Saturday, August 28, 2010
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
I was in one of the local grocery stores the other day and noticed that Yoplait® Light Thick & Creamy was on sale for only 35 cents a container. I’ve seen the clever ads where an office worker is drooling over an entire Strawberry Cheesecake in the office kitchen fridge and, as we discover as we are able to hear her thoughts, she attempts to justify devouring a slab of it for lunch. Moments before she succumbs to her decadent desire, a stunningly beautiful co-worker walks in and swiftly plucks one of these yogurts from the same fridge proclaiming their excellence. The new cheesecake addict on the cubicle notices that the yogurt lover has lost weight and tells her so. . . you get the scene.
At 35 cents, I decided to try a few and see if they really were as satisfying as they claim allowing me to forget entirely about actual cheesecake, or brownies, or pies forever more.
I purchased two Blueberry Pie flavored containers as well as two Cinnamon Bun and two Red Velvet Cake. Last night after dinner, my partner and I each tried one. I tried the Blueberry Pie and he the Cinnamon Bun. I also, just to ensure my experience, tried the Red Velvet Cake this morning.
Let me tell you, regardless of what the ads and the web sites may say – these taste identical to each other and if I had been wearing a blindfold, I would have been hard pressed to distinguish one “flavor” from another.
Truth be told, they all tasted like uber-artificially sweetened glitch. The only difference that I noticed was the pastel-hued color of the glitch. In fact, the Red Velvet Cake was hued somewhere along the line of Pumice-Cream. Ick.
Perhaps one must be a 20-something fashion model posing as an office worker to enjoy these, or wildly gullible, or both. My suggestion would be to have a small slice of the cheesecake and take the stairs a few times rather than the elevator.
Saturday, August 21, 2010
It was recently mentioned to me that the actor James Franco had decided to make his entrée into the world of visual art. I found it mildly interesting and a bit annoying.
It seemed, in my opinion, that his “celebrity” status would trump anything that he would create visually or become involved in whether he had valid artistic ability or not. And that is exactly what has happened as the press to date covering his first solo exhibit, The Dangerous Book Four Boys, at the Clocktower Gallery has been tremendous.
What has not been tremendous, however, are the reviews, at least not the review written by Roberta Smith for the NYTimes. To be fair, I have not personally seen the exhibit, and more than likely will not, so any review that I may have of the show would be unjust. However, Smith’s well written review should appease any non-NYC denizens curious about the exhibit.
Though I have personally seen moving and inspiring installation and video projection works of art in my time, (I once saw an installation/video projection work on the third floor of the Hirshhorn Museum that literally filled my eyes with tears), I am not usually a fan of such simply because there is so much room for pretentiousness. Because of this, most installation/video projection art, in my opinion, registers as a fail – a la The Emperor’s New Clothes. It seems that the majority of Franco’s exhibit centers around both.
Personally, I find it pretentious and uninspired to fill a room with “stuff from Mr. Franco’s actual childhood room strewn about in familiar disarray.” Yawn. Is this really the best that he could come up?
I have friends with teenage children that could probably give this particular installation by Franco, entitled “Scatter Piece”, a run for his money. Now, before you mistake me for one of those old-school, “Why that isn’t art!” type of artist, let me correct you. Installation works like “Scatter Piece” have been created long before Franco’s. The questions that must be asked is, would this piece work if were created by any Joe Shmoe and not James Franco? Is it possible that James Franco was able to land his first solo exhibit at the prestigious Clocktower Gallery simply because he is James Franco or did he really earn this exhibit and media attention because, as it states in the article, “he studied painting in high school and has apparently at times considered being an artist.” I don’t know the answer to these questions, but, inevitably, the mind goes there. Perhaps it’s the Pink Elephant in the middle of the installation.
While Roberta Smith doesn’t completely pan the exhibit, calling it a “confusing mix of the clueless and the halfway promising”, if I had to pick one word that represented her review of the show, I would chose the term mediocre. Or, maybe it’s no more than my reaction to the news that he was entering the world of visual art to begin with, “mildly interesting and a bit annoying.”
Sunday, August 15, 2010
Thursday, August 12, 2010
It was of interest that I read of the passing of Academy Award winning film production designer and art director Robert F. Boyle died recently at the age of 100. This man, responsible for conceiving and realizing the physical look of a motion picture, worked on more than 100 films during an amazing career that spanned six decades.
I always thought that working as an art director for a film would be a phenomenal experience that I think that I would enjoy tremendously. Robert Boyle left his mark in some true classics of American cinema, including Alfred Hitchcock's "North by Northwest" , "The Birds" and Norman Jewison's "Fiddler on the Roof," amongst others.
Since I still won’t have my new studio set up for a few weeks, I felt the urge to make something artistic on the computer. Fittingly, and in homage to the brilliant artistic mind and vision of Mr. Boyle, I digitally reworked some stills from the Hitchcock masterpiece “North By Northwest”. To this day, visuals (a la art direction) from this film still enthrall and amaze – the “cornfield scene” is pure genius and it has been recreated artistically countless times since the film’s 1959 release.
Monday, August 09, 2010
“A master can tell you what he expects of you. A teacher, though, awakens your own expectations.” – Patricia Neal
Patricia Neal, a screen legend and truly one of my favorite actresses left our world yesterday.
I first became aware of this amazing actress when I was a very young child in 1971 when the series pilot for The Waltons was presented as a television movie entitled The Homecoming: A Christmas Story. She played the role of Olivia in the film. I remember watching television with my family that night and, even though I was only 7 years old, being enraptured by her acting.
It was the very first time in my life that I had witnessed, or realized in my young mind, what great acting was. I knew that she wasn’t really the mother, and I knew, with a child’s logic, what an actor was ; but it wasn’t until that evening that it all clicked together. My mother, who was also watching the program with us, informed us that Patricia Neal was also one of her favorite actresses and that she had had quite the career in Hollywood as well as a number of unusual tragedies including debilitating strokes, the death of one child from measles, and the horror of having another child suffer severe brain trauma due to an pedestrian street accident involving a NYC taxi and a bus.
Later, as a teen and young adult, I took every opportunity to watch her films when the chance arose. Her performances were mesmerizing in such renown films as The Fountainhead, the sci-fi classic The Day The Earth Stood Still, A Face In The Crowd, Hud (for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress), The Subject Was Roses, Cookie’s Fortune and much more. Today, as a middle-aged adult and someone with a seasoned understanding of exactly how demanding it is to deliver such quality work, I savor each performance when viewed. Patricia Neal made it look easy, but truth be told, it most certainly arose from a life dedicated to the perfection of her art and access to the never ending wellspring of pure talent that ran through her veins.
The actress, a native Kentuckian, has left a legacy of outstanding cinematic performance that inspires, enlightens, mesmerizes, and enriches the genre of American film.
Patsy Louise Neal
January 20, 1926 - August 8, 2010
Saturday, August 07, 2010
Though I have predominately spent the majority of my career dedicated to the visual arts, I also have quite a bit of experience working in the field of live entertainment both on and off stage. Currently, a steady summer gig that I have is that of stage manager for Christopher Peterson’s EYECONS – Hollywood or Bust at the Rehoboth Beach Theatre of the Arts in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. It’s my second year satge managing the show and I must say that Christopher is an amazing talent and the show is wildly entertaining (if you don’t catch the show here on the East Coast before the end of the run on Sept. 19th, you’ll have to catch the show in Vegas where the production is moving).
There’s an genuine exhilarating energy in the air when working backstage during a production that is difficult to explain to anyone who has never had the unique experience. The lights, the costumes, the make-up, the cues, the opening and closing of the curtains, the count down to places, the crackle of the head set, the monitors, the dressing room antics, the streamlined action – when it all flows, all of it creates one whirlwind of creative intensity that its electrifying, compelling, and addictive to those who work within the field.
But, there are also times, especially during the hour or so before curtain, as the intensity grows , that seem almost surreal. From one side of the massive red stage curtain that separates the two worlds comes the sound of excited chatter arising from a packed house ever increasing in volume while my other-side-of-the-curtain world presents a temporarily calm ocean of colorful lights melding into muted shadows tinted by haze and powder. As the cast busily prepares in the backstage dressing rooms, I am in between worlds - and the cast empty, set, pre-show stage is my milieu.
I decided to capture some imagery from this world to share and document the experience for those who are only able to see the production from the audience. While I’ve not had that entertaining experience as I am part of the production, I am able to witness with each production a part of the show that few others will get the opportunity to experience. Quite often, it’s magical. I hope these artistically, digitally enhanced photos (but not so much so that they are far from the visual truth) will help to convey the surreal and beautiful world of the Stage Manager. . .
Thursday, August 05, 2010
I have been fascinated as of late by the story of this luminous work, La Bella Principessa (also called Young Girl in Profile in Renaissance Dress) – which, depending on who you ask, is either an estimated $150 million dollar masterpiece by the celebrated Leonardo Da Vinci, or a skillful copy by someone long forgotten now worth a mere $21,850.
The debate has been raging fast and furiously like a Californian wildfire, but an official proclamation of authenticity has yet to be issued – at least – I think it has yet to be issued. Quite frankly, there are so many news items and opinions about the work that it makes the head spin rather easily. (For a masterful, high resolution version online to really see the exquisiteness of the work regardless of its creator, click here: http://www.and-there-was-light.com/km/file/press/La_Bella_Principessa.jpg)
If you’re not familiar at all with the story and the controversy surrounding the work, the telegraph.co.uk has a fine article which can be found here : http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/art/7582591/La-Bella-Principessa-a-100m-Leonardo-or-a-copy.html. I also found it slightly synchronistic that in the late 1990’s, it seemed that the going rate for undiscovered masterworks seemed to hover around 20 grand ( Le Bella Principessa was initially purchased for $21,850 roughly around the same time as The Vision of Saint Lucy – now determined to be an original Fra Angelico worth over 5 million – was purchased for about $20,000 by art dealer Richard L. Feigen : http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/05/arts/design/05museum.html).
Now, however, controversy surrounding the authenticity of the work reins supreme. This became particularly self-evident after I read the enlightening article by David Grann for the New Yorker entitled “The Mark of a Masterpiece”. In the article, Grann more or less exposes the controversial Peter Paul Biro, a supposed master authenticator whose method of tracing fingerprints on paintings has been challenged as fraudulent by many in the art world. Just months ago, Biro claimed to have positively identified a newly discovered Leonardo da Vinci, and a few years ago, made headlines when he verified a truck driver’s Jackson Pollock that she’d bought at a junk store for $5 (the story of which was made into a film called Who the #$&% Is Jackson Pollock?)
See how thick this story becomes? Millions of dollars at stake, questionable masterpieces, famous dead artists, scandal, lawsuits, finger pointing, fraud – all that’s needed now is sex and a few Agatha Christie style parlor murders to complete the perfect screenplay.
In the interim, this article on mutualart.com interviews Professor Martin Kemp, a world-renowned Leonardo expert and professor emeritus of art history at Oxford University, has spent more than 40 years studying the DaVinci. Kemp is rather certain that the work is authentic as expects the rest of the experts to fall in line soon. Kemp also published a book claiming that the work was actually an unknown Leonardo, which he labelled La Bella Principessa.
So, inevitably, this lead us back to the lawsuit being filed by lawyers for Jeanne Marchig, who owned the work before the 1998 sale. Legal papers have been filed in a New York federal court accusing Christie's of failing to "exercise due care", failing to use appropriate scientific technology to determine its true identity, and hence selling it for a "fraction" of its true value. However, a Christie's spokesman said: "Christie's strongly disagrees with these claims and believes they are without merit."
However, it’s important to understand that many experts are also unconvinced it is a Leonardo stating that he never produced a work on vellum, and that the finger print evidence was extremely shaky. One has even called it a "screaming 20th century fake".
The quest for the truth continues. . .
Tuesday, August 03, 2010
This morning I stumbled across an absolutely astounding digitally animated short film titled “Logorama”. Directed by the French animation collective H5, François Alaux, Hervé de Crécy and Ludovic Houplain, it was presented at the Cannes Film Festival 2009 and opened the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. In 2010, the film won a well deserved academy award under the category of animated short.
The work is a visually treat with top-notch animation created with state of the art technology plus loads of talent and creative genius. Some salty language may render it NSFW, but you should definitely take a 16 minute break at some point soon and enjoy this phenomenal work.
The link is here: http://vimeo.com/10149605
Monday, August 02, 2010
The amazing and tragic story of athletic super nova and Native American Jim Thorpe has been hitting the news as of late because of his family’s desire to have his body removed from the town that, more or less, purchased it for a PR boost, and returned to his native state of Oklahoma.
My knowledge and interest in Jim Thorpe and his fascinating story arose from the fact that a close friend of mine was raised in the lovely little mountain town that purchased his body - Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania. I have been there on a few occasions with her and I’ve actually been to the gravesite.
I’m interested by the fact that as this news spreads across the digital landscape, more and more bits of information concerning this amazing man’s life come to the surface. I came across a particularly compelling story on cnn.com this morning that I highly recommend because of the last two paragraphs alone.
In those two small paragraphs, Jim Thorpe’s daughter (now deceased) paints a visual with her words that is positively cinematic and steeped in synchronistic, gut wrenching, irony. It seems to me shameful that a meaningful film covering the life of this extraordinary man hasn’t been created. His true-life story is simply volumes more compelling than the majority of reed-thin, puerile, plots that actually do somehow manage to get made into film today.
The story on CNN.com may be found here: http://www.cnn.com/2010/OPINION/08/01/greene.jim.thorpe/index.html
Sunday, August 01, 2010
I had a particularly enjoyable Saturday day and evening for 4 main reasons.
1: George and I came across a produce stand in the not too distant countryside where I was able to pick beautiful zinnias from a very large flower garden for only 20 cents a stem
2: We were guests at a wonderful dinner hosted by our friend Natasha in her lovely home in Bethany Beach – which led to the two other items on the list which are
3: As I was bringing the salad for dinner, I decided on a whim to make salad dressing from scratch incorporating some of the items that I had picked up from the produce stand. I came up with a Mango/Ginger Soy dressing that simply rocked. Here’s the recipe:
MICHAEL’S MAGIC MANGO/GINGER SOY SALAD DRESSING
(these amounts are approximate and could/should be adjusted to personal taste)
· Flesh of one fresh mango
· 3 cloves pan roasted garlic
· juice of one fresh lime
· kosher salt to taste
· fresh ground black pepper to taste
· 1/3 cup of soy sauce
· 1 cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
· 1/2 cup brown sugar
· 1/2 tablespoon Fresh ginger
Remove the fruit from a ripe, fresh, mango (If you’re not sure how to do this – check out this informative link.) and place in a food processor.
Drizzle some Extra Virgin Olive Oil into a small sauté pan and sauté until brown but not burned. Place in food processor.
Add the rest of the ingredients to the food processor and puree until desired consistency. (For extra zing, add about 1/2 cup of chopped fresh cilantro).
4: Natasha turned me onto Max Raabe Und Palast Orchester
His music isn’t for everyone, but I happen to love it. Of course, I’m very fond of the time period that he captures musically – and beautifully - the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s. . .