Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Betty Woodman Vase

Just recently I changed out the arrangement of the glazed earthenware "Japanese Lady" Vase by Betty Woodman at the Denver Art Museum.  My friends, Judy and Liz, and I change the arrangement every few months.  We design the arrangement according to the season and if there is a special exhibit going on.
In this case, we used pale pink and a bright pink peonies.   The wall behind the vase had been painted a bright, deep orange in keeping with the color scheme of the Yves Saint Laurent collection that is on display thru July 9th.  Being that pink was one of Laurent's favorite colors, it was only natural that we went in that direction.  For artificial peonies, they look pretty spectacular!
With the Van Gough exhibit coming to the Denver Art Museum this fall, you know that the Woodman Vase will have an explosion of sunflowers in it.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Yves Saint Laurent Retrospective at the Denver Art Museum

The Yves Saint Laurent Retrospective at the Denver Art Museum is outstanding.  Denver is the only city in the United States to have this collection on display!   This black velvet sheath dress with the pink satin bow was part of his Paris haute couture collection, 1983.  Laurent said, "My favorite color, after black, is pink."
Saint Laurent knew how to design the fundamentals of clothing with flawless indifference to unnecessary detailsHe is credited as the first designer to introduce the tuxedo to woman's fashions.  On display are over 30 different Le Smoking (the French term for tuxedo), the first one was designed in 1966.
Such a classic look and I found that many of the outfits were timeless.
His African Collection with a lot of wood beads.
In 1973, Saint Laurent introduced the peasant lookHe made it look chic by using black velvets and colorful satins.  This gypsy look became very popular.  I remember the big hoop earrings, bangle bracelets and layered skirts.
In 1965 Saint Laurent launched a collection that paid tribute to many of the artist that he admired.  This 1988 white tuile wedding dress with white cotton pique is homage to the works of Georges Braque with the doves in flight.
I was in Barcelona last fall and one of my favorite places that I visited was the Ceramic Museum.  And I fell in love with this Braque ceramic plate.
I like the tribute to Henri Matisse with these multi-color appliqued bold leaves in satin and gazar.  The body of the dress is black velvet and moire.  1980.
A tribute to Piet Modrian.  A 1965 cocktail dress made of ecru wool jersey with black, grey, red and yellow jersey inlays.
A tribute to Pablo Picasso: 1979, orange moire top, multicolored applique patchwork skirt and a black moire knotted belt.
Saint Laurent also paid tribute to Vincent Van Gough and Fernand Leger with his evening dresses.
One part of the collection showcases clothing of famous women who wore his clothes; Lauren Bacall, Betty Cartroux, Catherine Deneuve, Princess Grace of Monaco, Nan Kempner, Paloma Picasso, Diana Vreeland and the Duchess of Windsor.
There are over 200 haute couture outfits on display from his collection. The show is definitely worth seeing!  You only have a few more week left to see the show, for it ends on July 8th.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Clyfford Still Museum - The Paintings

Clyfford Still (November 30, 1904 - June 23, 1980) was an American painter and one of the leading figures of Abstract Expressionism.  The Clyfford Still Museum is home to over 800 paintings and 1,500 works on paper.  Even though Still's initial bequest was that his collection not be broken up, with some legal finagling, four paintings were sold for a net of $80 million which enabled the museum to have a pretty healthy endowment.
Self portrait -1940
Born in North Dakota, he spent most of his first 35 years of his life in the prairies of the state of Washington and Alberta, Canada.  His work was influenced my his family's farms and the agricultural scene around him.
He depicted the depression painfully so with his chiseled figures and bright, intense colors.  This was the beginning of a technique and color palate that he used going forward.
This last year, the US Postal Service issued a wonderful sheet of stamps featuring the top artist of the Abstract Expressionists Movement:  Hans Hofman, Archile Gorky, Adolph Gottlieb, Joan Mitchell, barnet Newman, William de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, Robert Motherwell, Mark Rothko and Clyfford Still.    This movement during the 1940's and 1950's moved the United States to the center of the international art scene with its extreme styles based on bold color and motion.  "The function of the artist is to express reality as felt."  Robert Motherwell.
During the height of the movement, Still became increasingly critical of the art world.
Still's non-figurative paintings were less regular.  With his jagged patches of color, it is as if large sections of the painting had been torn off the canvas.
I observed people in the galleries and they were definitely drawn to his works and the gallery space itself.  Still used palatte knives and small trowels to craft his paint surfaces.  A technique that dominated his canvases.
Still mastered the use of bare canvas which was so expressive.
"I never wanted color to be color, texture to be texture, images to become shapes.  I wanted them all to fuse into a living spirit."  - Clyfford Still.
Working in seclusion in rural Maryland in the 1960's and 1970's, his paintings took on a lighter feel to them.  His "empty spaces" are spectacular.  His later canvases seem more vivid and with a bit more movement.  I love how he uses such strong colors, mainly black, yellow, white  and red with a variation of blues.  And how each painting has a hint of one color thrown in like the red in the above painting.

It is a wonderful museum, both the art and the building. 

Clyfford Still Museum
1250 Bannock Street
Denver, Colorado
(right next to the Denver Art Museum)
Closed on Mondays 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Clyfford Still Museum - The Building

The Clyfford Still Museum is the newest addition to Denver's exciting art district.  Stills was an extremely private man and his personal collection of his work consisted of 2,400 pieces (roughly 94% of his work).  Most of it had never been seen by the public or the critics.  In his will, he specified that his work be put on display by some city in America that would agree to build a museum to display his work and not break up the collection.  Denver was fortunate to be that city!  Architect Brad Cloepfil of Allied Works Architecture in Portland Oregon created a masterpiece in the design of this new museum with its textured poured-in-place concrete walls. 
Actual vertical forms were made of rough-sawn fir planks that featured specific patterns.  Once this pattern was achieved, a sealer was applied to the boards before any concrete was poured.   The architect wanted a building that looked made, not constructed.  I would say he definitely succeeded.
The interior works just as well as the exterior in the way it showcases the works of Clyfford Still.  Each room seems to draw you in.
Not only are the walls made of concrete, the ceilings on the second floor are concrete.  A poured-in-place concrete screens were made. These elongated ovals open up to the skylights above them.  It is a genius way to illuminate the galleries.
I really like the 32 foot blue aluminum sculpture by Joe Shapiro that stands amongst the trees between the Clyfford Still Museum and the Denver Art Museum.  Shapiro is known for his dynamic sculptures composed of simple rectangular shapes.  Titled For Jennifer, it is in honor of Jennifer Moulton, director of planning and development for the City and County of Denver from 1992 - 2003 who died in 2004. 
Denver has some pretty phenomenal architecture and a few of these spectacular buildings are side by side;  the Denver Library on the left and the glass bridge that takes you from the Gio Ponti building of the Denver Art Museum into the Museum's Hamilton Building that was the design of architect Daniel Libeskind.  And of course the new kid on the block, the Clyfford Still Museum.
My next post will be more on Still and his work that is on display in the museum.  I am impressed by both the building and the art!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A Beautiful Piece of Art by Two Huichol Families

The Denver International Airport has an unique piece of art on display, a Volkswagen Beetle adorned with 2,777,000 glass beads.  This is the work of two Huichol families from Mexico, the Bautista family from the state of Jalisco and the Ortiz family from the state of Nayarit.  
The name, The Vochol, for the VW Bug came from a combination of Vocho (slang in Mexico for the popular Bug) and Huichol.

The Huichol Indians is an indigenous group living high in the Sierra Madre Mountains of central-west Mexico in the states of Jalisco, Nayarit, Durango and Zacatecas.   The Huichols are deeply religious and spiritual.  The original name for the Huichol people is Wirrarika, meaning medicine man or soothsayer.  And their art is their direct communication with the gods.  Because they have lived in such remote locations, access to these areas was extremely difficult and the Spaniards never ventured into their territories.  It was not until recently that their culture has been influenced and altered by western civilization.  
Traditional symbols and icons are used in the Huichol bead workCommonly used symbols are corn, peyote and deer as well as candles, arrows, serpents, scorpions and the eye of God.
The Bautista family is responsible for the beautiful work on the back, the top and the front of the car.
 It took 9,408 hours (seven months) to decorate the The Vochal!
 A close up of the hood illustrates some of the Huichol symbols, the deer and the candle.
Even the dashboard and steering wheel were adorned with beads.
Don't you just love the hub cap?
A different interpretation of a deer head.  The sides of the car are the work of the Ortiz family. 
The sage color leaves represent the sacred Peyote Cactus (the Jicuri), their symbol of wisdom, knowledge and a harmonious relation with the gods.

In the market in San Miguel de Allende you can find little stalls selling various beaded works by a few of the Huichol Indians that live in town.  I have several bracelets that I have bought over the years.   My Mom has a few of the decorated eggs that she has hung on the Christmas tree.  One can also find beaded masks, beaded little pigs, beaded deer...  It truly is beautiful art!  I will have to bring some of the photos of The Vochal down with me to San Miguel and show some of the artisans.  I think they will be astonished.  I know I sure am.  Make sure you get a chance to see it, unfortunately it is only in Denver until August 31. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Mermaids & Margaritas

Friday night I hosted the Third Annual Mermaids and Margaritas party at my home.  My husband nick-named the group of ladies that I hang out with in the pool at the Denver Athletic Club The Mermaids and it stuck.  Our group goes through some of the toughest water aerobics workouts out there and occasionally I teach the class.
And how fitting that I had the teal mermaid vase on display in my kitchen with a dozen red galds in it.
Sheilagh, Annie, Jennifer and Beth enjoying "Robin's Margaritas" along with my guacamole and baked goat cheese.  I line one of my Spanish terra cotta cazuela dishes with corn husks;  I had soaked the corn husks in hot water to make them pliable.  I placed a large disc of goat cheese (with a little cream cheese added in) in the center of the corn husks.  The I poured a roasted tomato, onion, garlic and pasilla chili salsa around the cheese.  Bring the tops of the corn husk together and cover with tin foil.  Baked in a 350 oven for about 25 minutes.  Once out of the oven, I discarded the tin foil and then trimmed some of the corn husks to have an easier (and less messy) access to the dish.  I served it with tortilla chips.  Everyone loved it, there was barely any left.
Mary and Peggy enjoying a little margarita time with the RAM-BOB pinata in the background.  The pinata is from my Dad's 90th birthday bash and I decided he has to come out for all my parties on the patio!
Did Melinda and Sylvia plan the similar hair doos and outfits... Looking good ladies.
And Lorie and Anne too...
My creamy Gazpacho served in these little glasses from Gaujuye, the best store in San Miguel de Allende for glassware.  
 Esther waiting for the grilling to start.
Jennifer was my assistant for the evening.  First the buns were toasted.  The sliders are on the grill.  Always a big hit, Chorizo Pork Sliders with a special seasoning and grated jalapeno Monterrey jack cheese topped with a roasted poblano sauce.  Annie made sure she was here on time this year, she missed out on them last year because she had my address wrong and was driving all over trying to find my house.
Along with the sliders, I served a refreshing watermelon, arugula and feta cheese salad.  I have found that when you cut up the watermelon, you should put the cubes in a colander to drain for a few minutes to get rid of some of the excess watermelon juices.  
And for a little surprise dessert, I served frozen Espresso, Kahlua and sweetened condensed milk cubes in little hors d'oeuvre spoons.
Matina on her second "spiked" dessert.
The evening was not complete without a little dancing!  It was the perfect evening...  good weather, good food, good margaritas and good friends.
Viva Las Serinas!