I Love MOMA, New York

In my most recent posts, I’ve been talking about my trip to the East coast. This week, it’s all about art! Whenever I’m in New York, I love to try and squeeze in a trip to MOMA (Museum of Modern Art), and this trip was no different. I met up with a couple friends to wander the galleries and see some of my favorite works of art, some well-known and others not so much. Here are a few of my must-see’s… Although nothing can replace a visit in-person, so consider this a little taste of whats there and encouragement to go see for yourself.

MOMA is filled with plenty of iconic works of art, including van Gogh’s “Starry Night,” which you’ve probably seen printed in just about every art textbook. It’s beautiful in person, and as you can see it was a hit with the crowds. I love the vibrant colors, playful swirls, and the way the tiny brush strokes blend together to create a windy motion that carries through the piece.

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The Starry Night – Vincent van Gogh

Here van Gogh translates that whimsical style into what could have otherwise been a rather serious portrait. Roulin’s rosy cheeks make him seem alive; it’s as though you could make eye contact with him.

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Portrait of Joseph Roulin – Vincent van Gogh

Pablo Picasso is arguably one of the most talented of artists. He’s know best for cubism, like you see here, where even the curviest of women’s bodies become sharp and geometric. But he also was an incredible sculptor, sketcher, and of course painter in styles most people may not even recognize as his own. He can do realism just as well as his iconic cubist paintings and sculptures.

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Les Demoiselles d’Avigon – Pablo Picasso

Klimt is an artist whose works I have rarely had the fortune of seeing in person, but they are astonishingly beautiful. His vibrant, if not eclectic, combinations of colors are eye-catching to say the least. He also tends to incorporate metallic paint, which I have not seen done by anyone else as beautifully. And something about the way he portrays both of these women makes them seem calm, at peace, and almost relaxed.

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Hope, II – Gustav Klimt

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Adele Block-Bauer II – Gustav Klimt

Mondrian’s work is still highly idolized, and I see many things today, from furniture, to artwork, to clothing, derived from his designs. They are simple, reserved, yet intriguing. I often feel like looking at his work is like looking through a window to the inner workings of color.

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various works by Piet Mondrian

I always enjoy perusing Monet’s works. They are soothing and beautiful, and often I wish I could take a nap inside of one of his paintings. He had a tendency to paint the same scenes repeatedly, and so I love seeing his different takes on the same images. Many times you can almost see the progress of his loss of sight in his paintings by comparing an earlier painting to a later one of the same scene. Here you can see a stark difference in the vibrancy and clarity of one of his “Water Lilies” to the next.

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Water Lilies (1840-1926) – Claude Monet

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Water Lilies (1914-1926) – Claude Monet

I always love looking at Jackson Pollock’s work as well. It’s truly unique; nothing else ever looks quite like a true Pollock. And when you get up close, the drips and streams seem to go over and under each other, creating a maze of paint trails.

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One, Number 31, 1950 – Jackson Pollock

This painting always grabs my attention when I visit MOMA, although its hard to articulate exactly why. There’s a gorgeous, impenetrable depth to the blackness in this painting, and the lighting-like colors seem to be peeking through the darkness.

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1944-N No. 2 – Clyfford Still

An iconic work of pop art, you must take a moment to look at Warhol’s soup cans. We see them duplicated everywhere even still, and so maybe his comment on the manufacturization of art is still being heard.

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Campbell’s Soup Cans – Andy Warhol

A Hollywood icon is the subject of this image. In a way, she herself became pop art through the pop art of others.

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Marilyn Monroe, I – James Rosenquist

I found this series by Broodthaers to be playful and a little cheeky.

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Literary Paintings, English Series – Marcel Broodthaers

This room in MOMA was super fun to wander through. One of the great things about modern sculpture is that much of it is meant to be experienced and questioned.

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[clockwise, from top right] Perfect Door/Perfect Odor/Perfect Rodo – Bruce Nauman | Modern Art – Lynda Benglis | Letters (The Twent Six Series) – Richard Tuttle | To Lift – Richard Serra

There was a special exhibit of design and architecture while I was there, which of course I had to spend a little time in! I always love to see the originals of pieces still being sold today. Even though this table is familiar to us now, I like to try to put myself in the shoes of someone seeing it for the first time.

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various, including table by Eileen Gray

And since Knoll Textiles are alive and well today, I enjoyed getting a little taste of what they were like in the 40’s.

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various, from the Knoll Textiles showroom, 1947

I found these war propaganda posters incredibly interesting, if not a little funny. Oh, how far we’ve come!

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various, women and war propaganda

I wish I could remember who was the artist responsible for this chandelier. It truly looks like the cacophony of broken pieces was frozen mid-explosion.

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shattered china chandelier

Do you have a favorite modern artist or work of art? Who/what is it?

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Inspiration and Discovery at the L.A. Brewery Art Walk

Well, I am well on my way into yet another quarter of classes. They seem to go by faster than I can keep track of! There ‘s always a bit of a rough transition between the madness of final projects and the maneuvering of a new class’ routine, so I am especially grateful when I hit my stride. That finally happened last week, so the hubby and I took advantage of some long awaited free time l and went down to the LA Brewery Art Walk over the weekend.

I had never been to this art walk before, even though it happens twice a year. And I really had no expectations or preconceived ideas of what I was walking into. (I find that’s the BEST way to discover new things!) I was blown away not only by the abundance of creativity and extremely talented artists, but also by the community in which the art walk took place. So I’ll start by telling you haw totally awesome this place was!

DSCN5013 The Brewery Art Walk takes place at a former Pabst beer brewery in downtown Los Angeles. But it is oh so much more than that. Since the 80’s, this complex has been home to an enormous community of artists. The buildings here have been converted into live/work loft spaces with a strict rule of only renting to artists.DSCN5020 There seemed to be a huge variety of loft spaces; some were single story, some had an upstairs loft for living, but all were equipped with their only gallery spaces. Many of them included small private outdoor areas, porches, or patios.DSCN5021 All of the open studios seemed to have a river of visitors in and out, all admiring the artists’ work.DSCN4992 This catwalk led us from one building’s roof top to the other, and was also a great way to get a lay of the land in this huge former industrial complex.DSCN5038 This loading dock has clearly become a place of gathering, and for one day it was fun to feel invited to play with such a creative group of people. They were sitting, chatting, drinking, grilling, and inviting everyone to join in. I like to imagine it’s like this on any typical weekend here at the Brewery Art Colony. DSCN5031 And I just love how the inside of the building has been transformed into a courtyard.DSCN5037 There’s even a small park right in the center of the complex, which people were clearly taking advantage of.DSCN5012I know, I know. What you really want to know is “What goes on there, exactly?” Well, for one, this:DSCN4988 These light sculptures were created by Sean Sobczak, whose gallery was a delightfully playful, and skillfully created dreamlike world that gave us our first taste of what the Brewery Art Colony has to offer. I could easily imagine these glowing creatures swimming off into a magical ocean.DSCN4990

I loved this ceramics gallery, called Me Like Clay. There are 3 ceramics artists that work together there, and the result is a wonderful collection of all sorts of goodies.

DSCN5003DSCN5001 One of the things I loved about their work is the use of bright pops of color among some very natural, organic designs. DSCN4996 DSCN4997 DSCN4993 Most of their work on display was just as practical for use as it was unique and colorful. But the gallery was sprinkled with really interesting sculptural pieces as well. DSCN4994

DSCN5004 We were delighted to wander into this gallery as well. I can say with confidence that no photo could ever do this artwork justice. What you can see is Ann Gooding’s use of color and pattern. Each piece draws you right in like a magnet. What you can’t see is the incredible process to takes to create these. From what I could tell, each one was layerd with 4 or 5 paint colors (and left to dry. Then the patterns were scraped or scooped out all the way down to the wood base in some cases. So each speck has several colors showing in rings within each other, not unlike the rings of a tree’s core, or those in a slice of a geode. The colors and textures of each piece are totally unique.DSCN5018 DSCN5017Many of the artists working at the Brewery are not afraid to play, and this metal shop was clearly a playground for Bruce Gray.DSCN5027 DSCN5029 We popped by Two Bit Circus, which invited people to come in and play in all sorts of ways. This is a bicycle powered dining table, which I’m certain I’ve seen pedaling through the streets of L.A. on some occasion. (Maybe it was at Ciclavia?)DSCN5022 These 4 people were trying desperately to solve this labyrinth, talking to each other to try to coordinate the see-saw movements needed to tip the board at just the right angle to turn the ball in down the right path on the maze.DSCN5025 There was no shortage of photographers’ work on display, but Kevin Break’s take on Los Angeles caught my particular attention. His shots of the L.A. River at sunset were my favorite.DSCN5011 We happened into Gabe Leonard’s small gallery, and were instantly taken with his expert use of shadow and movement. Each piece felt like a scene from a movie, like we had interrupted some fantastical encounter between hero and villain. DSCN5033 DSCN5035 DSCN5032 A few of the galleries had these incredibly high ceilings and fantastic bright windows. These were my favorite galleries in terms of the way the spaces felt.DSCN5040This one was David McKenney’s gallery, and I just loved his work. Pretty much all of it. I love his use of color, shape, and pattern. Structured, but still informal. And I admire the variety within his body of work.DSCN5041 DSCN5042 One of the last galleries we wandered into belonged to Dave Lefner, whose focus is reduction linocuts. This was a new process to me, so I won’t try to sound like an expert and explain it in depth. But as I understand it, it has to do with a labor intensive serious of cutouts and layering of paint. In the case of Dave Lefner’s work, the result is incredibly clean, precise, and in some cases almost photo real. DSCN5044There were plenty more artists worthy of being featured on any website or blog, and I’m sure there were many that we didn’t even get to see in such an enormous complex of artists’ galleries. Needless to say, I’m very much looking forward to going back to the next artwork and discovering more. But don’t take my word for it, go see it for yourself next time!

Do you have a favorite art genre or medium?

Adorned with Art at Love Adorned, SoHo

Back in the fall, I made the trip to New York City to celebrate the wedding of a dear friend. While I was there, I did a little shopping with the girls and couldn’t resist stopping into one of my favorite shops in SoHo for some eye candy! I say eye candy because much of the things I fall in love with here are out of my price range, but that doesn’t stop me for appreciating all the beautiful artistry on display.

DSCN3725 The shop is called Love Adorned, and it’s insides are scattered with an array of handmade goods, from jewelry to rugs, home decor accessories, throw blankets, and more. I love the presence of nature in the store, both in its decoration and it’s merchandise.DSCN3717 Much of the woven goods have a tribal feel to them, and such great colors!DSCN3726This mask reminds me of some of the totems I saw on a trip to New Zealand a few years ago, shooting a documentary on the Maori healers there.
DSCN3718 Each case displays a different jewelry artist’s pieces. They asked that I not take pictures of the specific jewelry on display, but I must direct you to their website to see some of them. This is one of my favorites.DSCN3720 This two sided antique velvet sofa provides a striking visual “welcome” into the store.DSCN3724 …And this one was just a nonchalant bystander, used as a display for some hand-woven blankets.DSCN3721 They had a few display tables for affordable gift items like these, which would be great purchases if you’re not in the market for jewelry. They also sell some select leather goods, and many one-of-a-kind pieces.DSCN3722 This little nook is a great spot for their eclectic collection of home goods and knickknacks.DSCN3719 So if you’re in SoHo, stop in and check it out. You won’t be disappointed! I will definitely be back, and maybe one of these days I’ll walk out with some of these.DSCN3728

Do you have a favorite shop somewhere? Let me know about it!

Oscar Movie Favorites

In honor of the biggest night for movies, let’s talk about favorites. Everyone has favorites. Sometimes it’s based on a favorite actor, a favorite book that the movie is based on, a favorite director whose movies you always love. My favorites from this year were based on artistry.

It’s easy to forget that filmmaking is an art. Some movies have more artistry than others. But like any other art (painting, writing, photography), filmmaking is about telling a visual story, eliciting a reaction from the viewer, and giving the viewer an experience outside their own life experiences. To me, the two nominated films that did these things unlike any others were Life of Pi and Beast of the Southern Wild.

Beasts of the Southern Wild

When I saw this film, I truly didn’t know what to expect. It didn’t get as wide a release as most of the others. The trailer looked beautiful and intriguing, and I was curious enough to go out and see it in the theater, but I really wasn’t quite sure what the story was going to be about. It was phenomenal! Beasts of the Southern Wild follows a 6-year old girl named Hushpuppy who lives in the “Bathtub,” unlabeled as such but clearly representative of the most devastated and least affluent area of New Orleans, as an indescribably destructive storm hits and tears down the levy the protects the people of her community from flooding. The film illustrates a complex yet loving relationship between her and a nearly-not-present father who seems tortured just to look at her but nonetheless takes care of her the best he knows how and provides her the basics for her survival. He relentlessly defends the Bathtub as the home he will never leave, no matter the devastation present.

The remarkable thing about this film is the mythology present in the world of little Hushpuppy. Since the story is told from her point of view, and a 6-year old’s perspective on the world is quite different from that of an adult, it is a story of magic, myth, territory, strength, and the search for family (specifically Hushpuppy’s mother). Hushpuppy is followed by beasts that look much like enormous warthogs, metaphorical beasts which she battles with her tenacity and will. I felt completely enveloped in the world the filmmakers created, to the point that it was almost a bit jarring when the movie ended and I had to transition back out of it!

Beasts of the Southern Wild was Nominated for Best Picture, Best Actress in a Leading Role (Quvenshane Wallis was the youngest person ever nominated for the award; she truly was incredible in her first ever acting role), and Best Director (Behn Zeitlin).

Life of Pi

This is another film that completely took me away from my own world and into another. I also saw this in 3D, which I am usually skeptical of because so much of it is being done after the movie is shot, and done poorly. But not this one. Life of Pi was shot in 3D and all of the visual effects were also done in 3D from the get go. I was so glad I decided to see it this way, because this is how the filmmakers meant for it to be seen.

Based on the book by Yann Martel, Life of Pi is a gorgeous story of faith, family, struggle for survival, and the meaning of life. The story tells of a boy and a tiger stranded in the same lifeboat after a horrible shipwreck in the middle of the ocean. Because of this, it was the story that supposedly “could never be made into a movie.” How would a filmmaker ever put an actor and a tiger in such close proximity for hours/days/months on end, and how to make sure that tiger predictably performed every action as needed without endangering said actor while on a rocking boat in the ocean? But visual effects and animation are now so technically advanced and the artists that make them happen are so talented and skilled that they made it possible. The artists that worked on the film made this:

Into this:

And Ang Lee directed the lead actor (Suraj Sharma) to elicit all manner of emotions from the audience, all while not actually having a co-star to interact with on set.

The whole film is as beautiful as a painting yet somehow is also convincingly real. The colors in the sky are more vibrant than the most beautiful sunsets, the ocean more blue than the blue-est cove in the tropics. The ocean becomes a character all of it’s own battling with Pi and Richard Parker (the tiger), making survival seem impossible one minute and then providing a wealth of hope resources the next.

This story truly transcends race, religion, and gender to make everyone question their own reality and appreciate the meaning of faith.

Life of Pi won for Best Visual Effects, Best Director (Ang Lee), Best Cinematography (which was in no small part also due to the film’s accomplishments in visual effects), and Music – Original Score. It was also nominated for Best Picture, Film Editing, Production Design, and Writing – Adapted Screenplay.

Tell me, what was your favorite Oscar-featured movie this year?

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Aside

So many of the year’s most successful movies (like Life of Pi, The Avengers, Snow White and the Hunstman, and The Hobbit) were not only dependent on, but their stories were driven by visual effects and the ability for the vfx technology and it’s artists to do things beyond our wildest dreams. What has not been widely talked about in the mainstream media is a huge shake-up happening within the vfx community. Even though the technology gets better and the artists executing these phenomenal feats of the imagination get more skilled and more talented, the studios are driving costs down lower and lower, to the point that a huge amount of the work is being outsourced to India and China. The biggest and best companies in the vfx industry are going out of business, including the recently bankrupt Rhythm & Hues, the Oscar winner for vfx on Life of Pi, because the prices have been driven down so low that they can’t keep up. On the night of the Academy Awards nearly 500 vfx artists turned out to the Dolby Theater with picket signs to protest their treatment, the treatment of their companies, and the outsourcing of their jobs. In an effort to raise more awareness of the issue, I’ve included a few links below to illustrate the state of the vfx community and what these artists are fighting for. I welcome any discussion.

http://blog.sfgate.com/thebigevent/2013/02/25/biggest-oscars-snub-a-shark-attack-on-the-vfx-industry/

http://vfxsoldier.wordpress.com/

http://www.fxguide.com/quicktakes/visualeffectsprotestatoscars/

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323864304578316414057909902.html