Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Arting About

 I'm always fascinated by graffiti when I travel.  I think it gives you an other way into the local culture - OK subculture then.  I'm going to add a new category to the Flickr site just for graffiti that I've snapped across the US and in Europe.  This was across the street from the Portland Museum of Art.

One of the wonderful things about the Museum is that they show French Films!  We were torn as it was a film we had never seen before, but the siren call of visual art pulled us through the first floor which was primarily more "classical" works of the 18th Century including some decent John Singer Sargents as well as one truly wonderful Winslow Homer seascape.  Homer lived in nearby Prouts Point (a bit south) for the last 20 years of his life.

In the modern collection they had a stellar Anselm Kiefer  painting which literally took my breath away (you'll find it on the Flickr site) and about one of all the masters of the 20th Century.  They also had a section for Maine artists from 18th  century onward and in the lobby a monumental installation by a contemporary Maine artist - Anna Hepler.  The top floor of the museum was also dedicated to her work.

The other truly fascinating exhibit was a photography called Debating Modern Photography: The Triumph of Group f/64.  It was a visual look at a split in the early days of the art form from a style that attempts to evoke painting in a way (which we still see today) to a style that emphasizes the more technical achievements.   All the big time names of the 20th century and some of the more obscure photographers of whom I was not aware.  the f/64 in the title refers to the f stop (aperture opening) that allows the greatest depth of field to be in focus.

What amused me a bit was thinking of the Santa Fe Photo Workshop I did with Elizabeth Opalenik where she was trying to teach the others how to step away from that purely technical stance and create more expressionistic work.  I have always done that naturally and I was there to hone my technical skills which amazingly I did!  

But I digress and we return to our regular programming -  back to the Group f/64 show where I saw one amazing photograph by William Mortensen who died in 1965.  It was a nude of his wife that he manipulated in the dark room to look like a statue missing a head and arms.    In the accompanying ID card the curator writes that Mortensen thought that the negative was only the starting place in image making.  Hmmm, sounds rather like digital art doesn't it?  I'll bet you dollars to donuts that if he were alive today he would be a big proponent of digital art and Photoshop.

After the museum, we drove around Portland's different neighborhoods to get a feel for them.  For dinner that night we were both craving Italian food - but the restaurant we picked out (Maria's) wasn't open.  So we trolled downtown a bit and found Walter's - which was terrific.  Another upscale dinning experience with a focus on the local bounty of Maine which would give places in any major city a run for their money!

Post a Comment