F is also for Friday: Counting on the Rabbit

From the cover of a 1922 ladies magazine - Image courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

From the cover of a 1922 ladies magazine – Image courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

Across the Bored has been rousted from hibernation, caught off-guard by the sudden arrival of 2 sunny days in a row. A larder in need of replenishing and a largish holiday weekend entailing some unexpected guests over the next 72 hours means intellectual pursuits will have to be put on the back-burner.  Time to dig out the Easter baskets and pysanka….

Back to F is also for Friday next week.

F is also for Friday: Roz Chast

univInGrainSand

the sound of gears turning

It is doubtful if anyone in the last three decades has more prolifically caricatured the odd and interestingly recognizable events of everyday life than Roz Chast. David Remnick, editor of the New Yorker, does not hesitate in calling the 58 year-old cartoonist “The magazine’s only certifiable genius” and the evidence is easily found in the watercolour-washed and inked panels that have graced its pages for the last 30 years.

R.Chast_Stuff_A2Zwe are all guilty

The appeal in the shaky, quirky style lies in its urban icons – the message is not lost in any perfect graphic portrayal of the parts, we instantly recognize the whole whether it is a situation we have faced, something we may have seen or just random stuff and nonsense that flies out of left field. In a black and white framed snapshot of the absurd, multiple panels spread out over a few pages, a magazine cover, even a hooked rug or pysanka, most of Chast’s work is self-explanatory, readers either laugh or just don’t get it.

5-deconstructing-lunch

don’t even think about starting with dessert

Chast has admitted that she is an anxious person, sometimes suffering from insomnia but rather than letting this have a crippling effect, it informs her cartoons and books with all those bits that we hate, have phobias of, secretly know and hide or have thought about while tossing restlessly around in bed at 3 AM.  Like the best social commentary, she lays it out like a royal flush for all to see – these kinds of reflections on existence are far from pedestrian, Ms. Chast’s style creates a neutrality, a world where we are all a little off and most of the time just as strange as our neighbours.

41_1pick one – or add your custom card to the collection

Life, whether it is domestic, family or work, provides sufficient material for Ms. Chast and more than enough to fill the pages of over a dozen books: one can lose many hours glued to the pages of the Theories of Everything: Selected Collected and Health-Inspected Cartoons, a compilation of the cartoons published in The New Yorker, Scientific American and the Harvard Business Review.

chast_theories_04

this is the aftermath of a bad mom

This cartoonist’s perspective is as genuine as the characters portrayed in her work – the typical glossy “author photo” on the dustcover would seem inappropriate and so a cartoon of a woman much like Roz herself smiles quizzically back at us.

We find ourselves in Roz Chast’s cartoons for we are her “everyman”.

Read more on:

Roz Chast
Roz Chast at the Julie Saul Gallery
Roz Chast appreciates Art

F is also for Friday: A Comically Fine Line

hoe

when communication leads in two different directions

Depending on the occasion, anyone one with younger members in the household will know how difficult it can be just to speak to one another in the same language. Inane bits of conversation ranging from “how was your afternoon” to “please put your boots on the mat” can lead to fiery flare-ups, snorts of derision with rolling eyeball accompaniment or the best of the bunch, the snappy answer. From either party involved. It was one of those days and the best option was not to say anything at all because if we did it would have been, inevitably, much worse.

A moment’s solitude was in order and we happened to be in the vicinity of the local greenhouse which we hadn’t stepped foot into since our own monsters were small and in need of some winding down. In our own childhood, the place had seemed enormous with exotic plants hanging off raised beds and a banana tree with fruit dangling within a monkey’s reach tucked in a wing off the back. As recently as 20 years ago the glass house, as the Ghost liked to call it, had a heavy warmth filled with the sweet perfume of tropical flowers in the dead of winter and a koi pond whose occupants would swim up to the surface in the hopes of being fed. Today the door opened upon nannies with strollers seeking their own few minutes of peace while their under-fives bent over a rather sad display of non-descript between-season blooms.  The air wasn’t as close and wet as we remember, the koi had been moved, their pond now filled with pennies and the dark water where they now hid from prying eyes didn’t invite closer inspection. The plants looked as though they had been donated by apartment dwellers with black thumbs – those that had once been green and fresh in some florist’s shop with all the promise of growth and sun and plenty of water had shrunk to shadows of their former glory, leaves a bit brown around the edges with blossoms trying vainly to shout colour into the wilderness of the hothouse.  Evidently the man who used to take such care, who had a gift for nurturing his green charges was long gone and his apprentices had learned little, didn’t care or perhaps just didn’t know any better. Two nurseries once filled with odd-shaped plants from far corners of the world were closed – hopefully they are filled with seedlings and bright buds for the upcoming Easter exhibition.  It took all of ten minutes to make the rounds and as much as we wanted, not even one photo opportunity presented itself – the iphone stayed sleeping in our pocket.

The library attached to this small botanical garden is in much better condition – clean and quiet in the adult stacks, a little more boisterous and chaotic in the children’s section, it boasts a lovely sitting room with floral scrollwork hand-painted around the edge of a coffered ceiling.   People come and spread out their books on the massive oak tables, study, look through thick art tomes or just breathe a sigh of relief in one of the comfortable, green leather reading chairs. That is exactly what we did.

chast new yorker coversitting quietly seems to have helped

More on visions of life as we know it by Roz Chast next week.

F is also for Friday: A tradition of Sanctuary

the-goatherds-of-castel-gandolfo-1866

the goatherds of castel gandolfo
jean-baptiste-camille corot – 1866

Benedict, Pope Emeritus, awoke this morning to look out on Lake Albano one of the flock rather than the shepherd.  Gone is the life in a style to which he had become accustomed, the weight of the world as it were lifted from his shoulders, the red shoes and the Ring of the Fisherman accessories no longer in his service to the Church. Castel Gandolfo will be his place of respite until an awkward return to the monastery Mater Ecclesiae in the Vatican when a successor is elected.

The small coastline town southeast of Rome, which Benedict is no doubt familiar with, has a history long associated with not only the papacy but the European artistic community as well.  Painters, many considered Old Masters, from the French, British and Italian schools found a source of inspiration in the area’s rolling hills and classic vistas. It provided all the elements that more northern climes could not –  a softness of light from mediterranean skies that kissed the ground with warmth, dusty variegated greens that knew little of seasons with snow and the requisite peasants with their animal charges seemingly dropped by the muses into an idyllic setting waiting to be immortalized on canvas. The Castel Gandolfo is often small and blurred in the distance, an architectural feature that is the only hint at man’s imprint on the face of nature.

It is has been for centuries a place of sanctuary, a bastion of solitude in a world torn by war and strife  – may it bring to Benedict, as it did to generations of artists and writers, divine inspiration.

More on Castel Gandolfo in art next week.

F is also for Friday: 1980s Fashion Illustration

antonio lopez

we were young – heartache to heartache we stood
antonio lopez for missoni

In another lifetime every living breathing minute was devoted to fashion, art and the pursuit of activities that were somehow design related – it was the 1980s and everyone we knew, or at least the ones we admitted into the sphere filled with such rarified air one walked at least a foot above the ground, was oh-so-cool and doing something big, bold, shocking and usually public.  It was the beginning of the glorification of brands, of celebrities becoming the poster children for trends and the public developing an unsatiable appetite for the latest thing that has brought our credit-dependent economy to where it flails about bloated and helpless today.

We’ve had some discussions recently with the Ghost and Miss Z about how much of what they see, hear, wear and take for granted comes out of the 80s – not to say that this was the most fabulous era, for many of us there are great chunks of it missing from our memories, but it was one in which extremely creative people thrived and produced and influenced others without the bonus of readily available internet. Sometimes it is hard to imagine that we ever got so much done…

Print media was huge and we spent more than our fair share on glossy publications from Europe and the States to feed our cravings. Loaded with enough inspiration for a hundred lifetimes, these magazines also made us fall in love with those who were capturing the essence of the era. Antonio  Lopez, a prolific artist with an unfortunately brief but meteoric career, was one such object of adulation: he changed the way the world saw art, design  and clothing as inextricably intertwined and some say, singlehandedly revived the art of fashion illustration.

More on the work of Antonio Lopez next week.

Two Cents Tuesday Challenge: Manipulation

As is: iphone photo taken through car window at 130 km per hour

This week’s Two Cents Tuesday Challenge topic – Manipulation – was inspired by Ohm Sweet Ohm, a recent photo challenge and a series of articles and discussions circulating about the validity of iphone photos as “real” art (see the bottom links for more).  Actual or virtual, raw or enhanced, point and shoot, SLR or DSLR, good or not – beauty, art and an appreciation of the world around us are where we find it. Judgement shouldn’t rest on the effort taken, and the tools that we use, to bring images to a state where we are satisfied with them.  As a friend once said about the unwanted gift of a print from a relative – “I don’t care whether it’s a Picasso – I don’t like it!”

Judicious cropping, the use of levels, curves and contrast, topped with the graphic pen filter from photoshop result in the American gothic novella illustration

The noun “manipulation” has a bad rep; most of the dictionary definitions have negative connotations but perhaps, in this century of change and alteration, the editors should append their entries to include a few words on a positive note.  The very act of creation is making something out of nothing (although the opposite could be argued as well), it is manipulation of the best kind. We assign meaning by presenting images in a certain way – whether our audience gets it or not is irrelevant, what is important is that they take away their own impression.

Sofa size: tweaking vibrance, hue and saturation, cropping and the application of artistic and brush strokes filters in photoshop

Nature is the mistress of manipulation, from animals using tools to the strangling vines that plague our gardens in their climb towards the sun.  Babies are manipulative in a sweet, endearing way; small children learn it early as part of their skill set; teenagers start to refine it by practicing on each other in a microcosmic mimicking dance;  but, adults take the art of manipulation to a whole new realm, infusing the word through action with as many variations as there are synonyms and definitions.

So  “What does manipulation mean to you?”

We would love to see your vision.

For all those who are new readers to Across the Bored, here are some guidelines for the challenge:

HOW DOES THIS WORK?

  1.  I will post some commentary on a random topic that pops into my head (such as the above) and then ask you to respond on the same.
  2. Feel free to attach photos or artwork you have that fit the current week’s challenge.
  3. The Challenge will be open for 6 days after it is posted upon which I will post another challenge.
  4. ENJOY, have FUN and TELL your friends and fellow bloggers.

 SO – Create your Two Cents Tuesday Challenge post

  1. Then add a link to your blog in my comment box.
  2. To make it easy for others to check out your post, title your blog post “Two Cents Tuesday Challenge” and add the same as a tag.
  3. Remember to Follow My Blog to get your weekly (hopefully) reminders.

Interesting articles:
Binoculars and iPhone Give Pro Cameras Stiff Competition at Olympics
Stop Arguing About Instagram and Go Make a Picture
How the iPhone changed my photography
Pix Before Pixels