Barbra Brady

Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

The Bay Lights: Black & White in Blue

In Art on March 21, 2013 at 4:55 am
Screen shot 2013-03-20 at 9.06.04 PM

The Bay Lights screen shot 2013-03-20 at 9.06.04 PM

Soundtrack: Joni Mitchell’s BlueLive cam in black & white tonight…I listen to Blue. Mitchell’s Blue has been getting some neo-buzz lately, without question a valid consideration.

Puts me in the mood, just cruising along like the ship under the bridge, above. Its fortunate passengers drifting toward, under, and by the Bay Light. This screen capture… Ed Ruscha’s painting, Untitled, (galleon ship silhouette) whispers in my ear as soft/acute as when it first penetrated my consciousness in 1986. That’s no mixed metaphor–a painting whispering in my ear. Remember: I’m drawn down to gaze while listening, to listen while my eyes take in the lights, The Bay Lights.

Ed Ruscha's Untitled, 1986

Untitled (galleon ship silhouette), oil & enamel on canvas
64 H x 64 W (inches)

If you’re enjoying, send some tune suggestions, I’ll ping for you.


The Bay Lights on Palestrina

In Art on March 20, 2013 at 5:45 pm
The Bay Lights 3.19.13 8.39.44 PM

The Bay Lights 3.19.13 8.39.44 PM

Soundtrack: Palestrina’s Allergi Meserere. I didn’t plan this. Yes, I had already planned to listen to (what is for me) the calmest music in the world (psst, I was inspired by Guy Maddin’s film title The Saddest Music in the World there), Palestrina’s  Allegri Meserere. Synchronicity happens in this project. Tonight the bay was the calmest I’ve seen it.

When I hear this marvel-ous 16th century polyphony, my first association–it’s *very visceral–are the words: “My perfection,” ala “My Precious.” Hey, if Gollum isn’t of the viscera, nothing is.

Now, in the same setting that had fit Miles like a glove, I read the lights as a delicate shimmer, a lacing of lights. No jazz, all calm. The Palestrina takes my breath away, as does my ritual meditation on the bridge. In Palestrina’s surround, the lights are like gems in the eyes of God, diamonds ascending copper. A feather on the breath of God

And. Have you noticed Oakland in these screen shots? It’s that band of fire running under the left third of the bridge.

Water. Fire. Space. Air. Even earth (the platform below the camera). The presence of all five elements = a Divine source of power, perhaps why I am so devoted to my Meditation on the Bridge.

*My history with Palestrina

I was once a entire family all by myself. As the head of the household, I had the job of full-time Registrar at the Weatherspoon Art Museum, University of North Carolina Greensboro. At night, I became the house-holder, cooking, cleaning, the stereotypical hours of the stay-at-home personnel. I was already both “parents” when I decided to become the offspring in school, too. I enrolled in grad school. Man. Three family members in one very depleted woman.

Often I was wrought. And then over-the-top-ly so. When it felt roughest, there was one thing in particular that peeled away all stress, tension, and fatigue. When I sensed critical mass of overwhelm, Palestrina’s Allegri Meserere was an unfailing, instant hit of calm.

Enter the Bay Lights viewing, March 19 2013. See above.

Visual Harmonics: Miles Davis and the Bay Bridge

In Art on March 19, 2013 at 2:05 pm


The Bay Lights Meditation, March 16, 2013

Soundtrack: Miles Davis. I Dreamed Last Night.  Was “flow” one of the first words I associated with Miles? Most like. Saturday night, it was Miles. Maybe it is always Miles on Saturday nights, but this one, March 16 2013, it was Miles +. Miles and the Bay Bridge, 7+ miles long. The music flows. The water, flows (bigger water than previous nights, the wind blows). The light show flows in seeming sync with Miles. Perhaps it has been said that Miles was in sync with the Universe. I saw each movement of I Dreamed Last Night traced across the Bridge, its programming a never-repeating improvisation of light. The Harmonics of Miles across 7 miles…I can see for Miles…

Meditating on Installation Art

In Art on March 12, 2013 at 7:25 pm


photo credit:

The new light installation by artist Leo Villareal, The Bay Lights, is quietly dazzling me and all who behold this huge LED installation spanning the Bay Bridge between San Francisco and Oakland.

Perfection beginning of my two-year long Meditation on a Installation–see my The Bay Lights Page for regular blogs about my gazing/meditating on the live stream with changing “soundtracks.”

I Need Your Peep Inspiration.

In Art, Poetry, Truisms on April 4, 2012 at 1:03 am

Portrait of a Peep in White

There are Peeps that are tucked into Easter baskets.

Some will be eaten, some not, and some, sort of.

There are victimized Peeps.

Some are microwaved.

Some Peeps, wretched to many, are made more edible.

They become sushi, (Peepshi); they become Peeps pizza. (Peepza). Or S’meeps.

Some meet with a horrifying genocide, a nuclear meltdown that no Peep deserves.

I’ll take my Peeps elegant, pure, a poem dressed in white.

Portrait of a Peep in White, Photograph by Barbra Brady

What have you done to a Peep lately?

Artist Kills a Dog, Calls it Art, Gets Funding for Public Art in San Francisco

In Art on November 18, 2011 at 7:19 pm

first published on Yoga Modern

Playground by Tom Otterness

Dateline San Francisco, November 15, 2011: Tom Otterness, a world-renowned artist who shot and killed a dog on film and called it art granted a $1 million+ commission to place public art in the city named in honor of St. Francis, patron saint of animals.

Dateline San Francisco Arts Commission meeting, November 16, 2011: Arts Commission votes to terminate half of the artist’s contract after public outcry over the 1977 act of cruelty.

You may not recognize the name Tom Otterness, but you’ve likely seen his toy-like, playful, pudgy, public art. His smile-inducing bronze sculptures can be found in cities world-wide. Otterness is better known in the art world for these whimsical sculptures than for the “snuff” film, which he produced in 1977 when he was a 25 year-old whippersnapper trying to make a name in the heady days of conceptual art. The fact that the video Dog Shot Film was not the work that made Otterness famous plays a role in the current controversy–the Arts Commission did not know about it when they inked a contract with the crowd-pleasing artist.

When the commission confronted Otterness with his past actions this past September, he was, once again, contrite. He has apologized again and again, as he does in this recent statement:

“I had a very convoluted logic as to what effect I meant to have with that video. Whatever I had in mind, it was really inexcusable to take a life in service of that.”

Nice, but not enough for the San Francisco Animal Care and Control Commission, who pressed the city’s Arts Commission to terminate the $1.4 million contract with Otterness. During their November 16 special meeting, the Arts Commission voted to halt the artist’s commission for 59 bronze sculptures for the proposed Central Subway system, but to uphold the commission for the new San Francisco General Hospital (Otterness had already received $365,000 for this work, which the city would have had to refund had it also canceled the hospital project).

If you’re wondering how an artist who once killed a dog he adopted “for the sake of art” could possibly be tapped to exhibit work in a hospital, think: Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Humpty-Dumpty balloon by Otterness in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Yes, Tom Otterness, too, once created a balloon for the beloved annual parade. (Come to think of it, some of those mammoth, sluggish balloons can be pretty scary, too.)

Is the ruling of the San Francisco Arts Commission another case of censorship, or a wrong finally righted? Comments during a recent phone-in program on the city’s NPR station KQED suggest the large majority of the public is unforgiving:

 ”Private buyers are free to buy art from this artist, but I strongly object to spending public funds on it, especially in the city named for the patron saint of animals.”

“It is unbelievable that they would give any art contract to this guy. How can cruelly killing an animal be considered art?”

But there is another consideration:

“I’ve never met a flawless person, and I doubt there are any. Our shortcomings and failures are a necessary part of the complexities of life. Trying to find someone whose background would offend nobody is a foolish concept.”

This issue finds me in a perfect yogic balance of “neti-neti,” not this, not that. Having been a curator who worked closely with contemporary arts as well as having worked in an animal shelter for five years, I see both sides. Shooting a dog as if it were nothing more than a stuffed animal is reprehensible. I have personally tended more than one dog who was once shot, intentionally, and lived. It is just as heartbreaking as it sounds. I have also worked with young artists who were trying to establish a name for themselves, and know how high that bar is set. It was even more so in the mid-70s, when conceptual art was the driving aesthetic (and economic) force.

The competition to create something that has never been done is rampant in art schools, where to be new, different, and edgy is the art school equivalent of academia’s “public or perish.”  I get that, I’ve been in (and in love with) academia. The public demand for the “shock of the new” is one of the appeals (not mine) of reality t.v, a genre which is often riddled with cruel and humiliating content. But am I just skirting the issue? The man shot and killed under the guise of giving a dog a home.

What is your verdict? Would you censure a beloved artist for the himsa-squared actions he committed in his spun-out youth? Or does your thumb occupy an eternally up position for artistic freedom?

Office Supplies Worth Framing

In Art on September 23, 2011 at 2:48 am

The Office: An Artist in Every Cubicle

Welcome to the Grand Opening of
the Museum of Office Materials Art
curated by Barbra Brady

In honor of the season premiere of one of my favorite tv shows, The Office, I’ve curated a special exhibition of works by artists who find their inspiration (and raw materials) in office supplies. After visiting Yoga Modern’s MOMA, I believe you’ll think twice before tossing the junk on your desk at The Office Jerk. Those bits of office detritus may become valuable works of art in the hands of the artists you will find here.

Aisle 1 

Many people have at one point in their lives chewed on a pencil.  

But how many of us can do this with a pencil?Chain, carved pencil and its lead

Self-taught artist/carpenter Dalton M. Ghetti has rightly received a lot of attention for the mini-objects he carves into the lead tips of pencils. You’ve got to look at what this man can get out of a Number 2. Here’s a (yogic) quote from his website:

For Dalton, sculpting pencils is a hobby and a form of meditation, which requires a lot of patience. His pencil carvings are not for sale. He doesn’t do it for money. He sculpts pencils mostly for himself and his art comes from his heart. He wants to keep it that way.

Aisle 2 (Pssst: We have a Dilbert sighting on Aisle 2)

Most of us have at one time or another covered a computer monitor in Post-it notes. (Oh, come on.) I just checked their website, and have to say, artist Rebecca Murtaugh does their new tagline, “Reinventing the note” one (or many) better:

Rebecca Murtaugh, To Mark a Significant Place in the Living Room, 2007

 I see myself as a collector of sensual objects and materials with the predispositions of a mad scientist. I find myself intrigued with many materials I come into contact with, some for their formal properties like surface and color, and others for their inherent conceptual potential. Rebecca Murtaugh


Aisle 3

On aisle 3 you will find an item that may have been tinkered with more than any other office supply. The paper clip.

But rarely as deftly as when in the, ahem, hands of British artist StephaniRobinsonwho is currently studying Creative Arts at Bath Spa University. (Be sure to check her blogsite to see what her Eiffel Tower is made of.)

Aisle 4

There are plain envelopes

and there are art-velopes. In Security Envelope, artist Garth Weiser uses ordinary envelopes as his raw material. He unfolds and dismantles them into intriguing abstract compositions. While they may be “just an envelope,” here they become forms of raw beauty.

You must peek inside these envelopes.

Aisle 5

You may never look at a roll of tape the same way again (or leave it to sit idly on your desk) after watching this mesmerizing, ahem, video tape by Dutch artitst Johan Rijpma.

Tape Generations, installation, video performance art

Aisle 6

Admit it. You pay little homage to the ubiquitous staple. This may change once you survey the work of artist Peter Root.

Low Rise, 2006, staples

Root has high-rise regard for the humble fastener. You’ll want to de-load your staplers and become a kid again. (Even accountants.)

“The work I create regularly involves highly labour-intensive, mantra-like procedures of construction and assemblage. As well as being simple, playful experiments the work often touches upon themes of impermanence, repetition, structure, pattern, scale and architecture. My work often takes the form of extremely fragile, temporary arrangements, with works subject to micro-apocalyptic events such as a light breeze or a falling leaf.” Peter Root

Aisle 7

When typos happen, White-out can make it better.

Then again, in talented hands White-Out can do more than take care of a mistake. Take a look at this clip, where it becomes sacred art right before your very eyes.

But then, in yogic eyes and souls, isn’t the day-to-day, isn’t everything around us sacred, and a creation of beauty and bliss

Break over. Please return to your cubicle.

 first published on Yoga Modern

Mesmerizing Photography: David Sunshine’s “The Realm of Shadows”

In Art on March 22, 2011 at 6:28 pm

Dallas based artist David Sunshine’s photographic images are sheer, utter mesmerization.

But they are not precious. They are near tactile, catch your senses, all of them, not just your eye.

But your eye will fall in love, linger,


The Realm of Shadows




Sigur Ros’ Heima: Amazing Grace

In Art, This Evening's Movie on March 18, 2011 at 3:19 am

It is hard, if not impossible to imagine any single moment as spellbinding–as awe-filled, as most any moment in the film Heima (Home), featuring Iceland’s remarkable (ambient, sincere, gifted, community-minded, sweet, handsome) musicians known as Sigur Ros.

The film, like their music, is peerless. Not a frame nor note forsaken. I find myself sitting here, all alone, watching the film (again)…my head tilts in wonder. At the Icelandic landscape. At the gorgeous ambient tones. Color. Set design in improbable places. The guileless offering of the band members’ roaming their homeland with free public concerts. The communities’ happy attendance.

Here, every picture tells a story. Each and every frame (24 per second, natch) worthy of a framed still.

Jonsi, et. al, I fall in love every time I hear your music. Each time I watch, I live with, this film.

Amazing grace.

Art is: John Cage, for Starters

In Art, Things I Have Loved on March 15, 2011 at 6:44 pm

Something tells me Garry Moore and CBS would have been a bit more…hesitant…

maybe, 4’33 of hesitation…

to invite Cage to perform this piece on I’ve Got a Secret.

And of course not 4’33.

Dead air? Or, “Silence cures all?”

Why does art have to mean or represent something? In 2011? We are just shy of the 100th anniversary of The Armory Show for crying out…silence.