25 March 2012

tender, immediate, and rich with pathos

Hate to be predictable but there always seems to be something in my Sunday reading that invites a blog post. I work from 2-10 pm at Scholes Library, at the reference desk, usually with some cataloging to do along with whatever comes up. I've cataloged several books, done "add printer" with several people, changed the toner, and decided to look at a few art magazines before supper. The January/February 2012 issue of Art papers has a review by Kate Green of Donald Moffett's recent show at the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston.

"One of the show's revelations is Mr. Gay in the U.S.A., 2001, a suite of eighteen pencil drawings installed in a small room of their own. A gentle touch is at play in this project, which is based on a court case against Ronald Gay, who was convicted of murder after he walked into a gay bar and fired shots. Gay was apparently tired of receiving flack for his last name. In the work, Moffett presents his visual and linguistic observations of the proceedings on heavy, framed sheets of paper. One page features a sketch of a man's arm accompanied by the words 'turquoise tattoo.' Another includes a set of scales and the phrase 'Lady Justice.' The images are tender, immediate, and rich with pathos for the complicated circumstances that brought Gay to this point.

The most sensual element of the exhibition is Comfort Hole, 2010, a series of eight small monochromatic paintings. In many of these works, blades of white paint stand out three-dimensionally from wooden panels, like hanging patches of heavenly grass. After you tire of trying to figure out the artist's technique, you will marvel at his skill. You might also be amused by the title. The circles that Moffett has punched through these sublime, otherwise pristine paintings are coded references to the holes used in gay clubs for anonymous pleasure. You will walk away from this suite of paintings as you will from the exhibition -- impressed by Moffett's sustained ability to make art that is, in equal measure, visually and socially significant."

I am intrigued by her description of the Mr. Gay series and am dumbfounded by her description of glory holes in the Comfort Hole description.

19 March 2012

labyrinths and mazes: amazing

In yesterday's cataloging, I was looking at subject headings for labyrinths and mazes, particularly gardens. The headings are:

Labyrinths [preferred heading]
Mazes [variant, UF]

Maze gardens [preferred heading]
Labyrinth gardens [variant, UF]

It was interesting to me that the overall term used labyrinth as its base while the garden heading used maze. And, then, in today's crossword puzzle in the New York Times, the clue for 10 across is labyrinth and the answer is, ta da, maze. I'm not sure I've thought of the terms as synonymous but I couldn't tell you what distinguishes one from the other without looking it up. And you may have read that the Encyclopedia Britannica is going totally electronic after the current print edition. It's hard to imagine my youth without volumes of the encyclopedia for drifting through.

The image is of the maze at Chatsworth House in Derbyshire, from the Peak District Information page. I did get to Chatsworth once in the 1980s but read Deborah Mitford's memoir recently and would love to go visit again.

11 March 2012

Detroit, here we come

Elisabeth Sussman is asked in the March 2012 issue of Modern painters "Which international city gives you the greatest hope for contemporary art's future?" She responds: "Detroit. It exists at degree zero now, but it has an incredible past: early industrial architecture, Diego Rivera murals, a history of radical politics. It's a haunted and a haunting place."

Can I tell you that my dream to see more of Detroit will come true in April when I go to the annual conference of the Society for Architectural Historians? I'm so excited and I plan on turning it into a real adventure by staying at the Hostel Detroit in North Corktown, thanks to Vagner for mentioning the Hostel. Some of the pictures of the hostel show a plain facade and the one below shows it gaily painted. The aerial view on Google Maps is full of vacancies and greens. Haunted and haunting.