Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Music sketch

A playful drawing from Vermeer's time by Leonart Bramer.

(That must be a cat on the lower left, but it does look a bit like a seal).

Musicians in an Interior (detail)
Leonaert Bramer
c. 1660, 37.2 x 46.3 cm., Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

From this website, which has some wonderful samples to listen to of music played on instruments of the same era.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Juan Gris

Juan Gris
The Violin
Oil on three-ply panel, 116.5 x 73 cm (45 3/4 x 28 3/4 in)
Kunstmuseum, Basel

Saturday, March 28, 2009


"A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold January morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that thousands of people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

Three minutes went by and a middle aged man noticed there was musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried up to meet his schedule.

A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping continued to walk.

A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.

The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried but the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.

In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the best musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written with a violin worth 3.5 million dollars.

Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston and the seats averaged $100.

This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of an social experiment about perception, taste and priorities of people. The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour: Do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context?"
The above text is from an email I received from my Mom. The writer of this summary is anonymous. I have excluded the final words posing a possible interpretation of the experiment. 

Personally, I am musing over the word "intermission" in relation to the story.

To read the full, original Washington Post article, click here.

(You will eventually scroll past the cosmetic surgery ad, hang in there, it's worth it).

See and hear the performance here.

Binky's clouds

My friend Binky Walker is in a group show at Catherine Person Gallery. Come see her skillful and delicate drawings of clouds changing subtly from moment to moment. 

Opening this Thursday.
Catherine Person Gallery
319 Third Ave South
Seattle, WA 98104
A Drawing Survey April 2 - May 16, 2009

Join us for the Opening on First Thursday, April 2nd, 6-8 pm

Catherine Person Gallery is pleased to announce High Line, an exhibition of contemporary drawings by Seattle artists Pam Keeley, Barry Maxwell, Julie Alexander, Colleen Hayward, Joseph Pentheroudakis, Binky Walker. 
For artists in every career stage - from emerging to the most mature - drawing offers viewers the most direct record of an artist’s thoughts and mark of the hand. High Line surveys various drawing methods and materials within the styles of figurative and abstraction, ranging in scale from a miniature one inch to a muscular sixty inches. Each of the artists’ drawings reflects patience in art practice, devotion to detail and enormous skill. Drawings have long been sought after and collected for being a personal reflection of the artist and accessibility.

Binky Walker. From the Series Measure of Difference, Triptych no. 5 (detail), graphite on paper,7” x 7” on 15" x 15" paper (each image) 2008

To preview additional work, please go www.catherineperson.com and click on Exhibitions.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Why 4Cats?

I've been meaning to share the origin of "4Cats Art Cafe".

It's named for Els Quatre Gats, the cafe in Barcelona where Picasso and friends used to hang out when he was a young man. The cafe was founded in 1897 and is still there, with its black and white tiles, marble tables, and piano and violin music. 

The cafe's owners, primarily artist Ramon Casas i Carbó, promoted art, artists, and art events. He and his partners even ran an art paper for a while called Pel & Ploma, and another called Forma

The cafe became a hub of Modernism, with Picasso's friends, the sculptor Julio Gonzalez and the painters Miguel Utrillo and Santiago Rusiñol i Prats, frequent visitors.

I love the idea of a place where ideas about art were batted around and printed words and images flowed along with the wine and tapas.

Hence, my version of
Els Quatre Gats: 4Cats Art Cafe.

I see that the restaurant is now using the same incarnation of the name, along with a charming flash animation introduction. Times, change, eh, Pablo? But a drawing is still a drawing, even digital. Viva ink, pen, and pixels.

Image source

Fun was had by all

All four of us at the last 4Cats Art Cafe, that is. 

We were the 4 Cats.

Which brings me to my next post.

But before that, I'd like to say how good it was to be sharing thoughts and observations and questions and ideas about Indian art together at my cozy home studio, after a morning of ridiculously huge snow puffs falling out of the sky followed by glorious sun on the lake. 

We discovered that, while none of us could claim much knowledge of Indian iconography, we shared a mutual delight in the quirky, sophisticated and playful visual language of the paintings. I for one look forward to learning more about this rich cultural realm not covered so much in college art history classes.

Two days till spring.

Caption Contest

Lest we get too serious about art...

One of the things we enjoyed noticing at our 4Cats Art Cafe on Sunday was the playfulness and outright joy in so many Indian paintings. It's good to be reminded that, no matter how serious we are about our subject, art is above all, play.

So it is with no disrespect to Mr. Raj, painter of this beautifully painted picture, or to the Hindu gods depicted in it, that I propose a caption contest for the orange and green fellows at the lower left. 

If you have an idea what Vishnu might be thinking as he reclines on his giant white polyp, or what all of those many heads might be saying on the right, please send those in, too.

Next: Caption contest for a Medieval Christian panel.

Fun with art is an equal-opportunity event. Or ought to be.
Shesha-shayi Vishnu, Madhu-Kaitabha and Adishakti
Miniature Painting On Paper
Kailash Raj
10.5" X 7.5" 

Sunday, March 1, 2009

4Cats goes to India

Announcing the next 4Cats Art Cafe event:

Indian Art - Story and Perspective
Sunday, March 15
Contact me for location information

Coffee, tea, champagne, orange juice and pastries are provided. Additions to the menu are welcome.

Space at my studio is limited. Let me know asap if you would like a spot. Know someone who might like to join our art discussions? They are welcome, too.
Indian Art - Story and Perspective

One of the most elemental forms of expression is telling a story, an art to which every culture and period in history has contributed its own flavor and style. If we include painting as a kind of storytelling, the various viewpoints become delightfully visible. How does the art of India evoke the world differently than a conventional western perspective? What are some of the features of Indian painting and what comparisons can we make to work of other periods and locations in order to highlight the Indian visual viewpoint?

Consider bringing:
Books, postcards, reproductions of Indian art, work of other artists to compare them with, or any related images - photographs, posters, fabric, postcards, and other inspirations - that you think just might add to our discussion.

(Tapestries, cartoons, cubism, Italian biblical frescoes, Japanese story-drawings and Egyptian murals, color field painting and graffiti are just a handful of the ideas that pop to mind).
"Ravana poses as an elderly hermit to trick Sita. When she does not leave with him willingly, he abducts her and carries her away in his chariot."

Watercolor painting, “Jallandharnath and Princess Padmini Fly over King Padam’s Palace,” by Amardas Bhatti, 1830. Currently on display at the Seattle Asian Art Museum.