Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Vintage Comforts

I'm so glad to have been interviewed for the Creature of Comfort series at Ez's lovely blog, Creature Comforts! To see the full size inspiration board and find out where the images are from (numbered images are not mine), click on over!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Old School

Last Friday afternoon I had already battled a labyrinth of call numbers and corridors in what seemed like every library on campus, all in a frenzied pursuit of sources for my research paper. I admit, it was last minute, and it seemed like every book on Jacques-Louis David was quickly being pulled from the shelves by my fellow classmates. So when I ran smack dab into a charity book sale on the north end of campus, I almost didn't stop. But it was warm and breezy outside and the dingy interior of my final library stop wasn't exactly an anticipated destination.I ended up with a heavy brown box stacked with three old yearbooks. I settled on the 1925, 1931 and 1939 editions of Southern Campus, all chock full of old photos of the grounds, nostalgic reflections, finger-waved hair and smart saddle shoe oxfords. (They're stacked above under my roommate's old Royal typewriter.) It's quite amusing to see the building I work in now (coincidentally, on the yearbook staff, among other things) embossed on the leather cover of the 1931 issue, apparently newly dedicated that year.
I also found a little collection of colorful "pocket books": Random Harvest with an inscription dated 1945, The Pocket Book of Old Masters copyright 1949 and a darling miniature 1940 hardcover called The Story of One Hundred Symphonic Favorites. Lastly I picked up a 1967 copy of Lampedusa's Il Gattopardo which I coincidentally just finished reading for class a few weeks ago. It's exquisitely written; positively a must-read if you like historical fiction.This agreeable bundle of art, music and history topped off my new box of treasures.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

|Muse|um: LACMA After Dark

We arrived long after dusk, having driven amongst the tail lights and twinkling skyscrapers. Ascending in a peculiar elevator of red steel and glass, we stepped out onto a vast concrete plaza where masses of heavy architecture rose into the darkness, box like and un-ornate. Before them a gleaming cluster of chrome chairs sat steely in the incandescent light of a hundred streetlamps {2}. Inside the cold bare foyer of the Ahmanson building, a wide flight of stairs stretched toward a wall of glass, and sounds of robust jazz echoed from a courtyard. We turned to press a button on a 1960s wood paneled wall. Impatiently I looked up toward a distant ceiling. A shrill note, and the doors slid open, at once we were whisked to the Far East galleries on the fourth floor.For a time I scribbled notes on strangely exotic sculptures with millennial lifetimes, their multiple arms suspended, as effortlessly as particles of dust, in the still air of dimly lit galleries. Academic assignment complete, we left to wander the parquet floors of 18th Century European Painting, after a time turning down a narrow passage lined with small oval portraits {3}. Eventually we found ourselves in a sparse labyrinth of deserted rooms, where great white walls and smooth hard floors played host to eerie canvasses of splatter, line and vacuous color. We wandered on in silence, lost in dizzying worlds of Pop Art {4} and Pollock. Finally we made it to a gallery lined with a perimeter of tidy little frames. From them visages of the past peered into the room - among them Fred and Adele, Amelia and her plane, a dapper Charlie Chaplin, Joan Crawford at the local Santa Monica shore {5} and Gloria Swanson veiled in black lace {1}.

Snapshots: {1} From the Vanity Fair Portraits: Photographs 1913-2008 exhibition, at LACMA through March 1st (a wonderful showcase, so if you're in the LA area, plan a visit!). Photo: Edward Steichen, A Much Screened Lady—Gloria Swanson, 1924 (detail), Condé Nast Publicatiobns {2} Faraway me in Chris Burden's Urban Light installation (2008) {3} Profile of a Young Woman's Head, Louis-Léopold Boilly, circa 1794 {4} Unidentified {5} From the Vanity Fair Portraits: Photographs 1913-2008 exhibition, Nickolas Muray, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr and Joan Crawford, Santa Monica, 1929, Vanity Fair, Condé Nast Publications.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Girl in the Locket

I realized it's been quite some time since I posted any drawings, and even worse, quite some time since I've drawn. During the school year, I find that I'm never quite as prolific as I'd like to be, but it isn't for want of ideas. Every Monday and Wednesday afternoon, Professor Corey assumes the podium, adjusts the microphone and opens with a feisty little quip on current affairs (which I unfailingly find brilliant and amusing whether or not I agree). She then proceeds to teach turn of the century American history as I've never heard it before. It's colorful, vivid and visually alive. Strings of words recall eras as she conjures decades of vanished details.... striped stockings and ice cream parlors, Vaudeville and Coney Island, Gibson girls and Victorian matrons, speakeasies and bobbed hair, chiffon gowns and Gershwin. Of course we prudently examine less romanticized matters, but by then I'm lost in a lovely daydream. The drawing above is such an instance in which my historical inspirations made it onto paper. I truly planned to post just a humble unaltered little scan of my ink sketch, but before I knew it my Gibson-inspired girl was in a gilt frame upon a pink papered wall. I think she certainly lacks the true Gibson Girl air; confidence and brazen eye contact are perhaps intentionally missing, replaced instead by a quality more demure and sighing.

Photoshop brush found {here}.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

All Hallow's Eve {Part I}

All autumn I've been dying to make some bright red candied apples. Partially in tribute to my love of pretty sweets and partially in the spirit of making the most of having our very own kitchen (after two years of dormitory life). I coerced my roommate Nikki into spending a good portion of Halloween afternoon stirring what could have been a cauldron - given the sinister appearance of it's bubbling red contents. We used Martha's recipe, Gala apples, and prunings from the plum tree back at home as sticks. I'd never quite tasted a candied apple, or made one for that matter, and we also didn't have a candy thermometer, which I'm told is key. Miraculously they turned out well until it came time to clean up and we realized the rapidly hardening candy mixture had transformed our pot, spoon and cookie sheet into a sculptural work of modern art. I'm pleased to report that after a little boiling water, all was fully resolved - or, more accurately, dissolved.

Snapshots: {Top} Apples on a vintage plate - found while thrifting along the coast last summer. {Middle} Apples on the "farmhouse kitchen table" - purchased second hand refinished over the summer. {Bottom} Red, shiny, sugary, deliciousness.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

All Hallow's Eve {Part II}

I must admit, I haven't really been a fan of Halloween since the days of homemade costumes and trips to the fabric store. I still remember sitting on the tall stools, flipping through pattern books, and hearing the intermittent whirr of my mother's sewing machine after coming home from mid-October school days. In college, the wholesomeness and imaginative spirit seem all but drained from the holiday. Outside be-costumed bands of tipsy party-goers pass under the yellow glow of the streetlamps, even in our sleepy corner of the old college neighborhood. But inside Apt. No. 10 it's cozy, especially by the light of a freshly carved pumpkin, decidedly autumn with it's ring of fiery maple leaves.