Monday, July 6, 2015

Paranoid feminism

Is it just me being paranoid, or is there something strange about a monument to women that doesn't include a single woman?

On Whitehall, London, in front of the British Cabinet Office, around the corner from 10 Downing Street.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Artist mis-statements

I did some volunteer work last week, proofreading the catalog for the Surface Design Association's big show at Arrowmont this fall.  Based on what I read -- I saw only the words, not the pictures -- it looks like a great show and I will make sure that I see it in person.

My marching orders as a proofreader were to be flexible; "We would like to keep this as close to each artist's voice as possible," I was told.  If people spelled it "colour" or used varying degrees of formality, that was OK.  But I did flag misspellings (Minnesotta, anyone?) and outright grammatical errors.

I wasn't expecting to find as many grammatical errors as I did.  But what really surprised me was that almost all the errors were the same thing: subjects and verbs did not agree.  Would you believe that eight of the 91 artists committed this mistake?

I'll take off my proofreader's hat and put on my writing teacher's hat.  The reason educated people writing about serious subjects commit subject/verb errors is usually because their sentences are way too long and are way too grammatically complex.  Educated people don't say "the interplay determine how the work will look in the end."  But they might very well say "the interplay of disparate materials, of concept and making, and certainly emotion determine how the work will look in its ultimate incarnation."  There is so much padding in that sentence that by the time you get to the verb you've forgotten that the subject is "interplay," requiring a singular verb, not "materials, concept, making and emotion," which would require a plural verb.

(And if you were to take another step back, what does that sentence mean?  The idea, the emotion, the materials and the technique all influence the art.  Well duh.) 

I challenge you to look at your own artist statement.  Parse it for grammar.  Do not count on spell check to find your typos -- spell check is perfectly fine with a "limited addition" of prints, and it can't tell the difference between "its" and "it's." 

Then read your statement for sense.  Don't waste a lot of long, pretentious words telling us something that means nothing.  Think about what we, the audience, should know about you and your work.  Tell us something that will make us appreciate your work better, not something that will put us to sleep.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Photo suite 183 -- Woodbourne Avenue 4

Almost every house on the older end of Woodbourne Avenue has a front porch, and guess what?  People put funny stuff out on their porches.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Happy birthday!

My father would have turned 102 today so I thought it would be appropriate to celebrate by a moment of communion with one of his favorite works of art, which I have fortunately inherited.

If you've ever visited the Gutenberg Museum in Mainz you probably saw this statue in the front yard. When we lived in Germany many years ago my dad, lover of printing and typography, had to visit the museum, of course.

Sometime later my dad got to visit another of his great idols, Hermann Zapf, the great type designer of the 20th century who just died earlier this month (you probably know Zapf Dingbats, as well as Palatino and Optima).  Zapf had a bust of Gutenberg in his home, and Dad admired it.  Yes, it was the same one from the museum, by Wäinö Aaltonen, a contemporary Finnish sculptor.  Zapf said he owned the rights to reproduce another bust, somewhat smaller than the original, and would Dad like to have one?  Is the Pope Catholic?

So Dad had this bust made by the same foundry, and it has always held the place of honor in the household.

Several years before my parents died, they held an infamous "art auction" among us three children, in which we got to divvy up all their pictures, sculptures and other precious items.  (Of course we couldn't take possession until much later.)  I am the oldest and thus got first pick, which of course was Gutenberg.

Here's Gutenberg wearing a festive hat to celebrate Dad's birthday.