Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A View From the Easel, in My Studio

Here's a cool blog, my studio is featured in their segment entitled "A View From the Easel," you'll find my studio and a short description towards the bottom, scroll.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Sacred Deeds, Sally Ride

Sally Ride, first American woman in space, dead at the tender age of 61, rode the shuttle on the shoulders of women pilots before her, giants. You can read about it here, "Right Stuff, Wrong Sex."
Sally Ride, First American Woman in Space

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sacred Spaces, Ctd.

Here's where I want to go on my next European excursion; I want to see the Pantheon in Rome.

Sacred Spaces, Ctd.

Lunch at the British Museum, October 2004.

The National Commission for Museums and Monuments, of the government of the country of Nigeria, wants Benin Bronzes returned from the Museum of Fine Art, Boston to their homeland. The British Museum has the Elgin Marbles and a number of Benin Bronzes (actually they're brass, but let's not quibble) as booty from the Punitive Expedition of 1897.
Lunch, British Museum, October 2004, Nancy Charak photograph
Frieze British Museum, October 2004, Nancy Charak photograph

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Friday, July 20, 2012

Work in Progress

Today at the studio, Nancy Charak photograph

Today, Playing With Crayons

Pages one through four of a Japanese fan sketchbook, gift of Catgirl.

Sketchbook page 1, Nancy Charak artist
Sketchbook page 2, Nancy Charak artist
Sketchbook page 3, Nancy Charak artist
Sketchbook page 4, Nancy Charak artist

Today. . .

My Crayons, Nancy Charak, photograph
Today I'm going to play with crayons and big lead pencils.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Artist of the Day: David Hockney

Easy choice, David Hockney turns 75 today. Perhaps this is the clearest illustration of how we, as artists, stand on the shoulders of giants.
David Hockney, artist

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Wild Bunch: Borgnine

Certainly, one of the bloodiest westerns ever made; has the best last line in a movie ever, Edmund O'Brien says to Robert Ryan, "It ain't what it used to be, but it'll do."
But hey, Warren Oates, William Holden, Ben Johnson who could anything there ever was to do on a horse, Edmund O'Brien, Robert Ryan, Ernest Borgnine playing on a broken foot, directed by Sam Peckinpah who never spared the viewer's sensibilities.
Borgnine in Marty, From Here to Eternity, The Dirty Dozen, never disappointed, always showed up.

Why Sacred Spaces?

Readers of this blog will note my fascination with Sacred Spaces, which so far have been churches, mosques, Monets. To answer the question of why I quote Sam Harris here...in talking about spirituality, a thing that we experience in sacred spaces.

". . . Christopher Hitchens . . . believed that “spiritual” was a term we could not do without, and he repeatedly plucked it from the mire of supernaturalism in which it has languished for nearly a thousand years.

"It is true that Hitch didn’t think about spirituality in precisely the way I do. He spoke instead of the spiritual pleasures afforded by certain works of poetry, music, and art. The symmetry and beauty of the Parthenon embodied this happy extreme for him—without any requirement that we admit the existence of the goddess Athena, much less devote ourselves to her worship. Hitch also used the terms “numinous” and “transcendent” to mark occasions of great beauty or significance—and for him the Hubble Deep Field was an example of both. I’m sure he was aware that pedantic excursions into the OED would produce etymological embarrassments regarding these words as well."
Alhambra at Night, Granada, Spain, Nancy Charak photograph, April 2011
Granada Spain, the last Moorish kingdom to fall to the Reconquista. The story is told that the last Muslim king, Muhammed XII, called by the Spaniards Boabdil, on his way to exile in North Africa, turned his horse to look back and wept. His mother said to him, "weep like a woman for that which you could not defend like a man."

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Sacred Spaces, ctd.

The Musee de l'Orangerie, home of Monet's Nympheas, water lilies. Click here for the virtual visit.

Nympheas, Nancy Charak photograph, April 2011

Nympheas, Nancy Charak photograph, April 2011

Nympheas, Nancy Charak photograph, April 2011

Book That Changed My Life....

In response to this article in The Atlantic, "11 Books That Changed How You Live," by Brian Fung, my candidate for the book that changed my life is:
A Martian Odyssey, by Stanley Grauman Weinbaum. Note that you can buy this book from Amazon, browse in used book stores for it, or download it from Project Gutenberg.
My father, of the blessed memory, gave me my first copy at the age of seven, I've since bought several others as the paperbacks inevitably wore out and dissolved. My dad also taught me how to speed-read. It was easy because when one is that young, you don't understand that it's impossible. He taught me not to read aloud, even in my head and not to follow the words with my fingers, but to take in whole lines and phrases all at once.
Weinbaum created in Tweel a credible alien and in the pyramid creatures credible aliens with alternate biology that didn't merely look or act like men in space suits, but had agendas of their own. Further, he demonstrated the difficulties and rewards of cross-species friendships between Jarvis the earthling and Tweel the Martian. In so doing, Weinbaum influenced generations to follow, obeying the dictat of the legendary John W. Campbell, whose challenge to his authors in Astounding, "Write me a creature who thinks as well as a man, or better than a man, but not like a man."
Here's a link to a very nice review of A Martian Odyssey, which explains why you should read it.
I learned to speed-read, which opened up many, many books. It is proven that speed-readers retain more than out-loud readers. I learned that the world is vast and open to many, many possibilities, even impossibilities. Best of all, I became a voracious unstoppable reader.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Trust Me. . .

I'm ecstatic.

h/t Arts Journal: "According to SNAAP's survey of 36 000 creative arts grads, their unemployment rate is half that of the national average and 71% of bachelor's degree holders in the arts and 86% of those with an MA are working or have worked as professional artists." The Strategic National Arts Alumni Project 06/12

Artist of the Day: Sylvia Sleigh

Artist of the day, Sylvia Sleigh, facilitator of the female gaze.
Sylvia Sleigh, artist, Paul Rosano model
Here's a review of an exhibit at the Lora Reynolds Gallery, (Austin, Texas) entitled "A Love Letter to Paul Rosano," by Katie Geha, which is a paean to Sylvia Sleigh's favorite model, Paul Rosano, and her work depicting him. The exhibit is titled, "Man as Subject and Object," which certainly sums up Sylvia Sleigh's work.

I quote the opening paragraphs of the review:

"Manscape: Man as Subject and Object opened last night at Lora Reynolds Gallery. The group photography and video show is curated by Christopher Eamon and purports to be about “the subjectivity of contemporary male identity.” The work, largely by young women artists, casts the male gaze back on the male, a kind of meta-male gaze that includes a lot of images of flaccid penises. “Just what the art world needs, more penises!” My wise friend Amanda pointed out. And while the works in the show are not bad by any means (in fact there is a suite of photos by John Massey from the late 1970s that is terrific), the concept of the show is pretty flimsy.

"During the curator talk Eamon said something to the effect of only recently seeing female artists turning the gaze around on men. It was hard not to raise my hand or clear my throat or something. Instead I tuned out and started thinking about Sylvia Sleigh, the feminist painter who in the 1970s (and up until her death in 2010) took art historical tropes of female objectivity and re-inserted groovy sensitive men. My favorite is Paul Rosano, a man she painted again and again. When I show Paul Rosano Reclining in my art history classes the students almost always audibly gasp."

Sacred Spaces, ctd

Scientists are using Cold War technology to attempt to reassemble the stained glass that was removed from Coventry Cathedral in England, before the building was bombed to shreds in the Second World War.
Coventry Cathedral, mosaics

"Experimental software developed to reassemble Cold War documents may soon shed light on the mysteries surrounding around 5,000 medieval stained-glass fragments from Coventry Cathedral, as well as on the work of John Thornton, one of England’s greatest stained-glass artists. The British arm of the World Monuments Fund is funding a project to prevent the glass from deteriorating.

"The glass was removed from the cathedral before German air raids left the building a shattered ruin during the Second World War. The majority of the pieces have remained disassembled ever since, and have been stored in poor conditions next to the building’s boiler."

Thursday, July 5, 2012

What I Miss About Europe

Especially, France, The Netherlands and Germany, (1) good bread, baguettes, cheap, (2) mineral water sold everywhere, not just in the exotic sections of the grocery stores or ethnic neighborhoods, (3) door handles, and (4) fast inter-city trains that run on smooth tracks everywhere. Oh, and (5) croque monsieurs.
Not to mention my friends.

Sacred Spaces, ctd.

This image is from the The Funambulist, an architectural website.

Timbuktu, at the crossroads of empires, at the crossroads of the north-south and east-west caravans of West Africa, Songhai, Wangara, Fulani, and Arabs, a center of learning, trade in salt and gold, is under threat of destruction by Islamist fundamentalists.

Here I quote Max Fisher in the Atlantic Magazine which has the title, "These 600 Year Old World Heritage Sites May be Rubble by August":
"The West African city of Timbuktu used to be one of Africa's richest and most important, a nexus of trade across the Sahara and a center of religious and scientific learning as far back as the 1400s. The relics of that history still stand in the form of such world heritage sites as the University of Sankore. More recently, this city in the sprawling West African country of Mali has been a tourism draw. But, on April 2, it came under new ownership: rebels from an ethnic minority known as Tuareg, who'd sought independence for years. Five days later they got it, declaring northern Mali as the independent country of Azawad. Then, on June 1, breakaway rebels with the extremist Islamist group Ansar Dine (translation: "Defenders of Faith") took control of Timbuktu.

"In their first month of rule, Ansar Dine has shut down the tourism industry ("We are against tourism. They foster debauchery," a representative said), sent locals fleeing, and, over the past four days, destroyed half of the shrines that mark Timbuktu's ancient and remarkable history. The United Nations condemned the destruction and the International Criminal Court suggested it could be a war crime, but Ansar Dine insisted they won't slow down, later pulling a beautiful Gothic door off the Sidi Yahya mosque that became one of the world's great centers of learning during the 1400s. They follow an extreme form of Islam (though a relatively modern one; it emerged in late-1700s Saudi Arabia) that sees Timbuktu's shrines and mosque-universities as sacrilegious; a form of idol-worship. Their campaign is still going -- it's been compared to the Taliban's early-2001 destruction of ancient Buddha statues -- and some observers worry that many of Timbuktu's historical treasures, which have survived countless invasions and empires, won't live out the month."

Here's the Funambulists' take on these depredations:
"Those mausoleums are being destroyed by iconoclast people who see in them, a form of rivalry towards God. From what I understand from the articles I read, Salafism forbids for a grave to be any less modest than a simple stone. The notion of saints (who are buried in those mausoleums) constitutes an heresy as it brings a single human closer to the status of god. Those men are therefore not destroying buildings because they despise architecture but rather, because they fathom its symbolical power and are oppressed by it."

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Higgs Boson Explained

The Higgs Boson Explained from PHD Comics on Vimeo.

Roy Lichtenstein at the Art Institute of Chicago

Last Thursday, Catgirl, Redhead and I took ourselves to the Art Institute of Chicago to see the Roy Lichtenstein Retrospective. I learned a lot in the dialogue with the two of these wonderful artists, leading me to think that I should never again go to see an art exhibit solo, I should always take a thinking articulate artist or two with me.
This is the painting that blew all three of us away, just stunning. Shape, line, form, color, art historical references are all played with and brought forth anew. I find in this painting a poignant reminder that as artists we stand on the shoulders of giants.
Roy Lichtenstein, artist, 1974, "The Dance" from the Artists' Studios series.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Artist of the Day: Bridget Riley

I'll be honest, I wasn't too enamored of Bridget Riley's earlier "op-art," it seemed too mechanical for my tastes. However, in examining her life's work, I am totally wowed.
Bridget Riley, Arcadia
This piece is one of my faves. . .I have talked about her work previously here.
Bridget Riley, artist, Arcadia

From: Gallerist NY. "Every five years the German town of Siegen, Germany, the birthplace of Old Master Peter Paul Rubens awards its Rubens prize to a “painter living in Europe in honor of his or her lifetime’s artistic accomplishment.” This year, Artforum notes today, the award has been given to Op artist Bridget Riley, who has an exhibition at the city’s Museum für Gegenwartskunst Siegen from July 1 through Nov. 11."

Sacred Spaces, ctd.

In October 2004 I went to Bath, England and took a tour to Stonehenge and Avebury Circle. The mysticism and legends belong to Stonehenge, but I found Avebury to be much more interesting and much more human, largely because it encircles a living village, a place where humans live and sheep graze. Immediate close up access to Stonehenge is roped off by the society for the preservation of this and that.
What made Avebury interesting to me was that it was so much more accessible, one could not only see, but touch the stones, even though a number had been removed and replaced with markers, nonetheless the spaces had been preserved. Additionally, the tour bus came from the south, along West Kennet Avenue which runs one and a half miles to Overton Hills, originally consisting of 100 pairs of stones. The road to Avebury runs through part of this avenue, giving the feel of a grand exalted entrance. At Stonehenge, the visitors' cars and tour buses park at the entrance across the road and entry is gained via a tunnel under the busy highway, for a less hallowed feel at the onset. Additionally, at Stonehenge there was the constant assault of highway noise, where Avebury gives off the aura of quiet little English village.

Stonehenge, Nancy Charak photograph, October 2004

Stonehenge, Nancy Charak photograph, October 2004
Avebury, Nancy Charak photograph, October 2004
Avebury, Nancy Charak photograph, October 2004

Avebury Avenue, Nancy Charak photograph, October 2004

Sunday, July 1, 2012

That Which You Think You Know, Maybe Not So Much

h/t Kottke

"When people think of knowledge, they generally think of two sorts of facts: facts that don’t change, like the height of Mount Everest or the capital of the United States, and facts that fluctuate constantly, like the temperature or the stock market close.

"But in between there is a third kind: facts that change slowly. These are facts which we tend to view as fixed, but which shift over the course of a lifetime. For example: What is Earth’s population? I remember learning 6 billion, and some of you might even have learned 5 billion. Well, it turns out it’s about 6.8 billion."  

Sam Arbesman has turned his mesofacts concept into an upcoming book called The Half-Life of Facts.

The periodic table has many more elements on it than when last I took chemistry in high school, there are many planets circling many stars, and Pluto has been demoted. And no one knows what to do with good carbs, bad carbs, and on and on.