1970s-Era Denim, Counter-Couture at the MAD Museum, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Textures

Downsizing got a little all-consuming around here this spring. This week’s ‘Textures’ challenge reminded me I hadn’t shared pictures from Counter-Couture – Handmade Fashion in an American Counterculture, a show we saw at the Museum of Art and Design (MAD) in New York in March. And who wouldn’t want to see, or wear, a flaming horse (or chicken!) flying in the sky —

MAD Museum - Embroidery Detail - Anna Polesny - Fancy Jacket 1974

Detail: Anna Polesny – Fancy Jacket, 1974

These pieces were in the Levi’s Denim Art Contest of 1974. Anna Polesny was born in Czechoslovakia. This embroidery tells the story of her life and travels.

Here’s the winner of the 1975 Levi’s contest —

MAD Museum - Billy Shire - Welfare - Sneed - My Personal Belt - Detail

Billy Shire – Welfare – Sneed – My Personal Belt

The artist’s clothing has been worn by musicians in the bands Chicago and the Doobie Brothers, and by Elton John.

This is an 11-pound jacket. Rockers work hard. Some materials: upholstery tacks, handset studs, rhinestones… and yes, that’s a desk bell, meant to chime when the jacket is worn. There is also purportedly an ashtray, but I believe I remember it was on the back. On the belts: bicycle reflectors, rivets, and luggage-bottom studs.

MAD Museum - Billy Shire Denim Jacket detail

MAD Museum – Billy Shire Denim Jacket detail

Counter-Couture, Handmade Fashion in an American Counterculture is on display at MAD through August 20, 2017.

Now back to downsizing — remember downsizing? I thought I’d donated or recycled all my oldest jeans, but here’s some denim I found in the depths of the closet this spring. My oldest jeans This isn’t even all the old jeans. No embroidery here, but the green jeans are 1970s era bellbottoms. As for embroidery, I do remember having some small well-behaved embroidery patches over holes, but of course nothing on the scale of the wonderful show items. I can offer this colorful inside label —

Green jeans vintage label

Vintage rainbow label in my 70s-era green jeans…

I guess having these makes me Ms Green Jeans. Is anyone else old, um, vintage enough to remember Mr Green Jeans?

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The Best Way to Find Lost Things, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Satisfaction

The best way to find something lost is to lose something else.  It’s a complicated dance. It’s as if, in order to find the lost thing, something else must go missing to leave room for it to waltz back into my life.

A few weeks ago I needed my old TWA employee number and guess what, I’d just shredded a file cabinet full of paperwork.   Still, I knew I’d seen an old access badge somewhere. Could  the number be on it? I looked everywhere I could think of, but it remained stubbornly  lost.

Then I needed a pre-phone address book but couldn’t find it.  That must have triggered a call for the badge to come back. I took innocent hold of a dresser drawer handle and the entire drawer jumped out and emptied itself at my feet.

Dresser Drawer Collapse

No, “Up Your Kilt” is not what I was looking for.

And guess what was in the drawer — my badge. I found the number, but my old address book is still lost.

I’d forgotten this dresser drawer and it yielded some crazy stuff.  Among the old employee-anniversary pins, notebooks, and archived glasses were these three kinds of cards.

Computer punched cards

Punched cards! This dis-assember deck would have been Bob’s

Punched cards are nice to for turning over and writing lists on the back.  (In case you’re a compulsive list maker)Grannie Smiles card

This tiny playing card must be leftover from a long-ago and now forgotten deck. That bird looks a little predatory to me, but Grannie seems happy enough and has a cat to keep her feet warm. TWA Term Pass From my TWA Term Pass – I thought I’d hit the jackpot with this card BUT it doesn’t have my employee number on it.

I wanted to photograph the badge I found when the drawer leapt out at me, but now it’s disappeared again. I guess that means it’s time for the lost address book to come back.  But never mind, I’m satisfied, I found the number I needed  — or it found me — and have already sent away for my retiree standby card.

How do you find lost things?

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Bologna, The Whitney Biennial 2017, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Unusual

“It smells like bologna in here,” Sam said.  He meant bologna sausage, aka ‘baloney’. We were at the Whitney Biennial, and he’d been further into the room than I had. Here’s what we found when we went to investigate —

Claim: Whitney Biennial Version - Pope.L aka William Pope.L

Claim: Whitney Biennial Version – Pope.L aka William Pope.L. The hand stitched banner above is by artist Cauleen Smith. (I’m fond of the symmetry of the two red bags)

This is a grid of 2,755 slices of bologna, each tacked onto the appropriately pink background with a black and white photocopy portrait attached —

Detail - Claim:Whitney Biennial Version - Pope.L aka William Pope.L

Detail – Claim: Whitney Biennial Version – Pope.L aka William Pope.L

Playing with words and numbers, the artist’s ‘claim’ is that the number is related to New York’s percentage of Jewish population, though the photographs were chosen randomly. See that drip in the photo above? We were there a couple of weeks after the exhibition opened, and the passage of time was wreaking a little havoc with the materials in this piece.

Claim:Whitney Version - Pope.L aka William Pope.L

Greasy Art Stuff – nope, it’s not archival.

The curator’s note tells us that Pope.L has made other versions of this work, many focusing on Black subjects, and goes on to say that “Claim (Whitney Version) plays with our tendency to project ourselves onto numbers and stokes our awareness that such counting often lays the groundwork for systematic acts of discrimination.”

Conceptual art can challenge the viewer in ways that strictly visual art does not. Still, it’s rewarding to see it through, even though it’s dependent on our patience in being willing to read about it.

Um, there may be one potential problem here —Service dog at the WhitneyWe went on to view the next floor, so can’t say what happened when dog met art. Hopefully, training prevailed.

Claim won the the Bucksbaum Award, which recognizes one artist from each Biennial exhibition. The Whitney will host a show of Pope.L’s work this fall.

What do you think of this exhibition?

More on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Unusual

The Whitney Biennial, 2017 (Catching up with the Past Weekly Photo Challenge: Reflecting)

Want to know what these people are looking at?  We’re in New York at the Whitney Biennial in March, and it’s hard to know whether to look up, down, out, or over.

Samara Golden - The Meat Grinder's Iron Clothes, 2017 Whitney Biennial, NYC

Samara Golden – The Meat Grinder’s Iron Clothes, 2017 Whitney Biennial, NYC

Here’s a view from the platform —

Samara Golden - The Meat Grinder's Iron Clothes, 2017 Whitney Biennial, NYC

Samara Golden – The Meat Grinder’s Iron Clothes, 2017 Whitney Biennial

You can tell this is a huge and site-specific installation, but even standing there in it, I couldn’t tell exactly how many floors were part of it and how many were illusions. The sky was down, or was it up? The traffic was up (and down) and the Hudson River was out (wasn’t it?). To each side were floors of sculpted interiors – with stratified layers of furniture, office, and institutional space, some nightmarish. Were they all even right-side up? I don’t think so.

Samara Golden - The Meat Grinder's Iron Clothes, 2017 Whitney Biennial

The clouds and the traffic, along with the occasional helicopter, provided movement. It was hypnotic. With so much going on, I didn’t take in the social commentary until I read about it. Not unusual, since I’m all about the visual when it comes to looking at art.

Like many recent exhibitions, this year’s Whitney Biennial was strong on social concerns. Suffice it to say that those layers were meant to provoke thoughts of social as well as visual stratification, referring to inequality and our political climate. I’ll share more images from this year’s exhibition in future posts.

How about it – do you look for the social implications or for the visual when you’re reflecting on art?

 

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Keeping Keys, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Collage

This challenge calls for a collection “found in the wild or assembled ourselves.” You could almost say I found this group of keys in the wild, since I found them when clearing out my house and it got a little wild around here, disorganization-wise. Every time I unpacked something and found a key, I added it to the box.

Most of these keys were Bob’s but a few were his father’s. I see Bob’s Celica key, and I’ll bet those Volkswagon keys were for all the beloved Karman Ghias that came before. I like the tiny key in the yellow box. It would be perfect for a charm bracelet.

Bob's keys

Bob’s keys — a multi-year collection. 

I have my own father’s key ring too. He used to hang it on a pocket of his over-alls. Growing up, I saw it on the corner of my parents’ dresser every night.

My father's Key ring

My father’s key ring

They’re old keys now, and some quite beautiful. There’s something so personal about keys, and just a sight of the key ring of a beloved parent or partner somehow slices away the years and brings the person closer.

I keep my own keys too — do you keep yours?

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Travel Like a Pig Enthusiast – Catching Up with a Past Weekly Photo Challenge: Wanderlust

My best travel tip? Always keep an open mind in trip-planning. Sometimes our favorite adventures are things we discover along the way.

On a Southwest Airlines flight to New York City in March, Sam opened the inflight magazine straight to the puzzle page and found this note from a previous passenger. I was charmed and took a photo, but didn’t know until later that there was serendipitous magic afoot, working to set a theme for our trip.

'Pig Enthusiast' note: Sudoku Page/ Southwest Airlines

Archie, pig enthusiast, wishes us a wonderful life. Thank you, Archie.

I didn’t think about this note again until the next day, when we got to the Guggenheim. Here’s what reminded me –

Paul Gauguin, Haere Mai - Detail (Guggenheim Museum, NYC)

Paul Gauguin, Haere Mai – 1891 – Detail (Guggenheim Museum, NYC)

What? Gaughin? Pigs? I must have seen this painting many times, but it was never so memorable before. Backing up for the long view –

Paul Gauguin, Haere Mai  (Guggenheim Museum, NYC)

Paul Gauguin, Haere Mai (Guggenheim Museum, NYC)

At the Metropolitan Museum show Age of Empires, Chinese Art from the Qin and Han Dynasties (221 B.C – A.D. 220) we found these ancient porkers–

Two Pigs - Western Han Dynasty (206 B.C – A.D. 9)

Two Pigs, Western Han Dynasty (206 B.C – A.D. 9). Stone pigs, symbolizing wealth, were placed in tombs in the hands of the dead.

The next pigs-in-show were photo bombed by a chicken –

Pair of Pigs - Western Han Dynasty

Pair of Pigs, Western Han Dynasty (206-B.C. – A.D. 9). Earthenware with pigment. Yangling Mausoleum.

While Sam worked the puzzle page during our flight, I was reading a New York Times review of an exhibition at the Onassis Cultural Center and Museum: A World of Emotions: Ancient Greece, 700 BC – 200 AD. We’d never been to Onassis Center, and made a note to go. Now it’s definitely on our list for future trips.

Not long after we walked in, we discovered that even classical antiquity could be home to serious pig-enthusiasm.

Funerary Stele for a Lovable Pig, Victim of a Traffic Accident, 2nd-3rd century AD, Marble, Edessa, site of Longos, Ephorate of Antiquities of Pella, AKA 1674. Photography Orestis Kourakis.

Funerary Stele for a Lovable Pig, Victim of a Traffic Accident, 2nd-3rd century AD, Marble, Edessa, site of Longos, Ephorate of Antiquities of Pella, AKA 1674. Photography Orestis Kourakis.

“Here lies the pig, beloved by all, a young quadruped.  I left the land of Dalmatia, when I was given as a gift. I reached Dyrrachion and yearned for Apollonian. I crossed every land with my own feet, alone undefeated. But now I have left the light because of the violence of wheels. I wished to see Emathie and the wagon of the phallus, but now here I rest, although I was too young to pay my tribute to death.”   Pella, Ephorate of Antiquities.

In the words of another (famous) pig enthusiast, this must have been “some pig”.

I was prepared for gods and mortals, love, anger, and courage, envy, and the range of human emotions we know throughout history and mythology. What I didn’t foresee were the many touching tributes to animals. Dogs, geese (“Aphrodite’s sacred bird and a symbol of weddings”), and of course, the lovable pig. It reminded me of how far we’re removed from nature in our modern lives.

Sam wondered if the pig had a name, and if so, whether it was lost to the centuries or part of the original inscription but not translated. For synchronicity’s sake, we’d like to think its name was ‘Archie’.

 

More on the past weekly photo challenge: Wanderlust

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Remodeling, Painting Paneling, and the Weekly photo Challenge: Delta

One of the biggest changes I made to this house started back in February, documented in this earlier post on remodeling (and chaos).  Here’s a “before” shot of the room behind the mysterious plastic drape in that post —

Dark Judges paneling - I called it the 'Morris Room'

Dark Judges paneling – I called it the ‘Morris Room’ and yes, I knew it was too cluttered, but never got around to styling the shelves before it was time to pack up.

Of course it’s nothing like a real (William) Morris Room, say the cafe at the V&A in London, but I can dream, can’t I?

The Real Morris Room Morris room, 1866 – 8. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London (from the V&A Museum website)

The Real Thing — Morris room, 1866 – 8. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London (photo from the V&A Museum website)

When we first moved in, Bob liked the dark paneling, and I didn’t mind it. Though I eventually came around to the idea of painting it to lighten the room, without help, I doubt I would have trusted anyone to do a good job on the painting. Now I’m indebted to my organizer/designer/Renaissance woman helper, Leigh, able to leap small buildings and boss around unruly contractors. Here’s the room on the way to getting emptied out.

Starting to pack up my "Morris Room"...

Starting to pack up my “Morris Room”…

The other side, with cut-out for the bar area

The other side, with the old cut-out for the bar area

Transition continues with painting, and the bar area gets enclosed —

Changes to the "Morris Room"

Changes to the “Morris Room” (I’m not a fan of the enclosure, but it’s done now).

Painting the "Morris Room"

Painting the “Morris Room” – almost ready for the floor.

Starting over in the Morris Room

Starting over …

Painted paneling - new Morris Room

Painted paneling, and restyling by Leigh – I suppose we shouldn’t keep calling it the “Morris Room”

Lighter, brighter, and with new cabinet hardware and an updated ceiling fixture…I’m hoping it’s enough to freshen up my vintage furniture.

There is one funny thing about all these changes. As each project gets completed, I feel a little thrill of recognition — as if somehow I knew all along this is what I would end up doing, and how it would turn out, even if I couldn’t have articulated it before. I’m hoping that means I’m on the right path.

How’d we do? Let me know what you think — about the room, that is, not about how I’m a day late on the Delta photo challenge.

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