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Good art?

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Read any good books lately? Seen any good movies? Enjoyed any good symphonies or songs? Seen any nice paintings or collages? Had any good meals? Otherwise experienced any works of art, in any medium, that you liked?

If so, let me know about it in comments to this entry. I'm not asking for recommendations per se, so don't worry about whether it would match my tastes. Just praise for stuff that you liked. If it's obscure, so much the better, but appreciation for famous works of art is also fine.

Ideally, you would say something about what you liked about it, too, or at least what your experience of it was like; I'm more interested in the effect it had on you than in experiencing the work myself.

In other words, this is still me looking for vicarious happiness/mudita/quasi-compersion--enjoying seeing people being happy. So for today's installment, tell me about a work of art that made you happy. (Or moved you, or that you otherwise appreciated.)

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Over the weekend we looked for things to hang on our wall and found a long paper scroll with ye olde standarde Chinese-style landscape. You've got your mountains, and your trees, and your bridge, and a couple guys on the bridge. In other words, it's pretty unremarkable, but we both like it and it fits the space very well, so I derive an immense amount of satisfaction from it.


For the last few months, I've been really digging on the Sol LeWitt Scribble wall drawings. There were some at the Wadsworth here, and at the New Britain Museum of American Art as well (he was a local boy). There's no way to really get a sense of them over the web, but there's video on the Pace Wildenstein site that is very cool. We also had a great time with an enormous book of his stuff, just hundreds of color plates over the whole course of his life. We went through it with our P.N-R., and we each picked out five favorites, which was a lot of fun.

I'll also mention The Arrival, which is a remarkable work. Because you're looking for happiness, here, and not complaints, I won't bring up my regular complaint about how there is no Hugo for art other than illustration; WorldCon is failing at its opportunity to introduce sf fans to the many, many, many contemporary artists whose works (seen at galleries and museums rather than in books) would likely interest them. Ah, well, glad I didn't bring that up.

Thanks,
-V.


The clarinet choir I'm in is playing pieces from Pictures at an Exhibition. According to our conductor, the best recording (available here?) is that of the Rotterdam Symphony Orchestra conducted by Gergiev. It's only available on DVD, so not only did I get to listen to the concert, I spent a great Sunday morning watching Gergiev's fluttering hands and various close-ups of the musicians.


I've recently gotten very into Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer, and just got Tracy's solo album "Flowers of Avalon", which is her singing unrecorded Dave Carter songs (and co-producing, and playing all kinds of instruments). I'm really loving it a lot.

It's been a shockingly long time since I looked at any fine art, but in a couple of months I start a new job at Yale and am very much looking forward to strolling over to the Yale Art Gallery and the Center for British Art on my lunch hour. Favorite paintings from there include Hopper's Rooms by the Sea and Cezanne's House of Dr. Gachet. (I grew up in New Haven, so these were the first art museums I ever went to.)


Just went to the Louvre last Monday, funnily enough. Everything everyone says about how awful and crowded it is is wrong, at least on a cold wet Monday in mid-March and if you stay the hell away from the Mona Lisa. Of course after six or eight hours of world-class art museum it's all a bit of a blur, but there was some damned nice stuff in there.


I was really digging these photos by an elephant last night.


I thoroughly enjoyed reading Kelley Eskridge's Solitaire. I thank you for the recommendation!


Last week I went to a screening of the five Oscar nominees in thie year's Short Animated Film category. They ranged from quite good to excellent, and were mostly quite distinct in their styles:

Even Pigeons Go to Heaven was a traditional funny tale, a little cynical but charming.

Moya Lyubov (My Love) was utterly gorgeous, entirely in oil painting come to life -- which at first I thought might be the sort of thing made possible by Aaron H.'s "Painterly rendering" work, but no, it turns out thus actually was made by painting in oils on thousands of glass sheets! It's a very Russian love story, magical and tragic.

Madame Tutli-Putli, as Will Heger pointed out afterwards, was an evocation of a bad dream, a nervous woman on a train experiencing claustrophobia, strangers, losing her possessions, and a sense of disjointedness very similar to dream-logic. It got incomprehensible at the end, but was very evocative up til then.

I Met the Walrus is entirely computer-animated pen and ink sketches, illustrating an old audiotape of a 14-year-old boy interviewing John Lennon. It's clever but of course not much in the way of narrative.

The Oscar winner was Peter and the Wolf, done in a fun style that mimicked '70s Iron-Curtain stop motion animation, clunky and intricately textured. I was sure this was a CGI duplication of the style, but no, they used actual dolls --which lowers my esteem for the film a bit, since I'd thought they were being clunky as homage, not because they were using the same technique as Svankmajer did decades ago. The story was very good, though, mixing humor and a feeling of real danger.

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to write these up, Jed!



I heard a story on NPR about the Peter and the Wolf film. The bit that stuck with me was that they toured the film performing with live orchestration. They kept the music in sync with the film by having various "synchronization points" where the musicians could get ready to start the next bit of music at the right instant. It was very very hard work for the conductor.


I re-visited the Rodin sculpture garden at Stanford last week, for the first time in a long time. It was night-time, perhaps only the 2nd time I've seen them at night. His work is still powerful. We also crossed the quad to see the sculptures from New Guinea. I'd never seen them at night before. Only some of them are lit, and it makes for a more spooky experience, with the carved animals randomly appearing among the trees, and knowing there are more totems there, that I can't see.


This week I watched a dvd of a concert by Oedo Sukeroku, a taiko group from Tokyo. I start to talk about religion when I witness things like this - even recorded instead of live, it's powerful stuff for me.


I'm most of the way through The Yiddish Policemen's Union, and enjoying it a lot. Early on, I worried that I'd come to find that exuberant Chabon prose cloying, as sometimes; then I worried that perfect construction and pacing of the mystery would fail at some point. But no! 50 pages from the end, the book still hasn't put a foot wrong. It's wonderful how much better life is when you have a book you're looking forward to reading, isn't it?


Thanks, all! These are great.

Megan: Yay for satisfying art!

V: Neat! I like the video, especially the guy with the Dalí mustache. The video brings up all sorts of fascinating questions about collaborative art that I don't have time/energy to write up right now, but cool stuff. ...Is Sol LeWitt the one who did those big scribble-texture drawings with ballpoint pens? I saw a couple of them in San José a year or two back, but I'm not sure whether they were him or someone else.

I've been hearing good things about The Arrival, and am looking forward to reading it. You do know that it's on the Hugo ballot, yes, in the Related Book category? And that Shaun Tan is on the Best Pro Artist ballot? There isn't a Hugo for art (not even for illustration), but there are two for artists; if you want to introduce an artist's work to fandom, start posting about it and pointing people to it. Anyway, WorldCon per se isn't failing in this area; in fact, WorldCon has an art show, where you can see lots of non-illustration art. And WorldCon per se doesn't control what categories go on the Hugo ballot; the process of changing the ballot is a lengthy and arduous one, and it requires perseverance and dedication on the part of the people who want the change to happen.

Reinie: Cool!

Jacob: I really like the Carter/Grammer albums, but haven't listened to her solo album. Now that you've recommended it, I'll give it a try. Also, yay for easy access to art during lunch!

More later.


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