Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Infinite Art Tournament, Round One: Gilbert and George v. Gilman!

Gilbert and George
born 1942 and 1943


Harold Gilman
1878 - 1919


Vote for the artist of your choice!  Votes go in the comments.  Commentary and links to additional work are welcome.  Polls open for at least one month past posting.

Friday, June 28, 2013

New Year Sabbatical: There Goes the Neighborhood

The Sabbatical Continues!

Five Years Ago in The Infinite Art Tournament!

Today's entry comes from June 30, 2008.  It is a bland little post about my neighborhood, and I remember it fondly as just about the only post in the six-year history of this enterprise to generate a something that might be called a "flame war." Since the other guy invoked the word "Nazi," the generally accepted rules of internet discourse hold that I won the argument at that point. 

The Monday Quiz XIV, back in February [2008], carried a special bonus prize. The winner was entitled to assign a blog post topic. Mrs.5000 -- hail, victor! -- took the first E.P., so here is the topic she chose.

The Seven Wonders of the Castle5000 Environs

1. Laurelhurst Park! Designed in 1912 by Frederick Law Olmstead's firm, Laurelhurst Park is like some idealized golden-tinged movie version of what a city park might be. Strangely, it's real. Many years ago, visiting from Kansas, I had an odd vision that Laurelhurst Park was the source of all the green in the world. Although I now live three blocks away, it is not technically true that the Park is my private running track. It's just that it might as well be.

2013 Update: Laurelhurst Park is Still There.  For some reason I do not run it it very much these days, but prefer a nearby cemetery instead.

2. The Famous Building! The Belmont Condomiums, a few corners from Castle5000, has been featured in glowing suck-up articles in most of your leading architectural and metrosexual journals, including Dwell and Metropolitan Home. It features a fauncy restaurant on the ground floor to which Mrs.5000 can take her more sophisticated friends on occasion, while I stay home and enjoy the simple but hearty fare to which I became accustomed in the long years of my bachelorhood.

2013 Update: The famous building is Still There.  It has been rained on for a few seasons, and no longer particularly stands out in my own mental map of the neighborhood.   But, perhaps for some it still remains an emblem of the crushing forces of totalitarianism and dehumanization.  Its restaurant space has turned over at least once, and I am not 100% confident of what's in there right now.

3. Joan D'Arc! In the middle of an oddly out-of-context roundabout is an oddly out-of-context statue of the "Maid of Orleans," Joan of Arc. Why a salute to France's 15th Century populist woman warrior and religious nut, here in the City of Roses? Well, having braved the traffic to take her photograph, I found a little placard explaining that Joan is our local World War I monument. Which is cool, but isn't an important aspect of a monument that people need to know what it commemorates?

Whatevs. Joan is a most excellent citizen of the neighborhood, and I enjoy her somewhat random quality.

2013 Update: Joan is Still There. 

4. Dixie Mattress! In the very middle of a moderately properous neighborhood strip, in an area where property values have multiplied fourfold over the last fifteen years, this mysterious commercial (or perhaps industrial) building is an enigma. One can see a few mattresses inside, yes, but also miscellaneous junk and a thick layer of dust. Yellowing, handwritten notes on the doors give numbers to call "in case of emergency." There is no sign that anyone makes mattresses here, or even meth. No one seems to go into the building at all.  

[2008 Update: Since I wrote this, an article in the 'Gonian has taught us that an occasional mattress is still repaired in Dixie Mattress by its, uh, loveably irrascable owners. Hello, Pulitzer!]

2013 Update: Dixie Mattress No Longer Exists, having gone under back in aught-ten.  The Dixie Mattress co-owner who scoffed at the idea of cashing out in the 2008 Oregonian article may have felt a little sheepish selling her property two years later, when it had almost certainly lost a painful percentage of its value.  But she was hardly the only one to feel that particular pain.  

5. The Kitchiest Statue Ever Erected! A tribute to emergency services personel who died fighting a large fire in an East Coast city in the early 2000s. Their service and sacrifice is commemorated by this portrayal of a bare-chested man who thrusts forth a lantern with his left hand, barely missing a eagle that is just then taking wing. An American flag is caught in its talons. You would think this eagle would startle the guy, but he don't seem to notice it.

In his right hand, strangely, the man clutches the neck of a really big snake. Yep. A really big snake. Or maybe he's just happy to see you.

2013 Update: The Kitchiest Statue Ever Erected is still there. I've noticed that small children seem to think that it's really cool. I try not to judge them.

6. The Belmont Branch! One of the smallest branches of the Multnomah County Library in sheer size, it is one of the largest in terms of volume of books reserved and checked out. Only some of that is due to me. But really, it's an amazing thing. From right here on the internet, I can put a hold on almost any piece of cultural production that comes to mind. A few days later, I walk two blocks and pick it up. What's not to love? Nothing's not to love! This is a branch library that gets its own love letters!

2013 Update: The Belmont Branch is still there, although for a while it wasn't there on Mondays. The Library and I are kind of frenemies right now, after it implemented the worst website redesign in the history of time. But someday there will be another new website redesign, and I will still be here, waiting.

7. The Castle5000 Raspberry Patch. Descended through several generations from the stock planted by Grandpa5000 many years ago, the Castle5000 patch is the envy of all who behold its produce. The right hand patch produces around a quart of berries a day in July and early August. The left hand patch is new this year; since raspberries are biennial, it won't add to the crop until Summer 2009. Mmm... Raspberries....

2013 Update: The Castle5000 Raspberry Patch is still there.  It has been an early year for raspberries, so I've been stuffing myself with them for a week already.  The "new" canes have never quite caught up to the original, as the neighbors' hops tend to jump the fence and bully them a little, but they are certainly worth their square footage and upkeep.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Infinite Art Tournament, Round Two: Fontana v. Foujita!

Lucio Fontana
1899 - 1968

Beat neon light guy Dan Flavin by a single vote in Round 1.  YOUR VOTE COUNTS!


Tsugouharu Foujita

Japanese; worked in France

Lambasted late medieval Frenchman Jean Fouquet in Round 1.


Vote for the artist of your choice in the comments, or any other way that works for you. Commentary and links to additional work are welcome. Polls open for at least one month past posting.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

New Year Sabbatical: Before My Style of Art Criticism Got All Sophisticated

The Sabbatical Continues!

Six Years Ago in The Infinite Art Tournament!

Today's rerun comes from June 29, 2007. It was the 13th post (this time it is the 1960th) and the first one that featured the visual arts. It was not a sign of things to come any time soon, but I got there eventually.

I am totally crushing on this woman. She's a 15th Century statute of St. Catherine, French, sculptor unknown, and we met her at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts when we flew into SLC. I don't know if the photo does her justice, but she is very lovely indeed. Plus, I've always liked bookish women.

Medieval art is the shizzle.

 2013 Update:  St. Catherine underwent a week-long restoration in February 2013, lovingly detailed on the UMFA blog.  She looks better than ever.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Infinite Art Tournament, Round Two: Fabritius v. Feininger!

Carel Fabritius
1622 - 1654

Skunked Henri Fantin-Latour in the Tournament's second-ever shutout in Round 1.


Lyonel Feininger
1871 - 1956
American; worked internationally

Crushed Jean Fautrier in Round 1.


Vote for the artist of your choice in the comments, or any other way that works for you. Commentary and links to additional work are welcome. Polls open for at least one month past posting.

Monday, June 24, 2013

New Year Sabbatical: Thursdays Down Under!

I don't know about your job, but at my job it's the end of the fiscal year, and so like many a budding workaholic I find myself slaving over a hot stack of files at the most surprising times and places.  Between that and the important business of trying to log 100 running miles this month, I have not even had time to generate any of the droll and informative daily content to which you, gentle reader, have become accustomed.  Fortunately, I have a regular gold mine of gently used vintage content which I can deploy in the form of lame reruns!

Four Years Ago in The Infinite Art Tournament!

Today's entry comes from June 24, 2009, back when this was the L&TM5K and the main diversion on offer was not the art, but the quizzes.  Those were fun, too.

The Thursday Quiz!

The Thursday Quiz is a twelve item is-it-or-isn't-it test of your knowledge, reasoning, stamina, and moxie!

Real and Bogus in the History of Australia and New Zealand!
What really happened down there in the mysterious South? And what only happened in michael5000's mysterious imagination?
1. Because New Zealand has more rainfall and is much more fertile than Australia, it was colonized by Europeans fully two centuries before colonization of Australia began.

2. The whole thing about Australia being a prison colony is basically a myth. There was a small prison settlement in early Australia, but at no time did the prisoners make up even one percent of the colonial population.

3. The 1839 Treaty of Waitangi was supposed to clarify the respective rights of native Maori peoples and European colonists. Since the English and Maori language versions of the treaty don't quite match, though, arguments over the implications of the treaty continue unabated today.

4. In the late 1800s, the states of Australia were self-governing entities under the British Empire. Only in 1901 did the whole continent unite as the Commonwealth of Australia.

5. On New Zealand's Roberts Island, rabbit farmers arranged a highly successful fox eradication campaign in the 1920s. To their chagrin, however, this caused the island's rat population to explode, creating a major public health hazard. This led to the large-scale abandonment of, as it is now often called, "Ratters Island."

6. In 1926, Gertrude Ederle became the first person to swim from Australia to New Zealand, a feat that took her almost 36 hours. The current record is just under 28 hours. Because of prevailing currents, no one has ever successfully made the swim in the opposite direction.

7. Because of it mainly produced necessities like food and wool and did not have complex financial markets, Australia was one of the few countries to prosper during the Great Depression. While unemployment spiked elsewhere, Australia desperately recruited immigrants to ease its constant labor shortages.

8. New Zealand was sympathetic to the ambitions of Japan, a fellow island nation, and tried to remain neutral during World War II. Only when the United States and Australia threatened military occupation did New Zealand finally join the Allies, in 1943.

9. During the 1950s, Australia and New Zealand took steps towards unification as a single country. Although the plan broke down over arguments about where to place the capital, the two countries shared both a single Prime Minister (Howard Abelman) and a single supreme court from 1954 to 1956.

10. Australia pursued a "White Australia Policy," almost completely barring immigration by non-Europeans, until 1973.

11. New Zealand banned nuclear weapons and nuclear-powered ships from its territorial waters in 1984. The United States cancelled its military alliance with New Zealand as a result of this decision, but the ban has remained in place to the current day.

12. Both Australia and New Zealand are constitutionally separate from the United Kingdom -- but the British monarch is still technically the sovereign of both countries.

Submit your answers in the comments.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Infinite Art Tournament, Round One: Giacometti v. Giambologna!

Alberto Giacometti
1901 - 1966
Swiss; worked in Paris


1529 - 1608


Vote for the artist of your choice!  Votes go in the comments.  Commentary and links to additional work are welcome.  Polls open for at least one month past posting.

Friday, June 21, 2013

I Drive From Springfield to Lamar, Colorado. Mrs.5000 Takes a Picture Out the Right-Side Window Whenever She Wants To

Across the Plains and down into the valley of the Ark -- the same trip as Monday, but on the other side of the car and not watching the odometer.  Part of the Great Plains Trip series.  Previous entries here and here and here.