Saturday, May 4, 2013

Afternoon Rhythm Continuous

This is the kind of art geek I am.

When I read that VMFA was finally opening their Early 20th Century European galleries today, I immediately wrote it in my calendar as what I was doing today.

So after my walk (where a guy walked by and nonchalantly said, "What's up, Legs?"), I called a friend to see if he wanted a French and German art fix.

An hour and a half later, we were entering what was formerly the temporary gallery near the atrium for all kinds of German and French Modernism.

Visually, it's hard to miss what a reaction German Expressionism was to Impressionism.

Emil Nolde's "South Sea Landscape" was a canvas of yellows, greens and browns, with not a drop of blue to represent the sea.

It was contained in a fabulous hand-carved primitive frame, with creatures looking like they were about to bite the canvas in each corner.

In the pass-through hung four Paul Klee portraits, each so different-looking that they could have been done by different artists.

I was reminded that the Nazis labeled Klee "degenerate," which sent him back to his native Switzerland to work.

Juan Gris' pasted paper work, "Carafe, Glass and Packet of Tobacco" had so many diverse materials that it was labeled as visually and intellectually exciting, a fact with which we concurred since it held us in front of itself for some time.

Vlaminck's "The Storm" was described as done in a"virile and impetuous" style, a description I loved and questioned.

What, I asked of my male friend, made this painting virile?

He pointed to the dark colors and I read the label, which mentioned that "the strokes are heavy and the rhythm continuous."

"And our trees stand up tall, " my friend cracked. gesturing at the massive vertically of the evergreens on the canvas.

Virile humor.

It was more testosterone than I needed, but luckily the next painting was by Emilie Chory and balanced out all that virility beautifully.

"Red Rooftops Near Marnat" was loose brushstrokes, with a green zig-zag suggesting a hedge, a slash of red for rooves and the water a curlicue that we read as water only because of its blue color.

I felt my estrogen balance return to normal.

There was the most un-Picasso-like Picasso, "Still Life," which had almost an advertising quality to it and looked nothing like anything we saw in the big Picasso show.

After our tour of the new gallery, Friend asked if I wanted to go to Best Cafe for coffee and I reminded him that I don't drink coffee, a fact he surely knows after four years of friendship.

But he enticed me with a chocolate muffin and a seat on the deck watching the koi in the reflecting pool to finish out our afternoon.

Once he dropped me off back in the Ward, I walked over to Steady Sounds for a dose of live music.

Charlottesville's Invisible Hand was playing and I'd have known that weren't local just by looking at them.

Our guys have a look that other guys don't.

There was the usual milling about/looking at the bins/socializing part during which I found some old 10" jazz records for my favorite jazz-lover and said hi to the only two people I recognized, Robert and Allison of Tyrannosaurus Awesome.

And then the music commenced.

"We put toilet paper in the jazz section for anyone who wants to stuff their ears up," one guitarist said at the outset.

While they label themselves baroque acid rock with power pop guitar theatrics, I'd simplify that to power punk.

The bass player was squeezed in between the boxes of 45s and the sales counter, with barely enough room to wail.

The singer's curly hair was a mop of wet ringlets by the third song.

"We have a record for sale, it's our new one called Aja after the Steely Dan record and this is a song from that, "Psychic Cat," the singer said.

Just the kind of high-energy chords you'd want to listen to as the late afternoon sun slanted through the front windows of the record store.

They did a song from a rock opera "we were challenged to write" called "Cloud Island" and told to, "Come Back for part two."

The crowd was having a ball bopping along and clearly many of them knew the band, but occasionally someone would walk by, stick their head in t he door and come in to watch for a spell.

The drummer had the best line, "Our records are better than we are funny," which makes sense since they're in the music business, not the comedy biz.

They finished with the title song from the new EP and then exhorted the crowd to, "Buy records!"


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