Thursday, January 5, 2012

Yeah she's a trifflin' friend indeed.

In the last post I mentioned that I'd be showing off some new stationary. Get ready to be impressed/feel ashamed of any homemade gift you've ever given....
Caroline MADE me a collection of these for Christmas (and sent me this great little 5-year journal; each day has a question like "Do people change?" or "What was the best part of your day?" I can't wait to sit down with a cup of coffee and read my responses in 2017.) She took newspaper articles and blacked out any words that had nothing to do with fun or intrigue or the recipient's implied awesomeness. So, for instance, this one has "vibrant, dapper, soul and dance." She then used thread and some sort of magic paste to attach them to construction paper and cardstock. Voila. Greeting card worthy of one's favorite penpal.
Not only do I love both the effort that was put into the cards as well as the aesthetics of the end result, but I also love that when arranged on one's kitchen table, they kind of look like a Piet Mondrain painting. Remember this Dutch painter associated with the De Stijl movement?
Well, maybe not. But, I bet this looks familiar...

The reason I will forever know Piet Mondrian: art class at Cumberland County High School. I don't remember the exact assignment, but I do recall picking Mondrian as my artist of interest (probably less because I loved philosophical cubism and more so because I liked the way his name rolls off the tongue). Thanks, Mrs. Cash.
Speaking of art, let's get back to the "Caroline is wonderful" point. Here is her much more articulate response to the "What kind of art do you enjoy" question that I posed - and foolishly tried to answer - a few weeks ago. She even seamlessly incorporates Kanye, a feat that only further highlights her coolness and writing aptitude. Bitch.

December 5, 2011

Sitting right next to me, waiting to be tucked into a special envelope and stored away for a good long while, is a letter from my grandad (only one ‘d’). The letter is not dated, but it is a thank-you note for some Christmas handkerchiefs (and a pencil holder from me), and my best guess would say the note is from around 1989. But in noticing it sitting next to my keyboard, I realized, or perhaps reaffirmed in my mind, what art I enjoy most: the art that gives its observer a keen sense of the life and livelihood of its creator, or in some cases, of its subject. To me, handwritten letters are an art form. And to be a bit more precise about the artwork that strikes me most, I love art that presents – to my eye or ear or heart – a life and livelihood full of JOY.

When asked “what art do you enjoy most?” my first inclination is to think of visual art, and, in turn, of Renoir. His are the paintings I make my way toward first when visiting the Art Institute. The “why” of this inclination can be summed up by a painting depicting a lady wearing a red hat. That punch of color in her ensemble is unforgettable. I love paintings that include rich, vibrant colors. Colors exude a sense of brightness, light, life…gaiety. I am attracted to those artists who see life through a jovial lens.

The thick, glossy paint that Renoir used also fascinates me. Not because I know anything about the composition of paints, but because it is often easy to see his brush strokes through the build up of coat upon coat of thoughtful curves and lines. His work is not that of a minimalist; there are many blended colors and details. And even though these details may not be fine, they are given careful attention. Stand close to one of Renior’s paintings, and you will see these many thoughtful brush strokes, the flick and bend of the creator’s hand. Their shine makes it seem as though the paint has not even yet dry! I love looking at this artistic map of the author’s process.

Music is also an art form that is important to me, and Kanye West, one of my favorite contemporaries. I heard an episode of “Sound Opinions” about a year ago that included a review of Yeezy’s “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.” In the review, Greg Kot made a comment along the lines of “Kanye doesn’t like himself very much…nobody really says that kind of thing in pop music. He’s just so honest.” The remark resonated with me, and started to get at the crux of why I so enjoy his music. Beyond the catchiness and the fun and, in some cases, the beauty of his music, as silly as it may sound to say it, I feel like I know Kanye; I get him. I know the South Side of Chicago because it’s where I work. I know the feeling of loving your parent so deeply and can understand the sadness that accompanies the loss of one. I have felt the joy that his early songs evoke – a joy that comes from being young and things working out and of promise – and I, too, have felt the lows that he so openly displays to his fans in his more recent albums. His may not always be an art form that is full of joy, but it’s full of a realness that I appreciate.

I went to the Art Institute today, and saw a photography installation called “The Three Graces.” The exhibit was based on the statue of the same name, as each photo showed a trio of women – some young, some old, some dressed all alike, some wearing nothing at all, some serious, but many showing women – friends, quite often – being silly or hamming it up for the camera. The photos were mainly casual snapshots, all black and white, and many somewhat old. I loved the exhibit because it made me want to either come up with a story about the subjects, or simply guess as to who was the pretty one, the funny one, or the shy one of the trio. I wondered why on earth there were so many of three women standing around completely naked with their friends. Or if they willingly put on the same hideous dress. The photos made me think of my own photos with two friends. Which Grace would I be? This collective wall of female friends, sisters, mothers, and daughters seemed to celebrate womanhood, and the love shared between those women whom we love – women just like the one who prompted me to write this piece.

Yes, I like art that reminds me of the beauty – in scenery, in a beloved outfit, in an important friendship, in devastating loss – that can be found every where, every day in life.

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