Saturday, August 31, 2019

BEAUTY: Painting--Robert C. Jackson

I am tickled by the work of painter Robert C. Jackson. He gets me right where I live: I have a weakness for the type of bygone pop culture references he uses to populate his images. Cartoon characters and advertising mascots representing food of all kinds (hello Cap'n Crunch, Charlie Tuna, Poppin' Fresh!) congregate on crates for soft drinks and sodas. Because I am a man of a certain age, I grew up with all these characters and feel a sweet sense of comfort and nostalgia when I see them.

Top to bottom: American Way; Board Meeting; Bob's Bob's Big Boy; Just Nuts; Shared Experience; That's All Folks

His series of balloon dogs cavorting and feasting are equally as delightful. I especially like the ironic Making Friends which shows a balloon animal inflating another balloon to literally make a companion.

Top to bottom: American Landscape; Flower Market; Ideal Feast; Italian Feast; Making Friends; Pop Betsy Ross; Smorgasbord

And then there is the delightful cookie/donut/macaron/sweet treat series. A tower of Oreos? yes, please.

Top to bottom: 52; Black and White; Comfort Food; Crossing; Macarons; Magi; Might Need More Coffee; Props; Rain; Starting The Challenge; Still Need More Milk

Thursday, August 29, 2019

BEAUTY: Painting--Kevin Kearney

The work of self-taught painter Kevin Kearney is haunting. Despite being empty, his rooms and spaces seem full of intent and narrative, possibly due to the saturated color palette. And just like the empty rooms of Edward Hopper (previously here) we know that emptiness itself suggests life...that a space is about to be filled, or a space that was filled and is now vacant. Along with the Hopper I am also getting a hint of Magritte and a bit of de Chirico.

Top to bottom: Broke Dreams; Evening After The Rain; Moonlight Over Lake Lucerne; Nocturnal Interior #2; Nocturnal Interior With Bridge;Providence; Red Wall With Water; Still Life With Boxes; Tsunami; Vesper

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Flashback: "Dance Hall Days" by Wang Chung

While shopping for a client at a kitchen and bath showroom yesterday, this 1984 song came on and I had to smile. I always forget how lovely "Dance Hall Days" by the band Wang Chung is: dance-y and upbeat but with a definite undercurrent of a kind of delicate, nostalgic melancholia.

Founding member of Wang Chung, Jack Hues told Eric Greenberg on the "Just My Show" podcast, "It begins quite innocent: 'take your baby by the hand,' and then the last verse with 'take your baby by the wrists, and in her mouth an amethyst,' it's all a bit more hallucinogenic in a way, how things that start off simple get complex.

My dad was a musician, and he had a band that played in an old-fashioned dance hall. I used to play with him in that band, so maybe there's sort of the nostalgia that's in the track. It's all quite real, actually, as far as experiences that I had when I was first starting out playing, and playing in public.

Musically, it's that sort of rhythm and that kind of shuffly beat. Technically it's sort of like 3 against 2 (laughs), but we're not gonna talk about all that. It's a particular feel that was sort of unusual at the time, I suppose."

Take your baby by the hand
And make her do a high hand stand
And take your baby by the heel
And do the next thing that you feel

We were so in phase
In our dance hall days
We were cool on craze
When I, you and everyone we knew
Could believe, do, and share in what was true

I said, “Dance hall days love”

Take your baby by the hair
And pull her close and there, there, there
And take your baby by the ears
And play upon her darkest fears

I said, “Dance hall days love”
Dance hall days
Dance hall days love

Take your baby by the wrist
And in her mouth an amethyst
And in her eye two sapphires blue
And you need her and she needs you

And you need her and she needs you
And you need her and she needs you
And you need her and she needs you
And you need her and she needs you

Oh, I said, “Dance hall days love”

Dance hall days love
Dance hall days
Dance hall days love
Dance hall days

And I am absolutely thrilled to have discovered that, just a few months ago, Wang Chung recorded an updated version of "Dance Hall Days" supported by the lush sounds of the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. Please do give a listen and compare. And maybe it's just me, remembering my life and the texture of living in 1984, time passing, the subject of nostalgia in the song, and so many things gone or lost,...but this version is making me a little misty.

And in a final bit of synchronicity, Wang Chung will be in concert in a few days practically in my backyard here in Northern Calfornia.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Just finished watching...

both seasons of Netflix's amazing series "Dark."

Recommended by a friend whom I trust, but who thankfully did not say much about the story itself, my husband and I plunged into "Dark" head first without knowing how deep the water is and wow, is it deep. This smart, dazzling, complicated German series (best watched in the original German with subtitles on, and not with the dreadful, lifeless English language overdub) is in many respects unlike anything we have seen before...a feat hard to achieve in a world which seems to tell the same stories over and over again. While on the surface it may be a detective-crime-missing-child story, it is above and beyond all else, a fantastic science fiction story with a very unique point of view. It is also a very effective psychological study of small town and family dynamics, the destructive nature of secrets, and the suffocating, ravaging consequences of keeping emotions inside. It is also about how all of our choices--and sacrifices--in life, whether based on love or hate, literally determine our and other's destiny. Binge watching this series is both fulfilling and necessary as the storyline is a gigantic, compelling puzzle and the plot points are each fascinating pieces that slot together with a satisfying click.

These events take place in the small German town of Winden, in several time periods (1953, 1986, and 2019), where we see its citizens both as young men and women, and then old. "Dark" is certainly a story about time and its effects on us as humans. The cast is simply phenomenal--I have completely believed every single moment from every actor. Which is why it is necessary to hear their voices as they organically produced emotions...and not an overdub by someone in a sound booth who is not invested in portraying truth. The art direction is impeccable for the different time periods as well. All in all, a stunning achievement without being flashy or having a plotline with car chases or explosions. The third and final season has been filmed and will air sometime in 2020. I can't wait to find out what is going to happen.

Recommend? YES! If you don't know much about it, just start watching. Going in without much prior knowledge is the best way for it to work. But I will advise you to PAY CAREFUL ATTENTION as each detail, face, event, clue, and phrase is very important to the puzzle.