Thursday, June 26, 2014

Contemporary Art: Wangechi Mutu” A Fantastic Journey at M.O.C.A. in North Miami

This past week I had the pleasure of driving down to Miami for a day trip. I decided I would go to the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami. My experience with Contemporary art is limited. When I would take my son’s to the Art Museum at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh the last place they wanted to go to was the Contemporary Art Section.  I would laugh when I tried to explain what the artist was presenting just after going through the Renaissance Art section of the museum. I did not know who or what I would encounter there, I just found it on Google as a day trip activity so I went with no expectations. I was flabbergasted by the most marvelous experience. The experience was the exhibit of “Wangechi Mutu” A Fantastic Journey.  

Before I left for Miami I asked myself, “What is Contemporary Art?” Contemporary Art according to Art History just means "art that has been and continues to be created during our lifetimes," In other words, contemporary to us. Now, of course, if you are my age and reading this, you can expect a certain amount of overlapping between "Contemporary" and "Modern" art in your lifetime. A good rule of thumb is:
  • Modern Art: Art from the Impressionists (say, around 1880) up until the 1960s or '70s.
  • Contemporary Art: Art from the 1960s or '70s up until this very minute.

Definition from "The J. Paul Getty Museum" Educator classroom curriculum.
Strictly speaking, the term "contemporary art" refers to art made and produced by artists living today. Today's artists work in and respond to a global environment that is culturally diverse, technologically advancing, and multifaceted. Working in a wide range of mediums, contemporary artists often reflect and comment on modern-day society. When engaging with contemporary art, viewers are challenged to set aside questions such as, "Is a work of art good?" or "Is the work aesthetically pleasing?" Instead, viewers consider whether art is "challenging" or "interesting." Contemporary artists may question traditional ideas of how art is defined, what constitutes art, and how art is made, while creating a dialogue with—and in some cases rejecting—the styles and movements that came before them
 I found that the joy of Contemporary Art for me, is that it does not need someone to explain it to me. The art is what it is and that is enough. The message is evident in the work itself, just look without prejudice or preconceived ideologies. The challenge is
coming to grips with the mind of the artist at the time they create their work and accepting it. I found this to be true with the work of Wangechi Mutu at M.O.C.A  of North Miami. It was a wonderful experience.

I just want to take a moment to thank the great staff at the M.O.C.A.of North Miami for their assistance. They were extremely knowledgeable about the exhibit. I also want to express genuine appreciation to the young gentleman (whose name I can not remember and therefore I am kicking myself at this time) who assisted and walked with me through the entire exhibit. We talked and discussed every piece of art. I shared my views and he shared those of people who came before me. He never tried to sway me to a right or wrong interpretation which allowed me to delve deeper into the work itself and the painstaking time it took to create each piece of art.

A Brief Bio of Wangechi Mutu (Paraphrased or in some parts quoted verbatim from the M.O.C.A. of North Miami Website)

She is Kenya-born, New York-based artist whose multi-faceted work captures 21st century global sensibility. Since earning her M.F.A. from Yale University in 2000, Wangechi Mutu has come to be regarded as one of the most inventive and critically-engaged artists of her generation.  Combining materials and imagery from sources as diverse as African traditions, international politics, the high fashion industry and science fiction, Mutu creates works that depict fantastical worlds as places for profound exploration of race, gender and power. Her work is a critical investigation of issues ranging from colonialism to displacement, ritual, perceptions of Africa and the female form.

 “Wangechi Mutu: A Fantastic Journey” exhibition includes more than 50 works from the mid-1990s to the present, including a new site-specific mural and a black box theater projection of her newest video. “Wangechi Mutu: A Fantastic Journey,” part of MOCA’s Knight Exhibition Series ends it run on July 6, 2014.

 Alex Gartenfeld, MOCA Interim Director and Chief Curator, states that, “Placing centrality on the female form, Wangechi Mutu’s provocative body of work imagines hybrid creatures and surreal landscapes that comment on commercialism, globalization and cultural norms. “We are thrilled to be presenting the first solo museum exhibition dedicated to her work.”

“Wangechi Mutu: A Fantastic Journey” incorporates all aspects of Mutu’s prolific practice which includes collage, drawing, installation, sculpture, performance and video. A new site-specific mixed media mural created for the MOCA presentation will welcome visitors into exhibition galleries, which will be transformed into a forest-like environment populated by the installation of large-scale felt trees.

Within this setting, Mutu’s iconic collages will be prominently featured, including new

commissions and rare early works. These richly embellished pieces primarily depict female figures set in otherworldly landscapes. Pieced together with human, animal, machine and monstrous parts, Mutu’s heroines appear as seductive and beautiful as they are critical and disturbing. They rule over other worldly landscapes that appear both lushly tropical and post-apocalyptic. In Family Tree, 2012, Mutu’s installation of 13 related collages, the artist constructs a female-dominated creation mythology to explain the origin of the universe.  

Approximately 30 of the artist’s sketchbook drawings, dating from 1995 to the present, will also be on view, revealing fascinating insight into her creative process. This was one of my favorite sections of the exhibit because it showed how she came up with her ideas from ink and paste to her final product.

MOCA’s Pavilion Gallery was transformed into a black box theater for the projection of the artist’s first-ever animated video, The End of eating Everything, 2013, in which Mutu brings her elaborate collages to life in a magical narrative set in the sky. Mutu collaborated with musical artist Santigold to create the video’s central character, a flying cyborgian mothership whose voracious consumption leads to its implosion. Two other videos are featured in the exhibition: Eat Cake, 2012, which addresses ritual and overindulgence and Amazing Grace, 2005, a meditation on the slave trade and displaced populations.

“Wangechi Mutu: A Fantastic Journey” is curated and organized by Trevor Schoonmaker, the Patsy R. and Raymond D. Nasher Curator of Contemporary Art at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, NC.

“Wangechi Mutu: A Fantastic Journey” was made possible in part by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the Mary Duke Biddle Foundation, the Ford Foundation, Duke University’s Council for the Arts, and the North Carolina Arts Council, a division of the Department of Cultural Resources.  MOCA’s showing of the exhibition is made possible by an endowment to the museum established by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Something Different: For Castle Fans and romantics everywhere

I've had it! I see so many posts, articles and blogs that dribble with super serious comments, quotes and ideologies that I need to put my foot down on this and present something touching, romantic and different which is not normally part of the daily diatribe online. Definite not something that my friends would think of in regards to me. I came across this on You Tube and if you are a Caste Fan or just a fan of romance and the more wonderful part of loving someone more than yourself you will get this...if not to is a joy and a blessing do not squander it on hate talk. I am so over it. For my friends....P.S. I love this song.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Writing Lab: Kurt Vonnegut’s eight essentials for a good short story.

 I fell in love with the writing of Kurt Vonnegut in High School. I was introduced to him by my assistant football coach and science teacher's wife Mrs. Dalyrimple. She and Mr. Dalyrimple took me under their wings mentoring me through a rough patch in high school. (One day I hope to write about that experience because it change my life.) She saw my fascination with modern science fiction. I think I told her I wanted to be a writer like Rod Serling of  Twilight Zone fame. I loved anthology's and short stories. She gave me her copy of Cat's Cradle and I never looked back. That was in 1971. Thank you Mrs. Dalyrimple.

 Now as I get ready to write a short story for Camp NanoWriMo in July, I began as I always do, seeking out research that could help me with short story writing. Though I had read Kurt Vonnegut's ideas for writing short stories years ago, I could not honestly tell you I remember them very well. Then, thanks to friends, I came across his words again on Rabelle's Society Blog. I want to thank Rabelle's Society for posting  Andrea Balt's article on Kurt Vonnegut's Eight Essential's for a good short story. I hope you will enjoy it and use it because I believe that is why he shared it with us.
Writing Lab: Kurt Vonnegut’s eight essentials for a good short story.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Writing: Camp NaNoWrimo is here for July

 To see far is one thing:going there is another. - Brancusi
From the book Art & Fear

Camp NaNoWrimo is an extension of National Novel Writing Month, known as  NaNoWriMo (na-noh-RY-moh)  an annual internet-based creative writing project that takes place every November. NaNoWriMo challenges participants to write 50,000 words of a first draft for a story they would want to write or even publish. It's purpose is to encourage young and old who might be too scared to write or lacked the discipline an opportunity to join hundreds of thousands of individuals from around the world at the same time to write the story they always wanted to tell. 

The simple goal of NaNoWriMo is to get people writing, no matter how bad the writing is, through the end of a first draft. It should be noted that there is a time to celebrate length, or what so many call "the journey" or "experience of the journey" that gives one confidence to complete a task. Once the first draft is completed then the quality can be addressed in the editing phase which you have as long as you want to accomplish.

Even John Green entered the NaNoWriMo competition in 2009. Great words of advice from the author of The Fault in our Stars. I love what he had to say. I played this for my students and encouraged my students to participate.

Encouraged by my student's, I was lucky enough to write 52,818 words which made me in the eyes of the NaNoWriMo world a winner. The truth of the matter is if I had only written 10,000 words I would have been proud of what I had accomplished. I wrote my story  during a school year in which I had 6 Advanced Placement classes, two after school clubs and athletic administrative duties after school. Most of my writing happened between 10pm and 1am every night until Thanksgiving vacation. I had little time to make friends and utilize all of the helpful tools available to all participants. I do not want to miss out on it this time.This was one of the hardest and best experiences of my life to date.

Camp NaNoWriMo  is a little different. They had two sessions planned this year. The first session was planned for April which I missed due to severe illness and the second is for July.

Chris Angotti, Director of Programs and his crew envisioned "this Camp originally as an off-season alternative to National Novel Writing Month, but it's evolved into much more than that: writers choose their own projects—from novel sequels to scripts to pop-up books—and find cabin communities (and often new friends) to support them. You can sign up and check all of this out at Camp NaNoWrimo "
"It is more like a retreat because you can write anything, and  you're capable of when you have the time and space to create". I am looking forward to this Camp.

You can also set flexible word-count goals (10,000 to 999,999) and the ability to add your own project genre. I chose Horror/Fantasy with a number count of 20,000 for a short story that I definitely want to have published. I even have my own preliminary cover art to go along with the story. Working Title: A Golem and his Boy.

If you love to write or just want to get started telling a story that has been with you for a long time make Camp NaNoWriMo your creative retreat this summer. Sign up today )  Get ready because the writing begins July 1!

* Some of this post is redited from my post dated November 1, 2013 or emails from  explaining the programs to previous writers of the program.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Fantasy Art Master: Dan Dos Santos Repost from ...The desk of Dragon One

Dan Dos Santos 

I had the privilege and pleasure of meeting our feature artist Dan Dos Santos at Dragon Con in Downtown Atlanta. He was the first artist I saw at the convention and I was awe struck by his talent, his body of work and the vividness of his art. I was like a little kid again as I poured over his paintings. The last artist who had such an impact on me was Frank Fazetta. I could not believe how detailed his art was when I found out he painted them in oil. We talked for a long time and I found him very personable and helpful, especially when I shared with him that I sponsor an Art Club at my school. I am a proud owner of some of his work and will continue to collect his work..

His webpage site "The Art of Dan Dos Santos" is informative and educational with a special short video clip showing how he paints his work. His blog site "Muddy Colors, An Illustration Collection" is full of great art, insightful commentary on varying artists, their art and great information about the art community. Aside from freelance illustration, Dan also co-hosts a series of instructional demonstrations called "Art Out Loud."

(edited from his Bio Page)

Dan's work spans a variety of genres, including novels, comics and film. He has worked for clients such as Disney, Universal Studios, Boeing Aircraft, Saatchi & Saatchi, Scholastic Books, The Greenwich Workshop, Penguin Books, Random House, Tor Books, Upper Deck, Wizards of the Coast, and DC Comics.

Dan began at an early age it was pretty apparent that drawing was a talent he possessed early on. Growing up, he spent nearly all of his spare time drawing his favorite cartoon characters. By his teenage years he moved onto comic books, a passion he still holds clear.

His local high school sponsored a program called "Careers in Art." The program placed students in a weekly internship with a design company or working professional. It was through this program that he met his long term mentor and learned the basics of illustration, and thus decided to choose that as his major in college.

Later he convinced his parents to help pay for art school. He attended the School of Visual Arts from 1996- 2000. College is where he honed his skills and love for the traditional art of oil painting. He graduated the top of his class with a degree in illustration, and received that years "Special Achievement" award in his major.

After Graduation, with some scholarship money in his pocket, he began his career painting portraits out of his parents' basement. Eventually he rented a studio, and found a gallery to represent his art and start pursuing his dream of becoming an illustrator.

Dan has been the recipient of many awards. Recently he has received a 2010 Silver Medal from Spectrum, the 2007 Jack Gaughan Award for Best Emerging Artist, and was the Chesley Award winner for the Best Paperback Cover of 2007. His illustrations have graced the #1 spot on the New York Times' Best Seller list numerous times.