Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Day

For unto you is born this day; in the City of David, a Savior…
who is Christ the Lord.

                                                                                                    Luke 2:11

Rejoice!   Rejoice!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Art Basel Miami Beach 2014

There was a gluttonous amount of art on view in beautiful down town Miami Beach Fla. at the end of last week for a solid four days. Along with the art on exhibit there were close to a million viewers; beautiful people of all ages contributing to the look of sophistication and style of this remarkable event; Art Basel Miami.

Between Art Basel, Art Miami, Pulse Miami and the many other satellite fairs it was a weekend nothing less than utterly amazing. The scene was extravagant and excessive but worth every effort in this; the “World Cup/ Main Event” of the art world. It was very much a carnival happening and in that way remarkably refreshing in all it’s luxuriant extremes.

I was able to meet and talk with gallerists, gallery girls and artists among the art market’s high end sellers and shoppers.   There were great conversations with people from around the world and US cities. The nations included Brazil, Bogota, China, South Africa and the UK. The US cities included (of course) New York, Chicago, LA, San Antonio and DC. The grand host city; Miami, is breathtakingly beautiful and the population is incredibly welcoming. The blue water and skies, cruise ships and yachts mesmerize; while the modern and art deco architecture complement each other in spectacular form.    

Great and important works of painting, photography and sculpture including Helmut Newton’s Sie Kommen, Jim Dine hearts, Jeff Koon’s banalities, Chris Ofili’s dung art and Picasso’s cubism available and on view in various galleries. All these works and thousands of others not only on view; but, most importantly for sell. 

There was also live performance art, video, mixed-medium, design and decorative art, supplemented by the many stunningly elegant and high fashion patrons. Yes; there were the "odd ball" one of a kind character dressers too, which in honesty made for a thing remarkable. Refreshment comes in the form of push cart girls selling the original champagne; Ruinart.  It is actually the Ruinart that makes me return to Basel. It is definitely one of the many unique extras that adds to the experience.  Attending Art Basel Miami Beach, Design Miami, Pulse Miami Beach and a few other fairs combined for a complete adventure in art fashion design and culture. It is as exhausting as it is exhilarating and by the way; I’m ready for next year. 

Monday, December 1, 2014

Illustrated by N.C. Wyeth

Robinson Crusoe Illustrated by N. C. Wyeth was what the cover read. It was one of the classic and famously beloved volumes published by Scribners in the early 20th century. The book was a solid hard-cover edition that looked good and felt good to the hand. The illustrations were compelling, lush, heroic things that as far as I remember discovering was truly “love at first.”  For all it’s worth this encounter was something that has hooked me for life; the love of illustration, books and most particularly the illustration work of the master; Newell Convers Wyeth.

Wyeth had illustrated Treasure Island, The Last of the Mohicans, The Yearling and others in his time for Scribners. His work was always colorful and exciting. When I found Robinson Crusoe in the school library I had no idea how renowned N. C. Wyeth was. I just knew he was phenomenal in what he was doing and I was always able to imagine and wonder, even becoming lost in his detailed emotionally realistic visions. Wyeth towers among the best and is still much an inspiration for me. 

Wyeth would influence generation of young people including his children, especially his son Andy who became equally famous in his own right and then grandson Jamie who continues the family legacy. The Wyeths are certainly America’s finest and most cherished family of the visual arts. They are also great ambassadors of excellence and accomplishment. 

In a rite of passage when our school closed due to integration in 1966 we were allowed to take one book from the school library. Robinson Crusoe Illustrated by N.C.  Wyeth was my; without hesitation, choice. I have it even now and as I hold it and peruse it, I remain in awe as it makes me smile.  

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Cosby Family Collection @ The Smithsonian

Homage to Langston Hughes (c) Charles White
Art collector Don Rubell has said “…it is; I believe, deeply rooted in my genes.” Don and Mera Rubell are among the world’s fore-most collectors of contemporary art. You might even imagine the couple as having “Rock Star” status among the finest of the collectors breed. The same can certainly be said for Bill and Camille Cosby. The Cosby’s have been collecting passionately since the nineteen sixties. Early on their interest revolved around the great works of Charles White. They have expanded extensively in the decades since. The Cosby Family Collection is comprehensive and deeply ingrained historically with the work of the African-American. It is massive, monumentally engaging and a thing of true beauty. 

The Thankful Poor (c) Henry O Tanner                                             

The National Museum of African Art is currently exhibiting the Bill and Camille Cosby Family Collection along with their permanent collection of African art from the continent. The Cosby collected works will be on view into early 2016. The works and artist included range from portraits by the early American Joshua Johnston to contemporary pieces by Whitfield Lovell. Henry O. Tanner’s “The Thankful Poor” is a work of creative and artistic importance that hasn’t been on public view for decades is featured within the exhibit. It is a work of strength and character; a national treasure unto itself. Elizabeth Catlett’s sculpture along with Alma Thomas’ color-field semi abstractions are high lights. Legendary artists Edward Bannister, Arron Douglas, Archibald Motley Jr. and Romare Bearden all represented on display and in grand style.  This is a rare opportunity as it is a journey through time and centuries of art that are very much unique to a private collection. 

Maternity  (c)  Elizabeth Cattlett

Artist and Art Historian David Driskell became a consultant to the Cosby’s in the nineteen eighties. He has lovingly and accurately since guided and assisted on the acquisition decisions of the Cosby couple. Driskell curated an exhibition in 1976 at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art that opened the eyes of the world to the depth, quality and richness of African-American Art. The catalogue of the exhibition “Two Centuries of Black American Art” was published nationally and became a “Bible” of sort and guide for researchers, enthusiast and collectors for years after. Driskell went on to author and edit other fabulous books including the treasured volume; “The Other Side of Color.” It high-lights the now historic Cosby Collection and features the Cosby’s thoughts and comments on their collecting philosophy and tastes. Erica Cosby; the daughter of Bill and Camille, who is now an art scholar and artist  gives an interesting dialogue on the perspective of growing up with one of the nation’s premier art collections. An example of Erica’s painterly artistic talent is on display in the exhibit as well.

Portrait of Bill and Camille Cosby (c) Simmie Knox

Bill Cosby is well known to the world as comedian, actor, philanthropist and humanitarian. He has contributed much to world culture in various personas. It is the best that a person has offered that we celebrate. Cosby is a giant among his peers and a friend to the many. We are now able to see Bill Cosby; Art Collector as he offers his contribution to the dialogue on great art. It is the spirit and love of the height of world culture as expressed in the mysterious, marvelous things we see and cherish that we join him in joy; in admiration. The collection within it’s glory is a thing sublime.

            At the National Museum of African Art                  

The Cosbys briefly discuss their views on Art.

Roots (c) Walter Williams                     

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Wayne Theibaud: Landscapes, Cityscapes, Ice Cream and Fresh Cakes

“Landscapes, Cityscapes, Ice Cream and Fresh Cakes” could well be an ad/slogan for the colorful and generous paintings of Wayne Theibaud. His beautiful works are heavily painted, impasto rich canvases that engage and delight his viewers. Theibaud is most closely associated with the “Pop” art movement and artists like Warhol, Lichtenstein, Blake and Hockney. 

His natural talents and training come together in extravagant ways that illuminate our vision of the world through Theibauds eyes. He has this in common with many of the other historic and contemporary masters.  His cakes and candies simply look delicious. His hot dogs give off a warmth and aroma while the ice creams refresh and chill all through the sense of sight.  

It is with his landscapes and cityscapes that I think Theibaud reaches his greatest mastery and are of an even more original statement of artistry then his more famous “Pop” pieces. Theibaud’s landscapes often exhibit hills and mountains of an extreme reality. Taken in context of the Northern California hill sides they are viewed as less extreme and closely resemble the uniqueness of the mountainous area of his home. When looking at the range of land in the area of South Western Virginia that I live in I daily see    views much like those created within Theibaud’s works. The hills are so extreme where I live that the cows are possibly the world’s only cows that are able to graze by raising their heads.

Whenever I’m driving and seeing fields of any red flowers I think of Monet. Green pastures and the yellow harvesting of wheat or hay connect me to Van Gogh. While looking out my window in the dead of winter with the browns, grays and muted hues of that season; I’m seeing the land of Andrew Wyeth’s Chadds Ford.  Now the tallest of lush green hills I see when and wherever will always be Theibaud Hills in my mind.  

Theibaud has famously done and includes character and life studies within his portfolio. He also teaches and has worked in the field of animation. Theibaud is a multi-threat/talented artist and man. He has impressed and influenced many in his time. It is his works that speak most positively for the man and I will let his works serve as conclusion.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Frankenstein Monster

The Frankenstein monster
The lifeless; the dead
Seemed utterly harmless
with probes in his head
 A little of lightning
a bolt and a shock
 delivered the message
it’s time to wake up

The roar of the thunder
the crack of the shock
 he listened and heard them
just like a knock, knock

There’s  business for you
both scary and Grimm
a village to greet you
get going again.

He hurried; he worried
His efforts in vain
He grunted and growled
His brain was insane

He couldn’t remember the joy of a LIFE
The next thing he wanted you know was a wife
So quickly constructed
with bride and with friend
again starting over
his dreams to begin
but they too were shattered
when Bride say his face
this creature of science
could not find his place
He wished to belong
just one in the crowd
he ranted and raved
he shouted out loud
there’s no witches brew
or splendid, warm places
 His bride left him too
her beauty not wasted

The monster moved on
without kit or kin
he’s walking the Earth
resistant to sin
Avoiding each village
each hamlet and den
just can’t get connected
there’s never a  friend
You may see him soon
he’ll visit your town
Just some “thing” much scary
he rambles around

The ocean, the river, the light of the moon

Remarkable, distant, magnanimous goon

Friday, October 10, 2014

Dave Mckean: The Arcane The Image

To look into the art of Dave Mckean is to look into places of unlimited intrigue, depth and range. The works are window openings into a mysterious and arcane psyche. The portals are many and vast as a journey outward into the stars or equally inward to the micro biotic multi-verses. 

                                            Mckean seduces and captures with the creations of his unbridled talent and imagination. His worlds are mystical, magical potions of the best alchemy. Mirror Mask, The Sandman, Wolves in the Wall, Coraline are among the stories, novels and films of Dave Mckean. They are all collaborations in part with his colleague/friend; the much admired writer Neil Gaiman.
The work can be dark, foreboding and something strange as that of a counter-culture artist. Mckean’s art is not repellant like many other counter-culturists but inviting and dreamlike without being the stuff of nightmares.    

In 1993 DC Comics would introduce their now legendary line of graphic novels; Vertigo. Editor Karen Berger would enlist writer Neil Gaiman for the initial series of books; “Sandman.” The entire line of books including Gaiman’s “Sandman” were targeted for mature readers and are among the most popular and celebrated of the Horror/Fantasy genre. Dave Mckean would join “Sandman” as official cover artist mid-way through it’s run and his work would become the art most associated with “Sandman.” They are also among Mckean’s most recognizable and original creations. “Sandman would be described as:

“A comic strip for Intellectuals.”

Norman Mailer

Another author from the Vertigo Line; Grant Morrison had earlier (1989) penned the then radical hard-cover novel, “Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth.” His was a Dark Knight Tale remarkably conceived and illustrated with Mckean’s extraordinary graphics and evocative paintings. It remains a land-mark achievement and is in every sense a classical marriage of prose and image.

As a film maker; Mckean’s seminal work to date is “Mirror Mask.” It is yet another brilliant collaboration with Neil Gaiman and The Jim Henson Company. The plot is a variation of Lewis Carroll’s “Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There.” The look is visually stunning with the definitive style of Mckean’s best product. It is memorable as a cult film with a distinct “indie” flavor. 

The reflective study of the works of Dave Mckean is a perfect start for a breezy October evening and then on; into the night.