Monday, June 13, 2016

IA ORANA MARIA

Paul Gauguin, Ia Orana Maria (Hail Mary), 1891.
Ever since I spotted this vintage jumpsuit in a thrift shop years ago, the young ladies depicted within its pattern have reminded me of Paul Gauguin's Tahitian paintings.  I wore it to the Metamorphoses exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in 2014, but I never obtained proof of the garment's likeness to the paintings since photographs were prohibited within the space.  Yesterday afternoon at The Met, the outfit finally met its match.  The painting depicted, Ia Orana Maria (Hail Mary), was Gauguin's first major painting after he relocated to Tahiti, and it is interesting to note it's Catholic theme juxtaposed with Polynesian subjects.  I had a chuckle thinking about the trickle-down effect of culture and how an image so much like a 19th century masterpiece could be featured on a kitschy 1980s ensemble.

Photo by Kathy Paciello.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

WARM CALIFORNIA






Yesterday afternoon, in the middle of a very unexpected rainstorm, I stumbled into Andrew Kreps Gallery and Billy Al Bengston’s Warm California.  The hanging and standing scrolls that California-based Bengston created in the 1970s fill the gallery, recalling the effects of light on the surface of water.  To me, walking through the gallery felt something like being surrounded by the fronds of a weeping willow – the hanging scrolls swayed every so slightly and turned with the movement of forms through the space.  It was a serene environment, which Bengston likened to a kelp forest, and was a welcome respite from the downpour outdoors.


The exhibition is on view until June 18th.

Blouse: Tucker
Shoes: Escada

Photos by Kathy Paciello

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

CLYFFORD STILL MUSEUM










“You can turn the lights out.  The paintings will carry their own fire.” –Clyfford Still

In anticipation of my long-awaited sojourn to the Clyfford Still Museum in Denver, Colorado, I began reading and thinking about Still’s work: putting myself into the mind of the artist to create a garment inspired by his paintings.  I could count on one hand the number of Still’s paintings I’d seen in person, and could only imagine the quiet power of a building dedicated entirely to his life’s work.

Still (1904-1980) was a contemporary of Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko, but unlike other artists, he eschewed the market for his work.  When he passed away in 1980, his estate included 95% of his oeuvre, most canvases shielded from the public for decades, until the Still Museum opened in 2011.

When I anxiously opened the doors to the museum, I experienced an overwhelming sense of calm.  It is a quiet, reflective space, with soft light and nuanced architectural details that perfectly coexist with the selections of the nearly 3,000 works in its collection that are on display.

Wearing my handpainted dress inspired by Still’s artwork, I experienced a heightened sense of awareness and understanding of the connection between the works and the sublime.  It’s difficult to describe the feeling of being surrounded by Still’s paintings – on the walls around me, and on my body.  Sensing the works’ symbolism of the human condition; feeling and knowing the process of creating the works of art; understanding their conservation and relation to the history of art in America and the world; the entire process awakened in me a deeper understanding of the personal impact of painting.

I made a number of friends at the museum – including a security guard who, with a wink, remarked “that would be a great way to sneak a painting out of the museum.”


I didn’t physically take a painting from the museum that day, but I feel as though I took away my own personal collection, along with a greater sense of appreciation for Still’s work.  Along with that, I refueled my desire to create, in order to achieve the higher level of enlightenment that so many have experienced through the quiet reverie of the work of Clyfford Still.

Dress: thrifted, painted by me
Sandals: Frye Brielle Gladiator (available here)
Photos by William Sealy