Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Random video pick + the art of Robert Nelson

This video is SO weird. I found the link on Maureen Johnson's blog. If you haven't been over there, she's hilarious. Always makes me laugh. She's the author of a five YA novels, with more on the way, and I've only read one of her books (so far) but really enjoyed it. Her books don't fall into the categories of my usual reads, which tend to be fantasy or historical or Gothic or something beyond the mainstream contemporary novel. But that doesn't mean I don't also enjoy mainstream contemporary. I do! As for the above video, I know nothing at all about it but that Jim said he thinks those guys are from Kids in the Hall. Huh. Love the total commitment to absurdity here!

Something for locals: Go check out the show this month at the Beppu Wiarda Gallery in the Pearl District. Not usually much of an art gallery goer myself, as the stuff in art galleries is usually a bit too "arty" for me and not "illustrative" enough. I like "pictures" -- art that tells stories. And man, do these paintings tell stories! The artist is Robert Nelson, and he's an 82-year-old retired professor from the Art Institute of Chicago. He and his wife had planned to retire to Italy or Spain (accounts vary) until a trip to Oregon sealed their destiny -- they ended up buying 65 acres at the Oregon Coast, where they live with lots of animals, including big, rare breeds of draft horses, which often appear in his work. Unfortunately, I can't find any good representations of his work online, only little low-res things like this:
But you can get a better idea of his work by watching this segment on Oregon Art Beat, a show on PBS which is how Jim and I stumbled upon his work. It's not long.

His art is filled with weird characters taken from mythology and stories, like the Tin Woodsman and Alexander the Great, doing very odd things. There is lots of mixed media involved and seeing the originals is really worth it, to get a close look at the collage and assemblage. One piece, that the video shows him working on, is about Ulysses wading home from the bakery, with angels hovering worriedly above him issuing silly warnings -- of course I can't remember what they were saying, just that it made me laugh out loud, and that I loved that he puts dialogue in his pictures, and long rambly captions telling truly weird tales! LOVE these pictures. The prices are reasonable, as far as prices for art go, and I'd have rather spent the furnace money on a painting! Ah well. If you get a chance, local folks, go see this show. The gallery is only a few blocks from Powell's. Go for a book & art field trip! Oh, and there's a very nice new bar right around the corner called Teardrop that was serving delicious warm spiced Madeira wine. Yummy! And have you ever eaten almonds with chopsticks? Well, there you may try your hand at it.

HERE is the Portland Tribune article on Bob Nelson (nicely titled "If you’ve ever asked yourself, “What kind of art will I make when I’m 80?” Robert A. Nelson’s show at Beppu Wiarda Gallery this month has the answer: whatever you flaming well want."), and HERE is the gallery link where you can see more fuzzy little thumbnails of his paintings.


Heather said...

Yes, Canada proudly claims The Kids in the Hall!

Short story:
When I was pregnant with my oldest and had separated from my husband, I was living with my parents. One night I couldn't sleep because I was so sad and depressed, so I turned on the television. It was the first time I had ever seen The Kids in the Hall. The sketch they did was one where they were all dressed as women and had just finished dinner at one of their homes. They were eating cheesecake and drinking Bailey's and one of them daringly wanted to dip her cheesecake into the drink - they were all "don't do it sister!" Well, you had to be there, but I laughed so hard that some of the hurt went away permanently. To this day it is my favourite sketch by them.

If you don't have laughter, you don't have anything and I realized that that night.

Joan Ellis said...

Laini, would you please send me an email at jellisy at cox dot com so that I can send you a personal message about my granddaughter's reaction to your book? (It is all good!) Thanks! Joan Ellis

Laini Taylor said...

Hi Joan -- I tried your email address and it bounced back to me. My email is, if you want to reach me that way. I would LOVE to hear your granddaughter's reaction!! Thanks!

And Heather, I love that story. Comedy can be a miracle!