Archive | Art Matters

Salutations and Solar Returns

Today is my solar return, though according to the Christian calendar my birthday is tomorrow. I share this day (technically January 19) with three women whom I consider geniuses, cultural alchemists, phoenixes who make art from their ashes so as not to waste an inch of this Earth’s precious resources. Sweet and sour Janis Joplin died young—she burned herself right up at age 27, talk about economical—but Dolly Parton and Cindy Sherman keep reinventing themselves with a pixie purity and a fulsome smarts that I only hope is my true legacy. Continue Reading →

This Land Is Our Land

For five days I’ve been stuck as fuck while writing about “Mastry,” the Metropolitan Museum of Art retrospective of the work of Kerry James Marshall. This is a stressful time in my personal life, and a more stressful time in our young country. Right now what’s saving a lot of us is art. For sure that’s true for me: film, dance, music, and fine arts, especially this retrospective, which I’ve seen three times. So it seems fitting that in the same week that an evil empire is entering office and we are commemorating the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I’m struggling to do justice to the brilliance of Marshall, who grew up with the civil rights movement and who doesn’t labor to fit black folks into the Western art canon so much as to fit that canon into the larger context of the African diaspora. Continue Reading →

Green Men and Women

the-flowered-dressI want to resist wherever resistance is possible, to stay alert to the idiocracy of greed and hatred building in our nation. But I don’t want to let it debilitate me, nor blind me to the beauty that flourishes all around us. On a day like today in NYC, when a cold rain poured down upon our heads and most of Manhattan was held hostage by our new oligarch, it was fine art that I found most healing. This painting by Édouard Vuillard—really, his whole body of work—fills my heart whenever I gaze at it. Olive and pine, lapis and beryl, sea moss and sky marine: these are life colors, Mother Earth colors. Good colors. Some people consider the Jewish Frenchman a mere society painter, but I see him as subverting gentile gentility by casting their machinations in colors they never could’ve imagined, let alone seen. It’s a thin line between dissociation and self-flagellation, and somedays that line is every shade of green.

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy