Friderike Heuer

 

Art on the Road: Trieste pilgrimage

Hordes follow James Joyce's trail to this Italian city. A fascinating pioneer of art history and archaeology has his own Trieste tale to tell.

TRIESTE, Italy –

Scores of people come to this ancient seaport town each year to pay homage to James Joyce, who wrote his Ulysses here. The city accommodates them by putting up plaques at about every corner, bridge, staircase, churchyard ever touched by his foot, seemingly not a millimeter of Trieste not once traversed by the master.

My first-day pilgrimage, though, honored a different man – one who is a serious contender on my who to take to a deserted island list. (Remind me to do a week of blogs about the rest of them.) Johann Joachim Winckelmann, the founder of art history and art criticism as we know it, and known as the father of modern archaeology, is buried here.

The man’s life reads like a Russian novel. Born into extreme poverty in Prussia, his father a cobbler, he dug his way out by his wits. Scholarly excellence landed him at a number of universities, studying first theology, then medicine, but ultimately falling in love with ancient languages and developing a passion for Greek art. He devised a system of learning new languages in what is claimed six weeks, eventually able to converse in 12 of them. He was appointed to ever more prestigious posts as researcher/librarian/envoy for German aristocrats and then various Italian cardinals who opened their ancient art collections to him and enabled him to participate at the digs of Pompeii and Hercanuleum. As papal antiquarian and later secretary to Cardinal Albani he had found a space that allowed for his intellectual acumen to blossom. And, one might add, his homosexuality to be silently tolerated.

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Art on the Road: North Holland

Bergen's Museum Kranenburgh highlights Leo Gestel's eloquent mysteries and Ans Wortel's "organic allegories of people"

Most people who travel to Holland and are interested in art congregate in one or more of Amsterdam’s major museums. Outside of the city you can find some small jewels off the beaten path, though, that warrant a closer look. They provide introductions to Dutch art movements that are perhaps less well known but worthwhile getting to know. As a bonus you also escape the throngs of people you meet everywhere else, particularly during the summer months where the entire world seems to descend on this small country.

Leo Gestel, “Woman Between Flowers,” 1913, oil on canvas, collection Germeentemuseum Den Haag; at the Kranenburgh. Photo: Friderike Heuer

A 40-minute drive north of Amsterdam lies the small village of Bergen. Close to the North Sea, nestled among pine forests and dunes that are now a national nature preserve, the village was historically an artist colony, home to the Bergen School, a group of painters in the early 1900s who embraced cubism and expressionism and shared a taste for rather dark colors. Two museums in the area have large permanent collections of this School. One is the Stedelijk Museum in Alkmaar, about three miles south of Bergen, which also houses an amazing number of exquisite 16th and 17th century paintings.

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Portland Meets Portland

The innovative "Pass the Mic" summer music camp pairing music pros and young refugees and immigrants will give a free concert Friday.

It used to be that a piece of good news brought some cheer and then I’d move on. I don’t know if it is true for you or not, but these days a piece of good news makes me also feel a palpable sense of relief that not all is bleak in this world of ours. That is particularly true if it concerns issues around refugees and immigrants, a domain where misery and heartbreak dominate the current news cycle.

So share my joy in reporting about the newest venture by Portland Meet Portland, a young organization that provides one-on-one professional mentoring, citizenship and language classes, youth leadership development, and cross-cultural dialogue for immigrants and refugees: It calls itself “a cultural exchange right in your backyard.”

Shredding it at “Pass the Mic” camp.

It also offers music, in the new summer camp Pass the Mic, which will culminate in a free, open performance on Friday, July 20 by the youth bands taking part in the camp. Twenty-five young musicians, originally from Africa, India, and South America, have been at the camp, working with 10 experienced Portland musicians.

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A Diasporist, etc.,etc.

R.B. Kitaj's striking and memorable exhibition "A Jew, Etc., Etc." at the Oregon Jewish Museum splays open the experience of exile

Last summer the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education celebrated the opening of its new home with a stunning exhibit, Grisha Bruskin’s ALEFBET: The Alphabet of Memory. In case anyone was wondering if such quality could see repeat performances, the answer is a resounding: Yes!

The current exhibit, R.B. Kitaj, A Jew, Etc., Etc., is a marvel in more ways than one. Smartly curated by Bruce Guenther, whose deep knowledge about and passion for the artist can be heard and felt during his exhibition tours, the art on display covers a wide range of Kitaj’s changing preoccupations. But it also brings home the underlying constant in his works since the 1970s, his identification as a Jew in the diaspora and his embrace of commentary, the historical means of keeping knowledge intact and learning alive for all Jews, no matter where.

R.B. Kitaj, “The Jew, Etc., Etc.,” 1989–2004, oil on canvas, 36 ¼ x 36 ¼ inches, R. B. Kitaj Estate.

 

R.B. Kitaj, “Self-Portrait (Black Sheep),” 2001-2003, oil and charcoal on canvas, 24 x 24 inches, R. B. Kitaj Estate.

Kitaj was born in 1932 in Cleveland, Ohio. His mother remarried an émigré Austrian Jew after her divorce who took the boy under his wing. It was not a religious household but one that cherished culture in the vein of the Central European middle class. After some years in the merchant marine, Kitaj began to study art at Cooper Union, moved on to the Akademie in Vienna, and eventually ended up in London, where he soon joined a circle of up-and-coming painters, Hockney, Freud, and Auerbach among them. Alone with two small children after the suicide of his first wife, he eventually remarried a 15-year younger woman, a gifted painter in her own right, Sandra Fisher, with whom he had another son.

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Touretteshero rocks and rolls

Boom Arts hosts a hilarious, stereotype-busting comedian, who joins with Portland disability artists. One last show Saturday night: act now.

This Saturday night, May 12, is the last performance at Southeast Portland’s Echo Theatre of STAND UP, SIT DOWN, ROLL OVER by Touretteshero, a.k.a. Jess Thom – a wickedly smart, scathingly funny comedian from Great Britain. Presented by Boom Arts in a series of performances focused on disability, access and inclusion, Touretteshero’s brilliant performance invites us to rethink our stereotypes of neurological conditions and explores what it means to live with disabilities of all kinds in an environment ignorant at best and hostile at worst to many forms of diversity. You will laugh so hard that there is no time for the tears brimming beneath the surface, tears from realizing the extent of harm caused by prejudice and ableism.

Last night the boundary-breaking folks from Wobbly Dance, who showed their film Waking the Green Sound, and documentary filmmaker Cheryl Green were in attendance as well and provided valuable insights during the post-show discussion. Tonight will showcase another artist tackling forms of illness or disability: Little Clown Big Shoes, plus Lara Klingeman and her show Lara and Levi. I cannot wait to go and see the show.

About

Here are details on Saturday night’s final performance:

STAND UP, SIT DOWN, ROLL OVER

Touretteshero (United Kingdom)

May 12 at 7:30pm
Echo Theater, 1515 S.E. 37th Ave., Portland

ACCESS:

  • All events are “Relaxed”: move or make sound as you need to
  • Wheelchair-accessible venue
  • ASL interpretation provided
  • Scent-free: we request that those attending refrain from using scented body care products
  • Boom Arts, Echo Theater, and Disability Art & Culture Project are committed to creating fully inclusive environments for all attendees. Please contact the Boom Arts team with any additional requests at info@boomarts.org.

And here’s a photo gallery from Friday night’s Touretteshero performance and discussions afterwards:

 

“Touretteshero” Jess Thom in “Stand Up, Sit Down, Roll Over” Friday night at Boom Arts. Photo: Friderike Heuer

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Art on the Road 3: Street/Barnes

Art on the street, art on the museum walls: Friderike Heuer pairs scenes from the eclectic Barnes and outside on the North Philly streets

Soutine

It’s all about education. I could not get these words out of my head at the end of an extraordinary day spent first at The Barnes Foundation and later in the streets of North Philadelphia. The photographs you see here are paired, with the Barnes first, and what I found on the streets second.

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Art on the Road 2: Boston’s MFA

Friderike Heuer leaps into the art and architecture at the Museum of Fine Arts

I had never been to the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) in Boston before. It has been in existence since 1876, steadily growing. Its most recent home, designed by Guy Lowell in 1909, is an imposing art palace paying homage to the Beaux Art movement. Current modernization and additions by Norman Foster did not take away the grandeur, but make traversing the museum more like moving through a rabbit warren.

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