Of Murals and Morals: One View of Twin Cities

November 14, 2013 · Print This Article

It has turned cold. Recent mornings here have felt more like February than November. The nights grow ever longer. As we prepare to turn inward, to tuck ourselves away during the coming winter months, I typically want to rest my oversaturated mind, find peace from the overwhelming and inescapable cavalcade of cultural production and consumption. I have instead found myself invigorated by and seeing anew through an analogy from Jean Cocteau.

Cocteau

In a translation by Richard Howard, Cocteau writes:

The mechanism which imposes upon us the beauty of a picture, or, more correctly, the combination of lines and volumes capable of moving us, results from a phenomenon analogous to what triumphs over our intelligence when sexuality speaks. A kind of psychic sexuality provokes a moral erection comparable to the sexual one in that it functions without our control and gives immediate proof of the effectiveness of the forms and colors likely to convince a secret part of our organism.

I gravitate toward artwork that can only be consumed through time, that makes me think, that forces my mind in new directions and challenges my notions of what the world is. I know how to live with that work outside its context. I know how to carry it around with me as it informs the rest of my life because it has already existed in my mind through successive moments. I have a harder time knowing how to live with artworks that are immediate, nebeneinander. It might thrill me to my core, but where does it live in my brain when I leave? Why does it still influence me as I continue through my days? Its momentary nature belies its potential impact. The moral erection, the immediate, nonrational responses I have to those works shifts that impact away from my rational mind to a place I cannot see, a place all the more profound because it is unplumbable.

I can tell myself I love this video because I love doughnuts and state capitols, but my reaction lies beyond any simple intellectual explanation. I can tell myself that I love this recently completed mural for how it erases the Machado poem or that I can balance my sincere and ironic appreciation of the eagle, but, again, those explanations fall short of what happens when I see it.

rsz_1photo_1

I am, of course, reminded of other times I leave my rational mind behind. Cocteau sprang to mind as I was overwhelmed by the moonlight when I took the trash out last night, the light far more sublime and mortality-inducing than beautiful. He was with me as I woke from a dream that has haunted my days, my unconscious mind imprinting my waking life. He is with me as I sift through the numbing plenitude of the internet, finding flashes of light in the darkness that tug at something.

Humans have evolved to block out sensory inputs; unlike dogs we are no longer so overwhelmed by the smell on a tree that we drop everything to investigate it. We can use that saved brain power and energy to explore the mysteries of the universe, but, increasingly, we must develop ways of ignoring the hundreds of words, the thousand of sounds, the millions of things trying to grab our attention in order to know that mysteries still exist.

I hear Cocteau calling us back to a moment when we felt the psychic sexual thrill of seeing the first painting that called to us, the moral erection of that song that still stirs our heart. He reminds me to pay attention when I feel stirrings that work beyond my rational brain, past the barriers that I put in place to manage the onslaught. More than a silly or dismissive way to explain away what we like, he reminds us that the experiences that move us precisely because we cannot explain why they do are necessary and important to our complete health as mental, physical, emotional, and aesthetic beings, all the more so as the culture that confronts us screams that it is as profound and fundamental to our well being as that kind of experience.

At the very least, he sheds light on why I continually respond to and deeply love the mural I pass every day that for one reason or another hits me like a…

rsz_photo_2

rsz_1photo_3




EDITION #7

April 15, 2013 · Print This Article

Super pro-fesh and stylin’ rope jumper, artist, Miami native and three-time SAIC freshman, Walter Latimer after his mind blowing performance at this year’s Art Bash.

Say what!?

News broke this weekend that artist, Walter Latimer, is a former Junior Olympics jump rope record holder! Check out the soon to be viral video of his performance at the SAIC Art Bash.

Video courtesy of Jack Schneider.

T of the Town

Spotted: Matt Austin at the opening for Todd Diederich’s Luminous Flux opening at Johalla Projects with a proof of Diederich’s forthcoming book printed by LATITUDE and available through The Perch.

Spotted at the Katelyn Farstad opening: Julius Ceasar throwing shade at The Propeller Fund in their half-hearted donation appeal.

  • We heard there’s going to be a secret (not anymore!) extension of ACRE Residency’s April 15th Application deadline. So there’s really no excuse, APPLY TODAY! You won’t regret it. (Disclaimer: I didn’t.)
  • In a characteristic move, Pedro Velez calls out an unsuspecting Ryan Coffey on twitter. #RUDE
  • Chicago closet-cum-gallery, Queer Thoughts, holds successful benefit auction, city continues to wonder why?
  • Spotted: Independent Art Champion and Champion of the Arts, Anthony Stepter at the opening of Has the World Already Been Made? x4 by Daniel G. Baird & Haseeb Ahmed at Roots & Culture.

The Weatherman Report

Joan Mitchell, Minnesota, 1980 Oil on canvas (four panels), 102 1/2 x 243 inches (260.4 x 617.2 cm). Collection of the Joan Mitchell Foundation, New York.

Now on view at The Poetry Foundation.

Reading is Fundamental

  • SAIC Secret Admirers. Looks like SAIC has a crush on Prof. Fleischauer and butts. Also, this is probably the best work from the BFA show. (Courtesy of Sofia Leiby.)
  • You down with OPP? Chicago’s own artist-turned-entreprenuer, Jenny Kendler, is quoted in this fluffy piece about artist’s websites being not websites, but “constructing a narrative”. At least the photo of Kendler is cute.
  • Performing Audiences and Choreographing Coughs. Finally, some real journalism. NPR’s Alva Noë tackles the long-standing question of why audiences cough so damn much during live performances. “They are uncomfortable. They are uncertain. They are, very often, bored out of their minds.” What a surprise. In related news, Rapid Pulse is back for a 2013 installment.

AAM calls out Obama Budget

In an unusual turn of events, everyone is talking about the Obama Administration Budget Proposal for the 2014 Fiscal Year.

The American Alliance of Museums analysis of Obama’s proposed budget is less sexy than a big schmoozy gala, but actually worth reading. As is CultureGrrls somewhat-matter-of-fact budget post.

The AAM calls the proposed limit on charitable deductions “harmful,” but Bloomington’s Michael Ruston disagrees. Notable is his alternative suggestion of an equitable tax credit that would apply across donors, begging the question: should people in higher tax brackers really recieve more credit than those in a lower tax bracket if they are donating the same amount of money?

Ed Ruscha, We the People, 2 color lithograph, 14 x 14”, Courtesy of Gemini G.E.L. and “Artists for Obama.”

Surprisngly absent from the AAM document is a mention of the $59 million dollar increase to the Smithsonian Institution to fund, amongst many other initatives, The National Museum of African American History and Culture.

We’re most excited about the $500,000 proposed for building a telescope in Greenland to scope some black holes, but with a riveting 230 pages of FY14 Budget Proposal, there’s bound to be something for everyone. Right?

Artist Creates Black Hole in Roger’s Park

Abigal Deville’s opening at Iceberg Projects this weekend was TO DIE FOR. Iceberg’s normally crisp gallery was lost to a literal whirlwind of materials collected from Roger’s Avenue and transformed by the artist. More than worth the trip to Roger’s Park.

See XXXXXX now so you can say you knew Deville’s work before it was in Venice.

April 27th, 11am– 9pm. At Roots & Cul­ture 1034 N Mil­wau­kee Ave.

Serv­ing a menu of brunch, lunch all day, and dinner.Brunch 11am-2pm. Din­ner 6pm-8pm. Kitchen closes at 8. 10 seats avail­able at a time. First come, first serve. BYOB. Veg­e­tar­i­ans, of course, are welcome!