Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Visit with Jamie and Mandy: Part 1

Last week I spent about 48 hours with my daughter Jamie and my niece Mandy, and I for one had a great time! Mandy flew into Austin on Tuesday and spent a couple of days with Jamie, and then on Thursday morning they got on a Greyhound and made the trip to Houston. I met them there and we went straight to Baba Yega's for an early lunch. I recommend the Sea Wave salad -- a scoop of tuna salad on a bed of vegetables -- yum yum!

Here are the ladies after lunch -- I felt a little underdressed in my jeans!

From there we went to the Museum of Fine Arts, where I was thrilled to find out that I hadn't missed the John Singer Sargent show. Sargent has always beeen a favorite of mine, whether it's his juicy watercolors of Venice, or society portraits like Madame X, or one of those painterly landscapes. Sargent was born in 1856 and died in 1925, and although he was an American, he lived as an ex-pat traipsing around Europe with his parents, eventually settling in London at age 30. He was one of those lucky artists who was acclaimed in his own time. The show was called "Sargent and the Sea" and featured, uh, paintings of the sea. But gorgeous paintings of the sea, as well as people on the beach or in the water, boats, and coastal landscapes. I was glad to see lots of sketches, either graphite or watercolor and graphite, along with a few sketchbooks. This small oil is called, logically, "Seascape."

The painting below actually gave me a little touch of vertigo! That could just be me, but I did hear a few other museum-goers exclaim at the sight of "Atlantic Storm!"
The other show we saw at the museum was the Alice Neel show called "Painted Truths," which was mostly portraits but also included some paintings of buildings that I enjoyed seeing. I guess Alice Neel is not for everyone but I think she's great! The portraits seem to reveal a great deal about the sitters' personalities and psyches. This one is of her daughter-in-law Nancy and her granddaughter Olivia. The physical closeness of the woman and baby emphasizes the closeness of the bond between mother and child, but the expression on Nancy's face and the wide-open eyes seem to signal fear, or possibly an ambivalence for the maternal role.
Neel painted family members, but also friends and neighbors, and later on, famous people, especially those in the art world. The subject of the painting below was a Fuller Brush Man who came to her door hoping to make a sale, and ended up sitting for a portrait in 1967. He revealed to Neel that he was a survivor of a Nazi concentration camp, and while I don't think that is evident in the portrait, it does have kind of a mysterious, creepy subtext.

After a snack at Cafe Express, we drove over and parked at the Menil, and then walked down to the Rothko Chapel. For me the feeling of the chapel was altered by the absence of the benches and the presence of folding chairs. Seems they were having an event there that night; I prefer to experience the place as pictured below.
Scattered throughout the familiar Menil collections of ancient art, surrealism, and modern art were works by contemporary Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan. All were sculptures involving the figure, and although methods, material, and mood varied widely, all were surprising in their own way. I recommend checking out this artist's work!

After the Menil we made a quick swing by Half-Price Books, and then sped home via the HOV lane. Martin made a delicious dinner of pesto -- Martin style. I gave Mandy the grand tour, as she had not been here before, and she oohed and aahed at all the appropriate times and places.
In the morning we got up and went to yoga -- and thanks to Jan for including my guests! After yoga we met Ann Marie for lunch at Wild Ginger, a new Japanese place that features sushi, bento boxes, and hibachi. Lunch was good -- and there should have been more than I could eat! Let me rephrase that -- there wasn't not enough. ;-D
Stay tuned for Part 2 of "Visit with Jamie and Mandy!"


everetthaynes said...

Saw Cattelan's work while in Chicago. Quite disturbing, yet amazing. It's almost too difficult to train your eyes on the figures.

paula said...

ha i never heard of neel...that is a fascinating portrait of the mother holding her baby. she looks like what am i supposed to do, i dont want to do this!
love it.
i too saw that maurizio cattelan, interesting and creepy.
glad you had a good time and good to see a post from you.

Cynthia said...

Disturbing yet amazing is a good way to describe his work! The way they were displayed at the Menil is they wre scattered throughout. So, you'd be looking at some ancient art and walk around a corner and there's a figure suspended on a wall. Most disturbing!

Neel is great and all of her portraits very edgy and revealing.

Yeah -- I have gotten behind on blogging! My life is going too fast -- I can't keep up! :-D

artsysister said...

you and Ann Marie look wonderful ( and of course the girls too )

enjoyed your post :) Paula King

Cynthia said...

Thanks Paula! Thanks for reading my blog!