Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Sir Alfred's Notorious Notations

It all began with one word; one simple word spoken softly to her baby boy; Alfred: BOO. Putting this into a certain perspective it makes perfect sense. The young startled child becomes the unchallenged “Master of Suspense” and the architect of many scares and thrills tempered with an arcane joy and sly humor. If you had only known; Mother Hitchcock; if you had only known.

The films; the films, the films…were Alfred Hitchcock’s greatest achievements. Many of his offerings being among the best ever…all worth seeing. This cinematic maestro directed and produced wonderfully entertaing and textbook examples of excellence. Dial “M” for Murder, Psycho, North by North West, Rear Window, Rebecca and on and on. His work dates back to the “Silent Era” and well into “The Talkies” "Vistavision" and "Technicolor." His influence is immeasurable and continues to this present day. His editing and visual story-telling skills are original and at best imitated and adapted by the many.  To a degree every director to follow him that includes any suspense or mystery pays tribute to Sir Alfred.

As edited into individual scenes many stand out as extravagant and compelling unto themselves. Including a few examples; the crop-dusting plane’s pursuit of Cary Grant in North by North West, the carnival carousel run amok  in Strangers on a Train and possible his “Hallmark” achievement the much admired and studied shower scene starring Janet Leigh in Psycho.

Growing up my generation had the pleasure of watching the original airings of the T.V. series “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” episodes were written by great story-tellers including the likes of Roald Dahl and Ray Bradbury. A high light of the show was Hitchcock walking his silhouette into his own line drawing caricature. This to the tune of Charles Gounod’s “Funeral March of a Marionette.” He had a brief interesting; abundantly clever intro and closing tailored for each broadcast that were often the best part of the black and white television shorts. After seven television seasons and eighty two feature film Hitchcock is truly the bench mark.     

Classic Promo for "The Birds"

Returning briefly to Alfred’s formative years; he was indeed blessed with two loving parents and I dare not leave out his father. He had his own unique contributions and places within the director’s psyche. Alfred Hitchcock related this story on occasion that goes something like this:  In response to some “minor” indiscretion young Alfred’s father hands him a folded note and instructed him to take it to the police station a few blocks from his home. Five year old Alfred dutifully walks to the station, enters and hands the desk officer the note. 

  The officer reads the note, shows no discernable emotional, pauses and then,  without words or ceremony takes Alfred into the back to an empty cell, places the child inside and closes the door with the finality and resonate cold, clanging thud that only an iron bared door can make. This followed with the disheartening turning of the key and the walking away of the officer again emotionless and wordless. After a brief period the officer returns to release Alfred sending him on his way, forever changed, forever fearful and full of an imaginative respect of the possibabality of future incarceration.                                                      

“The Birds” was the first Hitchcock film I was prividgled to see and it was showing at the local theater. The nation was talking about this amazing film so my friends and I had great anticipation as we walked to the theatre. This was the most recent “Hitchcock” release, the year was 1963. I was 10…just slightly younger than one of the film’s stars; Veronica Cartwright. This gave us a unique window into the happenings onscreen. We all were delightfully and sufficiently scared, thrilled, baffled and compelled to see it at least four more times during this initial release. They say the first love is the greatest and The Birds remains among my favored film treasures and memories.

Hitchcock Quotes

Man does not live by murder alone. He needs affection, approval, encouragement and, occasionally, a hearty meal.

Always make the audience suffer as much as possible

There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it.

The length of a film should be directly related to the endurance of the human bladder.

Film your murders like love scenes, and film your love scenes like murders.

Mystery is an intellectual process... But suspense is essentially an emotional process.

Give them pleasure - the same pleasure they have when they wake up from a nightmare.

The silent pictures were the purest form of cinema

Fear isn't so difficult to understand. After all, weren't we all frightened as children? Nothing has changed since Little Red Riding Hood faced the big bad wolf. What frightens us today is exactly the same sort of thing that frightened us yesterday. It's just a different wolf. This fright complex is rooted in every individual.

I have a feeling that inside you; somewhere, there's somebody nobody knows about, feelings, nobody knows

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Eyvind Earle a Fraternity of One

The extraordinary Eyvind Earle lived “The Artist’s Life” to its truest perfection and fulfillment. He was born to two creative nurturing parents. His mother a classical pianist and his father a painter that studied with some of the most respected artists of his time (most notably the champion Bouguereau.) It is not to say that Earle did not have set backs. As a child polio caused a life-long deformation of his mouth making it difficult for him to smile. But in spite of his affliction he became perhaps more focused and remained true to his calling in a most ambitious and dedicated way. In turn he would bring countless unconditional smiles to the many within the span of his creative journey through life.

He studied continually as he practiced his craft while traveling across country on his bicycle looking for subjects and inspiration. Earle also had the desire to make money from his work and was able to do so first with greeting cards and later to a far greater extent as a background painter for several Hollywood studios including United Artists and Disney. He was featured as the sole credited background artist for Disney’s Sleeping Beauty (something no other artist of yet has achieved.) The Sleeping Beauty paintings distinctive look of detailed verticality was influenced largely from medieval paintings and tapestries. He also contributed to “Lady and the Tramp,” “The Legend of Paul Bunyan,” and others. Earle would go on to opening his own production company where he garnished a number of commercial clients; Chrysler, Kellogg, Marlboro and he even created one of Universal Studios most intriguing animated logos. 

Eyvind Earle was always able to attract attention as a commercial artist. He returned to greeting cards several times over both on his on and for hire. There are collections devoted exclusively to his greeting cards. It would be within the refinement of fine art that Earle would find his greatest achievements. He would eventually come to work exclusively as a fine artist. He had realized early on that he had the ability to sell his marvelous paintings. This he used to great advantage. As his clientele’s scope grew and the polished works of his imagination became that of a world class nature; he prospered. Earle became a man and artist of tremendous success. He was particularly admired in Japan and the Asian influence along with a personal aesthetic and sensibility were actually very Japanese. It is much evident in his late work. Earle and Hiroshige surrogate brothers in craft and spirit. 

The works of Eyvind Earl are among a select group of artists that lead the viewer to a deeper, richer view of the world, life and the self. There is clarity within his art that transcends the physical. When viewing and experiencing Earle’s work there is a true feeling of the elevation of the spirit, of the heart. There is the union of both vision and mind coming together in a way truly unique, a Zen most sublime.  



Friday, September 1, 2017

Michelangelo Buonarotti Studies & Drawings

The works remain and will be revered as long as men and women revere and adore the works of the human hand, the works of the human heart and soul.  His are without question among the most treasured in history; arguable the greatest, the most sublime. The mortal Michelangelo Buonarroti has gained immortality through the realization of his prodigious talents. They are so much desirably so grand.

There is a strength tempered with nuance and subtlety in the works of Michelangelo that is unique in a way that at best can only be instructional and imitated. His work is to be returned to many times over the course of our own lifetimes as reference and a source of inspirational joy.

Michelangelo; first as sculptor, painter, poet, architect and planner was gifted beyond imagination and his physical strength mythical in power. The Sistine Ceiling (unsurpassed in scale and ambition) Moses and the Pieta all exhibit his might, control and then restraint tempered with care. 

The drawings and studies of Michelangelo beautiful and compelling as any finished work of art by any hand are chosen here for your pleasure. They are testaments to God, love and the spirit endowed. I hope your spirit will be filled and replenished as you view them, as is yours to decide.


Michelangelo Quotes

 “Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.”

 “From such a gentle thing, from such a fountain of all delight, my every pain is born.”

“I am a poor man and of little worth, who is laboring in that art that God has given me in order to extend my life as long as possible.”

“I hope that I may always desire more than I can accomplish.”

”If we have been pleased with life, we should not be displeased with death, since it comes from the hand of the same master.”

Saturday, August 19, 2017

The ReBirth of a Nation???

This is “The Age of Donald Trump.” This era of political and social unrest, of chaos and violent death; he owns. It is his. We try to look to him for healing and thoughtful resolve…we will not find it…it does not reside within the man or within his words.

The events last weekend in Charlottesville Va. happening figuratively in my own back yard. I live in Va. not really so far from that town. As every thinking and caring person by this times knows; it was a horrific two days that culminated in the death of a caring and dedicated young woman; Heather Heyer. People of good faith around the world mourn her death along with two state troopers that lost their lives. These men merely doing their jobs (to protect and to serve.) It is Heather’s death that will have the most lasting impact. Her mother has vowed to not let her daughter’s death be in vain. She will take up the mantle, the fight against oppression and hate. In that she will vindicate Heather’s life and goals. We must support this as we support our better selves.

In anger and zealous rage an insane man rammed his car into a group of counter-protesters to his rallying of white supremacy. His cowardly act resulting at best, in illuminating the danger of the condoning and coddling of his kind of ignorance and vitriol. And in answer to all of this what do we learn of President Donald John Trump? He will not denounce his own.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Dali on Religion & Faith as Expressed in Art

Crucifixion (Corpus Hypercubist)
The Basket of Bread
He spent his life as a radical, disruptive, innovative and brilliantly extravagant artist. His life style was equal parts showman and creative genius. Many thought him mad but he was crazy in the best of ways; “like the proverbial fox.” You might think that such a man in death would be quietly at peace…not the surrealist master; Dali! His body was exhumed just this past Thursday (his famous mustache remaining gloriously intact.) It seems a sixty plus year old woman believes she is Dali’s child. She is looking to be compensated; hoping to find a DNA match. The Great Salvador Dali continues to stir up the world, even in death he rises.

Pardon me for changing gears to a point; but my original intention for this blog was to make note of the of the man’s religiosity as expressed in his art, particularly in his paintings. He excelled in his efforts like no other of his generation. There were others including Marc Chagall, Emil Nolde and Stanly Spencer that painted Christian themes among their works, yet Dali achieved a power that remains unmatched. 

The Dream of Christopher Columbus
His painting’s subjects and themes include The Crucifixion of Christ; The Holy Virgin, The Madonna and Child, The Last Supper and even the religious zeal of Christopher Columbus. Dali’s work “Basket of Bread” was considered in his mind to be his most surrealistic endeavor. It spoke to the Eucharistic as expressed in The Holy Communion. Life as journey is allegorically viewed in his painting “Phantom Chariot” the message is akin to John Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress.”  Again; his crucifixions were literal and technical interpretations of the event of Jesus’ death and subsequent resurrection. These works; as masterful and as great as any from time immemorial.

Phantom Chariot

The Old Testament’s Book of Ecclesiastes 3 talks about the importance of time as it unfolds within the span of our human life and physical existence. It states there is a time and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

Melting Clock
 Dali first addressed the passage of time in one of his highly referenced and signature works “The Persistence of Memory.” Among the most striking elements of the piece is the inclusion of the melting, lilting clocks and watches. These can likely be viewed as an interpretation of the temporal, declining nature of life. When asked about their meaning Dali replied “…the soft watches were inspired by the surrealist perception of a Camembert (cheese) melting in the sun. Life is as much as anything a series and process of gradual and eventual decay and finality. Dali would return to images of “melting clocks” on numerous occasions as surreal expressions along with other multiple symbolic imagery. 

Christ of St. John of the Cross
Salvador Dali continues to amaze and inform as we discover freshness to his life and works. We await his latest verdict as we applaud his grand visionary performances. The Magnificent Dali; the Eternal Dali, the Servant Dali.  

Salvador Dali Quotes

“Have no fear of perfection - you'll never reach it.” 

“A true artist is not one who is inspired, but one who inspires others.” 

“Surrealism is destructive, but it destroys only what it considers to be shackles limiting our vision.” 

“Every morning when I wake up, I experience an exquisite joy —the joy of being Salvador Dalí— and I ask myself in rapture: What wonderful things is this Salvador Dalí going to accomplish today?” 

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Donald Trump N.S.S.B.

His complaints, animosity, lying and rude vulgarity began in the presidential campaign and went into full blown anarchy on inauguration day. The size of his crowd as compared to that of President Obama’s became an issue. The popular vote loss as compared to Hillary Clinton’s numbers he raised as yet another question. The rounding out for day one was and remains; press coverage. This United States President would lead one to believe he hates the press, that it is unfair and false; but to the contrary he consumes the news (limited to television coverage) with an unbridled passion. Donald Trump is a "dangerous mind," a threat to himself and humanity and very much a ticking time bomb of a man. 

After reaching his one hundred day mark he had no real accomplishment. He had gotten his Supreme Court nominee appointed; but it took a major change in the decades old rule of a clear bi-partisan majority. He also won some favor for the bombing of Syria. There has been no follow up are any coherent plan of action or policy on the Syrian Civil War. By the same token his Muslim Travel Ban remains blocked and he is to date unable to replace and repeal affordable health care. He has multiple appointments yet to be made and his people remain under investigation for collusion with the Russians. Trump lives in the White alone and tweeting in the early morning hours. His weekends are lavish retreats to his ritzy Palm Beach, Florida digs. He spends his time golfing and gorging alone without his wife and young son.

Who gets it next???
Donald Trump having just returned from his first trip abroad; a venture very mixed in tone and accomplishment. He made an arms deal with the Totalitarian Saudi Monarchy. They sang each other’s praises and danced to world repressive and dominance.  He went on to bullying, insulting, boasting and mis-representing almost every protocol and diplomatic standard in the remainder of his trip. The European allies were little impressed with the man, especially Germany and France. This whiles his son-in-law; Jared Kushner becomes part of the Russian query, North Korea defiantly steps up their long range missile testing and his communications director’s sudden resignation. Trumps latest and biggest blast is his decision to drop out of the Paris Climate Accord. This is an incredibly bad move for the USA and the world at large. He may not recover as he has continually spiraled downward from his administration’s outset.

Mr. Trump; those in the Russian Government are not your or our friends (they are laughing at your ineptitude.) The press is not your enemy (it is the corner stone of and essential in a free republic.) With your tweets you are hurting yourself (Twitter is a form of social media not intended as a means of governing.)  Listen to Ivanka; you say she wants you to be a better person/leader. Mr. Trump; by every measure, you are failing miserably. Don’t make The United States a “Loser Nation” following the paths you consistently and irrationally seem compelled to take.