Welcome to the first installment of our ongoing attempts at dream interpretation. Today we take on infinite regress, gritty lawyers and road rage:
Gene Hackman was in a movie in the '70s, and then decades later he was in the same exact movie remade with the same title, almost shot for shot. The opening scene was a bit different. Instead of getting out of his car in an irritated fashion, he parked at the end of a long line of cars. His irritation was more about where he had to park. I remember a long wall, and someone walking away down the top of it, arguing to someone below. The movie had lawyers, and gritty conversations about the law.
Dear Mundane Dreamer,
Sometimes, in moments of existential frustration, I will reference the opening lines of Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time. Hawking opens his book with an anecdote about an eminent scientist who, while giving a lecture about the nature of the universe, is interrupted by a little old lady who maintains that the world is merely a flat plate resting on the back of a giant turtle. “But,” retorts the scientist, “What is the turtle standing on?” and the lady says something to the effect of “You stupid asshole. It is turtles all the way down!”
It is turtles all the way down! I think this is what your dream is about: Hawking's stacked tortoises might as well be your long line of cars, or a movie that is the same shot for shot, or the bottomless gauntlet of boring B flicks from the seventies. You look for something deeper in your subconscious offerings and find only minor permutations of what you have seen before.
But you need not despair, MD, because if the Cosmic Turtles of Infinite Regress have anything to teach us, it is that we contain unseen multitudes. Same-ness doesn’t preclude depth. Maybe your dream is trying to tell you that something you previously saw as unremarkable was actually the point. You simply need to re-envision it, probably with the help of Gene Hackman. (What was this movie called, by the way? Was it Rest Easy, or You Can Sleep When You Are Dead? Jokes, jokes.)
In honor of Hawking’s little old lady, I will also advise you to check out the paintings of American folk artist Grandma Moses. I once heard an interview with Grandma Moses, who started painting at the age of 78, during which she said, “People keep telling me that the snow is blue. But I look and look at it and I can’t see any blue. So I just paint it white.” Was the snow blue? Was it white? Who knows. The point is that she kept looking.
Tonight, from 6-8, there will be an opening for Tad Lauritzen Wright's "The Bacchus Sessions" at David Lusk Gallery. Lauritzen Wright's paintings— murky portraits of Anna Nicole Smith, scrawled classical scenes and messages such as "civilization begins with distillation"—have the feel of Art Brut paintings with the attitude of R. Crumb cartoons and the morals of a Richard Linklater movie.
On view through November 15th
The second annual Five-in-One steamroller printmaking event will happen on Broad Avenue Saturday, October 18th, noon-10 p.m. Artists and friends of Five-in-One carved larger-than-life woodcuts, soon to be inked up and printed onto large sheets with the help of a rented steamroller. Last year's event drew a big crowd and was a lot of fun to watch, and, weather permitting, this one should be the same. The event info online tells us that "printmaking is a social artform!" and, in light of that, there will be an afternoon party in front of the Five-in-One store.
Also on Saturday, Emily Ozier will lead an art class from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at Church Health Center Wellness, (1115 Union Ave.) Ozier, who has exhibited work at the Church Health Center in the past, is a painter and educator who will coach participants to create self-portraits and write accompanying haiku. To sign up for the class, contact Kimberly Baker at email@example.com or call 901-701-2238.
Erin Harmon makes her work in a green garden-shed-turned-studio, a location that seems fitting for an artist whose dioramic painting/collages often depict botanical cabinets of sea-anenome-shaped neon plantlife. Harmon’s botanicals are, for lack of a better word, “oogly”— full of acidic dots and undulating yellow lines; seductive and poisonous-looking.
In the past, Harmon’s work has been mostly small-scale and confined to the page. She breaks this habit with her latest project, a collaboration alongside choreographer and dancer Steven McMahon, of Ballet Memphis. McMahon’s original ballet, (working title) BIRDS, premiers in mid-October as a part of Ballet Memphis’ River Project. Harmon designed the set, per McMahon’s request, with “not a feather in sight.”
Happy Elvis Week, everyone! In honor of this most sacred of Midsouth holidays, I’d like to formally inaugurate a category of Elvis fandom heretofore under recognized by the local press. I would like to call this category “Deep Elvis” and have it signify all the Elvis attractions that lifelong Memphians know about, and that aren’t on the general tourist roster.
A good example of Deep Elvis would be (RIP) Graceland, Too. A better example would be The Blue Suede Lounge on Elvis Presley Blvd, where I once spent a solitary night drinking whiskey-cokes while I waited to pick up some friends from New Jersey who’d decided to go to the candlelight vigil, and where the bartender showed me his extensive collection of Bob Marley posters by the light of a disco ball. Deep Elvis is your Mom’s stories about scaling the fence at Graceland when she was a child. Deep Elvis is knowing where Elvis’s honeymoon house is without knowing how you know (it is in Palm Springs.) It is personal and ineffable and as beautiful as any Elvis sweatrag bought off eBay for a mint.
The best example of Deep Elvis that I can think of is Ron and Lew Elliott’s motorcycle shop, SuperCycle, located at Bellevue and Harbert. Ron and Lew were commissioned to build a three-wheeled motorcycle for Elvis. They gave it to him, eerily, exactly one year before the King died. They keep a full-scale replica of the bike in their in-shop Museum, which also hosts leather-wearing fashion mannequins, a bunch of overgrown plants, wooden tiki sculptures old magazines and postcards and plaques and brochures, and, of course, tons of custom bikes from the brothers’ long custom automotive careers.
Community-themed murals are often big, colorful, optimistic, and kind of terrible. For some unknown reason, neighborly virtue is universally painted in watered down oranges and neon greens. Communityish things are always created with the exact emotional range of the bureaucracies that commission them. They are hard to get right and easy to get wrong and either way we are stuck with them.
Jason Miller's new mural at the Gaisman Community Center in Gaisman Park (near the intersection of Macon and Covington Pike) is not terrible. It is big and colorful, but more weird than optimistic. The mural features Gaisman community members suspended in a larger than life, gravity-less parkland. A white-haired, wizardly-looking man plays pool. Elvish community members, as portrayed by Miller, go about their normal community center routines— working out, playing bingo or pool or basketball, or jubilantly doing the splits—but look very like mercurial forest nymphs caught at play. A few of them hold their bingo boards and stare knowingly at you, as if the bingo boards held incalculable secrets. The mural is big and detailed and just mystical enough as to not be drab. You can get lost in it.
The mural is not visible from the street but is definitely worth some investigation if you are in the area.
Read more in the Cincinnati Enquirer.
Cincinnati Art Museum president Martha Ragland said that Kitchin is an "accomplished museum leader" who has a passion for art and a commitment to community.
This past weekend at Crosstown Arts, artist and U of M professor Cedar Lorca Nordbye began the install for his upcoming show, “To Frame - To Construct - To Occupy," with two materials: more than a ton of fresh lumber and four big, empty walls.
"There is a sense of wonder,” Nordbye says, “to coming into a room and seeing this much wood...I thought, ‘When am I ever going to have piles of lumber and a huge empty room again?”
Nordbye is no stranger to wood-centric installation (past works include cluttered and colorful “Everything Connects to Everything” as well as a sparse and dark related work, “Everything Connects to Emmett”), but “To Frame” is the artist’s most ambitious installation to date. For the project, Nordbye sourced lumber from several local sources and recruited around 30 people to help paint the boards.
Using the wood, Nordbye will construct a small house inside the Crosstown Arts gallery space. The gallery walls are painted to appear as an active deconstruction of the house — Nordbye brings his talent as a draftsman into several huge, fragmented murals. Following the exhibition, the lumber will be donated to Habitat for Humanity and used to construct a new home.
Nordbye says, “This project goes back to a fantasy that I had about 10 years ago. I thought, ‘I would love to have a contractor deliver the whole lumber load and let me work on the wood and then have it be randomized into the construction of a real house.”
“To Frame” treats themes of diaspora and residence. The show, rapidly and intuitively drawn together, takes place in a spare moment of the whole project. Nordbye plays the role of artist-as-orchestrator — pulling together disparate people and materials — for the final structure, a marked record of its journey.
Opening is Friday, April 25th from 6-9 at Crosstown Arts (422 N Cleveland.) Show runs through May 24. Casual artist's talk at 6:30 on Friday.
I recently stopped by Mary Jo Karimnia's painting studio, a cement-floored building that backs up against the Cooper-Young railroad tracks and houses several Midtown artists. You might recognize Karimnia's work from last summer's Five-in-One Steamroller Printmaking day (her mammoth woodcut features a woman wearing stripey knee socks) or from the Cleveland Street Flea Market, where she helps craft displays. Mary Jo's current group of beaded paintings and tie-dyed woodcuts seem at home next to her studio mate Mark Nowell's half-assembled and colorful scrap metal sculptures.
Karimnia, who recently received an ArtsMemphis ArtsAccelerator grant, has been at work on the series of beaded paintings (most of which depict women in historical costume) for several months. The work is painstaking— she uses thousands of tiny "seed beads" to make each piece— but feels playful. Commenting on her preference for work that is bright and synthetic, Mary Jo told me, "I can't stop. I can't help it!"
She took a few minutes to speak with me about her work and upcoming shows.