Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Favorite Sculptures from Art Basel

Bus Passengers by George Segal (1997) 
With 500,000 square feet of exhibit space, it should come as no surprise that Art Basel was overflowing with exciting creations. But being on my own meant a lot of missed photo opps. Take, for instance, George Segal's Bus Passengers. My aching feet definitely would have appreciated having the chance to slip into the seat between Segal's own weary passengers.

The now-deceased Segal began creating his unique style of plaster sculpture in the 1960s. Traditional casting involves pouring the material--be it metal, plaster or concrete--into a mold. Segal's process involved wetting plaster bandages and applying them directly to his models. Segal experimented on himself first, with the plaster created from his body becoming Man at a Table, his first of these style works. "For me to decide to make a cast of a human being broke all the rules of fine art," Segal is quoted as having said. To read more about Segal and his work, click here.

By Sarah Lucas
While on the topic of ways to get around, how about these boots by Sarah Lucas?????  (I bet you're singing "these boots are made for walking" right about now.)  Her concrete creations stand about six feet tall. Another pair currently on display at the New Museum rises to 11 feet. This is the art of a woman making a statement.

Lucas' work often involves--and is sometimes made of-- everyday objects. The New Museum's description calls her art "a distinctive and provocative body of work that subverts traditional notions of gender, sexuality and identity." While you might not get that sense from the boots, you definitely would if you took in the exhibit. There's a lot to make a viewer uncomfortable in the show. In fact, the Museum's description of the exhibit contains a disclaimer that "This exhibition contains images of genitalia, which may not be appropriate for all audiences." I've heard of disclaimers/trigger warnings for theater productions, but for an art exhibit?

Lucas is one of the YBAs, or Young British Artists, who were collected by Saatchi in the late 1980s. (Damien Hirst is also a member of this group and has purchased a number of Lucas' works from Saatchi.)  To read more about Lucas and see some of her other work from the New Museum exhibit, click here.

Pomegranate by Aleksandra Domanovic (2018)
Although it didn't strike me that way in the moment,  Aleksandra Domanovic's Pomegranate reminds me of the creepy trees in The Wizard of Oz. Happily, I had the chance to talk with the gallerist about Domanovic's work. What she's created is much more interesting than a talking tree.

Domanovic is known for her votive figures, a sculptural style that dates back to ancient Greece. Like its distant counterparts, Domanovic's sculpture is making an offering to the gods -- in this case, a pomegranate  The fruit was not chosen arbitrarily. Culturally, pomegranates are considered symbols of life and death, fertility and abundance.

But while Domanovic appreciates the past, she's also interested in technology and its impact on our lives. The arms of this sculpture--which are cast from the artist's own appendages--are covered in Kevlar, a distinctly 20th century creation. The hands are a take on the Belgrade Hand, an artificial hand with the capacity to articulate and to feel. It was originally developed following the end of WWII as a prosthetic device for soldiers who had lost their hands during the war. To see more of Domanovic's work, click here.

Female on Bed by Atelier Van Lieshout (2007) with
Body landscape dance I by Daniel Silver (2018) 
The curation of the space exhibiting Atelier van Lieshout's Female on Bed was truly stunning. Seriously, could you find a more perfect piece of art to display beside this sculpture?

According to its website, "Atelier van Lieshout was founded by enfant terrible and sculptor Joep van Lieshout." Like Sarah Lucas' boots, you probably don't see the shock value in this sculpture. Trust me when I say it's even more beautiful in person. But the Atelier does create some art that's pretty out there as its artists work in the "borders between art, design and architecture." Click here to visit the Atelier's website. Note: The website contains images of genitalia.

Untitled (Football Helmet) by Jean-Michel Basquiat (1981-1984)
Last up is an object that might not be strictly construed as sculpture. (As I noted in my first Art Basel blog, some works are hard to categorize.) This helmet was featured in a space with walls covered with drawings evoking the work of Keith Haring and artwork by Haring, Basquiat, Andy Warhol and Richard Prince. I happened to be looking at this work when a docent came by with a tour. Needless to say, I listened in.

Basquiat affixed clippings from his own hair to the exterior of this football helmet. The docent shared that Basquiat told his friend Warhol that he was welcome to wear the helmet if he ever wanted to feel what it was like to be him. (I don't know if Warhol took Basquiat up on this offer.) She also noted the significance of football to the African-American community. Sports are a way out of poverty, and this headgear can be viewed as the equivalent of a crown. Of course we now all know the cost many professional football players pay for living the dream.

Next up: Favorite Text Art from Art Basel

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Favorite Paintings from Art Basel 2018

Rosemary, Still by Brian
Calvin (2018)
My head is still spinning from my whirlwind visit to Art Basel 2018. Despite having spent seven hours at the Miami Convention Center, I feel like I didn't get the chance to really take in the art. Nearly every one of the 268 booths had works I wanted to study, but then my FOMO (fear of missing out) would kick in and I'd move along, satisfied if not satiated.

It's ridiculously difficult to decide what to share here, so I've decided to categorize the works that most struck me in a series of posts. But that's actually not so easy. Should fiber art be considered painting? What about text-focused art? How about prints? I'm just going with the flow here and hope you'll come along on the ride.

First up is Rosemary, Still by Brian Calvin. As I roamed the aisles, I felt a little surge of happiness every time I captured a glimpse of this painting. Rosemary is just so striking and beautiful in an untraditional way.

I learned that Calvin specifically does not want to convey a story in his work. ("[A narrative] is just not compelling to me," he said in an interview with Muse magazine.) But how can you not construct a story around this woman?

I'm a Feminist. What's Your 
Superpower? (Excelsior! Leonard Raven-
Hill for Punch Magazine, 1910) 
by Andrea Bowers (2018)
I fell in love with the work of Andrea Bowers, whose paintings were on display in at least three different galleries. In this series, Bowers has taken old feminist/suffragette posters or advertisements and added her own commentary. In the drawing from which this work was taken, the words "Women's Suffrage" and "Parliament" are written on the rock and the hill, respectively. (Click here to see the original.)  Bowers has added her own text -- "I'm a Feminist. What's Your Superpower?" on the bottom right hand corner.

Another of Bowers' works features a bonneted woman standing on a barrel in front of an image of a lion with a sign that reads "Hear Me Roar." That work was inspired by an image from the Suffragette Postcard Project. Click here to see the original.

Self Portrait after Henry Taylor by
Vincent Namatjira (2018) 
While we're on political art, I also was taken with the series by Vincent Namatjira entitled "This is No Fantasy." Namatjira takes a look at the world from his perch in South Australia and provides commentary through works incorporating satire and political caricature. His work often takes a poke at the Queen given Australia's relationship with the British Empire. I particularly liked this self-portrait of Namatjira with Kim Jung Un because (1) the guy desperately needs a new hairstyle and (2) I love Henry Taylor's art and appreciate the homage. To see more of Namatjira's work, click here or here.

Physichoromie Panam 309 by Carlos Cruz-Diez (2018)

This painting by Carlos Cruz-Diez kind of blew my mind. The colors shimmer off the canvas and seem to change depending upon where you stand. You can get a sense of this phenomenon even by looking at this image from different vantage points.

It makes sense now that I know Cruz-Diez is considered one of the founders of kinetic and op art ("op" being short for optical illusion). Cruz-Diez' website describes the genre as creating "an awareness of the instability of reality." The website also explains that "a physichoromie acts as a 'light trap' in a space where a series of color frames interact [and] transform each other, generating new ranges of color not present." Cruz-Diez has been working in this field since the late 1950s. Click here to explore his website. His architectural integrations and interventions in public space are particularly exciting.

Work by Tschabalala Self
I was intrigued by what was happening in this Thierry Goldberg gallery in the "Positions" sector of Art Basel, an area that showcases projects by a single artist. In this case, the artist was Tschabalala Self.

I wandered in to take a look at this painting, which features a guy wearing a racing team shirt with a Tide detergent logo surveying a shelf filled with bottles of Tide. I like the painting, but I was baffled by the plastic crates. I swallowed my pride to ask what the story was.  (Nobody else was around, so I only had to confess my ignorance to an audience of one.) The gallerist was quite nice as she explained that the space was intended to evoke a bodega; hence, the crates. I then understood the round security mirror on the wall was art rather than, well, security. And the whole "Tide" theme suddenly made sense as well, although I suspect there's deeper meaning than, "Oh, bodegas carry laundry detergent." [Note: My friend Deb just shared an article with me about thieves stealing Tide from bodegas to trade for crack. My wildest imagination never would have gone there. Click here to read about this surprising phenomenon, which sheds probable light on Self's intentions.]

Gazing Ball (de Vos Europa) by Jeff Koons (2018)
Not all of the artists at Art Basel were new to me. But I was a little surprised to learn this work was by Jeff Koons. Koons first landed on my radar back in the 1990s with the Cicciolina controversy. (If you don't know about Cicciolina, click here.)  Koons' penchant for controversy hasn't abated over the years, with works like his Balloon Dog sculptures (a steel version of which sold for $58MM) and his porcelain sculpture of Michael Jackson with his monkey Bubbles continuing to raise eyebrows.

In his latest series, Koons has added gazing balls to painted copies of 35 masterpieces, from Manet's Luncheon on the Grass to DaVinci's Mona Lisa. (This work is a reproduction of Martin de Vos' The Rape of Europa.) Handblown gazing balls have been inserted into the paintings and enable the viewer to interact with the painting in a visible way. In an interview with The Guardian, Koons said of the concept, "This experience is about you, your desires, your interests, your participation, your relationship with this image." I love it. To read the interview, click here.

Nicole 2 by Alex Katz (2018) 
I could go on and on, but I'll wrap this post with a beautiful painting by Alex Katz. Nicole 2 reminded me of a Grecian statue and emitted a sense of calm in the midst of the chaos of Art Basel.

I have long been a fan of Katz' portraiture, which has a graphic feel. He is known for his paintings of closely cropped faces. Although he's been working in this style since the 1960s, his work always feels fresh. Interestingly, Katz has used his wife Ada as his model for at least 250 of his paintings. (For a fun interview with Ada, click here.) 

Next up: Favorite Sculptures from Art Basel 2018.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Designing Asolo Rep's "The Music Man" with Tobin Ost

Tobin Ost
Tobin Ost grew up with dreams of a future in architecture. But when Tobin approached the lone architect in his hometown with a request to shadow him, he was shown the door. Tobin wandered across the street to a small theater. Would they happen to have use for his eager young mind?

Architecture's loss quickly became theater's gain. By the time Tobin headed off to college, he had already fully designed both theater and opera productions.

In college, Tobin studied art history and theater with a plan to pursue a career in set design. He said he soon realized, "Costume design is just a different form of architecture." And doing both set and costume design for a production made sense to him. "It's the same eyes looking at both," he noted.

Happily for Asolo Rep and its audience, the multi-talented Ost is a member of the creative team for "The Music Man," the theatre's season opener. Ost shared his insights -- and his enthusiasm -- about the design process with theater lovers at a Designer Brunch.

Tobin brought a truly fresh set of eyes to the design process for the show. Somehow, he had never seen either the movie or a theatrical production of "The Music Man."

As Ost and director Jeff Calhoun began going through the script, a vision formed. He recalled the Victorian architecture of his hometown of Adrian, Michigan. While the set design plays with this idea, it's actually fairly minimal. Cleverly, Ost relies on the ornateness of the Mertz Theater itself as part of the design. And the red and gold band uniforms echo the colors of the theater, making the audience an extension of the production.

Both Ost and Calhoun favor letting the costumes play a significant role. "Multiple iterations of the same costume can become a set," Ost explained. This concept came to life with the costumes for the Pick-a-Little ladies. In fact, the team added two women to the original cast to make this group more fulsome. Their silhouettes, aided by some fabulous hats, command the stage.

As always, learning about the costume design process was fascinating. The period in which the play takes place was a transitional one as women's fashions shifted from morning glory cuts to corseting with bustles.

For the Pick-a-Little ladies, Ost used a 1908 Hobble skirt design. The style was inspired by a bit of practicality employed by Edith Berg, the first female American to fly as a passenger in a plane. Before taking to the sky with the Wright Brothers at a demonstration of their aircraft, she tied a rope around the bottom of the skirt so it wouldn't blow up during the flight. When they landed and she hobbled away from the plane with her skirt still securely in place, a French designer at the event took note and replicated the style. Not surprisingly, its popularity was short-lived. But it works for the Pick-a-Little ladies, who don't have to dance in the show. (Ost adopted the more comfortable morning glory style for the female cast members who twirl around the stage.)

And then there are the hats. The blue hat above includes eight different fabrics and was built by a millinery expert who previously worked at the Asolo. The flowers for all the hats were created by a shop in New York that's been in existence for over 100 years. The cabbage roses shown here are exquisite and, absent discounts, would run $70 per bloom.

The costumes worn by the men in the production might be less flashy than the womenswear, but they were no easier to make. For Professor Harold Hill and the other traveling salesmen, Ost chose a Norfolk style jacket. David Covach, Asolo Rep's costume shop manager, brought in a master tailor to hone the skills of his staff to enable them to make the suits.

In total, the production required an astonishing 110 costumes, at least 80 of which were built in-house at the Asolo under Tobin's watchful gaze. The hard work and countless hours that went into creating Ost's designs paid off. As planned, the costumes set the stage for this joyful production.

"The Music Man" runs at Asolo Rep through December 29. Click here for more information. It's a great outing for friends and family this holiday season. A word of warning if you go, though. You might find yourself randomly breaking into a rousing rendition of  "Seventy-Six Trombones" instead of the more seasonal "Jingle Bells."

Saturday, November 24, 2018

The Art of Romaine Brooks at the Polk Museum of Art

"Self Portrait" (1923)
Discovering an artist whose work you love is always exciting. And so I felt a little surge of adrenalin as I entered the gallery featuring the art of Romaine Brooks -- and that was before I learned the incredibly interesting story behind Brooks and her work. She is truly an artist who was ahead of her time.

Like many artistic souls, Romaine Brooks had a difficult childhood. Brooks' parents divorced when she was young, leaving her emotionally traumatized mother to raise her and her mentally ill brother. Despite the fact her maternal grandfather was a multi-millionaire, Brooks' mother didn't turn to him for help. Instead, she fostered Romaine out to an impoverished family living in a NYC tenement. Brooks was eventually returned to her grandfather, who promptly shipped her off to boarding school. In the long run, her family ended up supporting Brooks and her art. When her mother and grandfather passed on, Brooks inherited great wealth that enabled her to live her life in the manner she chose.

Brooks' life as an artist began when she traveled to Rome in 1893 to take art classes. The 19 year old Brooks registered for a life drawing class, a style of art deemed wholly inappropriate for women. While the male students sketched from the model, Brooks was relegated to working from casts. In her later work, Brooks painted nudes of her (female) lovers. Her bold work in the genre showed the artistic community she could paint in this tradition as well as any man.

"Una, Lady Troubridge" (1924)
In her self-portrait, Brooks employs the gray palette for which she became known. She is dressed in an androgynous style of clothing adopted by gay women of the day. While her eyes are shaded by her top hat, she gazes directly at the viewer.  She seems to be declaring, "This is who I am."

Brooks' subjects tended towards progressive female writers, intellectuals and artists. Her portrait of Una Troubridge was perhaps my favorite painting in the exhibit. As in Brooks' self-portrait, Troubridge's look is androgynous. She wears aristocratic clothing befitting of her background.  Dachsunds take the place of the hunting dogs one would typically see in a portrait of an upper-class English gentleman. I particularly love the monocle, a reference to Troubridge's work as a literary translator. Then there's the fact that, between the haircut and the monocle, it's hard not to think of actress Linda Hunt, now on CSI: Los Angeles. But I digress....

"Ida Rubenstein" (1917)

Russian dancer and arts patron Ida Rubenstein was a frequent model for Brooks' paintings. The two were lovers.

Like Brooks, Rubenstein rebelled against the mores of the day. Always progressive, she crossed the line in 1908 when she stripped during a performance of The Dance of the Seven Veils from Oscar Wilde's "Salome." Clearly crazy to have so fully inhabited her character, she was institutionalized in a psychiatric facility. She escaped and fled from Russia to Paris, where she danced with the Ballet Russes and performed in avant garde theater. (For more on Ida--and to see one of Brooks' nude paintings of her--click here.)

"La France Croisee" (1914)

An opponent to WWI, Brooks supported the relief effort with her painting "La France Croisee."  Ida, who volunteered as a nurse during the war, served as the model for this painting. Always one for a bit of drama, Rubenstein recited poetry to the soldiers and people she met during her travels.

The work depicts a heroic looking nurse against the background of the burning Belgian city of Ypres. Prints of the painting were sold, with the proceeds benefiting the Red Cross. Brooks was awarded the Cross of the Legion of Honor by the French Government in 1920 for her contributions.

The painting also played a bit part in the romantic triangle of Brooks, Rubenstein and writer Gabriele D'Annunzio. D'Annunzio wrote the musical The Martyrdom of St. Sebastian with Claude Debussy in which Rubenstein played the title role. D'Annunzio fell madly in love with Rubenstein, who was madly in love with Brooks. A 1915 exhibit of this painting also included several poems written by D'Annunzio. (To read one, click here.)  I'm betting the opening of that show was a bit awkward.

The Art of Romaine Brooks is on view at the Polk thanks to its affiliation with the Smithsonian American Museum of Art. Next up at the Polk is an exhibit featuring the work of Degas. Another road trip seems in order. Maybe I'll even have time to check out the Frank Lloyd Wright buildings at Florida Southern College. There's never a lack of fun outings in Southwest Florida.

 To learn more about the Polk and its upcoming exhibits, click here.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Chagall and The Fables of La Fontaine at the Polk Museum of Art

The Raven Wishing to Imitate the Eagle
I love a good art outing. So I hit the "attend" button the second my Museums and Galleries Meetup Group posted a visit to the Polk Museum of Art in Lakeland. How could I resist the opportunity to see a Chagall exhibit?  I wasn't expecting any big surprises, though. I anticipated vibrant works similar to The Birthday and I and the Village. And we got that in Chagall's 24 lithographs telling "The Story of Exodus" that were on display. But it was the black and white prints of his illustrations of La Fontaine's fables that captivated me.

In 1937, French art dealer and publisher Ambroise Vollard approached Chagall about bringing La Fontaine's 17th century fables to life. Chagall seemed a natural choice since both he and La Fontaine readily mixed humans and animals in a whimsical way. For Chagall, the project provided the chance to illustrate fables with which he'd long been familiar while extending his art beyond Russian and Jewish influences. His original depictions of the fables took the form of watercolor gouaches. The gouaches were used as the basis for black and white etchings that were then printed and mass produced.

Not surprisingly, La Fontaine's fables owe a debt to Aesop. But I wasn't familiar with the stories behind some of the works in the exhibit. Take, for instance, The Raven Wishing to Imitate the Eagle. In the story, the raven is envious of the eagle's ability to capture and fly away with its prey. The raven decides to try it himself and lands on the largest sheep he can find. Of course, his efforts were to no avail. The moral of the story: Know your own limits. My own response to this work was to recall the little engine saying, "I think I can, I think I can."

The Woodcutter and Mercury
The fable of The Woodcutter and Mercury rang some bells in the recesses of my mind. A hard-working woodcutter has somehow lost his axe. Distraught, he pleads with Jupiter to return the source of his livelihood to him.

Jupiter sends his son Mercury, who happens to be the god of commerce, to the Woodcutter to see if he is worthy of assistance. Mercury shows the Woodcutter three axes -- one gold, one silver and one wooden -- and asks if he can identify which implement was his. Would the Woodcutter be content with the return of his modest wooden axe or be greedy and identify a more valuable tool as his own?

Happily, our Woodcutter was a honest gent. When he told Mercury the wooden axe was the one he'd lost, he was rewarded with its return. It is this moment that Chagall chose to capture in his etching rather than subsequent events when other carpenters "lose" their own axes in hope of obtaining more valuable tools. They, of course, are punished for their dishonesty and greed.

The Charlatan
My favorite fable/print told the story of The Charlatan. The story tells of a man who travels around declaring his ability to teach donkeys to speak. A prince falls for his scam and pays the man a "tuition fee" to make one of his donkeys an orator. The charlatan clearly has great confidence in his abilities. He has, after all, sweetened the deal by offering up his own head if he can't fulfill his promise within ten years. As for the charlatan, this seemed a reasonable gamble given the likelihood the donkey, the prince or the charlatan himself would be dead and gone by then.

In his depiction of this fable, Chagall chose to portray an event which doesn't actually happen in the story -- the charlatan attempting to teach the donkey to speak. The instructor takes the form of a duck, a clever reference to the fact that charlatans are also known as quacks. He points his finger to the sky as he makes a particularly salient point.

But what I truly love is the image of the donkey dressed in a suit as he assiduously works to learn the human language. He's just too cute for words -- and a brown noser of the highest order.

Each of the 11 prints included in the exhibit made me laugh in delight. And the "collaboration" gave me a greater appreciation for Chagall's talents.

Chagall: Stories into Dreams will be on display at the Polk Museum of Art through January 6.  It's a great outing with friends and family this holiday season. If you wait until after Christmas, you can also enjoy a Degas exhibit entitled Edgar Degas: The Private Impressionist. And have I mentioned that admission to the Museum is free? For more information, click here.

Stay tuned for a post about the Museum's exhibit featuring the artwork of Romaine Brooks.

Monday, November 12, 2018

2018 Exquisite Corpse Games

Photography EC:  Head by
 Nicolas Descharnes, 
torso by Tomeu L'Amo and
legs by Chuck Vosburgh 
Buckle your seatbelts for this one, folks. Back in the 1920s, Surrealist artists like Yves Tanguy, Marcel Duchamp and Andre Breton found themselves sitting around a parlor thinking of ways to amuse themselves. They created a game called Exquisite Corpse that bears a strong resemblance to today's Mad Libs. One person would write the beginning of a sentence on a piece of paper, fold the paper so only a portion of the writing was visible and pass it on to the next person, who added to it and passed it to a third participant. The name of the game came from one of the sentences derived from this exercise -- "The exquisite corpse shall drink the new wine."

Over time, the game was expanded into a visual version, with one person creating the image's legs, a second creating the torso and the third creating the head. (To see some of the images created by the Surrealists, click here.)

Fast forward to modern day St. Petersburg, Florida and the 2018 Exquisite Corpse Games. In her role as curator and gamekeeper, Ann Marie Cash selected 63 artists working in a variety of media to participate. Within each medium, artists were randomly paired and assigned a part of the corpse to create. They were not told the identity of the artists with whom they would be collaborating. The game had only two rules -- have fun and commit to secrecy.

Painted EC: Head by Douglas Thonen, torso by 
Grace Howl, legs by Debbie Slowey Raguso; Sculpted EC:
Head by Amandine Drouet, torso by Rose Marie Prins;
legs by Rebecca Skelton. 

Sarasota artist Grace Howl was one of the participating painters. Grace is also responsible for bringing the exhibit to her gallery in Sarasota for a too short stay after its unveiling at the St. Petersburg Museum of Art. Happily, I had the chance to chat with her about the process and its surprising results when I stopped by to see the show. (Note: Grace created the torso of the painted exquisite corpse shown here.)

The components of each work were created sequentially, with the legs coming first, then the torso, then the head. Grace received a blank canvas with two small marks indicating where the torso would connect with the legs. No other detail was provided as to style, color, etc.  When her torso was completed, a canvas with marks indicating where to connect the head were given to the next artist. Each artist was given only 17 days to create her contribution.

It's no surprise the resulting artwork is pretty crazy. What is surprising are the connections both within individual "corpses" and throughout the exhibit. Take, for instance, the piece Grace worked on. Her torso was inspired by the animated movie "Coco." It seemed perfect given the movie's Day of the Dead theme. The colors in Grace's painting nearly vibrate off the canvas. So you might not expect the black and white head to work. Ah, but it does. In the movie, the characters inhabiting the Land of the Dead are black and white. This unexpected connection gave Grace chills up her spine. And as to the legs, it's worth noting that octopuses change color in response to external stimuli. While the legs of this corpse are quite colorful, they could as easily be grayscale if the situation required.

Painted EC: Head by Jean Michel Fait,
torso by Beate Marston, legs by
Jenipher Chandley
Grace also pointed out the relationship amongst the paintings that comprise the Exquisite Corpse created by Jean Michel Fait, Beate Marston and Jenipher Chandley. The head features the face of a young woman wearing a wreath of white lilies (which presumably represent chastity and virtue, although lilies are also associated with funerals).  Fait's description of the piece says "Nec Spe, Nec Metu." Thanks to my handy iPhone, I learned that means "without hope, without fear."

But the young woman does in fact have something to fear, as we find out when our eyes scan down to her torso. The hand of a man holds tightly onto her body. The inset is a photograph of what appears to be a father with his young daughter. Is this the man and the young woman at an earlier time? Marston's description notes the "acute feeling of urgency of the here and now" of her work.

Then there are the woman's legs, a work titled "A Longing for Love." In her description, Chandley shares she set out to shine a light on childhood pain in the world but ended up being forced to confront her own childhood abandonment. Her contribution rounds out this surprisingly cohesive -- if somewhat depressing -- Exquisite Corpse.

Unfortunately, there's not enough space to include photos of  all 22 works in the Exquisite Corpse exhibit, which runs at the Grace Howl Gallery through the end of this week. Stop by if you get a chance, as each "corpse" is worthy of study. But if you can't make it, no worries. I understand plans for next year's exhibit are already in the works.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Goat Yoga, Anyone?

My only apprehension about taking a goat yoga class was the smell. I've stopped to pet goats while cycling through Nova Scotia or visiting a farm to buy cheese and, well, they kind of stink. So I was envisioning taking a big inhale as I lifted my arms to the sky and choking a bit. Should I wear some Vicks Vaporub under my nose like cops do at crime scenes?

Happily, the goats brought in for the special class at Pineapple Yoga Studio were odor-free. I laid down my mat to stake out my space on the patio and hurried over to the large bucket to check out the baby goats. The little ones had been born just eight days earlier and were highly adorable.

As someone placed a baby in my arms, there was a chorus of "oh no's" and laughter. When I turned to see what the commotion was, I saw that a wandering goat had pooped and peed -- on my mat.  I clearly had been worried about the wrong thing.

This explains a lot. 

One of the yoga studio owners hurried over with a broom and swept up the poop pellets. Paper towels were used to sop up the liquid, which he assured me was "just water." He said something about goats expelling water rather than urine when they drink a lot too fast, but I wasn't buying it. I was happy I'd brought my (disposable) outdoor yoga mat for the session -- and that they had another mat I could use.

"This isn't as tasty as my usual grass."

Despite perfect weather and skilled instruction, it was a bit hard to focus on the poses with the goats roaming around the yogis. How could I not look when peals of laughter erupted across the patio? Or giggle when Claudia gave instructions not typically heard, like "Don't be alarmed if you feel a little hoof on your butt" or "Lower yourself down all the way to your mat--BUT ONLY IF IT'S CLEAN" or "Goats will be goats." And then there was the moment when I was in a high plank position and a baby goat scampered underneath me.

Yoga always makes me feel good, but this class brought my joy to a new level. In addition to the pure fun of the morning, the session was a fundraiser for Pineapple Yoga Studio's community programs. These projects include Juvenile Detention Yoga, Yoga for Sustainable Recovery from Addiction and Mindful Yoga for Parkinson's Disease. For more information about Pineapple Yoga Studio and its community programs, click here.

As for the goats, they came from Yolkers Wilde Dairy Goats. Glenna Roberts, one of the owners, told me she got her first goat when she was nine years old. She's lived on the property where the business is located for 31 years. Originally, they raised goats just for the fun of it. She was pleasantly surprised when she learned she could make a living out of her passion.

Glenna favors Nubian goats, which are known for their long ears. Their farm is home to between 60-70 goats at any time, not counting the babies. They eat approximately two tons of feed/month. Sadly, the goats aren't regular participants in any yoga classes despite their clear aptitude.

Thanks to Pineapple Yoga Studio and Yolkers Wilde Dairy Goats for hands-down the most hilarious yoga class I've ever taken.

Favorite Sculptures from Art Basel

Bus Passengers by George Segal (1997)  With 500,000 square feet of exhibit space, it should come as no surprise that Art Basel was over...