39 posts categorized "Art"

Birches, bitches

Having caught up with Breaking Bad and now watched the final episode, I've figured out what Jesse Pinkman's favorite Robert Frost poem, from high school sophomore English class, must necessarily be.

It must be "The Birches":

"When I see birches bend to left and right
Across the lines of straighter darker trees,
I like to think some boy's been swinging them.
But swinging doesn't bend them down to stay
As ice-storms do. Often you must have seen them
Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning
After a rain. They click upon themselves
As the breeze rises, and turn many-colored
As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel.
Soon the sun's warmth makes them shed crystal shells
Shattering and avalanching on the snow-crust—
Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away
You'd think the inner dome of heaven had fallen.
They are dragged to the withered bracken by the load,
And they seem not to break; though once they are bowed
So low for long, they never right themselves . . .
 

Breaking-Bad-Series-Finale-Aaron-Paul-as-Jesse-Pinkman-8 (1)

 
". . . [I was] once myself a swinger of birches.
And so I dream of going back to be.
It's when I'm weary of considerations,
And life is too much like a pathless wood
Where your face burns and tickles with the cobwebs
Broken across it, and one eye is weeping
From a twig's having lashed across it open."

Frost was a complicated person - was he a Heisenberg in the lives of those who knew him? - but he had a gift for toeing a metrical line within conversational syntax in a way that could make words strange and palpable.

There are false notes in "Birches." The grandiose and self-important metacommentary at the end - "earth's the right place for love" - is drivel. But the sheer audacity of committing to a verbal painting of the impact of an ice storm on birch trees, and meditating on how a child's curiousity mediates nature - that's thrilling.

The lines in "The Birches" that give me chills - and you should hear Frost read these lines in a recording available via the Poetry Foundation app - unfold a similie to describe how bent birches, after the ice storm, survive for years under the majestic if indifferent dome of heaven:

"You may see their trunks arching in the woods
Years afterwards, trailing their leaves on the ground
Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair
Before them over their heads to dry in the sun."

Wow. If you show up every day, can you sometimes write lines like that?

Guy Anderson island-scape

Just got back from a trip to Whidbey Island.

In the cold and the overcast, every water-ward vista - other islands always in the horizon - made me think of Guy Anderson paintings.

Here's a comparison: a picture I took early this morning looking at Camano Island from Langley, and a photo of a Guy Anderson painting from 1963 called Haida Fishing Grounds.

Guy-Anderson-Haida-Fishing-Grounds-1963-15-12-x-34-12-Oil-on-Plywood-Custom-EL-Uiti-Frame

Hang on, I'll put the photo of the Anderson picture at top as it lays horizontally. Then my verticle photo can scroll to fade.

11161161355_4aa124938c_h

Birthday bits and pieces

Apologies to Doug Cornelius for borrowing the tagline he uses for his miscellanea posts.

The essential spirit for a Man About Town

Found Rittenhouse Rye!

6a01156e3d83cb970c019b01dc381b970d-580wiSince returning from Manhattan after having a Man About Town (or two) at the Gramercy Tavern, I've been on a quest to find Rittenhouse Rye in a Seattle retail liquor store.

I knew I should be able to secure it close to home, because the spirit seems to be in most bars around town. Bartenders At Manhattan on 12th, Barrio on 12th, and Matt's in the Market at Pike Place Market, have all made the cocktail for me, having the Rittenhouse in stock, though needing my instruction. (A bartender at Cannon also made something like a Man About Town for me, but, he didn't have Rittenhouse and otherwise didn't seem that open to hearing my recipe.)

At home, I've been making do with a specialty rye recommended by a knowledgeable, helpful person at Esquin. That rye was fine. But, too many notes of vanilla and caramel, and way too sweet.

Rittenhouse is the right stuff. It's spicy and sharp, and holds the sweetness of the cynar and vermouth in balance.

Every winter, I get together with a group of former employes of Who's Calling, where I served as General Counsel for two or three years. We meet next week. These guys are in for a treat, as I got a whole bottle of Rittenhouse just to make Men About Town for them.

William Kentridge show at the Metropolitan Museum

Another good reason to go back to Manhattan soon: the Metropolitan Museum is reinstalling The Refusal of Time, a 30 minute, five screen, musical performance that Helen and I saw in a train station warehouse in Kassel, Germany as part of dOCUMENTA (13).

7925703358_083cc5d7b4_c

This piece is really extraordinary.

Cornell women's basketball

I heard from an alumni mailing that the Cornell women's basketball team was playing in a tournament at Seattle University, so Helen and I walked over to watch.

11137241015_5097b78c1a_c

It was great fun! I think we will do it (walk over to SU to watch basketball) again. The competitiveness and athleticism is high, but you don't have all the commercial trappings of professional sports. It was way more fun to watch the college women's teams play than I recall the few Seattle Sonics games I went to, years ago, being.

Casablanca backup

On our way home from basketball, we walked by Central Cinema and wondered why so many people were gathered around the ticket counter.

11137445895_e8f6f2d266_cWhen we got home, we got a call from a couple we'd been thinking about and hoping to see. Turns out they had gone to Central Cinema to see Casablanca, but, the projector had broken, dashing their evening plans. So the crowd at the ticket counter, that was the process of doling out refunds.

They figured they would stop by and we figured we would make them consolation cocktails.

Into the second round of Men About Town, it occured to me, we could project Casablanca and watch it just as well at home. And so we did. We used a sheet draped over a curtain rod to make a screen probably seven and a half feet square. Looked great! 

52

I turned 52 yesterday. This post ends up summarizing how I spent the day. It was a great birthday.

Picture of The Refusal of Time as installed at dOCUMENTA (13): A-C-K / Flickr.

Fairy tales in a Kodachrome palette

There's a great show at Photographic Center Northwest in Seattle, originally running through December 15 but I think now running through the end of the year.

It's a selection of prints from a series of photograpic narratives by Holly Andres.

Capture2

The narratives live somewhere between cinema and short story.

They feel like fairy tales.

Capture3

I haven't completely decoded how the pictures work, but I think at least part of what makes them feel like fairy tales - of a time and place both familiar and inaccesible - is the conflation of elements of the mis-en-scene from different periods that don't belong together.

Each element is contemporary and American, but from a different decade: rooms and fixtures from the '20s; clothing from the '40s or '50s; furniture from the '60s; automobiles from the '70s.

Capture4

The children read like they are from today. 

The Nose

This morning I'm popping up to New York, by way of that classic movie mini-palace, the Lincoln Theater in Mount Vernon, Washington, to see the New York Metropolitan Opera's livestream of The Nose, a Shostakovich opera based on the story by Gogol.

The Nose

I'm not an opera fan, but I am a big William Kentridge fan.

Kentridge is the South African artist probably best known for his animated charcoal drawings.

I first encountered his work at the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan, at a major retrospective there. Next, a couple summers back, my wife and I saw an installation of his in the wing of a train station in Kassel, Germany, during the 100 days of Documenta.

Kentridge also designs sets and costumes for operas, including this production of The Nose.

Will report back.

Buster Simpson show closing tomorrow

Here's a neat digital trick, a kind of time travel: this Saturday post has a picture of a musical event to take place tomorrow, Sunday, October 13, at the closing of Buster Simpson's show, "Surveyor," at the Frye Art Museum.

Pictured is the composer and musician, Stuart Dempster, playing a new artwork by Buster Simpson, "Mobius Saw Blade" (2013), as both Simpson and Frye Director Jo-Anne Birnie Danzker look on.

Buster Simpson show closing tomorrow

Three Men at Art Exhibition

Photography was permitted, so I snapped this shot of a small drawing by Edward Hopper, dated from 1900-1903.

Three Men at Art Exhibition

It is part of a Whitney Museum show, closing this weekend, that reveals Hopper's practice of preparing to paint his iconic masterpieces in oil by first drawing studies in chalk, charcoal and graphite.

This drawing - small, the width of a spread hand - is not a study for any painting, as far as I know. But I really like it.

Related Posts with Thumbnails