Friday, May 31, 2019

"Extraordinary Being" by Emeli Sandé

After being moved to tears by her song "Breathing Underwater" (here), I am happy to see that Emeli Sandé is back with the title track to a new superhero film ("X-Men: Dark Phoenix"), "Extraordinary Being." I know the words are supposed to tie into the story of Jean Grey, a powerful mutant in the X-Men universe, but they are consistent with her uplifting, encouraging message in general. And I really love the mix of a heartfelt, deeply emotional tune with a smooth, near-disco texture. Profound and danceable. Delicious.

You are what God imagined, you are a true perfection
Baby, you're made of stars, don't let nobody tell you different
You are a lot of soul, mixed with a lot of magic
Look how the sky turns gold every time you're dancing
You deserve all the love, why don't you let it in?
Don't punish who you are for who once you had been
You got a heart of fire, it's gonna take you higher
Just let it flow, look at you glow
You gotta know that you're an extraordinary being
Yes, you're an extraordinary being

See your anatomy is made up of those before you
Gold is your history, you're standing upon their shoulders
See, you're a China getting to hide the cowards
Look how you're flying now, check out your super powers
You deserve peace of mind, you deserve all the laughter
You are one of a kind, you deserve happy ever after
Oh, how the tides are changing, feel how your heart is blazing
You gotta breathe, you gotta see, you gotta believe

That you're an extraordinary being
Yes, you're an extraordinary being, that's right
Yes, you're an extraordinary being
Oh, you're an extraordinary being

It's not your fault that you're magic
That it help you're fantastic
Endless love like the ocean
Sing your song and be certain
If the book kicks you to zero
Spread your wings like an eagle
Raise your hand to the sun
And know that you are someone

Yes, you're an extraordinary being, you are, you are
Yes, you're an extraordinary being, that's right
Oh, you're an extraordinary being, hit me with the duel-up
Extraordinary being

You are, you are, you are
You are, you are, you are, you are

(Extraordinary) (You are)
(Extraordinary) No matter what you do (You are)
(Extraordinary) No matter what they say (You are)

Thursday, May 30, 2019

BEAUTY: Ceramics--Steen Ipsen

These satisfying forms, precise yet organic in nature, are from the mind and hand of Danish artist Steen Ipsen. His Artist Statement is informative:

"I work in a decorative ceramic expression involving both form and decoration. Decoration is integrated into the form and the form itself is spatially decorative. My sculptures could also be supplied with other materials as PVC, Leather or hand decorated pattern. But ceramics is central in my works.

The sculptures are all unique. The process could be based on clay-elements build up in terms and variations or it could be a process based in free hand modelled objects. I never use computer or digital technique. It is important for me to focus on craftmanship created by hands.

My works are glazed, re-glazed and fired several times to obtain a perfect and monochrome surface. The works are underlined with coloured strings or hand decorated pattern as a contrast to the object's shape and to express the influence of the sculpture's movements and put the works in a spatial context and show a strong graphical expression."

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

"Soloft" by Colipher and Tobias Koett

I adore the dark, sultry, and even slightly foreboding sense of this dance track, "Soloft" by Colipher and Tobias Koett.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Monet at the de Young, 2019

I just squeaked in a visit to "Monet: The Late Years" at the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, and I am so glad I did. The exhibit, as the title suggests, focused on his later work once he was established at Giverny and had created his beloved water lily pond, and the later additions of the Japanese foot bridge and trellis.

It was an appropriately wet and moody day when I visited and the courtyard entrance window featured a wonderful reproduction of one of his many water lily pond paintings.

While several pieces came from private collections and the permanent collections of museums here in the United States, the bulk of the exhibit came from the Musée Marmottan Monet, a museum in Paris dedicated to the works of Monet. At over three hundred pieces, the museum is the largest collection of the work of this Impressionist master. We are lucky that they decided to share the genius of this man. I have seen Monet's works in museums all over the world and there is nothing like standing in front of one of his canvases, seeing the image and comprehending that it is of, perhaps, a pond, or a foot bridge over a pond, but seeing the dichotomy of the colors and brushstrokes, the wild scribbling and glorious caked-on pigments that go to create such an image. It is always staggering to me to see the free flowing colors, and I get lost in the swirl and play of the palette of each painting. You can see some close-ups of some of the pieces interspersed with my photos below.

Via the audio tour (which was peppered with beautiful French Impressionist musical pieces), I learned that the pond at Giverny initially did not exist and he had petitioned the local council to divert water from another source to create it. He was an avid gardener and kept up the grounds of Giverny himself but the growing gardens eventually demanded more attention than he could give, so he hired eight full time gardeners to look after not only the plots and beds and trees and flowers but also the pond itself and the precious water lilies. Men would daily skim the pond and dunk the lily pads to wash off whatever dust or dirt might have accumulated on them. Monet also suffered from cataracts and at one point, his vision was down to only 10%--a devastating debilitation for a painter. But he was persuaded to have surgery and much of his eyesight returned. He spent his final years in a prolific flurry of activity, creating ambitiously large and breathtakingly beautiful canvases.

Of course Impressionists are known as "painters of light" and like many Impressionists, Monet painted the same subject again and again but at different times of day and thus in different light, resulting in almost completely different paintings. I love these four view of a weeping willow tree, but depending on whether the light was indirect or direct, during the morning, afternoon, or at dusk, the feeling and colors change dramatically.

And the same goes for these four views of the main house at Giverny, whose top (seen at left) barely peeks up over the shrubs and climbing roses.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Memorial Day 2019

Today is Memorial Day in the United States, a day for remembering the people who died while serving in the country's armed forces. And I want to honor two of my own relatives who died in World War I and World War II fighting Fascism.

I am sure my relatives are rolling in their graves, after giving their lives--on a battlefield in WWI and in the air during WWII--to make sure that Fascism did not spread around the world and to the United States. That was a time when Republicans thought Fascism was a bad thing, unlike today. I know both of these men (one of them an Italian immigrant), if they survived and were alive now, would be appalled and outraged that Fascism is being institutionalized by the current administration and welcomed and encouraged by this administration's supporters. My relatives died so the very thing that is happening now, wouldn't. And it makes me infinitely sad and frustrated that these men seemingly died for nothing...and that segments of the population of this country support the Neo-Fascism coming from The Monster. It's shameful.

I honor my brave relatives and all who fought Fascism. I truly hope that we can turn the tide and ensure that they all died for the noble, uplifting principle of humanism.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Bouillon Julien, Paris

Renovated and returned to its original state: Bouillion Julien at 16 rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis, 75010 Paris, France.

From the restaurant's website:
"Bouillon Julien is one of the most beautiful restaurants in Paris, if not the world. It remains one of the best preserved examples of the Art Nouveau style. Over the years, it has been the favoured haunt of many well-known cultural figures. Edith Piaf and her lover, Marcel Cerdan, the champion boxer, would frequently dine at ‘table n. 24’.

The building was constructed in 1906 by the French architect Edouard Fournier and was decorated by a number of exceptional artisans working in the Art Nouveau style. Armand Segaud created the peacock panels, while the mahogany bar is attributed to famed ‘Ecole de Nancy’ woodworker Louis Majorelle.

Louis Trezel, inspired by the iconography of Alfons Mucha, designed the nymphs in the four painted molten glass panels, each evoking one of the four seasons. Hippolyte Boulanger devised the floor tile pattern of geraniums and daisies (from his Paris workshop in the neighbourhood). And Julien Barbarin, who had inherited the institution from his uncle, Monsieur Fournier, had the ceiling installed with stained glass designed by Charles Buffet (the father of renowned painter Bernard Buffet) and crafted by the celebrated glass atelier of Georges Guenne.

In 2018, The Guild of Saint Luke led by British designer John Whelan were comissioned to renovate Bouillon Julien to its former glory. During the initial research phase, they made a fascinating discovery. A stratigraphy of Julien’s wall paint confirmed that the original wall colour in 1906 was in fact sea green, not tobacco as it had been for decades. Years of indoor smoking had obscured the original colour to the point of being forgotten, since no photographic evidence could prove the contrary. Julien has now been repainted in this resplendent sea green, a signature colour of the Art Nouveau movement that looked to oriental pottery painted this colour for inspiration. The effect is breathtaking. The colours found in the stained glass and decorative panels finally make sense, as the colour scheme now truly reflects what the brilliant designers of the age intended.

Despite having operated as a brasserie for many years, Julien was created as a ‘bouillon’ in 1906. In 2018, it has reverted to being a ‘bouillon’ once more.

A ‘bouillon’ is a restaurant first created in the late 19th and early 20th centuries serving traditional French cuisine, in particular a ‘bouillon’ (broth). The particuliarity of the ‘bouillon’ was to serve good quality food at affordable prices. In 1900, nearly two hundred and fifty bouillons could be found in Paris. Today, Julien is one of only a small handful of authentic restaurants of this kind that remain in the French capital."

And look at the other restorations of historic brasseries done by John Whelan! They're gorgeous.