Sunday, November 19, 2017

Know Your Competition

"Your competition is not other people but the time you kill, the ill will you create, the knowledge you neglect to learn, the connections you fail to build, the health you sacrifice along the path, your inability to generate ideas, the people around you who don't support and love your efforts, and whatever god you curse for your bad luck."
--James Altucher

"You will not be punished for your anger, you will be punished by your anger."
--Siddartha Gautama

Saturday, November 18, 2017

BEAUTY: Painting--Jean-Pierre Ugarte

The work of Jean-Pierre Ugarte frightens me... His landscapes seem epic and romantic, like those of Frederic Edwin Church or grandly mysterious and haunting like Caspar Friedrich but look closer. The narrative suggests that the natural landscape has overgrown what clearly had to be monumental cement or stone structures of some long ago civilization like ours. So the frightening part for me is...what happened to that civilization? Where are all the people?

Friday, November 17, 2017

BEAUTY: Sculpture--Vanderlei Lopes

The clever work of Vanderlei Lopes looks like molten gold pouring through gallery spaces and draining out artist-installed grates.

Top to bottom: Bueiro (Manhole); Disputa (Argument); Enxurrada (Flash Flood); Musica detail; Musica; O Pintor (The Painter); Ralo (Drain); Vaso

Thursday, November 16, 2017

"The North Awakens"

Photographer/fine artists Jonathan Besler, Florian Gampert, and Kevin May used drone cameras to make "The North Awakens,"a video of the gorgeous, surreal, sweeping landscapes of Iceland. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The London Mithraeum

In case you missed it, London's newest museum opened yesterday. The London Mithraeum is a recreation of a 240 AD Roman temple to the god Mithras. Originally discovered in 1954 during construction of Bucklersbury House, a 14 story office building in The City, it was carefully excavated and moved 100 metres to Temple Court, Queen Victoria Street where it was reconstrcuted.

But when Bucklersbury House along with four other nearby buildings were demolished, plans were drawn up to relocate the temple nearer to its original location as part of what was called the Walbrook Square project. Bloomberg Company bought the property in 2010 which ultimately decided to restore the Mithraeum to its original site as part of their new European headquarters. Parallel to the construction work, Museum of London Archaeology lead a team of over 50 archaeologists excavating the site between 2010-14. This effort recovered more than 14,000 items, including a large assembly of tools and other objects like leather shoes and a large assembly of wooden writing tablets of which over 400 were found.

The Mithraeum is now located nearly 23 feet below street level which equates to ground level in ancient Londinium and the temple's new home and layout is impressive. Also shown are the additional uncovered objects as well as an array of excavated objects from the 1954 dig and an earlier partial discovery in 1889!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Just watched...

..."Blade Runner 2049."

I had been waiting a long while to see this film--and it was a nervous wait since the film could have been fantastic or dreadful. But even before it was released, I saw it has a lot going for it: co-written by Hampton Fancher who co-wrote the original film, produced by Scott Free Productions (founded by Ridley Scott, the director of the original film), and starring Harrison Ford who played Rick Deckard in the original film. Add to this the fact that the film was directed by Denis Villeneuve who did the extraordinary 2016 Amy Adams film "Arrival," and also stars "La La Land"'s Ryan Gosling (a wonderfully understated and versatile actor, seen previously here and here) and Oscar-winner Jared Leto, well, seemed to be a sure thing.

And I must say that the film exceeded any expectations I had. It is a stunningly beautiful film--truly a worthy successor to the original, in every way possible. The visuals are as breathtaking as the original and the art direction is ravishing. The story makes complete, utter sense and in no way feels forced--or unnecessary--as many sequels (especially after so many years) can; the story not only references the original, but is completely dependent upon it in an extremely satisfying and plausible way. Thanks to Villeneuve, the pacing of the film is a marvel: perfectly deliberate and eerie, like dreaming. I love that Fancher and Villeneuve and everyone connected with this film dared to forego the current popular film structure paradigm of an explosion or car chase every 5 minutes. Sure, there are some actions scenes, some explosions, some chasing, but it does not feel distracting, sensationalizing, or sophomoric...they are part of the larger, more cerebral story filled with deep connections that one must pay close attention to and for.

The film presents something else that I just adore: I love when films portray technology that is unrelated to most anything we know now or could possibly imagine. As the great science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke once said, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." And Leto's character possesses some magical technology that is simply not explained which makes complete sense: if we show current technology, why would we bother to explain how, for example, an iPhone works? In the future, the tehchnology that seems magical now was built on all that came before it. Have faith, it will get there.

And of course it is a real treat to see Harrison Ford as Deckard once again, along with many familiar faces from the original film. The new additions are marvelous too: Gosling, Leto, Ana de Armas, Sylvia Hoeks, and Robin Wright are expertly cast.

Recommend? YES YES YES! But of course you SHOULD have seen the original first...

Monday, November 13, 2017

BEAUTY: Sculpture--Yinka Shonibare MBE

The dynamic work of artist Yinka Shonibare MBE speaks to his immersion in two different cultures...or three depending on how you count certain elements of his work.

Shonibare's website says:
"Yinka Shonibare MBE was born in 1962 in London and moved to Lagos, Nigeria at the age of three. He returned to London to study Fine Art, first at Byam School of Art (now Central Saint Martins College) and then at Goldsmiths College, where he received his MFA.

Shonibare’s work explores issues of race and class through the media of painting, sculpture, photography and film. Shonibare questions the meaning of cultural and national definitions. His trademark material is the brightly coloured ‘African’ batik fabric he buys in London. This type of fabric was inspired by Indonesian design, mass-produced by the Dutch and eventually sold to the colonies in West Africa. In the 1960s the material became a new sign of African identity and independence."

The cultural mash-up that results from cladding traditional European sculpture in this Dutch-African material is delicious.

Top to bottom: Apollo of the Belvedere (After Leochares); Butterfly Kid (Boy); Butterfly Kid (Girl) IV; David (after Michelangelo); Discus Thrower (After Myron); Mrs. Pinckney and the Emancipated Birds of South Carolina; Revolution Kid (Calf); Revolution Kid (Fox); Venus de Milo (After Alexandros); Winged Victory of Samothrace

And here are his Elemental figures:


Sunday, November 12, 2017

BEAUTY: Photography--Fred Lyon

Photographer Fred Lyon has had an incredible life photographing presidents (he worked for a while as a photographer in the White House!), fashion models (for Life and Look magazines!), food, wine, and most importantly, San Francisco. Now 93 years young, Lyon still photographs his--and my--beloved City by the Bay. But the bulk of his very special early work has just been published in a book called, fittingly, SAN FRANCISCO NOIR. The tile references the moody, gritty, urban film style of detective and crime films from the 40s and 50s (see "The Maltese Falcon" and "The Lady From Shanghai") and Lyon's pictures predated many of them. His way of capturing a foggy night is just lovely. And interestingly, The City still looks like this! Lyon recently said in an interview, "San Francisco still has all of its stuff. Some of the older pictures could be shot today...It wears its history well." An he is right. You can still stroll down a foggy street or catch the neon signs of Chinatown amid some evocative, classic architecture.

To purchase Fred Lyon's photographic book SAN FRANCISCO NOIR, click on the publisher's link below.