Category Archives: Contemporary Art

Curating Christmas

St. Louis Art Museum

St. Louis Art Museum

It was so nice to visit the St. Louis Art Museum at this time of year; pretty much had the whole place to myself! No hustling or bustling here; but plenty of red, green and sparkly things to share!

Shoe (Andy Warhol)

Shoe (Andy Warhol)

Magnolia

Magnolia

For Spy Sister; whose dog is named Magnolia (and we're from Florida!)

For Spy Sister; whose dog is named Magnolia (and we’re from Florida!)

Steven and William Ladd (two brothers from St. Louis!) Cardinal Nation, 2015 Shredded paper, glue, wheat starch, metal beads, metal trinkets, glass beads, crystal beads, pins, screws, dye, mesh, staples, wood

Steven and William Ladd (two brothers from St. Louis!) Cardinal Nation, 2015
Shredded paper, glue, wheat starch, metal beads, metal trinkets, glass beads, crystal beads, pins, screws, dye, mesh, staples, wood

Steven and William Ladd. Tower Tee, 2015 Shredded paper, glue, wheat starch, metal beads, metal trinkets, glass beads, crystal beads, pins, screws, dye, mesh, staples, wood

Steven and William Ladd. Tower Tee, 2015
Shredded paper, glue, wheat starch, metal beads, metal trinkets, glass beads, crystal beads, pins, screws, dye, mesh, staples, wood

Enforcer. Larry Poons. 1962

Enforcer. Larry Poons. 1962

IMG_2112

Detail

Detail

Like Christmas lights! Sort of!

Like Christmas lights! Sort of!

Staircase

Staircase

Gold and sparkly (if more evocative of an episode of Dexter than Christmas)

Gold and sparkly (if more evocative of an episode of Dexter than Christmas)

Man's Leggings (probably Nimíipuu (Nez Percé)

Man’s Leggings (probably Nimíipuu (Nez Percé)

Such detailed beadwork on this cradleboard!

Such detailed beadwork on this cradleboard!

I’ve shared pictures of some of these Native American pieces before; they are some of my favorites!

Red and green

Red and green

E. Oscar Thalinger. River Landscape with House. 1928

E. Oscar Thalinger. River Landscape with House. 1928

This bucolic scene of the Missouri countryside features high hills, full trees, and rocky banks. These features are executed in blocky prismatic forms influenced by the work of early European modernists such as Paul Cézanne. E. Oscar Thalinger belonged to the major professional associations for artists in St. Louis, including the modern artists’ group New Hats. In addition to his position as a prominent local artist, Thalinger served as the registrar of the City Art Museum (now the Saint Louis Art Museum) from 1913–1952. (Source: St. Louis Museum of Art) 

John Rogers Cox. Cloud Trails. 1944

John Rogers Cox. Cloud Trails. 1944

A large Norman Rockwell painting. (Thanksgiving, 1943)

A large Norman Rockwell painting. (Thanksgiving, 1943)

Outside the museum

Outside the museum

Donald Judd. Untitled (Progression). 1965.

Donald Judd. Untitled (Progression). 1965.

IMG_2145

A Christmas-y sheen

A Christmas-y sheen

Window

Window

Small and ancient gold shiny things!

Small, ancient, gold and shiny things!

Dome

Dome

A striking portrait...

A striking portrait…

IMG_2207

Wintery...

Wintery…

IMG_2192

Pretty galleries

Pretty galleries

Lorenzo di Niccolò (di Martino) Madonna and Child Enthroned with Sts. Christopher, Blaise, Sebastian, and Francis. 1410-12

Lorenzo di Niccolò (di Martino)
Madonna and Child Enthroned with Sts. Christopher, Blaise, Sebastian, and Francis. 1410-12

Still Life...

Still Life…

IMG_1942

Marble hair

Marble hair

Curves

Curves

Red and gold vessel

Red and gold vessel

And now for a tour around Spy Garden…

Here's a festive little mushroom

Here’s a festive little mushroom

Little dome

Little dome

Dexie

Dexie climbing a tree arch

New tool shed made by Smoochie!

New tool shed made by Smoochie!

In the shed

In the shed

Project in process (going to stain the wood and then mount this painting to it with these fabric tacks)

Project in process (going to stain the wood and then mount this painting to it with these fabric tacks)

In our backyard

In our backyard

Ornament made by the Spy at his classroom's Christmas party

Ornament made by the Spy at his classroom’s Christmas party

Hanging out under the Christmas tree

Hanging out under the Christmas tree

Hope you all have a wonderful week; and a very Merry Christmas!

ROA!

My daughter (known in Spy Garden as Babyzilla!) attends a Forest School. Rather than have daily themes or weekly lessons, the kids do semester-long projects on topics of their own choosing. My son (known here as The Spy!) also attended the school when he was younger so I’ve seen a wide variety of really cool projects. At the end of each semester the project comes together with some sort of event or “store” or publication or art installation or field trip. The Ocean Project concluded with a child-written play. The kids made the set, designed and made the costumes (learning to sew with the teachers’ assistance) and performed for the parents.

The Spy 2011 Ocean Project

The Spy 2011 Ocean Project

Hammerheads. The Spy. 2011

Hammerheads. The Spy. 2011

There’s been a Dog Project which concluded with parents bringing in their dogs and walking them through different stations of a Dog Spa…

Maddie (our late golden retriever) in the Reading and Relaxation Station of the Dog Spa hahahah

Maddie (our late golden retriever) in the Reading and Relaxation Station of the Dog Spa hahahah

There was a City Project, Animal Project, Dirt Project and many more (and many more to come for Babyzilla!) Often when the kids are working on a project they will write letters to various individuals or businesses asking questions or making requests to learn more about the topic. Teaching kids to seek out experts in fields they are interested emphasizes that their inquiries are part of a world outside the classroom walls (or treeline)!

From the school’s website…

Our phi­los­o­phy is based on the truth that young chil­dren are best chal­lenged in the arts and sci­ences when they are given mean­ing­ful work in the dynamic set­ting of the real world. Here, their expe­ri­ences have big impli­ca­tions. Con­tent is con­tex­tual, not iso­lated. It is all con­nected to the world that sur­rounds.

Sounds impressive. But do preschoolers really feel connected to the world beyond what they see in their immediate surroundings? Do they really feel they have the power to influence their environment? Are these concepts farfetched? The school proves over and over again it is possible!

Recently, the kindergarten class at the school was doing a “Bone Robot Project” (remember the project topics are of the kids choosing!) While this project was underway, one student, in researching his first name (Roa) came across a Belgian street artist, whose pseudonym is ROA. ROA’s art often depicts the bones and other internal aspects of animals.

ROA. Vardø-Norway Photo © by Ian Cox 2012 (source)

ROA. Vardø-Norway Photo © by Ian Cox 2012 (source)

Excerpts from an email from the school…

When Roa brought examples of ROA’s work for them to see, they were inspired. They still mention his work often, and it has influenced the direction of the project. In fact, they were so inspired, they decided to write to ROA and invite him to paint a mural at [the school]. He’s kind of a big deal in Europe, so we really weren’t expecting a reply.

ROA said yes!!!

We believe in empowering children to change the world. This is not an empty, grandiose statement. When we say “change the world,” we mean the immediate world—the world within reach. We want our students to internalize an “I can” attitude. I can climb that rock. I can build a bone robot. In short, I can imagine a change in my environment and then make it happen. We believe that fostering this attitude can lead to the more grandiose outcome later in life. Writing a letter to a well-known artist and having him accommodate the request definitely serves this purpose.

This spring ROA will be coming to the school to do a mural. So exciting!!!

ROA. San Juan (source)

ROA. San Juan (source)

The animals ROA chooses to paint are those that live in the area surrounding the location of the mural. I wonder what he will choose? A bunny? Racoon? Deer? Ladybug? Groundhog? A turtle, snake or crawfish? He’s got a lot of great options of special creatures that live right in the woods of the school’s eleven acre campus.

ROA. Barcelona (source)

ROA. Barcelona (source)

ROA. Johannesburg South Africa. (source)

ROA. Johannesburg South Africa. (source)

ROA. Belgium (source)

ROA. Belgium (source)

What makes even more exciting is that ROA has a secret identity. ROA is a pseudonym. And I just love the concept of a secret identity. Spy Garden is sort of my own pseudonym. (Or is it Mrs. Spy Garden?!) Can’t wait to watch the mural in progress and to share the final masterpiece with you all!

Spy Garden iPhone

Spy Garden mobile…

Storm rolling in

Storm rolling in

Behind the scenes

Behind the scenes

Home Depot is very conveniently located near Spy Garden and cheaper than the non-big-box nurseries (that are plentiful near Spy Garden). And Martha Stewart likes Home Depot and has product lines there. And Martha Stewart is awesome. Ergo, prior to the St. Louis Homes and Lifestyles Magazine photoshoot I took a couple trips to Home Depot for fall flowers and plants. Here I am:

Home Depot's just so convenient.

Home Depot’s just so convenient. hahaha

The next time I’m in search of plants, I’d like to check out Fahr’s and Passiglia’s: both have been in business since 1950!

Swing...

Swing…

...ing

…ing

A painting by my very talented coworker.

A painting by my very talented coworker.

She paints so meticulously! After seeing her paintings it makes me want to gain patience when I paint. Since I always stick to the…

Lazy method of painting with jagged, spontaneous strokes and no attention to details. haha

Lazy method of painting with jagged, spontaneous strokes and no attention to details. haha

Garden Cat Nap

Garden Cat Nap

Weeee!

Weeee!

iPhone Garden Sunset

iPhone Garden Sunset

House in St. Louis (this shot is from Smoochie's iphone)

House in St. Louis (this shot is from Smoochie’s iphone)

St. Louis Art Museum

St. Louis Art Museum

Sightseeing. James Rosenquist. 1962 (at the St. Louis Art Museum)

Sightseeing. James Rosenquist. 1962 (at the St. Louis Art Museum)

James Rosenquist started his career as a billboard painter, creating advertisements and images of consumer goods on a monumental scale. His early training is evident in this work—vibrantly painted colors, block lettering, and enlarged details of recognizable imagery, in this case a bouquet of roses. Rosenquist drew inspiration for this painting from the back of a tour bus he regularly saw while painting signs in New York City’s Times Square. Sightseeing blurs the line between banal tourism and the supposedly elevated act of viewing art in a gallery or museum. (source St. Louis Art Museum)

Raindrops on Roses (knockout rose bush)

Raindrops on Roses (knockout rose bush)

Baby

Baby

Western clouds at sunrise

Western clouds at sunrise

Click here for a great article about protecting plants from frost by Maria from Sweet Domesticity. The picture reminds me of Christo and Jeanne Claude.