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Archive for the ‘Arts’ Category

Art news from all over (not including film arts and music arts)

The Elegance of Clattering Machines

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All Work And No Play Makes Jack A Dull Boy
All Work And No Play Makes Jack A Dull Boy

Speaking of nostalgia, will this exhibit trigger a typewriter renaissance like the vinyl record resurgence? I’m ancient enough to have written nearly all of my college papers and other writings  on typewriters; computers were not common tools until my senior year, and I never owned a computer myself until after I moved to Chicago. I took a typing class as a freshman at Travis High School1 so I always felt comfortable with my fingers on a keyboard. As an aside, before Mac OS X, when it was easier to crash your computer by adding system extensions and control panels, I had an INIT that made typing on my Mac sound like the click-clack of a typewriter. At least you knew when you pressed a key…

The labels alone make a racket: Meiselbach, Blickensderfer, Bar-Lock. No wonder the show-namers at the New Britain Museum of American Art call their fabulous little exhibition of antique typewriters “Click! Clack! Ding!”

The nickel-plated Odell No. 2, an 1890s machine made in Chicago, looks like a cross between a meat slicer and a sextant. The Lambert No. 1, a 1902 invention that retains its handsome wooden case, resembles an old-fashioned telephone and is about the same size. Even some of the typewriters featuring keyboards and more familiar designs are not what you would describe as “user-friendly”: Where exactly is the paper supposed to go? Why can’t I see the ribbon?

It turns out that the earliest typewriters were “blindwriters,” like the 1876 Sholes & Glidden No. 1 that is the oldest item in “Click! Clack! Ding!” A large and ornate cousin of the sewing machine, the Sholes & Glidden did not permit the typist to see the surface of the paper, which was imprinted — uppercase only — from below. (The operator could enjoy the golden garlands and rosy blossoms delicately painted on the machine’s black casing, however.) As for the specimens without keyboards, they were the very first portables. Known as “index” typewriters, they work with a pointer-like device that selects a letter and another that presses it into the paper — a perfect machine for the two-finger typist.

These early technologies soon gave way to improvements — uppercase and lowercase in the Smith-Premier No. 1 and the Bar-Lock No. 2; “visible” typing in the Williams No. 4 and the Meiselbach Sholes Visible. “Click! Clack! Ding!” conveys some of the history and significance of the typewriters on view, selected from the nearly 300 owned by a Connecticut collector, Greg Fudacz. There is another Connecticut connection as well: Hartford, the home base for Royal and Underwood, was once called “the typewriter capital of the world.” Other brands came from other towns, including Bridgeport, Derby, Middletown, New Haven and Waterbury.

The 1906 Chicago Model 1 looks less antique than the 1922 Noiseless Portable. And you can’t help wondering what today’s computers would look like if the Odell No. 2, with its circular base and saw-tooth bar of letters, had won out in the turn-of-the-century marketplace for writing machines.

(click here to continue reading A Review of ‘Click! Clack! Ding! The American Typewriter’ at the New Britain Museum of American Art – NYTimes.com.)

Underwood Typewriter
Underwood Typewriter

Dominion Typewriter Co.
Dominion Typewriter Co.

Footnotes:
  1. my only B, possibly preventing me from being valedictorian – I ended up 8th in my class. If I hadn’t gotten that B, perhaps I would have tried a little harder as a Senior. Or not. Being 16 has its own logic. []

Written by Seth Anderson

April 27th, 2014 at 5:40 pm

Posted in Arts,Business

Tagged with , ,

On Boycotting Woody Allen’s Films, Hate the Artist, Love the Art

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9 great movies
9 great movies

For many years I’ve heard many variations of the question answered here by the New York Times Ethicist columnist, Chuck Klosterman; whether moral failings or even alleged moral failings are reason enough to avoid the work of certain offending artists.

I was discussing with a friend whether it is permissible to boycott Woody Allen’s films in the wake of the sexual-abuse allegations. We both thought it would be wrong to further empower someone who may have sexually abused a child. But our legal system is built on the principle that the accused are innocent until proved guilty, and preserving that value is important whether or not you believe the allegations. Is it permissible in this case to boycott, or should we presume innocence? J.K., NEW YORK

When news of Dylan Farrow’s accusation against Allen resurfaced earlier this year, I received many emails that were all different versions of the same question: “Is it acceptable to continue watching (and re-watching) Allen’s films if any part of me believes he may have molested his adopted daughter?” Your query is both similar and different; you’re wondering if it’s O.K. to stop watching his movies, even if he has been convicted of absolutely nothing and insists that he’s innocent.

My answer to both questions is yes.

There are many who find themselves wondering if they can still love “Manhattan” or “Crimes and Misdemeanors” if the allegations against Allen are true. It’s highly unlikely, however, that those same people would wonder if they needed to move out of a house if they discovered the carpenter who built it had been accused of the same offense. This is because of art’s exceptionalism — we view artistic endeavors as different from other works. But it’s this same exceptionalism that allows a person to consume art by people they see (rightly or wrongly) as monstrous: What you know about an artist can inform the experience you have with whatever they create. A film is not just a product that has one utility; it’s a collection of ideas that can be weighed and considered in concert with one another.

Watching a movie is not a tacit endorsement of the person who made it.

(click here to continue reading On Boycotting Woody Allen’s Films – NYTimes.com.)

Johnny Depp and some psychoactive mushrooms
Johnny Depp and some psychoactive mushrooms

Can you separate the artist as an individual from their work? I settled this question long ago, for myself, by agreeing to let myself read and enjoy poetry written by Ezra Pound. Ezra Pound seems like he was a virulent anti-semite, a Nazi-sympathizer, and so on, and yet his poetry is intriguing. Roman Polanski admitted having drugged and screwed a 13 year old girl, and yet “Chinatown” is still a great film, as is “Knife in the Water”. John Lennon might have hit Yoko Ono a few times, does that mean I can never listen to “Working Class Hero” again? What about David Bowie’s Third Reich fixation during the time of the recording of some of his best albums? The list goes on and on: artists who were assholes, thugs, sexual deviants, or even worse, Scientologists! Does it matter if Henry Ford was a Nazi-sympathizer? Would you still drive a Ford car? Like Mr. Klosterman says, would you boycott your house if you discovered one of the carpenters who worked on your kitchen did some vile thing ten years ago? Where does it stop? 

It’s a variant of the old cliché: Hate the Sin, Love the Sinner, in this case, Hate the Artist, Love the Art. Or not, it’s your own choice, and your choice alone to make.  

Written by Seth Anderson

March 15th, 2014 at 11:04 am

Slaves of the Internet, Unite!

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This Way To Prosperity
This Way To Prosperity

If you recall, for a while I blogged the requests I received to use my art without compensation. I’ve been lax in documenting them lately, but make no mistake, not a month doesn’t go by without someone requesting something, sans payment.

Obviously, this is a frequent problem. Tim Kreider begins his rant on the subject thus:

NOT long ago, I received, in a single week, three (3) invitations to write an original piece for publication or give a prepared speech in exchange for no ($0.00) money. As with stinkbugs, it’s not any one instance of this request but their sheer number and relentlessness that make them so tiresome. It also makes composing a polite response a heroic exercise in restraint.

People who would consider it a bizarre breach of conduct to expect anyone to give them a haircut or a can of soda at no cost will ask you, with a straight face and a clear conscience, whether you wouldn’t be willing to write an essay or draw an illustration for them for nothing. They often start by telling you how much they admire your work, although not enough, evidently, to pay one cent for it. “Unfortunately we don’t have the budget to offer compensation to our contributors…” is how the pertinent line usually starts. But just as often, they simply omit any mention of payment.

A familiar figure in one’s 20s is the club owner or event promoter who explains to your band that they won’t be paying you in money, man, because you’re getting paid in the far more valuable currency of exposure. This same figure reappears over the years, like the devil, in different guises — with shorter hair, a better suit — as the editor of a Web site or magazine, dismissing the issue of payment as an irrelevant quibble and impressing upon you how many hits they get per day, how many eyeballs, what great exposure it’ll offer. “Artist Dies of Exposure” goes the rueful joke.

(click here to continue reading Slaves of the Internet, Unite! – NYTimes.com.)

For A Drop of Blood, It Could Be Bought
For A Drop of Blood, It Could Be Bought

Mr. Kreider continues:

I’ve been trying to understand the mentality that leads people who wouldn’t ask a stranger to give them a keychain or a Twizzler to ask me to write them a thousand words for nothing. I have to admit my empathetic imagination is failing me here. I suppose people who aren’t artists assume that being one must be fun since, after all, we do choose to do it despite the fact that no one pays us. They figure we must be flattered to have someone ask us to do our little thing we already do.

I will freely admit that writing beats baling hay or going door-to-door for a living, but it’s still shockingly unenjoyable work. I spent 20 years and wrote thousands of pages learning the trivial craft of putting sentences together. My parents blew tens of thousands of 1980s dollars on tuition at a prestigious institution to train me for this job. They also put my sister the pulmonologist through medical school, and as far as I know nobody ever asks her to perform a quick lobectomy — doesn’t have to be anything fancy, maybe just in her spare time, whatever she can do would be great — because it’ll help get her name out there.

 and then concludes with a more succinct version of the refusal than one I linked to a couple years ago:

Here, for public use, is my very own template for a response to people who offer to let me write something for them for nothing:

Thanks very much for your compliments on my [writing/illustration/whatever thing you do]. I’m flattered by your invitation to [do whatever it is they want you to do for nothing]. But [thing you do] is work, it takes time, it’s how I make my living, and in this economy I can’t afford to do it for free. I’m sorry to decline, but thanks again, sincerely, for your kind words about my work.

Feel free to amend as necessary. This I’m willing to give away.

Written by Seth Anderson

October 27th, 2013 at 4:18 pm

Posted in Arts,Photography

Tagged with , , ,

Photographing In Museums Is Not A Crime, Nor Even a Misdemeanor

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Warhol DRM
Warhol DRM at the MCA

About time museums figured this out

Deborah Solomon writes:

Nonetheless, the vogue for digital photography is a constructive development that, for the most part, enhances our experience of art. First, there is the eye factor. A visitor who photographs van Gogh’s “Starry Night” echoes, however wanly or casually, the basic mission of visual art: to celebrate the act of looking. When you gaze through a lens, you are likely to consider the world more deeply. You frame space and take note of composition, the curve of a line, the play of light and shadow. As the photographer Dorothea Lange noted, “The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.”

As an aid to art education, smartphone cameras are preferable to older devices. Consider Acoustiguides, which offer a blizzard of facts in the place of soulful communication and create a buzzing sound in the galleries that can cause you to wonder, “Am I hearing voices?”

Unlike Acoustiguides, photographs go home with you and offer long-term benefits. For art-history students, iPhone photographs are an earnest reference aid, a crystalline substitute for hard-to-decipher notes.

For everyone else, digital photographs work in much the same way as art postcards did in their heyday a half-century ago when museum gift shops devoted more display space to them. On a recent trip to the Museum of Modern Art, I admired a plastic handbag in the gift shop, peeked at the price — $595, an Issey Miyake! — and ached for the humble Picasso postcards of my childhood.

Astoundingly, there are still a handful of museums that prohibit photography altogether.

 

(click here to continue reading Hey ‘Starry Night,’ Say ‘Cheese!’ – NYTimes.com.)

Violence Inherent in the System
Violence Inherent in the System

Flavin tunnel with Marty Spellerberg
Flavin tunnel with Marty Spellerberg at the MCA

Speaking for myself, I like to take photographs of paintings and other museum pieces occasionally, to study the art at my leisure, or otherwise use the photograph as a memory guide. I try to be respectful of other patrons, and of course, not use flash – which some have plausibly asserted will damage an artwork over time. Some museums are simply unfriendly to photographers however, and treat patrons as criminals or vandals in need of a stern lecture.

Ms. Solomon continues:

Museums have lately begun to rethink loan contracts and to encourage lenders to be less possessive with their artwork. “In the past year we have been making strides to loosen our policy,” Maxwell L. Anderson, the director of the Dallas Museum of Art, noted in an e-mail. “We now routinely attempt to negotiate with all of our lenders to allow photography of their works while on display in the galleries. We have included that express permission in our own loan letters and contracts.” The change, he notes, should put an end to confrontations between guards and visitors. “It is far more important for our gallery attendants to focus on the safety of the works of art and our visitors than to have to constantly admonish our visitors, ‘No photographs!’ ”

As subtle as that point may seem, the new loan arrangements represent a sea change. Or rather a see change. We are at the tipping point where art museums are poised to become copying centers whose every single artwork can be reproduced in digital form a million times every day.

I say hooray. When we photograph, e-mail, tweet and Instagram paintings, we capitalize on technological innovation to expand familiarity with an ancient form. So, too, we increase the visual literacy of this country. Much can be gained. Nothing can be lost. A photograph of a painting can no more destroy a masterpiece than it can create one.

 

Max Ernst - Spanish Physician
Max Ernst – Spanish Physician

Madonna of the Splinter - Vatican Museum, 1993
Madonna of the Splinter – Vatican Museum, 1993

Looking At Lolita (Sue Lyon)
Looking At Lolita (Sue Lyon)

Written by Seth Anderson

September 29th, 2013 at 10:46 am

David Bowie art exhibit coming to the MCA

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Hunky Dory
Hunky Dory

Cool, we’ll have to go to this…

David Bowie is the Thin White Duke, Ziggy Stardust, Major Tom, as well-known for his five decades of music as for his slippery personas. David Bowie begat the shape-shifting of Madonna, who begat Lady Gaga. David Bowie, who earlier this year released his first album since 2003, is also likely not touring any time soon.

But “David Bowie is” … coming to Chicago.

“David Bowie is,” the blockbuster retrospective on the life and influence of the iconoclastic artist — which closes Sunday at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London — will open at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago in September 2014. Right now, the MCA is the only U.S. stop for the exhibit, which travels to Toronto next month and has drawn more than 300,000 visitors to the V&A since it opened there in March.

The show, which features 300 objects culled from the artist’s personal 75,000-piece archive, will include set designs, video installations, music-video storyboards, handwritten lyrics, photos and, of course, decades of his wardrobes — including pieces from designer Alexander McQueen and Bowie’s legendary Ziggy Stardust tour. The show, which unfolds as a kind of biography, aims to place the singer in a larger context, reflecting on Bowie’s own avant garde influences while pointing toward Bowie’s prescient merging of sound and vision.

…Asked if the MCA would try to recruit Bowie — who has lived in New York City for many years, and become increasingly known for his reclusive, elusive, J.D. Salinger-esque existence — to attend the Chicago opening, Darling said: “Of course. Of course. We will do everything we can, but then, I don’t know …”  

(click here to continue reading David Bowie art exhibit coming to the MCA – Chicago Tribune.)

from the MCA website:

David Bowie is presents the first international retrospective of the extraordinary career of David Bowie—one of the most pioneering and influential performers of our time. More than 300 objects, including handwritten lyrics, original costumes, photography, set designs, album artwork, and rare performance material from the past five decades are brought together from the David Bowie Archive for the first time. The exhibition demonstrates how Bowie’s work has both influenced and been influenced by wider movements in art, design, theater, and contemporary culture and focuses on his creative processes, shifting style, and collaborative work with diverse designers in the fields of fashion, sound, graphics, theatre, and film. The exhibition’s multimedia design introduces advanced sound technology, original animations, and video installations to create an immersive journey through the artistic life of one of the most iconic figures of our time, David Bowie. This exhibition was organized by the V&A Museum in London.

(click here to continue reading David Bowie is | Exhibitions | MCA Chicago.)

Written by Seth Anderson

August 7th, 2013 at 7:51 am

Breaking Bad’s Walt Whitman fixation

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Poetry of the night
Poetry of the night

Fun and informative discussion on Breaking Bad and Walt Whitman in the Poetry Foundation’s Poetry Magazine:

Had Walt Whitman, an occasional proponent of Prohibition, lived today, he might have been horrified to discover that he in any way inspired a TV series about a murderous drug lord named Walter White. And stunned (though perhaps pleased) to find his magnum opus employed as the smoking gun leading to the man’s undoing. But after a smattering of Whitman references throughout its four and a half seasons, AMC’s Breaking Bad—which is wrapping up its final chapter beginning August 11—has done just that, drawing an unlikely parallel between the two men who share a monogram (W.W.) and, for all intents and purposes, a name.

So how does Walter White compare to Walt Whitman? And what cynical commentary on our times, on humanity, does series creator Vince Gilligan make with this subversive pairing?

(click here to continue reading Leaves of Glass by Kera Bolonik.)

And for reference…

When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer

When I heard the learn’d astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.

Written by Seth Anderson

August 7th, 2013 at 7:27 am

Walter De Maria, Artist on Grand Scale, Dies at 77

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Walter De Maria's The 2000 Sculpture
Walter De Maria’s The 2000 Sculpture

For some reason, when I saw the above sculpture installation at LACMA, I didn’t remember that Walter De Maria was part of the NYC underground scene that also evolved into The Velvet Underground…

Walter De Maria, a reclusive American sculptor whose multifaceted achievement and sly Dadaist humor helped give rise to earthworks, Conceptual Art and Minimal art, on an often monumental scale, died on Thursday in Los Angeles. He was 77 and lived in New York.

In a career of more than 50 years Mr. De Maria made drawings of all-but-invisible landscapes, gamelike interactive wood sculptures and a record of himself accompanying the sound of crickets on the drums.

Mr. De Maria himself was a sometime percussionist who played in jazz and rock groups in New York in the 1960s, including one that evolved into Lou Reed’s Velvet Underground. Yet as an artist in later years he avoided the limelight, rarely giving interviews or letting himself be photographed.…

In other works Mr. De Maria favored shiny metals and pristine floor-hugging geometric forms that were often repeated in great numbers. 

From 1953 to 1959 he attended the University of California, Berkeley, studying history and painting, the latter under the painter David Park, who was also a musician and had a jazz group in which Mr. De Maria occasionally performed.

During these years Mr. De Maria was part of San Francisco’s developing avant-garde scene, participating in “Happenings” and theatrical performances and turning increasingly to three-dimensional works. His friends included the composer La Monte Young (later to become another Dia beneficiary) and the dancer Simone Forti, whose task-oriented choreography made him interested in interactive sculpture. Mr. De Maria moved to New York in 1960 and immersed himself in the downtown scene. He participated in Happenings with Robert Whitman (who was then married to Ms. Forti) and briefly ran a gallery on Great Jones Street with him, exhibiting Minimalist sculptures made of wood.

The sculptures were often Dadaist in intent. A piece called “Ball Drop” consisted of a tall columnar structure with a small hole at the top and bottom and a small wood ball. The viewer could drop the ball in the top hole and retrieve it from the bottom.

During this time Mr. De Maria performed with jazz musicians, including the trumpeter Don Cherry, and joined a band called the Primitives. It would evolve into the Velvet Underground.

(click here to continue reading Walter De Maria, Artist on Grand Scale, Dies at 77 – NYTimes.com.)

George Contemplating Walter De Maria's The 2000 Sculpture
George Contemplating Walter De Maria’s The 2000 Sculpture

Written by Seth Anderson

July 27th, 2013 at 10:23 am

Posted in Arts,Music

Tagged with , ,

Bill Murray on Del Close

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Party On
Party On – Garrick Theater, home of Second City

In an alternative universe, I would have been an actor, and even better, an improv actor.

Scott Raab interviews Bill Murray for Esquire:

If you keep saying yes, they’ll stop asking you, too. That’s a much more likely event. I think we’re all sort of imprisoned by — or at least bound to — the choices we make, and I think everyone in the acting business wants to make the right choices. You want to say no at the right time and you want to say yes more sparingly. I came out of the old Second City in Chicago. Chicago actors are more hard-nosed. They’re tough on themselves and their fellow actors. They’re self-demanding. Saying no was very important. Integrity is probably too grand a word, but if you’re not the voice of Mr. Kool-Aid, then you’re still free. You’re not roped in.

Scott Raab: Your Second City teacher/mentor Del Close is a guy I’ve never read enough about. What was it that made him so influential?

Bill Murray: Well, he was a guy who had great knowledge of the craft of improvisation. And he lived life in a very rich manner, to excess sometimes. He had a whole lot of brain stuck inside of his skull. Beyond being gifted, he really engaged in life. He earned a lot. He made more of himself than he was given. Came out of Manhattan, Kansas, and ended up hanging out with the Beats. He was incredibly gracious to your talent and always tried to further it. He got people to perform beyond their expectations. He really believed that anyone could do it if they were present and showed respect. There was a whole lot of respect.

SR: Sounds like a great teacher.

BM: He taught lots and lots of people very effectively. He taught people to commit. Like: “Don’t walk out there with one hand in your pocket unless there’s somethin’ in there you’re going to bring out.” You gotta commit. You’ve gotta go out there and improvise and you’ve gotta be completely unafraid to die. You’ve got to be able to take a chance to die. And you have to die lots. You have to die all the time. You’re goin’ out there with just a whisper of an idea. The fear will make you clench up. That’s the fear of dying. When you start and the first few lines don’t grab and people are going like, “What’s this? I’m not laughing and I’m not interested,” then you just put your arms out like this and open way up and that allows your stuff to go out. Otherwise it’s just stuck inside you.

SR: Respect. I think that’s also a Chicago thing: Friendship is no substitute for gettin’ the job done.

BM: When I work, my first relationship with people is professional. There are people who want to be your friend right away. I say, “We’re not gonna be friends until we get this done. If we don’t get this done, we’re never going to be friends, because if we don’t get the job done, then the one thing we did together that we had to do together we failed.” People confuse friendship and relaxation. It’s incredibly important to be relaxed — you don’t have a chance if you’re not relaxed. So I try very hard to relax any kind of tension. But friendship is different. I read a great essay: Thoreau on friendship. I was staying over at my friend’s house and there it was on the bedside table, and I’m reading it and I’m thinking it’s an essay, so it’s gonna be like four pages. Well, it goes on and on and on and on — Thoreau was a guy who lived alone, so he just had to get it all out, you know? He just keeps saying, “You have to love what is best in that other person and only what’s best in that other person. That’s what you have to love” —

(click here to continue reading Bill Murray Interview – Bill Murray on Wes Anderson, Moonrise Kingdom – Esquire.)

Oh, and I’m stealing this phrase for sure:

SR: “Everything happens for a reason.”

BM: That drives me nuts. I want to give them five on rye when I hear that. “Everything happens for a reason.”

SR: Five on rye?

BM: Five on rye.

SR: A knuckle sandwich.

Written by Seth Anderson

May 23rd, 2012 at 8:57 am

Posted in Arts

Tagged with ,

Exhibition of invisible art

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Homage to Robert Rauschenberg Redux
Homage to Robert Rauschenberg Redux

 

  Inevitable jokes aside, this sounds interesting. I’d go if I could.

London’s Hayward Gallery will gather together 50 ”invisible” works by leading figures such as Andy Warhol, Yves Klein and Yoko Ono for its display of works you cannot actually see. It is thought to be the first such exhibition staged at a major institution in the UK. Gallery bosses say the £8 a head exhibition demonstrates how art is about ”firing the imagination”, rather than simply viewing objects.

Invisible: Art about the Unseen 1957 – 2012 opens on June 12 and includes an empty plinth, a canvas of invisible ink and an unseen labyrinth. It includes work and documents from French artist Klein who pioneered invisible works in the late 1950s with his concept of the ”architecture of air”.

Also in the exhibition will be Warhol’s work Invisible Sculpture – dating from 1985 – which consists of an empty plinth, on which he had once briefly stepped, one of many explorations of the nature of celebrity.

(click here to continue reading Empty plinth and blank piece of paper to feature in exhibition of invisible art – Telegraph.)

John Cage 4 33
John Cage 4’33”.PNG

I assume someone will play John Cage’s famous piece, 4’33″

4′33″ (pronounced “Four minutes, thirty-three seconds”) is a three-movement composition by American experimental composer John Cage (1912–1992). It was composed in 1952 for any instrument (or combination of instruments), and the score instructs the performer not to play the instrument during the entire duration of the piece throughout the three movements (which, for the first performance, were divided into thirty seconds for the first, two minutes and twenty-three seconds for the second, and one minute and forty seconds for the third). The piece purports to consist of the sounds of the environment that the listeners hear while it is performed, although it is commonly perceived as “four minutes thirty-three seconds of silence”

or some of his precursors:

Cage was not the first composer to conceive of a piece consisting solely of silence. Precedents and prior examples include:

  • Alphonse Allais’s 1897 Funeral March for the Obsequies of a Deaf Man, consisting of nine blank measures. Allais’s composition is arguably closer in spirit to Cage’s work; Allais was an associate of Erik Satie, and given Cage’s profound admiration for Satie, the possibility that Cage was inspired by the Funeral March is tempting. However, according to Cage himself, he was unaware of Allais’s composition at the time (though he had heard of a nineteenth century book that was completely blank). 
  • Erwin Schulhoff’s 1919 “In futurum”, a movement from the Fünf Pittoresken for piano. The Czech composer’s meticulously notated composition is made up entirely of rests. 
  • In Harold Acton’s 1928 book Cornelium a musician conducts “performances consisting largely of silence”. 
  • Yves Klein’s 1949 Monotone-Silence Symphony (informally The Monotone Symphony, conceived 1947–1948), an orchestral forty minute piece whose second and last movement is a twenty minute silence (the first movement being an unvarying twenty minute drone).

Written by Seth Anderson

May 23rd, 2012 at 8:14 am

Posted in Arts

Tagged with ,

American Visa Rules Frustrate Foreign Performers

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Fela - Oriental Theatre
Fela – Oriental Theatre

We are deprived of culture because of the morons in Washington, and their intricate, bureaucratic ballet supporting terrorism theatre. Many artists don’t even bother trying to come here anymore, it’s too costly, and too much of a hassle.

In the decade since the attacks on the twin towers, American visa procedures for foreign artists and performers have grown increasingly labyrinthine, expensive and arbitrary, arts presenters and immigration lawyers say, making the system a serious impediment to cultural exchanges with the rest of the world.

Some foreign performers and ensembles, like the Hallé orchestra from Britain, have decided that it is no longer worth their while to play in the United States. Others have been turned down flat, including a pair of bands invited to perform at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Tex., last month, or have ended up canceling performances because of processing delays, as was the case last month with the Tantehorse theater troupe from the Czech Republic, which was booked to perform in suburban Washington.

Overall, according to Homeland Security Department records, requests for the standard foreign performer’s visa declined by almost 25 percent between 2006 and 2010, the most recent fiscal year for which statistics are available. During the same period the number of these visa petitions rejected, though small in absolute numbers, rose by more than two-thirds.

“Everything is much more difficult,” said Palma R. Yanni, a former president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association who also handles artists’ visas. “I didn’t think it could get worse than it was after 9/11, but the last couple of years have been terrible. It just seems like you have to fight for everything across the board, even for artists of renown. The standards have not changed, but the agency just keeps narrowing the criteria, raising the bar without notice or comment, reinterpreting things and just making everything more restrictive. We call it the culture of no.”

(click here to continue reading U.S. Visa Rules Frustrate Foreign Performers – NYTimes.com.)

Chicago At Large
Chicago At Large

It isn’t a new problem:

For example, earlier this year [2010] the agency held up three applications for visiting musicians with the Chicago Opera Theater, requesting an unusual amount of evidence to corroborate the visa requirement that the artists have achieved sufficient renown. The company eventually went over its budget to hire an immigration lawyer, who got two of the musicians into the country at the 11th hour; the third had to be replaced, said Roger Weitz, the company’s general manager.

Many arts groups say that under Mr. Mayorkas, a Cuban immigrant who was sworn in last August, their sometimes frosty relationship with Citizenship and Immigration Services has begun to thaw. Agency officials met with arts groups in April, and have recently begun soliciting comments about egregious experiences with the visa process.

Although the agency’s policies have not changed, some have been clarified for the benefit of visa applicants, and Mr. Mayorkas insisted that the commitment is genuine.

“When I make a commitment,” he said, “it is a benchmark that I am setting for our agency upon which the public should be able to rely.”

Artist representatives say that more work needs to be done to streamline the process. “This is a great start but not where we would like to see things end up,” said Tom Windish, a booking agent for independent rock bands.

And for fans, the bad news about cancellations is not likely to end anytime soon. On Thursday, for example, the reunited British ska band the Specials canceled its appearance next month at Central Park SummerStage. The reason: “visa issues.”

(click here to continue reading U.S. Seeks to Reassure Arts Groups About Visas – NYTimes.com.)

Street Musician circa 1996
Street Musician circa 1996

Even international icon Ibrahim Ferrer was denied travel to the US to accept accolades from the Grammys, a travesty especially since Mr. Ferrer died soon after…

2004, HAVANA – The United States refused to grant visas to world-renowned Cuban musicians who were invited to Sunday’s Grammy music awards, Cuban officials said.

Cuban singer Ibrahim Ferrer of the Buena Vista Social Club, seen here in 2003, was denied a visa by the US authorities. (AFP/DDP/File) Ibrahim Ferrer, the 76-year-old singer from the Grammy-nominated Buena Vista Social Club, was dumbfounded to learn that, according to the Cuban Music Institute, the United States invoked a law that applies to terrorists, drug dealers and dangerous criminals to deny him a visa.

“I don’t understand because I don’t feel I’m a terrorist. I am not, I can’t be,” he said at a news conference.

Ferrer has won three Grammys in recent years and has traveled to the United States in the past.

The other celebrated musicians who were denied visas were guitarist Manuel Galvan, pianist Guillermo Rubalcaba, percussionist Amadito Valdes, lute player Barbarito Torres and singer Eugenio Rodriguez.

(click here to continue reading US Denies Travel Visas to Grammy-Nominated Cuban Musicians.)

The pavement was alive with the sound of music
The pavement was alive with the sound of music

There really is no excuse the US Government can make, other than an increase in jingoism…

The Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles had to cancel scheduled performances last year of an Argentine music group because California immigration officials challenged whether its fusion of Jewish klezmer music and tango met the requirement to be “culturally unique.”

In other cases, California officials also challenged visa petitions in the last year that aimed to bring in an Indian group to perform at a California festival honoring the Hindu goddess Durga, a Chicago opera company seeking to bring in a Spanish singer and an African musical group.

“In the past year and a half, what we’ve seen is petitions that previously and typically were approved are being denied,” said Heather Noonan of the League of American Orchestras. “It impacts the whole range of arts disciplines. The cumulative effect makes the process of engaging international talent very challenging.”

Slow processing times had been a major concern. Chad Smith, the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s vice president of artistic planning, said the delays began after the 9/11 terrorist attacks but had worsened in recent years, forcing his organization to pay an extra $1,000 per case for expedited visa processing.

“The need for premium processing greatly impacted our bottom line,” he said.

Immigration experts also questioned whether California officials were sufficiently trained to competently evaluate their visa petitions.

Barnett, for instance, said immigration officials have challenged visa petitions from his world-renowned organization by asking for proof that Scripps is an educational nonprofit organization.

“Twenty seconds on the Internet could have shown you that,” Barnett said. “Is this just ignorance?”

Immigration attorneys have also complained that they have been repeatedly asked to provide evidence to meet standards that are not required by law.

For example, California officials asked for proof that an Indian dance group had been together for at least a year and that an African musical group would perform only at “culturally unique” venues that did not include its scheduled appearances at universities, said Andi Floyd, a legal assistant who worked on the petitions for Virginia immigration attorney Jonathan Ginsburg. Attorneys had to point out that neither requirement was in the visa law; officials eventually approved the African petition but have not yet acted on the Indian one, Floyd said.

 

(click here to continue reading Immigration agency working to fix visa denials to artists, others – Los Angeles Times.)

Written by Seth Anderson

April 12th, 2012 at 8:52 am

Francis Ford Coppola: Artists Might Not Get Paid In the Future

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DaVinci Wine (or Whine, depending)
DaVinci Wine

Francis Ford Coppola is simply repeating what he has said before, Francis Ford Coppola Sees the Future For Artists, and Francis Ford Coppola Finances His Movie With Wine because it seems like the truth. Mick Jagger and David Bryne concur, btw: Mick Jagger and Internet Piracy and Death of the Music Industry, Rolling Stones Edition

How does an aspiring artist bridge the gap between distribution and commerce? We have to be very clever about those things. You have to remember that it’s only a few hundred years, if that much, that artists are working with money. Artists never got money. Artists had a patron, either the leader of the state or the duke of Weimar or somewhere, or the church, the pope. Or they had another job. I have another job. I make films. No one tells me what to do. But I make the money in the wine industry. You work another job and get up at five in the morning and write your script.

This idea of Metallica or some rock n’ roll singer being rich, that’s not necessarily going to happen anymore. Because, as we enter into a new age, maybe art will be free. Maybe the students are right. They should be able to download music and movies. I’m going to be shot for saying this. But who said art has to cost money? And therefore, who says artists have to make money?

In the old days, 200 years ago, if you were a composer, the only way you could make money was to travel with the orchestra and be the conductor, because then you’d be paid as a musician. There was no recording. There were no record royalties. So I would say, “Try to disconnect the idea of cinema with the idea of making a living and money.” Because there are ways around it.

(click here to continue reading Francis Ford Coppola: On Risk, Money, Craft & Collaboration :: Articles :: The 99 Percent.)

 

Written by Seth Anderson

April 4th, 2012 at 9:31 am

Posted in Arts,Business,Film,Music

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Virginia Woolf Visits the Daily Mail

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Creative Review - Wardour Street
Creative Review – Wardour Street

Virginia Woolf may have had a delicate appearance, but she was stronger than she looked.

The New Yorker recalls:

as Evelyn Irons recalled in an essay published in our pages in 1963, three members of the Bloomsbury Group requested a tour of the Daily Mail’s printing presses in 1932. “Look here, Virginia wants to see your paper being printed,” Vita Sackville-West had told Irons at the time. “Do you think you could arrange it?”

Irons, who later became a war correspondent and was the first woman journalist to reach Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest, was then the editor of the Mail’s women’s page. (She would later be fired for “looking unfashionable.”) In that capacity, she had, the previous year, interviewed Sackville-West and the two women had begun an affair. According to Victoria Glendinning’s biography of Sackville-West, Irons was the subject of a number of Sackville-West’s 1931 love poems. “It seemed very odd to me that Virginia Woolf should want to see the mass-circulation Daily Mail being put to bed, but it could be arranged, and easily,” wrote Irons.

At nine o’clock one night the following week, Sackville-West, Woolf, and Woolf’s husband, Leonard, arrived at the Mail’s offices for their tour. “The whole evening had an unreal quality,” Irons recalled, and continued:

There they were, perched around the room like unfamiliar night birds: Vita Sackville-West, tall, intensely handsome, wearing her usual long, dangling earrings and smoking through a paper cigarette holder; Leonard Woolf, a dark, brooding man with aggressive eyebrows; and Virginia Woolf, recalling the moon in the daytime sky—ethereal, bone-pale, the eyes set deep in the skull. She was fifty, but age had nothing to do with her appearance; she must have looked like that forever. You might as well show those clattering presses to a ghost, I thought.

However, her guests were not there to hear anecdotes. Despite her ethereal appearance, Virginia Woolf had more than a passing interest in the working of the newspaper’s presses. To Irons’s surprise, Woolf engaged in lengthy and detailed discussions with the printers, handling their tools and often shouting to be heard over the noise of the presses. At one point Woolf even displayed her ability to read set type upside down. “We don’t often get ladies coming in from outside who can do that,” said one of the printers. The experience changed Irons’s view of Woolf:

There seemed to be little that was wan or mothlike, delicate or remote, about her now. Her long, slender fingers were smudged with black ink, and her behavior was that of a mechanically minded man.

(click here to continue reading Back Issues: Virginia Woolf Visits the Daily Mail : The New Yorker.)

 

Written by Seth Anderson

March 29th, 2012 at 9:52 am

Posted in Arts

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Emanuel is a locavore when it comes to the artwork his City Hall office

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Take Your Stand
Take Your Stand

I realize this is PR, but still is smart, and a welcome change from the Daley old school style

A few months after his May inauguration, Emanuel said, he decided that he would work out of the mayor’s so-called ceremonial office — and not the relatively plain office in the back that he has turned into “kids study hall” for his children after school — and he would make it a showcase for Chicago art and furniture. He said he especially liked the idea of promoting Chicago artists, given the dignitaries who pass through his doors regularly, including foreign leaders such as President Lee Myung-bak of South Korea, China Investment Corp. Chairman Lou Jiwei and various ambassadors and mayors.

So Emanuel talked to the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and local furniture designers about contributing works, and now the room boasts a series of conversation pieces that reflect the city.

“The goal was, A, we could showcase things about Chicago that people don’t expect, and, B, it had to be free,” he said. “People had to donate them.”

The School of the Art Institute also provided students’ photos that line the small hallway through which office visitors pass: color portraits of workers at the Palmer House Hilton across from evocative black-and-white shots of the hotel’s spaces.

“I thought these were a stunning capture of Chicago,” Emanuel said.

The mayor went with more established (and no longer living) Chicago artists for the office walls. From the Art Institute, Emanuel selected Seymour Rosofsky’s late-’50s oil painting “Unemployment Agency,” a grim, striking work that hangs on the wall behind his desk, and from the MCA’s collection came Miyoko Ito’s relatively bright “Chiffonier” (1971) and Leon Golub’s foreboding “Head II” (1959).

“I have a particular love for Golub,” Emanuel said, noting that he is displaying only works that the museums had in storage. “I didn’t take anything off the wall in any of the museums. I’m not going to do that.”

“We just think it’s super-cool that he wants real art in his office and he wanted to talk to us about borrowing pieces from our collection,” MCA chief curator Michael Darling said. “It’s sort of a win-win, from our side of things.”

He added that he was intrigued by what the mayor chose to display.

“Especially the Leon Golub piece is one that I’d say is still an edgy piece, and also from one of the leading historical artists of Chicago,” Darling said. “So it sends a message about the legacy of art in Chicago, but it’s also not just a pretty picture. … That just shows how progressive and open-minded he is and culturally oriented he is, the fact that he’s picking contemporary artists from Chicago as opposed to any kind of bland landscapes or old-fashioned portraits.”

 

(click here to continue reading Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is a locavore when it comes to the artwork hanging in his City Hall office – chicagotribune.com.)

In fact, I wonder who curates these things: maybe there is something I could donate…

Written by Seth Anderson

December 7th, 2011 at 8:49 am

Posted in Arts,Chicago-esque

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Jewels of Olmsted’s Unspoiled Midwest – Jackson Park

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Lagoon in jackson park with bird
Lagoon in jackson park with bird

Coincidentally, we are planning on visiting this park on Labor Day…

FEW people can claim to know America as deeply as Frederick Law Olmsted did. During a long, full and peripatetic life (1822-1903), he crisscrossed the country by rail, stagecoach, horseback and on foot. “I was born for a traveler,” he once said.

Ever the reformer, he was also drawn to the notion that landscape architecture could serve various social engineering purposes, providing respite from teeming cities, say, or forcing people of varied backgrounds to mix and mingle. He once described his park work as a “democratic development of the highest significance.”

Here, then, is a look at some of his work in the Midwest — lesser-known than his most famous projects, but still life-changing for millions of Americans.

Jackson Park, Chicago

Recognizing that the pomp of the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago had the potential to overwhelm visitors, Olmsted1 was intent on creating a landscape that would act as a soothing naturalistic counterpoint. First, he selected the fair’s site, singling out a parcel on the city’s South Side. Years earlier, Olmsted and Calvert Vaux — his collaborator on early works like Central Park — had designed a park for this very spot, but little of their plan had been executed.

Working solo, Olmsted set out to complete the park, which was by then chosen for fairgrounds. He created an intricate network of lagoons, so that visitors could travel through the fair on small boats. He also repurposed muck that was dredged to create the lagoons in order to bulk up a lonely little hillock into the 16-acre Wooded Island, which he planted with hemlock and other trees.

During the fair, Teddy Roosevelt thought it was the ideal spot to set up his Boone and Crockett hunting club, but Olmsted said no to the future president and other exhibitors who wanted a piece of his island. He intended it, he wrote in a letter, as “a place of relief from all the splendor and glory and noise and human multitudinousness of the great surrounding Babylon.”

The famous White City — a collection of neo-Classical buildings lined with electric lights, a dazzling new invention at the time — is mostly long gone. But Olmsted’s fairgrounds, now known as Jackson Park, remain. Within its 600 acres, you can still find stretches of the original lagoons. The Wooded Island is still there, too, and it’s my favorite part of the park: an oasis of calm smack in the center of hectic Chicago.

 

(click here to continue reading Jewels of Olmsted’s Unspoiled Midwest – NYTimes.com.)

Footnotes:
  1. Frederick Law Olmsted’s Wikipedia entry []

Written by Seth Anderson

September 3rd, 2011 at 2:25 pm

Posted in Arts,Chicago-esque

Tagged with

Restricted Area Below

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Possibly broke my blog, we’ll see.
Restricted-Area.jpg

Written by Seth Anderson

August 25th, 2011 at 6:01 pm

Posted in Arts,Blogtopia