It’s official. Memorial Day weekend is almost over which means, SUMMER BABY!!! Woo hoo!! I don’t know about the rest of you, but I am totally ready. I am a summer person – a beach person, a skimpy shorts and tank top wearing, barefooted, cool lemonade drinking, sunbathing, and long bike riding kind of person.
Of course it won’t be all fun in the sun. I have summer art modeling jobs already booked for both June and July, which is great since this is normally a slow time of year for work. Glad to have all summer gigs. I also have great ideas for the blog that I look forward to sharing with all of you. So stay tuned, keep visiting, commenting, laughing, enjoying – all that good stuff. My friends, the Museworthy summer has arrived
Let’s have a little “Music Monday” with the terrific young British singer Adele. I like this girl. Here she is performing “Right As Rain” on Live with Jools Holland.
Some visitors on the north shore of Queens this afternoon. It’s always nice when these swan pairs stop by
I love the reflections in this one:
My heart goes out to the people of Joplin, Missouri and all the surrounding areas that were ravaged by the tornadoes. I saw the pictures on TV and the devastation is absolutely unreal. Those folks are terribly traumatized and I feel for them. Between the missing loved ones and the loss of homes, property, I hope they find the strength to cope and recover from an ordeal of such magnitude. I had my own experience with a tornado last September, but it hardly compares to what’s happened in the American south and midwest in recent weeks.
Recently I was in the presence of two artists having a conversation. One of them was expressing the difficulty and frustration she has when painting hands. The other artist immediately chimed in, “I always charge extra for hands. Always”. She was referring to her steady work doing commissioned portraits. Now I’m not an artist but am well aware that hands are tough. I hear it all the time. However, that remark didn’t sit right with me for some reason. She charges extra for hands? Really? Is that a common practice among artists doing commissioned work?
Given the context of the conversation, the artist was presumably charging extra for hands because they are difficult, time-consuming, and require exacting skill to get them just right. I don’t begrudge anyone their right to sell their services at the fee of their choosing. That’s the nature of the free market and it’s perfectly fine. But is it wrong to assume that some things fall within the normal expectations that come with the job? Is it unreasonable to expect that a professional artist CAN paint hands? I don’t think so. And if they can’t, or if they struggle with it, then isn’t that a deficiency on their part? Why should a client be charged extra because the artist is – sorry to put it this way – lacking skill? Or perhaps lazy? As I see it, we freelancers should be grateful to have any and all clients, especially in this economy. It doesn’t seem right to nickel and dime the people who are giving us work.
I of course thought about this from an art model’s point of view. For example, we do not get paid more for doing standing poses. It would be nice, but it doesn’t happen. If an art school pays models, say, $20 per hour, we are expected to perform whatever modeling is asked of us, and that $20 is not increased according to the physical exertion of the poses. But it’s ok, because there is nothing unreasonable in asking a professional art model to stand for long poses. Sure it can be tiring, but that’s the job. One of the hardest poses I ever did was this one at the New York Academy of Art. I would literally limp out of the building after that class. But I never went upstairs to the model coordinator’s office to demand extra pay for my throbbing hip. Even in a private assignment, where the model sets his or her pay rate, I would still never charge extra for “difficulty”. It just wouldn’t feel right to me. But then again, maybe the extra charge hand artist is right and I’m wrong? Maybe I undercharge my art modeling services in terms of fee/effort ratio. I don’t know, I’m terrible at that stuff.
Here are some beautifully expressive hands by Artemisia Gentileschi in Penitent Magdalene:
Whether the “extra charge” artist is justified in her commission fees, the fact remains that hands for artists are a challenge indeed. There is often foreshortening involved when the fingers are curled or bent in any way, and the complex anatomical structure, proportions, and joints demand a well-honed technique to look right. We’ve all seen badly painted hands. They can, unfortunately, ruin an otherwise good painting.
Drawing Hands, lithograph by MC Escher. The detail here is amazing, right down to the folds of skin on the knuckles:
Ok, maybe these hands would justify an extra charge. They look like they were tricky to paint. This is Helen of Troy by Dante Gabriel Rossetti:
I guess what I’m trying to say is that if you advertise yourself or market yourself as a “professional” in a given field, your ability- and willingness- to perform your services should be implicit, shouldn’t it? An unusual request that is out of the ordinary might be a different story, and special rates would be agreed upon in those cases. But I don’t think this hand extra charge falls into that category. Maybe the artists out there can shed light on this issue because this could be standard practice in the commissioned art scene for all I know. Ah, whatever. Maybe I’m just being a pain in the ass and making a mountain out of a molehill. So I’ll conclude this post with a guy who clearly wasn’t intimidated by hands. I wonder if he charged extra?
So what’s all this I hear about the world coming to an end tomorrow? Personally, I find the timing of this rather inconvenient. I have a hair salon appointment in a couple of weeks and two DVDs I haven’t watched yet. So, um, no. No to Armageddon
But if the world does end on Saturday then that means today was our last full living day on earth. And what did I do? I woke up, ate a banana, took a shower, and rode the number 3 subway to Brooklyn Heights for a private art modeling job. I bought a truly awful cup of coffee from a shitty deli but drank it anyway. I opened up my umbrella when it started to rain. I gave directions to some woman who couldn’t find Henry Street. I took the battery out of my Blackberry and rebooted because it froze up. I was rudely shoved on the stairs in Penn Station during the afternoon commuter madness. I rode the train back to Queens, stopped off at the grocery store to buy onions and peppers, and came home. That’s my last freaking day. Except for the art modeling session which went great, the rest of it is pretty lame. Lamer than usual in fact.
So now I’m thinking about how I would spend my last day on earth if I could design it to my liking, Hmm . . . it’s tough! I’m really stumped. What would you do?
Helloo, hellooooo! Hope everyone had a good weekend. Here in NYC, the rains are a’comin. Right now it’s misty, gauzy, and soft, and I love how the birds don’t give a damn. They’re flying around outside my window, chirping, singing, have a grand old time. A loud, squawking blue jay is sitting on a branch acting like he’s all that, “Yeah, I’m colorful. What are ya gonna do about it, bitch?”
I thought I’d share two funny Michelangelo-related stories. 500 years after his death and he still inspires people, to an obsessive degree in some cases. A man in Abilene, Texas has caused a minor uproar by installing a replica of “David” on his front lawn, The neighbors are none too amused. Penises make people crazy Another guy, in the UK, has painted his home to recreate the Sistine Chapel. For some reason he used the face of British comedian Russell Brand for the image of Jesus. Is it just me or is that a little disturbing?
Let’s have a little music for “Music Monday” and start the week off right. This is a great track that I reblogged recently on my Tumblr. It’s Nina Simone singing “In The Dark”from the 1967 album Nina Simone Sings the Blues. Incredible vocals, and sexy lyrics – “In the dark, it’s just you and I . . .”
With all the major events going on the world lately I have been tempted to address some of them here on the blog. I even started writing a couple of posts in which I discuss issues and express my opinion. But those posts remain as unpublished drafts. This isn’t a political blog and people don’t visit Museworthy for that stuff. I am very well aware of that. I also just assume that no one really cares what my political views are! I am absolutely certain no one is losing a wink of sleep thinking, “I wonder what Claudia’s position is on abortion?”. I just want everyone to understand that I care deeply about the world and I follow the news closely. So please know that I DO have opinions. Some fairly strong ones too. And they fall variously across the entire spectrum. I’m an “independent”, for lack of a better word.
However, I would like to get just one thing off my chest that has really, really started to irritate me the past few months. Folks, this liberal PC speech police thing has to stop. Seriously. It’s gotten completely out of hand. You can’t just carelessly hurl the words “bigot”, “hate”, and “ignorant” at people who merely disagree with you. That’s just nuts. If you’ve ever known a true BIGOT, as I have, you would know that to call someone that is an extremely serious assault on that person’s character if it’s not accurate. Liberals claim to stand up for “tolerance” but then engage in these fascist, name-calling tactics toward dissenting views. I’m sorry, but if you’re intellectually incapable of making the distinction between reasoned, thoughtful opinions that differ from yours, and “hate”, then you really need to work on your critical thinking skills instead of reflexively frothing at the mouth like a paranoid bully whenever you hear something that doesn’t fall in line with your rigid agenda. I am in no way denying the existence of real hate and bigotry in the world. I’m merely saying that we should recognize it where it truly exists, not where we simply perceive it to exist as dictated by our politics and visceral responses.
I just can’t handle this sanctimonious, self-righteous liberal attitude anymore, especially since I have considered myself a liberal on several issues. But these days, every time I talk to a liberal, listen to a liberal commentator on TV, or read a blog or column written by a liberal journalist, I feel like I’m being lectured, or scolded, or arrogantly told that I need to “get educated”. To that I say: kindly go fuck yourself. I’m plenty educated, thank you very much. Stop trying to “correct” me or intimidate me or accuse me of being “phobic” or “ignorant”. I am NOT ignorant. That is a really uncalled for personal insult. And the only “phobia” I have is of small, confined, enclosed spaces. That gives me the creeps
Ok, I’m done. Rant over. Let’s move on to the usual Museworthy business of art and pretty pictures. Just a few of my Metropolitan Museum photos that I’ve been meaning to post. Here are two of the Greek and Roman Gallery fountain with shiny, shimmery coins. I wonder if any of those wishes came true?
A fountain of a different sort, this is The Nymph of Danpierre, by Louis-Claude Vasse. Marble, dated 1763:
Visitors to the Met, in their excitement to see the famous paintings and sculpture, tend to blow off the artifacts and pottery displays. Or just give them a cursory look. But this plate really caught my eye. The colors and the detail of the battle scene are very impressive:
Yes I did take this picture of this sculpture at this angle on purpose Nothing like a guy with a nice ass, even if he is made of stone:
And finally, one of my favorite spots in the Met to photograph, the staircase which leads down to main lobby:
Hi everyone! My Mom is coming over soon and I have to straighten up and start preparing lunch. Just wanted to wish all the Moms out there a very Happy Mother’s Day
I was going to post one of the usual Mary Cassatt “mother and child” paintings but, with all due respect to Mary, I have something much better this time. From my good friend Daniel Maidman, this is his wonderful work of fellow artist’s model Piera with her baby boy Lorenzo. I have had the pleasure of seeing this painting in person, and it has become one of my very favorites of Daniel’s.
“During the year 1957, I experienced, by the grace of God, a spiritual awakening which was to lead me to a richer, fuller, more productive life. At that time, in gratitude, I humbly asked to be given the means and privilege to make others happy through music.”
That quote appears in the liner notes to John Coltrane’s 1965 jazz album, A Love Supreme. Many individuals who go through a period of struggle with vices, demons, and self-destructive behavior, often claim that they’ve been “saved” after turning to God. Some of these claims are genuine, others not so much. Many death row inmates claim to be “born-again”, conveniently during their court appeals process.
But the sincerity of John Coltrane’s spiritual awakening cannot be questioned. In fact, it is an integral aspect of the legendary saxophonist’s personal and professional odyssey. His career in the 1950s brought him consistent work as a sideman in groups led by DIzzy Gillespie, Johnny Hodges, and Miles Davis. This period also saw him, like too many jazz musicians of the day, fall into heroin addiction.
John Coltrane photographed by William Claxton at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City:
Miles Davis was himself a recovering drug addict and took very seriously the signs of addiction in his fellow musicians. In 1957 he felt he had no choice but to fire John Coltrane from the group, as his heroin use and alcoholism were affecting his performance and professionalism. It was this “tough love” act on the part of Miles Davis which prompted Coltrane to kick his habit once and for all and take control of his life.
At his home in Philadelphia, John Coltrane locked himself in an upstairs room, demanded no mercy from family members, starved himself, endured the sweats, the shakes, and all the agonizing symptoms of withdrawal, and kicked it cold turkey. Coltrane offered few details about the ordeal, except to say that he experienced God.
John Coltrane with his wife Alice:
Miles Davis re-hired John Coltrane in 1958, and Trane, liberated from his substance abuse, was finally able to become the innovative, groundbreaking musician he was destined to be. Coltrane’s spiritual epiphany, his profound religiosity and devotion to God, informed his music, his relationships, his entire life from then on. It was also the sole inspiration for A Love Supreme.
Although John Coltrane was raised in a Christian household in North Carolina, the exact religious orientation of his liner note writings is unspecified. Rather, they express a general reference to “God” – his grace, his redemptive power, and his love. His “love supreme”.
Coltrane conceived the album at his home in Dix Hills, Long Island in 1964. He called it a “thank you gift to God”. Indeed, an essential element of Coltrane’s divine revelation was a profound feeling of gratitude – his belief that his talent, his gifts, came from God for the purpose of sharing and uplifting others. As a drug addict, he was a squanderer of his talent. As a sober man, he had clarity, the ability to communicate, and the generosity of spirit to share his creativity with the world.
The music is truly revelatory. So naked, so transcendent, so brutally revealing, and Coltrane just pushes the notes out of his sax. At times they screech and wail, frantically run up and down his solos, desperately imploring the listener to understand that he has seen and experienced God. Throughout A Love Supreme, John Coltrane is telling us that his miracle can be everyone’s miracle. He is saying, “LISTEN to me. I have gloriously surrendered. This is my pilgrimage. Life HAS meaning. I’ve been to hell and back and now I am the right place . . . finally”. With the exception of hard core jazz fans, for most people it is a tough album to listen to. Heck, I AM a hard core jazz fan and even I get rattled with it sometimes. But you have to respect a man – any artist really – who lays it out in such a bare, unvarnished way. He is fearless, and the album can be considered “holy” by anyone who values personal, intimate spirituality. It also features the phenomenal McCoy Tyner on piano.
For today’s “Music Monday, from A Love Supreme, this is “Acknowledgement”:
“I’ve always felt that even though a man was not a Christian, he still has to know the truth some way or another. Or if he was a Christian, he could know the truth. The truth itself doesn’t have any name on it to me. And each man has to find this for himself, I think.”