Saturday, February 28, 2009

What Does Art Do?

Today's New York Times (well, actually Sunday's, but the book review comes on Saturday) has an Read a Book, Get Out of Jail, about a book group for convicted criminals, offered in lieu of jail time. The author quotes W.H. Auden:"Poetry makes nothing happen."

So I'm asking, does art make anything happen? If so, which art? how?

I have been reading Oliver Sacks, thinking about autism and Alzheimer's alot: how art (music, drawing, story telling) reach through, pull out, stretch, focus.

I sing my song. Sometimes I hear an answer.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Life, etc

There's so much loss in the news these days that I read instead of listen now: I need it to come into my head slower, or I will just sit down, frozen in overload.
So I'm going through some of my fiber postcards. I think of them as Portable Art. Each starts with some wise words. The collage arrives like a meditation.

Here's one from Kierkegard: Another, from Alice Walker.:Courage, everyone. Kiss your loved ones. Remember: Every breath is a gift.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Looking some more

Two days left to our stay-cation. Yesterday the weather was so bitter cold yesterday we stayed inside: gorged ourselves on chicken club sandwiches, home-made cookies, plus an orgy of movies: The Bourne Identity, The Science of Sleep, Oceans Twelve. My head was spinning.

Today we made it to the Harvard Museum of Natural History to see the exhibit of photos by Rosamond Purcell, from her new book, Egg & Nest. Beautiful. Next door was an exhibit about animals and color. Blue frogs, red birds and all colors of butterflies. Here's the promotional photo. It's a chameleon's tail:The museum is filled with the most bizarre collections: rocks, fossils, taxidermy. Reminds me of the Nature Lab at RISD, a wonderful library of THINGS. You could take out bones, butterflies, whatever. So I resolved to come draw, and joined the museum, hoping - the same way you do with a gym - that laying my money down will remind me of my promise to go.

We browsed bookstores, indulged in ice cream, and finally ducked inside a MDF, a high-end art/craft store, just to get out of the cold. The work was exquisite - much of it I could understand technically, but o the execution. The owner came up to talk, and, even tho we assured him we could only look, he was glad to have an appreciative audience (don't I know that feeling). So together we admired creativity and beauty. A lovely day.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A Tapestry of Memories: The Art of Dinh Q. Lê

Yesterday my husband and I sought out the Tisch Gallery at Tufts University, another gem hidden just a stone throw from where we run our errands. We stumbled on the exhibit "A Tapestery of Memories" by Dinh Q. Le.Le's work combines traditional textile techniques with large-scale photo-images. His subjects are war and memory. Huge reproductions of iconic photos, from famous news stills to movie stars, interlace with personal and traditional images. Each piece demands that you stop and try to sort the emerging/disappearing pictures; as you do, feelings surface: shock, sorrow, bottomless loss.

Two pieces are white on white embroidery: huge outlines of individual refugees. They document, or perhaps honor, women who have lost their eyesight because of the atrocities they witnessed. A card invites the viewer to touch the images. Le's goal is for the images to emerge as viewers hands darken the images: witnessing by touching.

The piece that knocked me over, though, was a "quilt" of photos, big as a gallery wall and suspended across the room. Le bought bags of old photos and postcards when he returned to Vietnam, at first hoping to find images of his own family. I can't do justice to it here. Click on the link and see for yourself. Be sure to read the artist's statement. And note: his aunt stitched the pieces together. I wish there was an artist's statement from her, too

Tisch Gallery
Exhibition: 29 Jan-28 Feb 2009
Tufts University Art Gallery, Tisch Gallery
Medford, MA
617-627-3518 f: 617-627-3121 e:

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Book arts in Boston

My husband and I are having a "stay-cation" while my daughter (14) is in Italy. Tho' I feel something fundamentally is wrong with who's where, I am enjoying the leisure and the company.

Yesterday our explorations took us to Boston College where we saw the incredible exhibit of artists books from the National Museum of Women in the arts.No photography allowed, so I borrowed this image from the website, where you can find several gorgeous photos. For added vacation feel, we traveled there on the T. Streets that are hair-raising to drive are a blast to watch from the comfort of a street car. On the way home we got off in Brookline to eat at JoJo Tai Pei , a friend's restaurant. Then, thanks to an article about Alston being the "epicenter of ethnic food" in the Sunday Globe, we figured out how to come on the bus. We noted places to check out later in our holiday, and got to rubber neck as we bumped back to Harvard Square.

Today we're checking out the Tufts and Wellesley museums. And I'm turning off the computer.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Sketchbook Project

Thanks to a fellow BostonHandmade member, I found out about the Sketchbook project: "Like a concert tour, but with sketchbooks."

The idea is gloriously simple: Charge a minimal fee. Distribute identical sketchbooks. State a theme. When the books return, display them.

This year's theme was I sketched where I found myself -- at a meeting:
at the museum:
at a Chinese New Year's feast:
I did a little collage:
When the deadline arrived, I still had blank pages. So on the opening page, I wrote "... starts as a blank page." Then I cut up other blanks and used them to insert text: Inspired by these bits, I trimmed the drawings themselves. Now the pages peek through from behind, urging you to turn them:The pages are empty except for the words "then returns/to silence." I love my little book. Now it goes off to join the others.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Local art

With the economy in the tank,the arts get cut. Not just to the bone, but now full amputation.

Brandesis University wants to close the Rose Art Museum and sell it's art collection to make up for lost income. Boston Latin may cut all its art and music programs. And of course people who want to slow the stimuls package complain that money for arts programs don't create jobs. (O, I would like to talk to those people.)

So this week I opened my checkbook and opened memberships at three museums. I figure, if I want them to be there when I'm ready to visit, I need to send them money now. Makes sense.
I began with the Danforth Museum of Art in Framingham. I've never been there, in the 20-odd years I've lived here. Now my colleague Jeanne Williamson has a show she's curated there. One of the pieces on display is by my good friend Merill Commeau. This Saturday my Lowell Fiber Studio group will go to see the exhibit and attend Jeanne's gallery talk.

The TV and VCR will still be around next year. But maybe not your local art museum. Now's the time to support the resources you just assumed would always be there.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Valentine mosaic

valenine mosaic
Originally uploaded by Linda B Dunn
I go dizzy this time of year, and plunge head-long into the land of roses and lace. Here are the latest creations. Ostensibly, they are fabric postcards, but they grew so lavish and wonderful that I've mounted each on acid-free board so they will be enjoyed all year round. I've posted them at my Etsy store. Surf over to see bigger images and details.

The Collette quote is my favorite. Long ago my sweetie gave it to me, and it's still a good description of my life: "You will do foolish things, but you will do them with great enthusiasm." For example, I'm off to pick up an abandoned chair, to turn into art. More later!