Category Archives: Art

Conceptual Art

There is the sort of physical and permanent art, well known genres like painting, sculpture, or some such, and then there is the ephemeral conceptual sort of performance art.  And after never being exposed to conceptual art (unless you count those 60’s be-ins), I have recently been to two of this type of event.

What are you looking at?   Why it’s part of a multiple lens camera obscura image of a flowing creek, so the image is upside down.  The artist had manufactured the camera obscura out of plasticized black cardboard, binder clips, nylon fabric, blackout cloth and lenses ingeniously working together to make this ephemeral piece.

Flip the image around and it makes perfect sense.  And it was only there for a limited time, it’s gone now.

And then there was this performance today, which involved a San Francisco artist and free beer (but only one beer, sadly).   I must say that this was a more interesting piece than the previous one in this gallery, which involved real and fake hair going up a wall.   And it did get a rather large turn out, the room was full of chattering people instead of the more usual echo of one’s own footsteps.

My one lonely beer was served by this nice young man.  He was tonight’s guest bartender, serving up this Mexican beer.   He writes about food and drink for the local free newspaper and seemed to be happy to be part of the event.  And I suppose that I was happy to be there too.

Oh deer

Well there I was having another art day and I had ended up at a rather swanky hotel.   The hotel was having a plein air day with a number of their artists who show at the gallery out and about painting the scenery at the hotel.   As I was leaving I stepped out of the front entrance and saw her.

What you can’t see in the picture is that she is quite near the front portico, with lots of valets and doormen standing around.   There were a few tourists milling about as well.   She calmly  was trimming the shrubbery and enjoying the tender freshly planted flowers that come from the hotel’s own greenhouse.

And after a hearty meal like that one needs a bit of a lie down.

And perhaps a little scritch to make one’s self completely comfortable.

And if one cared to memorialize the day, and one had several thousand dollars just rattling around in one’s pocket, one could purchase something like this bronze deer, available to buy right there in the hotel gallery.   Or perhaps some other wildlife art to remember encountering  the fauna of Colorado right outside the fancy hotel lobby.

Art of the Street

In the last post I showed you (dear reader) the bird-like art of a local sculptor at the new arts center.  But wait, there is more in the bird art category on view at another business in town.

How about a giant chicken (readily recognizable as poultry) perched atop a saloon, right on a major thoroughfare.   Surrounded by artificial palm trees (sadly, palms do not grow here naturally), the chicken is master of all it surveys.

Or perhaps a flamingo is more to your taste?

Instead of rusting, enigmatic, possibly industrial art, one can admire a rusting 100+ year old cast iron stove here.

And how is this different from art that one would have to pay millions to possess?  Other than not being for display and sale in a fancy gallery by a big name artist.  (The city did make the owners take down car henge,  a previous artwork, which was made using cars instead of standing blue stones).

So instead of just a weird face, this place has the entire figure!   Yes, a giant fiberglass cowboy, complete with an enormous fiberglass beer.  Just to let one know what is on offer at this location.  It is the art of the pour, rather than the visual arts.   And this artwork is just as striking as the expensive stuff at the arts center.

Art on the street

The local state university is quite near my house.  And just like the universe itself, the university is expanding.   The most recent building is an arts center, and what is an arts center without art?   They have plonked down a number of large pieces of art, in a sort of random accumulation, so that one can tell that this is, in fact, an arts center.

The giant chicken roadrunner bird-like thing was made by a local sculptor some years ago.   It used to be at his house, until the neighbors complained about tourists showing up to look at all his art (there was a bunch of these).  So now it sits here in splendor (and it really is lovely).

This is another one of his pieces, and it moves in the breeze.   So on this day, that was the way the wind was blowing.

And here is yet another piece from the same artist, he made a lot of these things.  (And now you can see that the wind has changed direction too).

This one is not so attractive.   It looks like some sort of abandoned industrial by-product or fallen space junk, rusting away into oblivion.

This one is made of neon and at night, whatever they are supposed to be lights up, one after another.  I thought that they looked vaguely like roses, and I was immediately put in mind of Four Roses brand whiskey (the choice of skid row alcoholics everywhere).  And yes I do realize that there are five whatevers, but it’s hard to count them when one is just driving by after dark.

And then there is this bit, a collaborative effort of the artist and the grounds keepers.

I’m not sure how all of these pieces go together in any kind of artistic harmony, but I’m sure for the artists the best part is that they are displayed (and they got paid for it!).

 

Shadows

Our local art museum is a tiny facility.   It used to be even smaller until a past CEO went on an expansion binge before moving on.   So now there are big spaces to fill.  And one doesn’t want to crowd the artwork together, they have to have room to breathe (or something).

I was there for another free day, but it wasn’t the art that caught my eye, it was the shadows.  I just love gallery lighting, it makes the ordinary more interesting and unexpected.

There is nothing special about a branch (except that someone sold it to this museum), but the multiple overlapping repeats of the image give the piece some interest.

This piece is a mildly famous work by a feminist artist, one of those 60’s things.  The art seems rather trite to me now, but I love, love the shadows.

These shadows include the shadow of my cell phone (oops!)

But this one is the king of the shadows (note the crown).

I like the #5 definition in my dictionary (I know, how retro to use a physical dictionary): a delusive image or semblance: anything unreal or unsubstantial.  Or #6, a phantom, ghost or shade.  And that is why I like to capture them.

Pterodactyl About Town, pt.2

No ordinary pterodactyl, this one turns up in the swankiest places, like today’s political event, held at the estate of a late city father.

Nice fountain.   Pteri scared it into just dribbling.

Although I will admit that the Buddhist statue guarding the entry way seems to be singularly unimpressed by the sight of a pterodactyl.  Perhaps this happens all the time.

This is more like it:  attacking the stone decorations.

It was a political event, so there must be flags.

And every politician knows the real secret to getting people to turn out for an event is to provide some food.  Nom nom, delicious catered food.  It’s the standard fare of a picnic, baked beans, potato salad, hamburgers and brownies.   To bad that it wasn’t the weather for a picnic, it started to rain, so off we went.

Pterodactyl about town

What is a young pterodactyl to do when exploring a new town?   Why go out and about and see the sights.

Enjoying the local cuisine in a popular restaurant.  Nom, nom.  It’s so delicious.

Or perhaps going for a bit of al fresco dining.   Watch out, those chilis are hot!

This antique curiosity was what the ancients once used to communicate with distant family and friends.  It’s abandoned now but it’s a great place to launch a surprise attack.

Enjoying a bit of the local color and blending right in.

All this running around is thirsty work, but there are a number of watering holes to cool off at.

There was just time for a quick photobomb before heading home, the city is full of such interesting places, he must visit again soon.

 

Icons of the West

When I was a child, westerns were extremely popular in both the television and at the movies.  Cowboys were good (especially if they wore a white hat), Indians were mostly bad, Easterners were idiots and fops, and bankers (who were sometimes Easterners) were evil.  That in a nutshell is the iconic and idealized version of the west, and it perhaps carries a tiny nugget of truth along with a great lump of mythologizing.

Most importantly in the West of the imagination is the cowboy, that lone figure battling against the forces of nature and the encroaching civilization (darn those Easterners).  Armed with a gun and a moral code, bringing law to the lawless frontier, whether it likes it or not.

Here’s a bit of art distilling the essence of the west into a single existential cowboy.   This art resides at the Santa Fe airport, and I am not entirely sure what it means.

Cowboys have to have someone to fight and overcome, so how about a studly Indian.  This guy did not waste his time making arrows and such, he looks as though he hit the gym and worked out everyday.

Every cowboy and Indian needs a horse.  The one the Greeks used to fool the Trojans was not nearly as splendid as this one.

Lest we forget that there were others inhabiting the West, here are some Mariachi ghosts to round out this small tour of icons.

Still more art

There is a certain pleasure in unchanging exhibits at art museums.   It is quite lovely to visit with one’s favorite pieces of art.  When I was a youngster I loved to visit Hosukai’s Great Wave  in it’s hidden corner of the big art museum.  And I thought it was was both beautiful and enigmatic (and a lovely shade of blue).

But there is also something to be said for changing exhibits, especially in a smaller museum, like our local museum.  One never knows what sort of things might be on display:  like these bits of art from Haiti.

I have no idea what this means and all the artistic blather that inspired this piece, I thought it looked interesting (and it was covered in glitter, which is always a good thing).

I do love surrealist art as well.

I had wondered what to do with my collection of tiny plastic figures, here was the answer staring me in the face.

Why not?

Sometimes one has to just surrender to the art.

More Inspiration

Although my town is in always in the shadow of the metropolis to the north, we do get the occasional bits of interesting things happening.   Besides getting to see Lynda Barry, this month also offered a chance to see in person some artwork from another artist that I admire, but only know from the internet.  And it was fabulous!

This is a picture that I took from a video installation (sorry for the picture quality, I am an indifferent photographer).  Chiho Aoshima does these anthropomorphic high-rise buildings, mixed with images from Japanese folklore.

It makes me want to squee with adorableness of these buildings.

But there is a fly in the ointment, a mythological figure turns into a cloud of black smoke and then the volcano erupts in this paradise.

Alien ships appear.  Notice that the foreground is a cemetery, yikes.  And what does it all mean?

A floating deity appears briefly in  a cloud.

Then a  tsunami knocks over some of the buildings, and makes the rest wobble about.

Bad things are happening, the black and white building grows legs and gets up to move because things are so bad.   But the standing buildings grow construction cranes to repair themselves, the sky clears and the rainbow returns.

There’s a happy ending, until it starts all over again, much like life.