Saturday, January 20, 2007

Trip to the Norton Simon

Last week my friend Aaron Mason and I went to do a little art watching at one of the nicest lil' art museums in Southern California. The Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena is smallish but has some real beautiful work hanging in it's halls. I studied there a lot during my art school years, so I know all the paintings pretty well. They still give me ideas and inspiration, despite seeing them so many times. I've been going through a little bit of artists' block, and sometimes all it takes to get out of the funk is to see some work hanging in museums or galleries.

I don't remember all the artists' names, but I tried to take pictures of some of my favorite pieces. There is an awesome feature on the museum's web site that lets you zoom in on the paintings, so if you really want to check things out, go to

Aaron checking out a gothic version of Adam and Eve.

This is a painting by Matthias Stom, a student (?) of Carravaggio. My photo just doesn't do it justice. By the way, sorry for the blurry pictures- no flashes allowed.

A Rembrandt self portrait. I like that some of his paintings were very tight and some were very loose. I believe (and I may be wrong) that his work loosened up as he got older.

Aaron checking out a painting by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo. It was originally mounted on the ceiling in a French palace.

A portrait by Marie-Louise-Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun. I love the way she painted the eyes. This artist's story is very interesting as she was a successful female in a male dominated profession. She was the royal portraitist to Marie-Antoinette and the French royal family. One of my favorite pieces at the museum.

I think it's cool that back in the 17th Century hiring an artist to paint some ass was acceptable as long as there was some biblical story involved. It's a nice painting but it sorta comes off as pornographic in an old fashioned way, amirite? The Norton Simon website doesn't have this image in their collections page, I wonder why? Are they slightly ashamed?

Art changed with the invention of the camera and artists started experimenting with how color and light worked in their paintings. This was the beginning of a big change in all the arts, which is still in some ways flowing into our contemporaries. The museum seems to change drastically with the work the Impressionists were doing. Most of these paintings are about the color and light and texture, which my camera just didn't capture. Here are a few that turned out...

Van Gogh's mother. I love this painting. The colors are so strange and vibrant, and you can see the affection he had for her in his brush strokes.

The texture on this Van Gogh is crazy. Looks like he used whole tubes of paint squirted out onto the canvas.

Amedeo Modigliani's death mask. Do they still make these? Modigliani is one of my favorite painters.

Diego Rivera. This has always been one of my favorites.

Picasso to me has always been hit or miss. I either love it or am not too into it. I've always liked this one, something about the colors make me feel good.

The museum also has a few nice Kandinsky's that my camera didn't get good shots of. There is a Henri Rousseau that's pretty cool. And some Paul Klee work. And an Ed Ruscha. Good stuff. They had a photography show downstairs that looked pretty good. No photos cause photos of photos= bad photos. They also have a good Southeast Asian sculpture collection (once again, photos of these turned out bad).

We'll see if this trip helps the artist's block....

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Bunch of boring stuff to write about...

It snowed yesterday in Riverside. I've been here since 1985 and it's never snowed, it came as a shock to see small flakes falling down in our yard. I thought it was pollen then realized, no way, it’s snowing! It gets cold here in the winter (for southern CA) but dang, never would have thought I'd see snow! Jennifer, Shannon and I went in the backyard and tried to catch the snowflakes but they melted as soon as it touched our hands. Supposed to be super cold again tonight and the frost can damage plants and crops so I picked a bunch of avocados. Our tree has been producing some damn good ‘cados lately. It’s all about the guacamole...

Shaunna, Mike and Dylan came over last week and the babies had a bath together. These will be good photos to embarrass them with when they’re older...

Bought some new books the other day- Albert Reyes- I love this guy’s stuff, Jim Houser- will be showing alongside him at JLG in NYC Sept 2007, “Dear New Girl”- a book with tons of art from some of my art heroes- Kevin Christy, Taylor McKimmens, Jason Holley, the Clayton Brothers, etc. and American Hair Metal- a look at the glam rockers of the late 80’s. That’s aaaahwsome dude! I remember my friend Jacob and I were really into some of this stuff, Poison, Motley Crue, GnR, I guess when I think about it, we liked the better bands. We hated Stryper, thought they were lame.

BLK/MRKT is having it’s BMG Artists’ Annual show tonight. I got to see alot of the work earlier in the week when I dropped off my piece. I really like what Amir Fallah (creator of Beautiful/Decay mag) is doing, and there’s a lot of other fresh pieces in the show. I really like the direction they’re taking at BLK/MRKT. I forgot my camera that day but here’s an image of my new piece that will be in the show, “Fall Energy Waves”.

Here's some more from BLK/MRKT... Amir Fallah:

David Ellis:


Robert Hardgrave:

Lucy McLauchlan:

Went by the Mu Pan and Esther Pearl Watson show at La Luz de Jesus. At first I thought it’d be a strange duo but somehow the paintings work pretty good together. They’re both telling stories with their work- Mu Pan’s are epic stories of life and death, Esther Pearl Watson’s are memories of her father’s UFO fascination. I really enjoyed both artists visions. I met Mu Pan a couple years ago at Fuse gallery NYC. He’s a cool guy and good friends with Regino Gonzales, an old homie from the I.E.

Esther Pearl Watson:

Mu Pan:

Also went by Art Center yesterday and Mike Bertino had work up on the front gallery wall. Pretty nice...

A couple months ago Jonathan Levine and Mark Murphy came out for a studio visit. he has uploaded some of the videos onto Youtube. Who knew there was a Ron Jeremy-Jonathan Levine connection?

After my show in November the stress level dropped a bit and I started playing a little Warcraft late at night. From an artistic point of view, I love the candy coated colors, I mean, look at the pretty sky color. They can do some cool stuff with videogame graphics these days. I grew up with Atari, Sega and Nintendo so seeing what they can do nowadays trips me out. I almost went into entertainment design in college, would have been fun working on games...

Next entry- the Norton Simon Museum...