This page will contain photos of art work such as paintings, sculptures, and on occasion architecture.  Mostly, my visits to the museums.

AS OF 7/4/11

I spent a good 4 hours of quality time at the San  Jose Museum of Art for some me time.  I normally find inspiration in their exhibits and love the feeling that I get when I step into the first gallery.

Their main exhibit was R. Crumb’s illustrated version of the bible.

Incredible Artwork

While I thought the images were spectacular, I could only truly look at the first 20 chapters (out of 50!!!) before I just began skimming over the rest of the pages.  I think in order to really appreciate the whole package one has to be interested in the story. Even though, I am fascinated by the whole concept of heaven and hell, the story I am benumbed by.  As I stood there reading the opening pages of the show, I enjoyed all the detail of each of the panels. I think it was about the 7th or 8th page in that my legs started to ache because I was trying to hold my spot as people crowded around the pages with the small writing.  So if you don’t fancy reading all of the panels, the images get rather monotonous as the faces get recycled in the different towns.  Occasionally, I mistakenly thought someone was someone I read on one of the other pages.  All of Crumb’s work all seemed to have a sense of motion and texture.

I noticed that in the middle of the large room, there were two cases with collected images that inspired him to do the project.  In one of the cases, there’s a copy of the book in color.  I think I would have been more than happy to look at every panel closely if it were in book form, AND I didn’t have to stand to read it all.

Crumb used every single word in the book to fuel his massive project in a straightforward manner.  He didn’t try to skew it in any way for neither a laugh nor smile.

What I want to know is: where did all the women come from that these sons “begat”?  The only people that supposedly existed were one woman and a whole bunch of sons.  So where did the women come from?

I wish that so much space wasn’t devoted to Crumb’s bible project as he has some quaint original comics that would’ve been cool to see and compare with “Genesis.” So, disappointed I walked up stairs and figured I would look at the rest of the stuff that was on display.

What a change!!! This is where the truly inspirational Art was being displayed.  This exhibit was called “Roots in the air; Branches in the ground.”  I was just blown away by some of these works.  This section featured modern artists from the country of India.  I had so many that were my favorites.  I decided to pick just a couple.

First up:

This is crazy!! Suhasini Kejriwal Untitled 2006

While on this page the image looks like painting or digital, I have to let you know that it is all embroidered pieces that have been affixed to the canvas.  When you first look at this it seems like it’s just a jungle or forest depiction.  When you begin to look at the colors, you soon realize that they don’t quite match.  It’s still stunning though. The placard says that  it represents the “fear of empty spaces.”

Up next is the EPIC:

Ashutosh Bhardwaj INDUCED EPIDEMIC, 2007

This piece is so large and vibrant that I had to step back.  A LOT!! The reds on this just seem to jump out and grab your throat.  I was amazed by the clarity of the hands, which aren’t the easiest thing to paint/draw.  There’s a lot to look at and even more to read, so here’s exactly what the placard says: “Economic reforms in the early 1990s further opened India’s markets to the influence and products of other countries.  In Induced Epidemic, Ashutosh Bhardwaj critiqued the rise of the cosmetics industry — a by-product of the liberalization of the Indian economy — in his home country. The hands pursue beauty, which remains just out of reach.  They seek a product that is intended to reshape a person’s nose, specifically to mimic the striking profile of the ancient Egyptian queen Nefertiti1. To Bhardwaj, the crowd represents the desire for consumer goods and a homogenized standard of beauty.  The curtains flanking the stage suggest that the activity is being controlled from behind the scenes by those in power.”  – big thanks to San Jose Museum of Art for this info!

The third work that you should go and see is:

Alexis Kersey - Lucky, Lucky, Lucky 2008

I am a little bummed because the image above does NOT do the work justice.  The color is much more lively and glossy in person.  The painting is actually inset about an inch and a half.  The happy black and white skulls across the top and the girl holding the knife are a little disturbing.  The artist often times takes images from Indian and Western culture and mixes them to create something new and definitely incredible to behold.

And my most favorite piece:

Anju and Atul Dodiya - Untitled 1999

This beautiful work is a collaboration between the couple as a representation of the loneliness they feel having to work so far away from one another so often.  He is in the solid gray with a pencil held up to her eye, drawing a tear, while she appears to be drawing on a notebook what I can only assume to be is him.  This gem was tucked away on a back wall that I have only one other time have bothered to notice.  Luckily the bright yellow paint forced me to stop and fall head over heels in love with this image.

All the photos are courtesy of the San Jose Museum of Art.

AS OF 5/19/11

Robert Mapplethorpe Self Portrait

Today the San Jose Museum of Art had two special guest speakers that were in town to hold a panel discussion about the Robert Mapplethorpe: Portraits exhibit that is currently on display through June 5.  Since I was planning on seeing the show anyway, I figured what better time than today to not only see some beautiful photography but also to hear some of the inside stories and ideas that went with this work.  The talk featured independent curator Gordon Baldwin, who is credited with creating the first ever “Portraits” exhibit for Mapplethorpe even though over half of his works were portraits.  The other half of this panel was Brian English, who was Mapplethorpe’s assistant until Mapplethorpe passed away due to complications from AIDS in 1989.  The panel kept talking about the controversy of his work, but never really went into detail about what it was.  This was the only info I could find on it.  Basically, a retrospective of his work was to be a traveling exhibit and after a few successful stops, the next venue was heading to Washington D.C.  Then, the tour was suddenly cancelled because of some of the photos depicting S & M acts.  This became a huge debate over the taxpayers’ money and if it should be used for trashy art. Personally, I want to go on record and say that I would rather have trashy Art than needless war.   

As I walked in to the museum and paid my 10 bucks for the event, I enjoyed talking to Eugene at the concierge desk about becoming a member and it’s benefits as well as his thoughts on the display.  When I officially entered the gallery area, the first thing that struck me was against the white walls of the gallery the deepness and sharpness the black pigments in the portraits that jumped out, almost as if they needed to be seen. Aside from the Patti Smith album cover for “Horses,” my Mapplethorpe exposure had consisted of one or two images of Andy Warhol and that was it.  I was floored not only by the beauty but the fierceness of the second portrait that was on the wall as I walked into the first room.  

Louise Nevelson by Mapplethorpe

In person, the image is so richly black that it almost seems that her hat is nonexistent and the design on her jacket is less detailed.  To me it seems as though she is daring him to make her take a weak photo.  Such resolve in that regal pose.  The placard next to the image stated that the camera was angled upward to make her look more imposing.  

As I walked further along the wall, I came to a section that was a cluster of 4 self portraits.  The first image of the post is in that section.  The portrait that follows is also part of them.  I feel as though all of  the images showed a different emotional state of mind that he had as he went through life.  He spent the most energy on portraits as they were good for business, but he also took several of himself throughout his career.  I liked the one above because to me he seems as though he is ready to defend himself all the while not really wanting to touch something as horrible as violence.   The second portrait stuck me because of the happy smile he’s wearing.  It’s as though he’s trying to touch the other side of the frame without being seen and he’s making it a game. When I went back and looked at the after the discussion, I was even more astonished because according to the panelists, Mapplethorpe never cropped his images.  What you see is exactly how he shot them.  It’s truly remarkable.

Self Portrait 1975

While there were so many breathtaking photos of stars, I think there are only 3 or 4 that I would have wanted to keep.  I couldn’t find any images online for them, but there was a stunning one of Deborah Harry with her hair swept back and up, one of Isabella Rossallini who is just a natural beauty, and one that I really wanted to show, which was the incomparable Madeline Kahn laughing or chuckling.  Either way, she looks like she is honestly enjoying herself at that moment.  It’s beautiful.  That’s what Madeline Kahn reminds me of: joy.  When I think of her, I can’t help but to smile so as I stood there with a smile on my face, I could feel my eyes begin to water.  Silly, huh?  The last of my favorite celeb photos which I am surprised by is Ms. Grace Jones.  As a kid, she kinda scared me.  I think my first exposure to her was in the Conan movies.  I don’t remember which one she was in, but she was tough!  In this image, she looks vulnerable and calm.  It’s a stunning shot. 

Grace Jones by Mapplethorpe

I love the organic lines of the fabric around her head.  It seems like it was a spontaneous moment caught on film.

The whole evening was inspiring and made me want to get back to creating.  It doesn’t matter what.  Just that I do so again and very very soon.  I loved hearing the stories from Mr. English and the “gossip” from Mr. Baldwin.  Of course, he said that it was all second hand information, so it can’t be cited as true.  Officially.  Mr. Baldwin was a hard person to lock onto.  He felt very cerebral about the topics, but he told the stories with a dash of sarcasm that made them funny.   Mr. English, it seemed, was recalling and remembering things with fondness except for one session that makes me wonder if he just didn’t want to talk about it.

I highly recommend getting to the San Jose Museum of Art if you can and checking out this amazing show.  I hope to go at least once more because even though I looked at the pictures twice, I still feel like I missed something.  I loved learning about this amazing Artist and appreciate the beauty he has brought into this world.

AS OF 10/12/10

While The Simpsons continue to come up with great new opening episode after episode, this one is especially interesting.  According to the BBC, the artist Banksy, an artist that I love for his interesting use of politics and symbolism and graffiti/street art, had created the segment of the show that plays while the family watches tv.  It’s a little dark, but I think it’s still funny even though it’s a little harsh.  With the prison camp fence around the 20th Century Fox logo, I wonder if it’s a comment about the company’s employment practices or if it’s just poking fun at them because they are so right wing.  You can decide that for yourself.  Apparently, this was yanked off of YouTube because of copyright infringement.  At least that’s what the official word is.  Thankfully, one of my favorite bloggers, Chris Hardwick over at still had a copy to share.

AS OF 8/27/10

Last Saturday, I made my way over to the San Jose Museum of Art to get an eyeful of the Leo Villareal Exhibit.  There was a great plaque at the beginning of the room that said something to the effect that ever since art has been around artists have played with light in their paintings, how it moves, leaves silhouettes and shadows, and even how it brings things to one’s attention.   Only recently, at least in the context of the existence of art, have the artists actually begun to play with light itself.  Inspired by such artists as James Turrell and Dan Florin, Villareal has created many great works.  He was born in New Mexico in 1967, but now lives where it seems nearly every artist lives, New York.  Not that I blame him.  Leo Villareal’s website looks like it hasn’t been updated in the last few years, but I was hoping to find more images to show you.  I guess I’ll have to settle for what I’ve found on YouTube.  Boo.  I loved all of his later stuff much more than his earlier projects when he worked with lightbulbs and incandescent lights.  I will have to admit that his first work which basically is a traveling strobe light mesmerized me. Not because of the visual appearance, but because that work has a noise from the lightbulb flicker that sounded like music to me.  I tried to capture it on my digital recorder.  Unfortunately, the echo in the room overpowers all and makes everything sound muddied.  I did like all of his work, mind you and there was one, I think it was called Lightscape, which is featured in one of the videos below that made me want to take the thing apart so I can see the lights by themselves to see how they created these softly shifting waves of color and intensity.

Next, I came across his work called “The Hive” is where I just stood transfixed by this and every piece thereafter.  “Hive” is also featured on one of the videos below I believe, but it’s much better in person.  At the Museum, they installed it overhead so you could get a really bad neck cramp like I did if you stay there long enough.  I got caught taking pictures right off the bat so I was told I had to put my camera away.  I kept reaching in my bag for it, but I didn’t want to get into any trouble so I resigned to just staring and staring.  My phone couldn’t load fast enough either so that was bummer.  The reason that I loved “Hive” so much was the fact that these little orange lit  4×4 squares probably about 100 of them would flicker away and die down with this constant orange pulsing backlighting them while the faces were blank.  It looked as though the pulses were the signal to attack.  I dunno, I guess I’m just weird.  But you have to see it.  The next piece that blew me away was called “Diamond Sea.”  This one was thousands of LED’s mounted on what looked like a mirror.  I sat on the bench just staring into it and watching for the beginning of the pattern.  I think I was there for about 5 minutes when Peggy, one of the docents of the museum sat next to me and began asking what I thought about this work.  We actually had a wonderful conversation that led to her asking me if I thought that since a computer could be programmed to create these algorithms or extract algorithms from other places, could these pieces still be considered art.  WOW!  Say what?  Now, I say that since he created the patterns and algorithms for the pieces I think it’s fair that they are called art.  Just by looking at them you get a feeling from them.  They feel alive when you watch them.  They seem to be organic as the shapes shift and bounce and the colors blend.  I don’t know if a computer could create something that made me feel what I did when I watched the pieces. I found myself trying to mentally direct them on their travels across the mirror, and as I watched this dazzling light bounce around, I caught a glimpse of myself in the reflective surface.  I wondered if  I would create something as brilliant as this. Peggy also told me about this installation that he did where people would sleep under it as though they were sleeping under the stars.  She didn’t remember where this was, but still the idea sounds wonderful.  It’s like urban camping.  After my little chat with Peggy, I only had to turn 90 degrees to come upon “The Big Bang.”  Oh, my stars!  Being someone who loves science and astronomy, I have fallen totally and completely in love with this piece.  I felt like I was looking at the actual event via digital imagery.  It’s beautiful.  I actually braved taking out my phone and capturing a few shots of it, but word of warning, my phone cam is not very good.

The Big Bang. One of the first images of the pattern.

The disk starts off black with only two or three specks of light swirling around the board.  Then there are more specks of light that begin changing from purple to blue all randomly swirling in different speeds, directions and sizes.

A little further into the process.

Eventually the disk fills to this bursting of purple and blue lights that are almost white in the center as the image still swirls, but this time is mostly the same direction.

It's as though the heat and gases are bursting outward.

Then the reds begin to pop in and out of the white hot center and those are followed by orange lights and they gradually move outward. As they do, the blue starts creeping back into the picture.  Soon the disk is mostly blue with just tiny points of orange and red. Next the green peeks out and I don’t know if this is suppose to happen, but the disk kinda looks like Earth.  It’s a really great piece that I would love to have mounted in my home. Ah, I could have stayed there the whole day just watching for the patterns.

Below are some vids about Mr. Villareal’s process and thoughts behind some of the pieces he’s created.  Feel free to take a look.

What artists are you a fan of?  Why?  How have their works affect you?

In addition to the Villareal showing and the sketching class that I attended to try and help my feeble skills, on the second floor there was even more thought provoking works in the exhibits “Retro-Tech” which has things repurposed into new amazing things that feature current technology as part of them.  The one that struck me the most was an old fashioned white ice cream cart with a big red and white umbrella.  The top of the cart is cut out and a monitor installed inside like the old table top Pac-Man.  There is a joystick and a single button just like the old arcade game Donkey Kong.  The “game” that’s showing inside is actually a 8 bit rendering of people crossing the border and the text is all kinds of stats about how many people have been killed or died during their journey.  The thing that really got me was that there is nothing that you can do.   The joystick and button don’t actually function for the game, but to drive home the point of helplessness.  It was brutal.  In another exhibit called “New Media from the Permanent Collection” I came across the most creepy video EVER! I actually had to snap a shot of this:

Creepy video!

The museum dedicated this little room to the piece who’s name escapes me right now.  The room is painted pitch black and inside a projector shows this image of a man. I don’t know if it’s an illusion, but no matter where you walk in the tiny room it looks as though the face is watching you.  CREEPY!!!  The man in the video goes through all the varying degrees of pain that humans go through, but the man seems to move so much slower than normal that his face looks evil and menacing.

So while the outside of the museum is kind of bland and the lights are clearly in need of some cleaning, inside are some true treasures that must be seen by the world.

What’s the coolest thing you’ve seen at a museum? Which one was it?  Did you try to get a picture of it?

AS OF 8/20/10

Tomorrow, I will be heading over to the San Jose Museum of Art for a long overdue trip through the gallery.  One of the big reasons that I shall be there is that there will be an instructor lead DIY sketching “class.”  I am incredibly excited because I would love to create better images when sketching.  Here’s some of my attempts from a few years ago:

My Empty Full House 1/28/03
Sleepy Time 1/9/03

As you can see, I could use the help, and the extra practice.  I am really excited to hopefully get back into sketching, but I am not holding my breath.

So while that is my original reason for heading to the Museum tomorrow, I am incredibly pleased to learn that the new Leo Villareal exhibit opens that day too!! I think I have to back track just a wee bit.   My friend has began working with LEDs and incorporating them into things. So it made me interested in the use of these little lights and why more and more people have begun working with them and creating more and more wonderful things.  Turns out that Mr. Villareal is a pioneer in working with these lights and creating some incredible pieces like these:

Metatron, 2002
Big Bang, 2008 (A.P., ed. 3)

So needless to say, I am going to be spending a good couple of HOURS wandering the rooms of the San Jose Museum of Art and taking in everything that is on display.  I should probably try and renew my membership.  I’ll see if I can scrounge up a few bucks to do so.

In the meantime, here’s a great video about Leo Villareal talking about his work:

AS OF 7/21/10

First up is Carmen Reid’s painting titled “The Reminder”

Acrylic on two wood panels.

I find Carmen’s work to be exciting and bold.  The sharp messages at the corners are softened by the curvy passage that divides the painting.  Almost evoking some motherly advise to take responsibility of your own actions but making sure to “say” it in a way that doesn’t make the child angry or bitter.  What do you think of it?  How does it make you feel?  Sadly, I am not able to photograph it well enough to show the brush strokes that were used. Personally, one of the major things that I love about this work is that it doesn’t feel measured in any way, but completely organic.

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