Category Archives: Art

Something time forgot

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.

Back in the 1960s browsing around book stores a person used to find 33 1/3 LP records of poets reading their own poetry.  I bought several and always enjoyed listening to Robert Frost, TS Eliot, Archibald MacLeish and several others.  Those poor old LPs were awfully scratchy and beat up by the time cassette tapes came along and I converted those I could.

But toward the end of LP-days along came Rod McKuen and I suppose made everyone a bit shy about admitting they listened to poetry.  I’m telling you now I listened to part of a Rod McKuen LP once, so shoot me for a dumbass.

Anyway somewhere back there my tapes ran away with a fancy machine designed to play them and it’s been a long time since I’ve heard Frost, MacLeish, Penn Warren, or TS Eliot, among others.  Missed it considerable.

But here in my dotage in Olathe, KS, there’s a lady who works at the County Library who was once an English Major.  She takes delight in getting me whatever the library has on almost anything.  I’ve consumed books on low sodium cooking, for instance, and am currently reading some new Terry Pratchett.

So lately when I got hankering to find some MP3 recordings converted from those mentioned naturally she was my database.  The bad news is a lot of it is still in libraries somewhere on vinyl, never converted even to tape.  You can find my favorite MacLeish on Amazon on LP for $4.77 used, but nothing even on tape.  Or you can get it Interlibrary loan from NY Public Library on LP.

Anyway I got Frost converted from CD to MP3, along with an assortment of other CD anthologies and spang sent them back to the library, ordering more.  And today I’ve got another stack  she brought home last night.  TS Eliot and The Spoken Arts Treasury Volume 1 [6 CD] of a large variety of poets reading their own poetry if they were still alive when recording devices were invented.

I also have a 2 CD set of the Mills Brothers, 1931-1968 I’ll be converting to MP3.  Truly looking forward to hearing it.

But the technology is moving so fast by the time I get them on MP3 probably something will come along assuring they’ll be lost to history some other way.  Heck, there aren’t enough people interested in Archibald MacLeish, Carl Sandburg, to justify someone commercially to preserve them.  Not anyone after cassette tapes came along.

Ezra Pound spent the years of his life after WWII in confined exile because he got so enthusiastic about Italian fascism, entirely because Il Duce supported the arts.

If poor old Ezry had recorded all those endless cantos he penned from 1945 until he died I suppose it would be one hell of a treasury to convert to MP3.  I’m probably the only person on the planet who wouldn’t listen to it.

Old Jules

Korean kids are higher quality stupid than US kids

Hi readers.  I saw the entire movie, Attack the Gas Station 2, on Netflix and found it fascinating.  It ain’t the same Korea I spent 14 months in back in 1963-’64.  Hell, it ain’t even a 3rd world country anymore.

jackjeepkorea2

When this photo was taken near Camp Howze, Korea [Pong Il Chon], I can say with authority there was a rice paddy somewhere nearby where people toiled from daybreak to dark. Somewhere nearby men were carrying a-frames loaded with firewood several times their own weight. Probably somewhere in Korea there was affluence staying well hidden, but the ‘average’ Korean made a few dollars per month and most would never expect to be able to afford a bicycle anytime during their lives.

But several things impressed me about the Korean film.  First, it’s the best photography I’ve seen in any of the foreign films I’ve watched on Netflix lately.  Secondly, the characters are wealthy in the middle-class way US citizens,  even the poor ones, are wealthy by standards of the 1960s.

Secondly, the kids are easily as stupid as US kids, but it’s a higher quality stupidity.  I suppose it hasn’t had time to mature, to become as decadent as US kids manifest constantly in public.  Stupidity of Korean kids has the quality of an over-ripe apple that hasn’t yet begun to rot.

And thirdly, the amazing wealth.  Look at that gas station, the cars and the people driving them.  The motorcycles those kids are riding and the clothes they’re wearing.  Observe the body-fat.  Those people might well be Americans in  the better neighborhoods.

By comparison, consider another Netflix foreign film, this one from Russia.  The Suit.  Some Russian youngsters fall in love with a Gucci suit in a store window and the adventures they go through to acquire it.  And what happens once they have it in their possession.

The Suit is a damned eye-opening good movie, well done and fun to watch, but it doesn’t hold a candle to Attack the Gas Station 2.  The Russian kids are smarter, incidently, and not so wealthy.

Anyone who tells you different is wrong.

Old Jules

 

Outlawry and the metaphysics of Quality – Zen, Persig et al

tabby thinking it over 2

Tabby:  So what does all this airplane talk have to do with the metaphysics of  quality?

Me:  Giving ourselves quality in life comes in a lot of forms, but each trail we take leading there relies on our personal determination to define what we believe is quality.  Although it’s remotely possible some larger social or governmental entity will offer the opportunities, it’s no priority with them.  They’re concerned with something they define as ‘the greater good’.  Keeping people on the sidewalks, off the grass.  If a person sees the need to walk on the grass, to lie on it, to find the quality in it, he’s going to have to find a way to get there without going to jail.  You have to find awareness of the grass, and you can’t be aware of it until you’ve experienced it.

Tabby:  But at least they’re keeping the dogs from crapping on the grass..

Me:  That’s right.  And if you’re planning to crap on it you’d destroy the quality you hoped to find there.  But if you allow the fact someone in control is afraid you’ll crap on the grass to keep you off it so’s to make sure you don’t you’ve lost a chunk of life you’ll never recover.  A piece of the quality of living gone because someone else might have violated it if they’d gone there.

Tabby:  People can’t see the damned grass anyway, right?  They walk right past it without seeing anything.

Me:  Mostly they don’t see it because they‘re somewhere else.  They‘re thinking about something they think is in the future, where they‘re having lunch, or something someone said an hour ago.  They’re walking past that grass and have a vague intellectual awareness the grass is there, but that’s only half of where quality lives.  The flash of instant ‘seeing’ it before the mind has time to intellectually define what it’s seeing is where quality hides.  And because they don’t experience the quality of the grass they have no respect for it.  They’re minds assign it no value.  They take a rhetorical crap on the grass without ever knowing they’ve done it.

Tabby:  So that’s why the people posting the signs want to keep them off the grass?  So they won’t take a rhetorical crap on it as they go by?

Me:  No.  The people posting the signs think they’re doing it to protect the grass for the ‘greater good’ of all those people and dogs going by who won’t see it.  Sign posters couldn’t care less about what people experience as they go by.  They think it’s the separation between the people and dogs, and the grass that’s important.

Tabby:  I’m glad they do it, anyway.  I hate eating grass after a dog’s peed or crapped on it. 

Me:  But you can’t taste it until you get past the signs.

Old Jules

My hat’s off to Jeanne

I was talking to her on the phone last night, her feeling down and in fairly low spirits about the art she’s worked on all these years and hasn’t sold enough of to balance the cost of entries in art shows, etc.  We were discussing other strategies she might try when I suddenly heard the word, “AWESOME!”

I thought the connection and gone bad or I was hearing wrong.  Just reaching for the button to hang up when she added, “I sold one off the blog!” 

I didn’t hang up after all, though the word awesome isn’t one I usually allow to reach my ear twice in the same conversation.

Can’t tell you how glad I am for her.  I honestly couldn’t imagine a blog, no matter how much trouble a person took building it, was a place where original art could be sold.

Taking it all too seriously– from Jeanne

“Artists shouldn’t enter the arena of competitions until they are tough enough to realize it is only opinion and not a reflection on their worth.”  (Mary Moquin)

So… I got a rejection letter.  None of the pieces I submitted were accepted, although I’ve been in that particular exhibit twice in years past ( most recently about three years ago).
The above is one I submitted. Problem is with form letters, you never know what it was that made them reject it. I’ll only be able to speculate when I go to the exhibit.

I’ve noted before that they seem partial to some 3-D element for the prize winners, but I haven’t tried that yet.  There are a lot of ways that could be done with my work, but without my work by nature being 3-D,  I suspect it would look contrived. I also get frustrated when I get too far away from the actual drawing (like those pendants, where the glass cutting and soldering is time-consuming).  Cutting paper, layering paper, rotating layers of paper, mirror-edges around the design–all of them  sound cool but don’t really sound fun to put together.  I’m really not a paper-crafter.
I have a couple of other ideas about how I can give them more depth, so I suppose I’ll concentrate on that first.

I have a couple of little peeves about these exhibits. The first is the application fee (in this case, $25, which isn’t too unreasonable). The second is that photography and other kinds of art work are usually grouped together, and I think photography exhibits/competitions should be held separately from other media.  I think photography is an entirely different beast, especially now that good cameras are affordable and it’s so easy to use the computer in conjunction with that.  I love it, but just because it hangs on the wall doesn’t make it the same thing.

Evaluating my work is a constant process, always there in the background, but it’s good to put it up front sometimes.   Right now the difficulty of getting exposure to promote sales makes it a challenge in ways that don’t have anything to do with the  difficulty of doing the work.  I hope I’ll be able to draw some  honest conclusions later on.  Maybe that will include submitting some photographs next time.

There’s one nice little conclusion to this form-letter rejection, though. I was shelf-reading at work last night (shelf-reading is checking the shelves to make sure that every book is placed in exact order). I always keep an eye out for bookmarks since I have quite a collection. Usually I find check-out receipts and boarding passes. This time, in a book called “The Lord is my Shepherd”, I found $26.00. Just enough to cover the application fee and postage to send the cd. Is that cool, or what?

Jeanne

Jeanne Checks In

While we all twiddle our thumbs in anticipation waiting to hear whether Old Jules is giving the lawyers a bad day or has gone fishing, here’s a very brief update from me, Jeanne.
I just realized I never showed you the final version of this particular mandala that I was working on in June, so here it is:

Those little shaded areas are actually a clear metallic ink.

I  completed four good-sized works in June and July before I went on vacation. I’ll put the others up at some point, or Old Jules will.  I entered an exhibit application showing those other three as examples of my work, and if one of them gets chosen, I’ll get that one matted and framed. I’ve been in the exhibit before, which is held in a local nature center building, but I haven’t heard anything yet for this year.  I like this one because they let you put prices on your work and the Parks and Recreation Dept. actually makes some purchases themselves for their buildings throughout the county. So we shall see. I’ve never won any prizes or sold anything through this exhibit, but the judge this year is affiliated with our  Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art (Kansas City, MO), so it makes sense to let one more art professional  see my stuff.  Usually the winners from this show are either doing photography or have some 3-D element in their work.

I took 2460 photographs on my trip, most of them in Oregon and Washington. If you want to connect with me on Facebook, you can see some of them (I’m there as Jeanne Bangs Kasten). There were some really great photos because I got a new camera, a Canon Powershot Elph somethingorother.  Even just set on automatic, the pictures were great. I took pictures at Breitenbush Hot Springs, the Oregon beach, Tacoma, WA, Mt. Rainier, Ballard Locks (Seattle) and the Dale Chihuly Museum at the Seattle Center (right by the Space Needle). I have a ton of scenery and greenery photos, and I have an obsession (apparantly) with running water scenes.  I haven’t passed on very many to Old Jules yet because it involves either re-sizing them all or putting them on a separate flash drive. 
 Well, back to work!  And the rest of you can go back to twiddling your thumbs. 
Jeanne

The Limerick Masters of Yesteryear – The Lost Artform

By the time I arrived at adulthood the state of the limerick as a masterpiece of the literary foil was in alarming decline.  Playboy Magazine attempted to inject new life into the medium during the 1960s and 1970s by paying $500 for limerick submissions accepted for publication.  The selection process was tough and they accepted only true masterpieces.

During those years I submitted no fewer than ten [10] limericks per month and never had one accepted.  Hundreds of limericks.  There was no place in Playboy for second-rate hacks.

While the artform requires a particular meter, the truly well-constructed one needs more.  Internal rhyming.  Puns.  Lilting beat to simulate waves on a beach.  A joy to the tongue and ear. 

To illustrate my point, here is perhaps the best limerick ever written, once published in Playboy:

The new cineramic emporium
Is not just a super-sensorium
But a highly effectual
Heterosexual
Mutual masterbatorium.

Every time I run those timeless words through my mind, I’m humbled.

I don’t know whether the image at the top of the page depicts a man who once wrote limericks and submitted them to Playboy.  He almost certainly could have.  Possibly should have.

He might have been a contender.

Old Jules