Monday, September 10, 2012

Taiwan Film Festival at the Delaware Art Museum

The Delaware Art Museum is hosting the fourth annual Taiwan Film Festival presented by the Hanlin Chinese Culture Association, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office, the Overseas Compatriot Affairs Commission, Taiwan, and the Taipei Cultural Center of TECO in New York.

The films are spectacular and sometimes even daunting. This Sunday I arrived at the Art Museum a bit early and had a fun time speaking to members of the predominantly Chinese crowd of spectators. The film being presented was a documentary by Director Chaoti Ho called My fancy high heels. It starts in New York City following a Korean-American fashion designer who is a beautiful, soft-spoken and determined woman who has made a start in the maze of the fashion world. She speaks of her hard work, long hours and her passion for shoes which she regards as pieces of art. The director then shows us the two levels of Chinese production behind her shoes: a harsh end-production factory with a strict manager who speaks English as he sells to Western buyers and then the stage before that – an almost militaristic farm/factory where young people tend and process cattle raised exclusively to produce leather for the highest end of shoes on the market.

This movie forces the viewer to reconsider the entire shoe industry. The music and cinematography are graphic and the story is an extremely moving picture of a China which Americans may not know but in which their purchases and tastes are driving forces. The next film is to be a much more uplifting work about cinematography by Hsiu-Chiung Chiang and Pun-Leung Kwan. Let the wind carry me will be shown at the Delaware Art Museum at 1 p.m. on September 16. Free admission to museum and to film on Sundays.


Art IS everywhere in Sussex and Kent County

Abbot Handerson Thayer's The old lion in front of
 the Georgetown Public Library
Last weekend we decided to go to a restaurant on the C& D Canal and enjoy dining while the sun set on a fantastic view of the railroad bridge and a beautifully maintained marina. When we arrived at Aqua Sol, we saw an full-size reproduction of Howard Pyle’s Flying Dutchman which he had created for Collier’s Weekly in 1900. What fun to find one of the centennial works reproduced out in the woods near Lums Pond!!! We asked our waitress about the painting and she brought us a brochure from the Delaware Art Museum with a map and addresses of all fifteen works placed in various outdoor locations throughout the state. We vowed to see them all.

This past Saturday we headed for the beach to catch Edward Hopper’s Summertime which the Lewes Historical Society had placed at the entrance to the charming Lewes Farmers’ Market which is on Shipcarpenter Square – surrounded by some very old historic buildings. Then we headed to see friends near Angola and took off in the late afternoon for Rehoboth to see Howard Pyle’s Buccaneer in front of the Rehoboth Library. A quick coffee and we headed for the opulent Georgetown Public Library (built by the millionaire who owns the development we had just visited in Long Neck) where we saw Abbott Handerson Thayer’s The old lion. Thayer was a naturalist who wrote about the protective coloration of animals. His conclusions are now referred to as Thayer’s law and he is considered one of the theorists behind camouflage dress.

Rain began to fall copiously as we made our way to Milford’s Mispillion Art League to see our third Howard Pyle, The Mermaid, which was posted on the white wall of the Art League, with the darkening sky and stormy raindrops falling on it as we stopped to mug in front of it for a cell phone group picture.
Howard Pyle's Mermaid in Milford

After a snack in Milford – we hit the road again to start the Kent County tour. Absalom Jones by Raphaelle Peale, was standing alone behind a few orange construction barrels in the dark and rain. My friend positioned her car so that we could have light on the painting and we celebrated our fifth pop-up of the day before moving on to Smyrna. By the time we reached the parking lot of the Smyrna Opera House, the rain was pouring down and we drove as close as we could to Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s Veronica Veronese, snapping shots on the cell phone.

The chase of art was a delightful way of touring and appreciating our neatly compact state and we spent a long time wondering how the Delaware Art Museum planned this fantastic campaign – how they chose the works and the placements. I shall report again as we finish our pop-up tour of New Castle County.


Sunday, August 5, 2012

Beach Trip with A Little Arts on the Side

Mary Ann Benyo poses with work by the late Julie Baxendell
(photo courtesy of The Cape Gazzette).
Each summer we trek to “Rehowey”(a mash-up of ‘Dewey’ and ‘Rehoboth’ for those of us that loves both equally), I find delicious tidbits to fill my artsy appetite, and this year was no different.  On a particularly adventurous day, hubby and I headed OUT of the beach for a long-overdue stop in what could soon be Delaware’s next “artist colony”: historic Milford, Delaware. In a quick 22-minute jaunt north of the nation’s summer capital lies a wealth of artistic talent and experiences to which everyone should be flocking.

Our trip took us first to Mispillion Art League, which was wrapping up a fantastic exhibit from my favorite Delaware artist, the late Julie Baxendell. Julie’s partner had painstakingly compiled this retrospective of over 100 of her works in every media, and held a silent auction of the pieces of to benefit the Art League. Julie had an amazing sense for color and texture (she was a graphic designer early in her career), which she used to make subjects absolutely pop off the canvas.  Her recurring themes of boats, water, and seaside villages — local Sussex County but also Italy, Key West and Portugal — were bright, playful and realistic but also seemed to send out a serene, otherworldly vibe. (Read my previous blog on her work from September 2009.)

I was so sad to learn that we were too late to bid — everything had sold — but was thrilled for Mispillion and for Julie’s legacy. (We are fortunate to own two of her pieces already, so I guess I shouldn’t be greedy.) Thanks to Mary Ann Benyo for all the love and time that she put into this retrospective.

The curator there encouraged us (since we had nothing to bid on) to visit the Angelucci Studios & Gallery next door & above.  We were welcomed warmly by co-owner Gail Angelucci, and made our way around the exhibit space, filled with wood-turning, metal sculpture, stained glass (Gail’s specialty), pottery, photography, watercolor and more.  I especially enjoyed the solid yet delicate work by wood lathe artist, Steve Childers and the amped-up photography of Gervasio Ruiz, Jr.  We climbed the stairs to the second floor where 10 artists house working studios, including “The Pearl Lady” (Joan Frense Muholland) who greeted us decked in her fine work.

Back in Rehoboth, we enjoyed arts of the culinary variety, this year at Planet X Café — a funky, purple-hued Wilmington Avenue spot with large outdoor seating  area of cushy pillows and breezy décor.  Chef Justine is a master of eclectic fare focusing on organic, vegetarian/vegan dishes, and offering a cool list of unusual cocktails. Monday was ½ wine bottle night and we eagerly took advantage.  We enjoyed the pork dumplings, but I’ll highly recommend the stacked eggplant small plate and the delicious vegan lemon poppy cake with goat cheese frosting. 

Returning to great art at the beach: Our pal Jay Pastore, owner of Rehoboth’s contemporary art house Gallery 50, is hosting his 4th Annual Fine Art Auction on Saturday, August 11, from 6:00-8:45pm at the gallery.  AIDS Delaware will benefit from 100% of the sales that evening.  Jay has been a great partner not only for AIDS Delaware in this respect but also for the many artists who fill his walls. His gallery is one of my favorites to discover new media, up-and-coming artists, and unique pieces. And he makes them all attainable to those of us whose budgets aren’t without limit.  If you’re in Rehoboth next weekend, please stop by and check out the auction. He’s also offering a raffle for a $1,000 gift certificate to the gallery that night — and that could buy you a nice amount of ArtStuff.