Friday, March 02, 2007

Close Encounters, Third Encounters

Easily the most jazzed I've ever felt following a lecture was about 28 hours ago, following a talk in the university's Art Gallery between Chuck Close and the gallery head. The conversation ranged from Close's time at the university & in the NYC art scene in the late '60s to the need for museums to keep small spaces for upcoming curators to create shows in, spiked with some well-told and zany anecdotes. There were slides of an "artist's choice" exhibit Close put together at MOMA back in (I think) the '70s, which featured a huge number of portraits (paintings, prints, photographs) jammed into a smallish space with more energy than you'd think the effect could create. Neat stuff.

Now and then you get woken up out of a passive but keen interest in something and realize there are all kinds of vibrant goings-on within it that you know nothing about; that's what this did for me in relation to art exhibition & museums. I still know approximately squat about the art world but something's smoldering a bit in the back of the brain now, and I like that feeling.

Chuck Close was also the favorite artist of our intermediate high school art teacher, Mr. Hawthorne, and I remember learning about his photorealistic portraits before I knew too much of anything else about art. So I'm especially fond of his art for the reason that he's the first living artist I ever knew anything about. Appropriate, I guess, that he's the first artist I ever heard speak from the same room too.

Meanwhile, tonight was Mahler 3 courtesy of the Philharmonia, free on campus. I was happy to affirm that, yes, the Bartok/Prokofiev concert I thought was so abysmal last month was largely an effect of the other hall they performed in; the Third was plenty alive and awake. There's a girl's chorus in the city that assisted with the Bimms & Bamms in the angel-carol movement; the same music-school mezzo who sang Ligeti with the percussionists last weekend layed into the operatic Nietzsche setting with a dusky & midnight-appropriate voice. The final slow movement was a thing of ardent, illuminated beauty.

Oh, also, applause in three out of the four movement breaks: I approve. And a big ol' ovation at the very end, very much called for.

I haven't really paid much attention to Mahler 3 before (it's so long, and soooo broad) but especially with that final movement it does get to some places that the other Mahler symphonies don't.

Yesterday after the Close talk I heard the New Haven Symphony Orchestra for the first time, performing Berlioz's "Le Corsaire" and Beethoven's Triple Concerto (both boring as paste, whoever might be playing them) and the Bartok Concerto for Orchestra, which was pretty sharp but not the joyride you hope it to be. Worth the price of admission to get that "pair games" scherzo back in your ears, anyway. I heard the undergrads put on the Bartok last spring & was more impressed with the job they did with it, but I think the difference is probably just due to my own expectations and experiential framing. Then again, what else is there?


Post a Comment

<< Home