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Posts Tagged ‘SDMA’

Ink drawing of The Age of Enlightenment – Gabrielle Émilie Le Tonnelier de Breuteuil, Marquise de Châtelet, 2008 by Yinka Shonibare, MBE



There are particular nights, small time frames, where everything you want, and, yes -everything you need- is given to you.

You watch your life unfolding perfectly, like a well-written screenplay of a comedy of errors, where the characters, after a series of ‘harrowing events’ and near misses, find each other at last. These nights you believe in signs, and that there are no coincidences.

I am not saying that life or love have a happy ending, but some days do.

Last Friday, the San Diego Museum of Art in Balboa Park hosted an extraordinary event, part of their Summer Salon Series (inspired by the tradition of French literary and cultural salons). This event was a 36 Hour ‘continued’ Salon taking place in the museum’s galleries (open consecutively for 36 hours…I will never forget contemplating Egon Schiele at 2 in the morning), auditorium, and outdoors in the sculpture garden.

Needless to say, the collection of happenings taking place ranged from the superb to the surreal. Wandering in the museum galleries in the wee hours of night with other artists, revellers and cool types felt very subversive and….Big City.

A Yes Men lecture, an avant-garde play on self-loop for four hours, museum tours, German Expressionist Cinema, ambient music with obligatory trippy visualizations, live bands, a napping station plen air, stargazing on the lawn of the sculpture garden, drawing dreams and nightmares and, my favorite, a marching band in which us, the audience, were given a makeshift instrument and played (and marched) directed by the one-man band’s crazy frontman.

The general feeling of anarchy, and being caught between confusion/freedom/disbelief/engagement made this event very Dada, or something the Situationists would have conjured up…

Click to enlarge

During a lecture, I drew one of the pieces on display {above}. you can find a photo of the piece here.

From the museum’s literature: The Age of Enlightenment – Gabrielle Émilie Le Tonnelier de Breuteuil, Marquise de Châtelet, is from a series of five figures depicting notable philosophers from the eighteenth century. The marquise, fluent in several languages and an accomplished mathematician and physicist, personified the “enlightened” person. Her lasting legacy is the translation and critique of Isaac Newton’s Principia Mathematica that is still used to this day. Despite the fact that the Marquise de Châtelet was a leading mind of eighteenth-century France, much of her work was overlooked because of her gender. Her most famous lover, Voltaire, described her as a ‘great man’ whose only fault was being a woman.

I like to think that the Marquise is headless because she has never been recognized for her work and her name is virtually unknown.

She has been deliberately omitted in the annals of His-tory.

The fabric of her dress also tells a fascinating story of colonialism and the fallacy of ‘tradition’.

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Francoise Gilot (Picasso's Mistress), Self- Portrait. Copy. Ink on Paper. I saw this at the San Diego Museum of Art, and needed to have it.

Françoise Gilot. Self-Portrait. Copy, ink on paper. January, 2010. Françoise was Picasso's long-time mistress, an accomplished artist in her own right. I saw this piece at the San Diego Museum of Art.

The original drawing. I couldn't find it anywhere online, so hope it helps someone. No photos allowed on this one *cough*

Somebody bought me blue roses....Watercolor and Graphite. January, 2010.

Photograph edited in Photoshop. February, 2010.

Coffee Carrier (delle). Graphite on paper. Kuwait. January, 2010.

Miniature Pomegranate. Watercolor on chocolate wrap. Kuwait. January, 2010.


February 1st, Monday. I like it when a new month, sparkling with possibilities, starts on a Monday, a beginning of a new week. This February finds me physically incapacitated ( I have been down with a bad cold since last week)-  but my spirits are up, because of the things I have been reading, the art documentaries I have been watching, the places I have been (a brief jaunt to San Francisco) and the interesting people I met. I have been feeding my mind and doing lots of different things, so today I want to catch up, and share.

What I have been doing: Teaching. This quarter my classes are First Year Design Studio; History of Architecture; Art: Neoclassic to Modern (where my students are researching Women Artists); and Non-Western Traditions (where I can share my travels in Kuwait). Perfect, but insanely busy.

What I have been listening: Gipsy Kings and Sweetheart 2010, a Hearmusic compilation. Great. Now I have to buy the others in the series. Damn you, Hearmusic, why are you so good?

What I have been reading: Design Anarchy (it is a dangerous book, Buy It), Che Guevara- Una Vida Revolucionaria, Feminist Literature, The Guerrilla Girls Bedside Companion to Western Art. My brain is broiling- in a good way.

What I’ve been buying: My only shopping in Kuwait consisted of pens, pens, pens. I received a bounty of gifts, so that anything I could have wanted to buy, was given to me. And for this I will be forever grateful. But my contribution to the Kuwaiti economy can be seen below:

Pens such as these can be found in regular, small office/school supplies stores in Kuwait. In Italy they would be called 'Cartolerie'.

So I gave myself a belated Christmas present by buying a much-needed 1.5 TeraBytes External Memory (It’s a thing of Beauty), and shopped at NaraCamicie, an Italian brand known for the best shirt design in the world. I was so delighted to find it in San Francisco. I visited their Firenze store three years ago, and have been pining for Nara since then. Apparently there are only two U.S stores and when I saw the San Francisco one, I promised myself a visit for a special occasion.

What I have been watching: Art:21, a series of PBS (Public Television) documentaries on contemporary American artists, mostly alternative, independent ones.

What I have been pondering (on Photography):

Joe Nicholson, the First Year coordinator at my school, a veteran academic, who brings a Yale-borne rigour to our class and an incredible dose of warmth, fun and passion for art and architecture (and who I consider my mentor) shared with us this anecdote:

When I was a young man and new to San Diego, I stumbled upon a photographer’s studio. ‘Oh, so you take pictures’ I said to the Photographer. And the Photographer answered: ‘I don’t “take” pictures. I make pictures.’

Joe Nicholson



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