20 June 2009

Taking to the Streets

I posted this originally on Tumblr in response to another poster who was excited to see the young people of Iran fighting to take their country back from 30 years of oppression and fundamentalism. I see that possibility too, but I can't really help but see that with three levels of observational bias in play. Besides, being a misanthrope and cynic means I don't buy into the hype of hope. Ever.
I agree that we’re seeing a lot of young people expressing their anger and resentment and desire for change. These brave souls - and I think they are nothing if not brave and a also little righteous - are risking life for the pursuit of liberty and happiness. I sit here, comfortable in my western lifestyle and struggling to remember how long it’s been since I felt the hot passion for justice burn so hot I needed to do something. Needed to march, scream, protest, fight. It’s been a long time.

But we’ve got a double dose of observational bias - actually a triple dose - acting here. First off, we’ve got our own prejudices coloring what we see. Then we’ve got the media choosing what to show us, framing their narratives in ways that are compelling and speak to their audience. Finally and most significantly, we only see the young people who are expressing their anger and resentment.

We don’t see any of the young people who think things have been hunky-dory under the mullahs, who think the regime is swell. Are they a small minority? Or are they, to repurpose a hideous moniker, a silent majority? We don’t know and really can’t know. We can’t know because Iran isn’t open. Which, depending on the answer, might be very ironic. If the protesters represent a relatively small and vocal minority, it would be in Iran’s best interests to show us that. But that would require them to be an open and free society. And who’d be protesting then?

15 June 2009

Sketch War: Pirates Wrapup

I’ve been lax the last few weeks in wrapping up the battles. But this week I was Shanghaied and conscripted to service aboard the ‘Bountiful Booty’. It’s write this wrapup or scrape the barnacles off Captain Jack’s peg leg.

I also recommend heading back through the archives and seeing the battles you may have missed since my last wrapup. Think about the great sketches you didn't see on the state of healthcare, liar liar, pants on fire, or my favorite: twisted children's shows.

If you thought pirates were interesting, wait until you see what the sketch warriors do with their kissing cousins: hippies.

If you think you’ve got the comedy chops to do battle with our scarred and bitter warriors, if you dare step into the hailstorm of seltzer and cream pies, if you think you’re MAN ENOUGH or WOMAN ENOUGH to make us laugh, write a sketch and contact us at submissions(nospam)@sketchwar.org.

14 June 2009

Reading is Funda--

13 June 2009

Mr. Anthrope

11 June 2009

Art History My Way

I've been lax around these parts lately, doing most of my small posts on Tumblr instead of here. It's a simpler, cleaner, quicker interface for short-form posts and other than sketches and TV reviews, that's mostly what I've been cranking out lately. Really short pieces, barely longer than what I might Tweet. If y'all aren't already following me over there, you should - either through Tumblr's follow mechanism if you've got an account or through the RSS feed.

But anyway...

I've been doing this series of pieces that I think are worth reposting here, so below are the first three. Hope you enjoy.

In September 1938, Mondrian left Paris in the face of advancing fascism and moved to London. After the Netherlands were invaded and Paris fell in 1940, he left London for New York City, where he would remain until 1970 when his agent, Ruben Kincaid, suggested he and his five children could find some success taking their painting act on the road.

Mondrian was the most accomplished artist of the group, but the contributions of his children should not be overlooked. His youngest daughter Tracy for example, while possessing none of the skills of her father or older siblings, was quite adept at stretching canvases and skins, even pioneering a technique for stretching animal skins across a ring-shaped frame called a tambourine. The eldest child, Keith Mondrian, eventually became a bigger draw than his famous father as young women flocked to see him paint in tight pants.

The Mondrians toured successfully for four years thanks to the shrewd decisions of Kincaid and middle child, Danny. Danny Mondrian’s later problems due to his violent temper and sexual proclivities have been attributed by many to his atypical teen-aged years, but no one can question the quality of art he produced during that period.

—Laurence Funderkirk, The Modern Dutch Masters (Weehawken: Bergen County Community College Press, 1997), 212.

The breakup of Ernst and Guggenheim sent shockwaves through the New York art world that would have repercussions for years to come. All throughout 1946, the question on everyone’s lips at cocktail parties and gallery shows was, “Are you Peggy or are you Max?” The factions that formed that spring and summer stood aligned against one another until decades past Ernst’s death at the hands of Czech Neo-Expressionists.
The tempestuous heiress brooked no quarter, destroying the futures of dozens of promising artists for no more than expressing sympathy for Ernst. However, for confidants such as MirĂ³, Guggenheim showed even less mercy.

Blacklisted, the Spaniard was unable to find work through the 1940s and ’50s. Not until the mid ’60s did he finally secure a position working on background cels for Hanna-Barbera. While he worked under a pseudonym, astute observers on Guggenheim’s payroll did eventually spot his signature on a single frame and brought it to her attention in the autumn of 1971.

—Emily Rothschild-Messerschmitt, The Story of MirĂ³ (Batemans Bay, NSW: Eurobodalla Adult Education Centre Press, 1983), 669.

Recent scholarship by renowned art historian Al Jaffee has shed new light on Hieronymous Bosch’s masterpiece, The Garden of Earthly Delights. Focusing on the grisaille on the back of the panels, Jaffee has concluded that the famed triptych was conceived of as a pentaptych.

The Garden was recently on loan to the William Maxwell Gaines Gallery in midtown where Jaffee is employed as the chief archivist. He examined the panels under the gallery’s electron microscope and discovered evidence that a message was cleverly hidden, only visible when folded shut in the appropriate configuration.

“Without the missing panels, I couldn’t say what Bosch’s message was,” Jaffee said. “It’s enough to drive me mad.”

Even if Jaffee can deduce the missing message on the back of the panels, the larger question remains as to what graced their fronts.

“Knowing those panels are out there means we might be able to find them someday,” Jaffee mused over lukewarm coffee in his office. “I hope whatever’s to the right of hell is really raunchy.”

—A. E. Neuman, “Five Wooden Panels,” New York Times, May 7, 2009, Arts section.