Friday, July 10, 2015

Platinum Records, Polished Silver, and Polident

by Drew Martin
If you are a reader of this blog, you may have come to realize that I like to make bizarre connections between remote entities. This one here is perhaps the greatest stretch: the success of at least three music entertainers and the failed marriage of my aunt in the early 1970s represented here by a silver champagne cup from her wedding in 1969, inscribed with her ex-husband's n
ame.

Somehow the pariah's silver cup from the wedding got into my hands since no one else wanted it. I had it out on my art wall for years and then I thought the boyfriend of a coworker (who I hired five years ago) might like it since he is a graphic artist in the music industry.

I brought it inside in its blackened state and made a few attempts to clean it up with household substances: shaving cream, baking soda, and white toothpaste. These things helped but they did not remarkably transform it. But then I tried Polident (for dentures), which my wife had mistakenly bought instead of toothpaste years ago. It was amazing; took the tarnish off immediately.

After cleaning up the cup I hand-drew a diagram, similar to the one here, which shows the connection: My deadbeat uncle abandons his family when my cousins are toddlers. The girl cousin grows up and marries a cop. The boy grows up and befriends Nelly before he goes platinum and helps him get established. Together they start Apple Bottom Jeans, which inspires the hit Low by Flo Rida, featuring T-Pain. This advances Flo Rida's career and thereby puts Ke$ha on the map when she sings backup for his next hit Right Round, the remake of Dead or Alive's You Spin Me Round from 1985.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Face Time at the Storm King Art Center

by Drew Martin
I visited Storm King Art Center on the Sunday of this past Fourth of July weekend with my wife and youngest son, who just turned eight years old. I have been to this amazing, peaceful place several times before and so I was prepared to write again about what a great location it is to see art; in nature - unbound by the walls of galleries, and too expansive to ever feel crowded. But something peculiar and totally unexpected happened on this trip: I got trapped on a tram (pictured here, top) next to a couple that was making out inches from my face and rubbing up against me, and so my entire experience was adulterated by an excessive amount of PDA. It wasn't sexy or cool. It was awkward for all the families and retired couples on the tour.

My initial reaction was to tell them to get a room, which I didn't. I even envisioned shifting my weight a little on some of the turns so I could watch them tumble off into the nettles. Instead, I decided to document what it is like to look at work by artists such as Mark di Suvero and Alexander Calder with two people sucking on each others' faces, which blocks your view.


We initially walked around the grounds and looked at the temporary exhibit of work by Lynda Benglis but then my son wanted to ride the tram, which loops around the grounds. I would have preferred to walk but it was also fun to have the ride. On one side was my wife and son, and on my other side was an empty seat. Halfway through the ride the tram stopped to let off visitors and pick up the weary. Most groups did not consider the extra seat next to me because they wanted to sit together. But then a young hipster couple ran over to it. The guy threw their two, huge bags of picnic trash on the tram floor and sat down. His girlfriend jumped on his lap and they immediately started making out while leaning up against me. I felt like a loose headboard in an hourly hotel.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Words and Pictures

by Drew Martin
Yesterday I watched Words and Pictures, a romantic comedy set in a private high school in Maine in which a disheveled, middle-aged English teacher declares war on a demanding, middle-aged Art Honors teacher. Conceptually, the war is between words and pictures, and which has more impact. The battleground is the works of the two teachers and their students but it affects the whole school and it energizes the complacent kids to dig a little deeper in their minds and hearts. Unfortunately, the movie itself doesn't get very far beneath the surface of the topic because it is too general, safe, and obvious. At times it seems like it is trying to be Dead Poets Society; some references are blatant. None-the-less, I thoroughly enjoyed it as a summer watch and appreciated the attempt.

Both of the teachers are past their prime. The English teacher, played by Clive Owen, is a "drunken, art-wrecking bastard" according to the Art Honors teacher, played by Juliette Binoche, who he calls an "ice-cold bitch." His belligerency and inability to write a decent poem again is paired with her disabilities from rheumatoid arthritis.

One nice aspect of the film is that Binoche does more than just dabble at the easel. In one of the more dramatic painting scenes she lays her belly on a swivel chair and paints with the swing of the rotating seat. In another moment she uses a huge brush that hangs from a boom and has a counter weight. The setup is after a painter friend: Fabienne Verdier but all the work in the film is by Binoche.