Arts and Crafts Disneyland

Most folks expect noontime at Disneyland to be bright and sunny, I suppose. Alas for them, Southern California does have a rainy season during the winter months. The weekend before Christmas and early Christmas week this year, Los Angeles experienced days of rainfall that at times was very heavy. And we were there.

Given that I get to Disneyland about once per decade and further given that things in the park change slowly, I was able to skip most of the rides and focus on something really important: staying as dry as possible.

It turned out that a nice place to avoid the rain is the ten year-old Grand Californian Hotel in the Downtown Disney area just west of the Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park entrances.

There are other Disney hotels nearby that are basically near-generic, nondescript modernist style with Disney touches and shops to brighten things up. Not so the Grand Californian. It's based on those fine Arts & Crafts style National Park lodges at Yosemite in California and here and there elsewhere in the West. Here are some photos I took while drying off.

These views are of the registration desk area and the main lobby.

This was taken from a seat in one of the hotel's restaurants, one with a story-telling theme.

One corner of the lobby has a children's diversion area: note the scaled-down Adirondack-like chairs and rockers.

Grownups are not forgotten. This is a lounge where one can get coffee and beverages of increasing hardness. Those little white spots near the rim of the ceiling light fixture are three-circle Mickey Mouse symbols (head and two round ears): there's no escaping the mouse on Disney property, even in a lounge mostly for adults. Also note the painting on the left-hand wall. This room has several paintings with a circa-1900 feeling, including:

The latter image is slightly cropped.

These are slightly cropped images of some of the California Impressionist style painting located along corridors in the hotel.

All those paintings shown above bear no artist signature. My guess is that they were done by Disney art staffers, many of whom are no slouches and fully capable of creating works with a 1900 cast.

Praise Dance

                                          Collage, 4” x 10”

When we recognize God is love and our hearts gladly receive what He gives, we are colored with joy. 
Would or could you believe that He takes pleasure in you? Do you dance in church? Or anywhere else?

Psalm 149:3,4 Let them praise His name with the dance…the Lord takes pleasure in His people.

Coastal Calm: Jerry Van Megert

A contemporary artist whose work impresses me is Jerry Van Megert. Last year I posted about him here on the 2Blowhards blog, and two of the photos below are from that article.

As I mentioned on 2Blowhards, I could find little about Van Megert himself, and that remains the case. He was born in Oregon in 1938 and educated there. His main work is portraiture, but I haven't yet found any example of this on the Web.

If you want to view actual Van Megert paintings, a good place is the lounge at The Lodge at Pebble Beach. That's a Van Megert painting on the far wall.

Here is a slightly cropped view of that painting.

Further detail: click to enlarge and examine Van Megert's technique.

A view of the coast between Big Sur and Carmel. This is also in the lounge and on the same wall as the previous painting.

The Lone Cypress
This image of the Pebble Beach landmark is from the web site of Coast Galleries, which offers Van Megert's paintings and prints.

Van Megert's color scheme -- can I call it "clay-like"? -- isn't exactly locked into what an artist or even an ordinary viewer is likely to see when visiting the stretch of the California coast running for 60 or so miles south of Carmel. This frees Van Megert from the iron grip of the powerful California scenery that usually forces California landscape paintings to look somewhat alike no matter who does the painting. So what we see above is definitely California and equally definitely Jerry Van Megert.

A Lot of Picasso Goes a Short Way

Man with a Straw Hat and an Ice Cream Cone - 1938

The Seattle Art Museum has been running an exhibit of Pablo Picasso works from the Musée National Picasso in Paris. It's a larger-than-average show for the museum and they've promoted it heavily.

My wife has been gently hounding me to take her to see it for some time now, but we've been traveling a lot and only got around to doing the deed yesterday.

Crowds were large. I'd assumed that we'd simply waltz in, wave our museum membership cards at the ticket desk and then troop through the exhibit. Instead, we had a two and a half hour wait before our appointed entry-time slot. A chat with a museum staffer revealed that it was the holiday season (and perhaps the impending January 17th show closing) that was bringing in the masses.

When our turn finally came, all I could manage was a fast walk-though, pausing only in the section featuring photographs of Picasso, his women and other friends. The paintings and sculptures ranged from at least his Blue Period through the rest of his career, including the painting at the head of this post. I didn't notice very early works (which I'll be writing about soon).

Contrarian that I am, I can tolerate Picasso only in extremely small doses. Even the small-ish Picasso museum in Antibes, France was an overdose so far as I'm concerned. What I saw in Seattle was room after room, wall after wall of what I consider truly awful, pointless doodling. Doodles that, thanks to the public relations genius of Picasso and perhaps his art dealers, were often quickly painted with the potential for easy sales at good prices -- a situation beyond dreams for most artists.

Finally came the moment of climax and revelation. The Picasso exhibit's exit happened to empty into the museum's small collection of 15th - 18th century art. From crude, distorted Picasso, viewers confronted images that they could relate to as human beings -- setting aside any matters of artistic quality.

So why was there such a large crowd? Did most or all the attendees genuinely like Picasso's works? Did they come simply because Picasso is famous? Might they have come because -- formally or informally -- they acquired the notion that Picasso was A Great Master Who Must Be Loved -- Or Else! (I kid about the "Or Else." Sort of.)

It's possible that there have been studies dealing with art appreciation and how people with different degrees of art knowledge come to their current tastes. Perhaps I'll make time to do a Web search on this or maybe a reader already knows and might post a comment. In my case, Picasso was an artist that "everyone" (who counted, based on my reading when I was high school and college age) asserted had significance and greatness. So I bought into that perspective even though I found only a tiny number of his works likable.

I finally came to trust my instincts, which is why I hardly paused during my stroll through the rooms of the Seattle Picasso show.

Buena para terminar y buena para empezar.

"Son cosas chiquitas. No acaban con la pobreza, no nos sacan del subdesarrollo, no socializan los medios de producción y de cambio, no expropian las cuevas de Alì Babà.

Pero quizá desencadenen la alegrìa de hacer, y la traduzcan en actos. Y al fin y al cabo, actuar sobre la realidad y cambiarla, aunque sea un poquito, es la única manera de probar que la realidad es transformable"

Eduardo Galeano   

In the Beginning: Henri Matisse

Just because you study under a famous painter doesn't mean any of it will rub off on you.

Consider Henri Matisse (1869-1954) who received some of his training from William-Adolphe Bouguereau and Gustave Moreau. By his late twenties Matisse was leaving strongly representational art behind on his march to Fauvism and colorful points beyond.

Since the point of this "In the Beginning" series is speculation as to how modernist artists' style might have evolved absent modernism, we need to take a look at Matisse's more representational works that have survived. (I could locate only one work on the Web dated before his 25th birthday; might others have been destroyed or otherwise lost?)

Still Life With Books - 1890
Matisse claimed that this was his "first" painting. I couldn't find a larger image.

Woman Reading - 1894
Shown is Caroline Jobau, his mistress at the time and possibly pregnant.

Village in Brittany - 1895
Again, this is the largest image I could locate: apologies.

The Maid - 1896
Still representational, but more simplified than earlier works. Click on the image to get better quality.

The Dinner Table - 1896-97
Just about Matisse's last gasp at representational painting.

Carmelina - 1903
Colors are now becoming flatter, but not yet Fauve-wild. Again, click for a better image.

The White Plumes - 1919
For a few years before 1920 some modernist painters including Picasso and Matisse briefly backed away from the spasm of "isms" of preceding years. The result was some paintings in a noticeably simplified sort of representationalism.

Absent modernism, how would Matisse have fared? Given his training, the time spent copying masters (images not shown) and the very limited evidence shown above, I think that he had the potential to become a good representational painter. Impossible to say whether he might have become great.

México en Cosquín

El maestro y amigo Jesús Rodríguez Arévalo me ha enviado sus saludos de fin de año junto con las imágenes de su última obra en conjunto con dos colégas de la Universidad Autónoma de Hidalgo (México), que realizaron en la ciudad cordobesa de Coquín en el mes de Diciembre de corriente año. Desde  ya le agradezco el considerarme un interlocutor válido para mostrar su obra y todavía pienso en algún intercambio futuro para poder juntarnos.
Les dejo una imágen de muestra y el LINK para que puedan ver mas detalles con la ficha técnica. Salute


La historia del Arte nos muestra como los movimientos y tendencias artísticas rara vez estaban desligados de los acontecimientos históricos, es decir, todo aquello que movía a la sociedad repercutía en la literatura, en la pintura, en la escultura, en una palabra en el Arte. Si bien es cierto que algunos movimientos tuvieron más fuerza en el mundo de las Artes Plásticas, en muchos casos los grandes acontecimientos artísticos estuvieron encadenados entre ellos y fueron también el espejo de la sociedad.


En arquitectura podíamos poner como ejemplo del simbolismo alguna de las obras de Gaudi y en escultura, entre otros, a Aristide Maillol (este blog 1.1.2010), pero fue en la pintura en dónde este movimiento tuvo más fuerza.

Se podría decir que el simbolismo surgió paralelo al impresionismo. Mientras los impresionistas se preocupaban por una ruptura con el academicismo oficial, con su salida al aire libre y sus intentos de búsqueda de una pintura científica (puntillismo), los simbolistas querían divulgar una pintura con contenido poético.


El precedente del simbolismo se encuentra en William Blake y entre los prerrafaelistas como Rosetti que ya mostraba en su obra un marcado simbolismo. Más tarde este movimiento se fundiría con el Art Nouveau.


Es el simbolismo un movimiento de respuesta a la era industrial, a los valores materialistas y una reivindicación de la búsqueda interior. Se sirve en ocasiones de los sueños que gracias a Freud no son representativos de algo irreal sino también como medio de expresión de una realidad.

Muchas de las obras simbolistas están inspiradas en la Biblia y en la mitología y expresan magia y misterio.


Para expresar todo ello se valen del color y de las líneas. En ocasiones utilizan grandes áreas de color que los acerca a los postimpresionistas. Los colores fuertes son utilizados para resaltar lo sobrenatural y otros artistas se valieron de colores pasteles y la difuminación del color para conseguir el mismo objetivo.


El simbolismo, al igual que otros movimientos, se extendió por los diferentes países europeos y de la misma forma que hubo movimientos que influyeron en los simbolistas, estos a su vez marcaron movimientos posteriores.

Un ejemplo lo tenemos en la escuela de Pont Aven, formada por un grupo de neoimpresionistas y artistas como Gauguin y Van Goth y que está cercana a los planteamientos simbolistas.


Siendo el Simbolismo algo tan amplio, sería difícil traer hasta aquí a todos los que en un momento dado de su trayectoria artística se vieron influenciados por él, así que nos acercaremos a aquellos que fueron los más representativos o los que más fuerza tuvieron dentro del movimiento.

Hoy nos detendremos en Odilon Redon.

Este artista nacido en Burdeos (Francia) en 1840, está considerado como un postimpresionista dentro de la corriente simbolista y también como un precursor del surrealismo.


Esta descripción en su biografía nos da idea de lo dilatada y ecléctica que es la obra de la mayoría de los artistas. En general, todo creador tiende al movimiento, a la investigación y a la búsqueda de diferentes vías para crear. Es raro encontrar un artista que a lo largo de toda su vida profesional haya sido “fiel” a un sol estilo.


La infancia de Odilon Redon iba a influenciar su carácter ya que por su débil salud vivió con un tío en la campiña francesa, concretamente en el pueblecito de Peyrelebane, dónde se fraguó su personalidad soñadora y contemplativa. La vuelta a Burdeos y la entrada en la escuela fue un duro golpe para él. Obligado por su padre, trabajó en el estudio de un arquitecto como aprendiz con el fin de pagarse la entrada en la Escuela de Bellas Artes, algo que no consiguió al suspender el examen de ingreso.

Redon se formó en escultura, grabado y litografía. Durante un largo periodo en París se dedicó solamente a la litografía y al carboncillo.

EL DÍA. Litografía

Gran admirador de Poe, su admiración por la literatura le llevaría a ilustrar libros de su amigo Baudelaire.

SILENCIO. Óleo sobre papel

También se resalta en su biografía que tuvo una relación muy estrecha con científicos como Darwin, que estudió zoología y anatomía y que todo ello se vería reflejado en su obra.

EL CUERVO. Carboncillo.

El contacto con la obra de Gustave Moreau que llegaría a ser otro de los grandes simbolistas, sin duda tuvo mucho que ver en su obra.

Sobre 1890 comenzó a utilizar el pastel y el óleo que serían su arma de trabajo hasta el final de sus días.

Así pues, su obra pueda ser dividida en dos partes. Una en “blanco y negro” y otra en “color”.


En la primera etapa transmite una melancolía con sus cuadros “negros”, posiblemente consecuencia de su vida ya que en esa época muere su hermana, un hijo y uno de sus mejores amigos, pero esa melancolía también coincide con el clima del simbolismo. Esta etapa de la “noche” se corresponde con la creación de su obra en carboncillo y litografías que encierra un mundo de tinieblas. Son de esta etapa sus series “En Sueños” o “Los Orígenes”.


Era la época en que la capital parisina estaba llena del color de sus artistas. Es comprensible que su obra no fuera muy bien aceptada, ni siquiera muy conocida. Pero la publicación de unas carpetas con sus litografías le proporcionó una serie de clientes.

Hacia 1890 y hasta su muerte, el color acude a su obra. Es la época en la que nace su segundo hijo y su obra se llena de vitalidad.


Toda su trayectoria está dominada por el mundo de los sueños y al final de su vida por una temática mística, pero cargada de luz y en la que abundan las flores, los temas religiosos, mitológicos y la figura humana.


Ya no es un pintor de minorías y toda una nueva generación de artistas le admiran.


En 1913 el Museo de Arte Moderno de Nueva York expone parte de su obra.

En la actualidad podemos admirarla en los museos de todo el mundo como el Orsay parisino o el Bellas Artes de Burdeos, así como en diversas muestras itinerantes.


Odilon Redon mantuvo durante toda su vida una relación peculiar con la muerte que le llegó en 1916 cuando era un artista mundialmente reconocido.


NOTA: Para mejor visualizar la fotografía “picar” con el ratón encima de las que interesen.

Para la lectura de entradas anteriores, ir a la ventana de la derecha y “picar” en los años y meses. Se desplegarán los títulos correspondientes a cada fecha.

Fuentes consultadas:

El simbolismo .Michael Gibson (Edit.Taschen)

Historia Visual del Arte .Claude Frontisi (Edit.Larouse)


Las mismas y la red.

Merry Christmas
Happy New Year!

Weimar Cities

The Autumn 2010 issue of City Journal contains this article titled "Weimar Istanbul" by Claire Berlinski. Her thesis is that certain cities experienced strong busts of artistic creativity not long before all gets swept away by one disaster or another: these she terms Weimar Cities.

She states:

There is a spookiness to living in a city at the epicenter of an impending political catastrophe, a mood of dread but also of astonishing vitality—economic, creative, artistic. It is a distinctive mood and, to anyone acquainted with history, a familiar mood.

There is, it seems, such a phenomenon as a Weimar City.

What is a Weimar City? It is a city rich in history and culture, animated by political precariousness and by a recent rupture with the past, vivified by a shocking conflict with mass urbanization and industrialization; a city where sudden liberalization has unleashed the social and political imagination—but where the threat of authoritarian reaction is always in the air.
Her archetype is Berlin during the Weimar Republic era (1919-33), and she believes that Istanbul, where she has lived in recent years, is another example as Turkey drifts away from Mustafa Kemal's reforms and towards Islamic fundamentalism.

Other examples she cites are antebellum Charleston, Moscow and Petrograd in 1917, circa-1900 Vienna, 2002 Buenos Aires and Summer of Love San Francisco.

I find this concept intriguing and highly romantic. But I am not persuaded.

In the first place, the spur of knowing that doom is almost certainly in the offing doesn't happen all that often. Moreover, the future is always uncertain. This uncertainty might affect some sensitive, artistic minds even in comparatively calm times. And it can affect minds of average folks when events turn more sour than usual, but not necessarily disastrously; the United States since the economic crisis of 2008 is a case in point. Even in the best of times, the future is uncertain and the thought of it potentially stress-provoking; consider unease of living in one's times as chronic.

I agree that residents of Vienna and the Austro-Hungarian Empire around 1900 likely sensed the empire's decline and wondered how matters would play out once the elderly emperor Franz-Josef finally died. But did folks in Weimer Berlin in, say 1927, see doom in the future? Economic conditions were better than in the early 1920s. True, the Republic was a mess, but there was no strong reason to believe that anything would change much -- that Germany might well continue stumbling along as it had since the end of the Great War, risking disaster yet not quite encountering it. And, if there was to be fundamental change, it wasn't clear what sort of change might occur.

A second factor is that vibrant cultural and artistic periods lasted for decades in many places without much threat or actual occurrence of disaster. For example, England had a strong literary culture going back to the 18th century and continuing well into the 20th. Italy was strong in painting and sculpture from the 14th century through the 18th. Paris ruled the world of painting from the 18th century till nearly the middle of the 20th. The United States became an artistic powerhouse during the 20th century while its political and economic states were far more tranquil than those of other major countries.

Berlinski's citations of Charleston and San Francisco do not strikes me as compelling. Even though the South Carolina city held the spark that set off the Civil War, the conditions that set off that spark brewed up in conjunction with the 1860 presidential election and its result. That is, it's not like a strong sense of doom had been festering for years. And there was no general doom at in the San Francisco case (though I do think the place was approaching the tipping point from being a fun place to live to the weirdness and harshness I feel whenever I now visit it). At best, the peril in the air had to do with the Vietnam war and the threat young men had of being drafted into the army. Even that was a strong factor for those comparatively few young men of a certain age and draft number, and not young people in general.

All this is not to deny that something such as a Weimar City situation can't exist. I can see parallels between Weimar Berlin, 1900 Vienna and the two Russians cities. (Regarding the latter, I'd set the stress situation as longer term than just 1917. There was plenty artistic ferment starting the late 19th century and failure in the Russo-Japanese war resulted in a murky outlook for the czarist regime thereafter, contributing to a "Weimar" condition.)

In sum, what we are dealing with is subjectivity. How to define artistic, cultural, economic, etc. ferment along with the somewhat amorphous conditions that supposedly spark things. And where is a set of counter-examples of ferment without stress and stress without ferment, assuming such definitions can be made? Weimar Cities, therefore, might make for interesting speculation but are not likely to be a useful analytical or predictive tool of thought.

El libro colectivo llegó muy alto!

El libro colectivo llegó muy alto!
Para quedarse,en Salta,Cachi,mas precisamente en la Escuela rural 4208 "las Arcas" a 2820 msnm.
El día 23 de noviembre,entregamos como donación al patrimonio de la escuelita de "Las arcas"uno de los libros colectivos que habian quedado como excedente del Encuentro 2010 de las artes.
Queremos agradecer a uds.los participantes,ya que han hecho posible esta "mini-muestra"(el libro fué desplegado y montado para exponerlo en la entrada de la escuela),la recepción de los chicos y los docentes fue excelente,muchos quedaron sorprendidos y curiosos por saber las técnicas utilizadas,los comentarios fueron buenísimos y tanto los movilizó la propuesta que también quisieron armar su propio libro colectivo "Encuentro en las Arcas",y sobre ello trabajaron alrededor de 40 alumnos.