Sunday, July 25, 2010

Guily Pleasure #1: Enya

When I was in advanced placement art The Best Teacher in the World, Mrs. Downey, asked me what I'd like to listen to during class. As I'd left all of my Madonna and Hole cds in the car (and as the football players walking through the halls would have made a special visit to beat me up had those cds been present), I told her to "just pick something relaxing." That day was my introduction to my deepest (though not darkest) guilty pleasure: Enya.

Now, having turned thirty and discovered that I have, indeed, turned out as awesome as I suspected I would, I rarely find that I have to defend the choices that make regarding things that I like. I feel, however, that in a world where former Christian singers turned pop bimbos blather on about daisy dukes, and bikinis (I'm talking to you, Katie Perry) and where Ke$ha can put a symbol into her name without putting in half the work that Prince did before he became The Artist, a person should be able to listen to Enya's music without getting judgment eyes. Here are eight solid reasons why I like Enya and you should shut up if you have nothing nice to say.

1. It IS relaxing. I can get pretty worked up every so often (ask my friends to get me going about Ann Coulter). If you're like me you may need to just sit down, shut up, and let some musical waves wash over you. Why do you think massage parlors, yoga studios, and colon irrigation clinics (nod to Margaret Cho) play her music so often?
2. "Storms in Africa." Listen to this song. Sweeping vistas, rain on the plains. When I was a high school senior all I wanted to do was go join the Peace Corps and help people in Africa while making journal-style artwork like Peter Beard. It will take you to Peter Beard's Africa (well maybe not as brutal or NSFW). Oh and if anyone is looking for an unbirthday present for me... get me that book.

3. The children's chorus in Adiemus. If you want to get me to tear up, insert a good chorus/choir. Carina Round's "Backseat" and Mika's "Happy Ending" (gospel chorus) are also pretty devastatingly beautiful examples.

4. The Fugees love Enya. The song "Ready or Not" samples "Boadicea." I don't care if this makes me an old man who remembers Lauren Hill from 1996. The Fugees are still cool.

5. "May it Be" played to hushed audiences as the first Lord of the Rings trailer played and forced them to think good and long about the journey across Middle Earth. So there. Nerd power.

6. Rachel chose "Only Time" as her wedding song. You may not know Rachel, but she can kick your butt. She followed it up with "Domo Origato, Mr. Roboto." Great wedding.

7. I can create to Enya. While Joanna Newsom gives me 500 ideas a second (which is why I LOVE to sketch to Joanna). Enya provides the perfect amount of beautiful background music that requires only as much thought as you want to put into it.

8. Yeah, her lyrics can be a little saccharine, but I consider it exercise for my inner, innocent child to be able to listen to lyrics like "a new moon leads me to /woods of dreams and I follow /a new world waits for me; my dream, my way" without making a *barf* face. It keeps my ever present cynic at bay.

So there it is. I may reveal more guilty pleasures on here, but I'm pretty sure (while not positive) that I won't spend much time defending them. For the time being, and as as Markness frequently says: Haters, I think you know where the left is.

Orinoco GO!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Uni Brows and Tequila

Yesterday I went to Epcot with my BFF Amy and her sister, Stacy. We went primarily to see Captain E. O., as it has returned in all its 1980s, shredded t-shirted, leg warmered fabulosity. A bonus was the detour into the new tequila bar at Mexico where I posed for this picture and Amy bought us all a round of "Frida Kahlo Shots." Delicious and artistic.

So now I'm sharing my favorite Frida painting. Diego en mi Mente' (1943) is only my favorite when under pressure to choose and insofar as it is the first one that comes to mind. Obviously there is Frida; solemn, thinking about Diego and not looking the viewer (or herself?) in the eye as she does in other portraits. I like to imagine what she's thinking, knowing of course the emotional abuse she endured throughout her relationship with Diego. She's another one of those artists whose confessional style makes me feel like I know her just a little better with each portrait. Complete genius. Rather than try to express my own views, I'll let Frida field this one herself. This is translated through Google, so I can't vouch for it completely, but I've seen this quote linked to this painting more than once.
"My mirror Diego ... night. Your eyes, swords green in my flesh, ripples in our hands. All of you in the space full of sounds. In the shadow and light. Auxocromo, you will be called, which captures the color. I, chromophore that gives the color. You are all combinations of numbers. Life. My desire is to understand line, form, movement. You fill and I receive. Your word travels through space and reaching my cells are my stars and going to yours that are my light. "
-Frida Kahlo.

She also said of Diego:
"There have been two great accidents in my life. One was the trolley (a horrible accident that occurred while she was at college and affected her health for the rest of her life), and the other was Diego. Diego was by far the worst."

I'm definitely including Frida in some way, shape, or form during the self-portrait unit I want to do this year. One of my favorite artists at whom everyone should give a second, third, and fourth look.

Frida on my mind...


Monday, July 12, 2010

Leaving on a Midnight Train... Whoo Whoo!

I'm going on vaca for a few days with my sister and one of my best buddies, Melissa, to the cultural mecca that is Atlanta. I shouldn't kid. Gladys Knight and her Pips hail from Atlanta. Add Margaret Mitchell, Alice Walker, my buddy Matthew, and a handful of other notables and we'll forgive that peach of a city for spawning Justin Bieber and his bowl cut.

Of course I can't just go to a city, relax, and meander (ask Markness). I have to do my gallery checks (you never know when a Sargent will be hiding in some random civil war house). I'm still kicking myself for not making it over to Swoon's last show in NYC. We were right there! I also have to make sure I'm not missing any Civil War Pub Crawl, or some such campiness.

My 12:30am you-should-be-in-bed pre Hotlanta search turned up some amazing pieces that I felt the urge to share. Ruth Franklin's deceptively simple oils definitely give a sense of place and story. But where the aforementioned Julie Heffernan takes us to a place of grandiose detail, Ms. Franklin's story is vague, concealed, mysterious. What I really like about it and what I really relate to is that there are two story lines playing out in her work. On one hand, there are the characters, many of them possibly in family portraits, some of them caught in random moments, but definitely blurred like memories tend to be. The other story line is that of the act of painting. There is a great amount of confidence to each block of color or stroke of charcoal and a conscious decision to reveal in some places and obscure in others. In the portrait above, titled "Pearl," the hard edge around the woman's face stands in contrast to the softness of her expression. Around her eyes there's softness to the brush strokes, a small carefully placed light green higlight in the inner curve of her eye, and I know that this woman is praying. Sometimes I look at a painting, movie, listen to a song, and I just "get it." I feel very connected to what that artist is doing. For someone who is frequently running around like a chicken with his head cut off, disconnected, that's a very special moment."Going back to a simpler place and time..."

Sunday, July 11, 2010


When entered into, the word change reveals over 38 definitions and 26 synonyms. Throw in a few idioms and you've got a word that describes my recent life. There are three things that you should know about my relationship with change.

1. I love it. It means I'm alive and the world is still spinning.

2. I'm a teacher, and this means I have 2.5 months to deal with major life changes.

3. Even though I love it and have time to deal with it, it still scares me.

I'm an art teacher now. That's one change right there. I slacked on my other blog "Tales of a First Grade Something" and look where it got me; I'm no longer a "First Grade Something." I'll be seeing, teaching, loving, learning from every grade. And it's art! Just art! I'm terrified and excited. For those of you who aren't teachers, the idea of doing something (almost) completely new is something that I'm sure you can identify with. That it's something I care about so much makes it that much more terrifying/exciting (that would be change, wouldn't it?).

I'm also 30 years old. My coworkers (many of whom are 50+) all roll their eyes when I mention it. The thing is that I thought I'd be terrified, depressed, unsettled, or any synonym for "Do Not Want." Instead June 9th turned out to be an amazing time for me. I don't have much to complain about, personally or professionally. If I believed in such words, I'd say I have a pretty "blessed" life. I'd rather say that at 30 I'm really proficient at cultivating good things. So far 30 has been extremely good to me.

I'm not going to go on and on about all of the other things that have changed. There are new and wonderful friends, much more mental, emotional, and physical health, and on and on.

Instead, I'm going to go on and on about Julie Heffernan. Stay with me. This woman is a modern master. Her works are mostly self portraits that are anything but straightforward. Ms. Heffernan portrays herself as everything from a doe eyed child to a boy to a lush forest. She surrounds herself with rotting meat, children's toys, and all manner of creatures. In the above piece, called "Moving Out" a mass of primary colored toys and block letters cross a bridge suspended over a flooded town. Two figures can be seen pulling this insane collection of what I can only guess is childhood junk from a wild and overtaken landscape to one that seems only slightly less hazardous. Still, there's a vulture lurking on the lefthand side signaling to me that death/danger are not completely being left behind.

Not being an expert on symbolism or Julie Heffernan, I can't say why she chose to have poor letter P almost meet his doom, nor can I say what any of the paper circles with seemingly Asian characters have to do with anything. I do know a little bit about crossing over, though. I know, for instance, that even with the best changes, something gets left behind. I also know that even when you are looking at a bright and wonderful future there's an element of danger which, in it's own sick way, makes the transition worth it.

"Turn and Face the Strange"