Refuse to be Passive

Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

Nudity and Art

In Art, Life in General on January 27, 2011 at 10:35 pm

Is there a place for nudity in art? It’s a question I’ve been contemplating after chatting with a friend who, after seeing the Mattise exhibit at the local art gallery, felt uncomfortable even talking about it. Maybe it’s because I’m female, or maybe it’s because I’ve done some studies in art, but I felt awed by the exhibit and the skill with which Mattise took female form and made it beautiful. Although he wasn’t religious, I think he captured the feminine grace that all women, regardless of form, have been endowed with by God. He saw beauty in the lines of a thigh, the shadow on a stomach, or a glint of mischief in the eye. In some ways, it’s as though Matisse was taking nudity– an often abused, skewed, and misused truth– and making it whole again. He made it beautiful. It is renewal of form through art. This is why I love art, it has the ability to reach deeper than the day to day of life, reaching past cultural norms, assumptions, media influence, and ignorance to reveal something real, something of what life is supposed to be like. Nudity in it’s proper form is something beautiful, and Matisse captured that well.

Is there gratuitous nudity in art? As with any aspect of life, art has been twisted from it’s proper form in the hands of some. But does that mean that all nudity in art is bad? Not at all! In fact, the gratuitous nudity we see all around us in our culture, from art, to TV, to movies, and magazines, should make us approach nudity in it’s proper form and place with even greater awe and wonder. I am not condoning gratuitous nudity. I am not condoning the perversion of what we as humans were meant to be. What I do recognize is that art has the ability to enlighten, provoke thought, repulse and delight, and reach into the true heart of what it means to be truly human.

Mattise through his work, captured a raw beauty in women and form that has made him famous throughout the world and time. What an amazing gift God has provided artists with to create a lasting impact. It is the blessing and burden of the artist to bring something good from their gifts– to enrich the lives of others through their work.

Jonny Lang and Buddy Guy– Bring on the Blues

In Art, Life in General on April 18, 2010 at 8:52 am

What a weekend! It’s been busy and tiring, but good.

Friday night’s Jonny Lang, Buddy Guy concert was fabulous. I had started to get really excited at around 10am at work, and the day just dragged on! But the evening came, and walking from the parking lot to the venue the excitement really kicked in. My sister and I tend to feed off one another and then we can become something scary. So, since were were there really early, due to misreading the tickets, we did a little scouting and tracked down Jonny and Buddy’s buses. From there we headed inside and our ears were treated to some world-class guitar. It’s truly amazing what those men can do—and their bands were amazing as well. It’s not surprising that the event sold out and there wasn’t an empty seat in the Jubilee. I still get a bit of a shiver when I remember Jonny playing “Turn Around.” Mm…great song. Really great song. And Buddy, well, that man is something else. Talented, yes. Slightly crass, yes. One of the most amazing guitar players I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to? That too. Buddy and Jonny came across so differently. Buddy had a bit of attitude to him, and wasn’t above throwing in the occasional cuss. When Jonny talks though, he just comes across as a really nice, gentle guy. He doesn’t have that general air of confidence nearly toppling into arrogance, that so many famous people have. He seems humble and if you ever met him in person (which I have, although not last night), he even comes across as a bit shy. It’s a surprise because his music is so passionate and makes strong impacts on people, but he himself is fairly unassuming. That’s what I love about him. So really,  I went for Jonny– and my sister did too. And while Buddy was icing on the cake, and was an experience to hear, Jonny for me, was the apex of that show, and I’ll welcome him back to Edmonton anytime.

You Know You Live In Canada When:

In Art, Life in General on April 9, 2010 at 9:08 am

It snows in April! We’ve had weeks and weeks of lovely spring weather. The daffodils and tulips are popping out of the ground, and then, wham! Yesterday night the wind came up and hasn’t stopped, bending trees to it’s will and making traffic lights swing. The light rain that started turned to wicked blowing snow. The streets were shiny and wet, and the snow swirled across it, blocking out lines that keep cars on track. And the wet streets began to freeze up as the temperature dipped below zero. What had been wet streets turned into slippery streets and driving speeds slowed. The wind continued it’s onslaught with no apparent end in sight.
I drove from downtown home last night, after hearing Joel Cohen, writer and co-executive-producer for the Simpsons,speak last night. Walking to my car was treacherous. The snow beat against my face; the wind whipped my hair. My shoulders were hunched forward and I kept my head down. Both my friend and I bemoaned the fact that we had not worn socks that day and had simply slipped into our shoes. After driving home, worrying not only about my own driving, but also that of others, there was no nicer feeling than to snuggle into bed with a good book. I’m currently working my way through Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison. It’s one of those prize winning books that you actually enjoy reading. It’s a book that looks at what makes people tick, what makes them do the things they do. It’s all about the characters, so if you can’t handle that, you might want to skip this book. And while there is some mature content in this book, it’s an in depth look at humanity written exquisitely– and I do love a well written book.

The Experiment, and other such stuff

In Art, Food on March 28, 2010 at 4:52 pm

Well, my time off from processed food continues to go on, and in some ways I really like it. It makes me slow down life a bit and take time to cook things like oven roasted root vegetables, multigrain bread, and make yogurt cheese. All very fun! I’ve been redefining what I’m counting as processed a bit though. So yogurt, is still in my diet, seeing as the process to make it involves bacteria rather than chemicals. It doesn’t have any of the long preservative words listed in the ingredients. And did you know that if you take plain yogurt, and strain it through cheese cloth overnight that you’ll get a delightful, creme fraishe style “cheese” that you can put on your toast if you so desire? I had that topped with strawberries this morning for breakfast and it was delightful.

This afternoon I helped my friend Sara move. On the whole, helping people move is one of those things I’d rather not do, but lots of hands make light work, so I headed over to her place to help them get it done faster. It was quick. They’d already moved a lot of stuff, so I think the move today took less than three hours. No too shabby! Everyone was going to stick around for pizza, hypothetically, but no one actually did. I figured it would be best for me to make an early exit so I wasn’t faced with the temptation of one of my all-time favourite foods.

So now, I have a nice evening to relax, and then the week starts again. It’s amazing how time just keeps going. We really need to pay attention to what’s going on right now, or in twenty years, we’ll have no clue where it went or what we missed. Here I go, off to pay attention to the here and now.

First Impressions

In Art, Food, Life in General on March 21, 2010 at 1:30 am

I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m no good at first impressions. My nerves seem to get the better of me, even when I don’t realize that they’re present and active. I tend to say things that create awkward silence or come across as potentially insulting, even if that’s not the way they were intended. Making a good impression doesn’t seem to be my forte. I’m alright with the introductions and smiles, but as soon as I open my mouth, my foot tends to go in. Now, thankfully, most people are fairly generous and do not judge me based on one sentence, at least, I don’t think they do. If they do, they’re very good at hiding it.

My brother-in-law had a birthday party tonight and it was a lot of fun. I met many new people, and yes, I stuck my foot in my mouth a time or two…or three. They’re all delightful people, but often I felt awkward. There was only one point in the evening when I felt completely comfortable. There was a guy there with his girlfriend, and for nearly the whole evening he’d been silent. I found out that he was studying civil engineering at the UofA and we discovered a shared passion for great architecture and city planning. We talked for a good twenty minutes or so about what we’d like to see happen in Edmonton, and what we had seen take place in other cities that seemed to be working. It was really fantastic. From improving public transportation, to traffic patterns in the downtown core, to the design of the new Art Gallery of Alberta, all was discussed. By the way, we both approve of the new art gallery design and were very impressed with the featured exhibits. We both loved ‘Murder of Crows’ and thought that the Karsh, Degas, and Goya exhibits were perfect for the opening of the gallery. That was a delightful part of the evening. But for the rest, these were people I didn’t really fit in with, regardless of how nice they were. So, once again, I stepped out into a new experience and felt out of place and slightly alone. And due to that, my foot seemed to find it’s way into my mouth more often than usual. Food also found it’s way into my mouth more often than usual, as there was a plethora of delicious options and if I was chewing, I couldn’t talk. So much for the concept that I don’t overeat in high stress situations.

Style At Home: Small Spaces

In Art, Life in General on March 2, 2010 at 12:54 pm

I’m sitting in my liviving room with a cup of tea reading the latest Style At Home issue: Small Spaces. I love the small spaces issues because it shows how a little bit of creativity can make a small room have a big impact. They showed two spaced that I loved. One was a 500 sq.ft. bachelor, and the other a 730 sq.ft. bachelorette. The bachelorette was a bit of an odd style, but came out almost as if the loft itself was an immaculate yet livable work of art. Tricks such as full wall mirrors, the colour cranberry in each room to create cohesivness, using busy wallpaper on a small wall to create impact, all while working with clean lines, set up an apartment anyone would want to live in. The bachelor (500 sq.ft.) was impressive in it’s dcorating, but also in the set-up. Everyone knows this is a tiny space. The trick was, the person who owned it liked to entertain, so they wanted ample seating for people. Talk about a challenge! But they did it, via bar stools at the Island, seating for five in the living room, and then chairs around the dining room table. The amazing part of all this though, is that they succeeded in keeping the space uncluttered. It had a clean, open feel to it, and that was truly impressive.

I can’t wait for the day that I have my chance to own a home, be it condo, or small detached dwelling, or something inbetween. All I know is that if you’ve got good bones in a place and a little bit of creativity, you’ll be having problems kicking your friends out the door, because after seeing your home, none of them want to go home.

Sweeney Todd

In Art on February 14, 2010 at 11:02 pm

I think that my subscription to the local theatre for the season was one of the best buys ever. And out of the five shows I’ve seen thus far, none has been better than the latest. On Friday evening I went to see Sweeney Todd. I’ve never seen Sweeney Todd. I think I watched the first twenty minutes of the movies with Jonny Depp, but was unenthused so found something else to do. I really didn’t know the story line going in, so all I knew was that it was about a barber who kills people and that they wind up in pies. But the music was fantastic. And the man who played Sweeney will forever be Sweeny for me. The music was fantastic– from the musicians to the singers, they were all top notch. The singing was well enunciated, allowing the audience to be easily transported into the world of Fleet Street. For those of you who have never seen Sweeney Todd, I’ll stop right there. But I will say this: it’s definitely worth seeing. Sweeney Todd is playing at the Citadel theatre until February 28th. Act now, before it’s gone!

July’s People

In Art, Life in General on February 2, 2010 at 10:43 pm

About three years ago I took a course in World Literature, also known as post-colonial literature. Although world literature is now the politically correct term.  One of the books we had on our reading list was July’s People by Nadine Gordimer. My prof. lamented that we simply had too many books to cover, and would have to skip this one. But she also highly recommended we read it, if only for our own edification. Thus, for three years, it has been sitting on my shelf, waiting for me to find the time to pick it up and read it. For the past week, I’ve been reading, and finally, I can say that I’ve read the book. There is a feeling of triumph, but also disappointment, as the ending left me hanging, which is a shame. But the description and character development was vivid and telling. It’s definitely not an escape read, although I knew that going in, as it was a Nobel Prize winner for Literature.

The book is of a family who flees their home due to riots in their city against whites. Their servant, who they call July, brings them from the city, to his small village, to hide out. It is a story of power, misunderstanding, understanding, past, and future. In reality, it’s hard to describe, as relatively little actually happens. But at the same time, I can’t regret reading the book. While the action is not there, the development of the characters goes deep. Their relationships with one another are complex and vexing at times. But the hanging ending seems to leave it up to the reader to believe what they will about the result of this time in exile. Frustrating? Yes. But at least it allows the reader hope.

I feel good for having read this book, even if I had a bit of a challenge getting through it. One more book to cross off my reading list. Hundreds to go.

Art Gallery of Alberta- Opening Weekend

In Art on February 2, 2010 at 10:11 am

Sometimes I become jaded about living in a big city. Okay, so big is a relative term, but I do think of Edmonton as big, even if it’s not London, New York, Chicago, or even Toronto. In fact, Edmonton population wise is only a third, maybe a bit less, than Toronto proper. But now, back to my original train of thought. Sometimes I become jaded about living in a big city. I huff about long commutes, traffic problems, lack of affordable housing– resulting in increased homelessness, city transit, and there are probably a few more to be added to that.

Last night, however, reminded me of how much I love living in the city. Yesterday was the second day of a two-day celebration for the opening of the new Alberta Art Gallery. The gallery itself is quite impressive, being designed by an architect from Los Angeles after an international competition. It’s got a large silver stripe weaving through the building, representing the aurora borealis, and then many glass windows set up in slightly off center grid patterns, representing the streets of Edmonton. But the part that really impressed me were the exhibits themselves.  There was an extensive Karsh exhibiton including some of his most famous works, as well as an in-depth look at his style and process in photography. It was fascinating. Then there were two sound installations, one called The Storm, and one called Murder of Crows. Murder of Crows was based off of a series of night mares and there were about 50 speakers in a large room, and each had it’s own soundtrack, that could make up the sounds of crows in flight, or an army marching, or men singing. And then in the middle was a gramaphone, that told stories of nightmares had. Really fantastic. And then there was The Storm– which was a mock-up of a room a dentist had died in in Japan 60 years earlier and had never been entered again. They rebuilt this room, and then created a thunder storm, complete with rain and lightning, that you could experience from inside this dilapitated Japanese room. Once again, excellent.

From there, I moved on to the Goya and Degas exhibit. The Degas exhibit we were wisked through with a quick tour of five minutes and then a bit of time to wander around. Honestly, it looks like a lot of Degas. What I appreciated more than the sculptures were the sketches. I love seeing an artists mind a work, before the finished produce. The Goya exhibit were a series of copper-plate sketches on the horrors of war, that he probably saw himself. They were grotesque and disgusting. They were political commentaries at what was happening in his life. The amount of time he must have spent creating the plates to make these images is truly astounding. But really, the exhibit was a little depressing, but a great tool for teaching history.

From there, I headed out to the gift shop, which was sadly, quite tiny compared to most gallery gift shops, and did not have the MOMA ball whisk I was hoping to find there. One of these days I’ll just have to break down and buy it online– or even better, I’ll just have to make a trip back to the MOMA. Wouldn’t that be a shame? But, if you are in the Edmonton reigon and have even the smallest appreciation for art, it will be well worth your time and money to check out these exhibits at the brand-new Art Gallery of Alberta.

My Jane Austen Complex

In Art, Life in General, Movies with a bit of TV on January 31, 2010 at 8:47 pm

Like many women in this world, I adore the writing of Jane Austen. In fact, I think she might be one of men’s greatest enemies. Why? Because the characters she writes are so vivid, that the people reading the books (mostly women) start pining after fictional characters, like Mr. Darcy, Mr. Bingly, Edward Farrars, Colonel Brandon, or _______– fill in your favourite name here. And while all of these characters have their faults, as are often pointed out, still they come across as something special. They create hope. And so, after enjoying Pride and Prejudice once more, I find myself longing to live in the English countryside and find my own Mr. Darcy. I have a Jane Austen complex, and right now, I really don’t mind.

Film question:

Who is your favourite Mr. Darcy?

Matthew Macfayden or Colin Firth?

For me it’s Colin Firth– I wish he was twenty years younger.