Monday, November 30, 2009

David Maisel

David Maisel has once again pushed the boundaries of photography while exploring memory and excavation. While at a residency at the Getty Research Institute, he states that he began exploring "where the realms of art and scientific research overlap each other. While photographing the Getty Museum’s conservation departments, I became captivated by x-rays of art objects from the museum’s permanent collections. The ghostly images of these x-rays seem to surpass the power of the original objects of art. These spectral renderings seemed like transmissions from the distant past, conveying messages across time."

"History’s Shadow comprises my series of re-photographed x-rays of art objects from antiquity. I have culled these x-rays from museum archives, which utilize them for conservation purposes. Through the x-ray process, the artworks of origin become de-familiarized and de-contextualized, yet acutely alive and renewed."

"I view these x-rays as expressions of the artists and artisans who created the original objects, however many centuries ago; as vestiges and indicators of the societies that produced these works; and as communications from the past, expressing immutable qualities that somehow remain constant over time."

For those of you who are not familiar with David's work, it is well worth your time to visit his website. He has done some amazing work, including his Mining Project and his Library of Dust series

“. . . these canisters hold the cremated remains of patients from an American psychiatric hospital. Oddly reminiscent of bullet casings, the canisters are literal gravesites. Reacting with their ash inhabitants, the canisters are now blooming with secondary minerals, articulating new metallic landscapes.”

— Geoff Manaugh, Contemporary

Sunday, November 22, 2009

"Nature and Poetry Work on Maybe" Bill Viola on his favorite time of day

I have been thinking about this "in between" time a lot these days. Maybe it is because of the birds migrating "in between" seasons, maybe it is because I am drawn to the possibility of "what if" rather than "what is." I keep thinking of a phrase " when is becomes if" which I think may be from an ee cummings poem but I have not been able to locate it. If anyone finds it, please let me know.

Viola, in another video created at the Otis College Convocation, states that in the history of mysticism, all art rises out of the cloud of unknown. He later states that (forgot the source but it could be Buddhism) the gap between your desire and your ability is the most precious thing we have...and that is the inability to reach greatness.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Angela Bacon Kidwell

I am amazed at the feeling evoked when I look at Angela Bacon Kidwell's photographs. They are dreamy, surreal and just utterly beautiful. If you are not familiar with her work, you are in for a real treat.

part of her artist statement..

"My photography comes from a life long obsession of exploring how my subconscious generates my dreams. As I move through my day, I am keenly aware of my encounters with people, places and things. I mentally record the details of these situations, and the physical or emotional responses that they evoke. These fleeting associations replay themselves in my dreams. The random moments combine to form sleep stories that are rich narratives, ripe with symbolism. With that as my model, I construct sets, use props and invite myself and models to perform in a natural, intuitive way. In essence, I attempt to create a waking dream."

What is so amazing to me is that often, when someone tries to "construct" a dream, there is a self consciousness about it. Not so with Angela's work. It feels like the viewer is right in there with her dreams. Thank you Angela for opening your world to us!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

New Work from Oaxaca

I am happy to report that my work from Rick Bayless's annual staff trip to Oaxaca was hung this morning in the entryway to Frontera Grill. I also had the pleasure of having a late breakfast at Xoco....yummy! The Barcelona hot chocolate and churros are to die for.

The girl pictured here is in traditional dress for the annual celebration of the Precious Blood of Christ in the village of Teotitlan. It is quite a spectacular processional with hundreds of young women carrying devotional baskets on their heads through out the cobbled streets.

The 18 works are photo based with gold leaf and resin. I enjoyed creating them while not sure exactly how they would be rendered. It is the unexpected surprises in art making that makes it so interesting.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Gregory Scott

I know that I have blogged before about Gregory Scott but he has a new exhibition up at the Catherine Edelman gallery...and if you have a chance, it would be well worth your time to go see it. If you don't live in Chicago, just go to the gallery page to get an idea of what he is up to. Gregory has broken thru to a new level in combining painting, photography and video. The pieces are seamless, humorous and, well, just amazingly well conceived. A real triumph.

Thursday, November 05, 2009


This weekend, a new movie, Precious, is being released in NY, Chicago and LA (and more cities the following weekend). It is based on the novel "Push" by Sapphire, which has just moved up to #1 on the NYT bestseller list. I had the opportunity to see a screening of it in NYC and can't stop thinking about it. The director, Lee Daniels, was interviewed today on NPR and his last words were "I will never not see her again." The movie is a masterpiece, addressing compassion and the human condition. It has won multipe awards in all the film festivals and will surely make it to the Oscars. As I was talking to a friend about it, I thought of a poem that summed up the experience for me by Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh....

Call Me by My True Names

Do not say that I'll depart tomorrow
because even today I still arrive.

Look deeply: I arrive in every second
to be a bud on a spring branch,
to be a tiny bird, with wings still fragile,
learning to sing in my new nest,
to be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower,
to be a jewel hiding itself in a stone.

I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry,
in order to fear and to hope.
The rhythm of my heart is the birth and
death of all that are alive.

I am the mayfly metamorphosing on the surface of the river,
and I am the bird which, when spring comes, arrives in time
to eat the mayfly.

I am the frog swimming happily in the clear pond,
and I am also the grass-snake who, approaching in silence,
feeds itself on the frog.

I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones,
my legs as thin as bamboo sticks,
and I am the arms merchant, selling deadly weapons to

I am the twelve-year-old girl, refugee on a small boat,
who throws herself into the ocean after being raped by a sea
and I am the pirate, my heart not yet capable of seeing and

I am a member of the politburo, with plenty of power in my
and I am the man who has to pay his "debt of blood" to, my
dying slowly in a forced labor camp.

My joy is like spring, so warm it makes flowers bloom in all
walks of life.
My pain if like a river of tears, so full it fills the four oceans.

Please call me by my true names,
so I can hear all my cries and laughs at once,
so I can see that my joy and pain are one.

Please call me by my true names,
so I can wake up,
and so the door of my heart can be left open,
the door of compassion.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

On Jasmine and the Election of Barack Obama

Today marks the first anniversary of the election of Barack Obama to the office of US president. I am sure everyone remembers where they were and what they were doing when the election results were announced.

During the presidential campaign, I wrote about a cutting from a jasmine plant that a woman from Iowa gave me as I was canvassing. She told me the Queen of the Night jasmine was a favorite plant among many in India, where she was from.

As I was admiring the plant, she proceeded to break off a stem, handing it to me. It has felt very, very important to properly care for this gift, as it was symbolic of the kindness and generosity of spirit so many wished could transform our country.

This was the very first time that I tried to regenerate a plant. After some 4 months of the branch sitting in water, it finally started to grow roots and was placed in a planter with soil. I am happy to report the jasmine plant is flourishing. I now refer to it affectionally as my Obama plant.