Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Pat Steir at Cheim & Read

Steir’s elegant, larger-than-life paintings flood into the hushed expanses of the concrete floored gallery at Cheim & Reid, diffused daylight illuminating these vast draperies of monochrome lushness, whose beckoning surfaces are not unlike a crusty frosting on the artist’s succulent canvases. 
You might expect some dramatic personage to emerge from behind these shimmering curtains, yet they remain quietly stoic for such ambitious edifices. The artist’s ego is famously in check, for this is Pat Steir, Buddhist powerhouse extraordinaire. She may be supersizing, but has left her hubris at the door.
Embracing eastern philosophy using a painterly approach might seem like a dicey proposition, too many potential pitfalls of clichéd metaphysical verbiage. But Steir steers clear of becoming doctrinaire, relying on an astute sense of well-crafted chromatic nuance to deliver a series of compelling, if not intimate, scenes sourced from nature.
That these artworks are essentially landscapes disguised as luxurious gowns does not detract from their seductive allure. I’ll bet Courbet would have relaxed with a beer in front of these pieces and have soaked up some essence before returning to his roguish labors.
Indeed Steir’s deft touch connotes an ornamental flourish; her work would look good in either a bank lobby or a fancy yacht. This may not be her intent, but décor haunts her results, and lingers like an aftertaste. The paintings are just a tad too pretty and melodious.
The delicate distinction between challenge and accommodation fluctuate with Steir’s impeccably painted vistas, rewarding the viewer with a wistful remorse that they wished they could have one.

The Changing Face of William Shakespeare; The Diary: Three Centuries of Private Lives at the Morgan Library

Want to know how to spot a real Shakespeare portrait? Then get thee to Mr Pierpont Morgan’s palatial pad of precious prizes.
Hint: wink, wink (*answer below).
It was my sister’s idea to visit the Morgan. Sarah is a bigwig of sorts at the Boston Public Library and is enthusiastic about all things librarian. I hadn’t been to the Morgan in many years and was only tepidly anticipating gazing on the Bards musty continence. 
Wrong again! This Morgan field trip proved to be an illuminating and provocative little adventure. Although the Morgan’s see through elevator and glassy, corporate looking atrium seem out of place architecturally, the library and his study have been restored beautifully. 
The current crowd draw exhibit is the Shakespeare portrait and is an intriguing but small collection of about 5 portraits. The one supposedly done from life features an amusingly youthful looking Willy in his mid 40’s with a full head of hair.
Maybe he just lived right.
(*I suppose some Shakespeare aficionados might know that he had a wandering left eye, but I enjoy discovering minutia about historic bigwigs that bring them up close and personal)
However the Diaries are the real eye openers here, and provide plenty of opportunity to visually wander through rambling, but revealing narratives of creative luminaries.
Although photography was not allowed I snuck in a phone photo of the Stuart Davis tome. His manifesto is professed in block lettering, perhaps informing his graphic interface with art.
Steinbeck complains about too many visitors and the loud phone ringing.
Einstein scribbles algorithms like sketches, etching out his vision of the universe.
Bob Dylan actually does sketch, a view out his window of an urban landscape evoking Matisse.
Many of the older diaries were written in tiny cramped script, I’d guess that paper and ink were precious commodities in the 17th century. The languid, flaccid handwriting, and copious piles of pulp used by 20th century diarists might have shocked those antique scribes.
Wastes not want not.

Stuart Davis diary

WEOW NetFlix pick of the week: The Kings Speech

In lieu of royal wedding hysteria we at WEOW recommend Geoffrey Rush’s tour de force performance in The Kings Speech.
Based on the diaries of the real speech therapist Lionel Logue, Rush takes this role and runs with it. Some scenes are shot in Logue’s actual flat with a colorful but mysterious mural serving as backdrop. (not a set as I understood it)
Rush’s Logue gradually coaxes Colin Firth’s Prince George out of his royally stuttering snit by insisting on such indignities as calling his royal highness “Bertie” as do only his closest family members.
After a hilarious scene in which Logue encourages some prolific and loud foulmouthed ranting from the future king, we hear the gripping story of Bertie’s abuse from his nanny as a 4 year old.
Tom Hooper who also made the HBO series John Adams directs this wonderfully woven tale of royal privilege and dysfunction. His expertise as a documentarian delving into the private lives of significant historical figures is showcased by an amazing cast in KS.
The supporting roles of women in this film lend a theatrical foundation to the script. Seen all too briefly, Eve Best from Nurse Jackie plays a conniving Wallis Stevens. The Ice Queen Mary is aced by Claire Bloom, and of course everything Helena Bonham Carter touches is golden.

Baby trashes bar in Las Palmas, from Rooftop Films

The concept behind the short film is simple but genius. Inspired by new fatherhood, Johannes decided to make a short film featuring his one year old daughter as a drunk and disorderly middle aged woman in a bar in Las Palmas. 


Iggy Pop for his back from the dead live (but shirtless) performance of Wild One on American Idol