Anders Zorn is the most famous painter I’ve never heard of. Active in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, his portraiture earned him fame and fortune all over the world. He is equally known for using only four colors in his eponymous palette: White, black, yellow ochre, and vermilion.
The Old Holland paint company pays tribute to Zorn in a series of videos exploring how their oils and his methods work together. Each video is a hypnotic few minutes of a person mixing four paints with a Bob Ross-style narration by artist Lennaert Koorman. The color arrays at the end are little works of art that would look good on any wall. The company offers a staggering number of colors but deserves credit for showing how a limited palette and a painterly eye can capture a universe of shade and shape. Start with the reds and explore the rest.
As the man said after the Eagle landed: “You got a bunch of guys about to turn blue. We’re breathing again. Thanks a lot.”
The James Webb Space Telescope, largely designed, built, and tested at Space Park in Redondo Beach, has launched, raised itself from the spacecraft, deployed its 5 layer sunshield, and put its primary and secondary mirrors into place. It will take another few months for the telescope to cool in the shade and then to commission the instruments before science measurements can begin.
It has been a long and contentious wait but the magnitude of this accomplishment is worth celebrating.
…or musicals. Sometimes the algorithm gets it right and recommends a good channel. Canadian pet groomer Vanessa De Prophetis aka Girl With the Dogs posts frequent videos of her clients along with deadpan commentary about the service in progress. Here she has compiled some of her more promising singers some of whom have La Scala or Broadway in their future.
From the Sad-but-True department. Leave it to the NYT to highlight the problems LA theatres face in the aftermath of COVID and bearing the brunt of the ills of the gig economy. Uber and Lyft skate while tiny arts orgs have to conform to new wage laws while trying to reopen. Whatever Dr. Soon-Shiong may have done for the LA Times, his inaction on the sacks of filth at his arts and culture desks is unpardonable.
This animation is making the rounds of the classical music world. Pavel Hudec adds gorgeous visuals to a sparkling performance of the spiky 2nd movement of Ravel‘s A minor Piano Trio. “Journey of the Pantoum” evokes some highborn traveler from distant land but, the pantoum is no potentate, panjandrum, or padishah, only a type of poem that informs the piece.
Los Angeles fits the city-state frame well, certainly better than it does a lot of other possibilities—if we update the model a bit. In 2010, Forbessuggested that if the criteria for a place to be considered a city-state were modernized for the 21st century, certain global capitals might qualify thanks to a few key features: a big port to sustain trade; investors from overseas; money laundering; international museums worth visiting; multiple languages spoken in good restaurants serving alcohol; and an ambition to host the World Cup.
If it is from Forbes, it must be true so we get some evidences, quotes from a politician, a novelist, and a final paragraph that ends in the air, leaving one just short of hungry for the book-to-come. The article does link to a 2010 piece in the same journal, Defending Los Angeles, broaching similar concerns but more engagingly. That further links to The Tyranny of New York which gets at the gizzards of the problem – how relentless public relations has defined American life, especially its art and culture, to the discharge from the Brooklyn sewers.
(*) Yes, it is a New Yorker cover but an iconic one that sums up the mentality.
Playing the piano is damnably hard. I have accepted that I will never practice consistently or wisely enough to reach my original wildly unrealistic goals of competence and am contenting myself with slow progress and occasional discoveries. Coaxing a good sound requires talent, coordination, flexibility, and freedom of movement. There’s nothing that can be done about the first item but occasionally something in the joints unsticks enabling a small improvement in the rest. I feel kinship with weekend athletes who get that occasional moment of grace amid hours of futility.
One of the many frustrations is pressing a key in the same place with the same pressure five times in a row and hearing no sound two of those times. The hammer misses the strings by a fraction of a millimeter and flops back with a click and a dull thud. This makes any kind of phrasing next to impossible for the duffer. He either settles for good enough or goes nuts trying to adapt as the instrument itself changes with the time of day and the weather. It never bothers the professionals who figure it out on the fly.
The piano action itself is a bizarre marvel of wood, felt, physics, and prayer. It is surprising that it works at all and there are eighty eight of the bloody things that have to work consistently. It is a lot to ask, perhaps too much. Robert Grijalva of the University of Michigan explains it in painstaking detail using a model of his own invention. For those with less time, a Dutch animator posting as Hoe Ishetmoegelijk (hoe is het moegelijk = how is it possible) has a concise summary.