Sunday, March 20, 2011

A Dog of Flanders and Other Stories

When I arrived at my mother's to take her out to dinner last week, her first words were, "Oh, girl of Flanders, where is your dog?"  I knew instantly that she must have been making a reference to my wearing a new hat that she had not yet seen.  Her memory is remarkable for all sorts of strange accumulation, and I was sure that she was accurate in her illustration recall.  I pealed in laughter at her literary connection to my wardrobe.  My mother has advanced glaucoma, so I am astonished that she can see any detail at all!  Her mind, however is quite sharp.

When I got home, I pulled out my copy of A Dog of Flanders just to see how accurate her memory was.

She was spot-on correct!  Old Jehan Daas has on my hat, or I his, whichever way you want to see it. 


This then inspired me to dress up in my hat, a peasant type blouse, black pants, vest, and the wooden shoe (singular) that I found in the alley last year.  Here I am with Chewbacca, otherwise known as Chewy, surely the cutest dog in the world (Hollywood take note, because he is getting up in years).  He is striking a proud pose as THE Dog of Flanders.  At a strapping 65 pounds, he could surely pull a cart if he was so inclined to do.  Usually, he just pulls on the leash. Like the dog, Pastrache, who was abandoned,  I found Chewy as a puppy at a shelter.  He had been found wandering in an alley.  Oh, I would have adopted all his siblings, too, if I could have!

As my mother and I proceeded down the hall, I told her that I had just bought a new pair of shoes to wear for my third speech with Toastmasters.  She responded, "What good will the shoes be on your feet, if the audience can't see them?  Why not put them on your ears instead?  Then they can see them!"

Again, I knew she must be making a literary reference to a favorite childhood book, Little Black Sambo. I remember being fascinated at how the tigers  ran around the tree so fast that they turned into butter that was then used to make an enormous pile of pancakes, striped orange and black just like the tigers.

 I couldn't wait to see what the new shoes would look like on my ears.  Using a headband that my daughter, Emily, had concocted for some costume or other served as the tiger reference.  I think that the shoes would have to hang on my ears toes down, because my ears don't stick up like tiger ears do.  Charlie Sheen take note! 

My mother and I continued down the hall singing "Here We Go Into the Wild Blue Yonder..." She can remember the lyrics to innumerable songs, poems, plays, and prayers.  I treasure every moment with her and marvel at how did I end up being as I am with her as my mother?

Well, I got fixated on dress-ups, never mind that I was no longer a child, but in spirit, YES!  Another recent purchase was a pair of high black leather boots.  What literary connection could that be other than pirates and swashbucklers?  As the only upbeat story of this trilogy, I thought of Puss In Boots, because that way, I could star one of my cats.

I had wanted to have Simon in this photo shoot, but he was prowling the neighborhood.  Howard, in his usual nap at home, was roused, and recruited.

Here we are, my mother and I, celebrating my recent birthday.  We always precede dinner with martinis, straight up, one olive. And may we have many, many more!  There are so many stories to share. 

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Time Wounds All Heels

This was a fun art exhibit; one at which you could laugh out loud.  In describing his intent, the founder and director, Matthew Strauss said, "Very often, I'll go into an exhibition and see an isolated artwork and wonder if it was intended to be funny.  Usually it's not.  The humor is inadvertent.  But the frequency of that question in my mind - 'Is this supposed to be funny?  Is this a joke?' - led me to think it might be an idea for an exhibition."  The piece below was a large banner on the front of the gallery.  Given that White Flag Projects is a city gallery in a sketchy part of town, the text message was especially provocative.

Untitled Text Msg (Vicodin), 2010
Adam McEwen
inkjet print on vinyl, 154 x 154 inches
Courtesy the artist and Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery, New York

Matthew says, "We've gone out of our way to select the most ambiguous, the most confusing, the most difficult-to-understand (pieces). I think that it results in a really cohesive and appropriately confused exhibition. I'm very happy with the results." I was, too!!!

Opening nights are always special, and I chose the right outfit:  tutu and combat boots!

There was a good crowd turn-out for the group show that also included artists Donelle Woolford, Jane Hammond, Edward Lipski, Richard Prince, Michael Williams, Jaime Pitarch, Erwin Wurm, and John Baldessari.

This piece was a compilation of household cleansing products. The spiral starts with the Big Bang and ends with the emergence of humans.

Theory of Evolution, 2009
Jaime Pitarch
Mixed media sculpture, 89 x 89 x 19 inches
Courtesy Spencer Brownstone Gallery, New York ($18,000)

  Here the dinosaurs make their appearance, but are snuffed out by the comet.

Nose/Silhouettes, 2010
John Baldessari
lithograph and screenprint
6 variants, 18 inches x 14 inches each, edition of 50
Courtesy Gemini G.E.L., Los Angeles ($2,500)

A nose job.  This would be a good piece for a plastic surgeon's office.  Or maybe behind a perfume counter.

Who knows whose nose this is?

There were two special events held.  One was a reading by poet and humorist Jeremy Sigler, and stand-up comedy by Comedians You Should Know. At the stand-up comedy session, there were whoopee cushions on each seat like a party favor. Wouldn't it have been funny if they had all been blown up and everyone was instructed to sit down at the same time? I love shaking up the sanctity of the art gallery and museum! It was very well-attended; 200 people showed up. Goes to show that humor and art are a great combination.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Designing Dinosaur

Quick! What's the first technological invention?

Let Dino the dinosaur put you to the test!


If you guessed either the wheel or fire, you're right!  It's unclear what came first.

Roll Fire
Conmoto and Sieger Design

 Now you can have your cake and eat it, too, with this portable fireplace.  It has tempered glass so that you can see through; how cool is that? And an added bonus is that you can hang it on the wall.  All for $3800, it measures 25.5" diameter x 9" wide. I think it is a bargain as you can take it with you wherever you move, whether cave or castle.

Lascaux Cave, France

Who hasn't been fascinated with caves?  I've always enjoyed exploring caves and it was one of the highlights of my life to visit this prehisotoric cave a few years ago.  Although we're about 35,000 years beyond the cave dwellers of Lascaux (65 million years since the dinosaurs), I feel an affinity for cave decor. Must be the collective unconscious that Carl Jung described.  Whether I'm dragging home a tree stump or a rock to use as furniture, I enjoy making connections with our pre-history. Caves are regarded as places of safety, security and refuge. They can also be mysterious, unexplored parts of ourselves, awaiting personal discovery. 

Maartje Lammers
Interior Design

Here's a contemporary interpretation of the cave as refuge. It has a nice, organic feeling, not a straight line in sight!  I like the 1948 Charles and Ray Eames chairs, but personally I can do without the animal furs.  I think faux throws and animal print fabrics are more politically correct in this day and age.

Petrified Wood
Various sizes

Tree stumps are always good for a natural connection with Mother Earth.  These would be a nice foil to both antique and contemporary furniture pieces.

Renee Celeste Flanders
Interior Designer
I like to design with logs, sticks, bones and cast-off horns. I also am a rock hound. Let's just say I am a graduate of the School of Rock and Roll.  Actually the "rock" on this table is called slag, a by-product of coal. There is a chunk of white marble below the windows, and on top of the sideboard, do you see the three black rocks? Surprise - they are Styrofoam! I carved and sprayed them with faux granite paint. They defy the rules of physics!

Renee Celeste Flanders
Interior Designer

It seemed like the right thing to put rocks in the fireplace for a textural look.  They're hot glued onto a board that can be removed when the winter season sets in and you want an actual fire.

While we're on the subject of cave-inspired interiors, I must mention hammocks.  If space allows in a bedroom or family room, do consider including this indescribably relaxing invention.  It can hang nicely against the wall as a soft sculptural element when not in use.  This is always a very popular item for a teenager's room.

Third Chinese horse
Painting on rock.  Black pigment: manganese oxide.
Lascaux Cave, Motignac, Dordogne, France

Of course, we must not forget the art.  One would expect to see this level of artistry in the Louvre.  Have we really come so far?  It's hard to do better than those artists of 35,000 years ago!  Makes me want to do some paintings on my masonry basement walls.  Who knows what iconographic or metaphorical images might present themselves?  I would start with vine charcoal, a slender twig that never fails to put me in touch with my primitive relatives from so long ago!

Pablo Picasso

Picasso has a style that reminds me of the cave paintings. Lyrical and beautiful renditions of animals.

Lepanto I
Cy Twombly
One of three cardboard plate engravings printed as monoprints on Japanese paper
28.4"  x 20.1"
Edition by Julie Sylvester

Twombly is another artist that comes to mind when I think of cave art.  His scratchings and gestural expressionism are epic narratives of ancient myths.  End of story:  let's not limit ourselves when  designing our homes and businesses. Try getting in touch with your inner caveman for some truly enduring design and rock on!