Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Visit to the Portola Art Gallery

I originally went to the Portola Art Gallery to view the featured artist, Alan M. McGee. McGee took photographs of Auguste Rodin’s sculptures at Stanford University. The statues were primarily based on Rodin’s Dante’s Inferno. Being the nerd that I am, I was excited about seeing photographs from the collection –especially when I heard that McGee manipulated lights and shadows in order to get different perspectives of the sculptures. Manipulating a Rodin statue! I was flabbergasted. You can’t change something that an Art God created for all of us to cherish and adore. I wanted to know what McGee was up to, so I went to Menlo Park to investigate.

The Scene: I didn’t realize upon my arrival that the gallery was part of the Allied Artist Guild. There were little shops with crafts, clothing, jewelry, and furniture being sold by the artists. Once I entered, I felt like I was in a Disney cartoon where everything was so cute, perfect, and surrounded by trees. This place was so pretty and cozy that I even saw a wedding reception taking place.

More Specifically, the Scene of Interest: To my surprise, the gallery was compiled with artwork from the other artists in the guild as well. However, my mission was to first observe these McGee photographs, and then I can dilly dally.

Photographs were on walls and a book consisting of each photograph had quotes from Rodin. Inspecting each photograph, I realized that McGee was able to bring to life a Rodin statue in a two-dimensional world.

Pierre de Wissant. Black and White Photography.

His Pierre de Wissant was my favorite.
Who?: Pierre de Wissant was a wealthy burgher* who, along with five other burghers, volunteered to sacrifice himself for the town of Calais, France during the Hundred Years War between England and France.

*definition of burgher: wealthy French guy who lives in a specific town

Back to the Art Piece: The juxtapose between light and dark, smooth and rough, graceful and stiff were clearly defined. The light shining on the statue’s neck becomes the climax while the statue’s clothes are almost monotone in shadow. Accentuating the light on the skin enables one’s eyes to flow with ease over every muscle and vain in the statue’s arms and chest. The light creates a liquid effect that emphasizes motion as if the statue was twisting and contorting itself in a painful pose.

Yes, it was a show that should make Rodin smile. Not only does this show-off a beauty that can only be seen with manipulated light, but it also enhances Rodin’s original intentions of beauty and beast.

More Pictures:

A wall with the book of compiled photographs.

The Finale: Before leaving the gallery, I wanted to see the other displays. The different styles, themes, and mediums made each wall have its own personality. Nancy Wagstaff’s oil paintings of landscapes reminded me of Edward Hopper’s paintings where everything seems to be frozen in a perfect moment in time –the rich colors create a pleasantly calm experience.

Nancy Wagstaff. Blue Bucket, Waiting. Oil on Canvas.

Top: Car Culture. Oil on Canvas.
Bottom: End of the Line. Oil on Canvas.

Across from Wagstaff’s pieces was Barbara Von Haunalter’s watercolor paintings based on her outdoor observations. I enjoyed her use of soft, yet, vibrant colors in Disc Harrow and Rake.

Barbara Von Haunalter in front of her pieces.

Mama Sheep and Babies. Watercolor.

Disc Harrow and Rake. Watercolor.

On another wall were brightly colored acrylic paintings by Doriane Heyman. Her paintings, especially View Through the Trees reminded me of Paul Cezanne’s use of both bright and pastel colors to emphasize lights and shadows.

Doriane Heyman. View Through the Trees. Acrylic.

Pajaro Dunes I. Acrylic.

For More Information:
If you would like to learn more information about the Portola Art Gallery, visit the website:

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Man, The Legend: Thomas Kinkade

I didn’t want to write another blog so soon, but I was absolutely shocked this morning after reading the SF Chronicle. I was debating whether or not I should report this, but I feel that it is important for the world to finally see the truth.

When you look at these kitschy paintings, you feel a great sense of relief, calmness, tranquility, and relaxation. The sensory information eventually overwhelms your brain so much with these feelings that your neurons turn off and you become a zombie that can only repeat to yourself, “I wish I could live there,” “Oh, that’s so beautiful and cute,” and “I’ve gotta buy this calendar for Grandma.”

Yes, you have been duped by artist Thomas Kinkade. I apologize, I should correct myself. He describes himself not as an artist, but as the “Painter of Light.”

Some Background Information: The Painter of Light wasn’t born with this prestigious title. He was just an ordinary man who painted until he became a born-again Christian. After being converted, Kinkade stated, “God became my art agent” –and so began his journey using religious themes in his art that zapped the neurons out of so many innocent Americans.

Don’t get me wrong, the Painter of Light can paint. He does create very detailed paintings that awe and inspire many people. But if you can get God as your art agent, then you’re pretty much set for life. That is, until I read the newspaper this morning.

The Twist: It turns out that the Painter of Light only became friends with Jesus to help persuade people into feeling that they could trust him due to his religious affiliations. How I see it: Friends with Benefits.

The Scandal: The Painter of Light has been charged with fraud and owes $2.1 million to two former art gallery owners (the two owners became a married couple). According to the couple, they had been “lied to and cheated and broken, and are broke because of the deceit they endured at the hands of Thomas Kinkade.” What? At the hands of Jesus’ BFF? Mind-boggling!

Long Story Short:
Turns out the Painter of Light used his religion as a way to create a business relationship with the couple. The gallery owners were convinced that they were going to help “in spreading the light… [and that] their business was blessed.”

As a result, The Painter of Light had the gallery owners sell Kinkade paintings at a minimum retail price. What the couple didn’t know was that the Painter of Light would also sell the same paintings on cable television at a discount price. Scandalous!

In Other Words:
Because the Painter of Light was selling his paintings cheaper than the art gallery owners, he was able to sell more of his paintings. Thus, the art gallery owners went out of business and have taken the Painter of Light to court.

My Notes to Jesus: I’m sorry, Jesus. Nobody saw this coming. I guess a celebrity, such as yourself, has to be careful because you never know who will exploit your friendship.

For more information on the story:
Egelko, B. (2009, June 18). Damages for gallery owners reinstated against Kinkade. San Francisco Chronicle.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Politics, Math, and Art -Oh, My!

OK, I know that what I’m going to say will probably flood me with “hate mail,” but I need to get this off my chest. I’m not being political. I’m just going to say what I notice.

Michelle Obama: I have nothing against her, but I’m so tired of everybody raving about her “fashion.” Fashion? What fashion? She dresses like a Mark Rothko painting (I will explain this in further detail).

Mathematical Equation: I have created a mathematical equation so you can see what I’m talking about. I know that this may pose as a conflict between the right hemisphere and the left hemisphere of the brain, but don’t worry –it’s very simple.

If you have 2 of the same Rothko paintings connected, you can get a Michelle Obama dress.

Rothko/Michelle Equation:

1 upside-down Rothko painting + 1 right-side-up Rothko painting = 1 first lady victory dress


I would show you another dress I recently saw Michelle Obama wearing on the news, but I can’t find the dress online. It was a white dress with a blurry yellow line. That dress also followed the Rothko/Michelle Equation.

When the Rothko/Michelle Equation Doesn’t Apply:
Fear not. Regardless of the equation, I have noticed that Michelle Obama dresses in color schemes that Rothko used in his paintings too.

Here is that picture of her with Oprah. Notice that Michelle Obama’s outfit uses the same color palette as the Rothko painting next to it.

Yeah. Coincidence? Most likely. But I’d like to think that Michelle Obama has a secret admiration for the Rothko look. Who wouldn’t? Rothko paintings are supposed to make one feel a sense of calmness, reaching enlightenment, and experiencing the void.

For Next Time:
This was my first blog entry, so I apologize if things were a bit strange. I enjoy observing and studying art, so my future blogs will focus more on other artists (dead or alive) whose works are on display in the Bay Area. I’ll also try to expand my topics beyond painting, drawing, and photography to other mediums that depict art and self-expression. My philosophy is that everything is art; so everything should be explored whether it instantly appeals to you or not. In addition to talking about other artists, I will occasionally post pictures of my artwork for you to critique and hate (well, don’t be too harsh -I’m not as talented as my Tamale peers).