Monday, September 08, 2008

An Arts Grab Bag

Music

Modern Guilt by Beck. Immediately my mind free associates – Modern Love by David Bowie. Is there a connection? No, not really. Beck’s album is
a collection of 10 tight, well-crafted songs. They’re dense and multilayered, drawing on a wide range of influences, from surf music (“Gamma Ray”) to electronica to rock ‘n’ roll (“Soul of a Man” - my favorite). It’s a pleasant enough album and it’s all over in about 35 minutes, but it doesn’t amount to much lyrically or emotionally. It feels slight. One misses the depth and power evidenced on his 2002 release Sea Change.

Visual Arts



The Foster/White Gallery in Rainier Square is as good a place as any to see the strengths and weaknesses of Seattle’s art scene.

Among the best pieces in the gallery are Jamie Evrard’s still lifes of fruit. I like the quick and energetic brushstrokes; it's almost as if the painter was hungry and wanted to finish off the painting so she could eat the fruit. The colors are bright and the paint is often thick, giving the work a sensual appeal. I find that her work is best on a small scale, though. Her large canvases often turn into little more than a chaotic hodgepodge – an impression aggravated by her tendency to let the paint on the lower part of the canvas streak down to the bottom. Why she does this, I have no idea. But her smaller paintings are very good. I especially liked the ones in which Evrard adds a black bar to the painting to additionally frame the fruit (such as in Italia - Four Mandarins, seen above). It adds a concentration and intelligence to the piece.

Dale Lindman’s large abstracts (like Fire and Ice, left) were my favorites. I could lose myself for hours in these paintings. The colors and patterns pull me right in. These paintings feel industrial and yet organic at the same time. Lindman's work evokes the textures of steel, rust, dry and cracked earth, even the channels formed by running water.

Some of the pieces in the gallery were funny - intentionally so, I hope. Judging by Pink Swink (below, right) - which also would be the name of good fruit drink - Bratsa Bonifacho seems to have found inspiration for his art from the blocks of letters used in traditional typesetting as well as from the symbols menu in MS Word (check out the Wingdings set and you’ll see what I mean).

This being Seattle, there is a great deal of glasswork in the gallery – some of it is good, much of it mediocre (a.k.a. by Dale Chihuly).

John de Wit’s surreal glasswork either clicks with you or it doesn’t. His sculptures have the quality of an obsession, like a haunting set of images which the artist just can’t shake. It has the feeling of compulsion, which is good. However, if you don’t happen to share his visual hang-ups and quirks then his work may bore and baffle rather than engage you. In the first category, for me, was his series of what I can best describe as large hot-water bottles wearing crowns (oh, yeah, that's what they look like); whereas his series of sea-polyp/sponge-like sculptures (such as Snappy, left) belonged in the later group. Why did I like one but not the other? Who knows?

Emily Wood’s new paintings, at The Lisa Harris Gallery, are all landscapes of the Idaho and Montana countryside. Although she can do a good job of rendering light and sky these paintings fall short when it comes to capturing the beauty and grandeur of the American West. There’s no doubt she loves this terrain; she just can’t seem to convey that love to the viewer. I think this is due to her fondness for cluttering up her canvas with too many trees and shrubs. Everywhere you look there’s an unnecessary glob of foliage. A more stripped down, abstract approach would suit her better and play to her strengths. For instance, in Hawthorne in Fall (below) simply remove the tree in the center and the painting immediately opens up – suddenly the power of the landscape comes through. Less is more, Emily, less is more.


Theater/Video

And finally, the opening scene of Samuel Beckett’s Endgame performed by animated legos.

Very entertaining - even though I would get rid of the music. Honestly, is there any medium Beckett isn't good in?

No comments: