Friday, June 30, 2006

The Courage to Create

Rollo May's, "The Courage to Create"

The elusive dream of reading on the beach. I will attempt that goal of summer reading without being sidetracked by summer pleasures. Here's the opening paragraph in the preface to May's The Courage to Create:

ALL MY LIFE I have been haunted by the fascinating questions of creativity. Why does an original idea in science and in art "pop up" from the unconscious at a given moment? What is the relation between talent and the creative act, and between creativity and death? Why does a mime or a dance give us such delight? How did Homer, confronting something as gross as the Trojan War, fashion it into poetry which became a guide for the ethics of the whole Greek civilization?" - Rollo May

Not sure how long it will take to read this book but I'm not in a rush since I want to be able to grasp and recall the information.


Thursday, June 29, 2006

Full House at the Whitney

Fabulous People and Fabulous Art

I attended the opening reception last night for the Whitney's new exhibition which gives a "singular" view of their permanent collection. One of the highlights of the night was the floor devoted to Edward Hopper. Just when you think you know an artist, there is always something new to discover.

The major highlight of the night though was having the chance to meet an artist couple from New Jersey and hearing some of their views on art, politics and the east coast - Texas rivalry!

Here's a link to their website:


Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Sotheby's Lecture: Houses of the Berkshires

Just getting back from an exciting lecture about the Houses of the Berkshires, given by Richard S. Jackson Jr. and Cornelia Brooke Gilder. After hearing the lecture and learning about this area and the personalities that helped establish it's legacy as a fashionable destination during the late 19th century and even now, I am motivated to go there, camera in hand for a weekend trip. The presenters were genuinely excited about there topic and immensely knowledgeable as well, this excitement was contagious as well.

I was able to pick up their latest publication tonight, which is titled, Houses of the Berkshire, immediately after the lecture and I'm glad I did. Judging by the scholarly approach of the presenters, I know that there is a wealth of information here. Well, here's a link to their publishers website where you can read about the publication, which I recommend:

Here's a brief excerpt from the publication: "The scenic hills of the Bershires, with their beautiful lakes, clean air, and spectacular autumn foliage, have provided a respite from urban living for wealthy New Yorkers and Bostonians since the 19th century. In Lenox and Stockbridge and surrounding communities, grand houses were built by the nations leading architects."- Houses of the Berkshires

Monday, June 26, 2006

The Creative Element

Contemporary Dialogue
As far as my personal artistic journey goes, last week was quite a pivotal week. Very inspirational and insightful. The week started on a positive note with an incredible lecture given at Sotheby's by Daniel Sturgis titled "British Painting Now," which dealt with contemporary British painters and their respective work from the last two years. The artist giving the lecture, Daniel Sturgis is actually an accomplished painter himself, but more on that later. Essentially, in the lecture Daniel covered about 20 or so working artists and presented slides of their work. Each artist was rather unique yet similar in offering a fresh, innovative and clever approach to the existing pictorial language as it applies to the canvas. Daniel definitely kept everyone interested with his lecture, which can be quite difficult when describing so many pieces of art and so many artists. If Daniel just merely said, this artist is great, and offered that brief description for every artist, perhaps there would have been a revolt inside of Sotheby's or perhaps there would have been people sleeping during the lecture. But that wasn't the case. In fact, while he was talking I looked around and noticed everyone was attentive. This was evident also by the questions and the varied responses from the crowd at the end of his letter. As someone who has attended many lectures, it was obvious that he knew what he was talking about but also that he was able to explain some difficult concepts in laymen terms without "watering down" his presentation. Scholarly, lively, and accessible.

Daniel's personal art that I was able to see displays a genius level of originality, wit and cleverness. He has a sophisticated sense of form, color tonality and balance. Looking at his works, I was in awe of the way he keeps the viewers eye in the painting and the rhythm that his paintings display, its as if the paintings optically move your eye around and then the painting somehow sustains one, the viewer, to look further spatially into the paintings which then leads to fresh insights; new understandings about the paintings and new imaginations as well. It has been said that Joan Miro mastered form but often that there was no warmth in his paintings, a theory I do not subscribe too, but with Daniel's paintings, he's mastered form and as someone mentioned at the reception, his paintings have a certain warmness and optimism that is much needed in the world today.

While several of the artists that Daniel mentioned caught my attention, one artist stood out and I was blessed to be able to speak with her the following Thursday at a reception for Daniel Sturgis. Here's her site website: Cyan-D

Additionally, I was able to speak at length with Daniel and with the pleasant and insightful gallery owner, Cynthia Broan. I was able to ask Cynthia many questions about the current gallery scene in Manhattan and she proved to be quite the sage. I felt as if she were my long lost "art aunt." Here's a link to her website: Cynthia Broan

Did I mention that after the lecture last Tuesday that I ran over to Carnegie Hall to hear the phenomenal pianist Brad Mehldau? But that's another story...


Tuesday, June 20, 2006

First Impressions: Brad Mehldau Solo Recital


Brad Mehldau just completed a solo piano recital of epic proportions and trust me when I say that everyone in attendance would agree with my stance. In fact, several of the people I spoke with, many of whom heard Brad Mehldau for the first time this night, were stunned by his creative genius. Tonights performance transcended category and labels. Watching this performance, I could easily understand why Kandinsky wanted pictorial language to reach the heights of music. Brad Mehldau is not only a rare pianist, many would rightly argue that he is the preeminent pianist of his generation, but also a rare artist who possesses a masterly technical command of his medium but doesn't let the esoteric formal aspects of musical structure get into the way of creating something that lives and breathes, something that simply connects to its listeners in a profound way.

I will write more about tonights event, check back!


Brad Mehldau: Preeminent Pianist of this Generation?

"The preeminent pianist of his generation, Brad
Mehldau is this year's recipient of the
prestigious Prix Miles-Davis. Accompanied by
faithful bassist Larry Grenadier and new drummer
Jeff Ballard, Mehldau will feature the Day Is Done
album. Rhythmic and harmonic challenges abound!" -
Montreal Jazz Fest

That statement alone is quite possibly the biggest
understatement of this generation. Tonight I will be
attending Brad Mehldau's solo jazz recital at
Carnegie Hall inside of their new Zankel Hall. His
performance tonight is part of the JVC Jazz
Festival that is currently taking place here in NYC.
Although, it is quite clear that this is the "can't
miss" event of the Festival if not the entire year.

Frequent readers of Art Comments surely recognize
the name if not the music since I have written
extensively about the artist known as Brad Mehldau.
And looks like I will be writing some more Brad
Mehldau posts!


Saturday, June 17, 2006

Balzac's "The Unknown Masterpiece"

Art Notes Book Club

As a member of the Art Notes Book Club I wrote an initial entry that covered my thoughts on Balzac's treatise on art: his short story "The Unknown Masterpiece." Below is the entry that I submitted to the online book club. In the future I will post my not only some of my entries to the book club but those of other members as well.

Book Club entry:

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Balzac's rather animated description of the artistic journey which often entails the pursuit of expressing universal truths, ala Aristotle, a pursuit of attempting to express truths in a transcending way that will outlive the artist himself and truths that are filled with passion that speaks fervently. No wonder that Porbus said, "The fruits of love wither quick; those of art are immortal."

For many artists, technical command alone, does not signify any type artistic achievement. For example, just the ability to draw doesn't mean that one is creative but rather that one is imitating and not creating. Thus, the Master told Porbus, "It's not the mission of art to copy nature, but to express it! Remember, artists aren't mere imitators, they're poets!"

Herein lies the beauty of this novel, Balzac aptly gives us three artists; Poussin representing the eager, young artist who is at the very beginning of his personal journey, Porbus who represents the middle of the road artist who although not a beginner is not a Master artist yet, and finally, Frenhofer who fully embodies the term: Master Artist. Although the pursuit of attempting sublime artistic expression is never over considering the way Balzac ends this story. Observers to the unfolding of this story, including Poussin and Porbus clearly see that Frenhofer represents an art form that is a creative expression that communicates something that is alive and felt through all the physical and emotional senses with both the viewer and the creator and that creation is not restrained by rules of imitating, but viewers also learn that by the Master himself spending several years on one painting and not finishing the painting that the pursuit of an artist is an eternal journey, a journey filled with the pains of failure and the joys of success.


Friday, June 02, 2006

Artist in Residence: Thoughts on the Chelsea gallery scene

By SB in Manhattan

Summer is the perfect time of year to go gallery hopping. This past weekend some friends and I walked around the Chelsea section of Manhattan browsing the many galleries in the area. Most of the art exhibits we saw were interesting, but what I found even more interesting were the people that my friends and I came across during our gallery hopping expedition. One of the typical Chelsea galleries we walked into a – you know the type I am talking about; high ceilings, wooden beams, white-washed walls, beautifully polished floors, with attendants who only speak to you if you are interested in buying - had an exhibit of women's faces with curly, flowy hair. Each painting had a different color theme and a surreal notion to it, a la Salvador Dali spray painted with Jung's dream theories.

However, the paintings were not the main attraction at the gallery. Rather, it was a hip-looking, Chelsea metrosexual (popular term to denote the sophisticated, culturally aware heterosexual male who displays slight feminine characteristics), with his nails manicured, his hair slightly messy in the sexy-wannabe kind of way and the "right" type of jeans with the "right" type of beige top. In his hand he was holding a little, dark blue blanket. At first glance, one might have thought he was a grown-up Linus from the peanuts, but really he had the most adorable puppy wrapped up in it. Of course, the puppy would bob its head out at the most opportune time - when an attractive young woman was walking by - just long enough for her to exclaim: "Oh wow, what a cute puppy!" which would then lead to spontaneous conversation about the puppy and perhaps an exchange of phone numbers? Needless to say, it was the cliche single man with the "cute puppy" scheme.

Related Blog Post:
International Art Fair

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Art Comments: Artist in Residence

Official Announcement

After thoroughly exploring how to add futher compelling content to the Art Comments blog, I am proud to announce the launch of a new program developed for the Art Comments reader base. Artist in Residence, a program in which Art Comments will commission various writers to write articles that will be posted on the Art Comments blog. Some of the coverage provided will continue to cover New York area related art events but will also include international reporting of the same. The commissions will only serve to cement Art Comments as a great and thought provoking destination for the student, the artist, and those who love the arts.