Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Art-a-Whirl / Rauschenberg

Last weekend was the Northeast Minneapolis Art-a-Whirl, where artists open thier studios to would-be art buyers. It's a pretty big event. I used the opportunity to check out a few possible mentors and get some ideas. I found 2 artists that may be possibilites, and had the chance to talk to the artists. There is a huge amount of crap art out there, and its always uncomfortable to walk into an artists studio with the artist sitting there waiting to see what you think. I got a few leads and feel much better about the whole mentor process going into residency #2.

On another note, I just heard that Robert Rauschenberg died last week. Rauschenberg made art out of everything and harnessed materials into pieces that were thought provoking, visually compelling, and completely original. I've always loved his work. It's a read snub at the notion of fine art that I find humorous and beautiful. In his later life he transformed the entire notion of printmaking as well. Art will never be the same after Rauschenberg.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

"Touch of Evil"

If there's a common trend to the 50s films I've been watching its long uncut scenes of dialogue. The actors do more because they have to. Quick editing doesn't dominate the way it often does today. "Touch of Evil" absolutely floored me in it's complexity. Long seen as the last classic film nior, Orson Welles got so creative and artsy with his shots (and took so much studio time and money) that the studio booted him after the shoot and altered his vision. He left for Europe and his career as a director was never the same. 10 years ago the studio re-edited the film in an attempt to recreate his vision. The movie starts with a 3 minute long tracking shot that moves from a close-up of a mans hands down an ally, backwards and up over the roof of a building and down the street past cars and pedestrians. I have no idea how he did it. Other scenes contain back and forth editing past characters in conversation, each shot composed to the maximum power of photography. It's an unbelievable film. Oh, and the story is pretty good too, with Charlton Heston in dark makeup as a Mexican cop and a very porky Welles as crooked American police chief. The story is secondary to the look and composition of the film.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

New Painting- "The New Pastime"

Well, here it is: my first deliberate attempt at visual storytelling. Till now, I've left the images open ended with characters looking off into to space beyond the viewer, which allows for an open interpretation. This one has all the information self contained. I think the line with metaphor is a thin one- If I push it too far it could get stupid pretty quick. There's more to read into this image, but at the same time it might go unnoticed, which I think is great. I had a lot of fun composing this picture. The way the figures and furniture are situated created interesting shapes and movement through the piece. It was also a challenge to play with 3 separate light sources and different colors. It's not my favorite, but I'm pleased and it should lead to some interesting feedback. I'm interested to know what you think about it so leave me a comment if you have the time.... 

I'm moving very quickly to my next canvas painting as I've realized drying time is becoming an issue. I leave on June 19 for Boston, and my paintings from a month ago are still a little wet. I've got a lot of ideas so we'll see where I end up. More to come-

Thursday, May 8, 2008

"Ace in the Hole"

Last night I watched Billy Wilder's "Ace in the Hole" aka "Big Carnival" from 1951, and was amazed at how the film held up half a century later. The film was a critical and commercial bomb at the time, and for the last 50 years it has been a very hard to find cult classic on many top 100 all-time lists. Watch the film and you can understand completely why the film failed to connect. "Ace in the Hole" is a scathing indictment on the negetive powers of big media. It's no surprise that the critics felt insulted and shunned the film.

The story follows an immoral newspaper reporter named Chuck Tatum (Kirk Douglas), who works for a small paper in New Mexico. In the middle of nowhere he stops for gas and learns of a local man recently trapped in an old mine cave in. He sets morality aside and jumps on the opportunity to exploit the situation for a major news story. Within 2 days, the entire country is following the story of the trapped man and the tiny town becomes a media circus, with thousands of reporters and people wanting to whitness the rescue first hand. Even though it's a terrible tradgedy, people in the won are reaping the benefits of all the people. A carnival even comes to town to take advantage of the people. Douglas's character controls the whole thing, and is willing to draw the situation out as long as possible by taking a round about way to rescue the man. When the trapped man dies, the whole thing crumbles. It's a prophetic tale about the power the media has to create the news, all to make a buck.

At one point Tatum states to his cameraman, "Who cares about 10,000 dead in China? People read that and pass right over.... If you want a big story, give the people an individual in crisis and tell them everything you can about the situation, then they're hooked and will buy every paper they can get thier hands on." With 100,000 killed this last week in Burma and Britney Spears constantly in the headlines, its hard not to get the point of the film. "Ace in the Hole" belongs next to "A Face in the Crowd" as 50s films with a prophetic understanding of future troubles. At the time with the rapid rise of TV and mass media, people were only beginning to understand the negetive consequences. Today, we are manipulated by the news all the time...

This is a film everyone should see. It's nearly perfect (aside from Kirk Douglas' enormous chin dimple, which dominates the movie as much as his character).

Another new image should be posted within a few days....