Posts

rsz_okeeffe_georgia-chama_river_ghost_ranchThere’s nothing like a room full of O’Keeffe to make me want to take a road trip and the “Georgia O’Keeffe in New Mexico: Architecture, Katsinam and the Land” exhibit at the Denver Art Museum is no exception. Horizontal landscapes of rugged terrain, softened under pastel lights and sharpened on the shadow stimulate my need for the wide and the wild. When Georgia O’Keeffe came to the badlands of Abiquiu she was already an established and successful New York artist. The untamed West, rendered by a soul who’d found her place on earth brings serenity to every city wall she hangs on. Heavy with landscape, the exhibit takes us away from the larger, more familiar cow skulls and flowers of our collective remembrance and sits us down on a rock at sunset. Shapes, shadows, fine strokes and drama draw the viewer deeper down the river. Hopi influences aside, or perhaps front and center I found myself transported to a different time and place, staring at a church or a chasm as if alone in the enchantment.  O’Keeffe crowds solitude with the thick heat and thin air of the high mesa desert, in a tone-on-tone moment that contains life and death without judgement.
“I longed for quiet, a sense of personal attachment and a place that held meaning”, Georgia said of New Mexico.  Not only did she find it she became it, inspiring us as layers of light call to the mind to open up, to share.  A pencil sketch becomes an intimate whisper, the high blue mesa a best friend. Georgia O’Keeffe is the retreat you long to give yourself, and now she has come to you.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Georgia O’Keeffe in New Mexico: Architecture, Katsnim & the Land at the Denver Art Museum through April 28, 2013

Vincent van Gogh Basket with six oranges, 1888. Oil on canvas, private collection, courtesy of Heather James Fine Art.

The mention of Vincent van Gogh brings a flurry of things to mind: a coffee cup, a mouse pad, an umbrella, memories of Starry Night at the MOMA, the days of my youth spent in Amsterdam and the alley in Paris that looks like The Cafe Terrace on the Place du Forum (which was actually in Arles). Whatever your mind conjures up it won’t hold a (chair and) candle to what you’ll see at the Denver Art Museum’s new exhibition,
Becoming Van Gogh. As the Art Museum says it–

Organized by the DAM and curated by Timothy J. Standring, Gates Foundation Curator of Painting and Sculpture at the DAM and Louis van Tilborgh, Senior Researcher of Paintings at Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum, Becoming Van Gogh brings together loans from more than 60 public and private collections from across Europe and North America to tell the story of a number of key formative
periods throughout the artist’s career.

As I would phrase the experience–

Vincent van Gogh, Vase with Gladioli, 1886. Oil on canvas, Van Gogh Museum.

A wondrous journey through a genius mind.
As the viewer follows the development of an artist, she also shares the journey of a passionate craftsman. There are the familiar paintings, landing in the collective haystack of what we understand to be “Van Gogh”, and then there are those which transport us to the moment of their creation; some studious, some spontaneous, others give us Van Gogh’s point of view as he shifts his sense of place. Sketches of female nudes, and humble oils of vases full of flowers bring the cloudy Dutchman into the mastery of living color. Parisian open space from the hill of Montmartre and Le Moulin de la Galette, Potato Eaters and wheat fields, still lifes and self portraits fill frame after frame as we progress toward the Van Gogh of legend. It is midway and the Basket with Six Oranges that stopped me still as it radiates from the canvas and bounces off the wall. Might be the most amazing thing I’ve seen since… well, just since.
Van Gogh is a harsh beauty, rough and delicate at the same time, like life. The complexity of his evolution is captivating, there are multiple moments in this show that will bring you to tears if you let it, for it’s not a story of being, it is the story of becoming.

Vincent van Gogh, The Blute-fin Mill, 1886. Oil on canvas, Museum de Fundatie, The Nederlands.


I don’t know how they keep doing it, but this is another DAM exclusive and your only chance to see this show. Timed tickets are essential, advance purchase is a must. I’ll revisit, even with the throngs it will be worth it. My fantasy version is a Night-at-the-Museum sleepover where I could wander through the wonder in my PJs, or lay in front of a painting and ponder. Something tells me that’s not gonna happen.
Becoming Van Gogh runs now through January 20, 2013 at the Denver Art Museum

The current exhibition of works by prolific African artist El Anatsui at the Denver Art Museum is a visceral manifestation of the ancient storytellers. Using what the immediate has to offer, Anatsui’s wood work, metal sculptures, clay pieces and installations whisper deep into the soul. Shimmering tapestries of bottle caps hang and drape the Hamilton gallery space like stained glass windows for everyman. One of the artist’s quote stenciled on a wall “Rather than recounting history, my art is telling about what history has provoked” resonates within me as a playwright, while others make me want to scrawl them out large on my children’s walls… or perhaps my own.
Pull from your personal history for inspiration
Look for materials in the immediate environment
Travel, and bring your travel experience to bear in your work
Allow for the possibility of something unexpected and wonderful to happen
A professor for many years at the University of Nigeria in Nsukka, Anatsui teaches a way of seeing the world—a process rather than a particular style. His advice to his art students reveals much about his own art and his connection to a timeless wisdom.
Read more of my journey through this grounding and uplifting exhibit.

One of Denver’s architectural wonders is the Fredrick C Hamilton Building, designed by Daniel Libeskind at the Denver Art Museum.. With its jutting roof line and walls all akimbo, I love its mix of elegance and surprise. Apparently the Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent did too because when DAM Director, Christoph Heinrich, approached them to host the Yves Saint Laurent Retrospective they said “Oui”. They make for a chic ensemble and quite the coup. Denver is the only stop in North America before this exquisite exhibit heads south of the border. New York must be green with envy.

When Yves Saint Laurent took his seam ripper to the nipped Dior waistline, he unleashed the power of the modern woman and seems to have designed her wardrobe for the past 50 years. The words ‘jumpsuit, pantsuit, safari look and bolero jacket’ were rarely heard before the genius of the YSL moment, and never to describe fashion. Influenced by global culture, Saint Laurent drew his inspiration from the arts and artists, from operas, literary figures, personal muses and “aesthetic ghosts;” he has woven time into the timeless.

Read more.
The Yves Saint Laurent Retrospective lands in Denver for an exclusive look into the designer’s genius. The Denver Art Museum is the only North American stop as this exquisite exhibit travels from Paris to South America. Why? “Because I asked.” says DAM Director, Christoph Heinrich. With the integration of local fashion stars and designers included in the gift shop and gallery, I say “Magnifique!”

I live and work in a city that fosters and grows its arts and cultural community, lights the way with a beacon of alternative energy investment, and preserves the character of the city’s neighborhoods and Technicolor past… That’s something to look up to.

I have so much writing to do. Backed up on blogs and interviews for the Huffington Post and Telluride Inside and the final draft for a pending stage production.  Summertime always ramps up the distractions: the kids out of school, the real estate biz busy, the house guests, hikes and the road trip. But when Denver turns into a giant block party, how’s a girl gonna keep her thoughts together? The languorous days of summer  bring me out of myself and into the streets; to the ballpark, the patio at Elway’s, without a care in the world or a thought in my head.

There’s a party out there!

There are the easy things like the Cherry Creek  and metro area Farmers Market, Sunday night picnics at City Park Jazz and Tuesdays or Wednesdays at Film on the Rocks, and the monthly First Friday Art Walks; tonight it’s a screening of Convention, tomorrow it’ll be something else:  Denver Art Museum Flappers and Pharoahs Bash Mixed Taste at the M CA, and then comes July and the Biennial of the Americas, I’ll never catch up.

Telluride, that’s where I’ll write! I return next month to the Telluride Playwrights Festival and a chance to put the finishing touches on the production script of (W)hole.   My first trip the script was part of the festival and in I was in full writer mode. Between rehearsals, the actors and directors hiked and rode their bikes along the river while I locked myself in my condo to write. After evening table readings and notes, the playwrights rush through dinner (passing on the wine) then scurry home to make script changes, while the attendant guests ride the nighttime gondola and party like rock stars. This year my load will be lighter, my duties confined to acting and providing feedback. Surrounded by my friends and the beauty of the boxy canyon, I should have plenty of time for my own… looks like I won’t be writing there either. Can’t these deadline thingies be pushed back to October?