Wednesday, April 19, 2017

SUNFLOWERS




What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything? –Vincent Van Gogh

There are a few artists that I love, but whose work I am afraid to try to recreate.  (Matisse is one of these artists.)  When the thing that inspires you is a masterpiece – something so beautiful and famous and even spiritual – it is unbelievably frightening to think that you may not be able to do it justice.  In preparation for my visit to Amsterdam, I began working on a jacket inspired by Vincent Van Gogh’s masterpiece, Sunflowers, 1889, which resides at the Van Gogh Museum.  I agonized for weeks before even starting the process, wondering if I’d be able to capture the essence of such a well-known and loved work of art.  In the end, I spent more time creating this piece than any other Artfully Awear project before.

On the day I was set to meet the painting, I arrived at the museum before it opened.  There was already a line of people outside waiting to get in.  Meri and I went inside, straight to the second floor, where the painting lives.  When the second door opened, I couldn’t believe my eyes.  There, on a wall to itself, was my inspiration in all its glory.  It was larger than I had pictured, even though I knew the measurements, and the colors and textures were even more vibrant and detailed than any photo could have shown.  I was overwhelmed.  After an emotional moment, we spent some time taking photos with the piece.  After the photoshoot was finished, with a museum employee before exploring the rest of the museum.

We discussed the way that social media has impacted the museum experience, and provides visitors and staff a multitude of new ways to engage with art and to share their experience with others.  I marveled at how I was inspired by a work of art that was three thousand miles away from my home, and how I was able to connect with it through digital images – but how important and meaningful it is to actually see the painting in real life.


Thank you to Meri for taking the photos, to the Van Gogh Museum for having me, and, of course, to Vincent for inspiring us long after his time on the earth.  

Photos by Meri Feir.





Tuesday, March 14, 2017

GUGGENHEIM VISIONARIES




There is a joke amongst my art-loving friends: if anyone asks "What's at the Guggenheim right now?" we always answer, "Kandinsky!"
Vasily Kandinsky is the artist I most closely associate with the museum, and for good reason: his work made up the initial collection that launched the Guggenheim to be what it is today.
In the current exhibition, Visionaries: Creating a Modern Guggenheim, the work of Kandinsky is seen alongside work by Pablo Picasso, Piet Mondrian, and Alexander Calder, among others, whose presence in the collection established the museum as an elite institution.  The exhibition also delves into the history of the museum, and highlights some of the individuals who were necessary in building such a prestigious collection: Solomon R. Guggenheim, of course, but also Hilla Rebay, Justin K. Thannhauser, Karl Nierendorf, and Peggy Guggenheim.  It is an interesting curatorial perspective, one that is very institution-specific, and helped me to appreciate the museum's holdings in a much deeper way.

For this dress, I chose two works by Kandinsky: the front (not shown) is inspired by Several Circles (January - February 1926) and the back is inspired by Composition 8 (July 1923).  This is the first time I've combined multiple works into one garment, and it was fun to think about curating an outfit like one would curate an exhibition.

Visionaries: Creating a Modern Guggenheim is on view at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City until September 6, 2017.

Photos by Mark Rosen.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

$NINETY-FOUR


Armory Week in NYC started with the ADAA's The Art Show, the first in a series of art fairs and events that lasted for about a week, and ended yesterday.  I saw an incredible amount of art in the span of a few days, and shared my favorites through Instagram Stories.  The most memorable piece for me, though, is pictured here: Sarah Cain's $ninety-four. 

When the Art Dealers Association of America asked me to make a dress inspired by one of the works in their benefit auction for the Henry Street Settlement, this piece caught my eye.  I made a dress for Sarah Cain's exhibition at Galerie Lelong last fall, an immersive experience that included a large-scale floor painting.  I was surprised to find that $ninety-four is the size of a dollar bill!  There is an abundance of energy in the six-inch painting, and it made me think about the impact that even a small act of kindness can carry.  

The Henry Street Settlement opens doors of opportunity for New Yorkers through social service, art, and healthcare programs, and you can make a difference by getting involved.

Photo by Hilary Pollack.






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.