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Archive for the ‘Video’ Category

Took a break from the outside world yesterday and finally got to see the film Maudie which is about the late Canadian folk artist and national treasure, Maud Lewis.  Sally Hawkins lovingly portrays the artist and Ethan Hawke  serves as her rough and surly husband. It is an absolutely charming and moving film, one that I would recommend to anyone who is interested in the creative drive.

Or in the human spirit.

It captures that compulsive drive that so many self taught artists, particularly folk artists, possess. It is an inherent need and desire to have a means of expression using whatever is at their disposal. Looking around my studio now, I feel spoiled beyond belief by the materials I have on hand. Or by the fact that I am relatively healthy and can hold a brush easily in my hands. Thinking about Maud makes me feel a little guilty for not using all my advantages and painting even more.

It is, simply put, a lovely film. In these dark days filled with stupidity and hatred, it is a breath of fresh air — cool Nova Scotian air!— to focus on that image of a arthritis-wracked little woman sitting in front of her humble window in her tiny remote cabin, happily painting the world as she saw it and as she wanted it to be.

Here’s a little video that gives a brief history of Maud Lewis.

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You have most likely seen the work of Piet Mondrian, the Dutch painter who lived from 1872 until 1944.

Like the painting shown here. Seems so simple. Mainly black lines creating squares and rectangles that are mainly white but periodically filled with bright primary colors. Critics claim it is too simple, that it is something a grade-schooler with a ruler and some paints could replicate easily.

Maybe. Maybe not. Who cares?

But putting that side aside, his work has always remained refresh and modern through most of the last century up to this very minute. Outside of time, like it represents a future moment that exists just beyond this very moment at all times. And that factor in itself makes his work appealing to me.

I will never list Mondrian as a true influence or even a real favorite of mine, there is much to be gained as an artist from studying his work. The elegance of his structures and the space created within, for example. Or how he transformed his work through the years from a style of impressionistic realism into cubism and then into the style of his that we know so well, stripping away all detail and content down to the bare essence of being.

The video below shows that evolution beautifully, with musical accompaniment from Phillip Glass. I hope you’ll find it interesting to see how the work makes that transformation. Take a look below.

Let us note that art – even on an abstract level – has never been confined to ‘idea’; art has always been the ‘realized’ expression of equilibrium.
-Piet Mondrian

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Sweet Seclusion

Well, the work is all in place for my show, Self Determination, at the West End Gallery. I know that I put in the needed work for this show and feel that it comes through in the paintings, individually and as a group. It’s a selection of work of which I am proud. Hope you’ll agree.

The opening reception is set for this Friday beginning at 5 PM so if you’re in the Corning area, please stop in for a look. Maybe a glass of wine, a bite to eat, a little conversation and some great guitar music provided by my friend, William Groome, as well.

Hope to see you there.

Here’s a video preview I threw together just this morning. Take a look.

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We’re in the Fourth of July weekend here but I am pretty busy, with still much to do to finish up work on my show, Self Determination,  for the West End Gallery that opens in less than two weeks, on July 14.

I’m pretty locked in and didn’t even realize until just the other day that the holiday was approaching. I probably will work through the holiday but that doesn’t bother me. It’s my choice, my preference, my freedom to choose to do so.

Maybe that’s what the holiday is about, after all.

I was reading from David McCullough‘s book, 1776, earlier today. His description of our citizen soldiers at the onset of the American Revolution made me feel closer to that spirit of independence. He described them as unkempt and undisciplined, displaying little or no respect for taking orders from anyone but willing to work tremendously hard toward a goal.

I can identify with that.

I thought for this Sunday I would share another favorite song, one that contains some good advice for this divided nation on it’s most unifying of holidays. It’s Let’s Work Together from the seminal 60’s blues-boogie band, Canned Heat. Words to heed and a great rolling rhythm to carry you through the holiday.

I love this video from 1969 on a German music show of the time, Beat-Club. It’s kind of cheesy with bad angles and an audience that seems like they were instructed to under no circumstances show any reaction to the music. And the band is hardly the most photogenic. But it shows the band in its original glory, with lead sing Bob “Bear” Hite and guitarist Alan “Owl” Wilson,  both of who died much too early, Wilson  a year later in 1970 and Hite in 1981.

Give a look and a listen and have a great day.

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This past Tuesday marked the 90th birthday for the iconic Cyclone Rollercoaster at Coney Island. I have a single memory of that fabled old wooden rollercoaster, sitting in the couch-like red vinyl seats next to my dad as we hurtled through the Brooklyn sky. I thought I’d use this occasion to rerun a favorite post here along with a few more images and a video of the work of American painter, Reginald Marsh. Coney Island in the Swing Era was one of his favorite subjects so the music in the video- Sing, Sing, Sing — seems like a perfect fit.

Give a look and a listen and enjoy Mr. Marsh’s Coney Island.

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Reginald Marsh Coney Island Beach I’m always intrigued by the paintings of Reginald Marsh, who painted scenes depicting the urban world of New York City throughout the early part of the 20th century until his death in 1954.  His paintings always seemed densely packed with figures and constant movement, all rendered with easily recognizable line work and colors that were strong yet had a soft transparency.  Striking.

One of his favorite subjects was Coney Island, the famous part of Brooklyn with its beach, boardwalk and amusement park.  Whenever I see Marsh’s Coney Island paintings I am always reminded of the several trips I made there as a child in the late 1960’s.  My parents and I would go to NY to see Mets’ games, leaving my older, busier siblings at home, and would sometimes go to Coney Island on the day when the games were at night. 

It was always like entering an exotic, much different world than my country home.  It was dirty with  trash strewn everywhere.  I remember the first time we swung into the parking lot at Astroland, the amusement park there, and thinking we’d entered a landfill as there were literally piles of paper and bottles over nearly the whole lot.  If you spent much time in NY at that time, it was not an unusual sight.

Reginald Marsh The Lucky DaredevilsBut it was great fun and over the few visits there I had many memories that burned indelibly into my memory bank.  My parents, and my aunt and uncle who sometimes were with us, would, after a while stop at one of the bars that opened to the boardwalk to have a cold one and I would wander alone.  It was a wonderland of colorful attractions and games, their facades faded by time and sun. I have sharp images of a burned in memory of standing at one bar’s doorway and watching a singer all dressed in cowboy regalia standing on the bar with his electric guitar singing out country songs in the middle of the afternoon.    

 Reginald Marsh Coney Island SceneI remember seeing the crowds down on the beach and suddenly seeing everyone there pointing out to the water and yelling.  Looking out, I saw two legs bobbing straight out of the water, almost comically so.  The lifeguards rushed out and dragged the body in.  Dead and, now that I think about it, had probably been so for a while.

I also remember going into a boardwalk arcade and approaching an older man with a gray moustache and a coin changer on his belt.  I asked for change and handed him my dollar bill.  He made a couple of clicks on the changer and poured a pile of nickels into my hands.  As I turned to go the machines, he put his hand on my shoulder.

Reginald MarshTunnel of Love“Hold on!” he exclaimed in a thick accent that sounded Greek and a little angry to a terrified nine year old.  He started chastising me.

“You don’t know me! Don’t ever trust anyone you don’t know.  I give you money and you trust me and don’t count.  You should not trust me.  Now, count!”

I stood there petrified and counted out loud.  It was the right change, of course, and the man’s gruff demeanor suddenly changed and he beamed a smile at me.  “You understand? Now go.  Have fun,” he said as he gave me a pat on the shoulder.

A little life lesson along with the change on the boardwalk in 1969.

That moment is clear as yesterday and it always reappears when I see images from Marsh or images of Coney Island.

Reginald Marsh Pip and Flip

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Very, very busy but I thought I’d pause for just a little Bellini this morning. Not the cocktail, though it is tempting on this particular morning. I am talking about my favorite Renaissance artist, the Italian painter Giovanni Bellini (1430-1516) who lived and painted in Venice.

While most of his work is religious in nature, as was almost art of that time, I am always thrilled and fascinated by his treatment of the background landscapes, especially in the way he composed them,  and his handling of color. His surfaces, on the few paintings of his that I have seen in person, are truly beautiful and seem to be fresh and new with colors, the blues in particular, that just pop off the surface.

Absolutely gorgeous stuff.

I have included a video to go along with a few pieces here that really spark me. Take  a look and have a great day.

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There just doesn’t seem to be enough time in any day, with what seems like a thousand tasks gnawing at me to get done. A little anxious,  I am eager to get going but it is Sunday morning and my routine dictates that I dig out a song to play here on the blog.

This weeks features two versions of Bob Dylan‘s Everything Is Broken, a definite favorite of mine and a song that oddly fits almost any time and place. I chose the  first, which contains the song done by Dylan himself, because the video cracked me up. It’s done by someone from Italy, I think, who makes some interesting videos. I believe he just does it for himself and friends because none of them has a huge number of views. But his one caught my eye and makes me chuckle.

The second video is from longtime soul diva Bettye LaVette. I like to hear different takes on the same song, seeing how many artists take different approaches to the same material. Bettye’s version is pretty satisfying.

But you be the judge. Have a great day.


 

 

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