I was not aware of its existence in Washington, DC. True, the “National Museum of Women in the Arts“, or NMWA, is one of many museums in the DC area, but this one is special because it “is the only major museum in the world solely dedicated to recognizing women’s creative contributions.”
Created in 1987,with more “than 4,000 works, NMWA’s wide-ranging collection provides a comprehensive survey of art by women from the 16th century to the present, with new acquisitions added regularly”.
National Museum of Women in the Arts
New York Avenue and 13th Street, NW, DC
In a movie review, the writer described a film as “Felliniesque”. No reference to the director, for whom the term was coined, just – “Felliniesque”. I understood.
Federico Fellini, 1924 – 1976, was one of the most influential Italian directors of his day. His films were character driven, people and plots sometimes bizarre and outrageous, but the inhabitants of his pictures were closer to the reality of the everyday world than what was usually seen on screen during the 50s and 60s.
Four of his films won the Best Foreign Film Oscar: La strada (1954), with his wife Guilietta Masina and Anthony Quinn, Le Notti di Cabiria (1957) (Nights of Cabiria), 8½ (1963) and Amarcord (1973).
But, his film La Dolce Vita (1960) with Marcello Mastroianni brought him worldwide fame. The famous/infamous frolic in the fountain scene with Marcello and Anita Ekberg seemed such wild decadence in the 60’s, but, pretty tame now.
BTW: “Felliniesque” is often used to describe films that put a character’s inner thoughts and/or memories into dreamlike sequences, and/or scenes that move backward/forward in time.
Films to find on DVD:
Edvard Munch, (1863–1944), painted more than just “The Scream”. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art will have 45 of his other pieces on display, including Between the Clock and the Bed, a self portrait. He “was among the most celebrated and controversial artists of his generation. But, as he confessed in 1939, his true breakthrough came very late in life… these profoundly human and technically daring artworks reveal Munch as a tireless innovator and an artist as revolutionary in his maturity as he was in his breakthrough years.”
“Between the Clock and the Bed”
June 24–October 9, 2017
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
151 Third Street, San Francisco, CA
(Image: Self Portrait, 1940, “Between the Clock and the Bed”)
The National Museum of African American History and Culture opened in September 2016. As expected, tickets have been hard to get, but maybe you can add a visit to your 2017 to-do-list. There’s lots to see and experience. The museum’s 11 massive galleries display, in total, more than 30,000 priceless artifacts according to its website.
Founding director Lonnie Bunch says, “This is not (nor was it ever intended to be) the National Museum of Discrimination…For me, the African American experience is an experience not of tragedy, but of unbelievable belief — belief in themselves, belief in an America that often didn’t believe in them”.
National Museum of African American History and Culture
(Above: “Falling down stairs saves time”)
Last night, I was googling for images regarding “falling down” and accidentally came across this artist’s site called Exploding Dog. I loved it. I loved his images. They are so simple yet convey so much. I suppose it could be easy to dismiss them for their simplicity. Many of us artists have that insecurity/drive to prove in every single painting that we indeed know how to draw, use color theory etc. Just look at the popularity of Dad’s post on “Learning How To Resolve a Painting”. On a similar note, I finally saw the “Glitter and Doom” exhibit at the Met. Its a very full exhibit on German portraits in the 1920s (Otto Dix, Max Beckmann etc). The paintings are phenomenal and many border on caricatures (so simple yet convey so much.)
(Post first appeared in 2011)
My generosity has nothing to do with my religion or politics. I want to spend time with people and learn about myself. This is not selfishness, it is a gift for all of us.
Bus Stop (c) by B.Martin
Imagining that you can change the world does not mean that you have. Someone needs to tell you that something changed. That is their generosity. Our generosity comes from our listening and our sincerely wanting to understand what is going on with that person you are sitting next to. Everything else is fantasy. From the beginning of time. SS/DB
(Original post 12/04/12)
Artist Eugene Grigsby,1918 – 2013, taught at Arizona State for 20 years and spent two decades teaching in Phoenix public schools.
- What are the ideas or points of view that you’ve wanted to communicate in your paintings? I don’t know what I am communicating really until the paintings is done. While I am working I am concentrating on design and how to cover a white canvas or paper. Using themes or patterns that I’ve found in African Sculpture or fabrics I wait until I’m done to see what’s there in terms of a social nature.
- Is there any one of your paintings that you feel epitomizes your thinking about art? The “Family” it represents design as well as a family which is an integrated family and is pulled together with design of faces and figures influenced by the art of the Kuba people of the Congo. This is a multiracial family, White mother, Black father and bi-racial children, a situation that was seen as illegal not long ago in this country. It is not lost on me that this portrays the family of some one who may become the President of the US.
- Is there anyone, who’s work you appreciate and that you feel is communicating along the same line? Rip Woods and Samella Lewis, who has written several books on Black/African American Artist and was the founder of International Review of African American Art, which has been taken over by Hampton University.
- You’ve spent a long time teaching and training young artists. Do you feel that your ideas/methods, what and how you taught, are being carried forward by new instructors? I feel that my major contribution is that of teaching more so then in my art. Many of my students have gone on to teaching art and have been, I believe, influenced by my teaching and method of teaching.
- Tell me about your teaching method? I’ve worked with my students on all aspects of their creativity. Each of my students was a class, meaning if I had ten students in one room I approached this as if I was teaching ten classes, because each student could be doing something different and with a different ability level. Some students would be working with jewelry, fashion design or painting etc. They would create a work book, which was a plan on what they wanted to get accomplished in my class, the materials they would use and the steps they would take to have their goal completed. Students were responsible for grading themselves and evaluating their progress based on what they said they wanted vs. what they actually did. Home work for my classes was to have students observe something in their lives, memorize what they had seen and as part next days class to compose a painting of what they observed the day before. They had a goal of completing a painting each day, and seeing the progress in their work. I also encourage students to make contact with an artist they admired. One of the students was interested in fashion design and wrote to “Coco Chanel”. Not only did she receive a response but continued for a while to receive information, advice and feedback that supported her in her studies. Something else I did was to have students study artists and their method of working. Later on they would do a self portrait in the style of the artist they studied. This way of learning I believe provided the students with a deeper understanding of the artist. Over the years many of my students were able to accomplish wonderful results, some in the arts and others in different fields. Many of them have stayed in touch and recount how what they had learned had assisted them with their careers as historian, nurses, writers and teachers. My goal was always to recognize individual ability and to see if I could help maximize their results.
- Activism, do you think that art can change the world? Some of my heroes, great artist like Picasso and Goya created work that spoke about a time in the world’s history that needed to change. They and others painted and wrote about an unvarnished truth that I feel may have helped to motivate people and governments to do something different. Art can free people up to think.
- Over the years, you have known many great artists, would they be surprised about the diversity in art today? I don’t think they would be surprised at all, they were all so different. Many of our African American painters and writers were forerunners to some of what we see now coming from our communities. No I don’t think they would be surprised, but they would be pleased.
Recently highlighted in a segment of CBS Sunday Morning, is a traveling exhibit featuring artists Matisse and Diebenkorn, often with paintings displayed side by side.
There are more than “90 paintings and drawings by the French modern master, Henri Matisse, and one of the greatest post-war American painters, Richard Diebenkorn.”
“Diebenkorn’s long engagement with Matisse’s work is among the most productive instances of one painter looking at another’s paintings in the history of 20th-century art. This landmark exhibition brings together a stunning array of works loaned from museums and private collections throughout the U.S. and Europe to follow the trajectory of Diebenkorn’s long and successful career with some of the powerful works by Matisse that the younger artist would have seen.”
“Matisse/Diebenkorn” Until May 29, 2017
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
(Images:The Yellow Dress. 1929-31 Matisse / Seated Figure with Hat. 1967 Diebenkorn)
BY CYBEL MARTIN for Shadow and Act/Indiwire
Originally posted – Dec. 6, 2013
“It’s always good to make up for a lack of (financial) means with an increase in imagination.”
— Wim Wenders
Friends who know me, know I really dislike talking about limitations. I prefer to dream big and be optimistic. I’m a “let’s put on a show! ” type optimist.
However, I will need to dip my toe into the murky pool of limitations for a second. Stay with me.
There are a lot of indie films being made with fascinating stories. Yet too many have mediocre to painful to look at visuals and poor production value. We can adjust our approach to storytelling and raise the bar of expectations regardless of budget.
I’m sure that I speak for many DPs. I’ve no delusions of shooting the next Bond film but hoped for more, given my experience, education & resources, than interviewing to shoot on a 5D in the director’s apartment. I “should” be shooting features with $3-10m budgets but US film production has lost it’s middle class. Or as DP Ryan Walters says in his post “Three Reasons Why It’s Bad Business to be a Cinematographer”, there is an “evaporation of the middle market”.
I love our Indie Film producers, even though they speak with limitations. Many are of the “we don’t have. You can’t have” variety. A film crew’s natural instinct is to problem solve & figure a way to make your film better. However, many producers hear our requests as saying they are incompetent or that crew wants to cheat them out of more money. Make too many suggestions & we can be labelled difficult and replaced. So we keep quiet. And you get what you get.
In 2012, 2% of films were shot by female DPs. When I am offered a gig, the last thing I want to do is lose it to someone who “looks more like a DP” because my inquiries and suggestions deem me “hard to work with”.
In the same way I gave advice that 1st time doc filmmakers are unlikely to hear, here are some creative suggestions I wish low budget directors would entertain and their producers be open to.
If you do nothing else, seriously consider your approach to camera movement and scene coverage.
1 Shoot High End & Rearrange the Budget. I’m prepping a low budget feature to hopefully shoot in 2014. I told my director (Don’t worry, she’s on the hunt to attach the right producer) that if we shot on 35mm or the Alexa, I guarantee we would not rent Grip/Electric equipment. The only exception would be if she wanted a dolly or car rig. I’m very comfortable with both the Alexa and Kodak stocks. I know the combination of latitude, how I can manipulate available light and decisions made with the Production Designer, will create the director’s desired look. I’d commit to not changing the total amount budgeted for cinematography, just how we allocated funds.
Shooting 35mm for a low budget feature film is nothing new. “George Washington”, “Duck Season”, “Napoleon Dynamite”, “Pariah” and “Chop Shop” were all impressively shot on 35mm for budgets under $1 million.
For inspiration on how to shoot with an Alexa and mostly available light, read about DP Yves Belanger’s work on “Dallas Buyers Club”.
2 Hire a Professional Production Designer as a Consultant. A PD’s ability to elevate a story via color, space and furnishings is it’s own form of wizardry yet frequently an afterthought in low budget films. Before putting your best friend’s unemployed roommate in charge, see if you can consult with a pro. Pay them well for three days work (instead of 2 months) to offer suggestions on the overall look of your film, advice on which resources and locations are budget friendly and to recommend crew who can do the “day to day” and operate successfully within your limitations. Ask how they’d like to be credited.
3 Color. I’ve already discussed at length the importance of color. Also see “Blue Caprice” for white wall interiors handled beautifully and “The Loneliest Planet” for subtle yet stylized use of color in nature.
4 Radical Story = Radical Visuals. Don’t play it safe visually if your film is crafting a new “reality”. Consider: “28 Days Later”, “Eraserhead”, “Pi”, “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”. A new reality means you and your creative team can experiment and redefine what NYC looks and feels like at 120 degrees (in December) or how someone’s vision changes when they’re “one of the infected”. Have fun, be bold and let your restrictions work in your favor.
5 Go International. Adding footage from a different country can have immense visual impact on your story and in explaining the inner lives of your protagonists. Hire a filmmaker friend in another country to shoot b-roll. In a similar vein, shoot visually captivating insert shots that don’t require actors nor much crew. I was extremely moved by the time lapse in “Boys Don’t Cry”.
6 One Hyper Realistic Scene. If your budget, resources and narrative dictate simple visuals, see if one scene can be stylized to play against that. I don’t want to spoil it but there is a perfect example in “Dallas Buyers Club”. Low budget horror films will do the same: save their money for one big scare or special FX. Budget for a lean crew and hire “day players” when needed.
7 Shoot B/W. It gives the lowest budgeted film a certain panache. Even subjects that you think “should be shot in color” can be more effective in black/white.
8 Sound Affects Cinematography. Poor location audio can ruin the most gorgeous of images. Innovative sound design can make them more powerful. I can’t imagine my beloved “There Will Be Blood” without “the work of Christopher Scarabosio and Matthew Wood. Instead of spending money on music rights, collaborate with your Sound Dept. Tap into their creativity the same way you would with your DP.
Access is key. What do you have free access to that you take for granted?
9 Access to a Vehicle (motorcycle, car, bus, boat, hoveround). I recently saw “Bellflower” ($17k budget). It benefits from a unique twisted premise, an extremely crafty DP and a road trip. It’s amazing how a change in terrain makes me feel like they’ve spent a lot of money. Think “Easy Rider”, “Y Tu Mama Tambien”, “Thelma and Louise”, “Little Miss Sunshine”.
10 Access to a Visually Unique Location. Before you set a scene in your dorm room or parents’ suburban home, ask yourself where else do you have access? Production value increases even more if you can show the “behind the scenes” of a location. Access to your aunt’s jewelry shop? Also film in the back where she does repairs.
11 Access to a Major Public Event. Protests, holiday fireworks, parades, carnivals etc. This is my favorite. Examples are “Get On the Bus”, “Medium Cool”, “La Haine”, “Blow Out”, “The Official Story”. Take advantage of someone else’s big budget or event planning. The b/w photo above (Actress Susan Heyward with my 2nd unit camera op) was taken while filming a narrative during the 2009 Inauguration in DC.
12 Access to a Niche Culture. A glimpse into another community offers immeasurable production value. It can provide not often seen locations, costumes or people. Your Capoeira club. Your Dad’s union meetings. When you have access, creatively exploit it: b-roll, using real people as extras, consider how it reflects on your protag and their journey (see the Housing Rights Committee scene in “Medicine for Melancholy”).
13 Access to Under-represented Weather. Does every exterior scene take place on a partly sunny day? That may be easiest to film but snow, during or after the rain (see “wet down“) or fog could be more dramatic. The short film, “A Story of Water”, co-directed by Truffaut & Godard wonderfully takes advantage of the flooding of Villeneuve Saint George.
14 Access to Other Arts/Artists. Are you also a visual artists? Use photography (opening scene of “My Brother the Devil” and of course “La Jetee”) or animation. Almodovar is brilliant at incorporating known performers into his films. Buika, in the “The Skin I Live In”, was more than a beautiful singer, she epitomized “enchantment”. The same could be said of his use of Caetano Veloso and Piña in “Talk to Her”. Cooking is also an art. Think of all the films with beautiful cooking sequences.
15 Access to Your Old Films. You can use footage from your previous shorts, docs, or film tests for atmosphere, for flashbacks (see “The Limey”), for dream sequences etc. Unfortunately we all have films we are extremely proud of but couldn’t finish. Can you recycle that footage?
Finishing a film of any genre, length or budget is a huge accomplishment. More people talk about it, critique it than can actually pull it off. I hope I acknowledged our limitations but left you armed with new creative tools to make a good film great.
The Museum of Fine Arts Houston presents: “Adiós Utopia: Dreams and Deceptions in Cuban Art Since 1950”.
Considered to be “the most comprehensive and significant presentation of modern and contemporary Cuban art shown in the United States since 1944… it looks at how Cuba’s revolutionary aspirations for social utopia—and subsequent disillusionment—shaped 65 years of Cuban art. The exhibition brings together more than 100 of the most important works of painting, graphic design, photography, video, installation, and performance created by more than 50 Cuban artists and designers.”
Adiós Utopia: Dreams and Deceptions in Cuban Art Since 1950
Until May 31, 2017
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1001 Bissonnet St, Houston, TX
(Image: Raúl Martínez, Sin título (Untitled), 1969–70, oil on canvas)