Thursday, April 26, 2007

Ever wanted to be like Jackson Pollock? Well now you can!!

This website was recently sent to me, and I thought it was pretty cool. And it seems appropriate for the class...

Just move the mouse around and have fun! Oh, and if you want to change the color, left-click. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Portrait of Myself as a Young Idiot

As I stepped in through the door, a large loving tongue shot through a cascading beard of wheaten fur to welcome me home after a long day of school. I returned the affection showered on me by caressing the underside of the beast’s head as I moved past him and made my way down the hall, the furious wagging of his tail propelling him forward and after me. When I found myself directly across from the wall of photographs taken by my dad and uncle while on their respective adventures around the world, I stopped—my soft-coated stalker bumping into the back of my right knee—as I often did, to take in the weathered face of an 11-year old Berber carrying his goat through the Middle Atlas Mountains, the dark silhouette of a bird gliding through a misty Mexican morning, the twin images of a Kyoto temple reflected in the still water surrounding it, a solar asterisk peaking its bright face from behind the columns of an Ancient Greek ruin. It was there, in a moment of escape and admiration, that I knew I wanted to—scratch, that—needed to explore the world, capture its essence, its beauty, and filter it through my point of view.

This isn’t to say that I couldn’t have become a lawyer (as I’m sure my grandmother would have preferred), but I probably would have been miserable. “Needed” applies itself so aptly here because I feel most ‘in-my-element’ when I work in a creative capacity. Notice, please, that I don’t use the term: artistic. This most likely stems from my discomfort with referring to myself as an artist. “Artist” gets thrown around far too often. People quickly adopt the word to describe themselves without even really thinking about what it means, and it usually carries a supercilious connotation that suits me rather poorly. Maybe it’s because I lack talent; maybe it’s because I hardly have anything important to say (To be honest, I am not sure why you’re still reading this, but while I gotcha here, I might as well keep going). Perhaps, in the distant future, I will have gained enough confidence in my “artistic” endeavors, through experience and practice, to talk about my vision without secretly gagging at my obscene pretension. Until then, let us discuss the past…

The tiny blue dust particles wafted from the paper in microscopic clouds, filling my nostrils with the smell of pastel, while my small fingers worked furiously to fill in the background of the portrait of 4th grade Ilan as a musketeer. Mrs. Carson’s sure to give me an A on this, I thought to myself with creased brow, tongue slightly poking out of my mouth denoting the intense concentration involved in perfecting the blue background. Mrs. Carson was my elementary school art teacher, and until my sophomore year of college, when I declared Fine Arts as a minor, she was my only art teacher. I had a natural ability for art, she used to say. Unfortunately, the dedication needed to improve on the craft always seemed to evade me – probably because at that point in my life, there wasn’t a doubt in my mind that I was destined to cure AIDS (maybe I should have continued along that trajectory, if only to please my grandmother).

Some of that dedication still evades me today. It might even evade me forever. Who knows? What I do know is that when I do have those sporadic moments of focused creative energy, akin to being in constant fluctuation between awake and asleep, my mind reaches a homeostatic state of being that I would otherwise be incapable of achieving. If I didn’t have a creative outlet, my mind would boil like water in a closed pot with thoughts of life and death (and grandmothers), until eventually, I imagine—without certainty, of course—that I would suffer from an aneurysm or a metaphysical explosion, leaving me dead and rotting from the inside out… Wow. Before I digress further, let’s get back on track, shall we?

What is the meaning of art? I think this is a very difficult question to answer because meaning is born of subjectivity, and opinion varies from one person to the next. Hence, art’s duty is to incite an opinion, provoke thought, whether positive or negative. In other words, art possesses the power to affect and at its best, that is precisely what it does. Art does not need to explain itself. Art is not filling in a canvas for all to see and understand. Art presents us with a blank canvas that we each fill with our own personal thoughts, ideas, and experiences. It is the spectator – and not the artist – that creates meaning for himself. Audiences and critics alike impose themes and meanings on the art, after the fact, in order to qualify it within a context, a culture, and a personal value system. Art is not about self-explanation, but about self-expression. I don’t want to make important statements about the political or social climate; I don’t want to make a commentary on ecological or moral degradation; I don’t feel the need to voice frustration with the superficiality of our culture because they don’t express my true feelings. I need my art to be full of humor; I need my art to be devoid of meaning; but above all, I need my art to be truthful (even when it’s a lie).

This brings to mind an occurrence from my early youth, probably around the time that I displayed a raw talent in portraying myself as a musketeer. My parents inscribed me in an art class, held evenings, once a week, in a Solana Beach strip mall. On my first night there, the crisp autumn air, heavy with sea salt and seaweed, overwhelmed me as I stepped out of the mini van and onto the cold, dark asphalt. I trembled, more out of fear and skepticism towards this after-school art class than anything else. I didn’t want to be there (my Sega Genesis had serious abandonment issues, and I hated to be part of the problem). I clutched my mommy’s hand as I grudgingly went into the musty fluorescence and took my place amongst the artist wannabes, who – unexpectedly – spanned an entire gamut of ages. At 10 years old, I was easily the youngest person there, second only to that one girl (who, if memory serves correctly, I pushed into the bubble-filled fountain in the parking lot after class). The teacher assigned for us to draw the Genie from Aladdin from a picture she handed out to all the students. Thinking of myself as clever, but ultimately only being lazy, I traced the picture and filled-in the color expertly. When we turned our work in, and the teacher hung them all up on the wall, mine was the best Genie of them all. I felt so proud and accomplished, although I’m sure that everyone had me accurately pegged as a talentless fraud. I never stepped into that classroom again. I convinced my parents that it was pointless and stupid and a waste of time and that I didn’t like it and that it was stupid.

Boy was I dumb! If only I had kept it up (and the recorder as well… I could have been a virtuoso by now). All these many years later, as a direct result of the apathy that plagued and plagues me, I doubt my abilities. I shy away from being productive because the resulting image never meets the intended vision; the external fails to reconcile with the internal. I can’t bring a sketchbook along to the park to draw the people, the pigeons, or the landscape because no matter what I put on the page, I’ll be disappointed – not necessarily in it being bad, but in it not being good enough – and I find that that’s a great deterrent to my creative output. What I mean to say is: if my creations misrepresent my intentions, then they become worthless (unless I can manipulate the result to suit my purpose, of course, but how often does that happen?). All of this could be a contributing factor to my interest in film.

Film, by its very nature, removes the unwanted pressure of trying to capture the world around me accurately, and as the psychosomatic burden lifts itself slowly from my slumped, broken shoulders, I can begin to lose myself creatively. Without having to worry about the aesthetic quality of the image or its realism – no matter how synthesized, I am free to apply a voice to the image that perfectly satisfies my sense of personal truth and art. And if I fail at that, well… there’s always medical school.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

An American Art

Like a child going through puberty, the Grilled Cheese Sandwich has gone through a drastic transformation since its inception in the 1920s. It initially began as an open-faced sandwich (one slice of bread, one slice of cheese), which itself was a variation on the nearly ancient combination of bread and cheese. It wasn't until approximately 40 years later that a second slice of bread was added, and the Grilled Cheese Sandwich morphed into its modern-day variation so common to all bon vivants and connaisseurs. After this little set of french vocabulary, I'd like to mention that traditionally, a Grilled Cheese Sandwich is made using American cheese. That's right - American. And while I've done my fair share of experimentation with swiss, cheddar, and even gouda, I am at heart a purist!

It is at this juncture, that I should mention that the name: Grilled Cheese Sandwich, is a bit of a misnomer due to the fact that in the proper preparation one does not actually grill the bread but toast it. The proper way to go about doing this is to apply butter to the outsides of the bread (with the (American) cheese assembled on the inside, obviously) and to place it on a frying pan, a griddle, or a sandwich maker (if you have one... as I do). Once the down-facing, buttered-side has acquired a toasting to your taste, flip the sandwich, and allow for the formerly up-facing, buttered-side to toast as you so desire. Once this has been achieved, and the cheese has melted to a delicious, yellow goo, the Grilled Cheese Sandwich is ready for consumption. Bon app├ętit!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

An artist's website...

So I am not actually familiar with any artist or artistic movement's website because I don't seem to use the internet much. For this reason, I randomly selected Adam Sandler as my artist, and when I went to his website, I was pleasantly surprised. It has plenty of different menus that vary from Downloads and Games to News and Messages from Adam.

The messages are what really caught my attention and made me like Mr. Sandler even more. He posts videos for his fans in in which he may either share moments from his life, such as the cyst that his dog Meatball had or behind-the-scenes on one of his movie sets, to humorous little video skits that he makes with his friends. It comes across that Adam, despite his extraordinary success, is still very much a down-to-earth person that really appreciates his fans. The games section is also pretty fun since it offers a slew of shockwave games that are based on his movies, such as Monk Punch-Out and Poop Shooter. In addition to all of the wonderful features, the design layout and format of the site make it very easy to maneuver, while maintaining a simple aesthetic appeal.

Overall, through his website, people have an opportunity to get to know Adam on a surprisingly personal and fun level that is highly uncommon from someone with his celebrity status. It is quite refreshing to see an artist that really reaches out to his fans in the way that Adam has. If only more people in the entertainment industry could be like him.

To check this great site out, go to

Monday, January 29, 2007

Giallo (not to be confused with Gelato)

Although Gelato is an art form unto itself, I have gathered you all here today to discuss Giallo. Giallo, which means yellow in italian, is a genre of literature, which grew in popularity in the former half of the 20th century before making its foray into cinema. The genre derived its name from the color of the covers of the cheap paperback novels filled with crime, terror, and eroticism. I haven't read any of those books, unfortunately, and to be honest, I haven't seen an official giallo film either, although I have seen Italian horror films (Suspiria!!!), that immediately followed giallo, by filmmakers who became famous in the genre. I know what you're probably thinking: How the hell are you going to talk about a filmic movement that you don't really know? Well, to answer your doubts, I haven't watched the films (yet), but I have studied the genre, so I am at least somewhat familiar with its specifications.

The reasons why I like the genre (and those that followed it) are because they - in following the traditions of grand guignol - are extremely dramatic and over-stylized, to the point where reality is manipulated, colors accentuated, in order to emphasize drama and tension. Helping it along is usually a rather odd, creepy film score that really amplifies the mood of unease. The films also tend to feature a hefty amount of violence coupled with healthy dose of sex(uality). I think I appreciate these movies artistically because they don't pretend to be anything they're not. They work by inciting a physical and psychological response from the spectator. They are, simply enough, beautiful horror movies.

For more information, please go to: