Anyone in the area should check out “Charles Addams’ New York” at the Museum of the City of New York, through June 6th.
The exhibit includes over 60 drawings — beautifully refined watercolors and loose preliminary sketches (which sometimes showed alternate versions of the joke.) In the center of the gallery is a recreation of Addams’ studio and an interior room dedicated to the Addams’ Family cartoons. Seriously, you can’t pass by more than three feet of exhibit space without cracking a smile.
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Tuesday, February 02, 2010
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
A bunch of artist friends and I took advantage of the long weekend and headed up to Montreal to see the J. W. Waterhouse exhibit — the largest-ever collection of Waterhouse work, it is on display until February 7th. Montreal will be its only North American venue.
Typically seeing a full body of one artist’s work, being able to view a life-time’s worth of progression, picking up on reoccurring symbols and learning their visual language, makes me appreciate the individual pieces more. I have to admit, in this case I felt I may have gotten more out of the paintings if I had stumbled upon them slowly over time. They are all beautiful, to be sure, but the effect of so many depictions of wistful women as an ideal of “feminine whatever” eventually got me a little eye-rolly. That said, my four or five favorite paintings of the show are amazing and well worth the trip all on their own.
The scale of the paintings was surprising – major works reaching 6 to 9 feet -- and it added to the otherworldliness of the mythological themes he often depicted. The application of paint is loose and wonderful to look at up close. (We were thankful to guards that never seemed to mind us standing nose-close to the works.) It was as easy to get lost in the folds of a woman’s dress as it was the beauty of their faces.
Among my favorites...
“The Lady of Shallot”, his most famous work, is heartbreaking. We see her embarking in what is soon to be her funeral barge. A sense of longing, freedom, and doom woven into her breath. The tapestries dragging in the water, at last a direct connection to the earth. Her face is in sharp focus while everything else softens around her…a moment of clarity within a dream.
“The Magic Circle”, perhaps my favorite of the exhibit, shows a woman of real strength and depth. I love the slightly out-turned knee required to cut through the earth. Each crows looks like they have a part to play in the incantation. And, let’s face it, the live snake oroborus around her neck is just badass.
“Mariamne” Another woman of strength and confidence. She stands strong as a marble column amongst so much judgment, the only figure able to look at the other players in the eye. The glow of her dress is striking but even more evocative is the shadow across her face – she is much more beautiful and mysterious because we can’t quite see her.
I didn’t know Waterhouse’s work nearly as well as others on the trip but once there I realized how many of his paintings are icons. After a while, women standing on their toes with titled heads doesn’t quite do it for me, but individually they are great and it was a treat to see them. Also on display was a room full of his sketch books and color studies.
Unfortunately the museum gets no marks for exhibition design. Matte black walls and glossy black signage gave the place a “welcome to my sexy-den” vibe, and being in darkness meant that the paintings had to be spotlit, causing a lot of reflections.
The rest of the museum is smallish but with some real gems. We ran across this Pascal Dangan-Bouverete painting and fell in love with it. These women are beautifull – stark, formal, honest and direct – without the need of a “feminine ideal.” We also became enamored with this crazy sculpture of a woman embraced by Death. It might be the kind of thing you’d expect tattooed to a biker’s arm, but it had us all entranced.
Day two: Back to the museum for a little refresher and then off to the Biodome. Lynx! Two lynxes. We heart the lynxes.
And the great part about winter travel?: depth of field. The train ride was a blast. I know it would be just as spectacular in the summer and heartbreaking in the fall, but being able to see through the trees and deep into snow covered fields and frozen lakes was mesmerizing. The downside: All the reading and work I thought I would do sat in my bag, mocking me, while I stared out the window for twelve hours straight.
It was amazing to be up there with so many friends, all passionate about art. The combined experience between them must have be in the hundreds of years. Between the conversation, artwork, lynxes, and landscapes, we are all excited to get back to work. Greg, Scott, Scott, Boris, Julie, Kurt, Zelda, Dan, Chris, Kristina, Tony, Nonie, Rebbecca, Rebbecca, Mat, Marc, Chloe, Alex, Elizabeth…it was awesome! What’s next?
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Sunday, November 01, 2009
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
We had a perfect and artful New England weekend. On our way up to Robert Wiener's annual Apple Fest, we decided to take a day in Boston to visit Edwin Austin Abbey's “Grail Cycle” and John Singer Sargent's “Prophets” murals at the Boston Public Library. We had wandered into the Library on a whim a few years back and were blown away by these murals. This time we came prepared..and we were still blown away.
Here’s a shaky-cam 360 of the Abbey room.
And, of course, a quick stop at the aquarium. I love aquariums. And their jelly fish exhibit is, as all jelly fish exhibits are, a must-see.
The following day: Dave Seeley rounded us up, along with Jason Felix who was in for a Magic tournament. A quick stop to poke through Dave's studio. (A place no one with sensory overload issues should enter.) Then, over to pick-up Rick Berry. Rick had just finished packing up a crate of work to be shipped to the Lucca Festival where he'll be exhibiting and painting with Phil Hale. If you’re in Italy at the end of October, you should go so that we, who are far away, can be envious.
Finally, we were off to the main event: Robert Wiener's annual Apple Fest -- where we ran around Robert’s backyard picking, eating, and squeezing as many apples we could shake a strange, extra long, lacrosse-like stick at. Robert also has one of the most extraordinary collections of science fiction and fantasy art imaginable. It is overwhelming. After an hour or so you are left unable to absorb more and left realizing there are days, literary days, worth of viewing left. It was a fantastic time. A huge thanks to Robert! I wish it could be Apple Fest every weekend. 2010, we leave more time for the artwork and break out the apple cannon.
(Currently: Eating apples and peanut butter for dinner as I type....emmmmm.)
Sunday, September 20, 2009
If you are in NY, go visit the Met's borrowed Vermeer. It's astonishing. And then run upstairs and play with Roxy Paine's tangled up metallic tree roots and limbs.
Kadinsky at the Guggenhiem is interesting but I feel heretical in saying that I was happiest in the room full of his watercolor. As Peter Fiore pointed out (when I asked why on facebook,) the watercolors are much more radiant. I was also surprised to see two examples of very early, much more illustrative, works to fall in love with.
Friday, September 11, 2009
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Last night I met up with Rick Berry at the Met. He mentioned he was bringing Brandon Kitkouski. The name sounded familiar but I couldn't place it. When I got there, they also had Thom Tenery with them. I had just done an interview with Thom recently and, even more recently, he finished a book cover for us. It was real treat to meet both of them. After the Met, it was off to a wonderfully long and relaxed Brazilian dinner. It wasn't until I got home, with Google at my disposal, that realized I knew Brandon from conceptart.org, except I knew him as BKStudios.
I have to say, after living here for 20 years, I still love that I can be at work one moment, standing in front of a a Sargeant the next, and talking about where to take a Hawaiian a Texan, and a Bostonian out to eat the following moment.
Safe travels, boys! Rick, it's always a treasure to see you. Thom and Brandon, great to meet you...I hope we can repeat dinner in San Diego.
Crappy cell pictures, because the idea of recharging a battery seems to be beyond me:
Brandon Kitkouski, Thom Tenery, and Madame X.
At Dinner: Brandon, Thom, Rick Berry, and Greg Manchess.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
I spent about two hours last Sunday at Storm King Art Center. Immediately I knew the visit would be about 364 days and 22 hours too short. It was the most idyllic Fall day and stepping out onto the five hundred acres of lawns, woods, sculpture, and sunlight was...perfect.
With its rolling hills and large expanses it was easy to forget that anything of the outside world existed at all. I know the lawns must be painstakingly groomed but the landscaping is designed to feel just slightly nudged by man. Its calm and reclusive atmosphere magnified every interaction between the art and nature -- birds flying around the sculpture, wind in the trees scattering sunlight across man made forms, the smell and textures of various grasses under your feet -- this collaboration of so many senses and ever changing conditions becomes the work of art rather than the individual pieces.
If there was a star of the day, it was the sunlight. We stood at Andy Goldsworthy's "Wall" for ages with each passing minute altering the experience as the light changed. This was my first trip and we only had time for a fraction of the collection -- I'm eager to see the place in its entirety and in every weather condition.
Saturday, October 04, 2008
Art dealer Mitch Itkowitz, from Graphic Collectibles, was sweet to send me this Frank Godwin scan as a condolence. I saw the painting from across an isle or two at ComicCon and was immediately and inexplicably drawn to it. I see tons of great artwork and I'm happy to live with them briefly -- in a museum for a few minutes or in my office for a few weeks -- but there was something about this painting, which grabbed me from a distance too far to have appreciated it and didn't let go once I was directly in front of it, that made me deeply regret I would never see it again.
I wish I could express why.
Mitch warned me that a number of people were having the same reaction, it would likely be sold very quickly, but it was out of my price range. (Despite the fact that I work in publishing solely for it' s massive paychecks.) When I went back the next day, just to get another look, it was gone -- nothing but a hole in the fuax convention walls. I'm sure whoever owns it now will enjoy it for a life time, and I hope that they decide to leave the painting to a museum some day where the public can appreciate it for decades to come.
Friday, August 01, 2008
If I were an illustrator, Chris Buzelli would have my dream job. He just posted two more paintings for a natural history museum in Amsterdam. (I mentioned the first here.) He's included shots of the artifacts they are based on, sketches, and the final product in context. Of course anything to do with natural history museums is likely to get the nod from me but, really, he's created such a strong and cohesive identity for museum that immerses you into the life and purpose of these artifacts. So well done.
Thursday, June 05, 2008
Monday, June 02, 2008
About a month ago, I'm walking by the Met, outside the windows of the Temple of Dendur, and a friend of mine looks in and says, "That looks like Superman's house in there." The Met was setting up some swanky party, but I really doubted Superman had anything to do with it. And I was wrong. Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy was opening.
I have to admit, I ran through the exhibit quickly. Nothing really caught my attention -- although I did enjoy seeing super-enlarged comic art, most by Alex Ross, used as backdrops. It wasn't until I saw the runway shots in the catalog that I realized what was missing for me was motion. Seeing the costumes and clothes in action, even if caught on film or in comic pages, made more sense to me than seeing them hung over stiff mannequins.
Still, no day at the Met is a bad one...
Friday, May 30, 2008
"Real Pirates: The Untold Story of the Whydah From Slave Ship to Pirate Ship" opened at Philadelphia's Franklin Institute last night. Greg Manchess created eight paintings in ten weeks for this National Geographic exhibit, most of which had one to two dozen figures in it. Crazy. I wrote a bit about the exhibit when it's opened in Cincinnati last year, but this was the first time I got to see it in the flesh. It recounts a life of a pirate ship salvaged off the shore of Cape Cod a few years back. Yes I am biased, but I have to say, the paintings go to a long way tell the story of the ship and it's crew in a way that the artifacts alone could not. Cutlasses are cool, but, you know, a bit tough to relate to. Quite a number of these paintings have made their way into the Communication Arts, Society of Illustrators, and Spectrum.
Throughout the opening we spent a bit of time talking to unreal pirates. A stage fighting group, Shadow Combat, was hired to add some color to the event. It took no time at all to realize that we had been to a number of the same conventions and had some friends in common. A fun bunch. I'm sorry I'll miss their show at tonight's public opening. (Damn this job o' mine!)
Next stop for the exhibit is Chicago's Field Museum. I am officially psyched, I've never been to the Field.
Monday, March 10, 2008
Sunday, March 09, 2008
I adore New York's American Museum of Natural History, but the curse of that is always being slightly disappointed when I go to any other city's natural history museum. Not so in DC. I had to be dragged out of there. Not only was it crammed with well sculpted animals and displays, but it also had the same odd mix of current science with a wonderful 1950s aesthetic to what makes something look scientific and forward thinking -- which basically means lots of hexagons and "cell" shapes in muted tertiary colors, with signage that was clearly hand cut and applied.
I'm inexplicably fasicinated by mounted (wrongly called "stuffed") animal displays. The AMNH cannot be beat on this, but in DC there was a lot of emphasis given to the movement of the animals. The only thing it was laking was some breathing-room between displays.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Jim Gurney reminded me that National Geographic’s exhibition, The Art of Exploration, opens at the Allentown Art Museum this weekend, it runs until May 25th. I saw this show when it was at the Rockwell Museum a few years ago. It’s one of the best shows I’ve seen....but then I would say that since it pushes so many of my imagination buttons: exploration, animals, dinosaurs.
There are over a 100 paintings on exhibit, many from Geographic’s collection. I was in their offices a few years ago and nearly cried. It seems they use up any leftover budget they have each year by buying artwork. Their hallways double as one of the most amazing illustration collections I’ve ever seen, from Wyeth to today’s artists.
The artists represented in the exhibition include Paul Calle, Kinuko Y. Craft, Vincent Di Fate, Louis S. Glanzman, John Gurche, James M. Gurney, Greg Harlin, Charles R. Knight, Tom Lovell, Greg Manchess, Robert McGinnis, Stanley Meltzoff, Fred Otnes, Jerry Pinkney, Kazuhiko Sano, Richard Schlecht, Burt Silverman, Barron Storey, Jack Unruh, Andrew Wyeth (sigh!), N. C. Wyeth, and the ubiquitous “and many others”.
If you are in the area, the show is a must-see. There a number of tours and lectures being held in conjunction with the exhibit, including Jim Gurney talking about his latest Dinotopia book, Journey to Chandara, on March 9th. Jim is incredibly generous when it comes to talking about his process, he’s truly one of the most informative artists you’ll ever get to hear. (I assume anyone interested in painting technique is already reading his blog, Gurney Journey.)
PAINTINGS: Jim Gurney, Lou Glanzman