Thursday, February 17, 2011

Day (or Night) Off

Spent some time tonight looking at contemporary Japanese ceramics as part of vague, long-term planning for next year's NCECA (National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts) Conference in Seattle in March, 2012.  Museums up and down Puget Sound will host ceramic exhibits and most of Seattle's downtown galleries will give over their spaces to ceramic arts as well.  Planning and gallery exhibit selection is officially in the very capable lap Marjorie Levy, co-chair of NCECA Seattle.  It will be a fun departure and discovery for me since my knowledge of ceramic arts starts and stops with the pinched clay bunnies I made when I was 6 and the plate I made at the PLU ceramics studio with my aunt back when she was a ceramics major in 1974ish, right Barb?

Anyway I stumbled onto a nice set of links to graduating class exhibits at Musashino Art University in Tokyo.  The work below was maybe my favorite.  Ceramic feathers by Eriko Ueda.

Ceramic Feathers by Eriko Ueda

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Heisler | Starr on ArtDish

As seen on ArtDish this morning.  Thanks for the mention, Jim and Eric!  If you haven't seen the show, you have until February 26th. 

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Tyler's Talk

A big thanks to everyone who made it to Cullom Gallery to hear Tyler Starr last Saturday.  Here are some photos of the event.  Tyler walked us though some interesting passages in his creative process.  We saw jet engine diagrams from his father's career as an engineer, unintentionally comical pictures from a Japanese illustrated children's Bible, snap shots of cultural events in his Tokyo neighborhood, Japanese naval bases, and bigger public works projects across Japan, particularly dam construction and resulting protests. The later has become the source material for many of Starr's newest works, including a small illustrated pamphlet, which I have available through the gallery.  I found his description of these dam projects to be the most interesting and blackly comical portion of his talk.  As he described it, the building of new dams in Japan is largely conceived as a way to support jobs projects.  Their consequences both unavoidable (the flooding of centuries-old towns and villages and resulting displacement of some of Japan's oldest citizens) and unintentional (like the reservoir made largely useless as a result of Tokyo's massive effort to install low-flow toilets), have sparked wide spread protest across the country.  All the parts of the dam stories are the stuff that fascinates Starr.  As he says in his statement for this show, There is a gap in manmade things between the idea and the actual realization of the idea.  This gap is a result of many things including unintended consequences and contradictory intentions.

But whether it was his telling of the facts surrounding these dams, or the machinations of neighborhood festivals and protests, or the national conflict around U.S. bases in Japan, I was struck by Starr's thoughtful and respectful, even distant, approach to his subjects.  Though the circumstances he lays out are often the stuff that makes you smack your forehead in disbelief, still he takes a look at all angles, the history, cultural aspects that affect these projects for better and for worse, and the how often the solution is not seen as a failure by the recipients.  Like that dam full of water.  It's now a tourist stop to watch the artificial waterfall released from the sluice gates twice a day, and a light show projected against the dam's massive concrete wall on summer evenings.

Miyagase Dam.  Photo courtesy of Tyler Starr.
Tyler Starr at Cullom Gallery, January 29, 2011

Tyler Starr at Cullom Gallery with (left) Structural Props (right) Infrastructure.

Illustration from a Japanese children's Bible.  Photo courtesy of Tyler Starr

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Bottom of the Earth

This came past my in box today.  The 50th anniversary of the first manned dive to the deepest point on earth - the Mariana Trench off the coast of Guam - was earlier this week.  I don't know what day.  But I loved this animated video celebrating the experience.  

I also ran into an image of this amazing sculpture by American artist, Robert Longo.  The sculpture is 87 inches high by 108 inches across and 16 inches deep.  It would fill the biggest wall in our home; I wish it would.  Here is the link to details of the three panels.  For me, Longo's work is some part WPA mural and other parts Gates of Paradise or the Sistine Chapel's Last Judgment.  But the judgment coming down in punches and elbows in a dog-eat-dog kind of purgatory.   I'm out of time to consider the link between the two works, but in my mind there is one perking.  The best and worst in us?  The straining for existence (at the bottom of the sea or the economic wasteland?) or something much more optimistic? 

Robert Longo (b. 1953) Corporate Wars -  Walls of Influence, 1982.