Monday, December 28, 2015

Richard Schmidt "Winter"

I love the spirit; the craft and care, the intelligence, the beauty within the art of Richard Schmidt. Schmidt has long been a creator of landscapes, architectural renderings, portraits, nature studies and on and on. There is little that Schmidt hasn’t covered and mastered. This artist/educator, painter and author is among the best in the current market and art scene. His works are academic with a very free y style.  His works are not challenging but they are a joy to behold and savor as a painterly delicacy. Many of Schmidt’s works are seasonal and are of a special interest at this time of year.

The paintings of Richard Schmidt are tonally much in line with another popular American artists; Andrew Wyeth. Wyeth frequently painted images of late fall and winter themes. Schmidt is drawn to the same. A portfolio of Schmidt’s best are here for viewing and presented as a holiday sharing. Like many great painters the works speak most eloquently for themselves and explanations can cause some distraction and are hardly necessary. Please enjoy and feel the warmth of heart that inhabits these winter works. 

There are many that propose that art has to be unsettling, disturbing, as it shatters every preconceived notion. That is wonderful in concept but it is not a prerequisite. In my mind there are no absolutes in the creation or appreciation of art. That is the true greatness found in the pursuit of truth, beauty or the absurd. Art can be for the shock of newness but it can also be moving in the familiar and possess a Zen oneness with the sublime. Schmidt is of the later; a celebration of life and sight.

"In the Spirit of Christmas"

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Halloween the Day After

This, the morning after our biggest Halloween celebration; ever. All the decorating, shopping, scares, laughs and celebrating now past. Time to move on. My Second oldest; Gail was born on Halloween and she turned forty. We had to do something really special. Family, friends and a couple of foes gathered for her birthday and the holiday. It was a grand masquerade affair.  

Now early morning; I pull back the curtain from my kitchen window to reveal a Blue Jay (dressed in his best) foraging for food beneath my leaflessly barren dogwood tree. This was special! He went about his chore as I watched securely from my window. There was no reason to disturb him in his brilliant array. His neighbors had a different idea. A starling appeared to rudely shove him from his duties. The starling had his own agenda. Oddly his jacket; black while embroidered with orange strips that gave him a “Day of the Dead” decorative look. He was soon joined by a couple others of his kin. They equally impressive in what appeared to be the height of starling fashion, the orange stripped jackets. The story was unfolding into what might become a sort of drama; but all took their turn and there was plenty of whatever they were enjoying as breakfast to go around. Not to be out done a fat squirrel; immaculate in fur, scurried into view. How amazing; this show completely and gloriously free for my viewing pleasure. I can’t imagine a better beginning for any day.

Later today I’ll probably watch a couple of Horror Classics, read several magazines, a novel chapter or two and listen to a little Jazz. This might also be a good day to write a blog. What do you think? 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Tell -Tale Heart

Poe is by most consensuses the first name of Gothic Horror in literature and in our minds. Wells, Lovecraft, Shelly, Stoker form a list that goes on including omitted others and continuing into our times. These author’s works have been adapted to film, television, radio and the stage. The scary story is great in any form and we are born with the gene that loves the thrill, rush and fascination a scary telling provides. The masters of horror are many but it is Poe that always guarantees a “good read,” a delight of the mind, a shutter of the soul.

In the nineteen fifties an animation studio; UPA (creators of the original Twilight Zone opening) chose to adapt Poe to their medium. Their short film The Tell-Tale Heart proved to be a perfect choice. It is an infectious and sufficiently eerie presentation of one of Poe’s best “Tells.”

Edgar Allen Poe goes well with the month of October; it’s goblins, shadows and chills. The UPA animation featured here is to enjoy. Let the alchemy of Poe be an enchantment and guilty thrill for you and your haunts in the season of treats and tricks. 

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Picasso Sculpture @ MoMA

When the “New” Whitney opened earlier this year in Lower Manhattan (NYC) it became the most talked about museum among the many celebrated museums in the city. It was dimming the luster in particular of one of the New York greats; MoMA. I had wondered what the folks at MoMA would do to return the talk and the buzz as the leader in Modern and Contemporary Art. “Picasso Sculpture” featuring 100 pieces opens there Monday. It seems to be their response to the Whitney and promises to be a Block Buster.

The exhibition will feature many of the 20th Century master’s best efforts. Picasso is noted as quite possibly the most innovative and prolific genius of all time. His sculpture attests extravagantly to his fame and ability. Picasso’s choices of materials range from bronze to plaster to cardboard. Found objects and assemblage rate highly among his sculptural works. The hand and mind of Picasso, always exciting, always exuberant on full display here should charm and delight every eye to behold each brilliant object.  The man is as strong a sculptural presence as any of his sculptor contemporaries, including Moore, Brancusi, Calder and Duchamp.

We are edging further into the 21st century and there are no shortages of new artists on the contemporary scene. At every level Picasso continues to rank highly. There is a definitive, ageless quality to his works. I am including an extensive portfolio of the Picasso Sculptures and yes; I hope to visit them and MoMA soon.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

La Planète Sauvage

The opening minutes of the film La Planète Sauvage are among the most startling and engaging scenes of any film of any genre. A young mother runs in terror from some unknown threat. This; as she attempts to shield her infant child from their potential attacker or attackers.  She is eventually taunted, herded and humiliated into submission by something of extreme. The exhausted mother falters and falls; dead from her brutally abusive physical and psychological torture. The child will survive to become the film’s protagonist.

Fantastic Planet (as it was titled in America) appeared in theaters forty plus years ago. This creation from the minds of director René Laloux and designer Roland Topor has amazed and informed for two generations now and is still thrilling in concept, storytelling and visually. The hand drawing; technically good, with a definitive roughness of line and grain is vastly appealing. It marries the surreal and the fantastic with modernity. Elements of Fantasy and Science Fiction combined with the strange and haunting score by composer Alain Goraguer is complete in execution; touching the emotional as well as the intellectual.

Nothing short of exceptional; Fantastic Planet was ground-breaking Cinema. The creation of this film was years before the development of computer generated imagery. Pixar and DreamWorks rule and inform the world of today’s animation. The dialogue of animation has changed so much in the digital era. But the hand still ruled in the times that Fantastic Planet appeared. It is prevalent throughout this marvel. On most levels it holds up into this era as an entertainment and as history. 

I was living in Washington DC when I first saw La Planète Sauvage. My friends and I had taken a bus across the city from South East to George Town in North West DC. We had been witness to the most radical film offered at the time. Had we also been the witness to the brave new future of cinematic artistry?  Standing outside the theater waiting for our return bus I studied a poster for an upcoming feature. The art work was interesting but most of the names of the contributors (other than Ron Howard) were unfamiliar. The name of this feature was American Graffiti; directed by some guy…George Lucas.  


Sunday, August 16, 2015

TWILIGHT_Lower Manhattan

“Hell of a Town”…New York; still true. It is a town still very much alive, alarmingly vibrant and growing. Two of my grandkids and I enjoyed a phenomenal visit to “The Big Apple” (I’m not sure if it’s still called that) just this weekend past. Our focus was One World Trade Center. What had been a subject of heady, heated and heartfelt discussion for years following Nine-Eleven was now open to the public. It opened a few months ago and I could hardly wait to visit. At present it is essential two memorial sites, the 9/11 Museum and the beautiful and massive David Child’s architectural achievement Freedom Tower. There is limited access to the building and I say that only in a relative perspective. The observation tower is almost without peer especially in the western hemisphere. It is the tallest building in said hemisphere and third world wide. The tower is a symbolic 1,776 feet (the year marking American independence) an easily remembered number.

 We would begin our most recent adventure (day one) at what had once been called “Ground Zero.” Elevators rise to this “top of the world” in a staggering 60 seconds while the occupants are treated to the formation and visual history of Manhattan starting below ground in a state of the art video. Three of the elevator’s walls display the remarkable simulated time-lapse sequentially from pre-history to the Native Americans, the Dutch, and  20th Century New York through to the present as the city grew literally into this new ziggurat of a structure. The ride is so fast that there is little time to adjust and for the record if you haven’t visited before stand with your back to the doors for the best view of this presentation. Another video follows after exiting the elevator to an IMAX size wall with a multi-medium experience that is spectacle for the eye and ear. The screen then rises to reveal the visual splendor of lower Manhattan in the present moment with an uninhibited almost reverential applause. It is a magnificent achievement and honor to behold. The best America has to offer.

Walking around the 360 degree observatory is a student of architecture’s dream. The view is that of a height only seen before through flight but with the luxury now of a stationary floor. The details, the distance and the sense of discovery are exhilarating. Buildings ranging from Gothic to Modern to Art Deco and Post Modern all in close proximity for view in both study and pleasure.  The entirety of the Lower portions of the city; ferries, tugs, sails on the East River and the Hudson…exciting stuff!

We left the World Trade Center for Battery Park; it’s performers, artists and tourists. The festival consisted of break dancers, ballerinas, snake handlers, portrait sketch artists and human Statues of Liberty on stilts. One thousand and one things to see and participate in; all there within the park.  We took a short walk on Wall Street where a crowd surrounded the Merrill Lynch Bull with kids lifted on it’s back posing happily and thrillingly for spectators as vendors sold bull replicas of all sizes and materials. We walked around the massive National Museum of the American Indian. The kids had their portraits done; ate ice cream and pretzels and drank plenty of water. This was while we waited for our twilight sea faring tour of Lower Manhattan by clipper ship.   

Our first travel by sail was everything and possible a hundred times more than hoped for. We had the wonderful vantage of seeing the harbor from three distinct vantage points of lighting; daylight, twilight (sunset) and night. These multiple views of the city, The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island were breath taking as we cruised in and around other vessels at multiple vantage points. The radiant sky stretched on for miles as the breeze gently propelled us forward. We talked with our fellow travelers and the sailors. We; within a very short time, fell in love with this civilized form of travel. The wind, the air, the sounds and rhythm of graceful motion won us over. The moment could have endured without end but tomorrow (day two) was for bicycles, Central Park, Park Ave. and possibly Time Square.   

Sunday, August 2, 2015

WONDER WOMAN & the Endurance of the Modern Myth

Visit Comi-Con in San Diego; New York or any city of your choice. You will bump into; stroll by and see ladies, little girls, women of a certain age and teens all sharing a common vision. These women of every stripe, body type and national origin dressed in the stars (bad pun warning!) and bras of Wonder Woman. 

William Moulton Marston’s idea was to create a powerful super heroine that represented all the best characteristics of woman hood; a character that could hold her on with any male; hero or villain. Under the pen name Charles Moulton he based his Wonder Woman on and steeped her in Greek mythology, especially the legend of the amazons. She would be graced with strength, beauty and wisdom. Her dedication to honor, right over wrong and truth would be unparalleled. Marston achieved his goal many times over. Wonder Woman is the symbol for Women’s liberation, rights and an entertaining action queen across media and medium.

Among a select number of super people Wonder has the distinction of being in print of some form and interpretation since her nineteen forties inception. The distinct star pattern short skirt or pants, red strapless top and tiara, accessorized with bracelets and golden lasso have rarely changed over time.  The lasso by the way is used to extract the truth from anyone caught in it’s noose and often in a fetish like way has found Wonder Woman herself restrained in bondage. 

Currently in print the first female of comics is written and illustrated by wife and husband team Meredith and David Finch; another first.  To date six regular issues and an annual created by the Finches show their run promising to be among the amazon’s most memorable.  

The enduring allure of Wonder Woman is a source of pleasure and inspiration for all who admire great tales of hope and adventure. Wonder Woman will remain as long we cherish the ideals of perfection and grace she is.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Jerry Seinfeld's

How does the idea of driving around town with Jerry Seinfeld and one of his celebrity friends sound? You’re in a high end car a Ferrari, a Rolls Royce or say a Classic 57 Chevy Belair. The car could be as simple and unassuming as a VW Beatle or a Ford LTD family station wagon. Now say the town is LA, Vegas or Upper West Side Manhattan. With all this said; the Seinfeld friend is maybe Larry David, Sarah Jessica Parker, Chris Rock or Jim Carrey; at this point would you be interested. But just think it gets better…coffee…the nectar of the gods awaits at the end of the drive. The bill by the way picked up by Jerry; himself.  

Seinfeld’s hit internet show is very much like spending a morning or afternoon with the comedian behind the wheel and sharing jokes, philosophy, ideas and a certain intimacy of the type you would find on a private road trip.  The show is very much a joy to watch and if you’re the type to retell a good joke the show provides a lot of material. The laughs are plentiful but there are also touching stories told as well. Louis C.K. has an amazing reminiscence of a boat trip with his young daughters that is full of surprises, twists and eventually a wonderful tale of awakening and bonding.  

 Jim Carrey is at his insane best as he keeps Jerry in stitches and shows an unexpected creative out let in his surprisingly fascinating and skilled paintings. Jerry’s old friend and colleague George Wallace is equally hilarious as we are privy to his Vegas act and we see a long lasting respect and unmistakable comradery between the two comedians. Sarah Jessica Parker is priceless and very unaffected by her success and fame as she connects to her own unpretentious child hood. The show delivers a welcome tie-in with the theme of cars, family and the passage of time.

Popularity and success are no strangers to Jerry Seinfeld. He has with “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” the perfect marriage of his greatest interests. His talk show on wheels is considered by many the best T.V. show online and he is enjoying every minute of it. Seinfeld is showing a glimpse of life that is like no other Reality Show. There is a real honesty here. We get to tag along for the ride.

Comedians; Cars, Coffee…What’s not to Like???!!!