Connecting the dots with Dalí

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Of course there are eggs on the roof and bread on walls

My appreciation for Salvador Dalí drastically increased during my recent visit to the Dalí Theatre-Museum in Figueres—Dalí’s birthplace in Catalonia, Spain. I knew little about him before my visit, besides that he painted those iconic melting clocks.

 

The Theatre-Museum is one giant installation by Dalí. Walking through it feels like your experience is being curated by Dalí himself; which means that every single individual has a unique experience based on their literal perspective and the way their mind processes and interprets the vast amount of stimuli. When the tour guide talked about how Dalí connected ideas and objects in his art I felt like I’d discovered a kindred spirit in what on the surface appeared to be just another egotistical artist (he is noted as saying, “I don’t do drugs. I am drugs.”; “Each morning when I awake, I experience again a supreme pleasure-that of being Salvador Dali.”). Connections. I love connections, which is evidenced by the theme I chose for my 36th year: Connecting the dots.

 

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Capturing the capturer

During my visit I got a better sense of how Dalí thought, how he approached life, and how he shattered social conventions. Although I question his affinity for flies (apparently he’d put honey on his mustache to attract them and then capture them in his mouth and let them fly around in there for a bit), I admire how he constantly challenged people to question what is fixed reality. The works of Dalí’s that I viewed contained layers and layers of meaning, each one a playground for my mind to jump from one idea to the next.

Dalí is buried under the center of the stage at the Dalí Theatre-Museum, which means that every visitor who walks over his body becomes a character in his story, and he in theirs. He has ensured that he is at the center of all the individuals who bring their own narratives to the space. I like to imagine him watching the show of life go on in the Theatre-Museum that he created—seeing connections of all our lives, even from the afterlife.

 

 

Connecting the dots

I like themes because they’re fun and help me be intentional. Jim Henson themed party? Yes, please! Toilet themed picture series? Of course. Theme years? A must.

I turn 36 today and decided that the theme for this year is connecting the dots. Last year was personal development, which consisted of devouring all kinds of books from the library, turning the eye inward and living my purpose every day. Letting go of last year’s theme is proving more painful than I would have imagined; as if letting go means I don’t value personal development anymore. That’s not true. Letting go just means making space to focus on connecting the dots!

If every impactful person//book//speech//experience in my life is a dot, what picture is formed if I connect them all? That is what I hope to discover this year.

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Bergman begets Bergman

“Watch an Ingmar Bergman flick” was my one new thing of the month in February. Got through four (Virgin Spring, The Seventh Seal, Wild Strawberries, Autumn Sonata) of the six films I checked out from the library before accepting the fact that I’m just not that interested in old Swedish movies. I also read Ingmar Bergman’s autobiography, The Magic Lantern; found some windows into his humanity and our shared humanity, but mostly I just felt indifferent about his life. A question about his relationship to Ingrid Bergman did come up for me. At one point he was married to a woman named Ingrid, but it turns out it was a different Ingrid than the actress that starred in various Hollywood films and one of his films, Autumn Sonata.

Ingrid Bergman’s life is way more fascinating to me. Kagen and I went to go see Ingrid Bergman: In Her Own Words, a documentary by Stig Björkman—how convenient and thoughtful of the powers that be to present that film to me this month! The film uses home video footage taken by Ingrid Bergman (she constantly toted around her video camera) and letters she wrote to a few of her close friends, to narrate. There are also interviews with the children she had, which offer a heartfelt and sometimes painful perspective of her life that was far from conventional for a woman in those days. I thought the film was done really well; I can’t imagine how many hours of footage were viewed to get to the well edited final film.

Going in to this PY35 One New Thing activity, I didn’t expect to end up learning (and liking) more about Ingrid Bergman than Ingmar Bergman. But that’s the thing about exploring new things, you never know where they’ll lead you.

Show + tell: Super Indian

Show + tell: Super Indian

I love the way Fritz Scholder (1937-2005) challenged the popular perception of Native Americans and how his work continues to break down stereotypes. Super Indian is currently at the Denver Art Museum, on view through January 17, 2016.

In order to fully appreciate Scholder’s work, I think some context is in order. Here are some traditional images of Native Americans:

Little Wolf by George Catlin
Little Wolf by George Catlin
A Sioux Chief by Frederic Remington
A Sioux Chief by Frederic Remington
Lucille, Dakota Sioux by Edward Curtis
Lucille, Dakota Sioux by Edward Curtis

Whether or not these depictions were accurate at the time they were produced (still, with the understanding that they were made by non-native artists and illustrated their perception), the trouble is that entire generations held on to these types of images as defining images. Especially troubling is how this art followed the systematic displacement of many Native American Tribes and numerous broken promises via treaties by the U.S. Government.

One of the reasons I appreciate Scholder’s work is because despite the terrible acts and mistreatment that Native Americans endured, elements of humor can be seen in his paintings.

Indian in Car by Fritz Scholder
Indian in Car by Fritz Scholder

This is one of my favorites of the exhibit. Not only do we get a Native American in a space we’re not used to seeing them, it looks to me as if the old notion of them wearing a feather and a leather vest is vanishing before our eyes.

Super Indian No. 2 by Fritz Scholder
Super Indian No. 2 by Fritz Scholder

I love this image. It reminds me of the time I went with a group of kids to play football against team mascots during halftime of a Broncos game. The kids were up against Dinger, Rocky, Miles, and some other mascots who I didn’t recognize. After they were done, we all walked back to the locker room. As we were walking down the hall, I think it was Dinger, who removed their head. The look on this one kid’s face was a combination of shock and loss of innocence. It’s as if the world they were living in, held up by a suspension of disbelief, tumbled. Super Indian No. 2 destroys the notion that Native Americans don’t enjoy ice cream. WE ALL scream for ice cream, no? Yes. Unless you’re lactose intolerant, then maybe you just holler for some vegan ice cream.

Indian Land No. 4
Indian Land No. 4

I’m not a huge fan of abstract expressionism. I’m not even a moderate fan. Yet, I really enjoy this piece. Go figure. Scholder challenged my perception of abstract expressionism as well.

Here are some more pieces from the exhibit:

Indian No. 1 by Fritz Scholder
Indian No. 1
Indian at the Bar
Indian at the Bar
Indian with Blue Aura
Indian with Blue Aura
Indian and Rhinoceros
Indian and Rhinoceros

If you find yourself at the Thanksgiving table later this week reminiscing about Pilgrims and Indians, I challenge you to imagine one of Scholder’s Indians at the table. I know I will.

Show + tell: Cannon Beach

I must have been seven or eight when I first saw The Goonies. It left an impression on my imagination and gave me such positive memories that 27 years later “The Goonies R Good Enough” is the song my husband and I chose for our first dance at our wedding in 2013.

I was overcome with nostalgia and filled with gratitude when my husband and I visited Cannon Beach this month. I thought about how it never occurred to my eight year old self that I might visit the beach where the last scene of The Goonies movie was shot. As I breathed in the rich coastal air and felt hypnotized by the waves breaking on the shore,   I closed my eyes and captured the moment.

And then I snapped some sharable shots as well:

Haystack Rock
Haystack Rock
Sound shadow
Sound shadow
Sinking Sound
Sinking Sound

Cheers to all the people who made The Goonies movie happen, especially Dave Grusin. His music solidified all the feelings that were stirred up during my recent visit to Cannon Beach.