Artist Carrie Mae Weems on 30 Years of Genius - EBONY

Artist Carrie Mae Weems on 30 Years of Genius [INTERVIEW] - Entertainment & Culture - EBONY

 "Art has saved my life on a regular basis. I wanted to offer that experience to children, to enlist them, to show them the possibilities that are in the arts, to persuade them to pursue it for both their own personal salvation and for changing the way we are understood." Carrie Mae Weems

A Gold Star for Cleveland

A large detail of Louis Grebenak's WBOE mural, which awaits installation at ideastream in downtown Cleveland.
There is an article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer today about a series of WPA murals that were saved from destruction by an art history teacher from Cleveland State University named Walter Leedy, who unfortunately did not live to see the results of his efforts. Much of the thanks goes as well to the ICA Art Conservation of Cleveland and to the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA). The artwork has been displayed around Cleveland, including on the campus at Cleveland State who leased two of the murals.


Child Wearing a Red Scarf by Edouard Vuillard, c. 1891, The National Gallery of Art (US)

This is one of my favorite Vuillard pieces. It is not very big, but I just love the little girl. She seems so proud to be wearing that "grown-up" scarf  (reminds me of myself as a girl, always wanting to wear something beyond my years). Vuillard was interested in color and he and other like-minded art students (Pierre Bonnard was one) were influenced by Paul Gauguin's use of color and Symbolism and belonged to a group called Les Nabis.

In Defense of Art History

Art Connoisseur by Norman Rockwell, 1962.

I do not normally use this blog to editorialize, but I was listening to the radio yesterday and they played a sound bite from a speech President Obama was making in Wisconsin in defense of vocational training and I will say I agree with what he was saying, that there is no shame and often wage benefits, to being trained in a trade however, he chose the perpetually easy target of art history as an example of a college pursuit gone wrong (as Click and Clack humorously and routinely point out on Car Talk).
Here is the quote according to the Washington Post:
      "A lot of young people no longer see the trades and skilled manufacturing as a viable career, but I promise you, folks can make a lot more potentially with skilled manufacturing or the trades than they might with an art history degree." According to the Washington Post, President Obama then chuckled and attempted to put out the fire he had accidentally started by saying "Nothing wrong with art history degree, I love art history. I don’t want to get a bunch of emails from everybody. I’m just saying, you can make a really good living and have a great career without getting a four-year college education, as long as you get the skills and training that you need."
I thought oh great, one more insult to add to the pile, way to grab for the low hanging fruit Mr. President, but it points out a larger and and growing disdain in our society for the libral arts/ humanities in education. With all the promotion of the STEM degrees the traditional libral arts have taken a real hit in the last ten years or so. What used to be considered a fine, well-rounded background for almost any pursuit, has become the butt of jokes and is pointed to as an education squandered.

From my perspective, without the studies of the humanities our lives are less rich, they lack an understanding of past and richness that only an appreciation of the arts can bring. People may argue that you can pursue these avenues of enrichment on your own, outside of how you earn your money, but without teachers in these areas, your pursuit will only take you so far. Without someone to explain Abstract Expressionism to you, you might likely dismiss it as so many "globs of paint" and miss the importance of the freedom the movement represented and how by throwing the canvas on the ground and tossing the paint onto it, Jackson Pollock took art to a place without boundaries and represented the potential of a nation emerging from the dust of a hard-fought world war, as the new global super power. Art, music, literature, poetry are the mirror that reflects our world back to us, they capture and see things that may not be clear at the time, but upon further study enrich our understanding of ourselves and our world. 

When I pursued my studies in the areas of literature and art, I knew I was not choosing a path to wealth or fame, but I expected to work in a museum or teach for a wage that would allow me to live modestly, but comfortably and reap my rewards though proximity to beautiful art, or through introducing students to the world of art. As I struggle to find a job (while the adjunct teaching opportunities dry-up and pay far less than a living wage [a rant for another place and time]) I get what Obama is saying, but I am sad for what we lose as a society when we devalue the humanities and look down on those who see its value as more than a guaranteed income bracket.

Feminist Art or Just Art?

 The Dinner Party by Judy Chicago, 1974-79,  Brooklyn Museum 

There are two exhibitions at the National Museum for Women in the Arts in Washington DC right now that were organized by the Brooklyn Museum. They are a show featuring the work of artist Judy Chicago, often label as a Feminist, but naturally as labels go, she is that and so much more. The exhibition entitled Judy Chicago Circa '75 runs now through April 13th.

 Detail from The Dinner Party by Judy Chicago

 The second exhibition also organized by the Brooklyn Museum is an show called "Workt by Hand": Hidden Labor and Historical Quilts. This exhibition examines quilts, which are historically considered craft and women's handicrafts rather than outlets for creative expression. This show focuses on the limited outlets for creativity for women for hundreds of years and looks at these as a reflection of the artists, as well as utilitarian objects. The exhibition runs through April 27th.
“Workt by Hand”: Hidden Labor and Historical Quilts - See more at:
“Workt by Hand”: Hidden Labor and Historical Quilts - See more at:

Elizabeth Welsh of Virginia, Medallion Quilt, ca. 1830; Brooklyn Museum - See more at:
 Elizabeth Welsh of Virginia, Medallion Quilt, c. 1830, Brooklyn Museum
Elizabeth Welsh of Virginia, Medallion Quilt, ca. 1830; Brooklyn Museum - See more at:


Liza Lou Color Field, 2013, glass beads, stainless steel, Perspex, , 20 x 26 feet (dimensions variable). , Courtesy the artist. © Liza Lou 2010-2013. Photo credit: Dean Eliot. 
Artist Liza Lou works with beads which appeals to me because I make jewelry using beads. This piece is from an exhibition last year where she used thin pieces of wire each with a single color of beads that were then put together in patterns.

Liza Lou, Kitchen, 1990–95. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
I first saw her Kitchen at the Akron Art Museum and was blown away by the amount of beads and time it must of took to complete at life-size room. She had people helping her with the beading or she would probably still be working on it.

Detail of the sink from Kitchen.

Tchotchke Domination

Meissen Figure Group, artist Johann JoachimKändler, c. 1745-50, 

Meissen porcelain was named after the town where porcelain began to be manufactured in 1710. The key to the success of these European porcelain makers, was that they had managed to replicate the hard-paste porcelain techniques that the Chinese had developed and kept secret for centuries. Most people associate Meissen with highly decorative figurines like the one above, but all different types of ceramic goods were manufactured in the area.

Meissen Tea Canister and Cover 1710-13, The Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Some of the typical "crossed swords" Meissen marks.

Inspired by Tradition

 Lightning Snake by Preston Singletary, Traver Gallery

Preston Singletary is an artist who works primarily in glass and draws influence from his native Tlingit background. His work shows influence of native symbols and animals combined with the art glass techniques which flourish among the glass artists of Washington state.

Whale Rider by Preston Singletary and Louis Gardiner

Preston Singletary talks about bringing his native Tlingit culture to his art.

The Perfect Hostesses

Canova worked in the Neoclassical style and the subject of this work goes back to that time as well. It depicts three of the daughters of Zeus who represent the epitome of good hostesses as they were in charge of the gatherings when the gods got together. They make a perfect subject matter as they are beautiful young women and many artists over the centuries have chosen to portray them.

Canova, Three Graces, detail.


AK 47 Kalashnikov, multicolor original gun with applied Smarties by Kata Legrady from her Guns and Candies series.

Kata Legrady began a series of artworks in 2008 where she applied candies like Smarties to different weapons. She thought the candies evoked the Ben-Day technique used by Roy Lichtenstein in his comic book referencing art and by "covering" and in a sense hiding the firearm or other weapon, it loses its ferocity and power.

Bought A Book

I have been wanting this book since it came out in 2007 and I just got it this year with a gift certificate. It is beautiful and full of a lot of interesting facts about rings and their meaning throughout history. Plus the pictures! Just what a ring lover, like myself likes to thumb through and admire.

Living with Design

 Ray and Charles Eames

I watched the PBS American Masters Series on Charles and Ray Eames tonight. It is from 2011 but I had not gotten around to watching it until now. I thought I knew about them as designers which I did, however as filmmakers, I did not. Now I want to see their films. Many of them were educational pieces for companies like IBM. It was very interesting and I recommend it. Many of their designs are still in production today.

USPS commemorative stamp set of the Eames' work.

Pink Flamingos

Long's work was often controversial because of the subject matter he chose to portray in his languid art nouveau style. He was fond of nudes and tranquil scenes. He often chose flamingos as a subject matter and this is perhaps his most stylistic version of the subject matter, where colors and curves become the focus rather than a realistic portrayal. After 1918 he concentrated on print making translating many of his most popular paintings into prints.

The Fountainheads

Ai Weiwei, Circle of Zodiac Heads

Currently on display at The Cleveland Museum of Art are Chinese artist Ai Aweiwei's bronze representations of the animals of the Chinese Zodiac. They have been traveling around the world, we saw a glimpse of them in Toronto during the summer and are now installed in the interior court at CMA through January 26, 2014. They are reproductions of the fountain heads from the now destroyed Yuanming Yuan Imperial retreat which were pillaged after the palace was attacked by French and British troops in the 18th century. Ai Weiwei intention is to draw attention to the looting and repatriation of art around the world.

Drawing History

 Divine Law by Violet Oakley, The Pennsylvania Capital Murals, Harrisburg, 1906.

 Violet Oakley was the first woman to receive a major mural commission in the United States when she received the commission for the murals at the Pennsylvania State Capital in 1902.  She studied at the Art Students League and with the great illustrator Howard Pyle. She began her career as an illustrator which served her well in the stories she told with her narrative murals.

Portrait of Violet Oakley by Edith Emerson, Woodmere Art Museum, Philadelphia.