It’s made out of…what?

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Lightin’, Al Souza, 2001

We all need things to look forward to, even if they’re just something small and important only to us.  But we also need those little surprise moments that stun a little and then lead to a smile or maybe even a good laugh.

This work gave me one of those little surprises.  At first I glanced at it and started to walk on by, but the texture pulled me back.  What is that? Instantly I realized what I was seeing and had one of those little surprise moments of delight.

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This work is made out of puzzle pieces – does that make you smile?  Bet it does!

Gross Domestic Product

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Ann Agee,Gross Domestic Product, 2010, porcelain and steel armature

My love of Blue Willow pottery drew my eyes to this piece immediately.  While the blue and white designs on porcelain attracted me it was the images on each plate that kept me staring.

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Domestic scenes fill the porcelain plates – scenes of kitchen tables, living room couches and chairs, empty dining rooms, and dishes drying on a rack  as seen above. The shapes and designs are captivating. Simple everyday scenes captured, frozen in time.

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The artist’s contemporary settings reference Northern sixteenth-century genre paintings and the household tableaus and goods (including Delftware) they captured.  Agee takes these stylistic ideas and reimagines them in clay and glaze as a reflection on domesticity, feminism, and artistic medium. (from the McNay Art Museum, Impressions, January/April 2017)

Maundy Thursday

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This is an edited re-post from 3 years ago.  This painting and it’s artist intrigue me, so I’m sharing again.

Leonardo da Vinci’s painting of the Last Supper is probably the most well know image associated with Maundy Thursday and the disciples last meal together. I’m fascinated with the painting and the man that painted the original fresco on one of the walls of the Dominican monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan. Matteo Bandello, who was a novice monk at the time, recorded that Da Vinci would sometimes work on the fresco from sunrise to sunset without stopping and at other times would spend hours a day standing in front of the work with his arms folded across his chest staring at the figures on the wall. Bandello also reports that on one occasion he saw Da Vinci leave another job site and walk quickly across the village in the hot sun to the monastery only to pick up a paintbrush to paint one or two strokes.

Da Vinci based the figures of the Last Supper on real people, people that he encountered and people that he just saw in passing. Detailed sketches of faces and body features, such as hands and studies of the folds of cloth for Peter’s sleeve are found in his sketchbooks. He also made lists of possible reactions of the disciples, such as twisting the fingers of a hand or turning to look at a companion. Leonardo also broke with a tradition from the Middle Ages in which the disciples are shown as being stiffly linear in their arrangement at the table.

Work began on the fresco in 1495 and concluded sometime after 1497 (a fire at the monastery destroyed records so the dates are based on other documents). Sadly, within a few years the paint had already begun to flake and crumble. Leonardo had used a dry-wall painting technique that was appropriate; however, it was his experimentation with mixing oil and tempera for the painting on the dry plaster that was the cause of the subsequent flaking off of the paint. Working on dry plaster enabled him to work slower and to be able to re-paint but resulted in the paint eventually flaking off the surface. Moisture and dampness in the refectory also contributed to the incompatibility of the paint and prepared wall surface.

Restorations have taken place from time to time. Recent efforts have revealed many hidden details such as a hand drawn sketch done on the prepared wall before the final preparatory coat of gesso and imprimatura. Several authentic copies of the fresco have survived and have been invaluable in restoration efforts. The fresco is so fragile that extensive work is not practical. Today’s viewer sees only about 20% of the original version of the Last Supper and while it appears ghost-like on the wall of the ancient monastery viewers still witness the expressions and gestures of the apostles and the details of the table set for the meal that were painted over 500 years ago.

Made of what?

If you read  my Doorway Into the Past blog then you know about the McNay Museum of Art that I featured there.  Marion Koogler McNay bequeathed her Spanish Colonial-Revival home and surrounding 23 acres to be preserved as a museum of modern art.  Her collection of 700 pieces of European and Southwestern art pieces formed the core of the museum when it opened in 1954. Today the museum curates almost 20,000 pieces of art.

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A current exhibit titled “The Extraordinary Ordinary: Three Installations” has three artists using “the stuff of ordinary life to create extraordinary environments”.  While all 3 were interesting my 12-year old companion and I found artist Tom Burckhardt’s creation to hold us captive for quite a while.  He created an artist’s studio from corrugated cardboard, black paint, wood and hot glue and looked over nothing.

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We carefully went over every detail commenting over and over, “look at that” or “how on earth did he make that” as well as “I wonder how many times he had to re-do that”!

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There were brushes and various types of paint all with meticulously painted labels. The small stove held a pot and a can of Campbell’s tomato soup stored on a shelf above. A phonograph on the shelf was ready to play a tune and there were reference books on the table.

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The window, sink, overhead pipes all look real, don’t they?  Such creativity – who would have thought of this!

And, I have to add that I was just as thrilled when we entered a room and there on the wall was one of Monet’s studies of Water Lilies! I wanted to just bring it home with me, but perhaps buying a copy would be a little more prudent!

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