From my professional blog, but I think it works both places.
Especially now, laissez les bon temps rouler!
A couple of patterns struck me today, and from them I drew a couple of inferences. I know that correlation does not imply causation, but I’ll let you decide whether these theories hold water.
I’ve noticed a spike in street art and tags around my little corner of Chapel Hill and Carrboro, NC, and it seems to coincide with the emergence of the sun. Outdoor art responds to the weather, of course, so it’s not exactly a genius deduction. I’m outside quite a bit, regardless of the weather, because of the nature of this town. It got me wondering whether street art culture flourishes more in sunnier, or more temperate climes. Or whether it is more tied to civil unrest, as many claim. I’m open to opinions.
A second thing came to me as I was criticizing the trend of misspellings in musician and band names. I wonder if artists chose misspelled names to benefit their Internet presence. They can probably get a website name more easily with a misspelled name, and maybe establish a unique identity. Again, only a theory.
Well, that’s probably enough of that for today. Stay gold.
This is a post about reading. This is a digestible, relatable book list.
I’m an explorer of space and mind, and rea my most dog-eared ticket. I read constantly, everything from the WSJ, Harvard Business Review and NYT to novels and short stories.
When Pilar told Robert in Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls that he was “a miracle of deafness,” I fell apart. It’s this kind of lyricism, this kind of perspective, that I value in writing and storytelling.
With that in mind, I’d like to share a few of the best things I’ve read recently. Books first:
1. The Moviegoer, by Walker Percy: Never has ennui looked so glamorous, or felt so atmospheric.
2. Anna Karenin, by Leo Tolstoy: A grand epic, and an astonishingly detailed masterwork. Thousands of pages of engrossing story – a reader’s dream.
3. A High Wind in Jamaica, by Richard Hughes: Rich, fantastical and engaging, like a fairy -tale dreamscape. Interesting questions of innocence and childhood.
4. Bogmail, by Patrick McGinley: Moments of insight crackle through this unconventional English-Irish murder mystery, though mystery is used loosely.
5. For Whom the Bell Tolls, by Ernest Hemingway: A complex, vaguely masculine portrait of the tensions of wartime. Often surprising, never overwrought.
6. Four Fish, by Paul Greenberg: Stellar investigation into the fishing and aquaculture industries. Manages to inform and critique without aggression.
7. The Omnivore’s Dilemma, by Michael Pollan: Must-read for anyone interested in food production and food ethics. A bit slow at the outset, fascinating throughout.
8. All Over but the Shouting, by Rick Bragg: Gorgeous, intimate and moving. Laughed and cried, often simultaneously.
9. Mrs. Bridge, by Evan S. Connell: A stunning, understated piece dealing with 20th century femininity that brims with hopefulness and pathos.
This is by no means all, but it is some of the best. I’d recommend all of them. Maybe I’ll get around to writing an “if this, then that” of book recommendations later this year.
Now for the articles:
1. Studying the secrets of childhood memory, by Daniel Goleman in the New York Times: fascinating links between long-term and short-term memory
2. Sometimes, riders find a cabby worth praising, by Matt Flegenheimer in the New York Times: fine feature writing
I usually post the best articles I find on Twitter, so keep an eye out there for the daily reading recommendations.
N.B.: The photo above is from Blue Bicycle Books in Charleston, SC. If you get a chance to go, do! It’s owned by UNC grad Jonathan Sanchez, and is just brimming over with atmosphere.
As always, laissez les bon temps rouler,
“The obsession with place, with family, with both the personal and the social past; the susceptibility to myth; the love of this light, which is all our own; and the readiness to experiment with dosages of romance that would be fatal to most …[these make me a Southern artist].”
I idolize Sally Mann, for her photography craft and for her appreciation of atmosphere. Check her out, if you aren’t in love with her already.
Something beautiful is happening at the Ackland Art Museum today: the much-anticipated More Love: Art, Politics and Sharing Since the 1990s exhibit is opening. Featuring art by Yoko Ono, Louise Bourgeois, Tracy Emin and Felix Gonzalez-Torres (among many fantastically talented others), the exhibit is a real exploration into different kinds of love and its expression.
The idea of sharing, of externalizing the internal, is central to the More Love exhibit. While it’s about sharing in the traditional sense, it also discusses the idea of sharing in the context of new technology and breaking the boundaries of time and space.
The above image incorporates two fantastic pieces in the show. The piece of candy is a part of Dario Robleto’s Untitled piece from 1972. In every installation of Robleto’s piece through the years, a pile of candy is built and viewers are invited to take a piece as they pass. The second piece is the photograph in the background, Janine Antoni’s Mortar and Pestle (1996, chromogenic print). In the photo, the artist is licking her husband’s eyeball. It’s borderline inappropriate and mildly transgressive, visceral and endlessly compelling. The show involves many pieces like these, which are multidimensional in concept and bold in their expressiveness.
I had the chance to talk to Claire Schneider, the consulting curator for the show, about the overall vision. “In the 1960s, it was all about love as commonality,” she said. “In the 2000s, it became love as individuality. Now it’s all about coming back together with our differences.”
Her insight informs the entire show, from the pieces chosen to the overall orchestration of the viewing experience.
She said she wanted to explore the contemporary thought about love, including its social justice elements, without the cheap sentimentality of most pop culture’s expressions of love.
“This is all conceptual art about emotion,” Schneider said.
I was so fond of so many of the pieces; I’ll certainly return. I especially loved Yoko Ono’s piece, “Time To Tell Your Love,” a collection of under-lit prisms that threw light all across the walls. While supplies last, viewers can have a picture taken of themselves expressing their love, and they’ll receive a prism in return. I got one! (I also accidentally broke my first one. Typical.)
Yoko Ono’s Time To Tell Your Love, glass prisms and tower, light.
I also loved Dario Robleto’s Coated Love Letters, which are love letters he’d saved over the years, put into pill form. It’s honest, taking the viewer back to the middle school roots of their lovingness.
This show is honestly worth a visit, or 20. I’m still working on how to express it appropriately. I’ve been to a lot of exhibits, but this one is really special.
I can still remember what it felt like to have Julian Schwartz’ Affirmations, a sound installation, murmur over me. When you find the perfect spot on the floor, it sound like 72 people are whispering their answers to the question, “What could someone say to you that would make you feel completely loved (acknowledged, understood, respected, cared for, attractive, embraced, supported, safe, cherished…)?” right into your ears. It was entrancing. Receiving intangible hugs from strangers is a beautiful experience.
Go. You’ll be glad you did.
Hie thee hence, and laissez les bon temps rouler,
Papa Ibra Tall was a Senegalese artist, influenced by Negritude and French modernism. Papa Ibra Tall is the one. I love his lines, his colors, his overall aesthetic. Tall’s work is refreshingly non-derivative.
If Tom Robbins’ books were to be illustrated, Tall could do them. His paintings explore the connection and interplay between spaces and shapes, the proportion, the balance, the movement across the page, the overall experience as it interacts with the supreme detail of his pieces. That’s how Robbins’ writing is. Both are unconventional, both create art that involves or references many of the senses.
I love lines and appreciate linearity, and Papa Ibra Tall’s lines are one of a kind. This pseudo-collage, super luxurious feel of his images, bodies them up and saturates them. I think I’ve gushed publicly about Egon Schiele (gasp x 1000, so beautiful*), and I’m starting to feel this way about Tall. However, where Schiele’s pieces are intensely physical, Tall’s paintings feel almost otherworldly. Unlike Schiele, the boundaries of Tall’s lines and planes are precise, and his colors saturated. Tall’s use of dots and other geometric details to build a multi-layered picture is also unique. The effect on the page is also very different; Schiele’s work is involved, convoluted, very much about the internal monologue of whoever he’s depicting. There’ve a short story feel about them. Tall’s paintings convey a different narrative. His paintings are never about just one person, even if there’s only one person in the picture, because his paintings are about his subjects in relation to other environmental factors. Tall’s images tell a myth, a legend, an epic. The tonalities and the imagery remind me of an illustrated collection of fairytales that I read as a child.
* It ought to be noted that Schiele has some tendencies toward exploitation/voyeurism in his portraits of women. Someone who is hyper-physical, as Schiele is (just look at his treatment of the human form for proof) is hyper-physical in many ways. I’m not excusing it, but instead saying that it might be the flip side of a coin.
Laissez les bon temps rouler,
In this particularly tumultuous pre-graduation, career-launching time, I’m faced with a barrage of questions about my future. Most of them sound a lot like, “What are you doing after graduation?” If they’re talking about careers, I can only answer that I’m still looking. What I’ll really be doing is pursuing the same dream I’ve had since I was a child, though with a different slant.
When I was little, I would always say I wanted to grow up and be a traveling artist. Over the past few years, I realized that, in one form or another, I’d always been chasing that dream. The following are few jobs I’ve thought about, to illustrate the idea:
1. Underwater photographer for nature/adventure programs
2. Writer (Travel journalism and novels, primarily)
3. Explorer (5th grade, writing about Magellan)
4. Foreign correspondent
5. Coral reef gardener
6. Tour manager
7. Book editor
8. Gallery owner or art collector
As you can see, at different times I’ve defined art and travel in different ways. Art includes the visual, verbal, performing and culinary arts. Sometimes I’m not even creating the art, but handling, evaluating or sharing it. Also, the travel can be mental or physical. I like the process of going new places in my mind or in space probably because I love to learn and explore. The way that I appreciate art and the way that I travel are much the same – both require that I dig deeply into the experience. Combining the two lights me up.
As distant as these jobs may seem from one another, even in the context of the traveling artist concept, they do all share a certain quality. That is, I’ve never wanted to be a bohemian vagabond, though that could be considered a traveling artist. Instead, these are all purposeful careers. I need that forward motion. These ten ideas all offer the opportunity to learn constantly, to exercise my creative problem-solving skills, and to communicate meaningfully.
If I told you I wasn’t nervous about the next phase of my life, I’d be lying. I feel, as many seniors do, very vulnerable. Luckily, I also feel confident. I know exactly what I love to do, and know that there are many professional ways to achieve that happiness. It’s all about finding the slipper that fits.
As always, and especially now, laissez les bons temps rouler,
Recently I received (indirectly) beautiful, inspirational advice from Ira Glass, the brains and the glasses behind NPR’s “This American Life.” This advice is really valuable, really important to keep in mind.
Video by David Shiyang Liu
“Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”
I’m taking what I can into my own hands and leaving the rest to sort itself. Here are the things I will do, am doing, in this newest year:
1. Be healthier, inside and out.
2. Teach myself French.
3. Memorize a few poems.
4. Read Proust’s Swann’s Way.
5. Travel more, in big and small ways.
6. Write more diligently.
7. Learn better how to ask the right questions, and how to see what’s in between.
And hope that I continue winding up where I’m supposed to be!
Laissez les bons temps rouler,