Friday, June 28, 2013

What's Making Me Happy This Week? --Month?

Pierre Bonnard's Nude in the Bath and Small Dog
 As much as I love summer and its adventures, I'm mourning the lack of time spent in my studio.  On the other hand, I have had time to absorb some literature and other cultural phenoms.  All of which is milling around my brain like a stew, bound to spill onto my canvas somehow.  So, in the tradition of a podcast which I follow, I'd like to share "What's Making Me Happy This Week":

To begin, the above mentioned podcast, Pop Culture Happy Hour: NPR, is a panel of various pop culture experts at NPR dissecting movies, TV, comic books, you tube, music, and anything else collectively consumed by the masses.  I love the level of seriousness in their approach, the choosiness of their language, and their overall nerdiness.  There is something wonderful and satisfying about looking for broader cultural meaning in a complete analysis of the the Oscars.  This program is definitely one of my guilty pleasures and a fun way to begin the week.  I usually listen to it on Mondays while I paint.

Over vacation I began reading Meg Wolitzer's The Interestings, a novel that follows the unfolding of six friends who met and bonded during summer camp for the arts named Spirit In The Woods.  They sarcastically self-titled their tight-knit group The Interestings.  Wolitzer examines how artistic talent expresses itself in the adult worlds of these six and how class, envy, and success can manifest and act as catalysts.  Of course, I came away with questions regarding my own "talent" and the never-ending mystery of whether there is a time to surrender a dream in acceptance of reality or to ante up and demand real success.

Doubling up on my literature, I listened to Nancy Horan's audio book, Loving Frank which is an historical novel telling the story of Frank Lloyd Wright's mistress, Mamah.  I don't want to give away much of the plot here in case you have a chance to read or listen to this incredible tale of romance, intellect, and ultimately individual freedom.  Again, I responded to the questions surrounding what it means to make art or even have the right and freedom to express one's own ideas.  Of course, being partly set in Oak Park intensified my interest.  I'm embarrassed to admit that I have not been on any of the tours offered, but rest assured, I have truly solidified my resolve to learn as much as possible about this genius of architecture and see his work which remains incredibly fresh and modern.  There was one passage, undoubtedly more Horan's words than Wright's, that caught my attention regarding Wright's artistic philosophy.  To paraphrase it was something about the geometry of our souls that is born in ancient patterns of farming which have engrained our sense of beauty.  Thusly, we should build our houses by following the land.  Just a side note, I'm lately really impressed by Architecture's ability to both reflect modernity and encourage it.  It's amazing how built environments inform our lives and culture.

I've been gazing at works by Pierre Bonnard, a French painter and founder of Les Nabis.  Of course I'm attracted to his use of color and pattern, but I'm absolutely struck by his compositions which feel so modern.  Every inch of his canvases are worthwhile.  This is something I struggle with in my own work (among lots of other things).  His work makes my heart ache because of its beauty.

Currently, I'm reading The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach which follows a college baseball phenom who loses his gift of perfection when he begins to think too much.  I'm only a third of the way through, but it makes me long to be a storyteller and perhaps making me regret not having read Moby Dick (lots of whaling references).  It's a great American novel and fun summer read considering the presence of baseball season.  Thanks for enduring this lengthy post.

One last thing, if you are looking for something fun to listen to this summer, I recommend Jake Bugg who I have to remind myself is only 19 years old.

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