Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Reflections: Art Day Out and Old Friends

Always take the opportunity, when you can, to let art expose itself to you. Downtown for an "informational interview" yesterday, afterwards I found myself once again in the neighborhood of the divine National Museum of Women in the Arts, where I got to visit a few of my old friends - Alice Neel, Frida Kahlo, Elaine de Kooning, Lee Krasner, et al.

I also took more time with some other, iconic pieces in the New York Avenue mansion, including Ellen Day Hale and Lilla Cabot Perry occupying this cozy niche:

Another is Alice Bailly, whose selfie features a peculiar reflection across the lens of her monocle:

Alice Bailly (Swiss, 1872-1938). Self-Portrait, 1917. 
According to the caption, this side of her face is apparently painted out, "reflecting what may be a dissociation of the artist from her own image--in short, an identity crisis." More likely, IMO, it reflects a real reflection, the movement of light across her face at that moment in time. That is, after all, what cubism and the futurist movement were about, incorporating the third and fourth dimensions on flat 2-D surfaces.

But the greatest pleasure is in welcoming some newer (new to me) sisters now exhibiting in the third floor permanent collection, including these sadly sweet kiddies by Amy Sherald:

Amy Sherald (b. 1973, Columbus, Georgia). They Call Me Redbone But I'd Rather Be Strawberry Shortcake, 2009

Amy Sherald (b. 1973, Columbus, Georgia). It Made Sense...Mostly in Her Mind, 2011. 

The captions were helpful to me here; the flattened style was the result of treating the skin tones in "grayscale" (there is some tint, you can see, even in these very poor reproductions. Sorry). The children are dressed playfully, but their somber and expressionless demeanor illustrates a deep-seated sadness. Still, the bright, primary colors in which they "play" give me a sense of innocent hope for them.

The other piece that captivated me at the museum was this (again, playful) Edwina Sandys bronze in its own stairwell niche:

Edwina Sandys (b. 1938, London, England). Flirtation, 1994.

Edwina Sandys (b. 1938, London, England). Flirtation, 1994.

Edwina Sandys (b. 1938, London, England). Flirtation, 1994.
I don't suppose the fact that I'd just had pears and bananas for breakfast had anything to do with why this piece caught my eye! Face it, who doesn't like flirty, birdlike fruit.

The second floor was closed off for between-exhibitions reconfiguring, so my visit was a little shorter than I would have liked. (And when, oh when, will the Mezzanine Cafe ever serve food? Nary a morsel in any of my visits.)

So over the blocks I go toward the Smithsonian American Art Museum to see what's what, and what was what now was the fabulous Richard Estes exhibit. Speaking of old friends! Estes was among the "superrealists" I covered in my senior year seminar on modern art. That was decades ago, and the man is still working his magic!

Okay, I don't want to go to Copyright Jail, so go here to see an example of what Alice Bailly started with that reflection in her monocle:


What we see are multiple images, reflected, contorted by other, overlapping realities. In many of the images, people are seen from different angles. The effect of the pictures, though serene in tone, is a taut reminder that we not only see, but are seen by others, whose eyes may see us in twists and turns, fractured and filtered through many surfaces.

Love, hosaa
reflecting on art

P.S. - I still love the old Greyhound Bus Station on New York Avenue. The birds loved it, too:

All photos posted here are by C. G. Wagner. If you use them, credit them, and link back here. Thanks.

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