Monday, December 12, 2011

Tap Room Poetry Series

Want to hear some hip contemporary poetry? The Tap Room is one of Lawrence's leading venues for poetry readings.  The Tap Room Poetry Series is a monthly event where both local and national poets come to read poetry.  I've been going on a regular basis, and would recommend it.  The readings and drink specials have been good! And, of course, we love the bartenders at the Tap Room.

Last night's performance included local poets who presented works in various types of spoken word.   A duet sang a folk poem worthy of an Alan Lomax recording.  Another performer read a poem about pillows in her bed reprimanding her for not having a lover (she silenced her pillows with a threat of a trip to the dumpster).  Frederick, the bartender at the Tap Room, revealed his real life experience of dealing with a suicide of a quirky high school friend, and, years later,  talking to him in his dreams.

After the local poets performed, poets from New York and North Carolina presented poetry from their new books.  Although I liked all of their poems, one of my favorites was a poem by Sampson Starkweather called Self Help Poems, where he gives helpful advice for everyday living including touching a whale if it is beached, because "when else can you touch a whale?"  I also liked the dreamy poems of Emily Pettit.

The next poetry reading for the Tap Room Poetry Series is Sunday January 22.  Here is the link to the Tap Room Poetry Series Blog:

Friday, December 9, 2011

deKooning Love Fest #2: What is deKooning's signature style?

Where is Willem deKooning's place in art history? Is Willem deKooning under-represented in art? These were topics of two lectures and a panel discussion at the November de Kooning symposium at the MOMA in New York.

The work of Willem deKooning is hard to pin down into a signature style.  This makes it difficult to put deKooning into an art historical context because a sole paragraph in an art history survey would not be complete.  There is no easy style cliche for deKooning. Pollack is '"the drip guy" and Mondrian is " the squares guy." DeKooning worked in many different styles.  There may be a variety of interpretations within the same work.  His subject matter changes, including representational and abstraction.  His influences include classical Renaissance artists and pop culture.  Works include elements of sorrow as well as humor. To put it into pictoral terms, it is difficult to hold an image of a duck AND an image of a rabbit in our head.

However, the real question should not be where deKooning fits in art history, but rather why should we care? Although inconvenient, William deKooning's work may be elusive. But that is not a bad thing. A little complextity is, of course, is what makes his work so intriguing.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

More on deKooning: Work Style: Let's Play with Paint

Why do we care about deKooning in 2011? Even though deKooning painted decades ago, as a present day artist, I am interested in his playful and explorative working style.  I went to a day long symposium in November at the MOMA in New York to learn more about deKooning as an artists from people that have researched his work extensively, and from some who worked beside him. I was delighted, ( yes, delighted) when speakers reported meticulously how deKooning worked, and the materials he worked with. DeKooning worked relentlessly, constantly revising his work, with dozens of major re-works of canvasses.   A flurry of activity was followed by refinement, a kind of editing.

DeKooning's work process in the 1980’s was documented well.  One of the people who visited his studio during this time was Tom Ferrara.  At Elaine deKooning's request, he photographed the stages of deKoonings paintings. Ferrara was lucky enough to be around when dekooning was working steadily, creating up to a painting a week.
At the symposium, he showed several paintings in their various stages.  The following is part of a documentation of one painting (I wish I had the accompanying photographs,  but you can get an idea):

1.   Started with a charcoal drawing and reoccurring theme of figures in a landscape 2. Ignores drawing that he started with.  Goes in with the paint. 3.If wasn’t happy, deKooning would scrape down.  Made surface receptive to the new paint. 4.Go back in with charcoal, reorganize and define the composition. 5. When falls apart, turn upside down, and try again. 6.Refining, editing, and eliminating signs of process (a departure from earlier work). 

Above portrait of deKooning taken by Ferrara in 1984

According to Ferrara, deKooning was very interested in Matisse during the 1980’s. He was trying to pull free of the structure of influence of Picasso and Cezanne. He wanted a "floating quality."

Although complicated, deKooning’s approach was not static.  Sometimes he started with a sketch, but other times he started painting directly. Pinholes indicate idea possibilities pinned to works, a process of cut-outs worked out on the painting. He experimented in different oil mediums, such as safflower oil, to introduce new tactics.  He sometimes sanded the canvass to make it more receptive to the paint.  He later added foam board behind to canvass to create the “give” of the canvass he desired.

Because his working style is well documented, it is almost like we are there with the artist as he is creating.  We can look to his playfulness and allow experimentation and patience with our work. 

By the way, deKooning's brand of paint was Winsor Newton. 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Amber Hansen:New Show at the Arts Center

The Lawrence Arts Center has three new shows that are all worth seeing ( December 2-January 14).  Work from Amber Hansen is in the front gallery.  The inspiration for her work comes from her inner child, and memories she had as a child, layered with consciousness of the artist.  In a brief statement at the opening for this exhibit, Hansen described a memory she had when she was seven.  "Suddenly I realized that there was a difference between adults and me. At that moment,  I told myself not to forget what it is like to be like to be seven." The installation includes intriguing video work.

Here are some pics from the opening on Friday.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Dr. Sketchy: Muriel A La Mode

Dr. Sketchy's website says "Muriel A LaMode will be coming in from LA to entertain us in a daredevilish way.  Put your sketching supplies into your bindlestiff and join us by the train tracks for this not to be missed event. "  Sounds fun.  I'll be sure to be there.  The date is Sunday December 4,  The cost is $6.00, and the place is 1331 Union Avenue in the West Bottoms.  The time is 6-10

Here are some photos from the last Dr. Sketchy where there was a special Thanksgiving Day theme. Ilsa the Wolf was our great model.

These are my quick sketches: