Week in Review: Holidays Edition

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I’ve felt rushed all week with busy prep for the holidays: gift-making and wrapping, trips to the post office, and then the office party smack in the middle of Saturday, making the day useless for much else. I really don’t like the holidays, but this year hasn’t been bad so far. Even the dark days of December aren’t bothering me like they usually do. Maybe I’m too busy. I’d say the real source of hassle this year has been getting health insurance, now that the place I work has dropped coverage for us. For me, it’s limitation and expense, but for some friends of mine, the decision is almost impossible. I’m sure management felt they had no choice in the decision they made, just as I imagine that our president thought this plan of his was a  boon to all humankind. But as a human who works full-time in the lower-middle income bracket, and who happens to be over 50, it’s a racket and nothing else. Here’s hoping that next year this time, the humankind benefiting from this health insurance menace will include working people like me and my associates. End rant.

But I drew a lot. I got into the work of Alex Eben Meyer (illustrator) and Kathy J. Lui (student/ artist/ filmmaker), stopped into the Carnegie Art Museum after work on Thursday to wander and draw, found people asleep in the lobby or too busy looking at art to realize I was drawing them. A drawing I bought online arrived–it’s beautiful and I’ll write about it soon. Meanwhile, another weekend goes by with only little offhand drawings. I want the time to draw something bigger, more ambitious, but it doesn’t happen. How did I do it last year? Because I did. This may require some thought…


Week in Review

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Another week…a warm, slow autumn finally turning brisk and hinting at snow… the perks of working beside the Art Institute’s Culinary School restaurant… pan-seared scallops in white wine butter sauce with spinach, tender flavorful perfection at fast-food prices… Thursday night at the Carnegie Museum of Art, sketching and enjoying the massive Duane Michals photography show… a bit of drawing here and there, more desire than time. Still, I’m pleased with what I accomplished.



Sketching Art at the Carnegie Museum

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What a glorious day! As I mentioned before, a friend turned me on to Jason Polan’s work, which inspired me to get to my local art museum to draw everything! The Carnegie Museum of Art has a great collection, and for a smaller city puts on a lot of quality shows. It’s worth visiting if you travel to Pittsburgh. I saw so much on Sunday, did tons of sketching, but didn’t do half of what I wanted to. There’s only so much you can do in 4 hours, but realistic expectations are not my strong point. Man, I wanted to go back again the next day….but work called. The Small Prints, Big Artists show was a knock out. Scores of engravings, woodcuts, etchings and drypoints by the greats of the Renaissance and  Baroque, very intelligently arranged, with commentary that even a jaded art historian (me) found insightful. Looking at an early Dürer in which one could see the imperfections in his technique, figuration and composition brought tears to my eyes. It’s not that I want to see weakness in the mighty, not at all, but it was such a hopeful thing to realize he did not burst from the skull of Zeus fully-formed as an artist. The stages in his development were illustrated, Rembrandt’s technique and innovations were explained…long familiar images became exciting, at least half because I have never seen these images in person, seen how large, or how small they were, to see the micro-chip like detailing these men did. It was genuinely awe-some.

I also wandered through the very interesting Faked, Forgotten, Founda detective tale about three Renaissance paintings, and enjoyed the small show called Architectural Explorations. I especially loved the Lebbeus Woods drawings and a sort of palimpsest of tracing paper sketches from Desmone Associates, a firm here in town. I didn’t sketch in either, but I wouldn’t mind sketching in the architecture show. There was great stuff in there.

I think the most important things to me though was the notion of drawing everything, which meant standing still in front of things I would normally walk past or glance at quickly and forget and try to see them well enough to capture them. I became quite fond of objects I’m sure would never have penetrated otherwise. I’m looking forward to returning to carry on with this project, to find what other treasures are hidden in plain sight.