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Art and Escapism

Art and Escapism

“The movie is the art of the millions of American citizens,” an English writer in the Adelphi discovered, “who are picturesquely called Hicks-the mighty stream of standardized humanity that flows through Main Street… The cinema is, through and through, a democratic art; the only one.” Nor would this commentator have had it otherwise.

The attempt to educate the public to higher standards of taste except through the movies’ natural evolution in response to a gradually maturing public sentiment was pious humbug. Europe had failed to realize the possibilities of the moving picture and was hiding behind that “singularly putrescent hypocrisy that masquerades as ‘artistic culture.'”

The reigning stars during the thirties also revealed how diverse moving-picture entertainment had become. Micky Mouse rivaled Greta Garbo, and the Dionne quintuplets competed with Clark Gable. Lawrence Tibbett and Zazu Pitts, Will Rogers and Jean Harlow, Adolphe Menjou and Shirley Temple, Bette Davis and James Cagney, Mickey Rooney and Vivien Leigh, each had an enthusiastic following.

The movies’ success in reaching such a broad public had long since had a most far-reaching effect on other forms of entertainment. From nickelodeon days they had been gradually drawing off the patrons of the popular melodrama, the devotees of variety and burlesque. They now dominated more completely than ever the whole field of commercial amusement. The people’s theatres were either closed or made over into movie palaces, variety shows were so reduced in number that the old two-a-day vaudeville circuit was completely disrupted, and the doors of the local opera houses (unless they too were wired for sound) were everywhere boarded up. The triumph of the movies over the popular theatre was complete.

The legitimate stage which was primarily centered in New York — the theatre of classical drama, sophisticated comedy, problem play, and also musical revue — remained a vital force. It was perhaps more important in some ways than in the nineteenth century. If vaudeville had left it free — or forced it — to go its own way without considering entertainment that would appeal to the urban workers, it was now more than ever the arbiter of its own fashions. It could encourage playwrights — Eugene O’Neill was the country’s leading dramatist — who really had something to say. It could present plays dealing with social problems, and musical comedy that deftly satirized the current scene.

The 1930’s saw a revival of stock companies, especially summer stock; other cities followed the lead of New York with its Theatre Guild and Group Theatre; the International Ladies Garment Workers’ Union staged a musical skit which played on Broadway and toured the country; and the Federal Theatre Project became for a time an active force in the theatrical world. Under such stimulating influences there also sprang up a mushroom growth of community theatres with some five hundred thousand amateurs playing before an estimated annual audience of fifteen million.

Escapism that is not an escape from or to anywhere, but an escape of our utopian selves, has always been present in the idea of Camival, where the inhibitions which bind us to conventional roles are loosened. It is our Camival selves that we take on holiday, and the holiday resort – from Atlantic City to Blackpool to Pattaya – has always been a place of loosened inhibitions. If it is the crime of popular culture that it has taken our dreams and packaged them and sold them back to us, it is also the achievement of popular culty’ne that it has brought us more and more varied dreams than we could otherwise ever have known.

Popular amusements had more generally evolved from diversions that were originally available only to the wealthy. The theatre in America had at first been primarily class entertainment, the democratic audiences in the large playhouses of the mid-nineteenth century, as we have seen, offering a marked contrast to the more exclusive theatre patronage of the colonial period.

And from this gradually democratized theatre had developed the even more popular minstrel shows, burlesque, and vaudeville. But the first appeal of moving pictures was to the masses rather than the classes. They were cheap and popular from the very beginning. The support which in time enabled them to raise their standard of entertainment came entirely from their nickel-paying customers.

Their early development along such unashamedly popular lines was not by any means inevitable. It was in part due to the class of people who happened to take them over. The outstanding figures were Jewish garment-workers or fur-traders who bought up the penny arcades, and then the nickelodeons, to merchandise films as they would any other commodity. And their dependence on a mass market led to their continuing to place emphasis on quantity rather than quality.

They were not troubled by an artistic conscience, not concerned with culture, in promoting this profitable business. But at the same time what might superficially be dismissed as merely shrewd commercial tactics represented an approach to the development of this new amusement which would not have been possible in any other country. It reflected a democratic concept of the general availability of popular entertainment which was thoroughly American.

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Nicole Etienne: Painting is just like love making

Nicole Etienne: Painting is just like love making

“Painting is just like love making. Sometimes slow, sensual strokes and long drags of charcoal are right. And sometimes quick splash and quickly slips lush color is the story of a painting technology needs to reveal the story. One of my favorite artists, Eric Fischl, told me that if I do not feel what I paint, no one will do more. I am happy to update and create the art, a kind of rev up the engine and materialize sex, love, lust… whatever it is, I’m trying to evoke.”

Born in Santa Cruz, California in 1974, Etienne Nicole Powell grew up among the redwoods and the suburbs of Silicon Valley. His mother, an artist active, healthy Nicole kept covered in paint and dirt and fed his burgeoning career with full access to his office supplies.

After moving to the Bay Area his family joined a group utopian liberal California which focused on human rights, anti-war activism, and the belief that by leaving a process of personal transformation, they were of achieve a greater awareness of the earth and each other. Nicole was encouraged to be intuitive and explore.

It was not long before the conservative, buttoned up world of Silicon Valley felt a bit too parochial. She has traveled extensively, studied painting and exhibiting, and New York Nicole was able to find his feet – and his voice. She has created works of sincere and tender human encounters. Painting lush groves with a high “Amazons angelic” blooming sexuality and femininity, she twists the old myths new, creating the woman as the “romantic hero” in a world completely to it.

Nicole Etienne: Painting is just like love making

Her technique of copies of the luminosity of watercolor with the thickness of oil paint. A struggle between maintaining the original brand of coal and the brightness of the blank, and the desire to smear paint on thick hunks until melted together.

Nicole began her artistic training college at UC Santa Barbara transfer to UC Santa Cruz, where she received her BA in 1997. She studied abroad at Lorenzo Medici School of Art in Italy and received her MFA cum laude in 2009 from the New York Academy of Art.

She painted in Italy and lived in London and Ireland. He was on a trip to Cornwall, England, Nicole met her husband, creative director Peter Powell. They now live in New York with their Moo chat.

About Nicole Etienne Powell

A fourth generation artist, Nicole Etienne paints in a style that blends the classic values of traditional still life with the cubist approach of depicting objects without geometric perspective. Her work mirrors her personality: high spirited and contemporary, with a dash of humor. Etienne lives by the words of her favorite philosopher, Henry David Thoreau: “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.”

During college Nicole gave up an athletic scholarship to follow her true course. She studied art at the Universities of California, Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz, discovering an affinity with cubism. You can see this understanding in much of Etienne’s work. Objects appear how she sees them, not how perspective tells us they should.

It was at the Lorenzo de Medici School of Artin Florence that Etienne’s artistic talents blossomed. It’s said the Italians taught the French how to paint and how to cook; lessons that did not escape Etienne. There, surrounded by thousands of years of architecture and fine art, she developed her style and understanding of what she could achieve. “I wanted to experience everything. It’s no good just studying art — you have to study life”. This philosophy of Etienne’s is reflected in all of her work…

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Van Gogh’s Artistic Expression

Van Gogh's Artistic Expression

Vincent Van Gogh found in Millet the basis of a primitive popular art, models for portraits of humanity. He made the gravity of Millet graver, I might almost say more Lutheran. The ancient Greek spirit which breathes from many of Millet’s soft pencil drawings like a natural sound, gives place in him to a gigantic instinct, in relation to which the Millet form appears only as as oftening element.

There is nothing classical about him; he reminds us rather of the early Gothic stone masons; the technique of his drawings is that of the old wood-carvers; some of his faces look as if they had been cut with a blunt knife in hard wood. The ugliness of his personages, the “mangeurs de pommesde terre,” carries the primitive ruggedness of the older painters to the region of the colossal, where it occasionally resembles materialised phantoms of horror.

Heprojected such things as La Berceuse not for amateurs, but for common folks, and it was one of his–all too natural–disappointments, that no peasant would give himself up to sitting. In his painted portraits, the hard wood of the drawingsseems sometimes to be blent with gleaming metal. Schuffenecker owns the most masterly of his portraits of himself.

Van Gogh's Artistic Expression

No-one who has seen this tremendous headwith the square forehead, the staring eyes and despairing jaw can ever forget it. It is so full of a terrible grandeur of line, color, and psychology, that it takes away one’s breath, and it is hard to know whether one is repelled by its monstrousexaggeration of beauty, or by the lurking madness in the head that conceived it.

Van Gogh’s self-destruction in the cause of artistic expression is tragic, because it was a natural sacrifice, not a self-defilement, the act of a perfectly healthy consciousness, shattered by insufficient physical powers of resistance. “The more ill I am, the more of an artist do I become,” he writes, with no thoughts of verse joys in his mind. He records the same simple fact with which Delacroix reckoned, and Rembrandt, “the old wounded lion with a cloth round his head,still grasping his palette.”

The tragic result was inevitable, because it fulfilled a natural doom. The only means by which he could escape despair, retain his self-respect, and repay the devotion of the brother who had spent so much on canvas and colors was, to make constant progress, to loosen more and more the slenderthreads that bound his individuality to a failing body, and penetrate ever more deeply into the mystery that dazzles the eyes, to give bodily substance to theartistic soul, even when it was parting soul and body.

Van Gogh's Artistic Expression

It was heroism, becausethe result was hardly doubtful to him, a peasant’s heroism, because it went straighton its way without any dramatic gesture, simply and naturally. In one of hisletters Vincent speaks of a worthy fellow who died for lack of a proper doctor: “He bore it quietly and reasonably, only saying: ‘It is a pity I can’t have anyother doctor.’ He died with a shrug of the shoulders that I shall never forget.”

In some such fashion Vincent’s death must be explained. Even in the early days at Arles, when Gauguin was with him, be once threatened to cast off the weary flesh. He came to himself again, and went voluntarily to the Arles asylum, where he painted some wonderful things, among others the Schuffenecker portrait of himself, the cloistered garden of the asylum with the splendid flower-beds (belong shying to Hessel), and some beautiful flower-pieces.

In his letters to Theo he revealsa marvellous memory, clinging to childish recollections, as if to interpose his home between himself and the strange power that sought his life; he recovered so far, that he went to Saint Rémy, to find a new field of activity there. But his brother was in trouble, and when Vincent came to visit him in Paris he recognised his own danger, and looked about him for help. He found it in Dr. Gachet.

Gachet, who still pursues his avocation and his art robustly, had a comfortable, hospitable house at Auvers-sur-Oise, near Valmandois, where Daumier spent his lastyears of blindness. Daubigny painted there, Cézanne came thither in 1880 at Gachet’s recommendation, and lived there for several years, painting many finethings; to many others the happy land and the old artist-doctor’s table were a solace. Even Van Gogh seemed to have painted himself into health at Auvers. He came in the middle of 1889.

His Auvers pictures have not, of course, the intoxicating richness of strong colour revealed to him by the south; but on the other hand, he achieved an unprecedented development in his play of line. His own portrait and his portrait of Gachet are purely rhythmic works, quite free from hardness, marked by a perfectly conscious application of his unrivalled talent for decorative tasks. In the roses, and in the arrangement of chestnut leaves and blossoms, a happy harmonious spirit seems to be weaving its beautiful dreams, remote from all dramatic violence.

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Karen Dupré and her exotic wild animals

Karen Dupré and her exotic wild animals

Karen Dupré was born in California. It is a self-taught artist whose first inspiration came from his interest in horses. This fascination quickly led her to translate the beauty of these animals and other wildlife through drawing.

At age nine, Dupré began working in pastels, which quickly progressed in the use of other means – primarily acrylic paints. Since his early years as an artist, Dupré has broadened her repertoire to include landscapes, still life pictures, and numbers, without ever abandoning the wildlife that first sparked her imagination.

In addition to painting and drawing, other activities include Dupre singing and archery. She spends much of his time behind the microphone and gave several public performances. In fact, when not at the easel painting, it is very likely that she is on stage in front of an audience and captivated.

Karen Dupré and her exotic wild animals

Dupré’s artistic inspiration comes from a variety of sources, primarily several nineteenth century artists such as Gustav Klimt, Claude Monet, Frederic Remington and Auguste Renoir. She is particularly drawn to this period in art history when artists were challenging the established ideals and developing their own schools of artistic thought. Similarly, in his art, Dupré strives to expand her style both color and composition, not limited to conventional artistic standards.

Dupre paintings reflect her versatility in terms of subject, from landscapes to calm and serene settings table fat images of exotic animals and inviting entertainment scenes. Throughout her imagery, one can find a sense of harmony. This peace is partly the result of his soft brushstrokes and her talent to illustrate the play of light in nature and objects of human origin at a time. Dupre is an adept job of capturing a fleeting moment.

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Paul Jenkins and Abstract Expressionism

Paul Jenkins and Abstract Expressionism

The paintings of Paul Jenkins have come to represent the spirit, vitality, and invention of post World War II American abstraction. Employing an unorthodox approach to paint application, Jenkins’ fame is as much identified with the process of controlled paint-pouring and canvas manipulation as with the gem-like veils of transparent and translucent color which have characterized his work since the late 1950s.

Born in Kansas City, Missouri in 1923, Jenkins was raised near Youngstown, Ohio. Drawn to New York, he became a student of Yasuo Kuniyoshi at the Art Students League and ultimately became associated with the Abstract Expressionists, inspired in part by the “cataclysmic challenge of Pollock and the total metaphysical consumption of Mark Tobey.”

An ongoing interest in Eastern religions and philosophy, the study of the I Ching, along with the writings of Carl Jung prompted Jenkins’ turn toward inward reflection and mysticism which have dominated his aesthetic as well as his life.

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