Originally viewed at de Young museum in San Francisco on Nov 14, 2015 during Jewel City exhibition.
Hi you in the future. This was the Friday and Saturday (July 10-11) road trip from Coral Springs to Saint Petersburg to re-visit The Dali Museum and watch a baseball game. It was a lone trip and you were not embarrassed. Only you for thoughts, conversation, opinion, and entertainment. One can be alone.
So you didn’t leave at 5:30am on Friday like you wanted and instead left at little before 8am. It wasn’t inconvenient until the detour on Alligator Ally through Immokalee, a place you have never been.
The east coast Florida highways have more trees and greenery than the west it seems.
Only until you crossed the bridges, especially the highest bridge with the yellow suspension cables extending diagonally down that from afar seem like a golden spike, that you accepted that Saint Petersburg is a peninsula. Because of the earlier detour you didn’t arrive before noon. You arrived at the museum at 3pm though you entered Saint Pete by noon, but decided to eat a Publix veggie sub at a public park the size of one city block exactly. The park was nice enough and many people were sitting down on blankets. Parked on the street and slide coins in the meter. It became noticeable that those people where the city’s homeless. With the homeless spread across the park the non-homeless stayed clear. You were part of the homeless scene.
The first visit to The Dali Museum was on another road trip several years before with an ex-high school girlfriend not longer after your separation. The museum was smaller, but still there. I remember the very large paintings and the white pajama shaped dress she wore with black heels; thought it was too much. So a new three story museum was build in the same spot as the old. Three floors, but only the third floor for exhibition where the concrete spiral staircase leads. And so Dali and you were together again.
Let the others go in order and view each painting one after another like a doctor evaluating patient x-rays. No, you, you zagged when they zigged, went up when they went down. Leave the gallery and return later and view the paintings in reverse. Randomly jump without fear or thought from one to another. You drove the museum security nuts! They saw you multiple times. And again in circles. What must’ve they thought? There’s a crazy.
Dali ordered the gallery closed at 5:30.
Later that day after sofritas at Chipotle you drove for 10min to find a parking spot near Tropicana Field that wasn’t $15 expensive. Even $10 was too much and so you found one lot for $5. Turns out it was a city lot and that is why it was the least expensive the attendant explained and congratulated you for saving five dollars. So you parked there and walked the few minutes to the stadium.
Ten dollars was the cheapest ticket and you sat at the 300 level in the last of the last seats behind the outfield next to the electronic display boards. There was a tank full of sting rays below a board. A tank full sting rays?! The seats were aluminum benches just like the bleachers you find in high school gymnasiums. It was an indoor stadium and you were thankful for that because the heat was strong and you just wanted to sit and watch and clap for the home team a little. Final score Tampa Rays 3, Houston Astros 1.
And then around 10pm it was back to the bedroom you rented in Amy’s house not far from the stadium.
The Esterel Mountains 1945
Oil on Canvas
The Riddle of the Heavens Third picture of the Titan Dying trilogy.
Oil on canvas
J.F. Willumsen Museum
Egon Schiele portraiture
On view through 19 Jan. 2015
Never once before this had I considered book signing or especially about art work. Often times I’d read about a book signing and just continue reading without pause. Never given it much thought actually. When the email from PAMM loaded in Gmail I glanced through it and, this time, actually grasped that there was an opportunity awaiting for me to actually participant and at the same time keep a physical representation of my efforts of that particular day and of the interest I had at that time and what I wanted out of the event. The embodiment of this effort was in a book and a few amputated lines of text written by someone whose hands produced work significant enough to be shown as part of her retrospective. Her first and mine as well. The signature was excellent. Felt completely fulfilled the moment she closed the book, turned it around, and nudged it towards me. A collection just beginning.
The less than hour drive south to PAMM wasn’t terrible except for having left one hour later than I had originally planned. Arrive at 9:45am I thought, but didn’t want to seem so eager walking into the museum for a yet to begin book signing. And so leaving for the drive at nearly 10am made me nervous that I would completely miss my opportunity to receive her signature. A fair amount of planning went into this day. Here’s a list.
- The 1 PTO day from work.
- The approximately 40 minute drive to PAMM. Counts for time and gas.
- The $10 flat parking fee at PAMM.
- The 1 hour wait in a standing-only line.
- The $60 art book purchase.
- The approximately 40 minute drive from PAMM. Counts for time and gas again.
- The output of these hard and soft costs are book itself.
People in the standing-only line were less chatty that I expected. “Is this the line of the book signing?” She asked with my back turned and assumed it was for me because I was the last person in the line. Maybe 5” 4′ with black rimmed glasses, shorts, t-shirt, tote bag, brownish long hair and a cast on her right foot. She had a gold iPhone too. Not the iPhone 6 though. Lives and works in New York as an art directory and the designer of the official Art Basel Miami Beach magazine cover art. Had never seen this official magazine until she mentioned it. They were in all the hotels and in the convention center. Didn’t matter where they were unless I also had one. So instead of Beatriz Milhazes signing her own newly released art book and the reason for the book signing, the New York art director was to ask Beatriz to sign her magazine art work. Pretty cool. Nice to meet you. No, no, no. You sign my art. Just let me take it out of my tote bag here.
Oh and the Brazilian bourgeois. If it wasn’t that they were all women except for the old man I would think more harshly of them. Nice looking women actually. One had a witch’s nose. The other a white dress, a long face, great legs and what I appeared to be a firm bunda from multiple angles and poses. The others are forgotten. Nonstop chatting the entire line. The old man leaves the line walks away and back in line. The representation of a yo-yo.
Standing in line I infrequently checked my phone. really observing the other line standers the perhaps non-obvious emerges. Mainly in how people are dressed. Some where clearly there for Art Basel and others perhaps locals were just in everyday wear and slightly on the shabby. At least I wore polo shirt. Would have been concerning had I wore a simple t-shirt. Yes, these are things never considered prior to the book signing experience.
So the line moved at a slow pace and I can only imagine was due to the nearly every person wanting a picture. Take my picture. Let me take your picture. Here’s my phone. Flash me. Oh, that one came out nice. Smile wide and show me your teeth so that I know you really appreciated it. The fake smile I gave you. Leaning over the table or worse going around the table. It’s not what you expect.
And what do you say? Flattery gets you everywhere. She said that. The art director. No, I didn’t say that loved here work. No, I didn’t critique or give advise. And certainly didn’t begin with a thought out analysis of her work and its influence or derivative work or impact on her work on the art world. “Hi. Glad to be here.” That’s it. Gave her my name and she began writing. For the hour long book signing stander by she wrote “with Joy.” But my reward was “with Joy and Rhythm.” Beatriz imperceptibly glanced at a cardboard sheet with many names written on it just before writing the word rhythm. The capital “R” is strange compared to the other letters. She gave me extra is what’ I’m saying. An extra word.
Vivian Maier’s story is well told in Who Took Nanny’s Pictures? a BBC documentary and a New York Times article does a fine job of explaining recent developments of Ms. Maier’s after life. And since there is virtually nothing more I can add other than opinion, well, that’s what I intend to offer.
Watch the documentaries and read the article and in perfect stride mine and any other opinion will unfold.
She was a nanny and took videos and pictures of children – chronicling their lives – because only children want that level of attention. They want to be noticed. Anyone else would simply become annoyed. Children are tremendously expressive and genuine. Capturing tender intimacy is a great satisfaction. The camera was perhaps the only she could experience it.
A recluse. A loner. A recluse loner. The children, now adults, say she had a dark side. Anger directed at people for their flaws and less than genuine nature. They weren’t pure of heart or purpose.
I would have liked Vivian Maiers. We share a few habits like not giving people our real names and not inviting people into our lives. We’re around people but absent simultaneously. Simply detached and avoiding attention.
Joel Meyerowitz in both films explains Vivian Maier’s likely psyche and it’s on point. Yes, her photos are very good, but I find more interest in her life story and am in great awe.
Perhaps she never found someone to confide in or who shared her sensibilities. That is so important in life. Or maybe the people around her, the families who shared their lives with her, where just too shallow. There’s a point in one of the films, cannot remember which one, where there is mention of Vivian identifying with the poor. Indeed she was poor and seeing the lives of these rich families probably helped harden the distaste and judgement she had about their lives and priorities. There’s an unfairness about life. After all, she obviously didn’t place importance on material possessions. Can you just imagine a servant, which she practically was, listening to the conversations of a well off husband and wife? Inconsequential worries and discussions. a world removed. More ANGER!!! that these people are so blind and self absorbed. She knew, had to have known, that she was disposable to the families. Here, take care of our children, share their early childhood lives and then kindly get out of our house and find your way economically; you you nanny. We don’t need you anymore. Door closes and the family moves on.
She wasn’t accepted. And not that she wanted to, but when accepted you have control to say no i don’t want to be accepted. And it is you that decides who can accept you. However, this only works for the rich and powerful. The poor pushed aside, unacknowledged. It doesn’t matter if you want to decide to be accepted because you don’t matter. I’ll find another nanny thank you.
But finally those people still alive can now rightfully understand her and how she towers over them. She’s won! She knew everything about these families and they knew nothing of her. what little they knew was all wrong. the control was her’s. The massive amount of work and quality simply overshadows these families. She is rich and now they are the poor. They are wiped away – erased. And while she may have been someone who they forgot, Vivian Maier will continue to live and these people will be forgotten. She’s achieved a mighty sweet revenge.
Viewing her work i wonder how did she get the focus just right and the image so clear and not blurred. Amazingly it was just pictures, but also video and newspaper clippings and audio tape recordings that she created. A pack rat of the highest order she apparently stored receipts and papers, letter, all manner of items. It’s interesting that one object, one thing, however invaluable suddenly gains value the more of it you have. The quantity of something grows into a collection and the value is in its variety and similarity. Maybe its simply the patience of collecting mundane objects that when grouped in large amounts bursts into something of value. Through the quantity emerges and glow an aura of interest and uniqueness.
Sold my Nikon several years ago during a trough in my life. I’m shopping for a camera now.
The time period seems to add to the surprise of her photos. A curiosity of the way things were. It’s essentially a complete documentation of her life. And that is wonderful.
A open-armed ‘HELLO’ I said to Vancouver at the end of April during my first visit. Three thousand plus miles and an easy 13 hour travel from Fort Lauderdale to Houston to San Francisco to (finally!) Vancouver. The time difference helped, but still arrived in the late afternoon. A combination of mountains, ocean, and influences from native peoples, British and French make Vancouver unique and nearly downright cozy. The drive from the airport was largely on one single road traversing everything reaching downtown. Too vain and afraid to look like the first time Vancouver visitor that I truly was the occult video is all I could manage. Observe the bridge the approaching tallness of the city. HELLO Vancouver.
The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver. Very nice. Complaints were made by a few people in the group I joined. I witnessed the complaints and luckily couldn’t join; my room was fantastic. Loved every minute of being the room. The details were everywhere. More than once out loud I’d say “I could live here.” and many more times I silently thought the same. Sure, the room had old world charm what with the wood flooring, the large windows, the heavy wooden doors with brass doorknobs, the very high ceilings, top and bottom moldings – everything just fit nicely and cleaning – a symphony of decor. Room 1209 with a view of the Vancouver Art Gallery. Perfect.
Sadly, the visit to Vancouver was work related, but desperately snuck off like a night bandit for a bit of exploring. Yes, I politely ditched some co-workers. The nearest museum is a must explore. Read somewhere, I don’t remember where or when, that the museum is a barometer of the city. This law of travel has never proven wrong. And a wonderful and grand museum the Vancouver Art Gallery is. Just look at the building’s architecture! What a crowd outside on the steps and in the outdoor cafe and in the admission line. On a Tuesday!? A promising sign even if admission was by donations only. A $15 donation can make anyone feel like a real benefactor of the arts especially compared to the $1 donation of other chaps. On exhibition: Myfanwy Macleod Or There and Back Again.
Yes, the inside just as impressive. A pleasurable layout and environment. You just want to be there. All. Day. Four floors. From the first floor enter and up the stone stairs of the rotunda. Take the escalator up to floors three and four. But aaahhh, no photography except for in the rotunda. They don’t seem confident. Let’s ask someone else. “Excuse me. Is photography allowed?” “No, sir.” A blank look. Turn and walk away. But I like taking pictures in museums. It was for the best that I not. Old habits triumphed with a cinematography-esque clip.
With a dinner promise to co-workers weighing on me, I left after a much too brief 90 minutes of therapy. Approximately mid-50s and clear skies made the walk to a restaurant called simply “C” on the water’s edge bliss. And boy did arrive quickly as the video can attest to my quick step walking pace.
And some de rigueur pictures of the flight. In San Francisco en route to Vancouver.
Five hours north of South Florida is a mud puddle called Jacksonville. An decent one. I’m being harsh. Deep appreciation of well maintained highways sets between the very edges of Indian River county upwards to Jacksonville. Makes you kinda proud. Tall trees along both sides north and south bound lanes. Roads free of junk and clear lane demarcations. Simple functional rest stations. And this being Florida the drive is largely a straight line with the occasional curve and mole hill.
I suck for posting this two months late. It’ll happen again. It’s habitual.
Getting around Jacksonville was super convenient. Slightly exaggerating there is one traffic light every two miles. At least this was the experience shuttling from Southside to Orange Park. Here’s an overly generalized observation: Orange Park is working class perhaps a little slummy while Southside is new construction, shoppes, manicured.
Taking in the northern coast beach and MOCA where my only humble goals of this trip.
Soft white powered sand characterizes the beach. The sand is as hard as a flat surface; hard enough that many early birds ride their bicycles on the beach. So don’t expect to sand castles and getting buried in sand. That is clearly out of the question. Plus there is nearly a football field sized distance between the edge of civilization and the ocean. This open space is the beach. The sunrise was nice and plenty of tourists and locals woke early to be rejuvenated and inspired by it.
Downtown Jacksonville was a let down. Maybe ’cause it was Saturday and downtowns in small mud cities usually empty on weekends. Regardless, downtown seemed a little blighted. Next to MOCA Jacksonville on the same block same attached building is the public library. Across a public center with circular fountain sans green space. Its relatively small. First impression driving on the street separating museum from the public center was the commotion at the library so much so that I initially thought the library was the museum. ‘An active art crowd. Great!’ I thought. It wasn’t the museum. Homeless locals hang out at the library and public center. Well, yeah.
Three of the five floors are exhibition space. The boutique cafe inside was closed. The front desk was very nice. She explained everything and genuinely welcomed me. Head down doing something as I entered she raised with a smile.
Admission sticker on chest and MOCA Jacksonville floor plan in hand she eagerly tells me of her favorite piece since I asked for suggestions. Climbing the stairs to second floor offers nice view of the a Heather Cox Winter 2013 Project in large open exhibition atrium.
Quiet and lonely. Aside from security there was just one other museum patron. Eyes glance down, Mona Lisa frown. While I really enjoy art and museums I can’t say that I can intelligently critique art. My observations are of level of effort and thought the artist takes in creating their art. An appreciation and interest in their time and effort and skill. Hardly do I search for the concept or attempt to calculate their inspiration. In the permanent collection of MOCA Jacksonville are a series of Richard Anuszkiewicz paintings on second floor display. This was the highlight of the visit. That and the cute refreshing girl in the gift shop. Do Google, Wikipedia, and YouTube Richard Anuszkiewicz and then you too can name drop Op art.
Let’s talk about something important. The girl at the gift shop. I would. I didn’t. She gave me a tip of the Black Sheep restaurant in the Riverside neighborhood a few minutes from downtown. Its a trendy artsy areas. I’d live there. Did a drive by and it was packed. Didn’t eat there. With Black Sheep in the review view mirror the red narrow front door of a psycologist’s made me stop and take a picture. Look at my picture.
Ahhh. Returning to MOCA in North Miami after a year or so absence and nothing has changed. Free parking unchanged. The uninviting stagnant water pool at the building entrance unchanged. A very warm and bright summer Saturday afternoon. Perhaps a garden with stout trees would have been a better choice. And the sure shot drive east on 125th Ave from I-95 through the neighborhood also unchanged.
Impressed and likely to return for an additional viewing of avaf’s Assume Vivid Astro Focus VIII. Red, white, blue, green light changes saturate the walls from above. From above! Loud music switching between possible three tracks. Observe the walls and find them transform with each light change. A dark room like effect. New images appear and images you’ve already noticed transform and change again and again. A living wall.
An intimate space of maybe eight feet by six feet, you feel everything mounted on top of you; the music, lights, images. Everything in the room is an extension of you. The light changes and you feel that your eyes see only the same color light. The music changes and you feel oversized headphones on your ears. The images change and you feel as though you blinked. Of course you don’t and a new scene appears before you.
Hundreds of images and drawings floor to ceiling in all sizes on the walls. A collage. There is a sense of being in a fun house. Surprises abound. The largest static image is of a gigantic woman whose head is visible above the entrance stretching across the ceiling. Her long legs extending down opposite the entrances. Walk in and first you see legs. Follow the legs up to her hips and torso on the ceiling until finally turning around to see her head right above the entrance way as though she is hugging the room. There’s something about seeing a cartoonishly large women exerting interest. Fully clothed and large. We should see more of them.
A narrow white child’s sized spiral staircase down the center of the room disappears. Enter the room and immediately you’re at the walls. Atop the staircase lights, audio, and project equipment hang. The alternating lights remake the room. The music makes you feel comfortable – Where’s the Whiskey? Can I bum a cigarette? Slow paced with haunting deep piano notes create a wonderfully synced combination courtesy of Los Super Elegantes’ Fla & Flu. Green and red lights carry along with the music’s lazy pace.
The images keep you there. Some are innocent. Listen to curated songs. Really listen and you’ll be there long enough to notice still images of bare breasts. Compromising positions. Genuine perversion. A randomness of imagery, people, cartoons, drawings in a massive collage. The images must feel strange together forced into the same room. If you could freeze frame an over the top party party in a Beetlejuice land sans monsters this is what it would be. The party continues even as you leave the room.
Attracted by the music and lights some walk enter and immediately turn around to exit. Perhaps embarrassed or simply afraid or unable to take in the overload. Definitely an experience. A sincere “Thank You” to asaf! Ahhh.
Fewer things make me happier than taking pictures in museums. Out of courtesy, always, I ask and was very happy to hear that pictures were permitted. Congratulations. You may enter.
And what’s with the no pictures in museums anyway. Next post: museum picture and video policy report and rating.