24 May 2009

rest on the flight to Alfred

Though I could (or probably should) have stayed home and packed some more books, I wanted to see the newly reopened American Wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Roberto Ferrari had blogged about the reopening a few days ago and that made me even more curious. He mentioned that it was good to be able to walk around the sculpture in the round but I must admit I think I preferred the Victorian patches of ivy. He also liked the touch screen information panels in the period rooms. Again, I guess I'm a fuddy duddy and prefer the old-fashioned text panels.

Meandering up through the various period rooms, I did stop to look at the wonderful Paris wallpaper that I'd love to find so I could make a frieze of buildings, inspired by it, around my library up in Alfred. Better check out the wallpaper catalogs.

I also went up to the roof garden to see the Roxy Paine installation. It's pretty stupendous, lots of snarled branches with reflections and views through the real vines:

A trip to the Met isn't complete without stopping in to see my favorite ivory of Mary and Joseph resting on the flight to Egypt, described on the label as one of the finest bits of Romanesque ivory carving.

14 May 2009

Lisa Ross at Daneyal Mahmood Gallery

This evening, I went to Daneyal Mahmood Gallery to hear Lisa Ross in conversation with Nan Goldin. It was an incredible artist talk. The gallery was crowded and many of us were sitting on the floor, perhaps appropriately ascetic. The YouTube video embedded here is from Daylight Multimedia and includes still pictures set to Uyghur music and Lisa Ross talking about prayer and spirituality. There are also some evocative pictures on the gallery website. When I looked at the list of her exhibitions, I realized that I had seen her work before, two years ago at Nelson Hancock Gallery in Dumbo.

The video at Daneyal Mahmood has a very different feel from the YouTube video from Daylight. The video on view at the gallery is very quiet. The gallery text indicated that you could only hear the natural sounds of the holy site in the desert. With quite a few people in the gallery, you couldn't even hear that and the silent flapping of the flags was mesmerizing.

Seeing the Uyghur scenery was especially evocative since I cataloged some ARTstor images from the Silk Routes recently. Lisa Ross first went to Xinjiang to see the ancient cities but found them disappointingly touristic. Wandering off, she discovered these holy sites.

10 May 2009

LibraryThing beats worldcat.org?

As I was sorting books to put in boxes today, I came across the library copy of Cruising: Architektur, Psychoanalyse and Queer Cultures by Helge Mooshammer (Böhlau, 2005) which I have checked out. I couldn't remember if I'd put in the bibliography for the Queer Caucus for Art Newsletter or not. I thought I'd google it to see whether it showed up that way. I was surprised to see that the LibraryThing work record showed up as the first hit. The second hit is from the author's webpage and the OCLC WorldCat record doesn't show up until the third entry on the second page, not far above the listing from the new books list at Berkeley. While I'm quite a fan of LibraryThing, as you know, I'm sort of disappointed that the WorldCat entry doesn't show up first. After all, if someone wants access to the book, they'd have more luck with the public collections in OCLC than with the mostly private libraries in LibraryThing.

09 May 2009

Carrie Moyer at CANADA and more

There's much to like in Carrie Moyer's current show of new paintings at CANADA gallery at 55 Chrystie on the Lower East Side (just North of Canal Street). Before I read the press release, I scribbled down a few of my favorite things:
- pigment: thick and thin, sometimes a glaze or inhabited with glitter, sometimes almost like a stain painting by Helen Frankenthaler or Morris Louis, other times so thickly applied that it has cracked
- color
- sometimes just raw canvas among the colors
- red string lines, mostly free form among the more precise edges of color areas, is this the influence of her partner Sheila Pepe?
- shapes that evoke: breasts but "First instance" reads to me like a thrusting male member
- a bit of Miró, a Target, puppets and calligraphy

And then I read the press release which talked about "Arcana" (the show's title) referring to the Tarot deck. I don't know much about Tarot so I'll have to take their word for it. There's also a list of what we might see and what it means. No mention of male parts so it must be me. The picture above is appropriated from the CANADA website; not "First instance" (and not identified by title on the website) but fairly representative.

My next stop was going to be Leslie/Lohman to see the Marco Silombria show so I started meandering North and West. I stopped at Jane Kim/Thrust Projects and found the Momoyo Torimitsu show. The gallery is full of small resin sculptures imitating melted chocolate Easter bunnies, supposedly critiquing consumerism. I don't really get it, or it doesn't move me.

Next. I vaguely remembered that Storefront's current show was on an interesting topic so I aimed there, forgetting that it was too far North for Leslie/Lohman.

The show now at Storefront for Art and Architecture is "49 cities" put together by WORK Architecture Company (WORKac): plans and statistics about 49 plans for better cities, whether that be denser or sparser, higher or over water, green or aerial. Included were the Royal Salt Works at Arc-et-Senans, a Roman town, a colonial Latin American town, some of the megastructures of the 1960s and 1970s, Levittown, garden cities, Broadacre City, Radiant City. The catalog is wonderful and reproduces most of the stuff in the exhibition. I find it an amusing coincidence that Storefront's show of photos from early last year was called "49 state capitols." The gallery guy said the 49s were just coincidental.

As I left the gallery, someone called my name and there was Jim Bergesen leading a group of young women galleryhoppers from Connecticut. We talked a bit about the joys and sorrows of galleryhopping amid the shoppers and lunch takers. And then I realized I was too far North for Leslie/Lohman so went to the grocery store and home. There's a lecture by Nina Katchadourian at Hunter College tonight: more evidence of the value of Facebook where I saw a notice for the artist talk.

02 May 2009

how popular are you? ask LC and ARTstor

It used to be that a gross count of Google hits would tell you whether one thing was more popular than another. LC sometimes used it in determining which term to use for a new subject heading. It's rather like one ARL library or super-bookstore saying they're better because they have more volumes. I've always preferred a bookstore that seemed to have a collection development policy. Now, Samuel G. Freedman has shown that we can move to smarter counts on the Internet. Well, we always could do that but I was amused by his counting in "Before there was King David, there was King Saul" in today's New York times. The article is about the new television series "Kings": King David and Saul in modern dress, with modernized names and places. What amused me was that he determined that David was way more popular than Saul by comparing hits in the LC catalog and ARTstor. For the record, the LC count was 43 Sauls and 297 Davids; the ARTstor count was 59 Sauls and "several thousand of David."

The whole article may be found online as "In ‘Kings,’ Television Tackles the Conflicted Saul" (title varies in print edition, as above). The picture is taken from the Saul entry in Wikipedia; it's called "David and Saul" (1885) by Julius Kronberg.

01 May 2009

anger, pacifism, cowardice

The book I'm reading now is Mama's boy, preacher's son by Kevin Jennings, the founder and first executive director of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network. He grew up poor, mostly in the South, moving around a lot and getting called faggot by his classmates. While my status as preacher's son seemed to protect me from the taunts, I certainly grew up thinking I was different. Maybe we all do. One aside of Kevin's particularly resonated with me:

"(This happy ending aside, Mom and Dad's spankings, and my brother's bullying, would leave their scars in the form of a clear lesson: when people get angry, they hit you. I developed a lifelong, nearly paralyzing fear of angry people, so much so that I would do anything to avoid getting others angry -- anything, no matter how damaging it was to me.)" (p. 52-53)

Even though Kevin also learns that sometimes you get results when you fight back, it can be paralyzing for me as it was for Kevin. I know that my fear of anger has played into the development of my pacifism. I hope it's a more mature way of dealing with conflict.

This also reminds me of a wonderful quote from Colm Tóibín's The master, a novel based on the life of Henry James:

"He was not cut out to be a soldier, he thought, but neither were most of the young men of his class and acquaintance who went to fight. It was not wisdom which kept him away, he believed, but something closer to cowardice, and as he walked the cobbled streets of his new town, he almost thanked God for it."