Thursday, June 20, 2019

Mark Bradford: Tomorrow is Another Day - 2017 Venice Biennale

I go through the arc of a relationship with every single painting that I do. 
Mark Bradford

Barren, 2017
Exterior installation of American Pavilion 
gravel, trash, paper cups, broken hoses

American Pavilion
Venice Biennale 

Ever since I'd seen an old PBS Art 21, about artist Ann Hamilton, I'd wanted to go to the Venice Biennale. She was the artist who did the 1999 American Pavilion and my parents had seen her installation that year. The artist chosen for the 2017 American Pavilion was artist Mark Bradford. 

Check out how cool his work and medium are in this video.

It was incredible. 

Mark Bradford was born November, 1961 in Los Angeles, California. I'd seen his work at the Broad Museum downtown and was very excited to see his pavilion that year!

Here he his talking about the installation and his philanthropic work in Venice.

Art is everywhere, in Venice, during the Biennale. It all began in 1895 and it was founded by the Venetian City Council. It is held in odd-numbered years.

The formal exhibiting happens at the the Giardini. It is a huge park or garden where there is an enormous exhibition hall and 30 smaller national pavilions. The 30 permanent national pavilions are owned by the participating country and managed by their ministries of culture and if you didn't end up in one of those, your country might be exhibiting at another venue somewhere around Venice. 

As I said, art is everywhere!

Spoiled Foot, 2016

The entrance room of the American Pavilion of 2017 was filled with this enormous installation piece that pushed you to the outer edges of the room to get by it. It had Mark Bradford's trademark layering and textures. It would be difficult to describe it so I'm glad I photographed it. It was a metaphor for people being "pushed to the margins" (you physically were pushed) and for "centralized social power." 

I'm kind of an insecure artist.
I hop from piece to piece. 
I always think my life depends on every painting. 
Every painting is my first painting. 
~Mark Bradford

Medusa, 2016
Acrylic, paint paper, rope, caulk ... 

Medusa, as told by Ovid, was a beautiful and powerful woman raped by Poseidon in Athena's temple. Athena was pissed and transformed her lovely locks into serpents and gave her a face that would turn men to stone looking upon her.

This piece made me sad for Medusa.

I looked her dead in the eye
And I knew her
~Mark Bradford's poem of Medusa 

Pavilion Rotunda
Oracle, 2017
skeins of sleached and black paper

About this piece he said it was "a site between cave and altar, between nature and culture, where oracles would deliver profound truth and predictions."

I just follow the things I'm interested in. 
That's always guided me. 
If I'm interested in something, that's where I go. 
Mark Bradford

I wish you could see the following two works in person. They represented the "beauty and fragility of nature" and they were stunning. 

The layers of color and texture were absolutely transporting. There was so much depth. I think that's why I love Rothko, as well. You feel like you can fall into the layers and let them take you on a journey somewhere else. I'm not great with talking about art in a way a historian or gallery person would talk about it, but I know what I love when I see it. And this ... I loved!

Go Tell it on the Mountain, 2016

My art practice is very detail-, labor- intensive 
and I think that that's a way of slowing myself down 
so that I can hear myself think. 
That quieter voice has sometimes 
the more interesting idea, 
if I can get to it.
~Mark Bradford

Tomorrow Is Another Day
mixed media on canvas

Below is a detail of the piece above. If I'd had a chair and endless amounts of time I could have stared at it for hours. The commercial paper used was bleached, soaked and then molded by the artist.

I've always been inspired by small details that make me wander. 
My mother would ask me, 'What are you looking at so intensely?' 
I would answer, 'Everything and nothing.' 
She really supported my wanderings, 
called me Marco Polo. 
~Mark Bradford

"...In Venice, as an adjunct to his pavilion, he has pledged to provide funding over six years for Rio TerĂ  dei Pensieri, a local prison cooperative that teaches practical job skills to inmates. Consider it site-specific social work. For him, art is “not just what happens in the hermetically sealed studio, and it’s not what happens in the communities—it’s something in between.”

"When I say the artist is a citizen, I have interest in politics and communities, but it’s still under the umbrella of being an artist,” Bradford said at the opening ceremony for his pavilion. Over the years, he has used his clout as a market star to support numerous social causes in his hometown of Los Angeles, focusing this work through his nonprofit organization Art + Practice. He has sold artworks at auction to raise the hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund these projects." 

Here's a 60 Minutes interview about the chance meeting between Bradford and Anderson Cooper. 

I just like artist-driven projects, 
but for artists themselves: 
artist spaces, artist mentor programs, 
and artists buying buildings and making lofts. 
Doing whatever we can do. 
Because at the end of the day, 
I really think that we as a community only have each other. 
~Mark Bradford

The Biennale was so inspiring and completely varied. Each pavilion was another creative adventure to behold! I'll share more of the artists but I plan to alternate with other posts, as well. Venice, Padua, Verona, Hawaii and then ... my recent walk through Italy on the Via di Francesco. 

Blessings and light!

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Burano, Italy! Color Inspiration! And 10 years of Blogging!

I prefer living in color.
~David Hockney

Burano, Italy

I'm back! AND it's my 10 year anniversary of Cobalt Violet! My very first post went up June 6, 2009. While I'm not as prolific a poster as I once was, it's still important to me and I love the wonderful folks I've found through this blog and I miss it when I'm away!

I have returned from my recent adventure on the Via di Francesco, walking in the footsteps of Saint Francis from La Verna in Tuscany south to Assisi in Umbria. It was as incredible as I'd hoped and I can't wait to share my experiences on what was a crazy, wonderful, challenging and sometimes even a bit brutal pilgrimage!

While I try to organize my thoughts and crazy amounts of photos, I will be finishing posting my last trip which was somehow a year and 10 months ago! 

After traveling around Scotland, my parents and I headed to Venice for the Biennale, one of the worlds largest and most prestigious international art exhibitions. I will get to that later but I thought I'd take you on a side trip to Burano.

A short boat ride takes you from Venice to the little fisherman's island known for its lacemaking and colorful houses. About 450 of its 3000 residents are still registered as fisherman.

Color is my day-long
~Claude Monet

Looking around the corner becomes an abstract ...

Mere color can speak to the soul
in a thousand different ways.
~Oscar Wilde

The island is really an artist's dream. I have so many photos to paint but, of course, the dream is to go back and stay and paint en plein air! I had wanted to visit Burano for so long that I really did feel  lucky just to spend an afternoon.

I found I could 
say things with color
that I couldn't say
any other way.
~Georgia O'Keeffe

Color is a power 
which directly
influences the soul.
~Wassily Kandinsky

My mom and I decided to help the local economy and each bought a hat! Here I am, below, in my fabulous new red hat which took an act of God to get it back to L.A. without being destroyed! That and letting everyone in the seats next to me on the plane know that there was precious sartorial cargo in the overhead! 

Hope you are all doing well and that your summer is off to a lovely start! Thank you so much for visiting. I am ever grateful to have found such wonderful friends in the blogosphere!

As always ...

Blessings and light!

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Bella Venezia ~ Wandering around Venice

It is the city of mirrors,
the city of mirages,
at once liquid,
at once air and stone.
~Erica Jan

How can an artist not be inspired by the beauty of Venice?! This oil painting was for my solo show in December. I mean, who doesn't love a gondolier?


The night we arrived in Venice we took a water taxi to our little apartment. There was an incredible downpour with lightening over the water. It was exhilarating and yet a bit scary! I kept wondering about the likelihood of being struck! 

The first time I heard Vivaldi played live was in Venice ... 

When we entered the apartment we rented we were even more in a state of exhilaration. This next photo is out the window of my bedroom. 

It was like a dream! A beautiful 2 bedroom apartment with beamed ceilings, antique furniture, beautiful new bathrooms and the best view EVER!

My boyfriend laughed when I sent him this photo. He has an appreciation for my wardrobe changes. In this case, I'd moved on from my plaid cotton shirts I'd been wearing in Scotland to more fitting Italian attire. I don't think it's neccisarily true but I feel a little more in keeping with Italian fashion when I wear black. 

On our first full day in Venice we were blessed with beautiful blue skies. It was a glorious September day. I'd been there in December of 1996 and it was so cold that the fountains were frozen along with part of the canal. I still loved it. I wondered what I'd feel about it now, but as soon as I started to wander down the tiny narrow streets and over the bridges, I knew I felt the same love for this wonderful city.

This was the summer of the 2017 Biennale and art was everywhere! I happened on a lovely Palazzo and discovered a new artist. Well, she's not new but she was new to me. The sound of classical music (no I'm not making this up) came in through the opened windows along with a light breeze that moved the art with its every breath. It was stunning.

Art Installation by Beverly Barkat

Libreria Aqua Alta 

This bookstore was incredible and filled to the brim. The place apparently floods like crazy so they have to keep things off the floor when the water comes in. As you can see there is a very large gondola in the middle of the store that is used for displaying "molti Libri."

The view from the back patio of the bookstore.

One more of the bookstore for my friend Evelyn, who has a thing for books and kitties!

 Gallerie dell'Accademia

I don't think we made it here in 1996 and it was high on my list for this trip. In part because of Giorgione painting The Tempest which I couldn't get a good shot of for you. There were too many people around it! It lived up to the hype. It was enchanting. You can Google it. ;)

Here is a tiny sampling of the incredible collection.

Polittico Lion con l'Annunciazione
Lorenzo Veneziano

Don't forget to look up!

Look at all those faces in the ceiling. There were hundreds! Thousands!

This room, below, was incredible. One of the large paintings installed was by Titian but I couldn't get a good shot of it.

Antonio Vivarini e Giovanni d'Alemagna's La Madonna col babino 1446

Madonna in trono che adora il Bambino dormiente
Giovanni Bellini 1516 (?)


Below, an enormous painting of Saint Mark's Square by Gentile Bellini, 1496, called Procession in Piazza San Marco. It's Tempera and oil on canvas. He must have had to run back across the room over and over to see what the whole thing looked like. He was 67 at the time.

It's hard to take in these monumental paintings sometimes. They are so massive and there is so much going on that they can be overwhelming.

The Mystical Marriage of St. Catherine (around 1575)
Paolo Caliari detto Paolo Veronese

When you zoom in and notice the details ... the clutching of pearls and intricate brocade it's absolutely incredible. I guess it's not surprising since it's Veronese but you really have to take the time with some of these pieces.

And look at these faces! The expression of the angel on the right side is so beautifully felt.

This panel, below, was on the wall as I was leaving. It's so high you can't photograph it well but it was so wonderful in its color and movement. Plus, I have a thing for gold!

Leaving the Gallerie dell'Accademia

Oh! And, here's the blouse I got in Glasgow. It's all about the sleeves.

That first day, walking around Venice, was magical. I took a day to myself and just wandered around and got reacquainted with this incredible and unique place on our planet. It feels like it's its own world, quite apart from any other. Even with all the tourists (like me!) it's completely magnificent.

At the bridge I stood 
lately in the brown night.
From afar came a song:
as a golden drop 
it welled over the quivering surface.
Gondolas, light, and music
drunken it swam out into the twilight.

My soul, a stringed instrument,
sang to itself, invisibly touched,
a secret gondola song,
quivering with iridescent happiness.
~Did anyone listen to it?
~Friedrich Nietzsche 

Venice, 2017
6 x 12" 
oil on wood panel