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Archive for the ‘Exhibits’ Category

El Anatsui: When I Last Wrote to You about Africa

I made a point to get to the Blanton to see this before it came down January 22nd, since it is the largest collection of El Anatsui’s work to be shown in the United States, and the Blanton is the only southwest venue to host the exhibition.  My determination was rewarded with vibrant visual rhythms.  Scribbling my impressions in a small notepad helped me keep some works fresh in my mind so I could post them here.

chip chop/chip chop/repeat, nick nack/repeat.  

Installation view. Courtesy of The Blanton Museum of Art. Photo: Rick Hall
Installation view. Courtesy of The Blanton Museum of Art. Photo: Rick Hall

Patterns reminiscent of woven fabric and methodical marks written as language were burned, carved, & gouged into planks, laid side by side to form tableaus; arresting figures emerged from wittily assembled, carved, and painted wood scraps. Worn materials made new again through the artist’s visceral energy: scored and scoured, charred and etched, painted and pieced.  Each work has stories to tell, transformative journeys to recount.

I am glad to be reminded that the range of materials, tools, and mark-making techniques available to an artist is as wide as the imagination.  Fancy supplies are not required to make something meaningful.

amass/entwine/repeat

"Stressed World," 2011. Courtesy of The Blanton Museum of Art. Photo: Rick Hall.
“Stressed World,” 2011. Courtesy of The Blanton Museum of Art. Photo: Rick Hall.

Metal made fluid, flexible, like nets of some mystic ritual, woven from bottle tops & wire, discarded bits of mass consumption.  Patterns and shapes suggestive of  familiar forms:  a corset, a cloak, a flag, a map. Rippling from sparse to dense and back again, the varied color clusters and compositions providing a unique tone for each work.

Even the draping of the “tapestries” speaks volumes in each work .  “Stressed World” was stretched and pulled taught, yet sagging under its own weight. Lulling waves swelled in “Oasis.” “Tahari in Blue” was somehow formal with its thick, crisp creases.  “Susuvo” fluttered like a regal flag.  I was surprised to discover that such installation choices were likely made by the curator rather than the artist, as explained in Glasstire’s article about the exhibit.

Making the rounds in the gallery and gazing upon some works more than once, I became conscious of time, its passage, the substantial duration required for the wall sculptures.  Yet amazingly, some pieces conveyed chaos, despite the sustained, deliberate, and tedious construction apparent.  I love the way art surprises me, puzzles me, spurs me to trains of thought not present in my workaday life.

Images borrowed from Glasstire.

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Specimens


Specimens

Originally uploaded by Melly Belly

We visited the Museum of Natural and Artificial Ephemerata a couple of weeks ago, and got inspired.

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City of Angels

I visited Los Angeles for the first time this summer, to catch up with my good friend Carmen and her family. It had been ~6.5 years since we last saw each other, before she and her husband moved to the west coast, before her children were born.

In addition to the high adventures I had with Carmen, Erik, and the kiddos, (see photos below), Carmen treated me to many little get-aways from the daily grind, including: delicious home-cooked vegetarian meals, after-dinner cocktails at a neighborhood bar, girls’ night out complete with mani/pedi followed by dinner party & clothes swap, a healing breathing circle in a yurt, with live music! And to top it off, on my last night, Erik took me on a motorcycle tour of Hollywood Blvd., Sunset Strip, and West Hollywood. Totally unexpected and awesome way to see the sights, real quick-like. It didn’t feel like a whirlwhind visit, but we really packed in some good times.

The weather was a treat in itself (I didn’t want to hide from the sun the whole time, like I’ve been doing in ATX), and the lush greenery blew my mind (compared to the browning, crunchy landscape I inhabit). I picked figs from trees in their yard. Heavenly.

morning family time

drink hot coffee at your own risk

Hollywood ladeez

obligatory photo-op

We spent quite awhile exploring the spacey exhibits inside the recently-renovated Griffith Observatory (cool, dark respite after hot dusty hike up the trail)

Griffith Observatory (and me)

Griffith Observatory (and me)

Foucault pendulum in rotunda at Griffith Observatory

Foucault pendulum in rotunda at Griffith Observatory

I was flabbergasted by “The Cosmic Connection” exhibit: a 150-foot visual time line of the universe, composed of 2000+ pieces of celestial-themed jewelry, collected by astronomy enthusiast Kara Knack over 20+ years. Honestly, I didn’t read any of the educational plaquards, I was so enchanted by the jewelry! It reminded me of my grandmother’s extensive costume jewelry collection she let me play with as a child (thought not theme-specific).

piece of "The Cosmic Connection" exhibit

The Cosmic Connection

precious cargo

precious cargo

Friendly folks share their pools! We had this luxurious swimmin’ hole to ourselves – surrounded by 20+ foot high wall of tropical paradiso (just look at that bougainvillea!?)

swimming paradiso

swimming paradiso

We had another adventure in Griffith Park: watching the kids scooter through Shane’s Inspiration and then over to the old animal enclosures from the abandoned zoo (built in the 1930s, closed in the 1960s). The kids indulged me by posing for a picture. **Snarl!** We even saw a coyote as we wandered back to the parking lots.

wild animals at the abandoned zoo in Griffith Park

wild animals at the abandoned zoo in Griffith Park

-Mel

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Quick, before it’s gone!

This past Sunday, Amo & I spent a couple of hours at the Blanton Museum of Art to catch the last day of some exhibitions recommended by friends.

Reimagining space: The Park Place Gallery Group in 1960s New York was a lively assemblage of paintings and sculptures created to capture the spirit of the urban industrial landscape the artists were working in and inspired by at the time.

Geometrically-shaped canvases painted with electric colors and machine-perfect lines and patterns parlayed perspective, dimension, and depth, a visual reflection of jazz, modern architecture, the Space Age, and an interest in the fourth dimension.

My favorite pieces in the exhibit were by sculptor Mark di Suvero: reclaimed materials from demolition projects such as steel beams, chains, pipes, and broken pieces of wooden framing and furniture were soldered and bolted together into wonderfully dynamic kinetic pieces that called to me like the playscapes in the parks of my youth. Dang that “No touching” policy in the gallery. I was also delighted to learn that the big orange sculpture I’ve been gawking at lately (part of a series of sculptures loaned to UT by the Met and scattered around campus) is one of di Suvero’s.

The New York Graphic Workshop: 1964 – 1970 exhibition presented the conceptual work of a small group of printmakers seeking to explore and redefine the practice of printmaking. Holy moly I love art that challenges tradition! Especially traditional ideas about what art is, what it can or can’t be. Good mental exercise. Repeat daily.

This group sent little mini-exhibitions through the mail, and created interactive installations for viewers to walk through and participate in. They even invented a fictitious character and then made and sold prints attributed to him to benefit a Latin American scholarship fund at Pratt. Ingenious!.

The Park Place and NYGW artists were admirably dedicated to establishing and working in collaborative, cooperative spaces, independent of commercial galleries & dealers. I think there are several small cooperative arts groups here in Austin – I’ll have to go a-hunting now, and report back later.

-Mel

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iCe!!

Ice!! blue parkas

Bro + nephew....each new line gets colder as we approach the entance

Bro + nephew....each new line gets colder as we approach the entrance

The Gaylord Hotel in Grapevine, TX currently has this exhibit called – guess – Ice!! “Visitors will feel as though they have been transported to the North Pole as they bundle up in warm parkas and enter this winter wonderland created with TWO MILLION pounds of ice and kept at a wintry 9 degrees.” Well, IF visiting the north pole means being crammed parka to parka with 100 strangers in tiny, dark frigid rooms, then yes, I suppose this exhibit was a success.

-amo

ice bunnies

ice bunnies

exit tube

exit tube

icey stare, icey nativity

icey stare, icey nativity

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Fun in ATL

So, I’m home for Christmas this year. I would like to officially thank my family for making some “quality time” plans for me, so I didn’t have to try to persuade anyone that a museum exhibit or theatre performance would be great fun, as I’ve done in the past. I can only stand the malls and movie theater for so long, and those two reign supreme as the social agenda options around here.

My sister bought tickets to the new Georgia Aquarium, and she and I and I spent a lovely afternoon wandering around ogling the fanciful creatures.  The beluga whales and sea dragons were my favorites – so strangely beautiful!  The giant viewing window in the Ocean Voyager wing of the Aquarium was mesmerizing.

My mom took me and my youngest bro to the King Tut and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs exhibit at the Atlanta Civic Center.  I am amazed at how such delicate & detailed carvings, jewelry, and other objects can be sooooo old and still in such great condition!?  I came away with a much better understanding of Egyptian culture than I expected:  the expansive timeline of pharaoh dynasties over thousands of years, the enormous effort put into their elaborate funerary rituals (so many layers of containment, like nesting dolls!) and the archaeological expeditions in the Valley of the Kings.  Alas, no pictures were allowed in the galleries.

-Mel

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