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Thursday October 28, 2021
I am awash in provenance.
In the art world, provenance identifies the origins of artwork. The art could be a painting, a statue, a piece of music or literature. Often, provenance enhances the value of a work of art. Mozart’s Requiem takes on special status when you know that Salieri wrote it out for a dying Mozart – at least, according to the movie Amadeus.
That’s why art galleries provide information about the artist, and about the history of that piece.
In my case, I have too much provenance. My daughter and I are the only leaves left of four family trees.
Everything funnelled down to us has a story.
Categories: Soft Edges
Tags: stories, Art, provenance, legacy
Thursday September 23, 2021
A while ago, I was driving along between appointments, listening to classical music on CBC -- not long enough, unfortunately, to hear the source of a symphonic piece. The sounds of the orchestra filled the car, filled my head, filled my mind.
For a few glorious moments, I heard music a different way.
I didn’t hear it so much as see it. I saw the sounds as colours, swirling and dancing. The brasses were, of course, brassy. Woodwinds were shades of green; drums, deep brown. The strings ranged from deep purple cellos to sapphire-blue violins. A solo violin soared into a laser beam of pure white.
Granted, that’s not how I normally hear music. But why not?
Why do we limit music to the single sense of hearing?
Tags: Senses, music, Art
Thursday May 6, 2021
The Kelowna Art Gallery is hosting a show about nuclear exposure, until July 18.
The gallery’s promotional leaflet says, “BOMBHEAD is a thematic exhibition organized by guest curator John O’Brian that explores the emergence and impact of the nuclear age… encompassing the pre- and post-war period from the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 to the triple meltdown at Fukushima Daachi in 2011.”
It’s not just about nuclear war, although the visual images do include mushroom clouds and flattened cities.
It’s also about the invisible threat of nuclear radiation.
I felt that the exhibit failed.
BOMBHEAD is a visual arts display. But how does an artist portray something invisible?
What you can’t see CAN hurt you.
Tags: Art, BOMBHEAD, nuclear threat
At an art show, I chatted with an artist. In her studio, she explained, artists painted collectively.
I found that hard to comprehend. “Don’t you get upset when someone meddles with your vision?” I asked.
“Sometimes,” she agreed. “If I’ve done a canvas built of blues, say, and someone plops a blob of orange into it. But then my blues take on a different mood.”
She clearly believed her creed – many minds can work together for common benefit.
I like the idea of working together in a community. For one thing, it’s much more enjoyable than working alone. But I can’t imagine a dozen different painters producing a Van Gogh or a Rembrandt. (A Picasso, possibly.)
Perhaps my skepticism results from working with words. After 60 years, I’m convinced that editing by committee never produces a better text. Never. Friend and fellow-writer Isabel Gibson called “group editing” the “most pernicious form of compromise known to humans.”
Tags: collaboration, Art, collective work, editing by committee