Thursday, August 14, 2008

the museum is still open

Hey fellows, here is the next installment in the 'museum' series. Hope you guys are digging it, and oh goodness, isn't that curator just a blowhard? And hey, did you guys go check out the Boho Coco literary zine yet? Don't miss out (or just come to our Domy Books show on August 30th at 8PM). Cool.


Alright, guests, just this way. Next we have a series of paintings depicting the sordid drinking life of film icon Humphrey Bogart. …I think he was elegant, don’t you? Anyway, the artist who composed these pieces, Aretha Dere, had what you might call an obsession with good old Bogie. She wasn’t just a fan, she would say, she was a lover.

There are five paintings in all. A movie legend stalks the frame. His face

is prominent in the first four, but only his knuckles and a glass of scotch

are evident in the final. The colors are mostly black or white with hints of

blue. Some have red when alcohol is prominent. Bogie does not seem to

care that he has an audience. He is cool as a cucumber. And most assuredly

sad. Too sad perhaps.

Yeah, there’s not much to say about these pieces –at in my opinion. Some argue that the image of Bogie suggests the aegis of the 20th Century. I say: blah blah blah. Listen – I know it is expected of me to defend art in all its glories, but I was never really a big Bogie fan to begin with. I mean: Casablanca; great film, sure. And the image of his haunted eyes in the first two paintings in this room: brilliant, sure. But the Maltese Falcon? Really? A bit much for me. Kind of like the third painting here. Too much bravado. Dere – however – would say not enough. She held a belief that Bogie was more than just an image of sliver on screen. His very potent smile – she would say – indicated the American will, the right to rise and decimate and conquer and win. She saw in him – a quintessential actor, no doubt – the potency of American virility. With the fourth painting – Bogie turning a blind eye to the shattering of his liquor bottle – she suggested that the American spirit has been abandoned. I mean, of course it has. I suppose that is my problem with such figurative material. Her handling of paint is deft, certainly, but the prosaic statement she supposes is a bit sub par. Of course, my opinion need not be yours. I beg you – I suppose I beg myself – be humble before such works of aching obviousness. Who knows?

There are stranger worlds out there still. Hell, I might go see Bogie on the big screen at the film festival next weekend. I don’t know. Who can say? I must says – however – that I do enjoy the final painting in this series. I find it bold. To simply show a hand reaching for alcohol – for an object of slow dissolution and destruction – is a difficult undertaking. Be brave: that’s ultimately what these images purport to say. It may be best to believe them sometimes. Please, pace around. Be enveloped by Bogie’s stare. Feel free to take a moment.