Grandma Moses. Anna Mary Robertson Moses (September 7, 1860 – December 13, 1961), known by her nickname Grandma Moses, was an American folk artist. She began painting in earnest at the age of 78 and is often cited as an example of an individual who successfully began a career in the arts at an advanced age.
I am okay. But the painting is pretty primitive. Is that fair? Maybe childish? Juvenile? Here’s my point. Look at the eyes. They are just painted dots. Dots. Not even an attempt at making them symmetric. I was kind of shocked. Because you start when you are old, it gives you a free pass on technique? I guess, I should get out my paint again. I did some mickey mouse watercolor work last year. I dispatched the efforts to the junk pile. Right place, right time, favorable critics – timing is everything.
I don’t consider myself an artist. I make images now. But it is more of a technical exercise with problems to solve. You solve the problem. You have the answer. The right answer gives you a 100 on the test. You get an A. Not so fast. There’s more than just pressing the shutter button. Lots of mundane ordinary photos are taken. Famous painters – Rembrandt, Da Vinci – painted themselves in self-portraits. We presume Da Vinci was left handed among other reasons because he did a painting showing his right hand. Clever! I’m a left hander in a right-hand world. I learned to operate right-handed and then adapted. I cut with scissors from the right and from the left. It’s no big deal. But if you are right handed I deem it a lot more difficult for you than me. Ha ha. I go both ways. I have talent, but I’m still not an artist.
The most iconic painting that equates Le Louvre to art is the Mona Lisa. And did you know Whistler’s Mother is owned by France. Don’t bother to go see the Mona Lisa. Its mounted under glass and crowded with people. You are stuck with the glare of the glass that prevents any meaningful examination. I did not know “Mother” was owned by France and loaned out across the United States. We were lucky to see it in Paris. What do I know? What I can tell you is that iconic paintings tend to be in accessible or hard to find. (they’re traveling.)
I’ve been to a lot of museums in the past several years. Am I making up for lost time? Who knows? What I can say is that I now try for a gestalt overview and then a detail of the brush strokes. It helps to include the label so I can identify the darned painting later. No, even though digital makes this easy, I don’t do it. There are a few painters I recognize. Mostly, I admire the technical prowess. I cannot tell much difference. It’s me. I can’t tell the differences in wine taste either. I’m missing a gene. No matter. I have other talent and am content to continue to look and try to be appreciative. It’s a work in progress (me). Ain’t educashun gran?
For $150 million. It’s under construction and I vaguely remember reading something about it. On the approach to the Lincoln Tunnel I first saw it. Then we walked the High Line. And I got to see it up close. Not close enough to walk on it. It will open in 2019. But we could see the construction. It will be the conversation piece hoped for. I’m already shaking my head. Up and down, down and up, it’s the stuff of nightmares. Of course this is better than the social problems we ignore. It’s art?!
What’s felt? Well you have probably felt felt. It’s a soft material. The definition is more like: take some raw wool and put it under pressure and rub; the fibers will lock and form a sheet of material. Or you may use a needle to lock the material into shapes. How about a giraffe, or a dragon, or a heron? Yup, she did all of that and more. It was enormous 9as in more then 15 feet in size) and she demurred on how long it took to do the giraffe. I’d have lost interest long before the neck ever got done. Hey, it’s art! My (felt) hat’s off to you.
Biggs Museum. It’s the best little museum ever! Free food! Ha! It was a concert event for the artist. She painted with pieces of music in mind. Musicians came to perform pieces with her art in mind. It was a grand event. We were fortunate to attend.
I can read music! I followed the pianist as she played and read her score. I followed the measures. She had to play many redundant same notes following the measures as she read. I wonder? How does she keep track as she plays the same note over and over. I’m sure I’d lose track and miss a note here and there. Besides, if she did, would anyone know? Hey! I don’t read music that well. My only regret is that I never paid enough attention while my kids were in the same music theory class as Alicia Keyes. Nor did I bother to record her early piano concerts when my kids played too. But, I suppose something rubbed off.
Richard Cleaver does some strange work. It’s unique. I’ve never seen anything like it. It is a bit out there for me. It would appear he liberally uses hat pins. No matter. The work is eye catching. And you would have to admit it took a lot of time to complete. Wondrous things are lurking in the minds of talented artists.
The last time I played with watercolor was in kindergarten. I was forced to paint something for parent teacher conference. My only goal/task during free time was to take out all of the wooden blocks. I never got to play. Just taking the blocks off the shelf used all my time. Insanity!? (doing the same thing over and over … hoping for a different outcome) So, I sat before a paper clipped to an easel, took a single color, filled my brush, and painted a squiggly line, filling the page, and then sat back contentedly. Have I told you this before? When asked I responded to the teacher, “It’s a roller coaster.” She walked away counting to herself. I remember that part too. So, you’d laugh to think we signed up for watercolor lessons with an artist of considerable renown. To be sure my significant other wanted to meet the artist. Aha! But why take lessons? I fell upon the sword immediately and claimed to be a complete novice.
I mean there were folks there with some serious paint, brushes, and paper. Mission accomplished. We scored an invitation to visit the artist in his studio. I was complemented on my work (ha ha [but he really did – a good teacher]). The artist’s style complimented my own. He just threw the paint upon the paper and then closed in on the details as he went along. I had no details and was very good about throwing paint on the paper. Hey, there’s potential here. Oh, his frames were also art. He was a metal worker in the other half of his life. And, I work in wood. Hmm…..
What they never told me is that you can join a museum and get reciprocity at others. We have been to a lot of museums for free. And I mean in Chicago and in LA and points between. Of course, the exhibits are there to stimulate discussion. Hey! I just retired. Do we really need colored plastic heads strewn about? Humpf!! Gates!? Jean Claude and Christo – Central Park many years ago. It was about orange gates in the park for a few weeks. It was mesmerizing. The artistry is in the concept. The concept pictures and proposal sell for tens of thousands – enough to fund the project’s million dollars bill. I mean millions of dollars. So, the sales earn a lot of money. That builds a lot of gates. By the way, most of the proposals and projects never got built.
Modern art is baffling too. Rauschenberg painted white on white with rollered house paint and no brush marks. He instructed it to painted over if it aged. Okay! Bullets in road signs. Yeah, that is art too? Jackson Pollack – Drip painting. He put the canvas on the floor, walked around it, and painted away. The upper two to the right are black and white. I kid you not. How imaginative.
It reminds me of the art I was forced to do in kindergarten. My mission was to take out all the blocks. In fact, play time was over before I ever took out all of them. Meanwhile, there was nothing to show for parent teacher conference. To the easel! Reluctantly I took one paint brush and one color and proceeded to paint a twisted curvy line. One. One line.
Teacher, “What is it?”
“A roller coaster,” I replied. The steam was coming out of the teacher’s ears as she stalked away. So much for my budding art career…