Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

After action report: Spokane, WA.

Saturday, June 27th, 2015

The Smith and Wesson Collector’s Association annual symposium was in Spokane this year.

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…it’s the hole.

Thursday, May 21st, 2015

From the NYT, a short documentary about Chris Burden and “Shoot”.

(Subject line hattip.)

Obit watch: May 11, 2015.

Monday, May 11th, 2015

Conceptual artist Chris Burden.

(Edited to add 5/12: NYT.)

I’ve touched on Mr. Burden and his work before, particularly the notorious “Shoot”. This is one work I was not aware of:

For his master’s thesis, he executed “Five Day Locker Piece,” a durational performance in which he locked himself inside an ordinary school locker measuring just two feet high, two feet wide and three feet deep. The locker directly above contained five gallons of bottled water, and the locker directly below held an empty five-gallon bottle.

Art, damn it, art! watch. (#47 in a series)

Tuesday, March 10th, 2015

Headline:

Dead Drops: what to do if you see a USB stick sticking out of a wall

Stop! Don’t touch! Tell an adult!

But I digress.

But in 2010, Berlin-based artist Aram Bartholl decided to adapt the idea for public use. His Dead Drops involve people hiding USB flash drives in cities around the world and embedding them into walls, fences and kerbs. The idea is that you look up their location, access the drive, and do what you see fit with the files – add your own, remove or copy them over.

I’m not going to say this is the dumbest idea I’ve heard recently. But it is in the top 100.

(Per the DeadDrops.com database, there are six of these within 100 km of Austin. Five are marked as broken or missing. The sixth is actually in Bastrop. While it is marked as working, the status hasn’t been updated since 2011.)

After action report: Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Monday, November 17th, 2014

I’ve sort of hinted at this, but now the full story can be told.

Mike the Musicologist and I went on a road trip to Oklahoma the weekend of November 8th.

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Gehry watch.

Friday, October 17th, 2014

The LAT reviews the Gehry designed Louis Vuitton Foundation museum.

The Eisenhower Memorial design has been approved with revisions. (Previously.)

The revised design replaces the memorial’s east and west steel tapestries — depicting the Kansas plains where Eisenhower spent his boyhood — with single columns that mark the north corners of the site, preparing visitors for the entrance. The south columns and tapestry aim to define the memorial’s space and frame the views of the Capitol.

Random notes: October 3, 2014.

Friday, October 3rd, 2014

Good coffee is important.

I’m a big fan of both Jimmy Stewart and Carol Burnett, so this makes me very happy. (I have family in the area around Indiana, Pennsylvania, but I’ve never had the chance to visit the Jimmy Stewart Museum. Perhaps I will remedy this on a future visit.)

Five rules for viewing art, damn it, art! There’s much here that I agree with; seek silence, take your time, do some research. On the other hand, I don’t see anything wrong with purchasing postcards or posters at the gift shop. I do think the rubber van Gogh ear is a bit over the top.

Some practical advice: If you feel better about yourself when you leave a museum, you’re probably doing it all wrong.

This bothers me as well, but I’m not sure I can articulate why. I need to think on it some more.

TMQ Watch: August 12, 2014.

Thursday, August 14th, 2014

And so is TMQ. And so is TMQ Watch. The first column of the NFL season is always kind of strange; there’s a lot of short items, basketball coverage, and other things that throw us for a loop. We’re probably not going to hit every one of TMQ’s throwaway quips. And yes, we’re aware that TMQ did a couple of draft columns; we looked at those and frankly didn’t find anything noteworthy in them. One was his usual silly mock draft, the other was his draft analysis, and both contained the recommended US daily allowance of TMQ tropes.

Anyway, back to this week’s TMQ, after the jump…

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Art, damn it, art! watch. (#46 in a series)

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

This one’s for Lawrence.

The House Committee on Natural Resources has called the proposed Eisenhower Memorial “a five-star folly”. That’s actually the title of their report, which is subtitled (just in case you didn’t get the point), “An Investigation into the Cost Increases, Construction Delays, and Design Problems That Have Been a Disservice to the Effort to Memorialize Dwight D. Eisenhower”.

This has been going on since 1999. So far, according to the report, “Approximately $41 million has been spent or obligated so far, including almost $16.4 million for the designer and more than $13.3 million to the multiple parties responsible for managing the design process and providing administrative support.” And there’s basically nothing to show for it.

Except for the design itself, which lots of people don’t like. Including the Eisenhower family.

Congress subsequently withheld construction funds for the memorial two years in a row, and this month, the House released a draft budget that also zeros out operating funds and calls for a new design competition. In April, the National Capital Planning Commission voted 7 to 3 to oppose the design. The House committees on oversight and appropriations are also investigating the memorial.

The designer? Lawrence’s favorite living architect, Frank Gehry. To be fair to Mr. Gehry (who I actually kind of like), this wouldn’t be the first time a controversial memorial design in DC has turned out okay. And I’m not clear on what exactly the objections are:

Mr. Gehry’s original concept to honor the World War II military leader and 34th president called for a four-acre site partly enclosed by transparent woven metal tapestries displaying images of the Kansas plains, where Eisenhower grew up. The most contentious element initially was a statue of the young Eisenhower sitting on a low stone wall, a characterization inspired by a photograph of him at that age and by a homecoming speech he made after the war in which he recalled his days as a “barefoot boy.”

That doesn’t sound too awful or disrespectful to me.

In response to objections that this was insufficiently respectful, Mr. Gehry replaced the child with Eisenhower as a 20-year-old West Point cadet and changed his depictions of two famous photographs into statues instead of bas-reliefs. But family members still expressed concerns that the design was costly, undignified and would require too much maintenance.

Yeah, I don’t get the “undignified” thing, either. But I haven’t seen anything other than the photo in the NYT. I do find it interesting that, according to the congressional report, the initial jury thought all of the submitted designs were “mediocre” and wanted a second round of submissions. Whoever was in charge overruled the jury and picked Gehry’s design.

And there’s other boondoggles, too. Sole source contracts, paying $1.4 million to fundraising firms (which have managed to raise about $500,000), questions about ongoing maintenance costs, etc. etc. etc.

I like Ike. But I have serious questions about our need for an Eisenhower Memorial outside of the Eisenhower Presidential Center and about the design process for this one.

Not Since Tupac.

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

By way of the A/V Club, I’ve learned of something called “Holler if Ya Hear Me”, a Broadway musical “inspired by the music and lyrics of the popular rapper Tupac Shakur”.

While some Broadway shows rely on budget reserves to muddle through slow weeks, “Holler” struggled from the outset. The production never brought in more than $175,000 a week in gross revenues, becoming one of the worst-selling musicals of recent years. Last week the show grossed $154,948, or 17 percent of the maximum possible amount, and only 45 percent of its seats were occupied.

Here’s the NYT review:

Drawing on themes that Shakur rapped about in his scabrous, four-letter-word-filled lyrics (no one has taken a kid-friendly Magic Marker to them, I’m glad to report), the musical attempts to draw a vision of black life in urban America that acknowledges the danger, the violence and the self-destruction but also the hope, the courage and the potential for transcendence. To this end, it employs more than a dozen of Shakur’s songs and a couple of his poems. But the lyrical density of rap — in words per minute, many of the songs are off the charts — makes an uneasy fit for theatrical presentation, since the sizzling phrases fly by almost before you can grasp their meaning.

At this point, you’re probably not wondering what brought this to mind:

It will close at a financial loss after 17 preview performances and 38 regular performances at the Palace Theater.

And, of course, there’s the usual invocations of “it’s going to be difficult to do another rap or hip hop show on Broadway” and “Tupac’s urgent socially important insights and the audiences’ nightly rousing standing ovations deserve to be experienced by the world.”

As for the latter, no comment. As for the former:

Yet one new musical featuring rap and hip hop, “Hamilton,” is widely expected to come to Broadway during the 2015-16 season after an initial run at the Public Theater this coming winter. The show is by Lin-Manuel Miranda, whose show “In the Heights,” which also featured rap and hip hop, ran for three years on Broadway and won the 2008 Tony Award for best musical.

Edited to add: more from the PoR:

In truth, the problem with “Holler” wasn’t really the music at all, but the ham-handed, sentimentalized story line concocted to underpin it.

Art, damn it, art! watch. (#45 in a series)

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

Box Sized DIE is a public installation in a London banking district by Portuguese artist João Onofre. It’s a soundproofed, airtight black box. Inside, UK band Unfathomable Ruination will be playing death metal until they run out of oxygen, every day for most of July, starting on Sunday. The installation is part of the Sculpture In The City public art program by City of London.

My first thought: what do they mean by “run out of oxygen”? Does the band play until they pass out? If so, how will anyone know, given that the box is soundproofed and opaque? Do they just play until a certain CO2 level is reached? Do they have sensors and an alarm in the box?

My second thought: how long will the band actually play? Or, to phrase the question in another way, how long does it take to use up all the oxygen in the box? Apparently, this isn’t the first time a death metal band has played in the box (though it is the first time this has been done in London). Surely there must be some stats on this, like average length of time spent in the box.

My third thought:

My fourth thought:

Art F City argues that this is one of London’s “worst public art projects,” because “Passersby can’t hear them play, so what’s the point of choosing death metal over anyone else?” But there are many things we can’t see or hear directly from a sculpture. Onofre is charging the invisible core of the object with the specific force and drive of death metal. It’s black. It’s claustrophobic. It’s all angst. Of course it had to be black metal! Unlike most conceptual public sculptures, we know exactly what’s “inside.” Maybe it’s not the most subtle form of compacting tension and placing it into a public space, but I’m biased, so… \m/

Sounds like pretentious bullshit to me.

Obit watch: June 18, 2014.

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

Stanley Marsh 3, “legendary West Texas eccentric“.

This is Marsh’s most famous creation:

And Marsh spent the last years of his life entangled in civil suits and criminal accusations involving his alleged abuse of young men.

Texas Monthly
has the best coverage I’ve been able to find so far. Nothing in the papers of record yet, and the DFW papers are just running the AP obit.

Daniel Keyes has also passed away at the age of 86. Keyes was most famous for the novella “Flowers for Algernon”, later expanded into a novel, turned into the movie “Charly”, and the subject of countless popular culture parodies.