Friday, July 23, 2010

Picasso, Degas, and Juan Munoz

July 23

Andy, Ann, David and I went to the Sterling Clark Museum today, in heavy rain!, and saw the "Picasso Looks at Degas" exhibit, much of which was excellent-- "beautifully curated," as I overheard someone say. Fascinating stuff: P when first in Paris had a studio near D, admired, but never met, apparently. D. the same age as P's father, P. collected a photo of D. and made it look very much like an early portrait P. did of his father. Degas's late whorehouse monotypes directly used by Picasso in a series of strange, ugly, disconcerting very busy images of whorehouses with Degas himself as voyeur. P's paintings done in reponse to Dega's bronze Little Dancer (one like an outtake from the Demoiselle d'Avignon, one a vaudeville dwarf done up in dancing clothes). All wonderful-- but as so often, I am drawn to what I am less "supposed" to admire, and this time it was their other big exhibit, Juan Munoz's sculptures which are in resin and bronze, a giant train wreck, fifty gray guys about four foot tall with the same smiling Asian face in groups and singly. A whole room of them. No feet-- pant legs columns. Some found sculptures: a banister rail with a knife attached. A group I liked even more-- bronze figures with round bottoms like a cross between balloon skirts and one of those punching bag clowns from my childhood. Wonderful stuff. Beautiful rain on Berkshire Hills.

The Winter's Tale

Just past midnight, so still the 22nd to me: Andy and I went to The Winter’s Tale at Shakespeare & Company with Jonathan Epstein as Leontes, Johnny Lee Davenport ast Polynixes, Elizabeth Aspenlieder as Hermione and an excellent Corrinna May who made Paulina work-- lots of others-- Jason Asprey as Autolycus, Ryan Winkles, who gets better, as Florizel. Malcolm Ingram in a few parts, such a trouper, Wolf Colemen as the young shepherd/clown. His dad directed, but he is a good clown anyhow. We had spitting seats, second row, and I really liked this production-- it’s to me a tough play because of its totally un-modern psychology-- the blast of evil jealousy that just overwhelms everything, whoosh, and the 16 years later introduced by a character called Time, the crazy living statue, the “Exit pursued by a bear” which was my only disappointment as there was no bear, only a horrified Antigonus. Overall, I could hear the lines, I was convinced by Jonny of real feelings in the king sick with jealousy-- the Apollo’s revenge was nicely done and truly moving when the king denies the truth of the oracle and gets blasted with death-- the Shepherd’s festival full of Shakespeare & Company hijinks-- but mostly, it was just that once again, somehow, they made the play work.

It helped that I had seen it in the past and not gotten it, and I could hear better up close, that they always make sense of more lines than not, and especially, Corrinna May’s active Paulina made a lot of sense of what was going on-- and Epstein’s Leontes was masterfully sympathetic. Anyhow, I was glad read the Marjorie Garber essay, and glad I’d heard the lecture on the tape, but mostly glad that S&C do their thing so well, that they exist and have given me Shakespeare. Altoghter uplifted and happy and looking forward to doing it again soon.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

I'm not as tired as Andy, but we're both tired: he biked 100 miles today, Connecticut to Vermont again, but this time back almost to West Stockbridge to make an even hundred. Pretty amazing for someone on Medicare. I had to hang out in West Stockbridge, which is fun, ideas for restaurants, waiting for him to finish so I could pick him up-- and then the muffler fell off the Subaru! AARRGHH! Tomorrow’s activity. I no longer feel guilty about bringing two cars.

He says he had burning in his muscles, and his wrists hurt (he was biking for something like seven hours!). Meanwhile, I went to the Norman Rockwell museum-- I like Rockwell, and this time especially enjoyed some movie posters (he did STAGECOACH!) And some Saturday evening post covers with movie stars and other entertainers (bob Hope, Jack Benny), but overall, his paintings lack what I love most about great art, which is that you can look repeatedly and for ever. For Rockwell, I find once is enough -- further examination doesn't take you any farther. It's all right there at first glance.

They also had a show of William Steig's work that was fun-- his early New Yorker cartoons of the NYC street kids, one funny series called “Dreams of Glory” in which boys save their parents from a burglar by throwing knives etc. Very funny, as is much of his stuff. His children's books included SHREK!

I also went to the Berkshire Botanical garden for a half hour right before they closed, and that is a place I definitely want to go back to-- just a delight the lawns and then the little patches of flowers, a rose garden, a culinary herb garden, a dyeing herb garden, etc.

Monday, July 05, 2010

The Winter of Our Discontent? At 100 degrees?

We hit a hundred degrees Farenheit today. We drove down from the lake where it was probably only mid-nineties, Taxi the parakeet in his cage in the back seat. My home office is miserable, and I’m working on the delicate process of exchanging air– that is, hot as it was, when we got home, the closed up house was slightly cooler. Tonight, I’m led to believe by Accuweather, it’ll be slightly cooler outside. This is going to go on for a while, too–we can sleep in air conditioning, and Andy’s office at work has a.c., but I have to figure out how to be at least a little productive in this kind of heat.

We saw John Douglas Thompson at Shakespeare. He wore more clothes than in the publicity photo to the left, but looks good either way. Even with a hump and a built up shoe and a withered arm, such charm, such physical energy, such beautiful speeches. Such enthusiasm for evil! My current favorite actor.

We saw him first as Edmund in King Lear with Jonny Epstein, but his Othello a year or so ago was superb, and also the modern play where he’s a painter.

I couldn’t stop thinking about Richard– what a strange melodrama of a play, but it doesn’t stop for a moment. I especially liked all the parts for older women, and Duke Clarence’s bad dream:

What dreadful noise of waters in my ears!
What sights of ugly death within my eyes!
Methoughts I saw a thousand fearful wracks;
A thousand men that fishes gnawed upon;
Wedges of gold, great anchors, heaps of pearl,
Inestimable stones, unvaluèd jewels,
All scatt'red in the bottom of the sea:
Some lay in dead men's skulls, and in the holes
Where eyes did once inhabit, there were crept
(As 'twere in scorn of eyes) reflecting gems,
That wooed the slimy bottom of the deep
And mocked the dead bones that lay scatt'red by.
Act I scene iv, in small part.