Thursday, October 15, 2009

Real is as real does

Photorealism is perhaps even more fun for me than realism in enjoying art. I recall my first and second shows of photorealism I saw in the U.T. art gallery in Austin during the last century. The first exhibit had every canvas containing some reference to aviation (as I recall, it was sponsored by an airline company). I was fascinated by one painting where there was an old, riveted and shiny-surfaced airplane, captured with all its reflections as in life. But the puddle below the wing of the plane (it was raining in the painting) captured the essence of a real rain puddle. It did not look like a painting of a puddle, but it looked exactly like I would see a real puddle. The difference is subtle but striking in the extreme.

The second show was even more wonderful...I recall three of the exhibited works from it like the show was yesterday: one was a canvas with a bright light shining from above the canvas from a wall-mounted lamp. The canvas was covered with painted droplets, each one captured in full, seeming three dimensions and the bright light from above was refracted in each droplet, just like the bright light above the canvas could have been expected to appear if the drops had been real.

The second work in this show was a 4x8' canvas that represented a piece of plywood, complete with grain, "boats" (the little replacement pieces shaped like boat bottoms to replace bad places in the thin sheets of wood that make up the surface of a piece of plywood), incidental drips of paint and wear places in the wood of the plywood. It was about as perfect as one could expect a painting to be. I loved it.

The third work in the show was a sculpture of a woman. This wasn't just any woman off the street: This woman had no clothing on. She was life-size, standing upright and relaxed with every pore and hair intact...right down to her eyelashes and arm hair. I would say that she attracted quite a crowd of folks who were intently trying to find some mistake on the artist's part and failing.

But this NPR photo blog piece on a modern photorealist artist, Ralph Goings, is about as good as it gets. It contains an interview with the artist on his reasons and thinking for doing what he does, and each of the eight paintings of his in the piece is preceded by the photo from his collection (he does his own photos to work from to produce the lifelike paintings) that inspired the canvas. After you see the blog piece, there is a link to small samples of the 40 years of his work on his own Web site.

Comments are welcomed.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Turkish "pass it on" music video

Friend (Joe Nation) sent this link along for enjoyment. I'll share it through my blog. It is definitely worth your listen, and it is similar to the music videos I've seen from folks playing folk music all across the U.S.A., one person playing a bit and seeming to pass it along to the next performer, but it is done in Turkey. Very nice, indeed!

Comments welcomed.

A line on energy use vs. property restrictions

I thought just about everyone was okay with saving energy by drying clothes on a simple line out in the yard vs. turning on a resistive heater and an electric motor to accomplish the same thing. Turns out I was wrong. This NYTimes article tells of fairly heated battles being waged over this simple and expedient effort that has been followed through most of human history as a daily or weekly ritual. What curious creatures we modern humans are!

A fellow electrical engineer and ham radio buddy says:
This article about restrictions on clothes lines reminds me of
restrictions against antennas, solar panels, power lines, cell phone
towers, boats in driveways, rusty Ford pickup trucks on cinder
blocks, and weeds in the front yard. Some people just don't
recognize the beauty in these things.
May we find our way through the tangled web of social pressures and elevated expectations to a plateau of sensible ways of leading our lives before we exhaust the ready energy we need to carry on modern civilization.

Comments welcomed.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Retreats are good

At the annual clergy spouse retreat for folks in that position from the Southwest Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church last weekend in Kerrville at the Mount Wesley Retreat Center, I again experienced one of those aha moments that stretched to most of the weekend. In the almost 14 years I've been attending the event, some years stand out in their closeness and cohesiveness...the sharing of attendees and ability of folks to see the world through the eyes of others in similar situations seems to be acute. This year was one of those times. "Rest -- Relax -- Renew" was the retreat theme.

For the last several years, the long trek to Kerrville (about 170 miles from our current home) has been assisted by podcasts played through the vehicle radio from a trusty MP3 player. I choose the podcasts for favorite musicians or interviewees in order to keep myself awake on the fairly boring trip. That part worked well, too.

The trip didn't start out well, as I discovered a rear tire was flat within a half block of the driveway (Note to self: Go back to checking the tires' pressure BEFORE a long trip.) after already being an hour late (Note to self: Go back to being completely packed the day before leaving for a long trip.) getting started on the journey.

On Saturday, I got to sing with a really talented guitar player/singer, reading lyrics from her one copy of them in a loose leaf notebook (I can NEVER remember lyrics to songs, so the notebook pages were very helpful). Besides the three musicians who accompanied us during the retreat, singing hymns both old and new, she pulled out some old 60's and 70's pop music pieces that were SO FUN to sing!

In between rain showers, I got to throw Frisbees with a total novice. I surely got my exercise for the day, but with careful tutelage, he certainly was throwing much better by the end of the experience. We had quite a bit more unfocused time at this year's retreat: time to sing if we wanted to, play games if we wanted to, take walks up to the top of the hill and spend time up there with nature and the big cross. The rain cooled things down so outside wasn't an oven. That surely doesn't always happen!

Sunday morning's worship service was so free and easy that I will remember it for some time. The birds outside the open windows of the little chapel on the retreat center grounds added measurably to our voices and thoughts. The stained glass windows seemed to be crying out to us through their subject matter and images to honor World Communion Sunday. We shared Communion and sang our final songs of the occasion, happy that this ceremony sealed the end of our weekend together.

We had a unofficial, final, Dutch treat meal at a local gigantic Mexican food restaurant with about two-thirds of the retreat folks present. I took the opportunity to load up on coffee for the trip home and tried hard not to eat too much to ward off the sleepy feeling while driving just after a meal. All went well on the way home, which is to say that it was singularly uneventful. I enjoyed the music from NPR's "Mountain Stage", listening on the final leg of the trip to Arlo Guthrie and the Guthrie Family (which included his son, daughter, and son-in-law) singing stuff by Arlo's dad, Woody Guthrie, and newer material, too.

I pulled in the driveway of the parsonage, fulfilled, happy, and so ready to be home.