Friday, October 4, 2013

No Fear Multi-Layered Reality

My favorite wine geek painter had an opening tonight.

Josh George, whom I'd just seen last weekend at an Austrian wine tasting at J. Emerson (my favorite being the Steininger Gruner Veltliner Sekt 2010, but the Steindorfer Blaufrankisch Alte Reben 2011 wasn't far behind), was opening his new show, "Micropolis," at Ghostprint Gallery tonight.

After getting cleaned up from my day at the river, I strolled the four blocks over to the gallery, garnering a compliment on the corner of Madison and Broad.

I'll never get tired of a stranger telling me I look beautiful, but deep down I know it's the dress, not me.

Coincidentally, a friend had posted on Facebook today, "A total stranger just complimented me on my dress! Awesome!"

Such is the power of the dress. I know not to take it for anything more.

Inside the gallery, I found a crowded room and Josh's latest series of mixed media works. He's the only artist I know who supplies the wine for his shows so that he can be sure it's up to his standards.

And for that, I like him all the more.

Combining things like paint, wine labels, wallpaper scraps, old maps and cut-up pictures, he layers everything to create his own reality.

I like to think I do the same, just with fewer artistic materials.

The 24 works varied in size but most dealt with NYC, Josh's former residence, with skyscrapers set in Manhattan valleys.

"A Mission Like No Other" showed two scenesters walking down the street, the likes of which probably walk down Broad Street every day.

If buying art was as easy as layaway and I could make a nominal payment a month until I owned  a Josh George painting, it is "Fear of an Urban Experience" I would covet.

The small but beautiful work boasted an array of light colored buildings with flags mounted on them flying in the breeze and a pink sky behind it all.

I was drawn to the wealth of detail in "Post-Harvest Handling," a painting depicting a woman taking things from the refrigerator.

Pattern was everywhere, on her top, her pants, her skin, even the interior walls of the refrigerator, which was stuffed with wine (natch), gourmet items and food of all kinds.

Everything wasn't about NYC, though, and RVA got its due in three small works depicting winsome bats after Josh had been amazed to see them at Byrd Park.

His story reminded me of a picnic at Byrd Park a few years ago with a friend and a Brooklyn transplant who had been transfixed when the bats began appearing at dusk.

We may be blase about our local bats, but apparently they're a big deal to New Yorkers.

I mentioned this to a tattoo artist at the opening and she said she and her husband had put up a bat house, hoping to attract bats to their yard.

When none materialized, her beloved had the brilliant idea to paint a female bat on the bat house, hoping to lure lusty bats in.

So far, nothing.

One of the bets moments came when I was looking at Josh's painting, "Everyone Should Strive to Have a Breakfast Nook," a small painting of a barely-awake-looking woman at a table with a cup of coffee and a window behind her with a fly on it.

Marveling at the detail of the fly, I soon realized it was an actual fly and sent it on its way.

Fly gone, I realized that if I couldn't afford the other painting, I'd be just as happy with this little beauty.

Someday I will own a Josh George, I hope.

I debated my options on my walk home and decided that the VMFA would suit me just fine.

It seemed like an ideal evening to sit on the deck while it's still warm and lovely and listen to whomever was playing at the Jazz Cafe.

That turned out to be Flo King, a singer with a big voice and a crack backing band of trombone, sax, keys, bass and drum.

When I arrived, it was to a slow song and lots of people were dancing, or at the very least, swaying and necking.

The next song she sung in Spanish and a guy near me said it was called "Kiss Me," although I don't know that for sure.

I was impressed she was singing in Spanish and said so to another guy, who said she'd also sung in French earlier. Apparently the band's thing was romantic jazz standards.

No doubt that explained why there was a roomful of couples and me.

During the break, I ordered a glass of Primal Roots Red, a simple blend, to go with a dish of Homestead Creamery espresso chocolate chip.

The other women in the room had dates, I had ice cream, the best I could do tonight.

I took it out on the deck to enjoy in the soft evening air and within minutes a museum friend sat down and provided company for me, asking if I'd be at the 2 Street Festival this weekend (duh, of course) until the band restarted with a vengeance.

An instrumental version of "Don't Get Around Much Anymore" brought Flo back up on the bandstand and she crooned "Am I Blue?"

But it was a bossa nova, "The Wave," that drew dancers back, and good dancers, too.

You can't deny, don't try to fight the rising sea
Don't fight the moon, the stars above and don't fight me

"What a Difference a Day Makes" was another clarion call to the slow dancers.

The band saved the swinging songs for last, and all of a sudden even I was getting asked to dance.

Politely declining, I watched a guy in a three-piece suit with pocket square and white bucks tear up the dance floor with his girl during "Route 66."

By then, it was long past closing time for the museum and the overhead lights came on to tell us to get out.

Many in the crowd, me included, headed out to the sculpture garden to continue conversations and the evening.

A young couple came up to me, I'm guessing because I was by myself, and asked me to take their picture by the water steps.

After shooting one, I asked if they wanted me to take another but they said they'd wait and see how it came out first.

What the what? Turns out I'd just used a 21st century Polaroid camera, an Instax mini, they said.

We watched the credit card-sized photo develop before our eyes, with them enthusing about the "awesome big Polaroids your generation used."

Yep, they really said that to me.

Am I blue about it? Pshaw.

Everyone should strive to have as much ice cream and slow dancing as I do.

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