Category Archives: Art

I failed at Tumblr, but found this

I failed at tumblr recently…  I started a page, thought I’d rather blog there, but it hasn’t worked out. Perhaps ‘ll go back… Check this out in the meantime.

I recently stumbled across this image, and found it intriguing. Its a temporary art installation by Imke Rust, titled, A Lamp, A Chair, A Rock (2010)

“A symbolically significant location in the Namibian bush, on the slopes of the Waterberg Mountains (near Waterberg Wilderness Lodge) where the historical battle between the German colonial troops and the Hereros has been fought in 1904, was used for my temporary land art intervention. Ideograms representing European everyday life (light, electricity and a chair) were drawn with masking tape onto a large rock in the middle of the wilderness, photographed and shortly afterwards removed again.”

 

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Four Loko and Roses

I’m loving this artist at the moment (and yes, I have this image hanging in my bathroom).  Pick up a copy of her book Reveries of a Life Lost Mask HERE and elsewhere. Here’s a little more about the book…

Featured in the 2010 Whitney Biennial, Aurel Schmidt’s intricately detailed drawings include objects such as flies, condoms, and cigarette packs and burns which are pieced together to form larger figures, By using the detritus of life as the building blocks for her subjects, Schmidt’s work becomes a sort of memento mori—a reminder of our own vulnerability and mortality. They are paired here in her first major monograph with the poems of Franz Wright

“Four Loko 1″, pencil, colored pencil on paper, 17″ x 12”, 2011
by Aurel Schmidt

“Dance, dance… otherwise we are lost.”

OK, I know I am not going to do this film justice, so please just go see it. See it at the theater, in 3D, they way it was meant to be seen. Do not wait a minute, or you’ll miss it. I’ll also state that this is not a movie review, rather a confession.

I have to admit, I’ve never been much a dance fan. Although maybe its just lack of exposure to the idea of choreography living independent of music. I longed to be a ballerina when I was a little girl (for the tutu not the craft), but thanks to my family’s many moves around the globe, I didn’t actually get involved in the performing arts until I was in junior high… much too late to be “en pointe.”

Until that time, I painted pictures, wrote stories and sang along with my favorite albums in the privacy of my own room, but seldom danced.  I’ve always had a keen sense of movement and rhythm, and I certainly learned plenty about dance, but mostly in the context of how composers worked with choreographers (i.e. Tchaikovsky + Petipa or John Cage + Merce Cunningham… music school obviously thought the music was the driver in such collaborations), so i guess I’ve never given myself the chance to fully appreciate the body as an instrument of motion. I never discredited dance as modern art or what not, I just haven’t been thinking about it. Then I saw Pina. I was wrong about everything.

(This is a track written for the movie by Japanese composer, Jun Miyake)

With images, words, music and motion, once they are deliberate, they become art. I think the general public, like me, has had a hard time conceptualizing modern art as physical motion (I’m not talking about ballet or ballroom here people). There is no doubt though that what Bausch creates is art in one of its highest forms, and her deliberate subtle movement-making, dare I say, proves sound to be secondary.

So in terms of the movie… Pina, frames dance in a series of breathtaking vignettes. You see the stylistic choices made by both choreographer and dancer, played out on stage and in life. Director, Wim Wenders, does a great job at showing how, when it comes to the body, a choreographer isn’t bound by the notes in a scale; movement is as boundless as the imagination. The film takes you inside the hearts of the dancers (which match in passion, the intent of the choreographer), and surrounds you with the dance works themselves. Through 3D, you get to see 360 degrees of first person perspective – taking the audience to place far past “spectator”. The works jump off the stage and screen, and envelope you.  I would see it again in the theater, a million times over.  Please do the same.

Foot notes… Pina Bausch sadly died of cancer in 2009, five days after diagnosis and two days before shooting was scheduled to begin for the documentary, resulting in a film that is as much a planned collaboration between Wenders and Bausch, as an homage and celebration of her contribution to modern dance and to the lives of her dance company.

If you’re headed to Germany make  a B-line for Wuppertal and catch a performance of one of her works, by the troop that knows her best. Works by Bausch will also be staged in London this June and July, as a highlight of the Cultural Olympiad preceding the Olympic Games 2012. If you see her work in person, please tell me about it. Make me jealous.

PS. I think its time to give Merce another shot. I’m still saying no to broadway musicals though.

xo sarah

Beneath the Singing Oak Tree…

Daniel and I recently returned from our annual trek back to my hometown, New Orleans where we always march in the St Anne’s Parade on Mardi Gras day.

After an amazing march through the quarter on Fat Tuesday, we spent a leisurely Ash Wednesday scouring pawn shops for gear, eating the first crawfish of the season and lounging beneath the “Singing Oak Tree” at Big Lake in City Park.  We shot a little clip of the tree in action, but its hard to capture or explain the serenity that overcomes you in person, as the wind conducts its chance music orchestra of pentatonic bells (some 14 feet tall), strung up in the branches of the old oak.

There are dozens of home videos of the tree, made by fellow admirers, trying to capture its voice to no avail – here’s my attempt. (I’m going to try to use this windy recording in a song at some point, so stay tuned for that.)

And, with New Orleans still on my mind, I thought I’d share one more rare find (feel free to download for free as usual), called “Let Me be the First to Kiss You Good Morning,” by The Dixie Stars. There was a time that New Orleans had a very melancholy heaviness in my heart, but the longer i am away the closer we get. This is a charming little love song… one I sing in my heart to the city of New Orleans whenever I am there.

Here’s a little more about the writer and singer, in case you’re interested:

Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, Al Bernard started his recording career around 1916. He was one of the first white singers to record blues songs. He recorded with songwriter J. Russel Robinson as “The Dixie Stars” and, with Robinson, wrote the Bessie Smith feature “Sam Jones Blues”.

I ♥ Crafts!

…but of course you already knew that! When my musical id is feeling shy the artist in me comes out to play. So, I recently wrote a little blurb for Racked LA’s “Shopping Confidential” series,  about the perfect place to get your craft on, The French General! Read it at la.racked.com

In keeping with the theme… I’m listening to this lovely little French Accordion piece from the 1930s right now. That’s about all I know about it.

 

 

xo sarah

Block Printing with a Ghost from the Gulf…

I’m doing some DIY album art for my Daydrifter project, so each album will be a little art piece (if all goes well).  I was recently reminded of the work of New Orleans native / Mississippi resident and artist, Walter Anderson, specifically his large scale block printing pieces. Growing up (for part of my life) on the North shore of Lake Pontchartrain and in New Orleans, I had seen his water colors of coastal birds and such, without even realizing it, but seeing one of his 6′ block prints for the first time  instantly inspired me. Looking at it now, the simple geometric patterns of the piece evoke movement in a way that transports me to Horn Island. There, I can hear the rhythm of the gulf water lazily lapping on to the shore, and the harmonies made by soaring birds chirping as crabs scuttle through the sand below them.

Anderson died in the 1960s – unfortunately  Hurricane Katrina destroyed and damaged a lot of his legacy, but the one below, survives. I couldn’t find a higher res photo, so you’ll have to pay it a visit in person next time you’re in Mississippi – promise me you will.

Linoleum block print-Frigate Birds by Walter Anderson
Courtesy Walter Anderson Museum of Art

PS. I’ll have new music for you to hear very soon, I swear.

xo sarah