Saturday, December 31, 2011

Nataraja Dances at Year's End

Shiva as Lord of the Dance (Nataraja) on view at the Norton Simon Museum

I figured that Paideia would celebrate the New Year with images of Shiva Nataraja, of which the Los Angeles area is fortunate enough to have a few awesome sculptures, some that date to about a thousand years ago. Why Nataraja? Because he symbolizes the destruction of the old era and the initiation of the new.

So let us take inspiration from the image, letting go of those thoughts or habits that brought us down in 2011. Let's enter into 2012 with a fresh approach to life, a renewed sense of purpose and value, a desire to cultivate virtue. Let the New Year be an opportunity to change your life for the better.

That may be a high hope, necessarily vague, but it is an attitude that I hope will lead me well in treading the path of a fulfilling life.

Shiva as the Lord of the Dance on view at LACMA

Happy New Year!!! May 2012 bring you prosperity and joy!!!

Adagio and Jollity

Fumie Suguri performing her Free Skate at the NHK 2005 (Photo: Itsuo Inouye)

Fumie Suguri was born on December 31, 1980, making today her 31st birthday!!!

By figure skating standards, she's working way past retirement age, and, although she hasn't stood on the podium for a while, her competitive spirit keeps her on the ice, focusing on artistic elements to make up for loses in athletic ability. Facing girls nearly half her age, Fumie maintains the dignity and poise of a four-time Japanese National Champion and frequent medalist at international events.

I adore her.

Sometimes fate stacks the deck against people, denying them the ability to reach the rewards of their full potential. Giving into depression and letting go of the spirit to persevere, such behavior is understandable when, no matter how hard you try and regardless of your considerable accomplishments, somebody else outperforms you. Yet, the true measure of a champion isn't the shiny medal or record book notation, but, rather, the willingness to press on, addressing their flaws, sharpening their talents, and face the competition with honor and authenticity.

Fumie Suguri performing her Free Skate at Skate America 2009 (Photo: Christinne Muschi)

And that's why Fumie Suguri will always be one of my favorite skaters. Happy Birthday, Fumie!!!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Three Views of a Porsche

Front view of a 1964 Porsche 901 Coupe on view at the Petersen Automotive Museum

I haven't shared any automobile photos for a while. Since I was visiting LACMA yesterday, I strolled across the street to visit the Petersen Automotive Museum to remedy this situation.

The car that caught my eye on this viewing was a lovely 1964 Porsche 901.


Side view of a 1964 Porsche 901 Coupe

Here's a view of the placard:

Museum data placard for 1964 Porsche 901 Coupe

Mighty cool. So, how does one go about getting one of these beauties? ;-)

Friday Flowers: Damned Yellow Composites!!!

Asteraceae: Call it an aster, call it a daisy, or call it whatever you want. It's just a DYC!!!

No poem for today. I spent all my free time this morning attempting to classify this flower!

I think of Paideia as a light-hearted education blog, generally with an "arts" focus. I like provide interesting information to my readers. Sometimes, when I'm unfamiliar with a topic, I need to do a bit of research before posting. As regards flowers, I especially want to give proper identification so that readers can engage in their own research, perhaps to add something to their own garden.

Well, here's a post on "Damned Yellow Composites" which frustrate botanical categorizers to no end!!!

Asteraceae: Damned Yellow Composites!!!

Anyways, if you need some poetry, Rudyard Kipling was born on this date in 1865. I'm not a fan, so there ain't no way I'm filling up the front page with a gajillion lines of imperialistic "white man's burden" rhymes. ;-P

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Colorful Lyricism

Helen Frankenthaler's Adriatic (1968) at the Norton Simon Museum's Surface Truths exhibit

I've been feeling a bit down over the past few days, since hearing of the death of Helen Frankenthaler, one of my favorite American abstract painters. Earlier this year, I had the good fortune to view her painting, Adriatic, on numerous occasions as part of my regular visits to the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena. I would sit down and let my mind drift into the orange clouds of the surface, following the subtle yet precise flows of color. It was always a rich aesthetic experience.

It pains me that this woman who has brought such beauty into my life has left this world.

I went over to LACMA to view her painting, Winter Hunt, to pay my respects. I prefer Adriatic, but I haven't had time to head over to the Huntington Museum, where I think it currently on view.

Detail of Winter Hunt (1958) by Helen Frankenthaler

Although it doesn't have the tranquility of Adriatic, this painting has her characteristic color play and lyrical compositional style. There's an authentic ferocity to the image, a serene savagery.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Bah Humbug!!!

Well, Santa left me with a computer crash for Christmas. But don't count an obsessive blogger out too soon. ;-)

Posting may be sporadic over the next few days, as I determine the fate of my old machine, perhaps deciding upon something new, shopping about to wisely get something that fits both my needs and my budget. Moreover, my upcoming posts will be picture free.

But videos are still an option. Woo hoo!!!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Candy Hearts and Paper Flowers

"Raggedy Ann and Books" from Raggedy Andy Stories (1920) by Johnny Gruelle

Coinciding with Christmas Eve, December 24th marks the birth date of Johnny Gruelle, born in 1880, known primarily as the creator of Raggedy Ann, first published in 1918.

I find something very charming about the simple, old-fashioned rag doll. Unlike ceramic dolls of the era, rag dolls were made for play, to get tossed around, to get dirty. They weren't put up on a shelf for display, touched only for dusting. And unlike later mass produced dolls, the humble handcrafted doll was unique, and not in a faddish "cabbage patch" way.

Now, fancy high tech gifts can be useful, and elite expensive treats are enviable, but sometimes the simple things are the most memorable and lasting presents of them all.

"Flying with the kite" from Raggedy Ann Stories (1918) by Johnny Gruelle

So, let's be thankful for the gifts which we have and will receive. Let's wish that others will find happiness in that which they shall receive. :-)

Friday, December 23, 2011

Friday Flowers: Holly and Poinsettia

Poinsettia: Euphorbia pulcherrima

(By Kenneth Rexroth)

It is late at night, cold and damp
The air is filled with tobacco smoke.
My brain is worried and tired.
I pick up the encyclopedia,
The volume GIC to HAR,
It seems I have read everything in it,
So many other nights like this.
I sit staring empty-headed at the article Grosbeak,
Listening to the long rattle and pound
Of freight cars and switch engines in the distance.
Suddenly I remember
Coming home from swimming
In Ten Mile Creek,
Over the long moraine in the early summer evening,
My hair wet, smelling of waterweeds and mud.
I remember a sycamore in front of a ruined farmhouse,
And instantly and clearly the revelation
Of a song of incredible purity and joy,
My first rose-breasted grosbeak,
Facing the low sun, his body
Suffused with light.
I was motionless and cold in the hot evening
Until he flew away, and I went on knowing
In my twelfth year one of the great things
Of my life had happened.
Thirty factories empty their refuse in the creek.
On the parched lawns are starlings, alien and aggressive.
And I am on the other side of the continent
Ten years in an unfriendly city.

This is one of those poems that "speaks to me" and makes memories come bubbling up from my subconscious mind, like the grosbeak. I'm the type of person who likes paging through an encyclopedia, stumbling across random articles that triggers thoughts, associations, and images. The manner in which Kenneth Rexroth captures that experience is simply awesome.

Holly: Ilex cornuta burfordii

And since this is the Friday before Christmas, it seemed appropriate to celebrate with some poinsettia and holly. ;-)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Modernism in Art and Dance

Angel of the Americas (2005) by Perez Celis, on view at the Museum of Latin American Art

Last weekend, I paid another visit to the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) to see their exhibit, MEX/LA: "Mexican" Modernism(s) in Los Angeles 1930-1985, which I had seen briefly on a previous visit. The works on display were very thought-provoking.

This time, I took a leisurely stroll through the galleries, giving the pieces great consideration, both as regards their individual qualities and as regards their contribution to the overall premise of the show. Curation is often times like constructing an argument, beginning with a thesis statement, then laying out statements and evidence of support. An exhibition ought to be every bit as conceptually tight as a refined work of rhetoric or logic.

The MEX/LA show covers a wide range of artists, styles, and eras, but it succeeds in showing various approaches to the expression of a cultural construction. It's both aesthetically and intellectually engaging.

Portrait of the Artist as the Virgin of Guadalupe (1978) by Yolanda Lopez 

While I was at the show, a live dance performance by the Regina Klenjoski Dance Company took place within the galleries. I didn't know such an event was scheduled. So, it was a pleasant surprise for me. ;-)


Winter (1755) by Jean-Honore Fragonard

A new season begins, Winter, my least favorite time of the year.

The holidays are rarely "happy" for me. I'm not prone to depression, but late December and early January do bring on some spiritual doldrums. Maybe it's the light. Maybe it's the cold. All I know is that it takes a whole lot of eggnog to bring me some seasonal cheer. ;-)

And the flowers are so few. The bounty of color that I wish to see in the gardens is muted, with only a handful of hardy floral gems on view. But, at least, I still have art and music.

Detail of Winter (1896) by Alphonse Mucha

One way in which I deal with the Winter Gloom is by staying busy. I often overpack my schedule, visiting museums, gardens, galleries, performances, lectures, and any activity that will keep my mind from straying into the shadows. Yeah, it's a form of escapism, but it does the job. By early February, I can feel my spirit lifting up, anticipating the beauties of Spring, just about fifty days away.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Interior of a Dutch World

Detail of Woman Drinking with Soldiers (1658) by Pieter de Hooch

I love paintings from the Dutch Golden Age. Although Vermeer is my favorite, I often feel that Pieter de Hooch comes in second. It's the intimacy of the interior genre scene, a humanizing image, that captures my enthusiasm, pulling my imagination back in time to life in the 17th century.

Pieter de Hooch's work has an undeniable beauty, a lustre, that entrances the eye with subtle plays of light, delineations of space, colors both muted and bright. And the narrative of the image is perhaps the thing that I adore most. His paintings are frozen instances of a tale, as if caught in amber, making the viewer consider the activity which is taking place and that which may arise from this moment.

Courtyard of a House in Delft (1658) by Pieter de Hooch

Back in 1996, I once assigned myself a writing practice: for a month, look at a new de Hooch each day and outline a story inspired by it. Nothing ever came of it, but it was a fun and challenging experiment. Maybe I'll try it again some day.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien

Edith Piaf was born on December 19, 1915.

I never liked the sound of Edith Piaf's voice, back in the days when I was obsessed with vocal performance, way back in the early '90s. Rough, flat, goat-like, these were some of the ways in which I would describe it. My idea of vocal quality was limited to those classically trained operatic or "art song" performers. Piaf's style didn't fit into my conception of beauty.

Well, it is in the nature of the practicioner of aesthetic pettifoggery to quibble over nuances, in an ever escalating display of greater intellectual rigour and purity. So, I found myself defending the expressive and impassioned performance style of Maria Callas against accusations that she was an inferior singer to other great operatic divas. My argument was that Callas was sacrificing purity of tone as an aesthetic choice to intensify the drama of the words. The singer is not merely a pitch-perfect tone-generating automaton, but an interpreter and unique articulator of the music's premise.

A few days later, I got into a discussion with an Edith Piaf enthusiast. As I was about to denounce her music, I realized that my defense of Maria Callas applied equally to Piaf. Those rough spots in her performances are deliberate choices, annunciations of the human spirit, granting poignancy to the words. At that moment, I had a conversion to the imperfections of human expressiveness, away from the foolish conviction that regarded the voice as a mere instrument with which to generate clear and uninflected notes.

And, so, I want to remember Edith Piaf's artistry on her birth date, born in 1915.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Angel of Normandie

Graffiti on the side of a building on Normandie Ave., north of the Sunset intersection

I found myself stuck in the traffic, going south on Normandie Avenue, inching my way towards Sunset, as every other car ahead of me foolishly attempted to make a left turn against oncoming vehicles. After more than a few minutes, I started getting a bit testy. Driving in or near the city core is never a pleasant experience.

So, I took a deep breath and looked around for something, anything, that might lighten my mood. And, as if in answer to a prayer, I spotted this graffiti angel, a charming example of the type of street art that can be found all over the urban center of Los Angeles. I felt immediately better.

Although I go to see aesthetically pleasing works in museums and galleries, if only I could keep my eyes open to the world around me, I would see that the world is filled with Beauty, from the humble to the grand, from the folksy to the refined. My mind works in a methodical, categorical manner, filing away experiences and expectations in delineated spaces and at properly noted times. I sometimes forget that life is not a script, and existence isn't circumscribed to a really big stage; the Schedule is not God.

Shortly thereafter, a batch of cars ahead of me didn't attempt to make a left at the intersection, allowing me to escape from the gridlock and, eventually make my way back to the Westside. ;-)


South Bay Focus: Torrance Wrap

End of Day (2011) by Michelle Ardeshiri

The Torrance Art Museum's exhibit, South Bay Focus 2011, closed yesterday. It was a fun show, lots of interesting art, and much to think about in regards to curation and the premise of a community art gallery. Overall, I feel that this year has been good down here in Torrance, finishing with artistic gems from our local artists.

This blog owes a huge debt of gratitude to Torrance. Although I've got plenty of interests and opinions, I have a hard time focusing on a specific topic, a fact about which regular readers are well aware, but having a thought-provoking art institute along my daily travel route kept the fine arts as a regular topic on my mind. When I finally got Paideia into regular production, back in April, covering art shows became a prominent feature.

Have all of the 2011 TAM exhibitions been excellent? No, but the approach to curation was always worth considering. Given concerns of budget and resources, availability of artists, and community expectations, the manner in which Torrance has experimented with its exhibits has shown ingenuity and innovation. Special credit goes to the curator, Max Presneill.

Detail of Cascading Red (2011) by Nicolas Kolesnikow

I'm very thankful for the various exhibitions that have been displayed at Torrance this year; I look forward to next year's offerings. From Gateway: Japan to South Bay Focus, it's been fun.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Music Is a Higher Revelation

The bust of Ludwig van Beethoven inspires Schroeder's music. Lucy is unimpressed.

"What you are, you are by accident of birth; what I am, I am by myself. There are and will be a thousand princes; there is only one Beethoven."

Well, nobody can state the situation quite like Ludwig van Beethoven. ;-)

I've cut back on the classical music posts recently, since it seems very few people read them. However, I can't pass up on Beethoven's birth date without giving due celebration. He is one of my favorite composers, perhaps the most influential of them all. I never get tired of listening to his works, admiring their intensity and beauty, their drama and sublimity.

Beethoven's birth date is believed to be December 16, 1770.

I could write more about this great artist, but his works can speak for themselves.

Friday Flowers: Feverfew


(By Muriel Rukeyser)

We are the antlers of that white animal
That great white animal
Asleep under the sea
He forgets and dreams so deep he does not
Know his whiteness in the sea-black
Among the plants of night.
His antlers have legs and arms.       Our heads
together being joined
Journey tonight, dreamed in his ocean.

Where we lie afterwards, smoke of our dreams
Goes coiling up, a plant in the dark room.
You were a young boy, you sang in the Polish woods
Limping away away.       I in this city, held
In a dream of children.       Some mythic animal
Rises now, flies up, white from the sea-floor.
In all our death, the glow behind his eyes
Speaks under all knowing : our lives burn.

That's a trippy poem, but I felt that its themes of whiteness and burning went well with our floral selection, the charming feverfew. Moreover, I wanted to celebrate Muriel Rukeyser, a totally underappreciated poet, whose birth date was yesterday. This is one of my favorite of her poems. I totally admire the surreal imagery of that antlered, pale sea monster with glowing eyes; it captures my imagination.

Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium)

It reminds me of the type of disturbing image that one would have during a fever dream, which is also why I've paired it up with the humble feverfew, a plant which has been used in traditional herbal folk medicine to treat fevers. Although modern science has not backed up this belief, we may appreciate the folk lore that grants flowers magical properties, and locates monsters at the bottom of the sea. ;-)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Lovejoy Lives!!!

The comet Lovejoy faced likely destruction when it entered the Sun's atmosphere (Image: NASA)

Over at, there's an interesting article about the comet Lovejoy's trip into the Sun's atmosphere. It traveled within 87,000 miles of the solar surface and withstood temperatures of up to 2 million degrees Fahrenheit!!!!!

It was a near certainty that the comet would be destroyed, but NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory filmed it escaping from the fiery inferno, zipping off into space. Lovejoy has definitely earned the title of "Sungrazer." ;-)


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Weekly Wrap: Wednesday Night #18

Detail of a 1959 ad for Dr Pepper

It's been two weeks since our last update.

In that time, we've written up fifteen posts, covering a wide range of topics. I was considering moving our "wrap" day to Monday, but, with the year coming to its end in a few weeks, I decided that any changes of policy can wait until the clean slate of a new year, starting out with a fresh schedule and blogging approach.

My posting pace has been weak, a complication of my poor health, which, hopefully, will be significantly improving this week. Personally, I feel much healthier, but fatigue still persists. Time and rest should fix me up eventually, but it is a drag getting to that state.

Lil' Sister (2011) by Carolyn Laliberte, exhibited in South Bay Focus 2011

Here are the posts:

Regarding art, we had four posts. We attended opening night at the Torrance Art Museum's South Bay Focus 2011. Later, we focused upon Olga Lah's sponge sculptures that were among the highlights of the show. The birth date of Edvard Munch was briefly celebrated with a Scream. Then we posted a rare update of our adventures in appreciation of Pacific Standard Time.

For music and dance, we had three posts. First, we celebrated the birth date of Alicia Markova, prima ballerina assoluta. Then we enjoyed the cinematic scores of Nino Rota, to honor his birth date. Finally, Dave Brubeck's birthday gave us an opportunity to enjoy some cool jazz. ;-)

Literature blogging had a brief two post event here at Paideia. We celebrated the anniversary of the publication of the Great American Novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Then we enjoyed an Emily Dickinson fest, to commemorate her date of birth. It's a fine day when I can rave about one of my favorite novels and my favorite poet. Woo hoo!!!

Since our last Weekly Wrap, we had two Friday Flower posts, snapdragons and camellias. Our pop culture spotlight featured Popeye the Sailor. And our advertising focus was on Dr Pepper ads over the decades.

As regards the Holiday Season, we had two posts. We paid a visit to the Banning House to enjoy the Victorian Christmas festival. Later, I wrote about my health difficulties, but accompanied my woes with plenty of seasonal music to encourage holiday cheer.

Well, it wasn't as much as I would have liked, but it was fun nevertheless. We'll see what the upcoming week brings us. For now, here's the weekly weird.

Bluto loses again in Clean Shaven Man (1936). Agagagagah!!!


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Pacific Standard Time: Update #6

Pacific Standard Time logo

Well, it's been a month since my last Pacific Standard Time update, which is why I dropped the "weekly" from the post title. Apparently, that would have been one very long week. ;-)

The reason for my lack of updates is that I wasn't attending enough events to justify the necessity for one. Of course, there were many awesome events in November, but my health difficulties kept me from experiencing them. I'm seriously hoping that I can soon start aggressively covering the art scene again, including the PST events. Moreover, I still haven't visited either the Getty or MOCA, both of which have been on my "to visit" list since October.

It's a frustrating situation.

Nevertheless, I've finally got enough to make for an interesting update. Last weekend, I was able to attend two PST related talks. The Norton Simon Museum had an informative "salon talk" regarding their exhibition, "Proof". And dnj gallery, at Bergamot Station, had an engaging talk featuring photographers, Robbert Flick and Susan Rankaitis. In both cases, the learning about the historical context in which the art pieces were created made for a fascinating topic.

As I finally seem to be making my way back into good health, with the assistance of modern medication, I'm chomping at the bit to get back onto the Art Beat. Woo hoo!!!

Anyways, here are the shows that I've visited since the last update:

The Group Shoe (1962) by Roberto Chavez
Autry National Center

Art Along the Hyphen: The Mexican-American Generation

Peace Press Graphics
CSU Long Beach, University Art Gallery

Peace Press Graphics 1967-1987: Art in the Pursuit of Social Change

L.A. Diary excerpt #20 (1967) by Robbert Flick

dnj Gallery (Bergamot Station)

Then and Now

Gypsy Rose by Jesse Valadez
Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA)

MEX/LA "Mexican" Modernism(s) in Los Angeles, 1930-1985


Jivaroland Frog Cup (1968) by Ken Price

Norton Simon Museum

Proof: The Rise of Printmaking in Southern California

Brillo Boxes (1969) by Andy Warhol

 Pacific Asia Museum

46 N. Los Robles: A History of the Pasadena Art Museum


Monday, December 12, 2011

Some Days, You Feel Like...

The Scream (1893) by Edvard Munch

Fortunately, this isn't one of them. But it is Edvard Munch's birth date (1863).

Because this image is so familiar in popular culture, the emotional impact upon the viewer may be drained of freshness or potency. However, I'd argue that such a response is born out of superficiality or aesthetic laziness. Take a new look at this painting, focusing on technique, such as color selection, line work, and spatial orientation.

The horror of the image is just as fresh as ever, if you bother to open your mind to the technical elements that convey such a sensation.


Saturday, December 10, 2011

For Emily

Emily Dickinson was born on December 10, 1830.

Exultation is the going (75)
(By Emily Dickinson)

Exultation is the going
Of an inland soul to sea,
Past the houses - past the headlands -
Into deep Eternity

Bred as we, among the mountains,
Can the sailor understand
The divine intoxication
Of the first league out from land?

Did you really think that I wasn't going to celebrate Emily Dickinson's birth date?

I could write a daily blog, all about my adoration for Emily. I could make podcasts, reciting and reflecting upon her verse. I could drift into insanity, obsessing over every word and phrase. So, instead, I dole out her words, as an occasional treat.

But on special days, it is permissible, even admirable, to engage in poetic gluttony. ;-)

My Conscience Got to Stirring Me Up

"Thinking" (1884) by E. W. Kemble, from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Sometimes people ask me about my favorite novel. I can never give an honest or consistent answer to them; there are so many considerations that qualify my selection. However, I'm certain that The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is in my top five.

I'm not a big fan of the overall plot structure, especially not the last third, but I always enjoy Huck's character, his interior conversations, his childish innocence and his commonsense morality. Most of all, I adore Huck's authenticity. He is as "real" to me as many people who I have "really" met. ;-)

I have a thing against rereading books. Because there are so many great books that I have yet to read, it seems foolish to read a novel a second time. For me, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn always justify an extra read.

"On the Raft" (1884) by E. W. Kemble, from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Published on this date in 1884, let's celebrate Mark Twain's enduring creation.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Friday Flowers: Christmas Camellias

White Camellias

On Time
(By John Milton)

Fly envious Time, till thou run out thy race,
Call on the lazy leaden-stepping hours,
Whose speed is but the heavy Plummets pace;
And glut thy self with what thy womb devours,
Which is no more then what is false and vain,
And meerly mortal dross;
So little is our loss,
So little is thy gain.
For when as each thing bad thou hast entomb'd,
And last of all, thy greedy self consum'd,
Then long Eternity shall greet our bliss
With an individual kiss;
And Joy shall overtake us as a flood,
When every thing that is sincerely good
And perfectly divine,
With Truth, and Peace, and Love shall ever shine
About the supreme Throne
Of him, t'whose happy-making sight alone,
When once our heav'nly-guided soul shall clime,
Then all this Earthy grosnes quit,
Attir'd with Stars, we shall for ever sit,
Triumphing over Death, and Chance, and thee O Time.

I'm not much of a Milton fan, but, since he was born on this date in 1608, I figured it was appropriate to celebrate his poetry. Anyways, On Time is a solid bit of poetry. ;-)

Camellia Sasanqua

And the camellias? Well, if we're going to start looking at "cold season" flowers, then we can't overlook our Yuletide whites and pinks.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Strong to the Finich

Popeye and Olive Oyl in A Date to Skate (1938)

My love for classic cartoons is well established on this blog. But one of my favorites is Popeye the Sailor, originally created by E. C. Segar in 1929 for his comic strip, Thimble Theatre.

Yeah, the plots are nonsensical, mere vehicles for absurd fisticuffs and overt brutishness, but I can't help enjoying the simple-minded mayhem. The creativity with which Popeye and Bluto assault each other, ever escalating to new heights of fantastic brutality, captivates me. I often enjoy seeing just how much of a pummelling that Popeye will receive before he pops open a can of spinach.

Crazy stuff!!! Yet, as a child, I spent countless Sunday mid-mornings watching these cartoons on Tom Hatten's Popeye Show, featured on KTLA. Obviously, this was well before the "Shelter the children from violent images" trend that came into prominence during the 1980s.

Popeye and Bluto in Popeye the Sailor Meets Sinbad the Sailor (1936)

In any case, let's spend a few moments to enjoy some purposeless animated mayhem. ;-)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Lamentation Dance of the Sponges

Untitled (2011) by Olga Lah, three sculptural forms constructed out of sponges

Among the many interesting pieces on exhibition at the Torrance Art Museum's South Bay Focus 2011, one of the most intriguing is Olga Lah's Untitled sponge sculptural group. Although totally abstract, the forms have an anthropomorphic quality, as if they are in a kinetic dialectical relationship with each other, perhaps dancing or fighting.

This feeling is intensified as one walks around the set, or between them. The way they lean or bend creates a sense of interactive engagement, both with the viewer and within the group.

The colors and orientation of the individual sponges that comprise the forms also lead the viewers eye into the motion, a circular dance from one to another.

Untitled (2011) by Olga Lah; sponge orientation and color create a visual rhythm.

It's easy to overlook this work, to brush it off as gimmicky or banal, but, in deeper consideration, the forms have wonderful linear and spatial cadence. Likewise, the color selections are not arbitrary choices but deliberate utilizations to enhance the perception of motion and emotion. It's a deceptively complex work.