Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Just this week, I read about an artist who dealt with opposition over a piece of public art. In 1981, Richard Serra installed Tilted Arc in the Federal Plaza in NYC. Folks complained that it obstructed passage through the plaza (which it did). The controversy heated up and it was finally removed in 1989.
Just last night, a friend in Nashville told me about the controversy stirred up by a potential field trip for her third-grade daughter. It seems Nashville has a statue called Musica by Alan Lequire. It sits in a traffic roundabout near Music Row. It also seems that someone in the school was going to take these third-graders to "learn about art" by viewing the sculpture. As you can imagine, many parents were upset by this and the field trip has since been altered to please everyone involved. Here's where it gets sticky for me. I am an artist. I love art and will always champion the cause of art when I can. I've seen a picture of the sculpture and it doesn't offend me. I have been in many life drawing classes and drawn the nude figure. It's not a problem for me. But, I understand why some parents wouldn't want their third-grader introduced to this particular piece of art at their age. If it were me, I'd take them myself and try to educate them about art and the depiction of the human body. In my opinion, parents should teach their children to be modest but not that the nude human body is a bad thing. The other problem I have with this situation is the location. Why did Nashville decide to put up a sculpture of this nature when they know that they are the buckle of the Bible belt? It seems like a poor choice of subject matter for the audience. Now, I know that southerners can be a conservative, ignorant bunch when it comes to art. I also know that I wouldn't try to put up a statue of a bunch of naked people in public unless I was wanting to piss a bunch of people off (which I might be inclined to do). Sure, I'd love it if ignorant folk could be educated to the point where they didn't attack art they don't understand but that's not going to happen overnight (if ever) So, in the end I guess I'm saying I like the sculpture but I question their motives and placement.
So, just so you can be clear about what I'm saying here...I am not saying that third-graders should be exposed to nude sculpture. That's up to the parents to decide. What I am saying is that the sculpture isn't a bad thing, it's just a question of where it's on display. Clear as mud?
Yeah, I thought so.
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Monday, February 26, 2007
Sunday, February 25, 2007
I like the approach that Jeff is taking with the group. We are going to watch a movie on the first Sunday of every month and then discuss the spiritual, theological and cultural issues from the movie on the following Sundays of the month. We are going to see how this format pans out. It may need tweaking in the future...it may fall by the wayside replaced by something else. The point is, it's a creative way to engage in spiritual conversation without getting all churchy (which I abhor). I think I'm going to like this. I'm not sure what Sarah is after but the things I'd like to take away from it are a sense of community and family, friendship, and an opportunity for my faith to be restored and grow. For that to be successful, I hope that I can let my guard down and let these people in. I also hope that they can accept me for who I am and love me in spite of myself. And in the end, I hope that I can accept them and love them back.
My fingers are crossed.
Saturday, February 24, 2007
Friday, February 23, 2007
Before the concert, I was talking to some friends about Keaggy and this dude in his 50's with a ponytail is sitting in front of me. He turns around and starts telling me "all things Phil." Well, I've been a fan since high school and I know the essentials. This guy is some uber-geek Phil fan (Phil Phan?) and starts throwing stuff at me that I already know. Then he brings up the whole urban legend about Jimi Hendrix being asked, "How does it feel to be the greatest guitarist in the world" and Jimi answers, "I don't know. Go ask Phil Keaggy." Well, this rumor has never been confirmed and even Phil Keaggy himself doesn't believe it since Hendrix died before Keaggy started recording with Glass Harp. So, I tell this guy it's an urban legend. Wrong thing to say. Oh my...I have offended his hero. I don't mind if you're a music geek or a sci-fi geek as long as you have one foot in reality. This guys feet were firmly planted at the altar of Phil.
Later, after Phil played about 1.5 hours, he informed us that he'd be back after a short message from the pastor. I thought, "Oh no...here it is. The unavoidable Christian concert mini-message." And sure enough, that's what it was...right down to the whole cliched concerned whisper voice that pastors use when they're trying to sell the Gospel. You know the voice...where it almost sounds like they're ready to cry because you're headed straight to hell in a handbasket. Ugh. I hate that crap! And besides, I paid money to hear Phil not this guy.
Christians hate it when you put them in a box...but they fit so nicely.
Thursday, February 22, 2007
The show was incredible. I've always known that Phil is one of the greatest guitar players on the planet but now I've seen it in person. The man can make a guitar sing. He had one of those multitrack recorders that he triggered with his pedals so he could play layer after layer of tracks on top of each other. I can't really describe it. I shot some video but I'm not sure I can post it. I need to find out how to convert from Quicktime to Windows Media so I can edit. If any of you know how to do this and can give me some pointers, I'd appreciate it.
I'm so glad I've finally seen Phil. That's another one under my belt. Now, if only the ever-elusive Toto would come my way.
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
The names Elvis and Marilyn have been replaced today with Paris, Lindsay, Anna Nicole, Britney, and so on and so forth, ad infinitum, ad nauseum, add me to the list of disgusted.
Monday, February 19, 2007
We watched the movie The Devil and Daniel Johnston and it was really, really fascinating. Here's this guy who's dealing with severe mental illness and yet he is just so full of creativity. Whether it's drawings or songs, he is constantly producing art. Just think about all the art we don't produce because we have a headache or we just don't feel like it. Daniel is an inspiration to us all.
Sunday, February 18, 2007
Friday, February 16, 2007
Chris Cornell - I've already talked about Chris. He just has one of the most gut-busting, gutteral, raw, chewed-on-razorblades rock voices I've ever heard.
Steve Lukather - Luke is the guitarist for Toto and because of that he is overlooked as a major talent. This guy in amazing. Not only is he one of the great guitarists of the world, he can sing like it's nobody's business. His voice has a smoky flavor that does justice to ballads and rockers alike.
Dan Huff - Dan's also an amazing guitar player but his vocals are great. I liked him in Whiteheart and I loved him in Giant.
Ann Wilson - The lead singer for Heart, Ann's got vocal chords to spare. Before she came along, all we had was Janis Joplin and she was way overrated. As far as I'm concerned, Ann sits on the throne as Queen of Rockers.
Brad Delp - Brad, the lead singer for Boston, has an outstanding voice with a range that's out of this world.
Paul Rodgers - Rodgers voice is so smooth you wouldn't think it would work for rock and roll, but it does. He gets around but he sounds good no matter who he's performing with.
Brian Johnson - Where did he get that voice? It sounds like Gollum with the flu but it works. I never liked AC/DC all that much when Bon Scott was their singer but when Brian fired it up on Back in Black, I was hooked.
Patty Smyth - She has an incredible rock and roll voice. Her 1987 solo album Never Enough is one of my all time faves. One of my favorite memories is listening to her sing Tom Wait's Downtown Train on my walkman while I was in New York City. The song just came alive for me. I hear she's touring again with Scandal. Patty, come to Seattle!
Doug Pinnick - All the guys in King's X sing but Doug's voice is the most distinct. He's got a fat, soulful voice that hangs down low. Usually that doesn't work for rock but it does here. His voice has been shaky over the last few years but I understand he's quit smoking weed because he realized it was ruining his voice. Duh!
Stevie Ray Vaughan - Stevie was a young man with an old voice. He always looked and sounded 20 years older than he was. We used to do some of his songs in a band I was in and I loved singing his songs but I knew I didn't do them justice. His voice just dripped smoke and sweat and the blues.
Doyle Bramhall II - Doyle pulls off something amazing. His voice is husky and smooth at the same time. I wish he'd release some new music. We haven't heard from him since 2001.
Steve Perry - The golden throat behind Journey, Perry's pipes were a major inspiration to me in the 70's and 80's. I can't sing like him but in trying to I learned alot about tone and harmony. It's too bad he and Journey can't mend fences. The new guy just doesn't cut the mustard.
Now I know I didn't mention Robert Plant, Freddy Mercury, Roger Daltrey, Meatloaf, Sting, Scott Weiland, David Lee Roth, Phil Lynott, Malford Milligan, Burton Cummings, Steven Tyler, Myles Kennedy, Corey Glover, David Clayton-Thomas, James Taylor, Paul McCartney, Kevin Cronin, Steve Walsh, Gary Cherone, Sammy Hagar and on and on and on. It doesn't mean they're not great...it just means that they didn't fit the category or they're farther down on my list. Sue me...it's my list. Besides, if you object you are more than welcome to comment. Let's dialogue. Heck, I may have forgotten someone important.
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Monday, February 12, 2007
The movie focuses on Jerome, a budding young artist of considerable talent. His renderings of people and figures are very good. After high school, Jerome enters the world of art school and his perceptions of art and all that go with that are shattered.
There are so many scenes in this film that ring true of my experiences in art school...it's hard to revisit them all here. One scene, in which the students put their work up for critique, is funny and acurate. They have been given the assignment of a self-portrait. Jerome's is a well executed academic portrait in charcoal. Another student has done a version that looks like crosshatching by a blind person. Many students in the class focus on the crosshatch version and how much they like it. Jerome's disgust is finally picked up on by the teacher (played by John Malkovich) and he asks for a comment. Jerome says it looks like a bad Cy Twombly knock-off. It's at this point the girl who did it begins to cry.
I have never seen anyone cry during a critique (although I have seen someone cry during a boring esoteric lecture) but I have seen a fist fight. One of my professors told a guy in our class that he had no business pursuing a career in art because he had no talent. The guy protested saying it didn't matter because it was the profs job to teach him. Words were exchanged, shoving began and before we knew it, the fists started flying. Yikes! Talk about uncomfortable.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that artists are a breed unto themselves. I could tell countless stories of odd behavior from artistic folk. This movie, even though it's not the greatest film, reveals some of the weirdness that is art school. It sent me back in my memories to some fun, if not weird, times. Perhaps I'll share some stories with you all when I get the chance.
Ballard has a few interesting places to visit. Here's what we did.
- Walked through the Ballard Sunday Farmer's Market. We bought some local honey. I've heard it helps with your allergies.
- Visited the OKOK Gallery. It seems they are trying to be on the upward side of the whole urban art thing but it just seemed a bit pretentious, like they are trying too hard.
- We ducked into a used music place and they were playing a record (remember those?) by UFO, a 70's rock band. I'd heard of them but never got into them. I liked what I heard so I am going to have to check it out.
- We finally visited the Locks from the land side. It's a very interesting place. It's especially fun to watch the boats rise and fall depending on which way they are going. We are going to go back in the spring when the flowers are blooming. They have a small botanical garden that looks like it might be worth checking out. Also, we hope to catch the salmon running in the fish ladder during that season.
- After all that, we stopped by a frame shop to pick up some scrap mat board for art purposes. While there, we bought some interesting gift wrap paper to use in our collages.
It was a nice day. The weather was cool but comfy and the sun was out for most of the time. We even saw a double rainbow, the second we've seen recently. I think as long as Sunday afternoon's are delivering good weather, Sarah and I are going to try and find somewhere to be. There are so many cool neigborhoods in Seattle to explore. And it's good exercise.
Saturday, February 10, 2007
Great talking to David. We both mentioned the regret of not having the time to visit friends in far-flung places. I have no idea when I'll get back home to Pensacola or to visit friends in other places. Our hopes include a trip to DC in 2008 to visit some friends of mine. Most haven't met Sarah yet. But first on our agenda, and it is a selfish one, is to attempt an Alaskan cruise. We both have wanted to visit Alaska and we both need a vacation. After that little trip for us, we'll try to figure out how to visit friends and family. There just isn't enough time.
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
"Faith and egos collide in the age of mass-market religion at Houston's Rock Baptist Church...A search committee has been formed to find a successor to Rock's legendary pastor, eighty-one-year-old Philip Gottschall, a vigorous marvel and master strategist both in and out of the pulpit. Young Jeremiah Mears is asked to audition for the job by preaching a month of Sunday evening guest sermons...Gottschall protects what he has spent a lifetime building at Rock by backing Mears as his replacement; but as Jerry gains a foothold, Gottschall's grip on his pulpit becomes as firm as his faith. When Hugo Taney, the pastor's sound man, and Jerry discover their lives are astonishingly linked by past events, Gottschall fears their alliance and becomes haunted by "whisperings and secrets." The Biblical struggle among this trinity of men climaxes during Rock's spectacular annual electrical Christmas parade; there is a sacrifice, a resurrection and, finally, salvation as God whispers to a listening heart."*
I read this play because I had heard it was loosely based on the Joel Gregory/W. A. Criswell struggle at First Baptist Dallas. I was in seminary in Ft. Worth at the time of this struggle, attended the church Gregory had pastored before FBC, and had a friend on staff at FBC. Heck, the drama team I was involved with at seminary actually performed at one of W. A. Criswell's birthday parties. I wanted to see if this play did justice to the source material. As it turns out, it is definitely loosely based but the essence is there. I am hoping to watch a video of the performance of this play at Taproot. A play is not meant to be read but to be seen on stage. That said, I enjoyed this play. I did find that the whole theme of the struggle seemed to get a glossy treatment. I've been enbroiled in smaller church controversy before and I know how ugly it can get. The ugliness is muted in this play. All in all, though, the play does successfully communicate it's message of power, corruption, ego and faith and it does it pretty well. I just wish there was a stronger way to get this message out to all churches. These struggles happen all too frequently and it's wrong. Good people get hurt and bad people thrive in the name of God.
Okay. I'll climb down off my soapbox now.
*Source: Dramatists Play Service
Monday, February 05, 2007
A strange mist full of strange creatures envelops a small town in Maine and the people trapped in the local grocery store must fight for survival.
This is a short story in the compilation book Skeleton Crew. I read it many, many years ago but wanted to re-read this story. It's a great little monster story. I understand that Frank Darabont is developing it for a feature film. I know I said I gave up on King a long time ago but I still enjoy his older stuff.
That would be illegal.
Sunday, February 04, 2007
Friday, February 02, 2007
"The idea behind The Accidental Masterpiece," writes chief art critic for the New York Times Michael Kimmelman, "is that art provides us with clues about how to live our own lives more fully...about how creating, collecting and even just appreciating art can make living a daily masterpiece. The Accidental Masterpiece encourages us to live life with eyes wide open, because the drive to live life more alertly is instinctive, and whether you are an artist by trade or by desire, the art of seeing well is one that can be learned.
You don't have to be an artist to experience art's truths and consolations because art is not just created, it is also discovered. Kimmelman contends that art can be found almost anywhere and everywhere, if only our eyes are trained to see it. Many of us have not yet learned how to recognize the art in our own lives - to do so is something of an art itself. The Accidental Masterpiece shows us the way, pointing out art's special power to transcend the moment and dissolve time by connecting us with what we cherish and deem longer lasting than outselves."*
I can't add too much to what's already been said. This is an excellent book written with incredible insight and clarity. I enjoyed it immensely. It has reawakened in me the desire to really "see" with the eyes of an artist and to live a life just brimming with art. If art is a passion of yours, you should read this book.
*Source: The Accidental Masterpiece by Michael Kimmelman
Thursday, February 01, 2007
"Harry Dresden's faced some pretty terrifying foes during his career. Giant scorpions. Oversexed vampires. Psychotic werewolves. It comes with the territory when you're the only professional wizard in the Chicago area phone book.
But in all Harry's years of supernatural sleuthing, he's never faced anything like this: the spirit world's gone postal. All over Chicago, ghosts are causing trouble — and not just of the door-slamming, boo-shouting variety. These ghosts are tormented, violent, and deadly. Someone — or something — is purposely stirring them up to wreak unearthly havoc.
But why? And why do so many of the victims have ties to Harry? If Harry doesn't figure it out soon, he could wind up a ghost himself."*
Grave Peril is the third book in The Dresden Files series. It chronicles the adventures of Harry Dresden, a modern-day wizard who advertises in the Chicago Yellow Pages. In light of the recent debut of the TV show on the SciFi Channel, I thought I would re-read these books. I found this one in audiobook form at the library so I thought I would give it a go. I've never listened to an audiobook before. I didn't think I would enjoy the experience but I did. I think I will be doing this audiobook thing alot more.
Anyway, I can't say enough good about this series. I picked up the first book on a lark one day and I have been a faithful follower ever since. There are 8 books out with the 9th on the way very soon. I don't have high hopes for the TV show. I saw one episode and it was weak. Maybe it will get better...who knows. Anyway, don't base your desire to read the books on the show. Get the books and read them for yourself. They're so much fun!
Source: The Accidental Masterpiece by Michael Kimmelman