. My error-laden blogger upload thing won't let me show you the two pictures he's talking about, Walter Rane's Abinadi Had Testified and Arnold Friberg's scene of Abinadi testifying before a very chubby King Noah (couldn't find the actual title of that work, either... there's way too many dodgy blogs out there citing this image improperly). Oh well. Probably for the best. Have a great week!! :)

Friday, March 26, 2010

It's Paper-writing Season. Lookie, Pictures!

(Click on each one to make them get bigger and more awesome!)

Can you tell this man, this artist, traveled the globe?

In their day and age, these four pictures were literally the kings of the world. They were shipped around the globe as superstars in separate single-work "shows." (Can you image? Instead of dropping $12 to see a 2-hour movie, people in America and Europe dropped their money to just go and stand in front of these babies). The pictures earned their creator thousands of dollars from ticket and reproduction sales. The first one, Heart of the Andes, set a record when it was purchased for the highest price ever paid to a living American artist for one painting ($10,000).

These works showcase some of the smartest ideas brewing among the minds of the Western world's intellectuals around the time of the Civil War: Darwinism. Metaphysical religion. Modern oceanographic, optic, geological, and botanical studies (the last two as championed by Alexander von Humboldt, the artist's hero). They also smoothly integrate antebellum and "bellum" pop-culture interests to keep the little people, the normal ones, talking about and ogling them, too: The mysterious and widely-discussed disappearance of one English explorer, Sir John Franklin, into the Arctic sea in the 1840s. The mania for Niagara area tourism, as facilitated for the public by the new American railroad or "iron horse." The innovative (if extremely un-PC) idea to ship American slaves to South America in order to stave off civil war any way possible.

Art is so neat. So is Frederic Edwin Church, the artist I'm learning pretty much everything about in order to find an angle that no one's covered yet.

One of my favorite, most professionally inspiring quotes seems appropriate here today, mid paper-writing storm:

"A work of art is an infinitely complex focus of human experience. The mystery of its creation, its history, and the rise and fall of its esthetic, documentary, sentimental, and commercial values, the endless variety of its relationships to the other works of art, its physical condition, the meaning of its subject, the technique of its production, the purpose of the man who made it- all these factors lie behind a work of art, converge upon it, and challenge our powers of analysis and publication. And they should be made accessible to other scholars and intelligible to the man off the street."

-Alfred H. Barr, Jr., 1946 (One of my heroes- he's the founding director of New York's Museum of Modern Art; a very influential and innovative voice in the early Modern New York scene. Someday, if no one else has done it, I'll write his biography. He had very interesting things to say about Christian artworks, too.)

Bye bye!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Good Morning, Museum

Whether you are a morning person or not, you just need to know: one of the most serene and invigorating experiences in the world (10x better than a caffeine shot) is the act of walking around in a museum before it opens (or, to a lesser extent, after it closes). Truly. Even though I've repeated this action again and again in different museums, I still feel a unique power in just those few seconds of museum "dawn." It soothes my rumpled morning soul like no other. :)

I don't know what it is. A quiet moment of satisfaction as you walk through the oversized doors and look up and around, with nary a soul (except the security guards) in sight. I guess you could say this experience relates to the virtue of savoring each moment, and/or the value of living in the present. You'd be right. In the mornings there are rarely any fantastic changes to greet me, except that the floors have been neatly swept, the stray chairs have been gathered in (thank you, dutiful night custodians!), and all the bright lights that normally crown the displays cases, artworks, and architectural settings with a golden halo are switched off (they lie in wait for the flick of the switchboard by the lead custodian, which was me at the BYU MoA, circa 2006-2007. I did always enjoy turning on the lights...)
In short, museums looks roughly the same in the morning. But as we all know, museums are a special place, and thus their mornings have special powers. They even have the ability to reinstill my commitment to my career at times (which is really useful right now... leisure hours are at an all-time low thanks to my busy schedule. My apologies to those who don't hear back from me as quickly as possible, and my sincere thanks to multiple family members who keep building me up and helping me along this crazy semester!). Many times I have savored my morning moment of stillness, and felt my inner Cinderella well up and say, "This is why I'm here. My gosh this is gorgeous." And all is well.

My museums are organizations kept up by (hopefully) the best intentions of many people's hearts and pocketbooks. They are beloved, highly visible, and sometimes sensational institutions visited by publics coming from far and wide with a really wide range of reasons for making the pilgrimage. Museums house surprising, creative, and intriguing collections of curios and valuables, and they rotate these objects under the public's gaze through the means of various well-selected (aka "curated") exhibitions. I've loved these big, beautiful spaces since I was little, when my dad would take me to the exclusive grand openings of libraries, museums, mansions, casinos, and the like (Viva Las Vegas!) and I would "feel the power." (Totally unrelated note: I heart Emperor's New Groove).

However, the moment is really quickly forgotten, even by me (And I mean quickly- give or take two minutes). After I reach the museum and bask in its morning glow, there are classrooms to set up, tour details to recall, training sessions to attend, colleagues to chat with, blah blah blah... and of course, the inevitable onslaught of the day's visitors: bring on the crying babies! And the shrieking and sprinting children, and the harried-looking adults, and the uncertain yet excited tweens moving around in little herds, snapping future facebook profile photos in front of the most picturesque pieces of the museums. These are glorious places during the day, too, in their own way.

Today I escaped my afternoon lesson with the memory of my morning reverie still in tact for once, and thus I decided to record it for posterity here.

This link takes you to a nifty little 360 degree tour of my current haven, the National Building Museum. In this "tour" all the lights are on, so you can't get quite the same morning view, but you can still definitely get a sense of the emptiness, the clear light, and the beauty of the space... and hopefully a sense of why I go on such random fancy tangents about it, too. If you were to come visit me out here, ps, I would shower you with all of the interesting historical information printed below the tour window. And I would deliver it in my best, most entertaining and mysterious teacher/tour guide/docent voice. We would have a great time. :)

And with that, I bid you good afternoon. Wherever you are.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Re: The Approaching Summer

Dear Spring,

Oh, you are a good friend to me. The best. Holy cow I'm a whitey!! However (and I'm just bringing this up cuz I don't want to lead you on), you need to know, and I'm sure you already suspect: I am waiting for Summer. I only have eyes for Summer. Review my summer obsession in posts a, b, c, and d.

It's coming. Blue skies and clear water approach. I could sing!

With a lil' bit of luck... my summer adventure will be in the West. As a student, I am free to bounce around the globe in off-campus months, and so I am in search of summer jobs in the Rockies, preferably in the Salt Lake or Utah valleys (or Vegas...). I want to come HOME!!! :)

And for whatever reason, I keep thinking it's a good idea to let you, the blog buddies, know! I guess if anyone knows of a good four-month job that I, a very flexible, enthusiastic, and patient part-time teacher, computer cataloger, research assistant, customer service representative, former executive assistant, writer, Excel spreadsheet maker, receptionist, and cookie-baker extraordinaire could do, and do well, please by all means, email me and let me know! It would mean so much to me. Thank you!

Enjoy the day! PS Winter. You're outta here. :)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Blown Fuse

"What are you thinking right now?"
"I'm going to blow a fuse. Our ward is too cerebral. Have hope, talk to God, and enjoy your life! That's all we really need to hear."

-My itchy emotions during a nebulous, too-theoretical discussion in Marriage Prep last Sunday.

Introducing some American Tonalist painters: Homer Dodge Martin, Thomas Dewing, and George Inness (well, technically, Inness was only Tonalist at the end of his career, but that's getting a little too deep...). These artists were all about venting their emotions, too. But theirs are a lot more peaceable emotions, I think. And certainly more picturesque:

Homer Martin. A North Woods Lake. 1867. Oil on Canvas.

Are those two mini sailboats or just whitecaps at the bottom, center? I'm intrigued... Also, way to go on those clouds, Homer. Me likey.

Thomas Dewing. White Birch. Ca. 1896-1899. Oil on canvas. Washington University (St. Louis, MO) Gallery of Art.

Can you see the white??? I'm a little blindsided by all the green. But, as always, I am a fan of any poetic and illustrious-looking ladies running around wildernesses :)

George Inness. Lake Nemi. 1872. Oil on canvas. MFA Boston.

No words for this one.

To be a Tonalist, one must be concerned in painting with achieving harmony in colors; no jarring contrasts, no flaming bright switchbacks between light and dark. In 1905, Clara Ruge, early art critic, put it succinctly:
"Here, then... is the motive that the Tonal School has made its own. The arrangement of colours must be kept in harmony because it must reproduce not merely the facts of the landscape, either separately or in mass, but, rather, the effect of the scene upon the painter's feelings, the emotion it evokes. Not alone the grass and the trees, with whatever delicate recognition of gradation of colour, but the mood, of which they are the embodiment and cause, is to be transferred to the canvas."
I'm really feeling little in my writing-about-art powers. Writing-- powerful, descriptive, assertive paragraphs and prose-- is the tool of my trade, and I can't concentrate long enough on any art article to learn anything about it from the masters! I blame the Internet (as I go back to Googling my Tonalists... when I'm supposed to be researching them :)

Have a fabulous day!
PS. Click on these images to get them really big. They'll blow your mind!