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Posts from the ‘Reviews of Museums, Openings, & Books’ Category

Wood Cuts, Lithographs, and Illusions

Of course, I’m writing about M.C. Escher and the absolutely stunning extensive exhibit at MFA Houston.

I think I spent three hours there—most viewers were more interested in the optical illusions and tesselations-the fish becoming birds and so forth.

A few interesting facts—-he was terrible at math and failed his math exams–probably much to the disappointment of his engineer father. He became interested in tesselations with the gift of a book from his half brother who was a professor of crystallography in Leiden. He made over 450 woodcuts and lithographs—and over 2000 drawings.

This was his cabinet for his tools.

the first galleries included wood-cut prints—on ‘wove’ paper—that is paper with a very smooth finish as opposed to ‘laid’ paper that contains ribs.

He was incredibly meticulous—he drew with chalk on black paper using a flashlight at times to see his drawing and then transferred the drawing to a wood block that night. His pen and ink or graphite drawings were incredibly detailed; and all of those wonderful prints were done in graphite first.

It was such an incredible display of his work. This woodcut of his future wife was my favorite.

Acrobats and a Bull

Last Thursday was a doctor visit day and I like to spend some time in the Museum of Fine Arts. There is always something new and interesting to see and sometimes just walking through the galleries in a different direction yields something exciting. It has been a long time since I’ve been in a museum–thanks to the pandemic—and I was eager to see the Calder-Picasso exhibit.

It was beautifully displayed; the huge mobiles hung from the main gallery space as well as most of the downstairs gallery rooms. It was something that was difficult to photograph although I gave it a try.

Calder’s work began with small figures constructed of a very thin wire; some with a single piece. One grouping was of acrobats—and reminiscent of the French exhibit of the people dissected and posed but without the odor of formaldehyde. The pieces grew larger and suggested foliage and vines and airplanes. PIcasso used a heavier wire for his pieces; and the two of them both worked with folded metal sheets.

Picasso also did a series of lithographs featuring a bull. The series began with a simple line drawing reminiscent of the cave drawings and progressed to a fully modeled bull. or perhaps it began with a fully muscled creature that was pared down to a simple line image.

Of note, Picasso was most fascinated with his masculinity as that anatomic part was frequently exaggerated in size–perhaps envy on his part.

of interest also was the concept of an initial sketch of the final sculpture.

Thinking in 3-D and in motion is not an easy task. I thought Statics was a fun mathematical challenge but then when I had to think about those stationary items moving—the math was easy, the concept difficult. Picasso was able to converse equally in 2-d and 3-d formats; and Calder in 3-d and in motion.

It was an exciting and overwhelming exhibit in the complexity of display. Here are a few more images–a taste of what was there—but the magnitude and airiness of the pieces is something not captured in photos.

Pay no attention to the man with the immense granite marble.

Stop the Presses!

After that wonderful day on the beach marred only by water far too cold to wade in and my too optimistically warm weather apparel choices, I spent Saturday at the Printing Museum in Houston.

The museum is located in the River Oaks area; narrow streets and pricey housing but near one of my former worksites and a wonderful bakery. I find judging travel time in and around and through Houston challenging–sometimes it is easy and sometimes the roadways are parking lots—so I try to plan getting anywhere in Houston with an hour to spare.

That hour was spent in the bakery with a great cup of coffee.

I arrived at the museum for a workshop on watercolor monoprinting about twenty minutes early…more on that later.

The museum has so many interesting things to see—besides their huge collection of type, printing presses, typewriters, samples of newspapers, galleries and artists-in-residence. I got to see a letterpress in operation—my of printers being limited to the Epson that sits on my desk and requires ink cartridges and works best on copy paper.

Here are a few images from the museum; the museum was motion sensor lighted, challenging for good photos but you can get a sense of what they have on display.

The building has been sold….no surprise as it is in a very exclusive neighborhood. Lots of building and renovation of existing houses indicate real estate is of prime value here.

Five Buckets of Kelly Green

Five Buckets of Kelly Green. two buckets of Purple and Sky blue and a quart jar of Yellow

I was not particularly familiar with David Hockney’s work. I had read about his work with an ipad but had never viewed any of his paintings.

However, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston hosted a Hockney-Van Gogh exhibit and as I have a membership and given the seclusion of the past year or more, I was eager to see some art.

I usually park in the Herman Park Zoo parking lot, walk across the park enjoying the ducks and the turtles and the little train and the fountain in the middle of the pond and all the little children darting about. However, EVERYONE was at the zoo this morning—-the parking lot was FULL and dozens of cars drove around aimlessly hoping for a vacant spot. I ended up parking in a church lot with a bit of a hike to the museum.

Fortunately I was able to use my timed ticket although I was fifteen minutes late.

Hockney likes kelly green—buckets and buckets of the stuff; sometimes he contrasts it with a purple—both colors seem to come directly out of their buckets with no mixing.

Interspersed were some lovely small paintings of Van Gogh’s—he certainly delighted in color, mixing it on the canvas–and favoring a variety of greens, yellows and a turquoise-y blue. The only commonality I could see was that all the paintings reflected landscape—Hockney painted the same bit of road in many seasons and in many lights–but always with that dreadful kelly green.

There were some lovely charcoal drawings of wooded scenes and a series of watercolors–that seemed random landscapes–but perhaps that was the curator who placed them in such a fashion.

Of interest, though, one of Van Gogh’s drawings of a wooded scene was done in reed pen and ink over pencil with a wash over the top—interesting combination of media.

I did pick up a few postcards as reminders of the day—I have decided to not get catalogs–they are heavy to carry and I rarely look at them again–postcards are lightweight–easy on the wallet and reminiscent enough of the day.

The exhibit closes on June 27 and from what I could tell about ticket availability next Saturday the 19th is the last available day to view the exhibit. Next up is Monet to Matisse—one I’m sure to find more to my liking and aesthetics. However, it is always good to see art, analyze it for content and appeal, and see what I might use in my own work.

But it will not be huge doses of kelly green.

Hercules and Norse mythology

Sometimes events pop up in the local newspaper.

Sometimes there are TWO interesting events on the same night.

We had a choice between Norse mythology and cowboys.

Interesting contrast that–maybe some similarities–adventures, all life’s belongings in one small container–for the Norse it was a chest used as a rowing seat, for the cowboy it was a bedroll.

We had toured the Clifton Steamboat museum in the distant past but were surprised to see how the complex has grown.

There is a tugboat there—Hercules! sitting there in the middle of a nicely mown lawn; and Remington bronzes scattered about the grounds. I have not seen so many ship models in one place other than in a ship museum in Virginia.

Inside a handful of people including some Boy Scouts in their uniforms listened to stories about Norse mythology, trolls, rosemaling, design details and then the two tapestries. Most people have heard of the Bayeaux tapestry and these are similar in nature although embroidered recently. According to the curator (who carved the frames and the Viking/Norse models), upper aristocracy would begin a tapestry upon the birth of a son; it would include the details of his life and was kept rolled up on large reels–similar to the spools used in commercial weaving/cloth factories. I have two of those spindles from a closed factory in Georgia.

The museum is not crowded, the parking is plentiful and close. The opening hours are limited but it is a fun visit.

I may be inspired to make a tapestry detailing a story.

https://www.cliftonsteamboatmuseum.com/

 

One, Two, THREE, Four, Five Six, SEVEN

salsa3-m

Salsa Night at the Event Center was filled with wonderful music, a Salsa lesson from the piano player and lots of dancing. After all my back surgeries–I am left with neuropathy of my feet–I need to see my feet to know where they are-no more running up or down stairs–and -dancing while looking at your feet the entire time–is not exactly fun–but watching the dancers and imagining myself there was.salsa201-m

I don’t know what kind of instrument this was–the other musicians played drums and piano and guitar—and sang in Spanish, Portuguese, and English–all in the same song. They were from Cuba, Mexico, and Brazil–quite a combo–but a fun evening.salsa2-m

Music is frequently much too loud in the actual auditorium for me–so after a bit, I sat outside the Event center with the music piped outside, the fountain flowing, and ducks swimming in the lake.img_8491-m

 

Faculty Show off their Stuff

Last night was the opening of the Lamar Faculty showcase. Since I graduated there have been some new faces in the faculty and it is always interesting to see their work.

Keith Carter always has something new to show–this year it was old photographs paired with old picture frames–the cardboard kind that came with things like your formal wedding photograph or your senior picture. I have several dozen of them–from family photos waiting for inspiration. Keith used the imagery of bees and queens—–he kept bees for a very short time in his youth–said it didn’t end well.

Christopher Troutman had three large pieces meshing some place in the Far East with local images. These pieces were quite large–several feet tall and were printed on canvas–one striking piece was an image of a large estate–maybe the McFadden Ward house flanked by a gate from the Far East–almost like a fisheye lens effect.

Kurt Dyrhaug had two 3 D printed sculptures and two gesso/rust/sand pieces on paper–most intriguing process. I always enjoy seeing his work as it is so reminiscent of his rural background.

Donna Meeks had one piece, a negative photo that was water-colored and embossed–again an interesting technique.

There were a lot of people there–and the food was great–a great show—and tonight there is another show at the Art Studio.

Sorry I didn’t take any photos–although plenty of cell phones were out taking photos.

 

Barbed Wire

wall20of20barb20wire-mCollections of the many varieties of barbed wire are in museums or restaurants featuring ‘country fare cooking’ . This collection is the largest I have ever seen. So many samples of the various types–all designed to keep cattle in designated places.

Barbed wire is attributed to the taming of the American West–it was relatively low cost, low labor intensive, and quick. Previous fencing had consisted of planting Osage orange–a prickly tree that took time to grow. Eventually the fenceposts were of Osage Orange and the barbed wire of choice strung along.

The first barbed wire in the U.S. was attributed to Lucien Smith of Kent Ohio in 1867 with modifications later by Glidden in 1874. And there is the familiar concertina wire and the barbed wire around prisons and concentration camps and trenches used in war fare–but lets not think about those uses.

For now–just look at the huge variety of barb wire—all to contain cattle within their allotted grazing areas.

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And the other side of this wall had an equal number of plaques all displaying more types of barbed wire. All at the Whitehead Memorial Museum in Del Rio Texas

Poppy Girl

poppy20girl-mThis isn’t the official name–but I always run by this painting to say hello.

And then there is Matchstick Man which used to greet everyone in the Sculpture Garden across the street from the MFA in Houston but has since been moved indoors–and now is somewhere hidden in its archives.

I think I like the bold color, the simple clean and unfussiness of this painting.

 

A little bit of Eden

We have had rain for several days now..pouring rain..with water over the driveway up to 8 inches and many places flooding…schools closing due to the rain. So I like to look through my photos and pick out something fun to share.

mf20garden2011-mAbout a block away from my house is the McFadden-Ward House Museum. The house is huge, the carriage house is across the street and then there are several other buildings associated with the Museum. And tucked away behind the building that stores much of the objects not on display is a tiny little garden.mfw20garden205-m

There are several prospering tomato plants, a huge dill plant, marigolds, and zinnias.mfw20garden204-m

Whenever my life seems a bit hectic, I like to stop and wander–all eight feet of it to gaze at the flowers–and sometimes I am greeted but more often I have to content myself with just a glimpse of the guardian of this universe.mfw20garden207-m