art + artists
Artists provide us a window into the soul
. Sometimes that vista peeks into the personal; at other times, it reflects back at the viewer insights into the world as it really is, not as it appears to be. What we see then is the soul of our collective being. This means that there are times when the imagery isn't comforting to look at. In some circumstance, the images rendered for can be vivid, awesome, inspiring or troubling. The intent is to make you think. Here, then, are some artists who have produced or are producing works that fit with this objective. The works are beautiful to look at as well.
To commemorate the 100th birthday of Frida Kahlo
the Philadelphia Museum of Art is
housing an exhibition of over 40 of her eccentric self-portraits as well as other works from the beginning of her career in 1926 until her death in 1954. Rendered in vivid colors and realistic detail, Kahlo's jewel-like paintings are filled with complex symbolism, often relating to specific incidents in her life. Known by many as the flamboyant wife of celebrated muralist Diego Rivera. Theirs' was a tumultuous relationship: Rivera declared himself to be "unfit for fidelity." As if to assuage her pain, Kahlo recorded the vicissitudes of her marriage in paint.
If you aren't able to see the exhibit, you can always buy the catalog
Chris Jordan's Running the Numbers
makes use of everyday objects in gigantic assemblages. Reduced down to coffee-table book size, they appear as curious abstracts, but they are not. The materials used to produce his images are also inextricably connected to the final image. Shown to the left Skull with cigarette
, is composed not of daubs of paint, but the tops of cigarette packages, chosen for the colors needed for those "daubs". A close-up of the work reveals this technique
. Other entries into the collection of current works employ Barbie dolls, cell phones, Dixie cups and prison issue orange jumpsuits as the "mediums" of use for the final image. I remain particularly impressed with his rendering of Georges Seurat's Afternoon on the island of La Grande Jatte
, which is 60" x 92" [1.5m x 2.4m] in size and composed of 106,000 beverage cans, the number typically discarded in the United States in a typical afternoon. Chris Jordan is based in Seattle, WA, has a current exhibition at the Allen Memorial Art Museum
in Oberlin, Ohio, and at the Festival Internazionale di Roma, Rome, Italy, April 4 -25.
Thomas Hawk's Flickr collection of Graffiti, Stencils and Public Murals
. Public art isn't always properly appreciated. Murals get short shrift in the United States, which is too bad since they are revered elsewhere. Graffiti and Stencils, often - but not always - done without consent from the "owners" of the backdrop, tend to get painted over and/or the artists who create them risk fines, arrest and imprisonment for "defacing public property
". Frankly, since some of what gets created as graffiti is often poorly crafted tags or just artless obscenities, it's not surprising that arrests and fines are a typical outcome. Many stencil and graffiti works are, however, more than just thoughtless acts of teenage vandalism
There is, in fact, an oddly compelling appeal to street art, if you take the time to study it, to reflect upon it, to watch the interplay of color and shape. Hawk's second site The Best Art is Public
, highlights both intentionally designed graffiti tags and drawings, as well as locations that take on a surreal beauty [see, for example, his photo Find Me
You can see more examples of graffiti art and learn more about Hawk's photographic efforts at Thomas Hawk's Digital Connection
Stencil art from Roadsworth
. I first saw Roadsworth's handiwork in Montreal. A series of chess boards
was being painted on the concrete surface of La Place Emilie Gamelin
, at the intersection of Rue St Denis and Rue Ste Cathrine, perhaps better known these days as "Berri-UQAM" a major Metro station hub, the center for University of Quebec at Montreal [UQAM] and the stop off point for the newly opened Grande Bibliothèque, Quebec's National Library collection.
Although he goes by "Roadsworth", the artist behind the
work is Peter Gibson, who once did his street stenciling efforts anonymously. That is, until he got arrested
and placed on trial. The trial was instructive in many ways including providing a gauge of public acceptance of the presence of street art [in Montreal, at least, it seems to be okay, within certain areas]. And even though he was facing a lengthy sentence [due to the number of "defacings" he had made, though not so in Orange County California
] ultimately, he was free to go, albeit paying community service and other such requirements of the courts.
Since that time , Peter has come aboveground and takes commissions, like the one at La Place Emilie Gamelin, to sprucing up the parking lot of Cirque du Soliel's corporate offices. He has also turned out a website, Roadsworth
, where you can see the work he has produced, read about the difficulties he faced after getting arrested and see picture of the chess boards [a number of which I was able to provide him, since he had no photos from above of that effort].
Incidentally, I wrote and posted some pictures, of both Peter Gibson's chessboards and of other graffiti art in Montreal
which you can view.
Labels: art, artists, exhibitions, frida kahlo, graffiti, murals, peter gibson, photography, Roadsworth, street art
Fiscal disconnects or economic treason?
It never ceases to amaze me that people in power [note I make a distinction between "leaders" and the powerful] don't seem to understand the cause and effect relationships between the following:
1- Corporate executive pay. You know what this is. It's when the corporate warlords skim the coffers and enrich themselves more per hour [after taxes] than most people make in an entire year [before taxes]. Yet there seems no rational tie-in between good performance and percentage of take for the execs or - in some cases - former execs [e.g Merrill Lynch's Stanley O'Neal, Countrywide Financial's Angelo Mozilo, Citigroup's CEO Charles Prince, Exxon-Mobil's Lee Raymond or GE Corporation's Jack Welch] - to name but a few.
2- The financial travails caused by irresponsible lending practices of corporate entities - from the panic at Bear Stearns, to downturns at Merrill Lynch, to moves at Swiss bank giant UBS [where the CEO Marcel Ospel was forced to resign];
3- Massive mortgage foreclosures by millions of ordinary borrowers with incomes of $75,000 [usd] or less that are tied to usurious interest payment hikes
A curious artifact of jurisprudential history is that, during the last Robber Baron era [the late 1800s early 20th century] the US Supreme Court allowed for corporations to be treated as if
corporations were individuals. That act of class-conscious hubris still allows for financial gang bosses [read: investment bankers, hedge-fund managers, insurance execs and stock brokerage poobahs] to run roughshod over the rest of the world's citizenry, walk away from irresponsible and sometimes irreparably damaging effects on individuals around the planet.
In effect, these 21st century brigands
, while entrusted with managing the wealth of the world's citizenry, acted as if it was their own, stolen the bulk of it to hide away in pirate banks in places like the Cayman Islands.
If we truly had a global democratic society, we could maybe successfully try them for committing the crime of economic treason, together with the titled "leadership" of the nations around the world.
As it is, we instead will likely have to sacrifice so these thieves can continue to live comfortably off the booty they have amassed, while we - in countries around the globe - repay the debts they have piled up in our names through onerous taxations, fees, tariffs and simply doing without.
One final comment: Lest you lull yourself into a rabid anti-Republican complacency about who caused all this mess, [at least the sub-prime mortgage scandal] keep topmost in your mind that it was none other than former president Bill Clinton, that repealed the Glass-Steagall Act
, officially known as the Banking Act of 1933. After the catastrophic crash of 1929,
"... Congress was concerned that commercial banks in general and member banks of the Federal Reserve System in particular had both aggravated and been damaged by stock market decline partly because of their direct and indirect involvement in the trading and ownership of speculative securities.
The legislative history of the Glass-Steagall Act shows that Congress also had in mind and repeatedly focused on the more subtle hazards that arise when a commercial bank goes beyond the business of acting as fiduciary or managing agent and enters the investment banking business either directly or by establishing an affiliate to hold and sell particular investments."
This observation, incidentally, was made by none other than the United States Supreme Court in 1971, as part of a decision rendered in Investment Co. Inst. v. Camp, 401 U.S. 617
. Plenty of blame to go around during the future Economic Treason
THANKS TO: the Progressive Historians for their detail about the Clinton White House's activism on behalf of the corporate gamblers in the 1990s.
Labels: 1933, bad investments, corporate excess, corporate malfesance, economic treason, executive pay, foreclosures, Glass-Steagall Act, hedge funds