I Love These Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. Videos

(If you are an email subscriber, you may need to head over to the actual blog to check out these wonderful videos)

Everyone on the Internets is loving these amazing videos part of the advertising campaign for the Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A 1945-1980 exhibition. Everyone knows that The Evolving Critic is a Boston-centric blog, but I just *have* to share these wonderful videos featuring Ice Cube, Jason Schwartzman and Anthony Kiedis of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

First up, Ice Cube shares his love for architecture and Charles and Ray Eames. “A lot of people think L.A. is just eyesore after eyesore, full of mini-malls, palm trees and billboards. So what, they don’t know the L.A. I know.” I LOVE THIS!

Up next is Jason Schwartzman who tries to understand art through the wise words of artist John Baldessari. “I just never had a reaction to art like that. I didn’t know you could react like that” says Schwartzman to Baldessari upon learning of Baldesari’s reaction to Mondrian’s Broadway Boogie Woogie.

Anthony Kiedis of the Red Hot Chili Peppers celebrates artist Ed Ruscha by driving around Los Angeles with none other than Ed Ruscha. “I definitely relate deeply to the idea of words being art. When I see somebody else whose got such a connection with words, I instantly feel connected to that person,” says Kiedis. “Yeah, I like looking at art that I am not in anticipation of” responds Ruscha. “You know, I feel the same way. My favorite experience with art is visceral where I see it and it just makes me go “OH! OH! OH LOOK AT THAT! OH! Something great happened right there,” says Anthony Kiedis. I LOVE this video so much too!

The Ice Cube video (which has had the most viewers) is making me want to get on a plane and check out all the exhibitions that make up Pacific Standard Time.

Go See This!

Every once in a while, you see an exhibition that sticks with you long after seeing it. In spite of being sick, I ventured out to First Fridays and came across a few shows that are worthy of being seen, including a show by one of my favorite video artists.

First up, this show ends soon, so soon that I didn’t really get to share it with people through the blog or on twitter, but I love Denise Marika’s works. I vividly remember an exhibition of hers at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum a few years back, it just gets better and better and better.

Denise Marika |January 7th – February 8th, 2011| Howard Yezerski Gallery

Effaced 1 2010 Video Still, © Denise Marika (Installation View)

Her work is gorgeous, powerful and breathtaking. I love video art and Denise Marika definitely stands out! Sometimes, I wish I’d become a video artist myself.

Jack Schneider|post|February 4-March 19, 2011|Anthony Greaney

BELIEVE (Board), 2010, Watercolor on paper, enamel, push pins and wood panel, 46 x 16 1/2 inches

I can go 100 times to see this Jack Schneider exhibition at Anthony Greaney Gallery and not get bored! I love it and I wish there were more shows like this in Boston. We’re getting there, slowly, but surely, (I think)! Go see this, you have until March 19th, 2011.

Lastly, the other exhibition I thought was interesting is at Carroll and Sons Gallery.

Sheila Pepe|Common Sense and Other Things|January 5th – February 19th|Carroll and Sons

Common Sense in Boston, 2011, Installation View 2, Rope, shoelaces and crocheted yarn, Interactive: work completed by viewers unraveling and re- using. Photo Carroll and Sons Gallery

Sheila Pepe is an internationally known, self-identified feminist artist whose work is held in a number of private and public collections including The Rose Art Museum, The Harvard University Art Museums, and others. The cool thing about this installation at Carroll and Sons is that you as the viewer get to finish it, so if you are a decent knitter head over to the South End and enjoy this show. Well, you don’t even have to knit to see and participate in this installation.

more to come soon..

Exploring the Museum of Fine Arts with Context Travel

On Wednesday February 26th, I had the opportunity of attending a walking tour organized by Context Travel at the Museum of Fine Arts. For Context Travel, the walking tours are no larger than five or six people and are led by local experts in urban planning, architecture, art history or other related fields. My experience at the Museum of Fine Arts was led by Tricia, a long time docent there.

Exploring a building, a work of art, or the city, in context to its surroundings or the time it was created is central to the mission of Context Travel. Context Travel doesn’t organize tours, instead it creates narrative participatory experiences in twelve cities around the world, including Athens, Florence, Naples, Paris, New York, Philadelphia and most recently, Boston.

Part of that mission, is to “connect curious travelers with that priceless local knowledge.” Context’s walking tours are usually three hours long and are offered on a variety of topics and themes. In Boston, explorations include Beacon Hill, North End, and the artist John Singer Sargent and many more. Context Travel crafts tours “designed to help the erudite traveler appreciate and defend the city without overrunning it,” the tours are engaging, informative, interesting and fun.

Being a docent at Trinity Church, one of the city’s most iconic landmarks, I can certainly relate to crafting an experience that will engage the visitor with the art work and architecture. I am very particular in making connections between art and architecture of Trinity Church in context to its surroundings and American history. This is an important detail that Context Travel emphasizes in all of its walks and seminars.

For the first two hours of the Museum of Fine Arts tour, the docent and attendees explored the new wing dedicated to American art. The last hour was dedicated to the European, Asian and Egyptian art galleries. Throughout the three hours, we stopped to discussed particular artworks and place them in context to other works in the museum, connected them to notable people as well as the city of Boston.

Exploring the museum for three hours with Context Travel proved to be a great experience primarily because I was exposed to works of arts that I either possessed very little knowledge of or have unintentionally overlooked because I was too engaged looking at other objects. I found the tour engaging and the docent was very approachable and welcoming.

Life, as expressed by Max Beckmann

Max Beckmann, German, 1884–1950, Double Portrait 1946, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Accession Number 1989.348

A series of posts inspired by pieces in the collections of Boston area museums.


In 1938, in a lecture at the New Burlington Gallery in London, the German painter Max Beckmann said that “life is difficult, as perhaps everyone knows by now[1].” The difficulties of life, the powerful emotions of fear and anxiety, and the hopeless feeling that captures the soul, are all psychological traits present in the works of Max Beckmann and the artists of the Expressionist Movement, particularly The New Objectivity (neue sachlichkeit). The New Objectivity proposed a return to naturalism in painting and was in opposition to the obscure images of Expressionism.[2] Double Portrait (1946), at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston captures the social realities and the chaos of modern life; it pierces the viewer’s hearts and paints a world full of solitude while simultaneously offering a glimpse of hope for a better tomorrow.

Beckmann chooses as his subject matter two men, Hanns Swarzenski, a scholar of medieval art and curator at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and Curt Valentin, a New York art dealer. Both friends of Beckmann, these two men have played a vital role in the development of Beckmann as artist. Engaged in a conversation, Swarzenski and Valentin, are both depicted wearing business attire, a detail that speaks of the distinguished backgrounds these two men come from. Double Portrait expresses to the fullest extent, “the power of [Beckmann’s] imagination[3]” since both of these subjects were not present in the same room for the painting, but it emphasizes the power of friendships in a time of crisis (such as the aftermath of World War II).

The composition of Double Portrait also plays a key role in expressing the context during which this painting was created. Beckmann places both figures diagonally in between an object that appears to be a table and an ambiguous window-like feature or mural showing a slight recession into space. The sharp angles of the object directs the viewer’s eye to Curt Valentin who holds a candle,  which further brings the eye to the figure of Hanns Swarzenski, who holds an Old Fashioned Glass. The placement of both of these figures on the canvas suggests a world in which oppression reigns, dreams are crushed and hope remains for those who long for better and peaceful times.

The world outside of this opening is a physically and psychologically cruel one, suggesting that the only life that is worth living, are the lives of Beckmann’s two friends; Hanns and Curt. With its somber shades of grey juxtaposed with the dark, oppressive (but yet seductive) colors of the interior space in which the two figures are placed, Beckmann expresses the uncertainties of the times as well as his psychological state of mind.

The physical and spiritual destruction of humanity, including the atrocities caused by World War II are emphasized by the hues of deep blues, purples, and black accentuated with splotches of green, red, gray and orange. Beckmann said in his lecture at the New Burlington Gallery, that “it is the dream of many to see only the white and truly beautiful, or the black, ugly and destructive. But I cannot help realizing both, for only in the two, only in black and in white, can I see God as a unity creating again and again a great and eternally changing terrestrial drama[4].”

The difficulties of life, the powerful emotions of fear and anxiety, and the hopeless feeling that detains the soul are all captured in Beckmann’s Double Portrait of 1946. The subject matter Beckmann chose to represent in Double Portrait speaks to the power of friendships in a time of crisis while the composition serves as a testament to the cruel realities of war and the oppression it forces upon humanity.

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston has a few amazing pieces by Beckmann. This one is currently on view.

[1] Herschel B. Chipp, Theories of Modern Art: A Source Book by Artists and Critics (Berkeley, University of California Press, 1968), 189

[2] Tony Richardson and Nikos Stangos, ed. Concepts of Modern Art (New York: Harper and Row, 1974), 48

[3] Ibid., 48

[4] Herschel B. Chipp, Theories of Modern Art: A Source Book by Artists and Critics (Berkeley, University of California Press, 1968), 188

SOuth of WAshington Street – South End

SOWA Open Market

I love Boston in summer for its many outdoor events, including one of my favorites, the SOWA Vintage Market and the SOWA Open Market. The market opened this weekend at a new location just down the street from last year’s and it is better than ever. This year the market feels much more organized and with more sellers, but that could be my perception. 

Moving the SOWA Vintage Market to this new site gives people the chance to peruse the many art galleries and independent clothing and accessory shops in the Thayer Street area. Also, people can visit the many artists studios in the neighborhood during Open Studios or special art walks in summer. Had it not been for this move, it would’ve probably taken me an entire separate trip to see the excellent work  being done by creative artists in the city. 

I’m looking forward to the next many weekends the market will be open and hopefully find something different every time, including some gluten-free baked goods! I know there must be a bakery in Boston or its surrounding communities interested in selling their goods at the SOWA Open Market. I would love to see more vintage clothing or antique dealers this summer. It seemed to me that there were less vintage/antique dealers in comparison to last year’s market, but again that could be my perception. 

The SOWA Open Market is one of the many things that brings life to communities in Boston during the summer and it’s worth the time spent. It is conveniently accessible by the MBTA buses, the Silver Line, and it is only a short and pleasant walk  from the Green Line Copley Square Station and Orange Line Back Bay Station.

Boston’s Love Affair with Art Deco

The Art Deco style in Boston never did flourished as it did in cities like New York, Tulsa and Miami, Florida, yet Boston has some excellent examples of the style. What remains today must be protected and preserved for they illustrate the history of the people of Boston.

More than any other architectural style, Art Deco celebrates the triumph of architecture, industrialism and commercialism. Below are some details of some of Boston’s most beloved Art Deco masterpieces.

For a sumptuous view of an Art Deco interior, visit Trinity Church on Copley Square and spend a few minutes admiring the 1938 re-decoration of the chancel by the prestigious architectural firm of Magginis and Walsh.

By any means, this is not a listing of every Art Deco building in the city, but a few details to spark interest in the style. To learn more about the city’s Art Deco architecture, visit the Art Deco Society of Boston’s website.

The Landmark AKA United Shoe Machinery Building, one of the city's most gorgeous buildings

The Landmark AKA United Shoe Machinery Building, one of the city's most gorgeous buildings

The Landmark AKA United Shoe Machinery Building, one of the city's most gorgeous buildings

New England Telephone & Telegraph Company on 185 Franklin Street (Also owned by Verizon)

The New England Telegraph and Telephone Company Building on Cambridge Street, occupied by Verizon.

The New England Telegraph and Telephone Company Building, now occupied by Verizon.

One of my favorites in the city, the New England Telephone and Telegraph Company on Cambridge Street.

Detail of the beautiful Shreve, Crump and Lowe Building.