Monday, November 12, 2012

Falling in Love....Again! Being "Romantique" with Elina Garanča

FALLING IN LOVE....AGAIN! BEING "ROMANTIQUE" WITH ELINA GARANČA -- This lady from Latvia is conquering the classical music world aria by aria, recital by recital, opera by opera. The clarity, the beauty, the depth of her voice is mesmerizing.  Clean, modern, a new voice for a new generation. Since entering the Latvian Academy of Music in 1996, mezzo-soprano Elina Garanča has entranced music lovers with her distinctive voice -- but it was an appearance in 2003 at the Salzburg Festival singing the part of Annio in Mozart's La clemenza di Tito that led to major engagements on international stages in Vienna, Paris and New York where The New York Times music critic Bernard Holland was so moved to write "Ms. Garanča is the real thing."  And we at Studio of Style have never been so taken with a mezzo-soprano as she -- her porcelain skin glows like the lingering effects of the White Nights of the Baltic midsummer. Writer Jeremy Nicholas of Grammophone magazine wrote "What sets her apart, however, is the unteachable ability to send shivers down the spine and make grown men salivate." Well, well.  With 10 CDs under her beautiful belt, we suggest that you neophytes to the world of opera -- and even you longtime veterans -- just simply plunge yourself into Garanča's newest CD "Romantique" -- with its songs of love and despair -- and there's no better way to do it than viewing the official video from Deutsche Grammophon shown below, where she sings that luscious aria from Camille Saint-Saen's Samson et Dalila "Mon coeur s'ouvre à ta voix" (my heart opens itself to your voice).  As you watch this video, just imagine yourself on a balmy midsummer night on the Baltic, and from among the stone monoliths Elina Garanča appears in the white light,  lulling you into a romantic reverie with her creamy, pure voice.  Aaaaah, how romantique is that?
Images courtesy Elina Garanča & Deutsche Grammophon

Saturday, November 3, 2012

With Time on Her Side: The Unique Art of Doni Silver Simons

WITH TIME ON HER SIDE: THE UNIQUE ART OF DONI SILVER SIMONS --  We have to admit it: we at Studio of Style met Los Angeles artist Doni Silver Simons before we ‘met’ her work – and we knew immediately that something truly unique was in store for us if Simons’ gentle yet profound nature was to be found in it. And sure enough, this acclaimed artist with her equally profound, thoughtful art has made her mark in the art world by doing exactly that: mark-making. Markings – a series of 4 vertical and one cross-hatched line – have become Simons’ signature and a visual tally of the passage of time. The nearly obsessive need to mark this passage of time is at the core of all her works, be they painting or performance. If the marks are not made directly on the canvas, then they appear as strands pulled from a canvas. Los Angeles area gallery-goers will have an opportunity to see not one, but two Simons exhibits in November: Caesura at the Annenberg Beach House in Santa Monica which opens November 8th; and Alchemy at the Projects Room at Liz’s Loft in Los Angeles (see Simons’ website for more info on both the show schedules and more about her art).  For her performance in Alchemy which opens November 10th, Simons will make the first mark and invite each visitor to the gallery to add a single mark on a long narrow paper scroll as they walk around three sides of the project space – and a video will also record their hand and the sound of the mark. Periodically, Simons will visit the gallery to continue marking the same way for two months – from November 10th to the closing on January 8th.  So here’s an opportunity for you – our stylish reader – to make your mark in the art world as well!  In this exclusive interview with Simons, Studio of Style asked the artist to tell us more about the hows and whys of her very intriguing style of art.

Studio of Style:  You call yourself a 'mark-maker' and have always considered yourself as such.  When did you first realize this fascination and what spurred it?

Doni Silver Simons:  I always drew, even as a young child. However, the first time I thought of myself as a mark-marker was when I was applying to graduate school and I realized that I wanted to study drawing as a finished product. Marking -- the act of drawing and its simplicity -- was where I resonated. It seems that I am always in search of essence -- and that search is realized in the unification of "writing" and drawing lines.

Studio of Style:  What first step as an artist did you take as a mark-maker?

Simons:  In the early '70s I started to document my life through marking. I did my first marked journal in those years, abandoning writing in favor of vertical parallel lines. I marked a journal that consisted of large sheets of graph paper with one vertical line per grid. The lines were drawn in graphite.  I "wrote" (marked) intuitively each day just as one would enter their thoughts and experiences into a personal journal. The journal was shown in part at the Feigenson-Rosenstein Gallery in Detroit in 1975. A page of that journal is in the Lila and Gil Silverman collection.  

Studio of Style:  As one who observes the passage of time in its many forms as you create your work, what goes through your mind during the creation process?

Simons:  There are various levels of concentration that I go through when I'm marking or pulling strands of fiber. On the most successful days, I'm propelled on a pathway that pulls me into a very quiet space, a meditation of sorts -- a place of stillness and clarity that allows me to imbue the marks with meaning. 

Studio of Style:  What is the significance of the separation of fibers in your canvas works; the pulling apart of the cloth threads? 

Simons:  The separation of the fabric is simply the reverse of mark-making. The unraveling is done in an effort to understand or arrive at essence. The strand-pulling and the accumulation of strands on the floor echo my drawings.

Studio of Style:  Your color palette leans toward the natural, the muted, the darker edge of the spectrum -- how do these color choices reflect your artistic POV?

Simons:  Color is crucial to my work, often representing the harmonics of the piece. I have been known to fall in love with certain colors and employ those hues throughout a season or a body of work. Every once in a while a piece will assert itself and  I’ll do something quite bright or colorful. The work tells me what to do -- I simply follow directions.

Studio of Style:  Albert Einstein concluded in his later years that the past, present and future all exist simultaneously. Have you pondered this and/or subscribe to this -- or any other scientific belief?  Or are such scientific beliefs separate from your work and your beliefs.

Simons:  I believe that time is a vertical, cylindrical spiral and as such, the past, present and future line up vertically and can be accessed vertically. So, the answer to your question is "yes," I have thought about this quite a bit and I do think that all time exists simultaneously and is available.

Studio of Style:  As a mark-maker, what aspect (or aspects) of time do you feel that we (as viewers or as a society) can learn from -- or have we changed the natural aspects of time itself by our unstoppable acceleration into technology that seems to disregard perhaps the human or natural aspects of time?

Simons:  The attribute itself of making a mark requires time. Rhythms are attained, time passes, and patterns emerge. Patterns speak to people.  I, the maker, have my own rhythm and the observer comes to my work with his/hers. In the act of observation the viewer identifies his/her own rhythm. This variation that defines differences in individuals and similarities in groups. Time and marking, inherent in this situation, bind us together. Technology -- I use it, I love it.  It is simply another tool.

The work in my current and upcoming exhibitions explores time, rhythm, pattern and marking. In Caesura, a group exhibition opening November 8th at the Annenberg Beach House in Santa Monica, I will be presenting a three-dimensional work entitled Tidal, which incorporates the tide schedule to produce the rhythm of the work. In Alchemy opening November 10th in the Projects Room at The Loft at Liz's in Los Angeles, I will present a two-month interactive piece called Whisper Pitch. This drawing will encourage the gallery visitors to participate in the creation of the piece by applying a single line to the work that will weave itself into the lines I've made. This is a reprise of a performative drawing that I made in the ‘70s. It explores the value of community and communication, the "alchemy"  between an artist and her audience. In March 2013, the Shulamit Gallery in Venice, California will be presenting my work as its first solo exhibition. The show will feature the work I've done on Rumpelstiltskin entitled Homage to a Fairy Tale. 

Images courtesy the artist

Literary Bombshell: Marilyn Monroe & Her Passion for the Classics

(NOTE: when Studio of Style posted this item back in March, we had so many requests for more, more, more Marilyn! So, we're working on something for you, okay? In the meanwhile, for those of you who might have missed the first-go-round on this story of ours, here it is once again!)

LITERARY BOMBSHELL: MARILYN MONROE & HER PASSION FOR THE CLASSICS -- She practically devoured books -- and not just any old book -- but the kind of stuff that college courses are made of.  So we're gonna compare notes here, okay?  Marilyn Monroe spent many an hour reading scripts when she finally made her mark in Hollywood -- and along with those scripts, she was burning the midnight oil reading some of the heavyweights in literature that surprised many, given the fact that she often portrayed characters whose interests were bent more towards pleasurable pursuits than in the cerebral. Which is why we at Studio of Style have poked around her bookcase to sniff out the kind of reading material that interested our blonde bombshell when she was able to enjoy those precious hours away from the lights and cameras of Tinseltown.  In 1945, she was a member of the Westwood Public Library (Westwood is the neighborhood of L.A. that is home to UCLA) and during that time she opened a charge account at a local bookstore -- and in 1951 she was taking a night course "Backgrounds in Literature" at UCLA, but that didn't last long due to the distraction she caused in class (!).  "I restore myself when I'm alone," Monroe once said. And it seemed that immersing herself in books by both contemporary and time-tested authors was one way of restoring her mind -- and the book shown in the photo above (A) How to Develop Your Thinking Ability by Kenneth Keyes published in 1950 was a very popular "self-help" book that offered mental techniques for increasing one's thinking effectiveness (which probably came in very handy among Monroe's arsenal when employing her acting skills).  Before we delve into the books, let's look at a couple of items fleshing out her book nook: (B) A classic carriage clock (the first one was created by Abraham-Louis Breguet in 1812 for Napoleon Bonaparte!).  (C) Reproductions of scenes from the Sistine Chapel ceiling in Rome, painted by Michelangelo.  (D) A black Emerson clock radio.  Oh, and we love those button-up Levis jeans! Now onto the books: how many of these have you read?  You'll get 10 points for each one, okay? (1) Actors on Acting by Toby Cole and Helen Frich Chinoy, first published in 1949 by Crown.  (2) The Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson.  (3) The Red Pony by John Steinbeck, first published in 1933 as an episodic novella.  (4) The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoyevsky was a serial between 1868 and 1869 -- and considered one of the most brilliant literary achievements of the Golden Age of Russian literature.  (5) The amazing 1869 masterpiece War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy which (to top the accolades we just gave to The Idiot) is one of the most important books ever written!  (6) Nana, the story of a streetwalker's rise to high-class cocotte, completed in 1880 by French author Emile Zola.  (7) Dead Souls by Russian author Nikolai Gogol, published in 1842.  (8) An Enemy of the Peoplean 1882 play by Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen. (9) Death of a Salesman, the 1949 play written by Monroe's third husband, playwright Arthur Miller.  (10) The New Abridged American Dictionary.  (11) The Holy Bible.  (12) A Farewell to Arms, the semi-autobiographical novel by Ernest Hemingway, first published in 1929.  (13) The Little Prince, the 1943 novella by French aristocrat Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.  So, how many points did you rack up? We're not counting, of course, but we are curious!  And we're not taking into consideration the other authors that Monroe relished: James Joyce (Ulysses); Sigmund Freud (Psychology of Everyday Life); Shirley Jackson (Life Among the Savages); Edith Hamilton (Greek Mythology); Thomas Wolfe (The Web and the Rock); and, of course, Jack Kerouac and his influential masterpiece On the Road.  So there you have it, kids! Our advice to you: (1) You can always read more.  (2) Never forget that you're always a star here at Studio of Style!
Special thanks to librarian Jared Burton for his tireless research.