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THE ARTS MAGAZINE OF THE ART STUDIO, INC.

MARCH 2014

A Q UA T I C E X P LO RE RS PAGE 8 INSIDE: HISTORY OF THE NUDE, MA N I N T H E B O W L E R H A T , N A VA J O W E A VI N G S , A N D MO R E


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A View From The Top Greg Busceme, TASI Director

RECENT CHANGES HAVE OCCURRED in regard to the teaching of art in a school curriculum. There seems to be limited contact hours (minutes?) and class will be taught by the regular teacher. This was a flash on the CBS evening news, so I don’t know all there is to know about the changes but I know enough to finish the story. It ends with the arts left out in the cold, taught by an instructor who is already so loaded with rules and requirements that I can’t imagine how they will pull together an art project as well. What, are the art teachers too “crazy,” don’t play well with others or create an atmosphere of subversive behavior causing the children to question ... everything? What about all of those degrees in art education? This sounds like the art class that I experienced in grade school. The end of the week, last hour of the day, art class, with a handful of crayons, not many for a little first-grade hand I must say, and a wonderfully smelly mimeographed image of a holiday or seasonal icon. I put my eager hands to the task — ten minutes and I’m done, say a prayer and see you next week. That is essentially how it will go

ISSUE Vol. 20, No. 6 Publisher . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Art Studio, Inc. Editor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Andy Coughlan Copy Editor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Tracy Danna Contributing Writers. . . . . . . . . . . . Elena Ivanova, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jacqueline Hays Distribution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Daniel Dodson The Art Studio, Inc. Board of Directors President Ex-Officio . . . . . . . . . . . . Greg Busceme Vice-President. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Angela Busceme Chair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . John Roberts Treasurer/Secretary . . . . . . . . . . . . . Beth Gallaspy Members at Large: . . . . . . . . . . . Sheila Busceme, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Elizabeth French, . . . . . . . . . . Andy Ledesma, Stephan Malick, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Heather Butler

The Art Studio, Inc. 720 Franklin Beaumont, TX 77701 409-838-5393 www.artstudio.org artstudio@artstudio.org The ISSUE is a monthly publication of The Art Studio, Inc. Its mission is to publicize The Art Studio and its tenants, and to promote the growth of the arts in Southeast Texas. ISSUE is also charged with informing TASI members of projects, progress, achievements and setbacks in TASI’s well-being. Further, ISSUE strives to promote and distribute the writings of local authors in its “Thoughtcrime” feature. ISSUE is provided free of charge to members of TASI and is also available, free of charge, at more than 30 locations in Southeast Texas. Regular features include local artists of note and reputation who are not currently exhibiting at TASI; artists currently or soon to be exhibiting at TASI; Instructional articles for artists; news stories regarding the state of TASI’s organization; and arts news features dealing with general philosophical issues of interest to artists.

Contents Perversion or Perfection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 4 The Man in the Bowler Hat . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 6 TASIMJAE Call for Entries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 7 Acquae Obscurae. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 8 Navajo Weavings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 10 Around & About. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 14 Thoughtcrime. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 15 Cover photo illustration of Beau and Karen Dumesnil by Andy Coughlan

now as then. I don’t want to go back to those “good” old days. Teaching art to aid in learning all other subjects is comparable to teaching reading to aid in learning all other subjects. We wouldn’t dare to put reading in a subcategory of education. To do so would shake the very foundation of what it means to be educated. I feel the same is true for teaching art. Without it, there is a pervasive lack of skills that art helps develop. Without these skills, students’ cognitive reasoning, complex problem-solving skills and reverse thinking (working upside down and backwards as in printmaking) are impaired and as such, the ability of the student will suffer. No other discipline can create the mind skills that come from practicing the visual and performing arts. For too long we allowed non-educators with an agenda to control a curriculum that thwarts our young people’s right to an open and unprejudiced education. As long as we have politicians who are more interested in promoting their myopic view of the world rather than take actions that benefit our children’s education, we will always have results that are less than they should be.

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4 • ISSUE March 2014

Perversion or

Volume 20, No. 6

ARTISTIC PURSUIT OF ‘PERFECT FORM’ IS DIFFICULT PATH Story by Jacqueline Hays

The Roman statue “Apollo of Belvedere,” has a broken penis, the result of removing a fig leaf added to censor the statue in the dark ages.

THE WORLD LOOKS FONDLY at the sculpture of Michelangelo’s “David,” a symbol of perfection and strength. It is a life changing moment to get the opportunity to lay eyes upon the Sistine Chapel with its celestial ceilings portraying the unclothed Adam. The art community and the general public celebrate these great works depicting the naked human form, but at the same time, particularity in America, viewers do

not give contemporary art the same respect, especially when viewing “new” media. We blush at the sight of a bare buttock on our television screens, balk if there is any less than an NC-17 rating on a film that shows more than a few seconds of full frontal nudity, if any at all, and boycott department store chains if they pervert themselves by selling magazines that contain “adult material.” We seem to have drawn an imaginary line between art and smut. Where this line is located, and where it came from, is not easy to decipher. To find the line separating the perverse and the perfect, the obscene and the celebrated, one must indulge in a short art history lesson. When trying to understand where the sublime deteriorates into the slimy, one must keep in mind a few aspects when exploring the historical nude. One must consider when the art was created. The first nudes appeared in sculpture form and were revered. They were mostly depictions of gods and athletes, all of whom were men. Most athletic competitions were held in the nude, so depicting these athletes in the same state of undress was appropriate. According to Megan Young, director of the Dishman Art Museum at Lamar University, the tradition of the nude has been around for thousands of years. “But historically speaking, at first, women were not the ones portrayed nude,” Young said. “It was only men, and in Greek art, you would typically see nude men.” She said usually the only places nude women were depicted were on things like vases. “Usually a woman of a certain ‘job type,’” she said. The sculptors were not merely crafting stone replicas of their gods and athletes; they were attempting to create the perfect nude, perfecting the human form. Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael are all artists from the Renaissance, the era that began in Italy in the 15th century. Soon, painters wanted to challenge themselves just as sculptors did. Paintings began appearing for public consumption as the quest for the perfect human form was taken up by a different medium. “It really wasn’t until the history of Western art that we started thinking about — with the advent of Christianity — that we start seeing images of the reclining female nude in painting, and a lot of it has to do, in that period, with who your audience is,” Young said. The artists were striving for the “ideal form,” she said, especially throughout this time period. And at this point it is usually female, which plays on fantasy. When someone portrayed is real, then it is no longer fantasy because she can be recognized. “Venus of Urbino,” painted by Titian in 1538, is an example of the “ideal nude.”

David Hockney’s 1964 painting, “Man in Shower in Beverly Hills,” top, with its hint of homosexuality has sparked controversy over the years. “For today’s standards, her body type is not perfect, but for the standards then, her body type is beautiful,” Young said. There are no flaws on her skin, nor her face. “If you look at her, she is not really looking at us,” she said. “She is never going to look at us because they are there to be looked at, not to look back. You also notice there are no pubic hairs.” The period between 1600 to 1700 is known as the Baroque period. During this time, “You have a concerted effort of the Catholic church to bring people back to the church by any means necessary,” Young said. One of the ways the church did this is through interesting, creative art. “The art of the Baroque period is much more dramatic,” Young said. “It doesn’t matter if you are male or female — it is about drama and the movement and lighting.” The primary audience for nude paintings of women was men. The paintings were to be “consumed” by a male. William Hogarth’s breakfast scene for his series “Marriage a la mode,” which is credited between 17431745, illustrates the audience of female nudes. The series is about how marriage for love should trump marriage for money. The scene is a parlor, and in the back room there are four portraits hanging on the wall. Three are of saints, but a curtain covers the third. “And we know it is a painting of a nude female because you can see her ankle and there is a curtain over it,” Young said. It was typical at this time for the female nudes to be covered because they were only supposed to be seen by men.


Perfection? Volume 20, No. 6

“Kind of like, ‘Here are my nudie pics,’” Young said. Fast-forward to the late-19th century and early-20th century and the School of Paris produces artists like Modigliani, who did a number of reclining nudes which were labeled obscene, Young said. Viewers today might not find any differences in the Titian and Modigliani works, but they were glaring to the critics of the time. Essentially, the woman depicted in Modigliani’s piece has hair between her legs and under her arms. She is also looking at the audience. This eliminated the fantasy and made her real. Manet encountered the same problem in the mid19th century with what is considered by Young, and most other art historians, one of the most important works in the history of art — “Olympia.” “This piece was considered vulgar,” Young said. “Critics actually said she looked like a cadaver from the morgue.” Critics cited dirty feet and a green tint to her skin. “Critics just hated it and said it was obscene,” Young said. The nude depicted is looking at the viewer, and as opposed to Titian’s “Venus of Urbino,” even though there isn’t pubic hair present, there are flaws in her skin. “Her skin is not perfect — she doesn’t have this perfect modeling,” Young said. “Olympia” is also recognizable as a real person, an artist’s model, Victorine Meurent, which, once again, shattered the element of fantasy. In the same time period, Manet used the same model and positioned her nude in a well-known Parisian park with two men, also recognizable as his brother and a sculptor, who were dressed in contemporary styles. The figures appear to be very flat, with harsh lighting. “It places them in the here and now of 19th-century France,” Young said. “So you can’t imagine that it couldn’t exist in reality. “It is very Real — Realistic with a capital R, not naturalistic.” Critics dismissed the painting, saying Manet couldn’t paint and he didn’t know anything about art. “But what is funny is he said that he had actually quoted this 15th-century print by (Marcantonio) Raimondi, which is a copy of a Raphael, with these three figures of the river gods,” Young said. “He has used the same pose — so he is making fun of art history.” Young said perceptions of the nude began to change around 1863. She credits the industrial revolution. At this time, people began to cluster in urban areas, positioning bodies in proximity to one another, which made them more comfortable with the human form. Now that there is an understanding of the relativeness of era or time, one must consider the medium that was used to capture the nude. At first we had the sculpture, then the painting, eventually photography was invented, and subsequently, video. Young said that while these media have eventually been accepted as vehicles for art, they are still segregated and, in Western culture, especially American culture, there is more of a problem with the nude human form than other cultures. Young cites the uproar that sounded in response to

actor Jimmy Smits’ bare buttocks being shown on the 1993, ABC drama, “NYPD Blue” (although, David Caruso was the first to appear bottomless). “But yet, if it is a National Geographic show and it’s an African woman completely bare from the waist up, nobody says a thing,” she said. Basically, if it is educational, the nude is acceptable in mechanical media. “Take Playboy, for instance,” Young said. “Playboy, I

March 2014 ISSUE • 5

look at it, and to me, it is like the ‘Venus of Urbino’ because I know they are so heavily airbrushed. They are so perfected.” From a technical standpoint, back when they used film cameras, the Playboy centerfold was shot on an 8x10 view camera.

See NUDE on page 13

Modigliani’s “Reclining Female Nude,” top, Manet’s “Olympia,” above, and Titian’s “Venus of Urbino,” reflect the changes in the way the nude was painted and percieved throughout history.


6 • ISSUE March 2014

Volume 20, No. 6

The Man in a Bowler Hat

René Magritte. L'ASSASSIN MENACÉ (THE MENACED ASSASSIN), 1927. Oil on canvas. 59 1/4 in. x 6ft 4 7/8 in. (150.4 x 195.2 cm). Museum of Modern Art, New York. Kay Sage Tanguy Fund. © Charly Herscovici – ADAGP - ARS, 2014

“Painting excites your admiration through the likeness of things the originals of which you do not admire.” — René Magritte.

MENIL COLLECTION HOSTS RENÉ MAGRITTE RETROSPECTIVE “SI DIEU N’EXISTAIT PAS, il faudrait l’inventer” — “If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him,” said Voltaire. Taking a leap from theology to art, I’d say that the same is true of Surrealism. Even those among us who consider themselves indifferent to art are drawn to the sight of the soft melting watch in “The Persistence of Memory” by Dalí. Often visually provocative, intellectually challenging and emotionally unsettling, Surrealist art simultaneously attracts and repulses us. It seems as if the artist has overheard our unspoken thoughts, fantasies and fears. Walking into the exhibition “Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary, 1926-1938,” at the Menil Collection, viewers are immediately confronted with one of the most haunting images by the famous artist, “The Menaced Assassin.” The painting opens towards us like a theater stage making us spectators of a murder mystery play. A naked dead woman is prostrate on the couch, blood dripping from her mouth. An elegantly dressed man is standing with his back to the couch; apparently, he has recently arrived, judging from his

Story by Elena Ivanova

coat and hat, which are tossed carelessly on the chair, and a brown suitcase. Ignoring the corpse in the room, he is gracefully leaning against the table as he listens to the music coming from the gramophone. In the meanwhile, three men are watching him through the open window while two other men, dressed in bowler hats and black coats, are hiding on the left and right sides of the “downstage,” invisible to the assassin. They look like detectives planning an ambush, however, their choice of weapons is bizarre, to say the least: one is holding a fishing net and the other a heavy club shaped like a phallus. “The Menaced Assassin” was at the center of attention at Magritte’s first solo exhibition, which opened on April 23, 1927, at Galerie Le Centaure in Brussels. “The perfumed crowd literally threatens the murderer, so densely does it swarm around him and admire him,” wrote artist Pierre Flouquet. Eighty-five years later, we are still irresistibly drawn to this macabre and enigmatic image. The year 1927 was an important landmark in Magritte’s life. He was 29 and he had already achieved a modest recognition as a Cubist artist. Now he became driven by the idea of expressing the subconscious and the imponderable workings of the human mind. In

spring of 1927 Magritte joined the group of Surrealist artists, poets and critics and contributed to the first issue of the periodical Correspondance which manifested the advent of Surrealism in Belgium. In September, he moved to Paris and became acquainted with such prominent Surrealists as Jean Arp, Max Ernst and Joan Miró. Later, he met with Dalí, who was just embarking on his career as a Surrealist artist and was a great admirer of Magritte’s art. The exhibition at the Menil focuses on the most important 12 years of Magritte’s life during which he became the artist that we know today. It strategically opens with “The Menaced Assassin,” the artist’s programmatic work in which he laid out the principles of his new art. His intention was to provide insight into the hidden nature of ordinary things, to challenge conventional knowledge and to look beyond the appearances. During these years, Magritte was extremely experimental in regards to subject matter and technique. In his paintings, shapes are falling from the sky, go through a metamorphosis and form hybrids. The artist also

See MAGRITTE on page 12


Volume 20, No. 6

March 2014 ISSUE • 7

THE ART STUDIO, INC. MEMBERS JURORED ART EXHIBITION

TASIMJAE

CALL FOR ENTRIES DEADLINE MARCH 28 PLEASE READ ALL INSTRUCTIONS CAREFULLY! ENTRIES NOT ADHERING TO THESE INSTRUCTIONS WILL BE DISQUALIFIED!

CALENDAR Entry dates......................................................March 25-28 Jury selection ..................................................March 29-30 Notification by mail..............................March 30-April 4 Pick-up works not accepted.................April 4 by 5 p.m. Opening/awards reception...................April 5, 7-10 p.m. Pick up exhibited work ........................................April 26 ELIGIBILITY Open to all members in good standing of The Art Studio, Inc. (TASI). Membership fee of $35 may be paid at time of entry. Works completed within the last two years that have not previously been shown at TASI may be submitted. All two-dimensional work must be ready to hang (wires, not sawtooths). All three-dimensional work must have firm base. Work may not exceed two hundred pounds in weight or 10 feet in height. Completed entry label must be firmly attached to the back upper left corner of 2-D work or base of 3-D work. SUBMISSIONS Entries must be delivered to TASI, 720 Franklin, Beaumont, Texas, Tuesday-Saturday between the hours of 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. No works will be accepted after 5 p.m. on March 28. Works must be shipped prepaid and/or hand delivered. Limit two (2) entries per person.

Lisa Reinaur won first place in TASIMJAE 2013 and will be the featured artist in May.

RETURN OF ALL ENTRIES Work not accepted must be picked up by 5 p.m. on April 4. Works selected for exhibition must remain on display until April 25 and may be picked up April 26. AGREEMENT Although the greatest possible care will be exercised in handling work, TASI accepts no responsibility for loss or damage to work submitted, while in transit or on premises. TASI reserves the right to photograph submitted works for publicity purposes. All sales during the exhibition will be handled by TASI for which a 25% commission will be taken. Submission of entries implies the artist’s understanding and agreement to the rules and conditions of the exhibition. AWARDS 1st. place: $100 and a solo exhibition at TASI in May 2015 2nd. place $75, 3rd. place $50 JUROR TBA

April Falgout showed her paper mache creation at TASIMJAE 2013.

LOOK FOR A PROSPECTUS IN THE MAIL, DOWNLOAD ONE AT WWW.ARTSTUDIO.ORG, OR PICK ONE UP AT THE ART STUDIO


8 • ISSUE March 2014

Volume 20, No. 6

Acquae Obscurae Tall tale and layout by Andy Coughlan

ART SHOW, PARTY EXPLORES MYTHOLOGICAL NECHES RIVER CRITTERS “In 1894, Sir Randolph Foxton-Twickenbush, the great British adventurer, steered the steamship “Good Queen Bess” into the mouth of the mighty Neches River in search of the broad-mouthed squintabass, a creature so huge and so fearsome that no one who had encountered it had survived to tell the tale. Existing only in halfwhispered stories passed down through generations, the mighty fish lived hundreds of fathoms deep in the darkest parts of the river. Foxton-Twickenthorn, accompanied by 20 men and his trusty guide, Claude Boudreaux of St. Martinsville, and financed by the Royal Society of Aquarian Fauna, peered deep into swamp and marshy undergrowth for the animal that would cement his reputation as the greatest explorer in the world — and the financial remunerations that accompanied the title….” How this particular story ends is anyone’s guess, but visitors to The Art Studio in March will get a chance to speculate on the creatures at “Acquae

Obscurae: A Menagerie of Neches River Critters,” March 1-29, with a reception, 7-10 p.m., March 1. The show is the brainchild of Beau and Karen Dumesnil, and the couple encourage everyone to submit a piece for the show and have fun. “The idea for Neches River Critters came about, funnily enough, because I am a harbor tugboat captain on the Neches River,” Beau said. “Before I was a captain, my friend, he was the engineer of the tugboat, he and I were commenting on the depth finder which would occasionally, when backing down, the disruption of the propellers backing over the depth sounder created disturbances which would read ungodly numbers — 2,815 feet, you know, random numbers. We would joke, ‘I wonder what we would find in the Neches River at that depth?’ So it just stuck. “We began to build things around the time of (Hurricane) Ike, Neches River critters. They met with some success and we followed that up with, ‘Hey, why don’t we combine a happening like ‘Caravanserai’ (held at The Studio in October 2012) — I thought that was a great idea — why don’t we have an art party?” Beau said he decided to draw on the idea of a Victorian club, like the Royal Society in London, where explorers and wealthy patrons would gather to show off their latest acquisi-

tions, and brag about their specimens. He wanted to expand the idea of the group show and open the event to anyone who wanted to play with the idea. “I created a very broad context for people to use their creative outlet, as to what kind of animal would one find on a Royal Society expedition into the great Neches River trench — what would they come back with?” he said. “So the sky’s the limit within that broad context. “I want people to explore the depths of their creativity.” Beau burst into laughter. “You can use that, that’s a good one.” Beau certainly walks the walk of the show’s philosophy — that creativity can and should be fun. Karen and Beau also encourage people to attend the opening reception in costume. “We want to make a real creative environment,” he said. “Not just for the visual artists, but for performing artists as well.” Beau said that attendees in costume will be living pieces of art that are part of the exhibition. “They can be animals or they can be explorers — and they can tell tall tales like people would in the Royal Society,” he said. “Like the old safari hunters,” Karen said. The artwork will fall into one of three formats for the visual artists: “Live” specimens,


Volume 20, No. 6

“Dead” specimens and “Too Big to Catch” specimens. “The ‘Live’ specimens will be mounted, displayed or hung in a mobile format in an aquarium built in the main gallery,” Beau said. “These will also include people in costume who choose to come as amphibious-type arthropods. “The ‘Dead’ specimens — taxidermy — which will ideally be in jars, which will be mounted on pedestals in the rest of the gallery. “Then there are the things we couldn’t catch — artist representations of these creatures, akin to what National Geographic has.” These drawings could be similar to Dührer’s “Rhinocerous,” which is a twisted version of the real thing, drawn from accounts, with all the unreliability that entails. There really is a medieval book with a barnacle tree in it,” Karen said. “The man who wrote the book said he had a reliable account from an Irish priest who said he had seen one. It is a tree with barnacles growing out of it, and when they open up, geese fly out of them.” The book was “Topographia Hiberniae,” an account of the landscape and people of Ireland, written around 1188 by the Welsh monk Giraldus Cambrensis, aka Gerald of Wales. Before people knew about migration, Barnacle Geese were thought to develop from the barnacles as they were never seen to nest. The similarities in color and shape also contributed to the myth. The couple want people to approach “Acquae Obscurae” with the same sensibility. This is not the first idea they had. Beau, Karen and artist Andy Ledesma originally had an idea about mythological creatures. “But we’d killed them all and they would just be stuffed in a gallery,” Beau said. “This evolved into what we have now. We’d always wanted to have a big party, we’d always wanted to have an installation — and it just grew into this.” They also thought about a robot show. “There’s more things you can do with

March 2014 ISSUE • 9

sea creatures than robots,” Karen said. “Besides, Beau has always wanted to build a submarine real bad.” “Yeah, that’s part of my history,” he said. The pair are quick to point out that the aim of the show is to stretch the imagination, not to make some sort of “green” statement. “The intention is not to indict the refineries around here for having polluted rivers,” he said. “It’s just a way to express ourselves creatively. Now if people want to go that route that’s fine and dandy, but that’s not my intention — I just want to see what people can come up with.” For all of the fun that the Dumesnil’s have, the artwork is not a joke. They take the creative act seriously, and believe it is important that people have an outlet to express their creativity. “You can be as serious as you want, but don’t take yourself too seriously,” Karen said. “Too often we find ourselves trapped by vocabulary,” Beau said. “I don’t want that trap to exist for this show. I don’t want people to feel like they have to explain, ‘The dichotomy of the Surrealism versus the trepidation of the individual leading this elemental force of conviction….’ I want to be all inclusive. “The creative process exists and some people may be at a higher level than others, but we’re all going down the same path.” The idea of the show is not to make “perfect” creatures, but to allow the imagination to go exploring. Karen referenced Dan Reeder, an artist and teacher who works with paper maché. “He says, ‘Let’s make something ugly together,” she said. “He works with kids, and if they try to make something symmetrical they get always frustrated. So he has them make monsters and things.” Karen said that part of the goal of the show is to

show people that everyone has a creative side. “You hear people say, ‘Oh, I’m not creative,’ but you watch their everyday projects — decorating their homes or making a meal — and they are creative,” she said. “We start throwing out ideas about what we’re doing with this and they will start throwing out ideas. They are brilliant, yet they don’t think they are creative. I think that’s sad.” Beau said that he doesn’t want people to feel intimidated by the idea of being in a gallery show. “In fact, it’s the complete opposite,” he said. The couple said they are keen to build on the recent growth in the arts in Southeast Texas. “In the past three years I have seen more participation, more people just genuinely having fun, in the arts scene,” Beau said. “It’s a fusion of the arts. Since the economic crash, our youth have not left this area, and it’s up to us to keep them here, to keep it fun and exciting and to keep the scene going, so that we keep all this talent here. The economy has gotten better and we live in fear of losing all these youngsters and creative minds to bigger markets. “You can hone your craft here. The real buzz is that we are keeping these young people here. I’m really excited and that’s what I’m trying to continue with this show, I want to push this forward.” For more information, call 409-838-5393, or visit the “Acquae Obscura” Facebook page.


10 • ISSUE March 2014

Volume 20, No. 6

A view of the opening room of “Navajo Weaving: Tradition and Trade” at the Stark Museum of Art in Orange.

Cultural Threads

STARK MUSEUM HOSTS OVERVIEW OF NAVAJO WEAVING TRADITIONS WHEN THE STARK MUSEUM of Art in Orange decided to institute a new textile storage system, it was the job of Terri Fox, collections and exhibition manager, to revisit the museum’s collection of Navajo weavings. The job involved documenting the extensive collection, many of which had never been seen in public. Fox had an idea — as part of the rehousing project and the new textile storage system, it would be a good time to show the breadth of the museum’s collection. The result is the fascinating exhibit, “Navajo Weaving: Tradition and Trade,” on display through July 12. The textiles were valued for their connection to the spirit of the community, and many represent spiritual figures. In Navajo beliefs, the spirit Spider Woman taught the people to weave. It was her gift to the people. The Navajo owned sheep, and the early weavings were made from wool. Originally, the tribes were called the Diné, or Dineh, which simply means “the people.” The Spanish called the Diné “Apache de Navajo,” which means Apache

Story by Andy Coughlan

The Unknown Diné (Navajo) artist. Chief Blanket, Third-phase. c. 1875-1880, natural handspun wool and bayeta (unraveled wool cloth); indigo dye, 51 1/4 x 71 3/4 inches, 82.900.112

of the cultivated fields. So Navajo is an external word that has become dominant. Anthropologists might argue that the very name symbolizes the fate of Native Americans, but that is for another essay. The Navajo used traditional, natural wools and dyes, but with the influx of European settlers, they incorporated imported textiles and artificial colors. The weavers are primarily women, and they draw on the community for inspiration. The Navajo of the late 1700s were accomplished craftswomen. The earliest designs featured minimal stripes set against raw wool. One of the first pieces in the exhibition is the most affecting. It has holes worn through years of use, and the design is simple, indicating that it was made to use, to function, and that decoration was a secondary concern. The weaving designs fall into phases: The first phase incorporates simple stripes and minimal colors. The second phase still used the stripes as the foundation, but also added broken color blocks as embellishment. The third phase began to work diamonds into the pattern. The weavings take many hours to produce. One small piece on display, which measures only 11 by 14 inches, took six or seven weeks to make. It is worth remem-

bering that when faced with the massive 150-by-96 inch rug on display. Each piece is typically made by a single weaver — it is not a team effort. As time passed, the Navajo began to trade with the Spanish and others. It is interesting to see how they appropriated materials from the Europeans who settled the West and created trading posts. One vividly-colored piece from the mid-1800s uses Saxony yarn of German manufacture. It is bright red with a pattern dominated by diamonds and zigzag lines. In the 1860s, trading posts sprang up throughout the reservation system. The posts were like general stores, carrying supplies such as flour, coffee, canned goods, medicine and other items. The Navajo traded weavings, baskets, wool, sheep, pelts and other items, and the traders spread the weavings to a wider market across the country. The trading posts that settled the area became part of the Navajo’s community, giving them access to different materials and influences. The demand for the weavings as decoration influenced the styles associated with the particular trading post as the traders tried to determine what style had most value in the Anglo market. The weavings are the perfect marriage between art and function, between tradition and commerce.


Volume 20 No. 6 The weavings in the exhibition represent five major trading posts: Ganado is about 28 miles west of Window Rock in Arizona. It was established as a post in 1871 and was named after Navajo leader Ganado Mucho. Trader Juan Lorenzo Hubbell acquired the post in 1878, and the white traders developed new markets for Navajo weavings. They wanted weavings that could be marketed as rugs or art objects for Anglo-American homes, and this affected size and designs, which were encouraged to draw on older traditional patterns. The Ganado rug is characterized by the use of a deep, dramatic red, which contrasts with grays, whites and black. The Ganado rug has borders and usually has a large central motif of a diamond or a cross. The Two Grey Hills Trading Post, established in 1897, is located about 30 miles south of Shiprock, N.M. Weavers in the community developed a style that avoided bright colors, especially red, in favor of natural wools of whites, browns and black. The traders encouraged the weavers to use a fine thread. The designs are elaborate geometrical patterns, quite often composed of stepped designs. The original Teec Nos Pos Trading Post was located in the Four Corners, where Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona meet. Teec Nos Pos (pronounced tease nhas phas) means circle of cottonwoods. These weavers developed intricate designs. Bright colors outline elaborate geometrical designs, with the main area using wools of natural colors. The outline colors, such as green, orange, turquoise or other bright hues, are often commercial yarns or aniline dyed wool, and the rug usually has a broad border that contains a design such as an interlocking H. The Wide Ruins Trading Post is located

March 2014 ISSUE • 11 on a site with Ancestral Puebloan ruins about 23 miles south of Ganado, Ariz. The post was established in the late 1800s. In 1938, William and Sallie Lippincott bought the store and encouraged textiles using vegetal dyes. The Wide Ruins rugs feature a pattern of basic stripes and bands without borders, with ornamentation of arrows, diamonds, chevrons and other geometrical figures contained within the pattern of stripes. The use of vegetal dyes creates soft pastel colors. Shiprock is in northwestern New Mexico and is named for the volcanic form located nearby. These weavings are known for their depictions of figures sacred to the Navajo, including the Yei (the Holy People), and the Yeibichai, the dancers who portray the Yeis. Some designs are drawn from ceremonial sand paintings. Navajo beliefs forbid depictions of sacred concepts, so these woven images were controversial. However, commerce won out as the traders sought new images for the Anglo market. As well as weavings from the collection, the exhibition also borrows from two acclaimed contemporary weavers, D.Y. Begay and Melissa Cody. As is typical with Stark Museum exhibitions, there is also a nod to the process. A reproduction Navajo loom is available for visitors to test their skills, and a trading post is presented in facsimile. “Navajo Weaving: Tradition and Trade” offers a glimpse into a world where commerce drives and shapes traditional craft. But underneath it all, there is no denying the beauty and skill of the artisans. The Stark Museum of Art is located at 712 Green Ave. in Orange. For more information, visit starkculturalvenues.org.

RUG, YEIBEICHAI, attributed to Yah-nah-pah, Diné (Navajo) (1889-1913), 1910, natural handspun wool; commercial dye, 61 x 46.25 inches. Stark Museum of Art, Orange, Texas, 82.900.59 The map, below, shows the position of the trading posts represented in “Navajo Weaving: Tradition and Trade,” at the Stark Museum of Art through July 12.

‘Night at the Museum: Warped’ set for March 21 at Stark Museum Get a date, call a friend, find a sitter and visit “Night at the Museum: Warped,” at The Stark Museum, 8 p.m. to 11 p.m., March 21. “Join us for an evening designed just for adults 21 and older,” Ellen Welker, communication manager, said in a release. “The night’s theme coincides with the Stark Museum of Art’s newest exhibition, ‘Navajo Weaving: Tradition & Trade.’ The event includes touring the exhibition, a texting scavenger hunt, creating your own weaving, attending gallery talks and viewing live weaving demonstrations by a nationally-acclaimed Navajo weaver.” Live music will be provided by The Ruxpins, an Americana Rock band from Southeast Texas. The event will also have a cash bar. Admission is $10 for non-members, $6 for SCV members, free for SCV Star and Crescent.


12 • ISSUE March 2014

Volume 20, No. 6

MAGRITTE from page 6 explored the potential of painting and collage. Later, in his famous lecture, “La Ligne de la vie” (“The Line of Life”), delivered in 1938, the artist summarized diverse approaches he had been employing in order to achieve “a disturbing poetic effect.” Here are some of them: “the creation of new objects, the transformation of new objects; a change of substance in the case of certain objects: a wooden sky, for instance; the use of words in association with images; the misnaming of an object; the development of ideas suggested by friends; the use of certain visions glimpsed between sleeping and waking....” As we move through the exhibition, we see how these approaches whimsically play out in Magritte’s paintings. Having seen many of his iconic images in books, on posters and note cards, one experiences a mixed reaction of a déjà-vu and a genuine surprise. Looking at the original painting of the familiar locomotive coming at us full-speed from the fire-place in “Time Transfixed” or at the ubiquitous smoking pipe with a caption “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” (“This is not a pipe”) in “The Treachery of Images,” we realize how much these images lose in quality when reproduced. Magritte is a delicate colorist, despite the fact that he often limits his palette to a three or four colors. Black, one of his favorites, always has a variety of shades and finishes — for an example, take a closer look at the bowler hats in “The Menaced Assassin.” Menil Director Josef Helfenstein, who co-curated this exhibition with colleagues from the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Art Institute of Chicago, commented on the challenges of the installation of the show. Each of Magritte’s paintings, he said, “demands its own space” and, when placed in proximity with other paintings, it “engages in a dialogue” which can become tense and even disturbing. At the same time, this dialogue reveals intrinsic connections and interrelationships between the paintings and, ultimately, leads to a better understanding of Magritte’s legacy. This “tense and disturbing” dialogue between Magritte’s works can be sensed, for example, in grouping together the following three paintings: “The Titanic Days,” “The Lovers” and “Attempting the Impossible.” Each one provides a commentary on the complexity of intimate relationships between a man and a woman from a different perspective. “The Titanic Days” shows a couple engaged in a violent struggle, with the male figure of the assailant virtually becoming an extension of the female figure that desperately tries to shake him off. In “The Lovers,” a man and a woman are trying to kiss, but are unable to touch each other’s lips because their heads are wrapped in fabric. “Attempting the Impossible” is Magritte’s interpretation of the Pygmalion myth. It is a portrait of the artist (“Pygmalion”) and his wife Georgette (“Galatea”). Unlike traditional paintings on this popular subject, in which the marble sculpture of an ideally beautiful woman comes to life as a gift from gods to the lovestricken master who created it, Magritte stripped the story of any romantic trappings. His Pygmalion resembles a middle-class accountant; standing in a dull colorless interior of an ordinary apartment and looking as excited as a bank employee going through a spreadsheet, he is finishing the left arm of Galatea. However, he is not painting on canvas: his brush seem to conjure a real flesh-and-blood woman out of thin air. The exhibition also brings together for the first time works which were intended to be seen together, yet got separated over the course of time. One such group is a series of three toiles decoupées, cut and re-assembled

René Magritte (Belgian, 1898–1967), LES AMANTS (THE LOVERS), left, 1928. Oil on canvas. 21 3/8 x 28 7/8 in. (54 x 73.4 cm). Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Richard S. Zeisler. © Charly Herscovici -– ADAGP - ARS, 2014. L'ÉVIDENCE ÉTERNELLE (THE ETERNALLY OBVIOUS), below, Paris, 1930 Oil on canvas Top to bottom: 8 11/16 x 4 3/4; 7 1/2 x 9 7/16; 10 5/8 x 7 1/2; 8 11/16 x 6 5/16; 8 11/16 x 4 3/4. The Menill Collection, Houston

paintings, which includes “The Eternally Obvious,” the depiction of a nude consisting of five sections; “Celestial Perfections,” the painting of clouds presented in four sections; and “The Depths of the Earth,” the landscape arranged in four sections. Conservators who examined Magritte’s works prior to the exhibition acknowledge the complexity of the artist’s creative process in regards to these re-assembled paintings. It appears that Magritte carefully considered which parts of the original painting he wanted to preserve in the re-assembled image and then meticulously mapped out their placement, sometimes positioning a horizontal section of the canvas vertically or placing side by side sections which were not in close proximity to each other in the original. Another example of paintings reunited is the set of decorative panels which was commissioned by eccentric British poet, arts patron and collector of Surrealist art Edward James in 1937-38. It includes three large-scale paintings: “The Red Model,” “Youth Illustrated” and “On the Threshold of Liberty.” Gathered in one gallery, these panels are positioned in the same relation to each other as they were in the ballroom at James’s home. Like other Magritte works, they are perplexing and disquieting in their content, which was exactly the effect that James sought. A month after Magritte completed his work, James wrote to him that his paintings “produced a profound sensation at my ball.... Above all, the human boots [“The Red Model” which portrays a transformation of boots into human feet] struck a chord with the young dancing couples in their capitalist heels.” The same gallery features other paintings by Magritte acquired by James, including the famous “Time Transfixed.” The exhibition “Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary, 1926-1938” is complemented by a show of Magritte’s late works from the Menil collection. Titled “Memories of a Voyage: The Late Works of René Magritte,” it features some famous images, such as “The Dominion of Light,” in which day and night coexist in the same space, and “Golconda,” with a myriad of bowler-hatted, suit-dressed men descending from the sky. In addition to paintings, this gallery also showcases sculptures, painted wine bottles (which Magritte reportedly drank first in the company of his friends) and memorabilia, such as a black bowler hat. Throughout his life, Magritte continued to project an image of himself as a “boring” bourgeois. This was a subversive act intended

to overturn the romanticized image of an artist as a hero who is led in his work by the divine inspiration. The bowler hat may be seen as a symbol of Magritte’s art: it represents ordinary things that possess secret powers and challenge us to re-think the surrounding world as we know it. “Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary, 1926-1938” is on view at the Menil Collection, located at 1533 Sul Ross Street, Houston, through June 1. For more information about museum hours and programs related to the exhibition, visit www.menil.org.


Volume 20, No. 6

NUDE from page 5 “This is probably one of the hardest cameras to use, so there was a level of technical proficiency there to make it artistry,” she said. “For me, I kind of draw that line when whatever or whoever is being depicted is being subjugated against their will.” Young said she draws that line, regardless if it is news media or art. “ I would never hang images of Abu Ghraib (where prisoners were tortured and sexually abused) and say that is art,” she said. “I just wouldn’t do it because those people had no control over it.” Young said she might hang an artist’s recreation, adding that there is usually a dialogue that goes along with contemporary art. “Today, you can’t understand without knowing the back story,” she said. “That is one of the things that makes contemporary art a little bit different, is that you have to read about it as well as look at it. You can’t just enjoy it aesthetically. “The way I tend to think about it, when I look at any image, it doesn’t matter if it is a nude or not. When I first confront it, I divorce my thinking from any social or cultural background I have.” We all look at images carrying our personal baggage. “Our upbringing, our belief systems, what we like, what we don’t like, and I think a lot of times we can miss some real beauty because we don’t try and distance ourselves from that, not completely,” she said. Young said she finds it interesting that most people have a problem with 1960s and ’70s painter David Hockney’s work depicting a nude male bent away from the viewer. The problem arises because it is a man, which implies homosexuality. For a proper analysis, she suggests divorcing this baggage at least for a moment. “It is hard to explain the Virgin Madonna to somebody who is not Christian,” Young said. “But if you say it is mother and child, they are going to get that because it is universal. “If I can look at (art) and think, ‘OK, look at the lines, look at the colors, look at the shapes. Does it stand up that way? Yes. OK, now bring all that other stuff back into it.” She said it is difficult to say that something is not worthwhile when you have part of your brain saying yes it is from a formal aspect. Manet’s “Le déjeuner sur l´herbe,” (The Luncheon on the Grass), right, was rejected from the Salon because the models and setting were recognizable, shattering the element of fantasy. Manet arranged his figures to echo Raimondi’s 1514 engraving of “The Judgement of Paris,’ far right.

March 2014 ISSUE • 13 William Hogarth’s “The Tete a Tete,” also called “The Breakfast Scene,” below, features a series of paintings visible in a secondary room. Three of the images are of saints, but the partially obscured painting to the right is covered with a curtain. The curtain covers a nude woman, visible here only with her foot. The curtain would be pulled back for a “male only” audience.

“That is what we do with formal elements of art. Color, line composition, light, texture, balance,” she said. Photos of nudes are not accepted as much as the paintings. When photography hit the market in 1844, it immediately started the argument of whether or not photography was even art because photography is a mechanical media. “The idea, historically, when someone paints the nude human figure, is not only are they painting the nude, but the perfect nude.” The idea is that anyone can take a photo but only an artist can paint or sculpt. For the most part, it has been acceptable as an artistic medium, but it’s segregated from other forms of art. With the ability to manipulate images through programs like Photoshop, the “perfect nude” may be attainable, but then there is a new argument of digital photography being “real photography” or art. So even though there is a few seconds delay on live

broadcasts, ratings on movies, cardboard covers on magazines at convenience store counters, and signs explaining nudes are depicted in an exhibit or a verbal warning before we enter a contemporary exhibition of nudes, the 20th century was not the dawn of censorship when it comes to the unclothed human form. For thousands of years, censors have done everything from hanging curtains to cover nudes, to an entire movement by the Catholic Church in the 16th century to cover every set of genitals with fig leaves. “That is why we see broken penises on statues,” Young said. “When the leaves were removed, the statues were damaged.” What is acceptable by a culture changes with every new era and new medium. The purposes of the nude form in art, as well as the audience, and the medium and time period in which it was created, all weigh heavily on determining if a depiction of a nude is art or “ugh.”


14 • ISSUE March 2014

Volume 20, No. 6

Around & About If you come across any interesting exhibitions, museums or other places on your travels, share them with us. Call 409-838-5393, or contact us through our web site at www.artstudio.org. Be sure to include the location and dates of the subject, as well as any costs.

The BEAUMONT ART LEAGUE’s annual PORTRAIT SHOW will be on view beginning March 8 and running through March 22. An opening reception will be held on March 8 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. “The Portrait Show at BAL offers artists working in all media, skill levels, and styles the opportunity to showcase their portrait works,” gallery director, Sarah Hamilton, said. “Artists are encouraged to submit up to three works in this open call art competition. Cash prizes will be awarded to the top three artists and honorable mentions will be given the evening of the reception.” Portraiture as a genre maintains an important place in the history of art. Its roots extend back to ancient Egypt with the earliest known portraits created in the region of Faiyum. Reverence for this traditional art form continues today and is constantly challenged and reinvented through cutting edge styles

and media in contemporary art. Caitlin Hanson, curator of exhibitions and collections at the Art Museum of Southeast Texas is this year’s show judge. Hanson obtained her BFA in painting and a minor in drawing from Stephen F. Austin State University in 2010. She has received numerous awards for her visual art and has had her work juried and selected by artists Judy Pfaff and Mel Chin. ______________ Beginning March 8, artwork by a local art group known as THE PAINTED LADIES OF CRYSTAL BEACH will be on view in the BEAUMONT ART LEAGUE’s Scurlock Gallery. Some members of this local art group have been painting together since 2004 on the Bolivar Peninsula. The Painted Ladies of Crystal Beach meet weekly on Thursday at the Faggard Community Center and visitors are welcome.

“Popular Mechanics,” by Abigail McLaurin, was the winner of the Beaumont Art League’s 2013 Portrait Show.

Members use different mediums such as oil, acrylic, and watercolor. Living on the Bolivar Peninsula is a daily inspiration to create art from the natural surrounding beauty, they say. BAL is located at 2675 Gulf St. in Beaumont. For more, visit www.beaumont artleague.org. ______________ MADE FOR MAGAZINES: ICONIC 20TH-CENTURY PHOTOGRAPHS, at the MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS, HOUSTON, celebrates the heyday of magazines through some 80 impactful photographs — including the immortal photograph from the set of “The Seven Year Itch,” “Marilyn Monroe and Billy Wilder” by George Zimbel (1954); “Nastassja Kinski and the Serpent” by Richard Avedon (1981); and the sailor kissing the nurse in “VJ Day in Times Square, New York” (1945) by Alfred Eisenstaedt. “Made for Magazines” presents the significant types of magazine photographs — news and human interest, celebrity, sports, fashion, architecture and advertising — while investigating the transition from print publications to the fluid network of online content. Though print media has been on the aThe exhibition runs through May 4. “Made for Magazines” is in the Cameron Foundation Gallery of The Audrey Jones Beck Building at MFAH, 5601 Main Street in Houston. For information, visit www.mfah.org. ________________

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PURPOSE The purpose of The Art Studio, Inc. is to (1) provide educational opportunities between the general public and the community of artists and (2) to offer sustained support for the artist by operating a non-profit cooperative to provide studio space and exhibition space to working artists and crafts people, and to provide an area for group work sessions for those artists and crafts people to jointly offer their labor, ideas, and enthusiasm to each other.

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Volume 20, No. 6

March 2014 ISSUE • 15

Thoughtcrime Submission Guidelines and Disclaimer ISSUE solicits and publishes the work of local authors. Poetry, short fiction, scholarly works and opinion pieces may be submitted for review. All works must be typed and may be sent to TASI by email or by messaging the ISSUE Facebook page. The opinions expressed in “Thoughtcrime” do not necessarily reflect the opinions of TASI, its Board of Directors, ISSUE’s editorial staff, or donors to TASI. Send typed works to: ISSUE 720 Franklin, Beaumont, TX 77701 or e-mail issue@artstudio.org Authors must submit a daytime telephone number and email along with all submissions. Pen names are acceptable, but authors must supply real names for verification. All printed works are protected by copyright. The author retains rights to any published work. ISSUE does not notify of rejection by mail or telephone.

Napping Muse Cat sleeps to believe curious, remembered dreams inspiration hunts. Nat Doiron

Give Thanks

If we were oceans deep We’d thank God for the wind

Those Endless Words . . .

Just For the Moment

That makes us dance with Waves and mists.

I deny the words Ceaseless, endless words Go away from me, Words on top of words BLAH BLAH BLAH EMPTINESS EMBARRASSMENT I dared to reveal myself in words. Haughty words, full of feeling Angry words, full of rage They dance in the air, Bouncing off my head; Bountiful words, Gracious words Speechless words, Wrong words, Right words.

Virgin raindrops falling onto my forehead ...so cool ...so crisp

If we were grass We’d thank God for the rain The seas have carried

...like a gentle kiss To make us green and grow. Falling from the Heavens Washing away my mistakes If we were beasts Soothing my heartaches Just for the moment Forgetting about yesterday

We’d thank God for the Waters and the lands For we need these to prosper.

Not worrying about tomorrow Not even focusing on today

But we are men

Just concentrating in the moment

And thank God not enough

As the rain washes my mistakes away...

For all his love does offer.

I hate myself for liking words Cathy Atkinson

POETRY RENAISSANCE Dorothy Sells Clover (poet and author) presents open mic, spoken word, selected reading. Every third Thursday at The Art Studio, 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Admission is $5. For more information, call 409-363-3444.

Emoetry Speaks

Jesse Doiron

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Issue Magazine - March 2014