There's not much here yet, but the “arts” section chronicles my love of the arts, especially music and literature. Here I will record my likes and dislikes and (in my dreams) present some well-reasoned and insightful criticism.
Sadly, I haven't kept this section up-to-date. Enter at your own risk. :-)
Posts in “Arts”
Anne d'Harnoncourt Memorial Thursday [nanoblog]
Anne d'Harnoncourt, the director of Philly’s Museum of Art since 1982, died suddenly June 1. The Museum grew tremendously under her leadership, and she will be greatly missed. There will be a tribute this Thursday on the East Terrace featuring musical performances (including a Dixieland band... huh?) and eulogies by Philadelphia luminaries (including Michael Nutter). Admission to the Museum is FREE all day. I’ll bet that was her idea. (via artblog)
My Evening with Helvetica
I got to the polls first thing yesterday morning and was voter number 12; seemed like a decent turnout.
After work I zoomed into town (OK, SEPTA doesn’t zoom anywhere) for Helvetica, the movie at Drexel. I met up with Scott and stellargirl, and we got in the line which snaked around the perimeter of the atrium. Once we were seated, they kept trying to pack more and more people into the theater. If only they could have adjusted the kerning on the seats, they could have fit another 50 people easily—monospaced seating is such a drag.
If you enjoy watching smart, passionate, creative, talented people talking about what they love to do, you would love this movie. I like that sort of thing myself and enjoyed every minute of it. It was over all too soon, although the DVD promises to have lots of bonus material. The director, Gary Hustwit, answered questions from the audience (how cool is that?). Gary was just as engaging as the subjects of the movie. Clearly, he loves what he does, too.
At 30th Street Station, I noticed that Bridgewater’s Pub has added the lobster roll back to their menu, and since I had some time before my train, I indulged. Chef Michael Zulli is now serving lobster roll sliders, which are a vast improvement over the soupy lobster roll they used to offer. They are described as “poached lobster, celery, mayo on a trio of grilled buttered buns,” but there wasn’t a trace of mayo on this lobster, just pure, unadulterated crustacean. The butter from the grilled buns complemented the lobster perfectly for a taste of buttery goodness in every bite. Awesome.
Alan Arkin Film Festival
Alan Arkin, one of my favorite actors, is currently starring in Little Miss Sunshine (haven’t seen it). To celebrate, we are kicking off an Alan Arkin film festival here at chez mere with two Arkin movies that are in our Netflix queue. The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming (1966) is in the house, and Wait Until Dark (1967) is timed to arrive right around Halloween. Oooh, scary.
Art History History... History
Even though I was an English major, my favorite course in college was art history. I took it because I was already interested in art, but I had no idea how inspiring it would be (full credit goes, of course, to the two professors who made it that way). If I were less pragmatic than I am, I might have switched my major, but I stuck with something hardheaded, practical, and eminently exploitable—English.
Our principal text was Janson’s History of Art which I learned has just been revised. That’s news because the changes are extensive (some of art history is now history) and significant, because it’s the backbone of so many art-history courses.
I’m not sure these revisions would have a major impact on the course I took, however. We didn’t hew that closely to the Janson text. What we were taught to do was look very closely at a work and try to see as much as we could see and use that experience to develop in ourselves a kind of heuristic for looking at art.
There were other books that were far more influential on me than Janson. Two I would single out are Mainstreams of Modern Art by John Canady and The Painted Word by Tom Wolfe. Both of these helped me begin to understand non-representational art so that I could move beyond the Norman Rockwell stage of art appreciation. Although Janson didn’t change my life, I was grateful to the book in one respect. The edition we used included photography (earlier ones didn’t), and it was my first exposure to some of the great photographers, particularly Robert Frank.
On Missing the Oscars
It’s not that I don’t like movies. I do. I really do. When I wore a younger man’s beret and jodhpurs, I pursued a self-directed degree in film history. I haunted Movies Unlimited on Castor Avenue (the retail store closed in 2005). They seemed to have every movie ever made, or at least every movie in my curriculum, although occasionally they disappointed me. (“What do you mean you only have one copy of Battleship Potemkim?”)
I haven’t watched many movies in the last few years, though. When Oscar buzz began to build a few weeks ago, we tallied up all the movies we saw in 2005. Zero. Clearly, I wasn’t qualified to make any Oscar predictions, and I had no interest in watching the awards. I don’t know what happened between me and movies. Maybe it’s the boorish behavior of today’s moviegoers, or maybe I just can’t sit still for two hours. Whatever it is, I’m sure it’s me that’s changed and not the movies. I’m confident that today’s movies are just as good as the black-and-white classics I cherish. Maybe someday I’ll see one of these newfangled “talkies” and prove it to myself. Feel free to suggest something inspiring. It needn’t have won an Oscar. (I don’t think any of my favorites ever did.)
As for that degree in film history, I withdrew and gave myself an incomplete.