Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Vuillard




I recently spent some time in Madison, Wisconsin, and in Chicago. I took some photos but I don't think any will end up here. During an afternoon in Chicago's Art Institute I wandered in the galleries of modern American art looking for and failing to find paintings by artists whose lives I've been researching. I wandered also in the great, bright wing of contemporary art and there found two good Mardens.


By far my favorite painting in AIC collections is the one shown above. It's Vuillard's "Foliage-Oak Tree and Fruit Seller" of 1918. It's large—over 9 feet wide and 6 high—and it rewards an observer who's willing to give it close attention. The medium is distemper on canvas. In making it Vuillard mixed powdered pigments in water and a hot-glue binder. He had to act quickly as the pigments became unworkable as they cooled. The result is pleasingly free and expressive.


This image shows us all how difficult, near impossible, it is to render a painting like Vuillard's on computer screen. It's disheartening. In general, the media—painting and digital photography—do not seem to be so very incompatible. In this case they are.


I write all this largely because the museum as not shown "Foliage" on my last two visits. It's collections are excellent and the time I spend in its galleries nourish my soul, but I'd so like to have ten minutes or so before this one painting once again.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Friday, August 22, 2014

shame




There's lots to like about the neighborhood in which I live. It's kid-friendly, walkable, easy on the eyes, and almost entirely free of violent crime. One of its attractions for me has always been its more-or-less equal mix of large and small houses. This has been changing over the past few years as the latter type disappear. Many are mansionized by expansion up and out. Others, like this one, are eliminated to make room for new dwellings that are pretty much all structure and no yard or garden.


This demolition began when the backhoe arrived and carved out the street side of the little hill on which the house sits. The debris is dumped into trucks that pull into the newly-opened space.

Friday, August 15, 2014

a blush of color




This Rose of Sharon appeared today in the back-yard jungle of our neighbor to the south. It stands out handsomely amidst a dense thicket of vines, bushy greens, and cockeyed trees.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

moon




I'd read that this month's full moon would be bigger and brighter than most, but, imagining it in a clear sky, thought it wouldn't make an interesting photograph. Awakening around midnight with moonlight streaming in the window, I saw what you see here.


When I was about nine I had a friend who lived in a place which held many things that boys love, lots of woods, open grassy slopes, a cascading brook, and, best of all, a small farm complete with smelly chickens and lots of growing things. In a time when children were left to their own devices most of the time, I remember staying up unusually late one night enjoying the bright light of a clear-sky full moon and picking a carrot or two to eat while marveling at the shadows we cast.