Monday, December 29, 2008

2009: Another Year of Art, Environmental Worries, and Opportunistic Pop Stars. All Will Be Well. You Betcha!

An oil painting caught and held him. A heavy surf thundered and burst over an outjutting rock; lowering storm-clouds covered the sky; and, outside the line of surf, a pilot-schooner, close-hauled, heeled over till every detail of her deck was visible, was surging along against a stormy sunset sky. There was beauty, and it drew him irresistibly. He forgot his awkward walk and came closer to the painting, very close. The beauty faded out of the canvas. His face expressed his bepuzzlement. He stared at what seemed a careless daub of paint, then stepped away. Immediately all the beauty flashed back into the canvas. “A trick picture,” was his thought, as he dismissed it, though in the midst of the multitudinous impressions he was receiving he found time to feel a prod of indignation that so much beauty should be sacrificed to make a trick. He did not know painting. He had been brought up on chromos and lithographs that were always definite and sharp, near or far. He had seen oil paintings, it was true, in the show windows of shops, but the glass of the windows had prevented his eager eyes from approaching too near.

Martin Eden, Jack London
Unlike Jack london's self-possessed writer Martin Eden, I have spent a great deal of time around oil paintings. I also have not made a big mess of the end of a nifty story, but that's not important now. Close-up, face against the frame time with the watery old Buzzards Bay-Hudson Valley-Whalers-and-Sailors ancestors of Bob Ross. Galleries and exhibit cases, curatorial offices and collections storage areas. In the maritime museum world, you have to own your own 100% cotton gloves for moving paintings (even though you know that a glove gets as dirty as a hand) you had better be able to tell the difference between a Bradford and an Ashley. And an Ashley and an Ashley. It's all very academic, and I'm perfectly comfortable not discussing it any further. Unless you give me a great deal of money. Because I'm worth it.
But every so often, there's news o the actual relevance of those dusty old seaside spacklefests. The BBC reports on the work of Robin McInnes :

Over the years, Dr McInnes had amassed quite a collection of paintings, prints and etchings depicting the coastlines of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, where he ran the island's coastline management strategy.

Combining his interests in paintings of the local environment, geology and coastal erosion, he looked at hundreds of artworks and came up with a method to assess their value as indicators of coastal change - especially erosion.

As you obviously know, erosion is not a popular topic among your wicker-baskets-on-the-riverbank-and-easels-by-the-shingle crowd today or a century and a half ago. . Nothing would ever dim the scattered light of their motley shanteytowns or blear the inevitable swipe of time's inexorable expungement.

Ventnor Cove ny Charles Ray, 1825. Plus geological descriptions by somebody to whom I owe a pint.So that's how art will save us all, dramatize coastal change, and substantiate our understanding of our true affiliation to the living history that we apprehensively call our past.
Meanwhile, maybe you'll celebrate 2009 with the work of our generation's Deborah Gibson: Deborah Gibson and her Electric Youth, an attempt by the greatest youth of all time Dude, she was in Playboy. (except for Miley Cyrus or Alexander the Great) to "provide a nurturing, creative, disciplined, and fun atmosphere for young people who are serious about embarking in a career in entertainment."Sponsored by Chipotle Mexican Grill (Locations near me include Providence, Boston, and Newington New Hampshire).

Happy New Year!


karie said...

Great post.
I love the painter/geologist/writer combo-theme!

But, not quite yet.

And I am guessing you will have something more to say as the New Year rings in over the next 24 1/2 or so hours, EST ...or at least on New Year's Day (or so I hope.)

karie said...

Oh, yah.
And, she's skeeeeazy.
Always was...

Nice juxtaposition with Alexander the Great, though!

Andrew Weiss said...

Happy New Year, PJ!

ThirdMate said...

Happy New Year, Andrew! And to all the residents and denizens of Woburn and points thereabouts.

Karie: You're thinking of Tiffany Darwish. She's the "skeeezy" auburn-haired mallrat who bought Chuck Norris' house when she was 18 and ended up in Playboy. Deb "Deborah" Gibson is the fresh-faced blonde mallrat who was the well-scrubbed suburban Madonna wannabe who became a successful self-promoting entrepreneur.

And ended up in Playboy.