Monday, January 29, 2007

January 29, 2007
Enjoyed a decadent weekend. All art on Saturday and all movies on Sunday.

Kathy and I had an 11:30 appointment on Saturday morning to see the Rembrandt show at the Phoenix Art Museum. You have to show up at your appointed time and line up and go through the show with your earpiece moderator. The show was slightly oversold in terms of hype. The official name: "Rembrandt and The Golden Age of Dutch Art" covered quite a few artists and there were only 14 Rembrandts ( more than half being etchings). Still it was a wonder to stand in front of the self-portrait of Mr. va Rijn as the Apostle Paul. None of the reproductions capture the brilliant sheen on his forehead.

As we were standing in a very long line. I spied an old Kingman buddy through the narrow opening in a wall. "Are you sure it's him?" my wife said diplomatically. "Are you kidding? Old Kingmanites can spot each other on a foggy battlefield." As we inched forward, the tall, hispanic in the dark suit came around the corner. "Well, hello James Covarubias," I said with mock formality. We laughed and shook hands (old Kingman jock cronies don't hug). We also had to laugh at the fact that of all the Kingman crowd, two of the biggest troublemakers, James and I, turned out to be artists. There's a moral there somewhere. James (I still think of him as Jimmy) has always got something going and now he's doing a Western movie and I told him to send me some info and we'll plug it in the magazine.

After the Rembrandt show we also, checked out the concurrent show "Fierce Reality: Italian Masters from the 17th Century Naples" which was also hanging in the other end of the museum. They made an excellent comparison, since the Italians were painting under the enforced hierarchy of the Roman church, vs. the rising Protestant north where the glorification of the individual was just starting to flower (the Dutch tended to paint Jesus as a guy next door).

We had lunch down in the Bentley Projects at the City Bakery Cafe, south of Chase Ballpark and saw their artwork, then motored out to Scottsdale to check out Russian Impressionism at the Overland Galleries (Kathy loved two snow pieces), then over to the Scottsdale Center for the Arts to see the Rockwell (Norman's son) "Maya II" which is a work in progress, then across the way to see the show "Celebrity" which had a goofy barn by Dwight D. Eisenhower and an abstract by Frank Sinatra, and of course several Andy Warhols of Liza and the usual media whores (it was after all, a show about "celebrity"). They had a TV in the center of the room with a young-punk-artschool-graduate pontificating about his "perfrormance" piece which consisted of him going through a New York telephone book and culling the names that sounded sexual to him and then printing their addresses onto sheafs of printout paper. Several art "critics" sat in front of him holding these big turds as if they were the ten commandments, and I wondered aloud if anyone would line up at the Phoenix Art Museum 150 years from now to see this "artwork." Talk about bookends!

As if that wasn't enough we walked up Main Street stopping in half a dozen art galleries to check out the Western art, then ended up at the SoHo Room at the Hotel Valley Ho where they were holding a big, "Classic Erotique" auction of "historic erotica and vintage nudes." What attracted me to this event is they used the alleged photo of Josie Earp as their poster art and it was also in the auction for $2,500 (with a disclaimer that most historians now believe it's not her). The catalogue was mostly hardcore porn, but they positioned the "artwork" by saying they were only doing "quality works of art" from the "1950s and earlier." Frankly, a photo of a blowjob from the 1920s has just as nasty a resemblence to a 2007 photo of the same act. It was funny, but not for long, and it wasn't very uplifting, after all the art we saw.

The Best of 3,000
Having seen all of that artwork simultaneously gives me hope, and yet it's so daunting. I saw many paintings, both in Phoenix and Scottsdale that I realized I will never be able to duplicate with skill. With that disclaimer let's look at a few of my sketchbook efforts. Here's a page of Apache faces that work for me (below, left) followed by Annie Oakley and some assorted cowboys. Not bad for a kid from Kingman.

The Top Secret Project deals with the Tarahumara Indians of northern Mexico and here's a page of them, actually executed before we went to Mexico. Kathy flagged the page on the right, because she said she identifies with the woman screaming (either at her teenagers, or "she's giving birth").

The girl on the swing has a certain something, especially juxtaposed with the big, phallic saguaro, and coming full circle, here's several Degas studies (below, right) that actually work in terms of subtle lighting. The people in the crosswalk are from a newspaper photo of people at Sky Harbor.

Yesterday, Kathy and I spent the day at the movies, seeing "Seraphim Falls" and then "The Departed." And I got "Bandidas" from Netflix. Reviews tomorrow.

Onion Headline de Jour
Homosexual Dolphin Has Highly Developed Sense Of Gay-Nar

"Wisdom denotes the pursuing of the best ends by the best means."
—Frances Hutcheson

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