Place: At my main computer, typing another Sunday Salon, somewhat to my surprise!
Reading: As I haven’t checked in for several weeks, I’ll start with a few quick updates. I have finished reading Roger Lipsey’s The Spiritual in Twentieth-Century Art (a review of which is about 75% complete and will be appearing here in a few days), The Circle by Dave Eggers, and Michael Coe’s Angkor and the Khmer Civilization. I am in the middle of Finding Your Own North Star: Claiming the Life You Were Meant to Live by Martha Beck, which I am hoping will give me some answers to important questions. I have also made good progress in Austin Kleon’s Show Your Work, and may well finish it today. While I’m enjoying Kleon’s latest, it isn’t grabbing me quite the way his Steal Like An Artist, which I reviewed, did. Perhaps this is because the earlier book dealt more with the nature of creation, whereas this new effort is focused more on getting yourself and your work in front of an audience. I am happy to see, though, that one of the major themes in the new book matches up with my way of thinking – focus on things you really care about, and others who are interested in those same things will make their way to you.
Watching: Last night I watched a couple of films from the boxed set Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Project. Djibril Diop Mambéty’s Touki Bouki (1973) felt like a brightly colored Senegalese riff on Godard’s Breathless – which I don’t mean as a criticism, as Touki Bouki had a lot of energy and inventiveness of its own. Emilio Gómez Muriel’s Redes (1936), which he co-directed with Fred Zinnemann of High Noon and A Man for All Seasons fame, was a somber semi-documentary story of some poor Mexican fishermen finally growing tired of having their work exploited. Had my brain been working properly, I would have linked the title of the film with the similarly titled work by the distinctive Mexican composer Silvestre Revueltas (1899-1940). Sure enough, Revueltas wrote the movie’s spiky score, which lent the film a lot of vitality and atmosphere. I was glad to get back to watching films again after a long break, especially the foreign and “art” and indie films that I like so much. I also attended a lecture yesterday by Dr. John Spike on “The Art of Florence” at the Nevada Museum of Art, connected with the Museum’s most enjoyable new exhibition Italian Baroque: Paintings from the Haukohl Family Collection.
Listening: This has largely been restricted to concert attendance, most notably a very fine recital a few days ago by cellist Dmitri Atapine and pianist Hyeyeon Park. They have recently released a recording of one of the pieces they played, the Cello Sonata by Frank Bridge, and I look forward to listening to the CD and seeing if the music has the same quality and impact it had in concert.
Blogging: Unmentioned so far in this Sunday Salon is my recent three-week trip to southeast Asia, which was a fantastic and memorable experience. After pondering the idea for a while, I’ve finally decided to share with you kind readers the journal I kept during the trip, supplemented by several of my photos. I don’t think that I have anything especially original to say about this region of the world, but my experiences there may be of some interest anyway. I plan to post the journal in installments every two or three days over the next several weeks.
Pondering: My place in the universe. Or rather, my place in this particular universe I inhabit in Reno, Nevada. This is a theme that I have addressed in this Salon before, but it continues to fascinate me how I can be in a crowd of hundreds of people and still be completely alone. Both at the talk at the Nevada Museum of Art yesterday, and at the cello recital Friday night, I once again felt isolated in my little space. Occasionally I’ll be in situations where it seems that people actually want to be around me, even if just for a few minutes. But more often it feels as though I am wearing some kind of super-special invisibility device, such that even people I know and like can manage to look right at me and have no reaction. Sometimes a level of anonymity is fine, even handy, but most times it’s fairly depressing. Interestingly, I didn’t notice this sort of thing at all when I was traveling in Laos or Cambodia – quite the opposite, in fact. So I wonder if there is something special, in a negative way, about Reno? I don’t really have an answer to that, but if it’s a decision between being welcomed and included in a friendly way by people I barely know, or being ignored by people I’ve been acquainted with for years, I think I know which one I would choose.
Anticipating: Another trip to San Francisco is in the offing! If it happens, it will include, among other activities:
– the exhibition Yoga: The Art of Transformation at the Asian Art Museum
– a Society for Asian Art lecture at the Asian Art Museum, “Merchants, Spies, and Sages in Precolonial India Trade”
– Shaping Abstraction and Modern Nature: Georgia O’Keeffe and Lake George, exhibitions at the de Young
– Intimate Impressionism from the National Gallery of Art at the Legion of Honor
– a performance of a new work, “Citrangada,” by Gamelan Sekar Jaya