Saturday, March 19. Driving from Kansas City to Colorado is not very exciting, just hundreds of miles of prairie, cattle ranches, and Interstate 70 with very few towns to break up the monotony. It's especially boring at this time of year, when the sky is gray and the grasses are drab brown. It's been a few years since we've done the drive though, so we were pleased to see the addition of some wind farms, as seen in this photo. Hopefully America can push for more sustainable energy like this, and maybe someday we can replace, or at least supplement, the road with a train like those that exist in the rest of the industrialized world (and much of the non-industrialized).
Friday, March 18, 2011
Usually I try to limit myself to one mug of coffee a day. After going out dancing until all hours last night, it's been a two coffee day and it's only 2 p.m. Looking at this stack of midterms that I need to complete grading, I think I'm headed to the half-price coffee happy hour downstairs for mug number three. On a day like today I'm grateful for caffeine and for streaming dance music on the internet to keep me going.
On Tuesday, performance artist Ernesto Pujol visited the Spencer Museum to perform Visitation, a pilgrimage around the museum that he performed for 8 hours straight, leaving a trail of drawings and asking visitors to think about the societal gaze on the artist. While I'm not generally a fan of performance art, it was interesting to watch the small crowd of museum goers follow the artist around the galleries, approaching his drawings only after he moved on to another work. No one dared to approach him (although nothing said not to), and he had a small flock with him in the various galleries. A fascinating comment on how we are trained as museum-goers and how the public generally keeps a distance from the art/artist.
Saturday, March 12, 2011
Friday began with a flurry of messages about the earthquake in Japan. As the day unfolded we received messages of "I'm ok" from friends in Japan and messages of "Thinking of you and your friends" from people in the U.S. As of Saturday morning we've heard from almost everyone, and feel relatively confident about our friends in Yokohama that we are still waiting to hear from, as the major destruction seems to be in Tohoku. On such a sad day I was cheered to see the first crocus blooming in our yard, a sign of hope amidst so much devastation.
It's March, so it's basketball crazy time at KU. On Thursday I had lunch with some friends at the Union, where the Big XII tournament games were broadcast on a big screen t.v. I'm not so into sports, and don't really become interested until the National Championship games, but it was still fun to view the game with a group of KU fans. Rock chalk!
Driving through Brookside on my way home on Wednesday night I was pleasantly surprised to see green lights lining all of the shops and restaurants in preparation for St. Patrick's Day. Below is the Roasterie, a fantastic local coffee shop.
On Tuesday I stopped by the bakery on the way home and bought a King Cake for Mardi Gras. This was our first time trying the cake, which was like a cinnamon roll with extra frosting. As the cake was quite large, Joe took the majority into work the following day, which I guess isn't proper as you are supposed to eat the cake before Lent begins.
Lately we've been working through our Italian Cooking Encyclopedia on the weekends, cooking a new pasta recipe each week. This past week it was Pasta with Olives and Capers, accompanied by a small salad, fresh local bread, and Sparkling Lemon Italian Soda. Num. The best part of this was tossing a tiny portion in the mini prep and serving it to the baby, who loved it. Indeed, my toddler eats capers and imported olives.
Friday, March 11, 2011
I spent most of Friday the 4th of March making final adjustments to my talk "Morimura Yasumasa: Simulacra, Identity, and Memory" that I presented on Saturday at the KU Art History Symposium. Below is the photo Unexpected Visitors, from Morimura's 2010 series "Requiem" which was the focus of my paper and presentation. Morimura is an appropriation artist who uses digital techniques to insert his self portrait into various works of art. In the "Requiem" series he explores 20th century history in four chapters, including works that re-present Hitler, Kennedy, Gandhi and other well known documentary photographs of the century. In this image he envisions himself as General MacArthur and Emperor Hirohito from the widely published September 29, 1945 news photo that commemorated the first meeting of the two leaders. Morimura acts as both men and places the image in his parent's Osaka tea shop, making the personal connection even deeper.
Thursday, March 10, 2011
My Eastern Civilizations classes at KU are required to read the 18th century Chinese novel, Dream of the Red Chamber. The novel is over 300 pages long (in the abridged version) and includes hundreds of characters. Inevitably, there are a few students who connect with the tragic story of fate and (mis) fortune, but there are also some who struggle to understand the book and to find the main themes. On Thursday I was lucky enough to spend the afternoon outside, reviewing the novel and preparing for our Friday class discussion.
Sunday, March 06, 2011
Ok, usually I am completely anti-fast food, especially that which comes from McDonald's, but I fell from grace last Sunday and had Shamrock Shake (don't worry, I didn't indulge in the food). It was my first in many years, and likely my last for many more years. After a long weekend of work I felt the need for a treat of some sort, and the minty nostalgia and St. Pat's marketing pulled me in. Truth be told, it wasn't really that good. I know that McDonalds uses methyl-cellulose in their shakes, which we also used as a bookbinding adhesive back when I worked at the conservation lab. Eesh. The shake wasn't bad, but it just wasn't particularly good either, and considering how awful McDonald's food is and how I feel about their marketing, it's a slip that I'm not likely to make for a few years. Just a little confessional. Now, back to the real food.....
I spent the last Saturday in February preparing my forty minute Monday seminar presentation on Gajin Fujita, one of my favorite contemporary artists. Based in L.A., his works combine visual elements from contemporary graffiti and Edo period prints. So, in a work like K2S Crew (below) we see his graffiti crew portrayed as ronin (masterless samurai), complete with a hybrid Oakland Raiders logo at the center.
Tuesday, March 01, 2011
A 12+ hour Wednesday workday requires a late afternoon coffee stop. The Midtown KC Starbucks is great for this because it is on the way and has a drive-thru. Plus, the drive-thru has a neat wall of graffiti-inspired art.
Life has ups and downs. Last Tuesday was on the lower end of the scale, but my friend YeGee made it a little bit brighter by sharing one of the Wasabi flavored Kitkats that her family sent her after a recent trip they made to Japan. The flavor was subtle and mostly in the aftertaste, but so yummy and a nostalgic reminder of Japan.