Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Eric and Cari, in wetsuits

I don't know why it has taken me so long to post about this portrait of Eric and me in wetsuits. Perhaps it's because I kind of hate how I look in this photo (where oh where did my eyebrows go??), but it's certainly not because of the portrait itself, which I LOVE!

The artist is Peter Zokosky, he's up there on the left. He's long been one of my favorite painters, and we've become friends over the years. I fell in love with his figurative work years ago, particularly his "flayed" figures (like the one here, Trapezius from 2002). He's really a master and painting the human form. No big surprise that he teaches "Biology for Artists" at Cal State Long Beach. Imagine how honored I was when he told me he had a vision of me and Eric wearing wetsuits, and he just had to paint it! I'd never worn a wetsuit in my life before we posed for this painting, so I can't really say where the vision came from. I know he likes how wetsuits kind of minimizes people's figures, making them at once adrogynous and quasi-amphibious. He said he thought I had a "very feminine face" and Eric had a "very male face," features he wanted to see in the portrait. So there you have it.

This painting is currently on exhibit at the Long Beach Museum of Art (yep, my former home-away-from-home for many years) as part of About Face: Portraiture Now, on display through March 23. Peter himself curated the exhibition, and it's a great look at contemporary portraiture by 35 regional artists.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

RIP Ettore Sottsass Jr.

2007 ended with the death of an icon in the art and design community, Ettore Sottsass, who died of heart failure at age 90. I'm one of those people who anthropomorphizes inanimate objects, expecting a little personality in the design of just about everything, whether my mouse pad or my coffee cup. This is why I love the work of Ettore Sottsass!

Sottsass had a long and unique life, punctuated by very dark days (time spent in a concentration camp during WWII), and greatness (some of the world's highest design awards). He is perhaps best known for imbuing normally hum-drum items, such as typewriters and other office tools, with colorful personalities, suggesting a change should be made in the way we view the inanimate objects we surround ourselves with on a daily basis. Click here to view a Sottsass bio.

In 2006, LACMA hosted the first Sottsass retrospective in the US - it was a terrific show, beautifully capturing both Sottsass's quirky aesthetic and and desire to give life and character to so-called everyday objects. Click here to read a brief interview with the curator of that exhibition, Ronald T. Labaco, LACMA’s assistant curator of decorative arts.