Monday, April 27, 2009

Adventures in Online Art

This blog entry was started many months ago, in early November when we were still pursuing the Morningstar house. I had written: “Thinking of art...Craig and I fell in love with a larger house not too far from our current one. Even in week 2 of the buying/selling process our frustration level is pretty high. Since I can't control any of the realtors or other players involved, I distract myself by thinking of art for the new house. It has much more wall space than our current one and since it was refurbished all the colors are light and neutral - perfect for art! And perfect for Chucks...they can have their own closet, their own room?, and I may even put the socks I like best with Chucks on a shelf in the Chucks closet instead of having them clog up my dresser drawers - but enough about Chucks...this entry is about art…”

In late October, November, December, January…my escape from home selling/buying frustrations was to fantasize about arranging our furniture in a new house, at first Morning Star (how wonderful to contemplate moving to a larger house, so that I don't need to get rid of my current stuff!), then another house we found, a rather dorky one in a claustrophobic Garland neighborhood on a dorky street with a lovely name, Barcelona, then finally Wildgrove, the smallest of all 3 houses, but still a new place to show art, meaning I could keep thinking about acquiring more art. Actually I didn't start out thinking I needed to buy new art, at first I was satisfied that I could hang the art previously parked in closets and behind big pieces of furniture (our high ceilings and large doorways at the old house meant there was less wall space for display, plus Craig doesn't like a cluttered-wall look), but the internet got me... I was looking for a book for my dad on Amazon when I noticed a promo from AllPosters.com. The promo was for Andy Warhol poster quotes, and Warhol is a kind of icon of Craig’s, so I went to the site, and in internet parlance got “stuck.”

It seemed like for an out-of-control couple of weeks I almost every day put new things in my AllPosters.com shopping cart. I was trying not to buy, but maybe play-shopping – I finally permitted myself to order one small Dali print, Rose Meditative, which I knew I could display in my office cube even if (gasp) we never got the house we wanted. As fun as this was, looking at copies of famous artwork made me wish I had more original pieces.

Two of our framed items previously stashed in closets are Van Gogh prints Craig got for cheap when his office was moving years ago – not to knock Van Gogh but I’m not crazy about these two – but when I saw Van Goghs on AllPosters.com somehow I got enthused again, plus I was thinking, we’ll be in such a big house we can have His and Hers art, what the hell. This brief Van Gogh consideration was about as much as I involved Craig’s taste in my thinking process, I’m sorry to say.

In early explorations of AllPosters’ search feature, I looked through flower-theme paintings, and found a lovely although maybe too hot-pinkish Impressionist print of roses on a table in a heavily wallpapered room. At that point (early November) I was still showing some purchase restraint and by the time I allowed myself to get back onto the site, I could no longer find the print.

When I searched for other rose-themed art I found many versions of Salvador Dali’s Rose Meditative, which I instantly loved – yes, it has a bit of Dali strangeness (what is it, and why did he paint it) but when I look at it I somehow feel centered and relaxed. One of the AllPosters choices is a canvas print, an option available for Rose Meditative, even in a cheap small form. I bonded with the canvas as soon as I unpacked it but still nitpicked, measuring the distances from each side of the central rose to the borders to see if they were symmetrical. They weren’t, but should I bother to return it? No, probably not, since it only cost $36.99.

Finally I did a kind of mental/mathematical calculation of other versions of Rose Meditative online and realized they were all off-center. So, OK, I could feel good about keeping this one…in which I liked the muted colors (for some reason, the canvas print was more earth-toned than other AllPosters renditions) and even the small size. However, I struggled for a while about where to display it, not liking anywhere I put it in my cube but finally depositing it on a vacant nail against the end of the kitchen cabinets in the house we finally bought…home at last, yay! And with that positioning, it was too far away/high for me to obsess about the small dark spots on the sides of the rose, which might have been screen-printing errors or might have had to do with my scissors technique when I cut open the package.


As a tense person I need many reminders to meditate and as an obsessive person I wanted to try again to get a more perfect version of the painting, so a couple of weeks later I bought a preframed (non-canvas) print that now hangs in our home office. I feel creatively sneaky to have two such different versions of a lesser known Dali – most people don’t recognize either one or notice they are the same painting.


During this time of tentative and then escalating art purchases (a desert sunset photo that relaxes me every time I glance at it, a canvas-print Klimt I bought for the orange flowers, several pieces of beagle art--more on that in another post, and other spends), I reached out to my artist friend Leisa, now in Illinois - and yes, this counts as online art too – I saw online (http://www.leisacorbett.net/) a particular painted image I remembered seeing in her Dallas studio, and Leisa and I dealt with this subject entirely by email. Leisa let me know that Banana Boxes had won a prize and was also available, but it was Separate Bananas, with two bananas posing around an elegant black tray, that I wanted.








I hadn’t remembered that the painting was framed, which meant more money, but I knew Leisa was giving me a friend discount so really didn’t want to quibble. As much as I enjoyed browsing AllPosters.com I knew the stuff there was cheap renditions of the work of dead people, and especially some of the ugly floral/fruit still lifes I saw there made me want to acquire one of Leisa Corbett’s innovative tableaus. Bless her heart, although Leisa had long since made Separate Bananas part of her personal collection (she says she misses it since she sold it to me), she agreed to sell it, and wanted to be sure it was shipped to me carefully, taking time to survey all safe (i.e. expensive) shipping options, including briefly considering the idea of bringing the piece to Dallas on a plane or train herself – combined with other business, but still…what a friend/artist.

Such a big day when Separate Bananas arrived at my office (I wanted to be sure someone was around to sign for it so didn’t want it sent to my house) – incredibly/beautifully packed, it was better than new, but…it was greener than I remembered. Leisa’s framer had picked up the green in the painting and used that for the mat. Not a bad thing!, just not what I had pictured or seen on her gallery website. I had also forgotten the size, having a mental image of a smaller painting – maybe when I first saw it, it was high up on her studio wall? While Leisa conscientiously explored shipping options I had kept myself enthused by looking at a jpg file from her website, which seemed to have more lavender and gray, colors I was especially enthused about when I thought we would get the Morningstar house, which had green and black granite kitchen countertops and gray carpets, such a perfect setting.

Oh well, AllPosters.com to the rescue as my life and my house hunt changed direction…somehow I got the idea that I could flank this original painting with (cheap, sorry, but Leisa knows it and I think is OK with it) prints of Magritte paintings that would somehow fit the theme of objectified fruit and synchronize with the green.

Since I was having the art shipped to the office and didn’t want to transport it twice, I kept it there till we bought our house. At the place I currently sit I have a wonderful large window behind me, although the cubes themselves are gray, which makes for a hugely institutional look, and tends to make even original art look like somehow institutional. My coworkers were complimentary to my face but probably giggled at me behind my back about the Bowie Collection as for several months I stashed framed prints that had no house to go to. I especially enjoyed having Bananas and the Magrittes nearby, despite the paper clutter at my desk that sometimes drifted toward the gallery – hardly a museum-like setting. Since Leisa was having to wait so many months to see a photo of her painting in my house, one day I photographed it in my cube. With my expert photographic technique I managed to capture a reflection pile of Hudson paperwork - oh well.


It was truly a wonderful moment when I “brought baby home” the day after we moved in – even just walking into the kitchen with Separate Bananas, and especially after I leaned it against the wall where it would hang, I had that “aaahhh” of rightness in my chest.



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PS Artistic inspiration for Leisa and my personal connection

It belatedly occurred to me to ask the artist whether she had a concept or philosophy about the painting. I had shown the jpg image to my therapist and she said the composition reminded her of a healthy relationship - "in the vicinity of one another with clear boundaries,” and stated, “Only when you have boundaries is closeness safe enough to thrive.” I told Leisa that the painting actually made me think of me and Craig - we have separate activities and interests but still have many similarities and are close in ways that matter.

Leisa’s response was this: Thanks for giving me some insight about why you find Separate Bananas intriguing…. I am happy to know you and Craig have a relationship where you both are free to grow. Yes, there was a definite inspiration for the painting. Edgar Degas is one of my favorite artists. I've always been fascinated by the psychological content in his portraits of his family and other scenes with figures. I thought it would be an interesting challenge to see if I could create this content with an inanimate life form. The spaces between objects can create tension on a continuum from attraction to repulsion to unrelated.

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PPS Craig’s comment on my artwork
(Poor Craig...)

"Hey, are some of these new? Because I brought over all our picture nails & hooks from the old house and I notice that now we don’t have enough hardware to hang everything."

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