Thursday, July 20, 2017

Harry Bertoia: Sonambiant Sound Sculpture Recordings

After nearly 40 years of silence, Harry Bertoia's "Sonambient" label has been resurrected in order to release the best of Bertoia's unheard recordings from his recently preserved archive of 1/4" tapes. "Clear Sounds" b/w "Perfetta" was cut straight from the original reels and is a true analog pressing. 

These two pieces were selected for their minimal, meditative and lush harmonic qualities; lacking in the abundance of dynamics and contrasts found on the original "Sonambient" records, these pieces show another approach to performance. Slow washes of shimmering metallic sculpture rustle thickly like the leaves of a white birch or tall grass in the summer sun. Gorgeous harmonics hover overhead, making audible measurements of the length and purity of Bertoia's metal rod sculptures. 

Both Harry Bertoia and his brother Oreste composed extensively in the Sonambient barn deep in the woods of rural Pennsylvania where Harry kept over 100 Sonambient sculptures and gongs. The first "Sonambient" LP "Bellissima Bellissima Bellissima / Nova," released in 1970, contains a Harry Bertoia composition on side A and an Oreste Bertoia composition on side B. As an homage to the original "Sonambient" LP, "Clear Sounds" is a Harry Bertoia piece from June 30, 1973 and "Perfetta" is an Oreste Bertoia piece from June 28, 1971. 

Harry Bertoia first came into artistic prominence in the late 1930s and his sculptural, ergomonic chairs were soon modernist furniture classics. Inspired by the resonant sounds emanating from metals as he worked them and encouraged by his brother Oreste, whose passion was music, Harry restored a fieldstone "Pennsylvania Dutch" barn as the home for this experiment in sounding sculptures which he had begun in the 1950s. Bertoia was an obsessive composer and relentless experimenter, often working late into the night and accumulating hundreds of tapes of his best performances -- Oreste, too, would explore and record the sculptures's sounds during his annual visits to his brother's home in rural Pennsylvania. 

Over nearly twenty years, adding, culling and rearranging, Bertoia carefully selected nearly 100 harmonious pieces ranging in height from under a foot to more than fifteen feet. Learning by experimentation was common for Bertoia and he mastered the art of tape recording, turning the Sonambient barn into a sound studio with four overhead microphones hanging from the rafters in a square formation. He would experiment with overdubbing by performing along to previous recordings, constantly improving his methods while also honing his performance skills.

Lucio Fontana

Following his return to Italy in 1948 Lucio Fontana exhibited his first "Ambiente spaziale a luce ner" (Spatial Environment) at the Galleria del Naviglio in Milan -- a temporary installation consisting of a giant amoeba-like shape suspended in the void in a darkened room, and lit by neon light. 

From 1949 on he started his so-called "Spatial Concept" (or slash series), consisting of holes or slashes on the surface of monochrome paintings, drawing a sign of what he named "an art for the Space Age."

He devised the generic title "Concetto spaziale" (spatial concept) for these works and used it for almost all his later paintings. These can be divided into broad categories -- the "Buchi" (holes), beginning in 1949, and the "Tagli" (slashes), which he instituted in the mid-1950s.

Monday, July 17, 2017

RIP Laurence Scholder, Printmaker and Mentor

Farewell to my fine printmaking instructor at SMU, Larry Scholder. He mentored me 1975-1981. Thanks for all you did for me, Larry. My condolences to Larry's family, many students, and friends.

Laurence (Larry) Ted Scholder (1942-2017)

Born in 1942 in Brooklyn, New York to Arthur and Kate Scholder, Larry grew up in New York and attended Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University) where he met and married his wife Carole. 

He graduated in 1965 with a BFA and pursued graduate studies in printmaking at the University of Iowa, graduating in1967 with an MA. During this time daughters Erica and Alix were born.

After graduation, the family moved to Texas where Larry was a Professor in the Department of Art at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. He taught at SMU for 44 years, retiring in 2012. 

In addition to teaching, Larry exhibited his artwork extensively throughout Texas and the United States. His prints are in the collections of numerous museums including the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the Dallas Museum of Art, the Modern Art Museum in Ft. Worth, as well as in many private collections.

Survived by wife Carole, daughters Erica Scholder and Alix Perritt, son-in-law John Perritt, granddaughters Shelby and Darcy Perritt, sister Janet Scholder, and numerous cousins, including Joel and Marsha Selden.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Vladimir Kagan: Fine Furniture Design

No designer of the day steadily offered works with more verve and dynamism than Vladimir Kagan. While others, it seems, designed with suburban households in mind, Kagan aimed to suit the tastes of young, sophisticated city-dwellers. With signature designs that feature sleekly curved frames and others that have dramatic out-thrust legs, Kagan made furniture sexy.
Kagan’s father was a Russian master cabinetmaker who took his family first to Germany (where Vladimir was born) and then to New York in 1938. After studying architecture at Columbia University, Kagan opened a design firm at age 22 and immediately made a splash with his long, low and sinuous Serpentine sofa. Furniture lines such as the "Tri-symmetric" group of glass-topped, three-legged tables and the vivacious "Contours" chairs soon followed.
Kagan’s choices of form and materials evolved through subsequent decades, embracing lucite, aluminum, and burl-wood veneers. By the late 1960s, Kagan was designing austere, asymmetrical cabinets and his "Omnibus" group of modular sofas and chairs. For all his aesthetic √©lan, Kagan said that throughout his career, his touchstone was comfort. “A lot of modern furniture was not comfortable. And so comfort is -- form follows function. The function was to make it comfortable,” he once commented. “I created what I called 'vessels for the human body.'"
A diverse group of bodies have made themselves at home with Kagan designs. Among the famous names who commissioned and collected his designs are Marilyn Monroe, Gary Cooper, Andy Warhol, David Lynch, Angelina Jolie, and Brad Pitt, and firms such as Gucci and Giorgio Armani. His work is in numerous museum collections, including those of the Victoria and Albert and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Because of its idiosyncrasy, Kagan’s work did not lend itself to mass-production. Kagan never signed on with any of the major furniture-making corporations, and examples of his designs are relatively rare. Even decades after their conception, Kagan pieces still command the eye, with their freshness, energy, sensuality, and wit.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

J. B. Blunk

J. B. Blunk was a sculptor known primarily for working in wood. After serving in the United States Army in Korea, he met sculptor Isamu Noguchi in Japan and served apprenticeships with Japanese potter Kitaoji Rosanjin and potter and Living National Treasure Toyo Kaneshige. Blunk was the first American to apprentice into the line of descent of that country’s great ceramic tradition.

After returning to the U.S., Blunk was eventually able to build his own home and studio near Inverness, CA. In 1962, Blunk started working in wood and was crafting furniture and installations out of redwood, which were unprecedented in their size and degree of abstraction.

Blunk graduated from UCLA, where he studied under Laura Andreson.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Sometimes People Suffer These Signs of "Hidden" Depression

The following "tells" are some of the most common in people dealing with "concealed" depression.

They are often quite talented and very expressive:

A lot of famous people have suffered from mental illnesses, and this suffering gives them deeper emotions. If you really think about it, this is in some form a source to their greatness. While we cannot always see it, their struggles are often reflected in their works. These people are able to bring something beautiful out of the darkness that consumes them.

They tend to search for purpose:

We all need a purpose in this life. We want to be sure that we are in some form doing meaningful things. People suffering from hidden depression are not exempt from this. They too want to know the reason for their existence. They are much more susceptible to feeling things like inadequacy and anxiety which leaves them searching for something they can never seem to achieve in their own minds.

Sometimes they make muted cries for help:

Sometimes we all need help. When we are not expecting someone to feel weak or to be down in the dumps, we don’t see their cries for help. However, if you notice their cries and can help them in any way, you are creating a very close and trust filled bond with them.

They interpret substances differently:

Someone who is dealing with depression usually knows what it is they can take to ease their pain in a sense. They know that caffeine and sugar will raise their mood and that some medicines can help them. They actually have to put a lot of effort into feeling better, unlike most people. It is not as simple as taking a Tylenol when you have a headache.

They often have a very involved perception of life and death:

People suffering from depression often face their own mortality in moments of despair and seek answers to life’s deepest questions. They tend to shift from one terrible mindset into another. Sure, not all depressed people deal with suicidal thoughts, but some do.

They have strange eating habits:

People with depression may not be able to eat much or at all when they are at their worst. That being said some of them may eat more when at their worst. It varies from person to person.

They have abnormal sleeping habits:

People with depression will often sleep for what seems like or may literally be days. Sleep at times can be impossible while other times could be the only thing left that the person can do. When a person is depressed they are dealing with a state of helplessness that will rock their world.

They have abandonment issues usually:

If you have dealt with abandonment then you know how terrible it can be. When someone walks out of your life it can be a devastating, but this impacts those with depression much more than other people. It causes them to be more and more secretive about their feelings and creates a fear within them of being abandoned by their loved ones.

They are professionals at coming up with ‘cover-up’ stories:

They are able to come up with believable elaborate excuses for the things they are going through. Like if they skip an appointment or don’t return your calls for days. They can easily change the subject when things like this come up and turn the attention away from their pain.

They might have habitual remedies:

There are several different lifestyle changes a person can make as an attempt to ease their minds. For instance, these people may do things like exercise, listen to music, go walking, and so forth.

They are aways making efforts to seem happy:

People suffering from depression learn to fake moods. They will often come off as happy and normal on the outside. When they let their inner struggles appear on the outside they feel as if they are bringing others down.

They seek love and acceptance:

People with hidden depression are not hiding their depression because they want to be dishonest, they are just working to protect their hearts. These people want to be loved and accepted just like everyone else.

They have trouble shutting off their brains.:

These people process everything going on in their lives at a fast speed. They over analyze the good and the bad making everything impact them much deeper. Their brains are like sponges absorbing everything that comes their way.

They hurt when other people hurt:

When other people are suffering it brings them down to their worst points. This sort of thing often triggers their emotional pain and can be crippling.

They always think of the worst-case scenarios:

While this is very stressful it can be beneficial from time to time. A high intelligence seems to be linked with depression, and they are able to respond to anything that comes their way. This makes them good problem solvers for the most part

Masters of Mid-Century Modern Furniture Design

Friday, July 7, 2017

Alvino Bagni: Italian Ceramics Designer

Alvino Bagni (1919-2000) is acknowledged with Aldo Londi (Head Designer at Bitossi) and Gambone as one of best Italian ceramic designers whose work was imported by "Raymor."

Bagni was taken under the wing of Londi in the early part of his career. Bagni did work at "Bitossi" for a few years in Florence, Italy before opening his own studio in 1956 in Lastra a Signa, on the outskirts of Florence, called "Bagni Ceramiche." His work is still commonly mis-identified as “Londi” or "Bitossi" by many who see the "Raymor" tag. 

Alvino Bagni created a stunning array of widely different designs for "Raymor," and because of that it can be hard to pinpoint his work since it can vary so greatly. 

Early pieces sometimes have a floral theme, pieces of the early 1950’s show the influence of Aldo Londi, but then were very individualistic styles and forms that really represented the best of Bagni’s work -- with stripes, geometric patterns, and bold lava type designs as some of the more common themes. Some of his more Modernist, geometric pieces are sometimes mis-attributed as Ettore Sottsass’ work.