Monday, May 25, 2009

More Good Stuff

Once again I’ve found a beautiful piece of Randall Good’s work that deserves mention here on the blog. Of course, I would love to review each and every piece of work that he creates, but that would be a little time consuming. This piece is a drawing I acquired for a friend’s birthday present. He admired it at the last gallery walk we attended at Blue Moon Art Gallery in Hot Springs. I generally need very little excuse or persuasion to buy Randall’s work. I love it all.

This piece was untitled but I’m sure it could be called, “Christ Victorious”, or “Christ Triumphant”. Another interpretation might be a highly stylized ascension. The work is a graphite and white chalk drawing on a gray tinted paper support. Once again, Randall left a beautiful white deckled edge lending to the suggestion of an old parchment. The sense of Michelangelo’s or Da Vinci’s Renaissance works is prevalent again. This work was floated over gray mattes to compliment the tone of the support. The fully framed dimensions are 14X21 inches.

This work is a striking composition and succeeds on a number of artistic levels. As a balanced composition it appeals because of the contrasting elements of the organic and dynamically posed body countered by the static and geometric form of the cross. The drapery is energetic and wind-swept while serving a primarily decorative and ornamental purpose. The dominance of the cross in the upper left quadrant is countered nicely by an abundance of twisting fabric held in Christ’s hand and in the lower right corner. Randall’s sense of line and movement gives the viewer’s eye a number of paths to follow through the work. The lovely S-shaped serpintinato of the body projects upward, the diagonal of the cross moves left to right, the billowing curvature of the drapery encircles and frames the figure. It all works together to create a vigorous amount of activity in what could be a very static and stationary posed figure. One is reminded of Michelangelo’s David when looking at the bent knee and counterbalanced angled hip.

In analyzing the work one must question its purpose and meaning. At its essence, is this a spiritual work or a decorative one? Is this a religious work celebrating Christ or is it an ornamental work using the imagery of the Christ figure as decoration? Could it perhaps be both? Most religious works display the Christ figure for the purpose of narrating the His message and ministry. The crucifixion describes the story of the Passion. The resurrection shows His victory over death. The ascension demonstrates His separation from earth and habitation of heaven as a divine being. But, this work causes us to question which event is being portrayed. What is the story or message here? Is it simply a tribute to Christ as a physical being?

In this work, Christ is not nailed to the Cross. He embraces it as a symbol. Without it the viewer would be hard pressed to identify the figure as Christ. Perhaps this is an interpretation of the Resurrection. The billowing drapery might be the linens used to wrap His body. In the powerful force of reanimation He is liberated from them and they become more symbols of His victory and defiance over death. However, the drapery does little to cover the nudity of the figure and serves an accessory to stylize the work. The figure stands on a swath of the billowing fabric as if He is being elevated by wind alone giving Him a light and ethereal presence.

When looking at the image it gives the feeling of celebration and joy. This figure, without the cross, could easily be the triumphal top of a modern-day athletic trophy. The pose is not unlike the victorious Athena Nike with the uplifted arms ascending into the air. All that is missing is the wings.I like that this piece provokes questions in the mind of the viewer. I like that Randall didn’t do all of the mental work and storytelling for us. He intelligently creates an image that allows the viewer to bring their own interpretation and overlay it on the beautiful template he provides, thus creating an individual meaning for everyone who sees it.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

A Boom and a Bust

It should come as no surprise to anyone that reads this blog that I am EXTREMELY happy about the creation of a new Star Trek franchise. It should also come as no surprise that I was very skeptical about the idea of new hands taking hold of the reins. I feared this new younger generation had no connection to the show and had not experienced the love of the original series. I doubted they would handle it with the respect and dignity that we true fans believe it deserves. My feelings were to either make the movie in good taste, or leave it alone. I was very happy that the movie was created with great passion and a new youthful energy that had been missing for the last couple of releases. It also looked like the cast had been well schooled on how to be good Starfleet officers. They also appeared to love and respect their characters. They looked like the sexy children of the original cast. If I were Shatner, Nimoy, Kelley, Nichols, Koenig, Takei, and Doohan, I would be very flattered.

The story was close to perfect. It gave us Vulcans, Romulans, the Kobayashi Maru. We had warp drive, phasers, photon torpedoes and deflector shields. We had an Enterprise that was built like a college boy’s hot rod. I believe this is the ship we would have had if Gene Rodenberry or Rick Berman had the technology to make it years ago. My only disappointment with this outing was a little story twist that involved time travel. I understand it was used as a device to give us Leonard Nimoy in a nostalgic homage to the original series. He gave the new guys the necessary LL&P as a blessing to continue. I appreciated that. However, time travel episodes get very complicated with their plots. It was cool that the “alternate universe” now gives us liberty to do almost anything with the new set of movies. But, stay in the present with these new kids now. Let them have fun and save the universe on their own without the help of the old guys. Our beloved Jimmy Doohan and D. Kelley are gone now. Let’s not try to bring back cast reunions without them. If any of the original cast deserves a cameo, let them appear as holographic computer references and move on with the new guys. And, as Captain Janeway was told a couple of times in Voyager, try to avoid time travel.

As much as I enjoyed the new Trek, I disliked the new Dan Brown movie, Angels and Demons. I went to this movie with the greatest sense of anticipation for good. Many of you have seen my drawing of Bernini’s Ganges from the Fountain of the Four Rivers in Rome. That drawing was inspired because I fell in love with it after reading Angels and Demons a few years ago. I posted the drawing here on this very blog.

We all have to agree that DaVinci Code the movie was awful. It was boring. I didn’t care if they solved the codex or destroyed it. I didn’t care if the main characters lived or died. I was angry that a great book had been made into a bad movie. Of course, we all hoped that Howard and Hanks had learned their lesson and would do a better job this time. The one good thing about these movies is the fact they are based on fantastic stories written by Dan Brown. Angels and Demons is an even better book than DaVinci so it should have been a better movie, right?

The show started out better than the last one. There was action, there was excitement, and there was the very adorable Ewan McGregor as a heroic and lovable camarlengo. Then they ruined it. Spoiler alert here! They made McGregor the villain. The joy of the book is that the hero is elected Pope after he risks his life to save the church he loves. When he shows he is willing to sacrifice himself for it, he is made leader of the church. It is a beautiful and optimistic ending that shows the possibility of a Catholic church that just might have the common man’s touch. Instead, Hollywood makes the church appear to be an institution of crime, misdirection, lies and conspiracy again. That’s how we left it at the end of the DaVinci Code. Wouldn’t it have been better to show a balanced interpretation of faith in this movie? Brown did. Brown showed that men of faith could be heroic, altruistic and noble. He allowed that the Christian faith could inspire men to greatness and allow them to find their better selves. Why did the makers of the movie feel it necessary to tarnish what was an optimistic and inspiring ending to the story?

Brown created a noble and honorable character, why did Hollywood feel it necessary to destroy him? Do the makers of the movie not believe that such men are realistic? Are good men so fictitious and unrealistic that Hollywood can’t portray them? If so, they are a very pessimistic lot. If that’s what they believe, then they should watch the new Star Trek. Those moviemakers believe in heroes and know that the good guys should always win.