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Chau and B.J.'s notes from Space City

Archive for February, 2009


The surprisingly emotional journey of a paper plane, soundtracked by Alexandre Desplat’s composition from the Birth score.

Town in the Sky

Town in the Sky

Finally! This is my first silk screen in awhile, 2-3 years maybe, and I am so happy that I made myself do it! It doesn’t hurt that my students are working on a similar project as well :). I used drawing fluid instead of burning my sketch on the screen, which made getting little details a bit difficult, but overall I am pleased with how it turned out. The buildings on the top reference personal landscapes and places I’ve lived. BJ and I are still in the middle of setting up his apartment, but I think the print is happy to be next to John Updike (R.I.P.) for now.

Inspiration:

photo | Lena Corwin

Photo | Lena Corwin

Mociun Spring 09

Le Château des Pyrénée

René Magritte | Le Château des Pyrénée

McSweeneys 28

McSweeney's 28

An old issue, but a keeper: “In eight illustrated books, elegantly held together in a single beribboned case, McSweeney’s 28 explores the state of the fable—those astute and irreducible allegories one doesn’t see so much anymore in our strange new age, when everyone is wild for the latest parable or apologue but can’t find time for anything else. Featuring fable-length work by Daniel Alarcón, Sheila Heti, and Nathan Englander, and different illustrators for each piece, McSweeney’s 28 promises to offer many nights’ worth of fine reading.”

When the economy slides south, the press suddenly herds the people into one faceless blob: the Masses, clamoring for help, crying for change, yearning to be heard and helped by their leaders. Not so in the upside-down world of Fashion Week. At the Marc Jacobs show, people were Individuals. Unique was the word of the moment. Striding down the runway, each model showed off a uniquely painted face (courtesy of François Nars, his first show in a decade) and uniquely formed hair (think the B-52′s and Flock of Seagulls). The boldly hued, wildly theatrical makeup and styling brought memories of the 1980′s, or more precisely the heydays of glam and punk rock, flash-dancing into your mental foreground.

The light-show we saw above the neck—at once neon and sculptural, like a radiating hunk of fallen meteorite—was reflected below, of course. These clothes were, according to Jacobs, “all about clubbing in the 80′s, when New Yorkers could have fun, be creative. Not like now.” Most people view high fashion as the peak of escapism, but it’s not until we’re caught in a once-in-a-lifetime global downturn that designers come right out and say, yes, absolutely, the world is circling the drain, and my clothes will help you forget that. Through this dark patch, Jacobs is saying, you can be the torch.

The Times’ Cathy Horyn is reminded of Jacobs’ early days, which inevitably gave way to his glamorous image of designer as rock star. Indeed, it seemed foreordained, this blend of Sprouse revivalism and rock-video chic. Those that know Jacobs also know that the late Stephen Sprouse, cult icon of mid-80′s downtown art-punk couture, was a hero to him. It wouldn’t be outlandish to attribute Jacobs’ rise to his brilliant resuscitation of Sprouse’s aesthetic, sneaked in 2001 into Jacobs’ designs, which paid off a famous bet by Louis Vuitton on this subversive upstart.

The word is that the Jacobs show lasted less than ten minutes, starting at 7:59 and, going by concluding at 8:08. Given his usual weakness for cinematic Fashion Week spectacle, outsize sets with thumping soundtracks, this is the extreme end of minimalism. Over at the 69th Regiment Armory on Lexington Avenue, the usual venue, the list of allowed attendees plummeted from 2,000 to an intimate and cheap, if frustratingly exclusive, 700. Tightening the belt like everyone else!

Edges serrated like a knife, jewel-bright pencil skirts, jutting shoulders that approximate cliffs. Rebellious, yes, but also surprisingly architectural in its overlapping symphony of folds and pleats. Add the tapered pants and sliced tops to the equation and it is obvious that this collection falls more on the couture end than the ready-to-wear end of the spectrum. They have a time-capsule quality, too, that would discourage most. In the end, the fluorescent fantasia of the Marc Jacobs show offers a sharp contrast to the offerings of—for instance—Nicole Miller, DKNY, and Diane von Furstenburg, who tendered a vision more grounded in reality, honoring the day-to-day without dipping into the pedestrian or the ordinary.

Chez Perry

Design Sponge looks at the Brooklyn home of Mike Perry, one of our favorite artists. Whether or not you know it, you’ve probably seen his work in the form of his hand-drawn, sweetly childlike hipster typography for the likes of Urban Outfitters and countless magazines. Fitted into every crevice of the house is a mini-gallery. The vibe of the place is comfortable and warm, while staying simple and showcasing good design.

I’m about to start stop-motion animation with my students and I found this beautiful video while searching through YouTube. I’ve been listening to Fleet Foxes a lot lately (thanks, B.), so finding this was even sweeter. Enjoy!

I don’t remember exactly how I came to appreciate art. But I do know that I didn’t begin with Ab Ex cowboys like Pollock and De Kooning, much as I came to love them later on. I began, I’m nearly sure, with the more or less famous works of the all-American painters: Hopper, Homer, and Wyeth. That meant Hopper’s Nighthawks, Homer’s Gulf Stream, and, of course, Wyeth’s Christina’s World. They all communicated different varieties of a loneliness that seemed essentially American: Hopper’s metropolitan anonymity, Homer’s man-against-the-elements tussle, and Wyeth’s solitude of the iron will. In the words of D.H. Lawrence: “The essential American soul is hard, isolate, stoic, and a killer. It has never yet melted.” These paintings couldn’t melt. Each one had an air of melancholy that spoke to my own melancholy.

Christina's World

Christina’s World struck me as a triumph of craft. The grey-gold hue of the field came close to the appearance of bruised flesh. Amber waves of grain, these were not. No, this work of art is far from a testament to nature’s beauty and bounty. Christina’s twisted posture alone seemed patently unnatural, curving toward the house, as the road curved away. From the looks of it, she had no use for roads and paths. Thoreau might as well have been talking about her:

I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it…

Christina had no say: she was born to the mean minimal life of the country cripple. But she would hardly accept a limited existence, imprisoned in her own quarters, in a chair, cut off from that windy land and the big-sky landscape. She’d wrest liberty back. She would cut that broad swath—as she did very literally in Wyeth’s bone-dry grass, having wandered so far afield that her house fades into a cloudy silhouette against the horizon. The background is dark for a reason: like everything else, the Depression turned it into a gloomy husk of its original form. The background is also small for a reason. Wyeth’s composition thrusts Christina so far into the foreground that she dwarfs the that faraway house, comparing the largeness of her will to the smallness of anything that might confine it. Or define it.

“Formulaic stuff not very effective even as illustrational ‘realism,’” is how Peter Schjeldahl wrote this off. Art critics at the time were brandishing arms and theories in defense of Modernism. This was the time of Pollock and here was Wyeth, the consummate realist sticking to his guns, while the world was seduced by abstraction. It’s no surprise that illustrators today stand by him. His style seemed to gracefully encompass both a gestural wildness and painstaking detail, a sense of hope alongside misanthropy. He illustrated one thing to perfection: how an artist can brave the bandwagon mentality of the art world, without giving up a single facet of his singular vision.

rs

 

New_Year

We’re wishing you a Happy New Year full of good health, happiness, and many blessings. It’s the year of the Ox, which is my animal so I’m hoping 2009 will be extra special :). The image above is from our family gathering, I’m giving my grandma a traditional New Year’s blessing, but let’s pretend it’s you guys in front of me. The mic wasn’t necessary since the gathering was relatively small, but it was a good transition into the karaoke session. BJ covered Gangsta’s Paradise. Wish y’all were there.

I’ve been super busy with teaching and lesson plans, but I promise to be better at posting. This weekend, we’re planning a silkscreen project. BJ promises he’ll post too, so come back and visit us.

Have fun watching the Superbowl. I’ll root for the Steelers for Jackie :)