Monday, March 3, 2014

February Fallings, Failings and Fabulosities

I've been making art on my iPad...

...possibly subliminally inspired by the world that surrounds me...

Above, beautiful ice...below, not beautiful ice.


internet photo

Ice forming on the brand new 1776 foot World Trade Center building (well, 1368 feet when you don't count the "spire"), is tumbling to the street below, 
causing fear, havoc, traffic jams, subway and Path train station craziness.  
People are pretty freaked out about things hurtling down from the top of the World Trade Center - 
for obvious reasons.  
At speeds up to 100 mph, the ice is not only deadly but bringing back seriously bad memories.

Funny that in my last blog post
 I mentioned how out of touch 20th century architects were re.
the forces and facts of nature.
But if David Childs, the Trade Tower designer, is any example, 21st century architects are no better.  He has deflected all ice questions to the Port Authority, whose response has been, 
oh, yeah, ice is always falling off buildings in New York City. Yawn.

(internet photo)

"Witnesses reported seeing blocks of ice falling more than 1,000 feet from the 1,776-feet-tall building down to the busy pavement, threatening to seriously injure passers-by."

Read more:

Remember the ice knives from last blog?
Think of these coming at you from over a thousand feet up...

"Designed by renowned architect David Childs, of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, LLP, One World Trade Center incorporates new architectural and environmental standards, setting a new level of social responsibility in urban design."

I guess social responsibility doesn't stretch as far as planning what to do about ice accumulation, 
which is a common problem in places that have winter.

Like Russia, with its many onion domes. 
Or Winnipeg, home of the structure shown here.
Turns out the onion dome isn't just decorative, it is also an excellent design
for shedding snow and not creating icicles to fall on unsuspecting folk below.

Maybe Mr. Childs should have designed the Freedom Tower to look like this:

The WTC is a joint project of the Durst Agency 
and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey,
and we know how seriously the Port Authority is taking its civic responsibilities lately...

(New York Daily News)

Above, we see New Jersey governor Chris Christie's former high school friend and recent appointee to the Port Authority, David Wildstein, 
who recently waved his PA wand and manifested the bridge lane closings that led to four days of traffic madness for people trying to get across the George Washington Bridge, you know, like workers, school children, ambulances, all apparently Democrats or children of Democrats.

This took place immediately after an email to Mr. Wildstein from Christie aide Bridget Anne Kelly (now fired),  
saying "time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee." 
You know, just ordinary payback to the Fort Lee Democratic mayor who had dissed Christie.

So instead of stepping up to the future where tough decisions will have to be made about, say,
the inevitable inundation of coastal areas, of which New Jersey has 217 miles,
they're stopping traffic for political payback. Brilliant.

Wildstein looks like close relative of Hal Thompson,
shown here right before his sheep "friends" try to run him out of Scotland.

Here's another Wildstein bro, Dr. Moley,
who says anything can be cured through pills.

 Maybe Chris Christie just needs to have a nice long conversation with Dr. Moley.

Well, enough about politics.
Let's talk about art!
Actually not just mine, but a collaboration that I'm currently working on 
between myself, Mark Blickley and Amy Bassin
called Babel On and Off White.

Babel On and Off White  
is conceived by Blickley as a seductive tool from the dead to the living in an attempt to speed up viewer entry into death’s afterlife, a domain we are all slotted to enter from birth.  

(Photo by Amy Bassin)

(Photo by Amy Bassin)

Much of my footage for this project comes from an amazing exhibition at the Jewish Museum
in New York City at 92nd and 5th Avenue.
The above image is from a tunnel-cave of mirrors in a dark room full of mysterious sounds
and flashing lights, and fashion that seems not meant to be worn
but to indicate ethereal presences in ritualistic poses.

"threeASFOUR aims to encourage cross-cultural harmony through fashion. The title MER KA BA embraces many spiritual concepts: Merkaba is a mystical form of Judaism; ka ba alludes to the Kaaba, one of the holiest sites in Islam and the focal point of the Mecca pilgrimage; Muraqaba is a Sufi meditation practice."

Also seen at the Jewish Museum's is a show of Marc Chagall's paintings.

Like this one of a theme popular with many painters.

Below, Rembrandt's version of the "Carcass of Beef:

(Carcass of Beef, 1657, oil on canvas, 94 x 67 cm, internet photo)

The last time I saw raw meat on this scale was at the Newark Airport,
at Gallagher's Steak House where the meat is displayed for all to see, while eating.
You better love meat to eat there.

When I was a dairy farmer in Wisconsin, we ate our animals every so often.
The butcher would come to the farm, shoot the animal in the head,
 it would drop to the ground and then the work of skinning and quartering would take
place right on the spot.
They would take the quarters to hang and dry-age,
and leave us the heart, tongue, kidneys and liver in a milk bucket.
We gave it to the neighbors - I was a coward when it came to organ meats.
In general, my attitude toward meat is, if the animal had a good life, then it's okay to eat it.
With honor for its sacrifice.
But if it had a brutal, tortured life in a factory farm, then stay away. Don't contribute to the nightmare.
The weird thing about meat animals is that they have no place in the "natural" world,
they wouldn't exist if we didn't eat them.
For better or worse.
Of course, where is this "natural" world anymore? In the going, going, gone?

Below, Chaim Soutine's version, one of the most beautiful paintings ever.
I used to stand in front of it and marvel while at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 
where the painting lives.

(Carcass of Beef, 1924, oil on canvas - internet photo)

And no one can forget Francis Bacon's take on the subject
who said that the slaughterhouse imagery reminded him of the Crucifixion.

(Figure with Meat, 1954, oil on canvas, 51 x 48" - internet photo)

Below, art by Linda Francis may appear to be worlds apart from the side of beef,
yet the forms are uncannily resonant.

Linda was going into science before she segued into art,
and her work reflects the kind of formal clarity, rightness and imagination implicit
in elegant mathematical equations.

She spoke about her work at Trestle Gallery one cold winter night recently.

Speaking of winter...
Prospect Park shimmers and shines after a February snowstorm.

Above, beauty.
Below, the beast.

More beauty...

...more beast.

The latter beast was seen in Chelsea right before 
going to the opening reception of Donna Moran at Opus Projects on 27th Street.

(Configuration, Transformation and Assembly, Fig 41, 2013,
digital print from mixed media, 38 x 26")

Her multi-media prints have a sense of things joining together yet holding apart, things compressed
yet expanding, resilient, flowing, stopping, emerging, submerging.

(Conversation 1b, 2013, mixed media on paper, 36 x 28")

Here I've photoshopped my picture of her opening in the spirit of her work.

Also in Chelsea is some kind of gala celebrating this veddy British vehicle, 
the F-type Jaguar. Pronounced jog-u-ah.

For some reason someone has dumped piles of ice next to the trees.

Later I see them shoveling up the ice and putting it into bags, 
maybe they've run out of ice at the gala?

Down the street I see wonderful work at the Painting Center
by Marianne Gagnier.
My favorite kind of painting, abstract expressionism,
where the strokes are free and loose, where paint is allowed to do what paint does,
not so much controlled by the artist - more like two entities working in tandem, artist and medium.

(Chanson, 2013, acrylic on canvas, 32 x 36")

(Emblem, 2013, acrylic on canvas, 14 x 14")

And in the same vein is work by Charles Schucker, 
showing at the Walter Wickiser Gallery.

Charlie had a way with paint, pouring, pushing, making it float across the canvas
with buoyant, whimsical, exuberant energy.

(Untitled, 1980's, oil on canvas, 42 x 48")
See more of his wonderful work here:

This piece is like a breath of summer, but in New York, we're still in the grip of
a long winter.
Here at the bus stop at Kingsborough, the beast rules, pushing along waves of salty slush...

Below is a tiny smattering of the tons and tons of salt dumped on our world this winter.
I can only imagine the damage it does to land, water and other living things.
Like trees.

Speaking of damage, here is someone on the subway who is not enjoying the winter landscape.

An interesting semester of drawing at KCC this winter term:
Love the blind contour hand exercise...

The students' work ranges from this...

...and this... this...

...and this.

Here the KCC lady is covered in a blanket of snow...

In Prospect Park, another lady reclines in a snowy landscape...

...reminding me of Henry Moore sculptures...

(internet photos)

...which in turn remind me of this device in the LGA airport made to hold an iPad...

And also at LGA, my camera captures yet another image in my series of women from behind. 
This young woman is wearing
 a pair of beige pants that leave not much to the imagination.

The midwest is also in the grip of snow, as shown by fields of white in Western Wisconsin:

Warnings that are not heeded by all.
My sister Sherry and I see many cars, trucks and buses in the ditches along the highway...

...and pile after pile of snow.

I've come to Wisconsin to hang out with my mother who has
fallen and developed a couple of nasty wounds on her leg
from blood blisters, partly due to the cocktail
of blood thinners, heart, thyroid and diabetes regulators, and much, much more,
the usual array of elderly medications that people are burdened with these days.
My mom has a story about a woman who was thought to be on the verge of death
so all her medications were stopped, whereupon she got up and began 
eating salads and various other things that had been denied her and lived
another couple of years, drug free. 
One has to wonder...

Here is a glimpse of the nastiness, toned down a bit from its grim reality by
a photoshop filter, but it still gives you the idea.

It looks a lot like a detail from Soutine's "Side of Beef."

They measure the wounds by height, width and depth each time the dressing is changed.
It is said to be improving, but you couldn't prove it by me.

The nurse has a cute hairstyle with a snappy ponytail with a bit of a "teased" puff right in front
of it. It seems to be a theme as I see two other nurses with this hair arrangement.
Maybe to jazz up the look of pulled-back hair.

Shirley has to have the dressings changed three times a week, so one of my tasks is to help arrange
for home care to help with wound care, along with some physical therapy
for strength and balance so maybe she won't fall so often, and also to figure out medicare
and health insurance.
The prospect of a more restrictive (and expensive) living situation than her current
"independent" living apartment is daunting and depressing, so the longer
she can maintain her current status, the better.

We take a few minutes to FaceTime with Andrew, Jennifer and Elliott!

He's delighted to see the two Grandmas, one regular, one great.

After a week, I've done what I can, so I ride with my brother Dan
through the back roads of Wisconsin...

While my sister Sherry and niece Shannon are jumping into the frigid waters
of Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis, on this, coldest day in a while
where the temperature may get up to 3 degrees.

Dan and I whip along the back roads...

...where snowmobilers are also whipping along...

...probably on their way to this place for a few brews.

These icicles probably won't kill anyone.

Snow, snow, snow!

From the tall smokestack of Stillwater, Minnesota, to the tall buildings of NYC!

The blue building is the World Trade Center, looking a bit shaky here.
But the weather's been warm enough to rid it of ice, at least for a while...


  1. I love your blog, Jeanne. Great visuals and wit.--Blick