Saturday, November 26, 2011

Snow Falling on Cedars

scene from SFOC at old Port Townsend ferry dock

I love the story & movie Snow Falling on Cedars for several reasons. The book is magical for one & takes place in my neck of the woods, as Guterson lives on an island about 40 minutes away from here. He is not only a great writer, but also researches his subject matter extensively, which makes where I live come that much more alive for me. I was married where the Japanese Gardens used to flourish at Fort Worden State Park & our old ferry dock in Port Townsend, pictured above, is where the Japanese set sail for the internment camps in the movie. Ishmael & Hatsue had their first kiss in a driftwood tepee; not unlike those often built on our shores.

"Ten years in the writing, its roots lie in both the inner and outer life of its author, David Guterson. He explains: "The book grew out of the history of my own community, Bainbridge Island, on Puget Sound, where I've lived for the past 15 years. Many of the Japanese Americans who live there were interned in 1942. But it also reflects my own personal searching. At the time, I was asking myself the same philosophical questions that are posed in the book: Given that we live in an indifferent universe, where horrible things happen every day to innocent people, how should we conduct ourselves, how do we go on?" 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Dumpster Diver Artist Ross Palmer Beecher

The sculpture exhibit titled "On the Edge" went off the edge before it opened at Harbor Steps, across the street from Seattle Art Museum. The VP for Harbor Properties said his company is displeased with Ross Palmer's contribution to the show & wants it removed. 

"We support Ross 100 percent," said the spokesman for On the Edge Sculpture Invitational. "Her piece is still here, and I'm hoping we can work this out. If they chose to remove it, we'll find another venue to exhibit it. Harbor Properties let us choose the artists and never asked to see the work ahead of time."

Beecher is a sculptor with a folk art flavor. She recycles aluminum cans, using them as if they were cloth, weaving them into metal quilts. A sculpture featuring her quilt of vintage license plates is on view at Safeco Field & at SeaTac Airport. She has exhibited around the country & Seattle Art Museum holds one of her quilts in their permanent collection.

"Refusing to let Ross be part of the show is extremely shortsighted," said her dealer, Greg Kucera of the Greg Kucera Gallery. "How could Harbor Steps, which is across the street from the Seattle Art Museum, be so afraid of art with political content? Ross is such a warmhearted artist. Her work has edge, but it's not a mean edge. I think Harbor Properties is overreacting"

Hixson said that when Harbor Properties agreed to play host to the show, the company didn't realize that political art would be included. "Her work doesn't fit, as it's not in context with the rest of the art, which is not political. We were not looking to provide a political forum."
Beecher's piece is a flag made of crushed Anheuser-Busch beer cans sitting on a red wagon.

"I folded the cans to remove the 'c,' so they spell Bush," she said. "It's a flag collage of cans and burnt cookie tins and merry Christmas wrappers. On top of the flag are whirligigs. In front of the flag are deer jawbones wrapped in blue cans with bullet casings. The handle of the little red wagon is bolted up, to look like a Republican elephant nose. I meant it to be comic, fun and funky. It's what I do," she said.

Hixson wants her to do it somewhere else. : <

Discovering A Lost Da Vinci

London (CNN) The 500-year-old painting of Jesus Christ that, after centuries of neglect, has been identified as Leonardo da Vinci's "Salvator Mundi", is a discovery so rare, so unlikely, that when New York art dealer & da Vinci expert Robert Simon first saw the painting, he didn't even consider the possibility.
"The whole idea that it might be by him was almost an impossibility; it's kind of a dream," said Simon. The painting joins a small collection of surviving paintings by the Renaissance master who lived and worked in Italy in the 15th century & has been carefully conserved to remedy the damage it suffered over the years.

"Salvator Mundi", (Savior of the World), is known to have been owned by English King Charles I before moving around various private collections until 2005, when the current owner brought it to Simon to study.
"It was a very interesting painting but it's not something I looked at and thought, 'Oh my God, it must be a Leonardo,'" said Simon.
The true identity of the 66 x 45 centimeter oil-painted walnut panel had lain dormant for years, its distinguishing features hidden under layers of crude over-paint. It was known to have existed from preparatory drawings made by da Vinci and copies by his followers but experts assumed it had been destroyed. There are only some fifteen surviving Leonardo paintings in the world and the last one to be discovered was the "Benois Madonna" more than 100 years ago.
So, what first alerted Simon and Modestini to the possibility that the painting they were looking at could be the real thing? The truth revealed itself little-by-little as Modestini painstakingly removed layers of varnish and over-paint in her studio and Simon carefully studied the painting's provenance, comparing it with da Vinci's other paintings and preparatory drawings. But there were two important clues. One was a so-called "pentimento," an alteration in the painting showing traces of previous work that Simon discovered by scrutinizing a photo of the painting taken using night vision, and using other techniques.
The other was the painting of Christ's curls."I was looking at the curls and St. John the Baptist at the Louvre, who has this huge head of massive ringlets and they are exactly the same," said Modestini.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

A Place in the Sun

I just finished watching A Place in The Sun on DVD with Elizabeth Taylor & Montgomery Cliff. For some reason I had never watched the entire film straight through & happened to pick it up at the library. It's based on a classic book & previous movie called, "An American Tragedy" & almost didn't get made because at that time, 1951, it was unheard of in Hollywood to remake a story; never mind Parts 2, 3 & 4 like some are done over now. I can't really think of ANY remake that has pulled that off very well at the moment.

Anyway, most of you are familiar with the story, but what I didn't know was that the director, George Stevens, had just come back from being a war photographer & documenting D-Day, the liberation of Paris & was one of the first cameras in to Auschwitz, filming the horror of a concentration camp where the fires were still literally burning in the ovens & the Nazi's had just fled.

This obviously changed him dramatically from the cinematographer he was before the war & A Place in the Sun was shaped by this experience. Elizabeth Taylor was just 17 when she was cast in her first role where she 'didn't have a horse or adog as a co-star', & Shelly Winters,a starlet bombshell, got the other main part of the mousy, awkward factory girl by dying her hair brown, dressing down & sitting quietly in a room when the director came in to do the test. He didn't even realize there was someone else in the room until he got up to leave because he thought Winters was a no show. The movie ended up winning 6 Academy awards that year.

I've really come to believe that the extra's on a DVD are almost as important as the movie itself. Often, especially with bigger budget movies, you can turn a commentary on & the director & some of the actors will literally walk you through the movie. I've never sat through a whole movie again with this turned on, but if there are things I don't get, it's helpful to hear what they have to say later. Also, there are often screen tests of the actors for their parts or interviews.

The best one I have EVER seen was of Penelope Cruz for the movie Don't Move; I've purposely left the following clip in Spanish so you don't listen to her words but watch her & her lovers faces.

She's talking about being raped by her father to her lover, a married Doctor, who lives in a completely different world from her in a slum barrio, but at this moment I believe the relationship changes from lust to love, on his part anyway.