More Biennale;Last Trip

Posted by Sermarr

I made it to the Biennale one last time to check out the artists I really liked and to see a few exhibits I didn't get to. My favorite was the Russian one (for black humor). They had something about confessing our materialistic sins so you walked in and there was a big square opening in the floor with confessional kneeling thing all around the railing and a big "shower head" in the ceiling dropped euros slowly into the pit of the square. Quite a materialistic fantasy. And then a Nigerian painter whose work was very realistic. And the US pavillion was a woman artist's very balanced but microscopically peopled worlds. Hard to describe but here are some pictures. Then two national exhibits that I stumbled onto out and about in Venice. Both with fluorescent lights ???









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Visit To The Doge’s Palace

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I've learned that Venice was petrified of any leader getting too much power and so elected the Doge,usually for short time periods, and gave him strict rules to abide by and lots of committees to make decisions with. So I went to visit his palace yesterday (actually this was written a while ago;I'm in berlin now trying to catch up on my posts) and I was amazed at how overwhelmed you'd be if you were coming to deal with him. You have to go up a Golden Staircase first and then into this enormous waiting room covered with huge pictures of how successful Venice is at war, at commerce, at art. Then you can come into another even bigger place with him raised up on a platform surrounded by even bigger paintings and huge golden carved frames in the ceiling with Gods bestowing flowers on Venice!






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Death In Venice (Murano)

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On the way to the studio yesterday we saw how funerals work in a town with water roads. The boat comes up the canal to the church with the coffin on the open side of the boat;the family is in side the covered cabin. The boat stops and a hydraulic lift under the coffin lifts it up and turns it sideways and a "tray" in the top slides it off the boat into an accordion trolley with wheels. The priest prays over the coffin with the family and friends around and then they all wheel the coffin and go inside the church for the service. I guess they then all go to the cemeterio which is on an island nearby And the most moving thing was that they ring the bells in the bell tower as the coffin is moved up to the shore-beautiful announcement of someone leaving the community they probably lived in all their life. Many of the people here are white haired. But there are lots of young children too The rent here is surely cheaper than Venice It may be like my Long Island City neighborhood where young couples priced out of Manhattan have moved across the river to Long Island City and set up life a subway stop away from their work.





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Important Personal Reflection “Why Art?”

Posted by Sermarr

The things to be learned from looking at all this art,and the past art which is to be found all over Venice, is how intrinsically human it is to make and look at art. All you have to do is see the huge cruise ships and rivers of tourists lined up to see all the houses of art and history. Not for everyone is the current in vogue far out or abstract pieces but every life is impacted and enriched by looking at visual representations of real and imagined scenes. Even puritanical as the US is about art for art's sake, and from their protestant renunciation of embellished churches, every church has some sacred images. Only 1/3 of US homes have original art but almost all of the remainder have photographs of sacred moments and people.
And why any of it? Unnecessary use of discretionary spending! Some people say it's a necessary cultural indication of your social status and beliefs and reflects on the person who shows a daring or realistic or photographic family scene. I'm sure that is true but it seems bigger than the individual,this need for art
I prefer to believe what the Greek Orthodox father who taught me in an icon class said "This is not an art course; we are here to touch the divine ". His firm belief was that icons were portals to the beyond where goodness and forgiveness and salvation lay. And painting them precisely according to time sanctified formulas,much like a mandala, was a meditative path to get in touch with sacred, above-the-madness peace and certainty about what this world we are living in was all about. Some overarching principle or vision about how it fit together- the goodness, greed, cruelty, generosity, boredom, fear,death and drama of every day life and elevated special event life of wars,discrimination, poverty,plagues,floods,mass killings,Mother Teresas, Ghandhis. All our mixed-up, conflicting worlds since time immemorial. And artists seemed to be seers gifted in representing this portal to understanding whether it was divine,ugly,nihilistic,beautiful, rational or maddeningly without order or reason
Each portal created by the artist's perspective on life with his/her particular skill and the tools and expectations of that time's culture. Sometimes temporary, for curing or joy or supplication (sand paintings and our current "installations") or lasting (carved in massive stone blocks meant to stay through eternity). Compass points oriented to what is important in the artist's point of view and/or the culture he/she lives in. Educational portals or portals reflecting anger, despair,joy. All of these have I seen as I've roamed this city and Biennale.
I saw the Doge's Palace this morning and it's crammed full of images about safety and justice and victory and responsibility and wealth and the grandeur of human endeavor and the realization of how precarious life is. Fully understandable even to someone like me who has no idea which battles or saints they depict.

This is quite a long discussion of what I've been thinking. But it's a good summing up of what seems to have no summing up-so many different materials/perspectives/countries/centuries flowing through my eyes into my head. My cup runneth over

And I've been thinking and experimenting in yhis printmaking workshop with why I'm an artist and, importantly, how I'm an artist. The truth is, I have no verbalizable idea of why I suddenly jumped up and became fully committed to making art. A force that was irresistible and continues to shape and inform and rejuvenate and energize my life. An artist friend says that making art is addictive and that is certainly true for me. The journey of grabbing onto whatever the next piece will be and seeing where it will go and how it will materialize is hypnotically compulsively focused-it must be how surfers feel when they ride a big wave, all non-verbal instinct and twisting into and against the force they are standing on and then the final flowing away of it all and you wake up a great distance from where you started. Except when I finish a piece, unlike the wave that's now gone,I can stand in front of it with surprise and delight (hopefully) at how it turned out, almost as if I didn't make it, it materialized in some mystic process other than through me. And I have learned on this trip,as if following a divining rod, that my voice is about 3D object driven pieces and much of what I'm interested in is depicting "innerscapes" or psychological portrayals of things that are hard to understand but reveal so much about humanity. Safety, rape, murder, greed, rage, oppression, racism, love, fear, family,home. They meet on the fault lines of how we live and what is either an adhesive and/or a disruption,the best and the worst-the extreme situations where we see ourselves the most revealed, even if only in how we reject disquieting messages about who we are and have been since we became human and lived in groups.

Anyway, I've now come to the end of what I have to say now. The wave has been ridden out. I'll take a picture of this sidewalk cafe both looking out and looking in at me where I've sat and had espresso and brioche and thought and written about this trip while other tourists from thousands of miles away passed by on their way to see the next pieces of art



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Biennale:Spotlight on Seeing

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As I walked through the beautiful old ship building structure of the Arsenale I was looking for art/structure/form and it is all around wherever I'd look so here are a few "art works" that didn't have labels but are gorgeous anyway











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Biennale: Spotlight on Chinese Other

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And then there were others…embroidery,torn paper etc. here are some with a detailed view of the embroidery next to the picture. And the last one was an interesting art feat of a woman artist painting calligraphy holding the brush with her vagina. She learned the technique from a street person! What artists will do to make art is amazing. I wish I could have understood what she was writing. But the technique/process certainly informs the outcome







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Biennale:Spotlight on Chinese Sculpture

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Sculpture was not as interesting but here are some I liked. The display of wooden objects next to the wooden figure are thieves' tools.









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Biennale: Spotlight on Chinese Painting

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I'm going to try to pass along some of the amazing Chinese painting which I found to be virtuoso painting whether I liked the content or not. And the subject matter was different than what I usually see at galleries. They also had a film running that was the history of Chinese participation in the biennale which is 13 years. The film was fascinating because they interviewed by year some of the artists and curators (each national pavilion has a curator from its country) who participated. Seeing each of these artists who told of how hard it was to keep painting when there was governmental opposition and no outside market for Chinese art was moving. However now they are seated in their enormous studios with huge works in the background so clearly participation in the biennale and the art market acceptance has benefitted them enormously.
Almost all their work is Huge. And past that there's no categorization, at leadt to an outsider Realism,fantasy,abstraction and not so much conceptual art.
So here are some of the paintings
















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Inspiring Trip To Biennale, Spotlight On Andorra

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I went to the Biennale again as our studio was closed on Sunday. And I wanted to see the artists I really liked and especially to get to the Chinese exhibits which are across a little bay at the Arsenale. And 6 hours of walking and looking my eyeballs out I came home very inspired.
I was surprised to find the winners of the Biennale ,for me, from a country I didn't know existed,Andorra, a country of 80,000 people in the Pyrenees One artist had a very moving depiction of obsolescence and lost times (the exhibit was called "Tempus Fugit" and another had pictures in X-ray of old photos with a person missing. Here are a few pictures but they really don't do the exhibit justice
I am going to have to find some way to blog about all the Chinese art. There's so much!!







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More Wood Block Love

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Today I borrowed a set of wood carving tools and went to work on one of my new pieces of plywood. I wanted to see how hard it was to go cross grain and to make letters and plaid. And,in honor of my androgynous he/she on the back, I wanted a lesbian shirt. So I carved "I Love Women" on the board, inked it up and printed it on a small press. The red color came out too light and I'm going to try to correct that this afternoon. It's drying in the sun now
I really like carving these; they are not difficult,given what I'm experimenting with and the impact is high when they're printed





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