Posts Tagged ‘Frizzell’

I got an email today from someone who stumbled across my blog having found themselves mentioned. I re-read the entry and it seems awfully ingenuous now. Oh well. The topics and writing here are fairly uneven.

Due to a ‘series of unfortunate events’ and bloody cold weather I have been somewhat unmotivated to blog. I have seen art, “I was Russia” at DPAG was good. I saw it on the opening day and floundered a bit with it because of the lack of explanatory written material – not even a photocopied page. I will go back , but I particularly liked the collective Factory of Found Clothing, which in part, dealt with artifacts.

Image from FFC.

I have been thinking a lot and writing a lot about the juncture of visual art and literature of late. While making another attempt to tidy up my bookshelves today I came across a book I picked up a while back, mainly because there was Clairmont woodcut print in it (The Birth of the Bomb Aug 1979). A crazy book made by William Millet a B29 pilot who flew over Japan post bomb. Things of iron & things of green, Nucleonic narrative about love and war, Things of iron like war and things of green like love is described as follows:

“Limited ed. of 1000 copies signed and numbered by the author. “The entire books was designed and printed by the author-publisher-designer William Millett using Garamond-Jenola & Caxton type faces on his Arab Letter-press & offset printed on a Heildelberg [sic] offset & part composed on an IBM golf-ball typesetter. The paper used Churston cover paper in the main.”–p. 4. Case bound and sewn in 4 signatures. Central hole in the front cover reveals the words of the title from the half-title page”

It made me think of a conversation I heard on the Kim Hill show last Saturday with Sherman Young. This book is an artifact in itself but also full of ideas and art from Hanley, Brown, Clairmont, Blair, Frizzell and others.  It looks a bit manky in today’s high production value world but I like it. When I pick it up, I am holding something important. Well that’s how it feels. It also makes me feel its from a time when people cared. OK, people still care but maybe not to collectively and widely. Its like we are numbed to the horrors of the world now. Maybe we have been so inundated by words and images but also distanced from wars, famines, diseases by our TV screens. I really don’t know. I am glad I have this book though.

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Firstly, I have to report back on the subject of “Crowd Pleasers” posted on Over the Net a while back. They write: “In New Zealand it’s hard to think of any major crowd pleasers…You’d think Rita Angus’s Cass would be a contender, but it has always been crowd-free when we’ve been around.” Well not today! A cloudy Wellington Sunday afternoon and the final day of the Rita Angus retrospective at Te Papa – you could hardly move in the place. At first I thought only one person was stationed in front of “Cass”, but then from behind me I heard “there it is” and a gaggle of middle aged women charged towards it.

Cass – from Ministry for Culture and Heritage social club cake decorating competition

I did a VERY quick run through because the crowd inside Rita’s imagination was a bit much for me today. Oddly the ‘seasick green’ room was quite soothing because there were very few people in there, so I had a sit down and flick through the catalogue. I hope my library copy arrives soon, because I want to have a good read of the essays which looked rather interesting. As an aside, my library came through with Sam Hunt’s new book “Doubtless” last week and it’s great – as good and better than “Talking  of the Weather” plus older works. I have added this book to my ‘have to own’ list.

Upstairs there were some different things on show in Toi Te Papa, and I agree with Best of 3 that “there is a frigging spectacular Driver in the hang – the appropriately named Big Relief (1980).”  that is a railway tarp – isn’t it? Several other things took my eye though including Don Peebles Wellington series (No. 16/60) . A little sad that the McCahon/Shadbolt kitchen bench was gone, but hey I can always look at it online. Oddly the Fomison looked like it was about to fall apart and I kept finding Mark Adams photos throughout the museum!

Te Papa always strikes me as noisy for a museum but my kids love it and they were entertained for hours today. We also had fun lying in the centre of the Hotere/Culbert “Void” which was about as close as they got to the art – “oh not the gallery mum…” Although Inspiration Station, their favourite place, has a new artwork (replacing the Frizzell chicken), the vaguely disturbing Send off by Tony de Lautour.

Having just re-read Rachel King’s “The Sound of Butterflies” it would have been nice to see more Lepidoptera, but maybe another day…

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So like many bloggers when in a writing funk I can again only offer tidbits. I have been musing on how art develops as an artist ages and matures but I don’t know enough about it to write yet and I’m still working on items about street art gentrification and madness and art but no one piece is coming together. I’d like to write about the weirdest email I got today acknowledging receipt of a job application which caused me to wonder if I’d actually want to work in that place.

Anyhow The Montana book award shortlists were announced yesterday and many have commented on the amount of visual arts books. Of course there is the spat about only 4 fiction titles being shortlisted and other items and the anti-Wellington sentiment creeping in again. The best comment I’ve read read on that topic so far is on Beattie’s Book blog where an anonymous commenter replies to “what’s Wellington got to do with it?” with “Wellington shot bambi’s mother”. And while there is talk of some Wellington cabal I really don’t think regionalism is the problem here. On a brighter note one of the better books I’ve read lately, Waimarino County, was shortlisted in biography section. Author Martin Edmond muses on this here.

Speaking of books, the illustrated version of Denis Glover’s Magpies has been reprinted. Illustrator Dick Frizzell says “It sank a bit when it was released actually. I threatened to reprint it myself and eventually the publishers came to the party so it was reprinted and it just kind of hung around by the skin of its teeth until it reached some sort of tipping point in the public consciousness…Although I have never called it a children’s book, a lot of parents have told me their kids wanted it read again and again until the book fell to bits. I just don’t know what the kids would be actually hearing.” Its now on MY shopping list.

I also read this interesting interview with John Updike, which begins. 

NEH Chairman Bruce Cole: I think I may have told you that in my former life I was an art historian. While there are many Ph.D. art historians, the people I most enjoyed reading were the poets and the critics who brought great language to their description of art and were able to express the meaning of the art.

John Updike: I think it’s a field where to be an amateur is not necessarily a disgrace. Some of the best have been, in a sense, amateurs-Baudelaire and Henry James, to name two.

I guess this spiked my interest because I read recently how Rita Angus hated non-artists (Fairburn and Fred Page were the examples) acting as art critics and felt they were out of their ‘zone’. She said, in turn she would not think of critiquing their music or poetry. This is something that is very common in New Zealand but there are a fair amount of people who are critics, artists and writers. It would make a good debate I think.


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Art for Food

I seem to have generated some interest by mentioning my proposed chutney for poetry exchange. Really I am only honouring a long tradition of trading art for food. I believe the bards and minstrels of old would exchange their epics, stories and songs for food and lodging and there are plenty of examples including more recent ones. Many down-on-their-luck artists (and I imagine poets and writers) have exchanged their art for a crust. This Venice Beach cafe showcases “art from numerous Venice artists such as Ed Ruscha, Dennis Hopper and Robert Graham (trading art for food is a Venice tradition)” and landscape painter Jim Mott did a whole 10,000 mile road trip (which he called the Itinerant Artist Project) by exchanging paintings for room and board.

Our Daily Bread by Elizabeth Harris-Nichols

Payment in kind makes a lot of sense to me and in Mexicoin 1957, painter David Alfaro Siqueiros proposed that artists in Mexico be allowed to pay taxes with their work. Half a century later, this idea has given rise to one of the world’s most important collections of contemporary art.” Mind you I guess you’d have to be earning enough to need to pay tax in the first place!

And here in New Zealand when the Mangamahu Possum painting was listed for sale on Trademe, there was discussion in the comments about a tradition of leaving artwork in payment for lodgings (although a bit of a stretch in that case I think). I am certain there are many examples.

Tuna Can – Dick Frizzell

This talk of exchange and barter might be a sign of things to come, you know with peak oil and all. In the meantime I am calculating how many jars of preserves I will need to swap for a modest McCahon. And I promise that this will be the last of domestica for a bit.

NOTE: I have removed Sam Hunt from my linky list because I heard him (or a good mimic) doing an ad for Cobb and Co. today on TV – though maybe he got paid in steak and beer?

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Guerilla Art

I have been thinking of writing a post about the gentrification of Street Art for the forthcoming Youthweek and Hoodie Day – their slogan “It’s what’s under the hood that counts” makes a lot of sense to me. I upset a few people by bemoaning the lack of street type art in a recent youth art exhibition and also in my area there seems to be very little tagging let alone an major work so I was mulling over the idea of bringing some “good examples” inside for an exhibition and/or providing a legal area for some ‘youth’ to develop their work. (Of course it won’t fly but I like thinking up these schemes). My problem with this idea was that simply the fact that old/white/middle-class/educated me wants to do/see this, mainstreams it.

Also, while doing some research in this area, I found an article that does a great job of commenting on gentrification and what is or isn’t wrong about ‘gallerising’ street art.

“It’s a cycle that has become all too familiar. Anything subversive, anything meant to disrupt the status quo and challenge traditional models of thought and behavior is eventually adopted into the mainstream it is swimming against. Once caught in the currents of convention, it becomes powerless. Just another commodity to be traded in the system…It’s not enough that it exists, it must be owned. Street art grew out of a resistance to this fact. It was a fuck you to the fastidious little gallery owner and his 50 percent cut. A rejection of the exploitative nature of the collector. It was democratic rebellion. Art for everyone. But then we started buying it. And now we, as a culture who demand ownership and insist that art be hung on gleaming white walls, are the ones being splashed.”

And yes – I have considered buying – on one hand Otis Frizzell’s Geishas (an ‘older’ established exhibiting artist) and also  Component who does amazing stencil work. I’ve written on this topic before and I still am divided over what it all means. However I know that there are some definable reasons I like graffiti. First its immediacy (for example Satoboy’s flame bearing Dalai Lama) and the surprise factor but also the fleeting nature of it – which ‘gallerising’ totally defeats.

Which brings me to guerilla art, the term brought to my attention by a friend today (hat tip Showyourworkings). I absolutely love the concepts involved in this. “Guerilla art is a fun and insidious way of sharing your vision with the world. It is a method of art making which entails leaving anonymous art pieces in public places…My current fascination with it stems from a belief in the importance of making art without attachment to the outcome.” which I think stands up very well to public art ‘by committee”. Also it brings us wonderful things like this….

by Dan Witz – worth checking out!


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My Saturday – in art

Degas – The Ballet lesson (I tried to keep this kiwi but I coudln’t resist Degas)

Clairmont – Clothesline in the nor-wester

Frizzell – Fresh vegetables

Angus – Mother and Child

Cover of James Brown’s “Lemon” Photo by Michelle Ardern

Jonathan Gooderham with Simon’s Richardson’s painting of Anton Oliver.

Ooops – thats not art…or maybe it is :-)

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Growing up – with Art

We had a family trip to Te Papa on Sunday. As usual I left with a hollow feeling and slight disappointment. I was also annoyed as it seems that introducing children to art in a gallery environment is not appreciated by some of the staff. Now if you can’t do this at Te Papa where can you? I mean part of the reason I always feel a little cheated there is because much of the museum appears to be “dumbed down” to a child’s level. I plan to have a bit of a moan to the director and will post the letter here if I get around to writing it.

On the positive side the “Inspiration Centre”, which was aimed at kids, had a ‘real’ peice of art hung in it. It was brilliantly protected from little fingers behind a shield of perspex and I can only hope they change the work every now and again. Here it is – Dancing Chicken by Dick Frizzell:

chicken.jpg (click for larger image)

I can’t see them doing this with a McCahon though.

The whole trip made me think about how I was introduced to art. I remember going to openings at the Southland Museum and Art Gallery with my mother and oldest brother in the 1970s. I distinctly remember a large painting of a falling concrete block that I was very impressed with and my mother hated. She liked traditional landscapes of the Ray Melhop/Peter Beadle type. We also went to the annual spring exhibitions at Anderson Park art gallery. That was better because when we were bored we could run around outside to the playgrounds. On a recent return trip (with my children) I discovered that they have a small but representative collection of New Zealand Art. I was quite impressed. Although our home didn’t have very much in the way of art on the walls, my grandfather’s house was full of original artwork from the Banks Peninusula area. He had also discovered that if you hammered an 8 inch copper boat nail through the wall, you can hang a picture on both sides.

Art was obviously valued by my family in some respects, but artistic talents were not really encouraged as a serious enterprise. Interestingly all of my siblings are now artists in some (part-time) form. One brother has exhibited paintings in both the galleries mentioned above, another sells his photography internationally and my 3rd brother is a craftsman in wood. So I guess some of our early introduction has stuck.

So I take my kids to galleries and expose them to what I can. This doesn’t happen often, maybe twice a year, but its important to us. They are resonably well behaved, however I squirm when I think of what my pre-children self would think about loud, busy children ruining my quiet reflection on a Sunday afternoon. What can I say about my nearly-5-year-old skipping down the gallery excitedly yelling “mummy, mummy we have that painting at home” (Clairmont’s Scarred Couch) or my nearly-3-year-old correctly identifiying a Rita Angus (Rutu) and then finding other Anguses in the museum going “I painted that, and that”

Rita Angus Rutu Rutu

For myself, viewing the exhibition of Art of the Nation again, was like meeting old friends (entry to come)

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