Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Infinite Art Tournament, First Elimination Round #15/64

Faceoff #1: Denis v. Derain

Maurice Denis
1870 - 1943

Lost to Paul Delvaux on the last vote in Round 1. YOUR VOTE COUNTS!!!


André Derain
1880 - 1954

Lost to West Coast boy Richard Diebenkorn in Round 1 by a single vote. YOUR VOTE COUNTS!!!

Faceoff #2: Dine v. Brancusi

Jim Dine

born 1935

Lost to Otto Dix in Round 1.


Constantin Brancusi
1876 - 1956
Romanian; worked in France.

Lost an early lead and lost to Cubist master Georges Braque by a single vote in Round 1! YOUR VOTE COUNTS!!!
Languished for the better part of a year after the victory was miscalculated as a tie.
Was reintroduced with Braque back into the brackets in the place of the Dobson/Van Doesburg tie, which was actually a tie.

Vote for the two artists of your choice! Votes generally go in the comments, but have been known to arrive by email, by postcard, or in a sealed envelope.

Please note that you may vote only once in each face-off.  Opining that both of the artists in one of the two face-offs is superior to the other is fine, but casting your votes for two artists in the same face-off is not permissible.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Quilts for Ann and Gandalf

Since last week's post about the quilt I made for my parents, I've finished two additional pieces.  That makes it sound like I'm pouring time and energy into the craft and making extraordinary speed, but actually what's happening is that I keep deciding to do something and then discovering that I've already done it.  A neat trick, you will admit.

After getting back from the visit to my parents, I looked for this one, last seen back in February:

Back then, I was just making it to see what that arrangement of shapes would look like with a certain range of fabrics using a certain set of processes.  I was just messing around, in other words, and wondering what I'd do with the finished project.  Since then, it has been designated Ann's Other Quilt, Ann having expressed an interest it and having a fair amount of clout around here.  
(As the title would indicate, it's not her first quilt.  She also presumably still has Ann's Quilt, serial number 21, a wall-hanging sort of deal:

How does she rate two quilts, you ask, when you don't even have one?  Well, she's very nice.)
Anyway, where were we?  Oh, right, I went looking for Ann's Other Quilt and discovered that it was further along than I thought, and had already been pinned out.  So, I cranked up the Gibbon, planned out an offset diagonal grid quilting pattern, took a chance with red as the top-thread, and let her rip.  I'm actually pretty pleased with the result:

Hopefully, Ann will be pleased with it too.  If not, I'm sure she'll be polite.

If you want to play Judge That Quilt -- a game of limited appeal, I know -- you can try to figure out the flaw that bothers me a little bit and the other flaw that bothers me a moderate amount.  (There is a third flaw, too, but it doesn't bother me at all.)

The Specs

Name: Ann's Other Quilt.
Serial Number: 71

Dimensions: 76" x 56"
Batting: An old blanket I found somewhere.
Backing: Flannel scraps from backs of other quilts (right).
Quilting: Informal grid offset 30 degrees.

Begun: February, 2013.
Finished: April, 2013.

Intended Use/Display: Blanket for use.

So, having finished that one, my next move was to put together a blanket for a human-in-production who has the working title of "Gandalf."  I had decided which of the quilts-in-production was going to be right for Gandalf, so I went looking for it and discovered that I had cleverly not only batted and backed it, but even quilted it, at some unspecified point in the past.  Sweeeet!  So I bound it -- that means put the bit around the edges on -- with the same fabric I used in AOQ.  And it was finished in a little more than an hour.

I'm counting on Gandalf being a relatively mature and serious human, as this isn't quite a conventional baby quilt.  Note, for instance, the absence of elephants and horsies.  The interesting thing here (though I say it myself) is the slight mathiness that goes with the dark/light effect.  The dark squares were cut to 5 x 5 inches, whereas the light squares were cut to 4 x 4 inches (quilting, I'm afraid, is only possible using imperial measurements).   The border between the dark and light is therefore also a border between seven pieces and nine pieces.  In this world of quilting, this is vaguely like using a quirky time signature in music.  

If you are all like "BUT WAIT!!!  7 x 5 is 35 and 9 x 4 is 36, what happens with the extra inch!?!," then it is entirely possible you are Morgan.  What happens is that every side of every piece in a standard geometric quilt like this one loses a "seam allowance" of 1/4 inch of fabric when you sew it to its neighbors.  The seam allowance ends up tucked underneath the face, inside the quilt.  That way the stitches that hold the face together have enough fabric to hang on to.  So on the finished quilt face, what you actually see is "7 x 4.5 is 31.5 and 9 x 3.5 is also 31.5, everything's cool."  This is an example of what physicists call "relativistic effects."

The Specs

Name: Gandalf's Quilt.
Serial Number: 72

Dimensions: Four square feet on the nose: 48" x 48"
Batting: A leftover piece of commercial batting, just the right size!
Backing: A leftover piece of light-blue flannel.
Quilting: Concentric squares.

Begun: May, 2012.
Finished: April, 2013.

Intended Use/Display: Baby blanket.

Then I decided what I wanted to work on next, and discovered that I've already finished a lot of the start-up work on it.  This is getting weird, but I like it.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Infinite Art Tournament, Round One: Friedrich v. Frink!

Caspar David Friedrich
1774 - 1840


Dame Elisabeth Frink
1930 - 1993


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, April 26, 2013

Staying Away From the Old Gym

Only a recent trip to Hometown5000, I had the chance to swing by my alma mater, Hometown5000 Heights Elementary School.  Here's what it looks like from the "front," although which direction the building is really facing was always ambiguous.

For instance, on my first day of school -- a most traumatic day in the life of any confirmed introvert -- my mother put me on the bus and promised me she would meet me at the front door of the school.  Which is to say, here:

And she was as good as her word.  But I was at the equally front-seeming door at the other side of the building, brokenhearted and crying my little eyes out:

Soon enough, though, I would start learning how to fit in and get comfortable with the other kids!  And I'm happy to say that, 38 years later, I continue to make progress along those lines.

In local parlance the building has long been called "The Quonset Hut," although as you see it is in reality two quonset huts trapped in an unhappy marriage.  While I was a student there, an enormous (I thought at the time) second building, "The Old Gym," dominated the property.  It had been condemned, and the primary concern and responsibility of our teachers was, sure, to get us reading, adding, and subtracting if possible, but first and foremost to keep us away from The Old Gym.  Wandering off into the clifftop forest behind the playground was tacitly permitted, but we were made to understand in no uncertain terms that the most draconian punishments imaginable could and would be leveled on anyone approaching The Old Gym.  You know those prison movies where the warden tells the new inmates what will happen if they approach The Wall?  It was kind of like that for us and The Old Gym.  This was the cornerstone of our early education.  I may not spell well today, and I may not be the tops for critical thinking, but by God I know to stay away from The Old Gym.

Now, The Old Gym's cordon sanitaire made lunch and recess an interesting event on rainy days.  With no other buildings on the property, there was literally no place outside The Quonset Hut itself where we could be legally stowed.  The solution was to turn all of us -- probably 120 kids? -- loose in the hallway with jumpropes, hula-hoops, and any other weapons-grade hard plastic toys that the district could afford.  The ensuing chaos seldom spared the vast constellation of buckets placed strategically underneath the central trough of the building's roof.  It seemed perfectly normal to us, of course, but it must have looked downright Dantean to visitors from out of town.  Fortunately, it hardly ever rains on the Oregon Coast.

Here's my first-grade classroom!

I should mention that the building is no longer used as a school.  In fact it was condemned after my first grade year, when it was discovered that it was comprised of 2 parts corrugated rust to 1 part asbestos.  When we used the nearby school track in later years, coaches and teachers would forbid us even to approach The Quonset Hut.  The old training -- keep away from the Old Gym -- really came in handy.  Still, it was fun to trick  the more conscientious teachers into trying to explain why we had been made to spend our innocent childhood in what was now considered a toxic site.

As a school, it might have been humble, but those of us who went there learned important lessons about life.   By comparison, the kids these days have it easy.  After all, The Old Gym was torn down many, many years ago.  They aren't even tempted.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Play-In Artist SubTournament: Phase 1, Flight 10

Phase One Rules:
  1. You may cast votes for up to four artists.  
    • One vote per artist per person.
  2. Since play-in artists were nominated by your peers in the IAT community, including myself, courteous and affirmative voting is in order
    • Which is to say, no baggin' on the aesthetic sensibilities of the nominators.
  3. Full rules, procedures, and anticipated timeline for the Play-In SubTournament are available on the Play-In SubTournament page.

Phase 1, Flight 8 will be open until noon Pacific Time, Sunday, April 28.
Phase 1, Flight 9 will be open until May 25.
Flight 10 will be open for approximately two months.

Thomas Hart Benton

Giovanni di Paolo
c. 1403-1482

Rick Bartow
Born 1946

Rosalba Carriera

Grandma Moses

Born 1965

Harald Sohlberg

Jay DeFeo

Vote for up to fours artists! Votes go in the comments. Commentary and links to additional work are welcome. This poll will be open for approximately two months past posting.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Wednesday Post

Greetings from Portland, Oregon, City of Roses
The Avatar returns from whence he come, and then leaves again

Last Wednesday evening, after spending a few days at my attorney's place, my running Avatar came down out of the hills into downtown Portland, crossed the Hawthorne Bridge over to the beautiful East Side, and returned to Castle 5000, from whence his journey started last October.  We showed him the new paint job in the entrance area and some of the changes in the side garden, and he got to be there while we got some plumbing work done.  It was great.

The endgame of his return home was a little quirky.  First, I went for a run in Hillsboro in which the two of us met up and had a chance to run together for a few miles.  Then, only a few weeks after I had been running in Portland while he was running on the Oregon Coast, there was a weekend where I was running on the Oregon Coast, and he was running in Portland.  There was also an unfortunate incident where he was bitten by a virtual rottweiler, but he escaped serious harm and is healing up nicely.

Portland, Oregon, is a picturesque provincial city with modest but respectable cultural amenities.  It has developed a unique and in many ways healthier-than-average urban landscape through the expedient of being perhaps the only large American city never to have endured a sustained economic boom.  Enviable soil, minimal frosts, and a climate that keeps everything quite well-watered for 10 months out of the year create a lush presence of plant life in most neighborhoods, and a chronic crisis in the streets maintenance budgets guarantees sudden pockets of small-town charm along dirt roads and quaint alleys all over town.

It is actually quite a nice place to live, so long you don't mind strangers asking you for money every thirty seconds. For the out-of-town visitor, we can recommend a very large bookstore, or several interesting natural points of interest an hour or two out of town, or spending your vacation in a city that has more tourist attractions.

If you have a thing for bridges, on the other hand, you're in for a big treat!

We've got a lot of them.  Portlanders, recite along with me from north to south!  St. Johns!  Fremont!  Broadway!  Steel!  Burnside!  Morrison!  Hawthorne!  Marquam!  Ross Island!  and (shudder) Sellwood!  Those fine structures span the Willamette River, upon which the city is built.  ("Willamette," it is only fair to tell you, is a three-syllable word that rhymes with "damn it.")

Now, to the north of the city is the Columbia River, spanned only by a couple of freeway bridges.  On the eastward of these, the eight lines of Interstate 205 are separated by a highly functional and sensible but not altogether pleasant bicycle path.  It was on this path that the Avatar spent last Saturday night, having made good distance after leaving home for the second time.  (We ran together as far as Prescott and Cully, where I turned left on the former and he continued northeast along the later.  I watched him go with a strangely poignant sense of loss.  I wonder if he'll ever be back?)

Looking north on the Glen Jackson Bridge, that's Government Island in the foreground and the State of Washington on the opposite shore.  The Avatar is most of the way across, but since the thalweg hugs the north bank along this stretch of river, he's still a minute or two short of the state line.  (What's a thalweg?  I'll tell you when you're a little older.)  Once he gets to the north shore, he'll turn right and finally, after all of these months, get serious about starting toward the East Coast.  (East Coast readers, however, are warned that state lines don't zip past like Burma Shave signs out here like they do for you.  By the shortest route, it would take the Avatar 350 miles just to get to Idaho.  It will be quite some time before he's "back East," by which I mean in Iowa.)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Infinite Art Tournament, Left Bracket Second Round Tiebreak: Bellows v. Bourgeois!

Back to tiebreak territory today, as we continue to sort out Left Bracket logjams in Bingham/Bellows and Botero/Bourgeois.

George Bellows
1882 - 1925

Defeated Bernardo Bellotto in Round 1 by a single vote.  YOUR VOTE COUNTS!!!
Beaten by Giovanni Bellini in Round 2 in a fair fight.
Tied with George Caleb Bingham in the Left Bracket Second Round.

Louise Bourgeois
1911 - 2010
French; worked in the United States

Trounced sculptor Antoine Bourdelle in Round 1.
Lost to Aussie Arthur Boyd in Round 2 by a single vote. YOUR VOTE COUNTS!!!
Tied with Colombian Fernando Botero in the Left Bracket Second Round.

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, but likely much longer.