isupov and jean and klein, oh my!

The Mint Museum in Charlotte has a sculpture by one of my favorite contemporaries, Sergei Isupov, who is awesome. I love his style, his imagination, his subject matter, his fine detail and exquisite rendering ability. He is by far my favorite ceramicist and one of the most interesting contemporary artists still alive.

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this image courtesy of

During my wanderings about the vast and labyrinthine internets of late, I have discovered James Jean, an artist originally from Taiwan, now apparently living in California. I googled “seamstress” and came across the painting behind that link, which I love to the point of wishing I had done it. I am currently working on a piece which may or may not turn out to be about the plight of sweatshop seamstresses in Asia and Indonesia who, for 13 cents a day, produce the designer garments which retail clerks, making $8/hr, sell to trust fund darlings for $100+ a pop. I am on chapter 10 of No Logo by Naomi Klein.

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Charlotte: home of 90 mph winds & 3 mph traffic

Aside from the flaming garbage truck on the interstate at rush hour Friday (creeping 3 whole miles in one hour!) and the semi-hurricane-force winds on Saturday, Charlotte seems like a nice city. I went up to explore the town and attend the opening of a group show at Baku Gallery in the famed arts district of NoDa. This was Contrast, curated and promoted by the Culture Initiative- and it went well. There were a lot of very talented people in the group of 61 artists, and the show was well attended.

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Actual people looking at my work- yay!

These two paintings were created especially for the requirements of this show- 12″ square, black and white.

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The following Saturday, I made my way to the two art museums in uptown Charlotte– the Mint Museum and the neighboring Bechtler Museum of Modern Art. Both were fabulous, containing a myriad of treasures, as well as a few snicker-worthy bombs. I didn’t care for the featured exhibit at the Bechtler- Niki de St. Phalle. I find her work garish and simple, and her forms are crude and unrefined. She certainly has pop appeal though, which is for me another tick on the ‘con’ side.

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this is the statue outside by St. Phalle. its shininess is its redemption.

I also saw the work of many greats- Tinguely (the aforementioned Niki de St. Phalle’s more talented husband), Picasso, Ernst, Miro, Rauschenburg, etc… and I was exhausted & a bit art-saturated afterward. The museums offered great views of the surrounding streets and were architecturally interesting themselves.

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lobby of the Mint. Chihuly sculpture in the background.

Charlotte’s inner city has several great modern buildings and an aesthetic not to be overlooked.

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from the backside of the Latta Arcade- an historic group of buildings around the corner from the museums

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The wind was also against me and my plan for a walk. Aye, thar was a cold wind a-blowin, and mighty hard. I had to walk at an angle on some streets, and my hair would’ve been whipped off my head, had it not been firmly attached to my scalp by the roots.

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These poor poppies were taking a beating, and were probably rendered completely petal-less shortly after this photo was taken.

I am also fascinated by Charlotte’s public transit system, the Light Rail… or whatever it’s called. Being from a city which barely has a bus system (which I have never ridden) I am enthralled by the trains of the larger cities and Europe. Subways and elevated rails are like alien constructs to me, providing hours of delightful window-watching and hands-free travel opportunities. Themselves worthy of being photographed, with all their tracks and stations and associated accoutrements, the culture of rail travel is exotic and captivating. Crossing trains also provide opportunities for erstwhile auto travelers to photograph other roadside interestingness whilst being stopped…

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I wanna ride that train at some point. I also have several other things to do on my Charlotte list, and I look forward to returning at the end of the month to claim my unsold work (if any)  from the Baku Gallery.

roadtrip, part deux!

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now really. Does it get more charming? The cherry/apple/pear trees a-blooming, the mornin’ sun a-shining, the whole place smelling like old mashed grapes… ’twas a fine Saturday to be at Westbend Vineyards in Lewisville, NC, just 20 minutes from Winston-Salem. We arrived just 5 minutes after they opened the doors, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and ready for our first real wine-tasting.

The wine-making process is fascinating, and all the tubes and barrels and tanks were cool.

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Westbend is a small operation, a true mom&pop place, started back in 1972, as the first vineyard to plant French varietals in North Carolina. (Everyone else was doing the sweet muscadine wine at the time.)

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The wine was good- we especially liked the cab and bought the magnum bottle. It was a bit smoky, oaky, robust, but well-balanced.

After Westbend, we drove north-ish for about 45 minutes to Shelton Vineyards for a drastically different experience. Shelton is large and corporate, inhuman and insincere. We didn’t care much for the wines either, but maybe the flavor of the atmosphere tainted the flavor of the wines. The grounds were expansive, heavily landscaped toward the picturesque, and touristy all around. Half the interior was taken up by gift shop merchandise sprawl.

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and the scenery was really nice…

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I got pretty close to that bird, before he freaked out and flew to the other side of the pond…

And then we drove back to ol’ Winston-Salem to wander the streets a bit before nightfall. We found the old cigarette factory, now closed and hulking against the sky, still steel and cold. An entire city block, we circled it and then found our way to the top of an adjacent parking garage for eye-level views.

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Our second date–nearly six months ago– was an afternoon photo safari in the industrial wasteland of North Charleston’s Navy Yard. I must admit, I do love to photograph the wasted and decadent beauty of industry gone cold… There’s a sad irony to the twisted pipes of progress that ruined everything… and then left town.

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I’ve noticed a trend in my photography of abandoned gloves. I have at least half a dozen by now. Perhaps I’ll do a series…

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That’s a car on the sidewalk. Is that art?

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And my favoritest photo of the 298 we took… Eery, ain’t it?

and that’s all I’ve got for this week… up next… well, it’s a mystery… Tune in to find out.

roadtrip, part #1

I used to be the queen of road trips- I’d jaunt out at a moment’s notice, grabbing my tent, sleeping bag and my trusty road atlas, boldly charging into parts unknown. It’s been a while since I did that, having discovered air travel & therefore Europe sometime around 2005, and satiating my wanderlust in great big expensive leaps instead of little economical hops.

But now, with Europe impossibly far away for my bank account, I find myself wishing I still had my tent and sleeping bag. Especially after our experience with the hotel in Winston-Salem, NC…

For my latest birthday, I went to the nearest wine country to tour a couple of vineyards and check out other points of interest in and around Winston-Salem, NC. Our first stop was SECCA, the SouthEastern Center for Contemporary Art, featuring an exhibit by Oscar Munoz, a highly conceptual artist who deals with the transience of life and the imminence of death, and how identity is impermanent. His work was thoughtful and thought-provoking, and engendered a quiet sense of carpe diem tempered with futility.

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Creepy leaf people, aaaaugh! The window shopping continued into Winston-Salem proper, where we wandered around until nightfall, trying to figure out why it’s called “the City of the Arts”.

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she didn’t know either.

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What we found instead was an industrial wasteland left ravaged by JR Reynolds Co., the tobacco magnate, and a lot of closed mills.

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But even industrial wastelands have their charms and unique flavor of beauty… we discovered more of that the following day. Our biggest find of Friday was on the “Avenue of the Arts”, the 4 block strip of cutesy shops, galleries, bars and restaurants that serves as the cultural center of W-S.

We had dinner at a little place called 6th and Vine where the food was beautiful and delicious. I drank a cab called “Irony” in honor of my entire experience that day.

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Coming up next: roadtrip, part duex! wherein I tour 2 wineries vastly different in nature & explore the ruins of the tobacco empire…