Tick Tock

Sarah Morris, Big Ben, poster for  London Olympics 2012

We didn’t see the official London Olympics posters much here in America (not sure about my friends in other nations) but Londoner’s reactions to them were decidedly negative.


From the classically British

Oh dear… not very good are they?

to the scathing

Thought this may have been a joke at first, still have a hard time believing this is actually tied in to the Olympics, or anything respectable really. Does being a “well known” artist mean you don’t have to try anymore?

I’m featuring my pick from these slim pickin’s. Sarah Morris’s Big Ben 2012. 

As you might realize from the onset, she features London’s most iconic time piece as a double entendre for both the city and the reality that the Olympic machine turns on seconds and milliseconds. Gold and silver decided by a razor edge of time, seconds sliced down to decimal places incomprehensible.

She’s plucked the minute and hour hands from their traditional place and multiplied them.  Stretched them into taut bolts, arrows both coming and going. Time as a weapon? A severed dream. Arrow – can you hit the mark? On your marks.

The concentric circles tell the story of  the clock face and suggest the Olympic rings piled one on top another. A flag-like diversity of color embraces the panoply of countries gathered.

It’s cool, strong and graphic with layers of meaning. Will it be a winner in the art legacy of Olympic posters? Only time will be the tell.

Hand me that pot

Josefina Guilisasti, La Vigilia-detail, 2001 Blanton Museum, Austin, Texas

Josefina Guilisasti, La Vigilia-detail, 2001 Blanton Museum, Austin, Texas

Recently, one of my helpful in-laws (who shall remain anonymous) charred my favorite stock pot, while cooking in my kitchen. . . reminded me of Josefina’s piece (my fav) at the Blanton Museum in Austin, Texas. I’ve been scrubbing my sad pot for days, and it occurred to me that I could simply choose another from these shelves and chuck the whole mess. So choose mug, take a seat, and I’ll pour you a cup of La Vigilia.

La Vigilia (Vigil), a collection of seventy-two oils, each tucked into a cubby of twelve Ikea style bookcases. The twelve different pots and utensils are life-size, each painted six times with a different perspective/shadow.  Each perspective corresponds to the height of the shelf it sits on. And here comes the fun part. The shelves themselves cast shadows that banter with the painted shadows on the canvas.  A cozy-intellectual, game of shadows. A Puzzle of pots.  Painting. Sculpture. Shadow.

This piece speaks of “home” to me  and warmth, although it reads grayscale. Intriguing. These normally utilitarian items, carefully elevated and precisely glorified en mass.

For each one, memories of my steam-kissed mother or grandmother, stirring. Spoons tasting over the stove, back and forth checking the oven.   My grandfather’s sink vigil,  baptizing dishes, washing their stain away. And I contemplate the meaning of home.  What makes us leave it, what draws us back from far places. Memories like water, fill these vessels.  Which pots do we keep of our “home” which do we forge anew.  Arranging new values with old traditions in our own family’s collage. And then the shade Time wields its brush of shadows.

My dreams are like your vigils.      Jorge Luis Borges