Monday, January 18, 2010

Take one home to your mother-in-law (plus! Weekend reviews)

Well, whyever not?

Sketchbook 1-15-2010 (Graphite on cream paper).
[Click on the image to see it larger and better quality in Flickr.]

The text unintentionally reminds me of sign-painter and Outsider artist Jesse Howard. For some reason I keep returning to this drawing--thinking about doing another version on nicer paper.

This weekend was a festival of artistic delights. For one, I've been more excited about getting into my studio and working, feeling lots of energy about a myriad of projects (working on comic book collage pieces, small drawings, a poetry chapbook cover design for a friend, and images for another upcoming collaborative print with Madison-based artist Elizabeth Stoutamire!) I made a deal with E.L. that we'd each have something finished to show the other by the end of the month, and that friendly deadline has really seemed to get me jump-started.

Friday evening I stopped by GOLDEN gallery for the opening of Joseph Cassan's new sculptural work. His pieces were very realistic portrayals of very simple things, places, and moments in all of our lives, using somewhat unexpected materials. I was less drawn towards his obviously synthetic/ plastic-looking pieces (too much of what I dislike about Jeff Koons), and more towards the trompe l'oeil. For instance, Venus Inferred, a meticulous construction of dainty pink and lacy underwear on a stand, seemed very real, but the traditional every-day function of this object is subverted by its non-traditional materials (aluminum, steel, and copper). The underwear, in metal, becomes a bizarre cage, and everything that is functional and the mundane about it suddenly takes a slightly sinister yet covetable turn.

Venus Inferred (2010), Joseph Cassan

Similarly, the tiny display of Dedicated to All Human Beings draws you in (and physically down--I immediately knelt, as if before a dollhouse, to better and more closely examine the piece). What looks like a discarded, bloodied band-aid on a paper towel is actually made of a woven copper mesh, white fabric, and marker. There is a carefulness and physical presence in the reality of the construction of these two sculptures that is both memorable and striking.

Dedicated to All Human Beings (2010), Joseph Cassan

After GOLDEN I had dinner at Penny's Noodle Shop in Lakeview (always a delicious place for very cheap, basic, fresh Thai mostly-vegetarian food) with A.C. and P.C. I had the vegetarian noodle soup, a huge bowl of broth, rice noodles, tofu, accompanied with fresh sprouts, cabbage, carrots, and basil to mix in.

After dinner we hoofed it over to the Music Box for Terry Gilliam's new film, The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus. Heath Ledger's final performance was indeed made more complex by the addition of Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Ferrell. It's amazing how handsome men really are all alike... Ahem. The film itself was fun to watch, and I laughed out loud a number of times, but ultimately very choppy, and the basic premise of the magic of the Imaginarium takes about 30-40 minutes to finally be explained. The love story between Lily Cole and Heath Ledger does not seem believable in the slightest, nor does Tom Waits' interest (as the Devil) in Christopher Plummer (the Doctor). Waits and Plummer's performances are quite interesting to watch, however, and I found myself wishing for more banter between the two of them.

Saturday I had the treat of a night with A.B., and we dined at Mana Food Bar, a tiny but incredibly delicious all vegetarian upscale place on Division (between Ashland and Damen). We shared 4 dishes and dessert, and each plate that came out was a delight. I started with the sake cocktail with pineapple and fresh ginger, which was smooth and completely refreshing-- I think I only want drinks made with fresh ginger from this point on. We tried the sesame peanut noodles (not too spicy, could have used a little more peanut flavor), the mushroom burger sliders (the spicy mayo made my eyes water but I really enjoyed it), seared collard greens (I would like to eat those each and every day), and sweet potato pancakes with a pear and raisin chutney (the only dish I felt so-so about, it wasn't completely bursting with flavor). Dessert was an avocado sorbet that was the perfect refreshing palate pick-me-up. I would love to go back and try everything else on the menu.

Then we tottered over to a gallery/ retail space called OhNo!Doom (1800 N. Milwaukee) for a fundraiser and art opening called Rock the Future.

It was packed (I'm convinced the coats of Chicagoans take up twice as much room as they should), and thus hard to adequately see the work. I wasn't impressed with much, save for the screenprints of Chicago artist Ricardo Gamboa. His work has a striking illustrative quality, and the multi-screen prints hold their own with bold, vivid colors and text. You can read a brief bio on Marwen's alumni gallery website here. Gamboa's posters included some of these shown here:

, while at work, I happened to meet a very new Chicago artist (he just moved here three weeks ago, formerly from Sacramento, CA), Jonathan Collin Trousseau. His website is The Silence and the Color. His photography is quite lovely, rich, and sensual, and since I hope to see more of him and his artwork, I intend to review his work a little bit more in-depth in a future post.

Finally, today, Monday, I took a trip to the Landmark theatre to see Tom Ford's beautiful film A Single Man, based on the 1964 Christopher Isherwood novel by the same name. I haven't read any Isherwood yet (I know, C.K.B., shame, shame on me!), but I plan to now. I love how much Isherwood was relying on Woolf and Mrs. Dalloway (a story told throughout the course of a day, even a dinner party!), and I can't wait to read into that connection a bit more in the novel.

The NYT has an interesting Dec 11th, 2009 review by Manohla Dargis here.

The cinematography of A Single Man was really quite lovely, and I did get lost in the beauty of the actors (every single person was way, way too good-looking!) and the flux between saturated and unsaturated color that undulated in waves throughout the film. However, I couldn't help but think, what a fad Ford is capitalizing on (with that grainy, unsaturated look of Polaroids, and the constant use of close-ups fading to images out of focus), and wonder how dated this 21st century depiction of the 1960s will look in a few years. Colin Firth is definitely a treat to watch, and I sincerely hope he gets more dramatic parts like this one in the future. Even though I do so love his handsome Mr. Darcy characters, his talents are put to much better use in leading roles such as this one. Perhaps it's because I so recently watched Dr. Parnassus, but I kept seeing Firth as a Brad Pitt look-alike off and on throughout the movie.

Well, I leave you with a little ditty, Here Comes Your Man...

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