Friday Night Lights

Once or twice a year my brother Chris and I have a brother/sister “date night”. We don’t do it nearly as much as we should, but when we do we always have a terrific time. Chris and I are super close and enjoy each other’s company. We’ve always gotten along extremely well. Last Friday night we attended the New York Philharmonic concert at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall. The program was first rate. I’m going to share it here for “Music Monday”:

Glinka, Overture to Russian and Ludmilla

Tchaikovsky, Violin Concerto in D Major

Debussy, Nocturnes, “Clouds”, “Festivals”, “Sirens”

Stravinsky, Suite from The Firebird

Chris and I, both huge Stravinsky fans, were there mainly for The Firebird, which is as stunning and dazzling as a musical composition can be. I always feel sorry for the orchestra during that piece because some of those parts are really hard to play. The brass section definitely has its work cut out for it! Gotta love loud trumpets :-)

Lincoln Center was looking gorgeous on Friday. It was a cold night but that didn’t deter people from milling around the Plaza outside to marvel at the fountain. Here’s a picture I took, with frostbitten hands, just a few minutes before Chris and I went inside:

Yesterday I sent out an email to literally my entire address book. Now I’d like to make the same announcement here to my blog readers. The December issue of ARTNews magazine, now available on newsstands, features an article titled “Nothing Like the Real Thing”. Wonderfully written by Gail Gregg, it explores the growing popularity of artists working from life models. I did a phone interview with Gail a couple of months ago and am quoted in the article. Other models are quoted too, along with artists such as Philip Pearlstein, Sigmund Abeles, and my friend Daniel Maidman. And check this out: “Museworthy” is mentioned in the article by name. How cool is that? It’s the first time Museworthy is referenced in a print publication, so it makes me feel pretty good :-) Wait, it gets better. Jean Marcellino’s pastel drawing of me from this blog post, appears on page 71 of the ARTnews article. Yay! So if any of you find yourself in a Borders or Barnes and Noble, head on over to the Art section of the magazines and pick up a copy. The article is a great read on a topic very near and dear to my heart.

Gratitude

Greetings on Thanksgiving morning :-)  Cold and cloudy here in New York, but hearts are warm and buoyant. I’m heading up to Pelham in a little while for Thanksgiving gathering at my Aunt Iris’ house. Looking forward to it!

So we give thanks today even though we really should give thanks every single day of the year. To me, the act of giving thanks is a priority-straightener. Therein lies the value of this annual Thanksgiving ritual. It’s our reminder that those petty, unimportant things are just that – petty and unimportant. And we learn, hopefully, that joys are to be found quite literally everywhere, all the time, every moment of the day, in a multitude of forms. It is a crime to take such things for granted. I sit here writing to my blog audience for which I am grateful. And my close, loving family – there are no words to convey my gratitude for such exceptional people. I’m also eating an incredibly sweet and juicy clementine orange which deserves a smidgen of thanks. A good one is not so easy to find!

And then there’s Prince the cat who is, at this very moment, staring at me from the side stoop. Although he doesn’t know it, his big green eyes and full-throated meows make me smile every morning before I head out for a hectic, tiring day in the city. Thanks to Prince!

Most of all, at this stage of my life, I am grateful for my art modeling career and the amazing friends I’ve made through this rewarding and inspiring work. They have come to mean a great deal to me, in more ways than they know.

Here I am, drawn by one of those special friends. From Fred Hatt, created at Figureworks Gallery:

A very happy Thanksgiving to everyone. I’ll see you all soon!

Peace and blessings . . .

Claudia :-)

Forward Thinking

Thanksgiving week is upon us. I can’t believe it! Seems like I was just spending summer vacation in Miami and Cape Cod and now the holiday lights are strewn over Fifth Avenue and Christmas decorations are popping up all over the city.

First I want to share this really cool art item. The actor Robert De Niro, a native New Yorker, has established a new painting prize to honor the legacy of his father, Robert De Niro Sr., an abstract expressionist artist who died in 1993. Such a nice thing to do. Read the article here. Artists, get your submissions ready!

Also, I uploaded a new photo set on my Flickr page last night. They are pictures I took at the Blessing of the Animals ceremony held at All Souls Unitarian Church. Check it out for some adorable kids, cats and dogs :-)

In the comments section of the last post I mentioned my interest in starting a second blog on Tumblr. Well, I thought about it over the weekend and it’s definitely a go! I’ve just been feeling this impulse to expand, share, and show – as if I don’t do it enough already! Museworthy will not change. I’m going to use the Tumblr blog as a platform for me to just post random fun and interesting stuff with minimal text. My extended writing and art modeling will always stay here on Museworthy where it belongs. I haven’t started the Tumblr blog yet but when I do I will announce it here. I do, however, have ideas for this blog that I think will be fun for everyone. I really want to make a video, and I’ll probably have to enlist the help of my friend Fred Hatt for that one.

Let’s do a “Music Monday” with the Swedish artist Carl Larsson. After enduring a terribly unhappy childhood of poverty, hardship, and a drunk, abusive father, Larsson finally found contentment through art and domesticity. Larsson married Karin Bergoo in 1882 and they went on to have eight children. Larsson’s devotion to his happy family life is reflected in his work, which prominently feature his children as models and his lovely home as interior.

Carl Larsson painted his young daughter Brita practicing her music in this work Brita at the Piano from 1908. As I looked at this painting I wondered what other painting it reminded me of. Then it hit me; the Matisse work that appears last in this earlier Museworthy post. Although very different styles of art, the similarities are  quite interesting – the green color, the black music rack, even the perspective and subject matter.

Antisocial Network

So I was thisclose to joining Facebook. Honestly, truly, swear to god. It was right on the verge of happening, the result of me finally caving in to increased pressure from friends and acquaintances. But that’s ok. That’s not the problem. The problem is that on the VERY DAY I had planned to do my Facebook signup, this troubling story about the social networking site was plastered all over the web. Excuse me, but what kind of creepy, bumbling, suspicious, Orwellian crap is this? Asking for government-issued photo IDs? Phishing emails? Bugs? Hacking? Unresponsive customer service? And only women’s accounts?? Fuck outta here with that shit.

I have harbored trepidations about joining Facebook for a long time. Now, just as my attitude had finally swung in favor of getting on the Facebook bandwagon, all this recent bad PR has swung my pendulum back against it, this time for good I’m afraid. Do not want. Do. Not. Want.

Eh. I’m over it. I apologize to my friends who were prodding me. I recognize that they were doing so with the best of intentions and I feel bad disappointing them. But Facebook just rubs me the wrong way. The dubious privacy issues, the data mining, and the Mark Zuckerberg douche factor are too repellent.

If you are reading this post right now then you are on Museworthy. And Museworthy is my teensy little corner of the internet. I love it here. This is all I need. I simply don’t have that void that requires filling by Facebook. If I want to communicate with my friends I call them or email them or text them. What’s the big deal? And if my friends want to know what’s going on with me and my life, they can call or email me. They can also come right here to Museworthy. Now I ask you, isn’t this a much nicer place than Facebook? :-)

A Finished Creation

This post is a little overdue but worth the wait I’m sure. Back in September I posted about Daniel Maidman’s work-in-progress from our private modeling sessions. The painting is now finished and I’m so delighted to post it here. When I see myself as the subject of an imaginative, intelligent, vibrant and striking artwork such as this, I am reminded of how lucky I am to be an artist’s model. Being hired and paid to do this, and work with amazing people like Daniel, is a uniquely gratifying and groovy existence. It never, ever, ever gets old. How can it when there is always another artistic vision and interpretation yearning to be created?

Visit Daniel’s blog post on this work to see the final painting next to his initial thumbnail sketch.

Here I am, like a fertility goddess, in Daniel Maidman’s Living Things Came From Her, oil on canvas, 60″x40″:


Life and Rock

Hi everyone! Did you all have a good weekend? Mine was okay. I worked through most of it. Art modeling has been super busy the past couple of months which is great. No complaints!

I have a lot of cool things planned for Museworthy that I’m really excited about plus some other upcoming announcements, so stay tuned. Good times kids, good times!

I posed at Spring Studio today and now I’m feeling the dreaded beginnings of a toothache, so it looks like I’ll have to schedule a dentist appointment very soon. Ugh. I fear the worst. But right now I’m going to chill out, make some garlic potatoes, and watch “Dancing With the Stars” in a little while <— yes, I know. I’m sorry :oops:

I’ll leave you with a video for “Music Monday”. This is one of my favorite women of rock – Akron, Ohio native Chrissie Hynde, performing “My City Was Gone” with the Pretenders in 2009. I’ll see you all in a day or two. Enjoy!

Raising the Dead

I was five years old the first time I saw a dead person. It was at my great-grandfather’s funeral. I remember staring at his body in the casket and feeling momentarily confused by what I saw. He looked much smaller than normal, sallow, waxy, and “off” in a peculiar, unsettling way. I don’t know if it’s the embalming fluids or just death itself, but corpses are strangely generic, nonrepresentational things. None of my great-grandfather’s life story (it was an extraordinary one) could be gleaned from the sight of him lying there, a shriveled up old man in the funeral parlor. But this is the way we have come to observe our dead in the modern era; chemically treated cadavers, lying in wooden boxes, removed completely out of the context of their lives, surrounded by bad wallpaper and cheap carpeting in stale smelling windowless rooms, viewed in shifts from 3-5 and 6-8.

I adamantly refused to see my father in death. My mother, my brother and I agreed not to have an open casket at his funeral. So I never saw him in that state, not even once. Not at the hospital, not at the morgue, not at the funeral home. To this day I don’t regret that decision.

But death is – forgive the cliche – a part of life. It undeniably is. The final phase of our “journey”, death is arguably our most profound moment. We fear it, of course. I know I do. If only all our deaths could be immortalized in a great work of art, at the hand of a great painter. Perhaps then we could at least take comfort in knowing that our last moments – the culmination of our time on earth- would be rendered for eternity and given a respectable, meaningful treatment.

Art does an excellent job of capturing the essence and magnitude of death. Whether the circumstances are tragic, violent, pitiful, serene, or righteous, death as expressed through art gives us the stories, the biographies and, in some cases, the moral lessons that accompany the end of a human life. Artists depict these events with the gravity and pathos they appropriately deserve, sometimes with empathy, other times with detachment.

I had a hard time selecting images for this post. There were so many to choose from, works that were both familiar and unfamiliar. But there was one painting that I knew for sure I would use from the get-go. If I were to make a list of my top ten favorite paintings of all time, this one would be on it easily. It’s Jacques-Louis David’s French Revolution masterpiece The Death of Marat. Jean-Paul Marat was a radical, outspoken journalist and Jacobin loyalist who became embroiled in the political ferment of his day. He was stabbed and murdered in his bathtub by Charlotte Corday, member of an opposing political faction battling for control of the Republic.

One of the bloodiest, most violent periods in human history, the French Revolution inspired plenty of art. It was a time of turbulent complex politics, assassinations, suspicions and retributions. This painting by David summarizes the whole affair perfectly with just one stark scene and one dead figure. David’s painting is as cold as cold-blooded murder itself, and he brings the viewer into what feels like just moments after the crime was committed, to witness the brutal end of a political player who naively thought he was safe in his own bathtub. This painting is incredibly powerful, dramatic and arresting. Notice that Marat still holds the pen and notes in his hands, a journalist right to the end.

From 1793, Jacques-Louis David’s The Death of Marat:

The English poet Thomas Chatterton died at the young age of 17. He was discovered in the attic of his residence after having ingested large amounts of arsenic. It is unknown whether Chatterton purposely took his own life or whether he was taking the arsenic to cure himself of venereal disease and and accidentally overdosed. Henry Wallis painted a scene of the poet’s tragic, premature death in his 1856 painting The Death of Chatterton:

No blog post about death-themed art would be complete without a Caravaggio. In this work, Death of the Virgin, he depicts not the “assumption” of Mary according to church doctrine, but her actual death in a naturalistic style. Caravaggio brilliantly communicates the sorrow of the grief-stricken mourners by keeping their faces hidden. The sitting figure in the front is particularly effective. Go to the Louvre to see this magnificent life-sized work before your eyes:

The suicide of Picasso’s best friend Carlos Casagemas triggered the artist’s famous “Blue Period” in the early 1900s. Picasso’s most significant work resulting from the tragedy was the enigmatic La Vie, but he also expressed his grief in this mournful, sensitive painting of his friend in death.

Death of Casagemas from 1901:

This image must be enlarged to fully appreciate. It is Jean-Léon Gérôme’s The Death of Caesar, and it’s truly amazing. A critic once said that if photography existed in Caesar’s day, this painting depicts what would have been the exact scene if captured by camera just minutes after the murder. The whole narrative has seemingly just played out before our eyes. The victorious conspirators cheer and cavort in the background, and there’s Caesar lying dead on the floor in the foreground, brought down through one of the worst acts imaginable – betrayal. I really like the knocked-over chair, such an effective detail:

Cleopatra knew how to achieve her death in true theatrical fashion. She allegedly allowed herself to die of poisonous snakebites, having the creatures brought to her in a basket of figs. Her two loyal servants repeated the action and died along with their queen.

The Death of Cleopatra by Jean Andre Rixens, 1874:

Here’s another phony, staged Manet painting. Although it doesn’t even attempt to portray authenticity, many people like it. You know, because it’s Manet, and everything he does must be worshipped.

The Dead Toreador from 1864:

Lawrence Alma-Tadema’s Death of the Pharaoh’s Firstborn Son depicts the story from the Book of Exodus. This is an intricate painting with a lot of detail. We feel the grief of the servants and the mother, overcome with anguish, hunched over the boy’s dead body. But the Pharaoh himself appears unmoved. Perhaps he knew he was beaten and ready to submit to God’s will. There are just so many plagues one can take.

We conclude with a work by the Swiss painter Ferdinand Hodler. No intrigue here, no violence, no elaborate backstory or spectacle. Just an informal painting from 1915 entitled simply Death. Still, it portrays the final passage as effectively, if not better, than the others. Hodler documented the illness, suffering, and disintegration of his beloved mistress Valentine Gode-Darel. Here she seems very much at peace – alone, comfortable, and ready to fly:

Music At 400

Before I get to “Music Monday”, I want to ask if anyone happened to watch “Great Migrations” on the National Geographic channel last night? And if so, were you as blown away by it as I was? Oh man. It was absolutely incredible. I’m a nature show geek anyway, but this one was so stunning, so moving and utterly fascinating I was thinking about it all day at work today. Couldn’t get it out of my mind -the monarch butterflies, the sperm whales, and those crabs! Wow. Just wow. The most powerful and dramatic segment, I thought, was the wildebeests crossing the river. For those of you who missed it, you can check it out at the NatGeo website.

It turns out that this is Museworthy’s 400th post! Cool. I didn’t even notice it until recently, so I haven’t planned any special commemoration. I think just the fact that I have the capacity to babble on and on and on for 400 blog posts speaks for itself :lol:

So rather than try to be clever or cute, I’m just going to post a music-themed painting I like and accompany it with an audio file of music for which I have a deep fondness.

This is Arcadia by American artist Henry Siddons Mowbray. Lovely ladies, lovely instruments, and lovely composition. Loveliness all around!

And this, my friends, is possibly the most beautiful piece of symphonic music ever composed in my opinion. It is the luscious, poignant, exquisitely-crafted third movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, “Adagio Molto E Cantible”. It swirls and rises, gets elegantly tangled and untangled. It has always, to me, sounded like love. It’s 16 minutes long, but I hope you all give it a listen. Here’s to 400 blog posts! :pops champagne:

Radical Acceptance: The Breast Portrait Project

In a culture that bombards us with unnatural, ridiculously airbrushed and Photoshopped female body images on magazine covers and billboards, it’s refreshing to see realistic portrayals of what we women really look like. It’s more than just refreshing. It’s liberating and triumphant, empathetic and compelling.

I am immensely proud of my dear friend Clarity Haynes, a Brooklyn-based artist, and her ambitious art venture called “The Breast Portrait Project”. Her upcoming solo exhibition at Tabla Rasa Gallery in February is an event I’m really looking forward to. I am one of Clarity’s models, but her painting of my torso is not quite finished yet. One or two more sessions should do it.

The video linked below is directed by Martha Shane. It is wonderfully done, very inspiring, and Clarity speaks so eloquently about her vision. I don’t appear in this video, but several of Clarity’s other extraordinary models can be seen – women of all shapes, sizes, ages, and colors, some the indomitable survivors of mastectomies and other surgeries. I am most struck by the demeanors and expressions of the models. Observe and you will see them brimming with confidence, contentment, smiles, and dignity. They are glowing in their natural physical selves.

The video embed I had posted previously wasn’t working properly. So instead watch it here:

Radical Acceptance: The Breast Portrait Project by Clarity Haynes – Kickstarter

Also check out “The Breast Portrait Project” on Facebook. Go Clarity! :-)


Comparative Anatomy

Well, hello there! I’m back, babies! Did you miss me?? I definitely missed you. I see that I last posted on Friday night, and I can honestly say I have barely any recollection of doing it. That’s how stressed out, muddled, and tired I was. By the way, my Mom’s birthday party was terrific! Other than my rice dish getting overcooked and clumpy from my having added one too many cups of water (stupid me), the night went off without a hitch, and a buoyant time was had by all :-)

What I do remember vividly from the previous post is the sore feet. That sucked. My feet are small and on the dainty side, which I assume makes me prone to sore feet. They are rather wimpy in the strength department. I need an on-call reflexologist. How cool would that be? Nightly foot massages . . .  aaaaah.

Minerva Durham gives fantastic anatomy lectures over at Spring Studio during the model breaks. Of all the people I know in the art community, I can honestly say that no one knows anatomy as expertly and flawlessly as Minerva. When I arrived at Spring Studio a couple of weeks ago to pose for the Saturday afternoon session, I saw one of Minerva’s lecture drawings from the morning session lying next to the model platform. My friend Kathi and I noticed it at the same time and we said, almost simultaneously, “nice foot!”. Minerva draws human anatomy as she lectures – fast, freehand, and accurate. And she draws it upside down. She positions the pad on her lap so the group can see what she’s doing and draws upside down without ever turning it right side up to check it. Minerva doesn’t have to. Anatomy is a passion for her, as it should be for every figurative artist.

So I took a picture of Minerva’s cool foot drawing which she probably did in three or four minutes:

Minerva frequently references Henry Gray during her lectures. Yes, THE Henry Gray of Gray’s Anatomy. I’ve been thinking about the blog a lot lately and have decided to do more posts on human anatomy, I hope you all don’t mind that idea. I think we’ll have a lot of fun with it and hopefully deepen our knowledge on the topic. I’m sure I will. Here’s a foot from Gray’s Anatomy. Is it wrong to say I like Minerva’s better?