Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Dim Sum and Art

Dim Sum at Furama Restaurant

Top on my list of what is missing in Randolph is dim sum. So I was besides myself the other morning meeting two friends, Elyse Koren-Camarra and Lialia Kuchman for dim sum. I know I can go to Boston to get some, and i do have a couple of cookbooks with recipes, but what a pleasure to just hop on public transportation and get to Furama Restaurant and be served from the little carts full of delicious tiny morsels of heaven.

Elyse, Lailai, and me

Both Elyse and Lialia are multi-faceted, energetic, creative women--good role models for the people that come in contact with them. Lialia was in the last class i taught at SAIC and Elyse is in the current one, but both have been artists and scholars and curators for years and Elyse is also a college professor. Who could ask for better students and friends?

After lunch I did visit the Art Institute of Chicago. Walked down the central hallway from the main entrance enjoying the re-established sculptures and art (missed the textiles though) to get to the New Wing. Looking at people and overhearing conversations was as much fun as looking at the art. I was hungry for art since I haven't been in a large museum with a great collection for some time.

Lobby of New Wing of Chicago Art institute

Looking down at lobby of New Wing

The New Wing is housing the contemporary art, which in some cases is ancient to my current students who probably were all born in the 1990s or late 1980s. For me, it was like a reunion with old friends. Sometimes the art was amazingly fresh and exciting, and other times I saw how age has not been kind to it. I took lots of pictures (no flash, of course) and surprised myself with some of the images, but then I was already thinking of the upcoming class and first project of a two-color image--so I snapped images of ceramics, and iron work, and carved stone that I thought might translate into interesting 2-color images as examples. I won't bore you with them here but I do love how city environments spur on my ideas for teaching and making.

Brancusi sculpture

The Brancusi suclptures were old friends but I only liked his bases this time. In fact, I would like Mark to make us a table like the stone one pictured above. I was so surprised to come upon this Vito Acconci work called Estimations where he paced off walks and wrote the number of steps he estimated and then the number of actual steps. It reminded me of my current weavings where I write the ppi and then add addendums with the actual ppi. I don't hear about Acconci very much these days (though i admit I don't read many current journals so maybe he is being written about) but his work was so varied and startling and important and young people should not overlook him. I know Bruce Nauman is seen as relevant (there was a room with his clown videos and judging from the conversations I overheard in it, I was not the only one to still find them disturbing; they are actually called "Clown Torture" and he made them in 1987) but I will have to ask my students if they know Acconci's work and what they think.

Vito Acconci work called Estimations from 1970

Some of the funniest conversations I overheard were in the rooms of work that i find most inspiring. I have always loved minimal work like Robert Ryman's white paintings, but never could give myself permission to be so basic. One group of viewers peeked in and the man said, "this room must be under construction" and he totally would not believe his wife (assumption) when she said she thought "that was the art." Another group stood in front of a wonderful Agnes Martin in total disgust and disbelief that this was hanging in the museum. To me it was a wonder that this work, which is definitely not new, is still eliciting these strong feelings against it. Amazing that people still think minimalist and other contemporary movements are jokes made against them, or insults directed at them. 

Robert Ryman painting

City view from Robert Ryman room in museum

I wasn't the only one taking pictures of the Chicago cityscape from the Robert Ryman room. It was a beautiful day and window views were powerful. Almost unfair to put them there next to the Ryman's--or maybe one could say a perfect juxtaposition.

3 Views of Being Not Truthful Always Works Against Me by Stefan Sagmeister and Ralph Ammer

In the rooms about architecture I enjoyed watching and participating in making Stefan Sagmeister and Ralph Ammer's interactive Not Being Truthful Always Works Against Me move and distort and dissolve and come together again. A spider web of course is going to attract a weaver. Especially one who is remembering in the back of her mind that school was starting the next day. I walked home through the crowds gathering for the last night of the Blues Festival, exhausted, and looked down at the view of The Field Museum, which I will visit this coming weekend. 

School has started, today is day three which is equivalent to the third week, and it feels like three weeks. The students are amazing, every one of them is focused and working hard. Warps have been made and today some of them will be weaving on them, and all of them have woven on the TC-1 already. I was telling the beginners that some day, if they stick with weaving, they will tell their friends or students that their first weaving was on the TC-1--that they simultaneously began at both ends of the continuum that we call weaving.

Gate House into Park looking down towards Field Museum

1 comment:

  1. Granted, the Field just ain't what it used to be. If I want to play with exhibits I'll go to the Children's Museum- I miss the old, dank cases and can't find my favorite archaeology stuff or textiles. The giraffe innards, however, are promising. Maybe I've been viewing the textile opportunities in there the wrong way...