Saturday, July 27, 2019

Ursula's sculptures leave Women's Museum

Ursula von Rydingsvard on March 20, 2019 at the opening of her Contour of Feeling at the National Museum of Women in the Arts with Untitled (nine cones), 1976/photo by Patricia Leslie
Ursula von Rydingsvard, Tak, 2015, cedar, the National Museum of Women in the Arts, gift of Wilhelmina Cole Holladay/photo by Patricia Leslie
Ursula von Rydingsvard on March 20, 2019 at the opening of her Contour of Feeling at the National Museum of Women in the Arts with her little nothings (2000-2015)/photo by Patricia Leslie
Ursula von Rydingsvard, little nothings (2000-2015) "experiments" that she collects and finds inspirational, sometimes leading to large projects. Among these elements are roots, corn, "knitting with pig intestines," a hat worn by her father in Ukraine, stomachs of cows (aided in one, by mice), a cutting from her brother's hair when he was three, and in the lower left corner, portions of a costume she wore on her arms to a party "with the nails being consequential"/photo by Patricia Leslie
Ursula von Rydingsvard on March 20, 2019 at the opening of her Contour of Feeling at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, standing beside her Zakopane, 1987/photo by Patricia Leslie
Ursula von Rydingsvard on March 20, 2019 at the opening of her Contour of Feeling at the National Museum of Women in the Arts with her Zakopane, 1987, courtesy of the artist and Galerie Lelong & CoThe pain of memory may cause her grimace, but art helps her conquer her pain/photo by Patricia Leslie
Ursula von Rydingsvard, detail of Thread Terror, 2016, cedar and graphite, courtesy of the artist and Galerie Lelong & Co,/photo by Patricia Leslie
Ursula von Rydingsvard, OCEAN VOICES, 2011-2012, cedar and graphite, courtesy of the artist and Galerie Lelong & Co./photo by Patricia Leslie
Ursula von Rydingsvard on March 20, 2019 at the opening of her Contour of Feeling at the National Museum of Women in the Arts with her Droga, 2009, cedar and graphite, courtesy of the artist and Galerie Lelong & Co/photo by Patricia Leslie
Ursula von Rydingsvard on March 20, 2019 at the opening of her Contour of Feeling at the National Museum of Women in the Arts/photo by Patricia Leslie
Ursula von Rydingsvard, Book with no words II, 2017-18, cedar, linen, and leather, courtesy of the artist and Galerie Lelong & Co, /photo by Patricia Leslie
Ursula von Rydingsvard, PODERWAC, 2017, leather, cotton, steel and polyester batting, courtesy of the artist and Galerie Lelong & Co.This is about 10.5 feet high x 8.5 feet wide/photo by Patricia Leslie
Ursula von Rydingsvard on March 20, 2019 at the opening of her Contour of Feeling at the National Museum of Women in the Arts with her Collar with Dots, 2008, cedar and pigment, courtesy of the artist and Galerie Lelong & Co/photo by Patricia Leslie

Compared to her favorite medium, cedar, Ursula 
von Rydingsvard is warm, vivacious and very much alive, adjectives which can also be applied to her cedar which is separated from its lifeblood, soil, when Ms. Rydingsvard works with it, enlivening it when she cuts, carves, slices, and glues it to fashion large-scale sculptures which can take a year to finish.

Cedar is Ms. Rydingsvard's lifeblood which she embues with her spirit and poetry to express her innermost feelings and emotions.  

She makes art for many reasons, including:
To survive living and all of its implied layers.
To ease my high anxiety, to numb myself with the labor and the focus of building my work.
     Because it's a place to put my pain,   my sadness.
Because there's a constant hope inside of me that this process will heal me, my family, and the world.
      Because it helps fight my inertia. 

For several months the National Museum of Women in the Arts has been the home of 26 of Ms. Von Rydingsvard's sculptures, nine works on paper, and a wall display. 

At the opening of the show, The Contour of Feeling, she led guests through a parade of her creations, large and sinuous, inviting observation and reflection upon her life which began in Deensen, Germany and continued in Poland where she, her five siblings, and parents lived in eight refugee camps over five years at the end of World War II.

After the war, the family was one of many rescued by the U.S. Marshall Plan  and Catholic charities, which brought the family to the shores of the U.S. and  helped it settle in Connecticut.

Art is a reflection of the lives of many artists, and Ms. Von Rydingsvard is no exception.  From her subconscious and memories of life in the refugee camps and the wooden barracks, it is no surprise that she uses wood to sculpt and release experiences which have shaped her life.

I believe most artists want viewers to interpret art for what it represents and means to viewers, not what it represents and means to the creators, a sentiment shared by Ms. Von Rydingsvard.  

On its web page, the museum quotes Mark Rosenthal, the guest curator and author of the exhibition catalogue who interviewed Ms. Von Rydingsvard:
Let it float and tell you what the piece needs to tell you, not what the curators are saying and not what the teachers are saying.

This is the her first solo exhibition in Washington and "the most ambitious" of her exhibitions to date, according to the museum. Her work is found in major museums throughout the U.S.

She received a B.A. and M.A. from the University of Miami and a M.F.A. from Columbia University.

The show was organized by the Fabric Workshop and Museum.

Happy late Birthday to Ursula von Rydingsvard who turned 77 on July 26.

What: Ursula von Rydingsvard: The Contour of Feeling
Closing Sunday, July 28, 2019. The museum is open Mondays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. and on Sundays, 12 - 5 p.m.

Where: The National Museum of Women in the Arts, 1250 New York Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20005

For more information: 202-783-5000 or visit

Metro stations: Metro Center (exit at 13th Street and walk two blocks north) or walk a short distance from McPherson Square.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

'Echo in the Canyon' will echo a long time

In Echo in the Canyon, Jakob Dylan interviews Tom Petty in Petty's last on-camera interview before he died of a heart attack at age 66 in 2017/Greenwich Entertainment

If you happen to be a singer, composer, songwriter, musician, producer, d.j., music teacher, music historian, performer, conductor, director, engineer, rocker and/or grew up during the 60s, Echo in the Canyon is a movie you'll want to see. (Or hear.)

It's a music doc all about the distinctive sounds emanating from Laurel Canyon near LA from 1965-1967 and led by Jakob Dylan (yes, his son and looking every bit like his dad) who interviews several stars from the era and current ones, too, like Brian Wilson, Michelle Phillips, Eric Clapton, Fiona Apple, and many more who sang for the Byrds, the Mamas and Papas, Buffalo Springfield, the Beach Boys, and more.
/Greenwich Entertainment

Somebody says (seriously) that Brian Wilson is better than Mozart.  I can see (or hear) thatRock on, Brian!

Many old and new clips of performances are included, but who was Frank Sinatra?  Or Nat King Cole?

Dylan and Norah Jones draw a blank when presented their predecessors' pictures in a gallery

But who is Jakob Dylan?  Before Echo I drew a blank but now that I've seen him, think Echo may be his breakout. 
Jakob Dylan and Jade Castrinos in Echo in the Canyon/Greenwich Entertainment

My only quarrel is the title.  I vote for Canyon's Edge or Edge From a Canyon or Edge something "Echo" just sounds a little too tame for all that happened and is included here.

It's a back and forth venture, for sure, and I am rushing to get the soundtrack right now! 

Andrew Slater directed and co-wrote with Eric Barrett. Congratulations, boys! 

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Escape with American Pre-Raphaelites at the National Gallery of Art


William John Hennessy, Mon Brave, 1870, oil on board, Brooklyn Museum, New York, Purchased with Funds given by the Rembrandt Club. This is reminiscent of the works by the British Pre-Raphaelites who were featured in a show at the National Gallery in 2013. Here, the woman mourns her lover, lost to perhaps the American Civil War or the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871). The artist, according to the label copy, made this to aid French peasants and includes a memorial cross and wreath with the French "mon brave" ("my brave one") and an iris flower, associated with France. The catalogue recognizes also the symbolism of the laurel leaves on top of the portrait for the soldier's heroism, the white roses included for chastity and love, the forget-me-nots, "lasting devotion." I must admit, at first glance her flowing locks were all I saw, thinking she was kissing herself in a mirror!The catalogue notes she almost appears hypnotized "reinforcing the underlying necrophiliac mood." Note the streaming window treatment continues the mood flow.
Aaron Draper Shattuck, The Shattuck Family, with Grandmother, Mother and Baby William, 1865 oil on canvas, Brooklyn Museum, New York, Given in memory of Mary and John D. Nodine, by Judith and Wilbur Ross, Here is the artist's mother and wife with their firstborn in the parlor of their summer home in Great Barrington, Massachusetts which the artist uses to convey the sanctity of a home during war. Paintings on the wall reemphasize his message in this work which omits the father, off to war Beneath the painting in the painting on the right (you have to see the original whose colors are more vibrant than seen here) is a rosary, the catalogue notes, unusual to be found in a Protestant home but which may belong to Mr. Shattuck's friend, the poet, Fitz-James O'Brien, killed in 1862 in the Civil War fighting for the Union. The catalogue notes Mr. Shattuck may have been influenced by Gone, Gone below.
Fidelia Bridges, Laura Brown in a Wingchair, 1867 oil on canvas, High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Purchase with American Art Acquisitions Fund. Laura Brown's figure seems much too small for the surroundings, especially the chair which seems to swallow her. The lighting on the carpet does not appear to match the shadows cast by the sun. This is one of six works by Ms. Bridges in the exhibition, the only works by a woman in the display.
Thomas Charles Farrer, Sketching from Nature, 1861, pen and black and brown ink on paper, cut into the shape of an arch, National Gallery of Art, Washington, John Davis Hatch Collection. Image courtesy of the Board of Trustees, National Gallery of Art, Washington. In addition to his brother, Henry, who has several works in the show, Thomas's wife, Annie R. McLane, was an artist, too, but without representation in the show.
Thomas C. Farrer, Self-Portrait, Sketching, c. 1859, pencil on tan paper with Chinese white, lent by Mr. and Mrs. Stuart P. Feld. Several works in this exhibition are by Mr. Farrer who was Mr. Ruskin's student at Working Men's College in London before Mr. Farrer immigrated to the U.S. in 1858.  At age 19, Mr. Farrer made this of himself sitting in his boarding house in New York City.  The catalogue says Mr. Farrer was likely influenced by Jan van Eyck's Arnolfini Portrait which probably reflects the artist's image in a mirror and which was added to the London National Gallery in 1842.
Thomas C. Farrer, Gone! Gone!, 1860, oil on canvas, The Hon. William Gibson. The title and label copy tell the story behind this work painted just before the outbreak of the Civil War. A window opens onto the Hudson River behind the lady, and behind her is a painting of parting lovers by John Everett Millais which served as the model for Farrer's sad testimony to conflict.
John Ruskin, Fragment of the Alps, c. 1854–1856, watercolor and gouache over graphite on cream wove paper, Harvard Fogg Museum, Cambridge, Gift of Samuel Sachs. This is one of Mr. Ruskin's most celebrated works and shows his fascination with geology which he studied from childhood. He "firmly believed that the secrets of divine creation were contained in the rocky crevices and fissures of the earth," says catalogue copy. He was not the only artist intrigued by geology as illustrated by several works in the American Exhibition of British Art  of 1857-1858 in New York and Philadelphia. Rocks became the source of inspiration and subjects on canvas and paper and commanded much attention among these artists. many who were Mr. Ruskin's mentees.  Do you think they would support fracking if they were alive today?  See the youth below studying Mr. Ruskin's masterpiece today at the National Gallery.
 Ruskin's Fragment of the Alps attracts 21st century artists, too, July 9, 2019 at the National Gallery of Art/Photo by Patricia Leslie

Henry Farrer, Winter Scene in Moonlight, 1869, watercolor and gouache on white wove paper, Lent by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Purchase, Morris K. Jessup Fund, Martha and Barbara Fleischman, and Katherine and Frank Martucci Gifts, 1999. The catalogue has little to say about Winter Scene, the artist's earliest landscape watercolor. which seems oddly out of place, sharing space with flowers and verdant nature likenesses. Winter Scene reminds me of Nordic countries and the Phillips Collection's recent show, Nordic Impressions. Indeed, the wall copy says this nighttime scene is unusual for the American Pre-Raphaelites and may be a drawing of Brooklyn which was still rural where the artist, the younger brother of Thomas Farrer, lived. The brothers have several works in the exhibition.

William Trost Richards, In The Woods, 1860, oil on canvas, Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Brunswick, Gift of Miss Mary T. Mason and Miss Jane Mason
Fidelia Bridges, Study of Ferns, 1864, oil on board, New Britain Museum of American Art, Gift of Jean E. Taylor. Ms. Bridges is the only female artist represented in the show which has six of her works on display.
William Trost Richards, Landscape, c. 1863–1864, oil on canvas, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. This is the museum founded by Alice Walton, daughter of the Walmart founder, Sam Walton, which is located at the birthplace and headquarters of Walmart in Bentonville, Arkansas.  Admission is free. I inferred from the wall copy that a critic's condescending remarks indicated his belief this was not worthy f Mr. Richards's inclusion in respectable artists' circles, but perhaps I am overly critical of the critic.
William Trost Richards, Path in the Woods, 1861, oil on canvas, private collection.
Henry Roderick Newman, 1843-1917, The Temple Door at Abu Simbel, 1900, watercolor, private collection. Here the artist depicts the temple of Ramses II at Abu Simbel in Nubia on the Upper Nile
Henry Roderick Newman, Ramleh, 1893, watercolor on paper, private collection. Ramleh, now a neighborhood in Alexandria, Egypt, was formerly a fashionable resort where Mr. Newman and his wife wintered almost every year beginning in 1887.  After his first trip to Europe in 1870, they settled in Florence in 1874 where their home became a center for artists and tourists.  His Egyptian drawings commanded respectable audiences. If Egyptian art seems out of place here, Mr. Newman was the "last Ruskinian" and, as the wall copy says, the American Pre-Raphaelites "traded picturesque conventions for a quasi-scientific precision that was also charged with spiritual significance."  I still don't get it other than Mr. Newman was a Ruskin student and Mr. Newman liked Egypt and there you have it.  (I like Egypt, too, and that's why these are included here.)  Also, I believe Mr. Ruskin traveled several times to Mr. Newman's studio in Florence. Mr. Newman was also one of the "first significant American painters" to work in Florida.  He was born in Easton, NY. 
With the American Pre-Raphaelites: Radical Realists and the Egyptians at the National Gallery of Art/Photo by Patricia Leslie
If ever I need a respite from Washington's heat, the National Gallery of Art is a perfect place to find escape and cool down amidst greenery and flowers in paintings by American Pre-Raphaelites: Radical Realists which hang on the walls for a few days more on the ground floor of the West Building.

Like most of the exhibitions at the National Gallery, I want them all to stay so I can return and see the art anew. Especially for the Pre-Raphaelites, whether they are American, who are in the galleries now, or the British who came in 2013.

Whatever does "pre-Raphaelite" mean? Wikipedia says it much better than I:
The group's intention was to reform art by rejecting what it considered the mechanistic approach first adopted by Mannerist artists who succeeded Raphael and Michelangelo. Its members believed the Classical poses and elegant compositions of Raphael in particular had been a corrupting influence on the academic teaching of art, hence the name "Pre-Raphaelite."
The sub-title of this show, Radical Realists, certainly does not conform to contemporary definition of radical, but in the 19th century, they were "radical," we are told.

From the rocks of the Alps to woody wanderings to Egyptian palm trees and monuments, you can lose yourself and travel to faraway places on these walls.

The  hardbound catalogue ($65) by curators Linda S. Ferber of the New York Historical Society and Nancy K. Anderson of the National Gallery has 312 pages and 210 color illustrations, with photos and brief biographical notes about the artists and patrons. Save $20 on a $100 purchase.

What: American Pre-Raphaelites: Radical Realists 

When: Now through July 21, 2019, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and 11 a.m. - 6 p.m., Sunday

Where: Ground floor, the West Building, National Gallery of Art, 4th at Constitution, NW, Washington, D.C.

Admission: No charge

Metro stations: Smithsonian, Federal Triangle, Navy Memorial-Archives, or L'Enfant Plaza

For more information: 202-737-4215

Thursday, July 4, 2019

July 4, 2019 on the National Mall with signs of the times

Trump at the CodePink tent at the National Mall July 4, 2019. By the time I arrived, the weather had put a stop to the Trump Blimp...aaarrrggggghhh/Photo by Patricia Leslie
The Washington Monument resembles a photo below on the National Mall, July 4, 2019/Photo by Patricia Leslie
The sign on the left of the cage reads: "Cage Trump    Not Babies" and the one in front: "Investigate Trump Taxes." A man sat in a lawn chair nearby to guard the cage at the National Mall July 4, 2019/Photo by Patricia Leslie
On this sign TRUMPS is an acronym for "Traitor, Racist, Unqualified, Misogynist, Pathetic, Sad, so sad" at the National Mall July 4, 2019/Photo by Patricia Leslie

These ladies are having a good time with selfies with Trump on the toilet.  The sign says "No Military Parade     For the Dear Leader     We're NOT Nazi Germany     North Korea    The Soviet Union" at the National Mall July 4, 2019/Photo by Patricia Leslie

This sign identified the button cart as "The Roving Anti-Trump Band Wagon" at the National Mall July 4, 2019/Photo by Patricia Leslie
This sign says: "Make America Lawful Again," at the National Mall July 4, 2019/Photo by Patricia Leslie
Her t-shirt reads "In Our America   Women are in charge   OF THEIR OWN BODIES   Science is real.  BLACK LIVES MATTER   Diversity is celebrated   Kindness is everything   LOVE IS LOVE    ENOUGH IS ENOUGH" at the National Mall July 4, 2019/Photo by Patricia Leslie
Trump on the toilet drew lots of attention at the CodePink tent at the National Mall July 4, 2019.  The woman in the t-shirt is at far right.  

A few feet away I struck up a conversation with a man who was with his wife and three young children, ages three months, about 15 months, and not three years old. The mother, with infant strapped to her chest, dragged a huge Trump flag. The father, about 30 years old, said he liked my "Make Love   Not War" sticker I was wearing from CodePink.  "Would you like me to go get you one?" I asked him,  He wanted one, and I went and got four for all members of the family, save the youngest, and when I returned, we put the stickers all over the family members. He said he liked Trump but not war and didn't support Trump's attacking Iran, if he does.  I told him CodePink was quite anti-Trump, and he said he didn't care, that he liked the message.  Under thunder and lightening, the family stood in the rain without an umbrella. I tried to think of a shelter for them but could not come up with anything near the Washington Monument, and it was after the museums' closings.
Soon the three-year-old took my umbrella from my hand and wanted to keep it.  After a few minutes I got my umbrella back, said goodbye and left to see if I could find an umbrella for them. (You know how they are always around at the Metro stations, but this was not a Metro station and there were no umbrellas!)  

All I could find was ice cream and hot dogs.

Should I give them my umbrella?  I wrestled with the dilemma. My camera!  My phone! Getting wet.

After a few seconds I remembered a rain poncho I had stuck in my bag and went back to the family, now absent the father and oldest child, while the mother stood in light raindrops. She said yes, she would like the poncho so I helped her put it on while she covered her baby, asleep and head bobbing, in a blanket in its carrier which hung from her neck.  Meanwhile, the 15-month old stood in the rain uncovered.  I said goodbye again.  

I am still bothered by that family standing in the rain!  I believe it was the newborn with the bobbing head while his mother retrieved a bottle and bent to fetch items the other children had dropped on the grass which got to meWhen present, the father seemed totally oblivious to his family in the rain, but maybe that was just me, an old grandma, worrying about strangers and their needs which, I hope, are far less than what I imagine, and they are just fine/Photo by Patricia Leslie
  At the CodePink tent at the National Mall July 4, 2019/Photo by Patricia Leslie
The man on the left at the CodePink tent wore a braid of sleeping squirrels or a raccoon with a big tail at the National Mall July 4, 2019 /Photo by Patricia Leslie
 At the CodePink tent, this woman lifted her rain poncho to show her sign at the National Mall, July 4, 2019/Photo by Patricia Leslie
This couple told me the Baby Trump balloons were free down at Constitution and 17th, but by the time I got there, no more balloons! July 4, 2019/Photo by Patricia Leslie
On 17th at the edge of the White House grounds, this woman was happy with her new Baby Trump balloons.  Maybe the grimacer was unhappy he didn't get one? July 4, 2019/Photo by Patricia Leslie
 The Baby Trump balloons were almost as plentiful on 17th as the spawning trash on 17th, July 4, 2019/Photo by Patricia Leslie
 Happy families festooned with Baby Trump balloons on the Ellipse, July 4, 2019/Photo by Patricia Leslie
The Executive Office Building festooned for July 4, 2019/Photo by Patricia Leslie