Wednesday, December 31, 2014

5, 4, 3, 2, 1--Happy New Year 2015!


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BEAUTY: Ceramics--Stephen Benwell

The ceramic work of Australian artist Stephen Benwell is quite varied with vessels, vases, and objects, but it is his sculptural work that caught my attention. His small nude male figures reference classical works of antiquity, but they are rendered with the very modern, painterly touch of random colorful glazes. The palette is unexpected and the marvelous, rough expression of the figures is engaging.

When I visited his website, I discovered an exhibition he created called "Collection" in which he directly references classical figures and sculpture with intriguing groupings of small objects (looking like unearthed fragments from a Roman archaeological dig), busts, and figures in vitrines.

His work brings to mind the work of Alison Schulnik. I blogged about her incredible film "Mound" here. Take a look.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

"Under The Pressure" by The War On Drugs

WOW. This song and video are stunning. The War On Drugs, fronted by Adam Granduciel ("big sky?"), blend a melancholy, nearly-psychedelic sound that really gets into a fantastic groove with a gloriously amorphous, gossamer texture for a truly cosmic ending in this expansive, epic almost-nine-minute track. I normally think bands just hanging around playing their instruments in their music videos is a kind of cop out, but here the members of The War On Drugs play their instruments alone, isolated in a courtyard, facing into a corner, or toward a window, but away from us. Separated. This plays a significant subliminal role in the sense of the impressionistic narrative while scenes of suburban loneliness roll past us, once removed.

Engaging, beautiful, touching, and transforming.

BEAUTY: Painting--Suzy Murphy

Painter Suzy Murphy says that "the landscape is a vista poignant with spiritual meaning" and it is easy to see--and feel--that in her work. Camping scenes give way to a vastness that hints of a kind of cosmic vibration...

For her recent show entitled "What I Thought I Saw," Murphy explains her early childhood in east London being raised by a large extended Irish family and how that was dramatically--and it seems rather traumatically--contrasted with a move to Alberta, Canada when she was five. The empty landscape made an indelible mark on her that she is still trying to make sense of.

Her show "What I Thought I Saw" at Mead Carney Gallery in London closes January 3, 2015. If you are nearby, stop in.

I can't find a dedicated website for Suzy Murphy, but I am sure you can contact her through the gallery.

Monday, December 29, 2014

BEAUTY: Ceramics--Katie Marks

I love how ceramicist Katie Marks has incorporated the motif of rock crystals into cups, mugs, and vases. Beautiful.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

BEAUTY: Interiors--Heather Garrett's Loft

Interior designer Heather Garrett used her talents to create a marvelous loft for herself. At once comforting and eclectic, the space is intriguing with a superb mix of textures, objects, and finishes...

Coincidentally, I just sourced the exact same sconces on her stairs for a clients' dining room!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Just watched...

...this summer's (2014) film "Snowpiercer."

As some of you may have heard me say before, this time of year is great for hacking away at the ever-growing Netflix queue. The downtime around the holidays is spent at my house catching up on films whether on DVD, Blu-Ray, or on the ol' TiVo (we're always catching something that needs to be seen, but never enough time to see them all). This one arrived from Netflix the other day...and since we had our first freeze of the season here in Northern California, it seemed like a good time to watch this film about a future Ice Age.

Directed by Korean director Bong Joon-ho, this story of a dystopian future revolves around a failed cure for climate change--a substance was released into the atmosphere to reverse greenhouse gases but something went wrong and a second Ice Age was created. All life, according to the film, perished, except for a few thousand people on a speeding, closed-eco-system train that circles the globe. Now, I am a fan of dystopian future and sci-fi films, but I was a bit lost on the premise with this one. Why did it have to be a train? What a waste of resources. Wouldn't it have been smarter to burrow below ground and create a subterranean world away from the ice above? And of course, there has to be a societal hierarchy for there to be a dystopian future: the haves vs. the have-nots. And this takes the form of all the wealthy people in the "front" of the train who live like pampered royalty, against the ones who are not lucky enough to possess great wealth. These unlucky survivors live on "protein bars," a disgusting jelly-like substance, and wear filthy rags while a set of armed guards keep them in the "tail" of the train. I got it, and I understand and appreciate an end-of-the-world/ rebellion-against-the-overlords story...but none of it made sense to begin with. I am stuck on "Why a train?" and if you are going to keep a handful of humanity alive to start again, wouldn't it be smarter and more successful to choose people who could contribute to the future instead of the idle rich and their addled, empty-headed children? Just a thought...

I have since learned that the film is based on a French graphic novel series called "Le Transperceneige," and it seems there is a bit more explanation in the printed form of the story. As usual, it is possible that the book is better than the film. But Chris Evans did a fine job in the lead role. He has proven that he has acting chops to carry off more subtle and sensitive moments that he does not get while playing Captain America. Tilda Swinton is marvelous, as always, in a bizarre role that borders on caricature with a hideous wig and fake teeth. Looking frighteningly like Ayn Rand (the costume designer claims this was unintentional), Swinton's presence and talent rescue the character from being too over the top, and her masterful control adds a bit of extra-dark comedy here and there. John Hurt and Ed Harris show up to play too...

Not a bad film, but not an altogether convincing film either. Like I said, I am down with the whole sci-fi/social fiction-possible dystopian genre (I adore Margaret Atwood's books), but the off-kilter dream logic (not in a good way) of the premise kept me from stepping all the way into this film.

Recommend? I guess if there is nothing else on, give it a whirl. But don't go out of your way. Oh, except if you are a Tilda Swinton fan like I am. THEN you should see it. (Hi Tilda!)

"Eyes of Hitchcock" by Kogonada

Film buff Kogonada (previously herehere, and here) has created another wonderful visual survey of a director's predilections: Hitchcock and eyes...

Just a few times...

“A few times in my life I've had moments of absolute clarity. When for a few brief seconds the silence drowns out the noise and I can feel rather than think, and things seem so sharp and the world seems so fresh. It’s as though it had all just come into existence. I can never make these moments last. I cling to them, but like everything, they fade. I have lived my life on these moments. They pull me back to the present, and I realize that everything is exactly the way it was meant to be.”
--Christopher Isherwood, from A SINGLE MAN

Friday, December 26, 2014

BEAUTY: Painting--Emily Gherard

Rocks. Boulders. Landscapes. Or not. The strangely lyrical work of Emily Gherard is monolithic, or rather portrays monoliths...but the work, all untitled, ends up somehow delicate. Maybe because they vaguely resemble places we know...