Obstacles

Alexandra Eldridge, Spiritual Realities 24 x 18" |

Alexandra Eldridge, Spiritual Realities 24 x 18″ | 2012 courtesy of artist

Which came first -the elephant or the egg?

I like obstacles. They tell on me. Study your obstacles – what tale do they tell about your thinking? Elephantine obstacles require a great force of self to move, but many are completely mind made up.

In this totem, the elephant balances on a lavender egg. The elephant, remover of obstacles – is at once young and old – timeless leathered skin defined by burls in the underlying wood.

In motion. Maybe she was laid off – again. Maybe he holds divorce papers – again. Maybe she heads a faltering company or he’s losing a major client. These two-ton obstacles to happiness force us into motion. This elephant puts one uneasy foot in front of the other and though vulnerable, balances between hope and despair. She will make this egg take her where she wants to go. Perhaps finding (while plodding) a new direction. We don’t know how, but she will.

The bird, however, is stuck. Staring down a small black egg entirely avian made. Some dark ritualized judgement grounds her from flying free. A perceived tragic flaw, “I’m unlovable,” or “I’ll never reach my goals.” “I’ll always be _________. “I’m the worst  ________.”  Her wings pinned back.  Cawing complaint.

But I see potential in this obstacle egg. Potential to find the thinking flaw.  Black egg thoughts have a shady “all-or-nothing” ultimatum-ish type character  – a dead give away. Hold on! I’m not the *worst* parent in the world. I messed up this time, but next time I’ll handle it differently. (deep breath)

Now we flex our wings. Now a dark egg cracks. Opens up to new and brightly life.


Gobble

Miyoko Ito

Miyoko Ito

Where are you underneath

the holiday  –  yellow dogpile lines?

lemon lips. Green bean, durkee onion kiss.

I smell the turkey.

Is it done?

cavort you sweet potatoes

Stuff, Stuffed, Stuffing

and thanks for


Completely Dotty

Yayoi Kusama, detail Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland: With Artwork by Yayoi Kusama, Penguin, 2012

Yayoi Kusama, detail Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: With Artwork by Yayoi Kusama, Penguin, 2012

“If it were not for art, I would have killed myself a long time ago.” Yayoi Kusama

On the subject of being crazy and creating mind-blowing art let’s talk Yayoi Kusama.

She came to prominence in the 70’s when she staged Body Festivals – naked people walking around clothed only in painted polka dots. And since then the dots have not stopped.

Polka dots are a way to infinity. Yayoi Kusama

Kusama leads the avant-garde contemporary art world. She checked herself into a Japanese mental institution in 1973 and since 1977 has called it home. She is escorted each day to her studio and is walked back to the hospital at night.

The Whitney now features an eye-popping retrospective of her work which you can browse when you click the picture above.  She’s a published poet and novelist. Louis Vitton partnered with her to make this fall’s hottest, spotted accessories.

Her latest work sold for $5.1 M, the highest amount for a living female artist.

Don’t know about you, but that doesn’t seem too crazy to me. Just badass.


Hoopla

Judy Paul, Twins 1 © Judy Paul

Judy Paul, Twins 1 © Judy Paul

Today’s not a day for arm-chair metaphysics. It’s a Monday. Let’s not contemplate the imminent demise of abstract art’s possibilities. “Happy” is a fine and dandy reason for a brush to tickle a canvas too. So I dub Judy Paul Queen Monday because of slinkies, hula hoops and spiral thinking.

I spent a heated Saturday unraveling a ten-inch rainbow slinky my son bought with tickets from Chuck-E-Cheese’s. Like the excruciating division of Siamese twins. I overtook shambles of cork-screwy plastic with only the panic in his eyes to keep me going.  In the end, the tangles surrendered, but the slinky now slinks a wonky lop-sided gait. A sproingy architecture piece twisted on my desk. So I get nervous for this painting. I want to tell it not to get uptight, ’cause if it gets tangled, well it won’t be pretty.

I’ve told you before that I yearly panic because I missed the 60’s in America. Free love, bra burning and Bob Dylan–teenage troubadour. But I found peace, love and happiness in a handmade hula hoop I bought at the local farmers market as Booker T & the MG’s spun the turntable. You catch a freewheelin’ fun vibe when you’re hoopin’. And you can catch it from these loop-d-loops too.

And the joy of chasing your mental tail. The going round and round the same synaptic cycles in your mind. The same triggers, the same feedback loops.  A hypnotic ever-circling. I want to tell this painting to snap out of it and move on. But it is moving isn’t it ? Not sure which direction.

Maybe it’ll take a lop-sided slinking or a hula-hoop shimmy, but I trust you’ll get where you’re going. Rock the round robin as you find your way.


Pickup Artist

America Martin, By the Sea, 2012, Wally Workman Gallery, Austin, Texas

America Martin, By the Sea, 2012, Wally Workman Gallery, Austin, Texas

Her eyes caught mine and I stopped, mid-step on the crowded staircase at Wally Workman.  It was love at first sight when I didn’t believe in love at first sight. An entrancing  portrait by America Martin. With the kind of lines that make you want to pick it up and take it home. And that’s exactly what I did.

Her eyes turned my head. Like the frank, appraising eyes of this just ravished bather. She turns toward you with an open gaze, hand propping a tilted head.

And curves. Oh Lord, does she have ’em. Double, double-take curves. This woman’s body moves across the canvas like sand dunes undulating, hips rolling before they touch the sea. Pretty peaks and delirious-deep valleys.

Color is a flirt here. At times, filling out the space between lines, emphasizing the form, stepping into the outline. At other times, color dances unrestrained by line. Now, a spontaneous moving  into background, now a free-shift into foreground. Teasing out the feel of the piece. Creating  a slip of ocean or angel-winged reeds.

This work makes you believe in possibility. You can have contentment and yes, maybe even mercurial joy. She calls out your hope, (even if kicking and screaming) and says,” look, it’s in you.” And that’s the seduction of a true pick up artist, my friends. Come and pick up a beauty before last call.


Hidden Mind

Denise  Kupferschmidt

Denise Kupferschmidt, Brooklyn, New York

Scientists call it the “hidden mind” – the one we aren’t aware of. The one directing our actions without our express consent.  Walking around, waving Pinocchio arms and legs, with a hidden brain tugging the strings.

Denis Kupferschmidt highlights this powerful murky mind in her work. She sculpts with black,  drawing the figures out of darkness, out of night.  With deft fingers she plays on its social and cultural meaning to thrust this figure into ambiguous motion. In dance, soaring joyfully. In flight, running for its life.

Did you know hockey teams in black jerseys draw more penalties? They spend an average of two more minutes per game in the penalty box, 10% more than other colors. In football, more penalties. Black wins and loses games. Our hidden brain associates black with bad.   (Empirical studies, peer-reviewed.) The devil didn’t make you do it, black did. Yikes.

Black slinks back to primal, when fire and idols ruled us. Why is our little black dress so sexy? Because black means trouble, a smoky seduction. Why does the SWAT team bust in black-clad? Because black conjures fear. Batman just couldn’t be Batman in grey.

This figure is a bird;  it is human. It delves under contemplation and soars deep into our animal brain. Whispering that after all these centuries, we are still afraid of the dark.

Oh Joy.

If you’re a nerd, slow jam on these:

http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/psp/54/1/74/

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=122864641

http://www.npr.org/2012/04/26/151383136/power-dis-play-teams-in-black-draw-more-penalties


Georgia on my mind

Georgia OKeeffe Inside Clam Shell, 1930

White is a color. Or is it? Yesterday, a fashionista at the mall told me that white is a “neutral.” I hated to argue with her, because youth is infallibly certain. But white isn’t neutral at all.

White is breathless. When I approach art I usually clamor for stunning color or a nuanced message worthy of prophets. Intellectual vigor of form or composition.

Georgia sweeps all that away in this painting and confounds us with whiteness. White interests me for all its myriad associations.  Purity, cleanliness, godliness.  A white canvas or paper to some of us signals dizzy anticipation or nail-biting terror.  But here, it is divested from  spiritual or moral connotation.

I see an alien landscape, the twilight side of the moon. Craters and ash, shadowy gorges and soaring peaks unmeasured. Is this an internal landscape sweeping and bare or the external in infinite magnitude? Georgia reveals her surprise, it’s the inside of a clamshell.

Oh it’s so much more though. She makes the small and insignificant, grand. With sweeping lines, and hints of color, rivulets of green, glowings of yellow, she elevates white to legendary status. Mythic.

Pair that with your colored denim crops and skinny jeans people.