Thursday, October 27, 2011

Let’s Go to the Movies

I watched a lot of movies this summer. You might even say I went on a bit of a binge. It started innocently enough—as most adventures do—when I bought some old art books at a local used book sale. That purchase made me realize that there are huge gaping holes in my knowledge of art and artists. I took a few art history classes in college but all I remember is a darkened room, poor quality slides, an instructor who spoke in a monotone, and the ridiculous memorization of names, titles, dates and periods.

I got the brilliant idea to create my own learning experience and decided to start at my go-to place for learning—the public library. I checked out a few books on some of my favorite artists and started reading. However, I find reading about art to be a difficult task so next I went to my second go-to place for learning—google. I searched for movies about art and came up with a large list that I then requested from the library.

I thought I would share with you the movies I watched over the summer in case you are looking for some art-related education and/or entertainment. A lot of these are documentaries and I discovered that I absolutely LOVE documentaries.  I created this spread in Pilgrim where I recorded all the movies (and a few books too). Here they are in no particular order:

Exit Through the Gift Shop – Documentary or mockumentary? Watch and decide for yourself. I thoroughly enjoyed this entertaining and thought provoking look at street art as seen through the lens of the eccentric Thierry Guetta, a French immigrant in Los Angeles. 

Pollack -  Ed Harris stars as abstract expressionist Jackson Pollock. A great movie!

Basquiat - Jean-Michel Basquiat started as a street artist in NYC and had a meteoric rise to fame as a painter in the 80s. Friend to Andy Warhol, he died tragically of an overdose in 1988.

My Left Foot: The Story of Christy Brown - A drama starring Daniel Day Lewis as the title character, an Irishman born with cerebral palsy who could only control his left foot. He uses his foot to paint and write and becomes an accomplished artist and author. I liked this movie although I thought it was more about family and perseverance than about art. I wanted to see more art.

Lust for Life - A classic 1956 film starring Kirk Douglas as the Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh.

Crumb - I never really liked the art of illustrator and comic artist Robert Crumb and now I know why. If you think your family is messed up then you need to watch this film. Holy crap.


Rivers and Tides - Watch as British artist Andy Goldsworthy creates fantastic outdoor sculptures from rocks, twigs, flowers, and icicles. This man has more patience than a saint.
The Cool School - A documentary about the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles which opened in 1957 and launched modern art on the west coast.

Beautiful Losers - This film focuses on the work of a group of artists with a DIY style of street art.

American Splendor – The story of local home boy and quirky comic book creator Harvey Pekar. I think Harvey can only be described as a curmudgeon.

My Kid Could Paint That – Is four-year-old Marla Olmsted a child prodigy of modern art or is it just an elaborate scam? Watch this documentary and decide for yourself. Like Exit Through the Gift Shop, this film will make you question the validity and value of the art market.

How to Draw a Bunny – A documentary about the life and art of Ray Johnson, often considered the father of mail art. It appears that his life was as much a riddle as his art.

Vincent and Theo - Another movie about Van Gogh, but this one looks at the relationship with his brother Theo whose financial support enabled him to focus on painting.

Brush with Genius - Apparently Van Gogh is a popular subject for movie makers. Personally, I would watch every movie ever made about the man.

The Yellow House - An interesting book about the nine weeks that Van Gogh and Gauguin spent living and working together in Arles, France.

Andy Warhol: A Documentary Film - Four solid hours of video that examines the life and work of legendary pop artist Andy Warhol. The first disc focuses on his early life and everything that came before the soup cans that launched him into super stardom. The second disc focuses on life after instantaneous fame. This film inspired a visit to the Andy Warhol museum in Pittsburgh recently.

Herb and Dorothy - The story of the Vogels, a likeable and legendary couple who amassed an enormous collection of contemporary art on a very modest budget and then donated it all to the National Gallery of Art. Philanthropic and adorable at the same time.

The Horse's Mouth - One of the strangest movies I've ever seen in my life. There's nothing else I can say about it.

As you can see from these pages, I also watched a few movies completely unrelated to art and read the "dragon tattoo" trilogy of books. Whew! I told you I went on a binge.

Are there any other good art movies I missed? Let me know if you have any to recommend.

Speaking of movies, quite a few have been filmed here locally lately including one where my friend Laura’s house was chosen as a location. Laura completely restored a fabulous arts and crafts bungalow a few years back. At the time, I was doing a lot of mosaic work and she asked if I would like to collaborate with her to mosaic the fireplace in her living room. We worked on it on and off for months and now there is a chance that it might end up in a movie!! The movie won’t be released until next fall but I’m crossing my fingers that the fireplace gets at least a few seconds of glory.

Most of the clutter you see in the room is part of the movie “set” and not Laura’s decorating. The room was made to look retro 70s. I can't believe I have to wait another whole year until the movie is released to see if our fireplace gets its "15 minutes (or seconds) of fame."

Sunday, October 23, 2011

So Many Things to Love

I've been a little MIA lately and I don't really know why. Maybe I've been distracted by a messy house, an upcoming craft show, or too many rainy days in a row. Or maybe I've been distracted by making this list of things you gotta love.

Yeah, let's just go with that.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Big Ideas vs Dumb Crap

Have you ever found yourself caught between these two worthy opponents? These are the guys that battle it out to see who can win over your time, energy and focus.  They dance around your life bobbing and weaving to see who can knock the other one out. In one corner you have BIG IDEAS who fights with pure adrenalin and creative agility. In the other corner you have DUMB CRAP who leads with a wicked left hook and mundane practicality. Lately, DUMB CRAP has been kicking the--well, um crap--out of BIG IDEAS. But BIG IDEAS isn't ready to throw in the towel just yet. It's not over until the fat lady sings. Right?

BIG IDEAS did manage to make a few little blank books to sell at the fair.