16 July 2010
Yesterday I indulged in what my friend June termed an art date with myself. R. Crumb's Genesis drawings are on display at the Art Museum, and I wanted to hear what chief curator Bruce Guenther had to say about this icon of my misspent youth. He lectured for an hour, engagingly, before turning us loose in the exhibit. A little over a year ago, The New Yorker published an excerpt of Crumb's work; I happened to lay my iPhone on the opening page, floating in God's void.
Crumb spent five years researching and illustrating all 50 chapters of Genesis. Granted, a Bible chapter is, what, a few paragraphs at most? -- it was still a lot of material to absorb. I'd figured I'd cruise through and look at the drawings, maybe read a bit of the text when something caught my interest. But damned if the story didn't suck me in, even the begats, over and over again. Genesis is juicy material, and Crumb, (Mr.) naturally, illustrated some of the begettings. Of course, the book was for sale in the museum gift shop, but I didn't want to schlep it all over town and on public transportation (I'd taken the bus in). It is a must-purchase, though. My birthday's coming up; just saying.
A wall-size Sol LeWitt piece was in the final stages of installation in the main-floor sculpture gallery. It consists of six primary geometic shapes superimposed on each other in pairs, white on a black ground, in all possible permutations. Very simple, but it grabbed me in a cool, rational, satisfying way. What a totally different aesthetic, and intent, from R. Crumb.
As long as I was going to be downtown anyway, I'd made a Genius Bar appointment to have my iPhone, which has been hiccuping since I "upgraded" to OS4, diagnosed. I had a couple of hours to fill before then, and I was hungry (must have been all that begetting). Southpark, one of our favorite default downtown restaurants, is just down the street from the museum. It was a gorgeous day, and they had tables set up on the sidewalk. So I ordered lunch and spent an hour or so eating a tuna salad sandwich and reading the book I'd brought with me.
A California friend had emailed me about a local gallery show featuring the work of two artists she knew, so I walked down 9th, across Burnside, and a few more blocks to the venue. En route I saw this conceptual art installation. Only in Portland, I hope.
With a couple of exceptions, the paintings (small format watercolor abstracts) didn't engage me. The gallery next door, though -- this is in the Pearl District, which is art-scene central -- had an intriguing exhibit centered on the graphic representation of editing, literary analysis, cultural history, and classroom teaching. Highly conceptual, hard to explain, but it spoke to my English major/editor heart. Here's a link: pdxcontemporaryart.com/anna-gray-ryan-wilson-paulsen.
I still had some time before the rendezvous with my Genius, so I dropped into the Contemporary Craft Museum, where I've been a member since shortly after we moved to town. There's usually something intriguing on display. The current exhibit hadn't piqued my interest when I read about it in their newsletter, but in person it was provocative. The title of the show is Dropping the Urn; the artist, from Beijing, is Ai Weiwei (I'm trying to put out of my mind the declarative English sentence that sounds like). He takes centuries-old vases and urns and repaints them, or reproduces their form but with the decorative glaze on the inside, as if they'd been turned inside out, or -- literally iconoclastic -- drops and breaks them. Here's a writeup: www.museumofcontemporarycraft.org/exhibitions/index.php?f=2010_07_weiwei
Finally it was time to hit the Apple Store. I pawed iPads for a short while, and then handed my phone over to Kid Genius. He ran some diagnostics which revealed very little. His advice was to sync the phone (which also does a backup), then do a full reset, which wipes all data and restores the phone to virginity, and then sync to reinstall my data. This is not as scary as it sounds, but I was hoping to avoid having to fiddle with all my settings again; I'd done a Reset without Erase earlier. Of course, today Apple released version 4.0.1 of the software, which might have helped with my problems. "Minor bug fixes" indeed. We'll see.
I left the A-store, resisted checking out the sale at Chico's across the way, and was rewarded, up on the transit mall, with the almost immediate appearance of the 19 bus.
I really should take myself on art dates more often.