Thursday, February 23, 2017

INFINITE KUSAMA





I've exulted about Yayoi Kusama many times over the years (here, here, and here), most recently when I created a dress inspired by her Pumpkin at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.  Pumpkin was a precursor to her exhibition, Infinity Mirrors, which opened today at the museum in Washington, DC.  I had the pleasure of touring the exhibition along with the press, and got to spend time in each of her otherworldly infinity rooms with my old friend Rosh, who had agreed to take photos.  For the occasion, I made another outfit: this spotted jumpsuit inspired by Infinity Mirror Room - Phalli's Field (1965-66).  To my astonishment, another museum-goer, Deane Madsen, also dressed in red polka dots!  Matching other art lovers is becoming more and more common (as evidenced in my last post, from LACMA).  I love that more people are using clothing as a way to express their love for art!

Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors is open at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden through May 14, 2017.



Photos by Roshan Patel and Deane Madsen.

Monday, February 6, 2017

LA GERBE










"Another word for creativity is courage." -Henri Matisse

My love of Henri Matisse has been a constant throughout most of my life, and my own work has been inspired by his many times.  However, it wasn’t until last year that I gained the courage to create a garment inspired by one of my favorite Matisse works: La Gerbe.  It was surprisingly intimidating to embark on a project inspired by an artist and a work that I so greatly revered.  I spent months visualizing how I would portray my own interpretation of La Gerbe, and the entire process, from conception through creation, lasted about six months. 

Over the weekend, the two finally came together at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.  I planned to meet an old art school friend, Rose Lawrence, at the museum, and I waited for her outside in the LA sunshine, wearing my masterpiece jacket.  When I saw her approaching from a distance, I couldn’t believe my eyes – she was wearing a hand-painted dress she had made, inspired by La Gerbe! I was overwhelmed and incredulous.  After hugging and laughing and hugging again, we went inside to meet our match, arm in arm.  I can hardly describe how much joy it brought me to bask in the presence of La Gerbe along with another kindred spirit.  It was like three generations coming together – La Gerbe, my jacket inspired by the piece, and Rose’s dress inspired by my jacket inspired by La Gerbe.  It was fun to see the museumgoers’ reactions to our outfits in front of the grand artwork, and to answer questions about how we made our respective garments.

In my study of Matisse, I’ve found that I relate to many of his artistic sensibilities, have experienced some of the same struggles, and am working toward many of the same goals.  I uncovered a similar affinity when reconnecting with Rose, an entrepreneur and creative genius in her own way. Not only did I learn that she valued and connected with my artistic passion, but that we also experienced many of the same challenges and triumphs in our respective endeavors.  Matisse said that, “Another word for creativity is courage”, and this truth has revealed itself more and more to me. As I continue to pursue my artistic endeavors and understand and appreciate more deeply the passions of my friends, I've learned that it takes not only courage, but endurance and determination to follow your passion, and I believe Matisse would be glad that we did.

Photos by myself, Rose Lawrence, and Myra Hassaram.
You can find Rose's fabulous company Red Bread here.


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

GENERAL IDEA @ MUSEO JUMEX








This is the final post from my Mexican travels earlier this month.  It was an epic journey that ended in Mexico City, where there are more museums than I could possibly see in one visit - or in a whole month!

One of the museums that made the cut for my stay was Museo Jumex, which is focused on contemporary art.  On view currently is a retrospective of the work of the artist collective General Idea, called "Broken Time".  The exhibition showcases work from the three collaborating artists in a diverse array of mediums, from painting to photography to film.

General Idea was made up of three collaborators: AA Bronson, Felix Partz, and Jorge Zontal.  The artists used their collective work to explore many different themes throughout their activity, including the exploration of advertising and mass media, ideals of beauty, and the global and local effect of AIDS.  The collective's work was cut short when Partz and Zontal passed away due to AIDS-related complications in 1994.

Some of my favorite works in the exhibition were actually created before the artists officially established their collective.  The ziggurat paintings shown here were completed by Felix Partz in 1968, after he traveled in Tangier and was besought by the Islamic architecture and imagery he saw there.  For General Idea, ziggurats were a symbol of power, and they used this motif over and over in their work.

Of course I couldn't resist the chance to do my own power poses with the paintings!

General Idea: Broken Time is on view at Museo Jumex in Mexico City until February 12, 2017.


Friday, January 13, 2017

CASA AZUL













One of the main reasons I chose to travel to Mexico City was to visit Frida Kahlo’s Casa Azul.  Originally her family’s home, the compound has been turned into a museum where you can see many of her belongings and some of her artwork.  It is truly a magical place where you can feel the vibrancy of her life and work.

I built up the experience throughout the trip, knowing that I would visit the museum on my last weekend in Mexico.  I searched high and low through the markets to find the perfect ensemble to wear, because I wanted it to be authentically Mexican; something Frida might have worn herself.  I bought tickets to the museum ahead of time, hoping to avoid any chance of disaster when the day finally came for me to visit Frida's house.

When I arrived at the museum on the date and time of my ticket, I found that they were closing early due to the New Year's holiday - and that I would have 15 minutes, at most, inside La Casa Azul.  After waiting so long to finally visit this special place, I was incredulous that I would not even have enough time to see all of the exhibitions.  Manic, I rushed through the space, missing many opportunities that I would have taken to linger over objects and read wall labels.  It was an immense disappointment - the pinnacle of my trip to Mexico was ruined.

Soon after I arrived, the guards began ushering attendees out of the exhibition halls and into the central courtyard (where the iconic blue walls and yellow stepped altar reside).  Resigned, I slowly walked toward the exit, stopping every few feet to take photos.  Moments passed, and many attendees left the museum.  But then something miraculous happened.  Inexplicably, the guards allowed me to remain.  In fact, no one approached me, or said anything at all.  They just stood guard by the entrance as every last person left the museum, except for myself and Will.  We slowly walked through the courtyard, taking photographs, and marveling at how quiet and serene the it was, now that all of the guests were gone.  I reveled in the experience of spending quiet, uninterrupted time within the walls of Frida's abode - and I can't imagine a better way to connect with the art and with her spirit.  We ended up staying inside for nearly an hour after the museum closed - an hour that I will treasure as one of the highlights of my visit to Frida's homeland.

Although I didn’t have the chance to mull over each object like I intended to, I left with an overall feeling of understanding what it must have been like for Frida to live her life within the walls of the Casa Azul, and the sense of calm that came with an oasis that blocked out the busyness and bustle of the outside world.

Photos by William Sealy.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

MEXICAN DRESS


Here is another snap from my travels through Central Mexico.  I couldn't get over all of the amazing colors - and it made me wonder why some countries and populations are just more colorful than others.  I'll report back on my findings.  But for the time being, this embroidered Mexican dress is one of my favorite souvenirs from my visit to Guanajuato.

Do you have any favorite souvenirs from your travels?  I'd love to see them!

Photo by William Sealy.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

CHAPEL OF JIMMY RAY














I’m back in New York City and am catching up on sharing some experiences from my travels over the past few weeks.  Thanks to those of you who followed along on Instagram!

I started my journey in San Miguel de Allende, a small, colorful town a few hours Northwest of Mexico City.  It is a haven for artists and artisans, and I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed roaming the quaint streets and peeping into colorful shops.

The highlight of my visit to San Miguel was the Chapel of Jimmy Ray, a complex outside the city where Anado McLauchlin, a California transplant, has established an artistic oasis.  A plot of land filled with his art, his home, a gallery, and his workshop, the Chapel is just one of the structures on the property.  Anado himself is a hilarious, warm, and chatty individual, and his husband Richard is equally inviting.  Anado and Richard showed us around their property, and we marveled at all the work that went into the many mosaics which cover most of the structures.  Their house is a wonder in and of itself, filled with colorful curiosities and their artwork as well as that of their friends.

I felt wonderfully inspired by all of the beauty that Anado and Richard had created, and the fact that they continuously work to bring more color and beauty to their surroundings.  I also felt a strong sense of gratitude at being able to meet Anado and see his work and hear him speak about it – so often the work of artists is only discovered and cherished after they are gone.  I was able to make a real connection with both Anado and Richard that I will treasure for years to come.

Photos by William Sealy.

Monday, December 19, 2016

YAYOI KUSAMA'S PUMPKIN AT THE HIRSHHORN




Yayoi Kusama is the most popular artist in the world.  Although I've seen and experienced her work many times over the years (here, here, and here are just a few), I still get excited each time I hear of some new Kusama experience.

When the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden unveiled Kusama's Pumpkin, 1994, a precursor to her retrospective exhibition Yayoi Kusama: Infinite Mirrors, I got to work making a spotted dress to coordinate with the 8-foot-tall sculpture.

Kusama sees pumpkins as universal symbols, and even uses them as self-portraits.  She has been quoted as saying,"Polka dots are fabulous," and this artwork combines two of her most well-known motifs: a spotted pumpkin becomes a stand-in for Kusama herself and also her vision of the world.

Kusama has suffered from hallucinations since she was a child, and her artwork is meant to show the world as she sees it.  I experienced a glimpse into her world while I was painting the spots on this dress: the repeating pattern made me slightly dizzy and nauseous at times, and when I looked away from the dress I could occasionally see a polka-dotted pattern continuing in my field of vision.  In those moments, I felt that I was connecting with Kusama's work in a deeper way, and in some part understanding what it is like to be her.

"Forget yourself.  Become one with eternity.  Become part of your environment." --Yayoi Kusama

Yayoi Kusama: Infinite Mirrors opens at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden on February 23, 2017.

Photos by William Sealy.