As I mentioned in last week’s post, The Monuments Men by Robert Edsel is currently being adapted as a motion picture. As a student of art crime, I’ve been both curious and anxious as to how faithful the movie was going to stay to the book and to history. Clooney et al have a fantastic opportunity to showcase an often glossed over part of WWII history, but will the producers end up changing aspects in order to make a more Hollywood-style film?
Does it matter if they do?
I’m a fast reader (but unfortunately not a fast writer). I’m not trying to brag here, it’s just a fact. And in truth, sometimes I really wish I didn’t read so fast. While this skill is great when it comes to textbooks and scholarly articles, growing up it did mean that half of my suitcase was always devoted to books to read while traveling. And books are heavy. My Kindle has made traveling a lot easier these past few years, but I’m still a firm believer that there’s a use for both e-readers and real live books. And I usually am in the process of reading a good handful of books at any given time – I like to switch back and forth among them.
I’m also a firm believer in getting suggestions for books from other people. Obviously this works best if you know the person and/or their likes and dislikes so you can judge their recommendations – but there really is nothing better than sharing a book you love with a friend and seeing what they thought of it! In that vein, I’m going to share with y’all the stack of books currently sitting on my coffee table waiting to be finished.
(Note: All the opinions and anecdotes expressed here are specifically my own, and no-one else’s.)
The Accessibility Icon Project’s new symbol
I’m taking a brief break from the art world this week (sort-of) to discuss something a bit more personal. I stumbled upon this fascinating article a week or two ago about two artists who collaborated on producing what has become a new symbol for wheelchair accessibility.
Accessibility is not something a lot of people think about in their day-to-day lives. When you have the use of all your limbs, you’re not inclined to wander how you would reach such-and-such restaurant or movie theatre or apartment if you were actually confined to a wheelchair. And if you’re not around wheelchair-bound people on a regular occurrence, you may not witness the steps they take to move around in the modern world. I’m not blaming anyone for this, or saying it’s wrong or horrible – this is just my observation.
I used to be the same way.
Until the spring I turned 16.
Before I begin, let’s get one thing straight: I don’t profess to be any sort of expert when it comes to hanging art. I’ve spent a lot of time watching professional museum preparators hang everything from paintings to skeins of yarn, and I’m nowhere near as good as they are.
That being said, over the years I’ve picked up a few tips, so I thought I’d share them. Some of these might seem obvious, but if you’re one of those people like me who get OCD if a picture isn’t hung straight, they will be very helpful!
Apologies for the quality of my photos. My one camera battery is dead so I’m only using my cell phone, but I wanted some quick illustrations of what I was talking about.
A grouping I hung in my living room. Yes, I am aware the top right frame is blank – I haven’t chosen one of my photos for it yet.
2 prints over a chair in my living room.
Earlier this week I read a post on Hyperallergic (which is a fantastic blog that you should read as soon as you’re done with this post!) about the Georgia Museum of Art’s interesting new deaccession ideas. For the unaware, deaccessioning is the process of a museum or gallery selling off works of art it owns to raise funds – which are usually used to purchase new art for the collection.
Deaccessioning has been a hot topic all around the US this week – an article in Detroit’s Free Press from May 24th mentioned the Detroit Institute of Art is looking into selling off some of its collection to pay the city’s debts. Setting aside the fact that I feel this idea is wrong on so many levels (this is a rant worth an entire future blog post), let’s look at one very interesting question the general deaccessioning process brings up: how do you decide what to cull from the collection?
Growing up in New Orleans, I always took the existence of Mardi Gras parades for granted. I never wondered where they came from, or how they were made, or even who paid for them; the floats simply showed up. Every year, like clock-work, you got the same parades on the same nights. There’s an old joke in the city that kids grow up thinking Mardi Gras is a national holiday and are ridiculously confused when they find out it isn’t. Carnival as a child just is.
But recently I’ve spent a lot of times behind the scenes, and a lot of time explaining the process of Mardi Gras to locals and out-of-towners alike. And so I’ve learned a lot about all of the work that goes into creating this year after year after year. I’ve been to over 20 years worth of parades, ridden in 4, and have been working almost 24/7 with floats for the past few months, yet I’m finding something new to love every day.
“Leviathan,” a signature float that has ridden with the Krewe of Orpheus every year since 1998.
Lately what I love most about Mardi Gras is that the vast majority of these floats are made with what we would all think of as basic materials. Styrofoam, tag board, wires, flat interior latex paints, wood, iron poles, paper mache, glitter, fabrics, colored lightbulbs, and fringe – all of these materials are used in constructing the floats and the props that decorate them. In fact, other than fiberglass and fiberoptic lights, pretty much everything that goes into a Mardi Gras float is “low-tech.” That just makes it all the more impressive.
In my last semester as an undergraduate, I finished my Italian minor with a seminar on Dante’s The Divine Comedy. I must’ve been feeling pretty confident in my language skills when I signed up, because the core of the class involved reading the entire Commedia in its original Italian. It was difficult, to say the least. Entirely worth it, but difficult.
To balance out the 14th century Italian overload, I chose to focus my thesis on artistic representations of Dante’s L’inferno (any way I can work art into a project is a win for me). What’s great about looking at these works of art from the last 700 years is that they mirror the way values have changed in art alongside similar changes in the human race.