Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Las Vegas: Warhol Out West

Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art
Warhol out West: February 8, 2013 - January 2, 2014

Warhol Out West showcases 59 works on loan from the Andy Warhol Museum. This is the largest collection of Warhol's work to ever grace Las Vegas. The iconic paintings, photographs, sculptures, prints and wallpaper seem more weirdly provocative housed on the Strip. It felt strange to be viewing such recognisable works of art in a Las Vegas casino when previously I've seen Warhol's in some of the most prestigious galleries around the world. Of course, not to imply that the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art isn't lovely, it is, but at the heart of it, it is still housed in a casino.

I heard many visitors were disgruntled at the small size of the show and the great cost. At $17 it was rather steep but it's no less than Warhol would have expected. Amid all the usual suspects - Elvis, Dolly Parton and the artist himself - there is a small room where pilot films are run. These black and white films last about four minutes each and show various men and women who at one stage or another were a part of Warhol's cinematic empire. I was most interested to see the screen test for Edie Sedgwick, a socialite who was made famous through Warhol's films and impressed upon society her iconic looks and fashion. It was strange see her, knowing how she had been used and her sad and painful youth, she looked so young and innocent - you could hardly see the pain and suffering behind her eyes.

Warhol will always be something of an anomaly. Self centered  genius, crazy, ambitious, with the forethought to see what the public wanted before they even knew they wanted it. The allure of his work will never dwindle and although many attempt to imitate him, none will ever surpass him.     
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Sunday, 27 October 2013

The Peach Season at The Pavilion Theatre

Amy Crilley as Sheena, Julian Floriano as Kieran and Hannah Montgomery as Zoe in The Peach Season. Courtesy of The Pavilion Theatre.

The Peach Season
Cast: Anna Kourouvale, Jan Mahoney, Hannah Montgomery, Brendan Iddles, Amy Crilley and Julian Floriano
Director: Bernard Oswald
The Pavilion Theatre: September 27 - October 19, 2013

Is there any bond stronger than that between a mother and child? Is there any love more intoxicating than that of first love? The Peach Season, Directed by Debra Oswald and performed at the Pavilion Theatre, explores both these aspects through the turbulent tale of Zoe (Hannah Montgomery) and her mother Celia (Anna Kourouvale). Living on a peach plantation in rural NSW, mother an daughter exist in harmony with their delightfully meddling neighbour Dorothy (Jan Mahoney) and her son Joe (Brendan Iddles), the solicitor caught in a dysfunctional marriage. When Sheena (Amy Crilley) and her half brother Kieran (Julian Floriano) arrive looking for some work to help pay off their broken down car it starts a chain reaction of events that will test all their limitations and previously held ideals.

We see a daughter struggle with her desire to be independent and her need to be loved, a mother desperate to protect those she loves even while she is pushing them away and two siblings whose chaotic relationship is steeped in genuine affection even as they fight like cat and dog. 

In her first performance with the Pavilion Theatre, Amy Crilley steals the show as Sheena. Her take on an adolescent with a dysfunctional past who shows little trust in anyone and even less affection is played to perfection. Even more believable is her relationship with her half brother Kieran, played by Julian Floriano, another Pavilion first timer. Their banter is hilarious and brilliantly timed, with the audience entirely convinced of their bond.

Another stand-out performance is Jan Mahoney who plays Dorothy, the meddling older woman who lives on the property and helps with the peach harvest. Adopting the role of narrator, Dorothy keeps the story moving and fills in the gaps between scenes. She also provides some much needed comic relief from the heavy and at times intense plot.

A play that centres on relationships, The Peach Season is a moving and potent tale of the bonds that connect us and also the ones that drive us apart.          

Jan Mahoney as Dorothy and Anna Kouravale as Celia in The Peach Season. Courtesy of The Pavilion Theatre.

Check out other reviews of Pavilion Theatre productions.

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Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Next Wave Text Camp applications closing soon!

I was lucky enough to be involved in the Next Wave Text Camp in 2012 and it was amazing. I met some great people and saw some exceptional art. I was fortunate to be mentored by Art Guide Australia Editor Dylan Rainforth whose guidance was invaluable and it lead to continuing freelance work.

I cannot recommend this program enough, it's well thought out and organised and the Next Wave crew are absolutely lovely.

Applications close October 28 so hop to it!

Check out my Text Camp experience

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Sunday, 20 October 2013

San Francisco: Dandan Geng 'Born Alone'

Dandan Geng, Born Alone #1

Dandan Geng
Born Alone
Academy of Art University, San Francisco: August 31 - September 29, 2013

After the disappointment of discovering that SFMOMA (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art) is under renovations until 2016, I was happy to discover a small gallery just a few doors down from my hotel. The gallery is run by the Academy of Art University and after passing it several times I decided to take a look. The person minding the space let me know it was the work of a recent graduate, Dandan Geng and that the space was used for university exhibitions.

The work of Dandan Geng is hauntingly beautiful. Naked figures appear in unusual positions amid a bleak and unrelenting landscape. There is an overwhelming sense of vulnerability that is heightened by the nakedness of the figures combined with their preconceived, stylised forms. These is an underlying sense of a hidden narrative that makes these images slightly unnerving. You can't help but feel as if something terrible has or is about to happen - how did that person get there and where are they going?

The grey tones and shadows present landscapes that linger between the familiar and the unfamiliar, adding to the hidden narrative. Geng's photographs are stunning and while technically brilliant, they are conceptually driven, with powerful emotions emanating from the frame. Absolutely delighted I was lucky enough to stumble across this show.     

Dandan Geng, Born Alone #2

Dandan Geng, Born Alone #5

Dandan Geng, Born Alone #7

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Los Angeles: MOCA

The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA)
Los Angeles: September 2013

It was no small feat to drag my tired legs to downtown L.A to see MOCA and to be completely honest it really wasn't worth it. While the museum itself is free to enter, you are still required to get a ticket from a ticket booth located some distance from the entrance. Perhaps this is to monitor numbers but there are far more efficient ways than this. Then, as my bad luck would have it, the main areas of the gallery were closed for install so all that I was able to see were a few small rooms that housed the permanent collection. All the big name artists were there but walking around took barely two hours. Granted, this was more a matter of bad timing than bad art, but it was a bit of a disappointment. Also, to be fair, highly conceptual art is not my bag and there seemed to be a lot in the permanent collection.  
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Thursday, 17 October 2013

Los Angeles: The Getty Centre

Getty Centre
Los Angeles: September 2013

It could be argued that the physical structure of the Getty Centre and its surrounding gardens is actually more impressive than the art it holds. The  buildings are architecturally stunning with perfectly manicure gardens and a stream that runs onto a maze-like formation in a large pond. It's difficult to describe and even more difficult to try to capture.

The Getty houses a very extensive collection with some iconic pieces, enough to satisfy the art enthusiast in anyone. Although, even if you are not an avid art fanatic the Getty is well worth a visit. I possibly spent more time in the gardens than I did in the galleries. A friend once described the Getty as a diplomatic centre from space where we would greet aliens. I think you'll find that's a fairly apt description.

Lawrence Alma-Tadema (detail)

Lawrence Alma-Tadema



Van Gough

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Saturday, 12 October 2013

Los Angeles: Hollywood Museum

Max Factor building, then and now.

The Hollywood Museum
Los Angeles: September 2013

The Hollywood Museum was one of my favourite things in L.A. The beautiful art deco building was designed by Charles Lee and dates back to 1928 when Max Factor purchased it just before the Great Depression. The building itself would not open until 1935. During this period it was only actors of stage and screen who really wore makeup with polite society associating it with prostitutes. Max Factor changed all that. 

Born in Poland, Max Factor became the beautician/make-up artist to Russia’s Czar Nicholas II and his family before immigrating with his family to the United States in 1908. Through his innovative ideas, Factor built a cosmetic empire. From Hollywood royalty to housewives of America, his stylistic genius changed our vision of beauty. He was the first to teach the mantra of enhancing flaws as a point of difference and a sign of beauty.

It took nine years to restore the building to it's original state, with the museum opening in 2003.The ground floor houses many original displays from the old Max Factor Make-up Studio with one room for blondes, brunettes and another for redheads. It was in these rooms that Marilyn Monroe became a blonde and Rita Hayworth became a red head. 

I cannot believe the extent and sheer volume of memorabilia in the museum. Housed across four floors it is truly overwhelming. Luckily when I was there the exhibit on the second floor was dedicated the the life of Marilyn Monroe. There were personal documents , her makeup, even the bottle of pills discovered next to her bed when she died. It was a well curated and enormous insight into the stars life and tragic death. The museum boasts the largest collection of genuine Monroe memorabilia.  

This is truly a stunning collection and the history of the building and the nostalgia it evokes for a time I did not experience is amazing. I loved it and spent the better part of a day here.    

Rita Hayworth's personal beauty kit

The Andrews Sisters!

Marilyn Monroe's personal makeup

Max Factor was the first to use celebrities to advertise his cosmetics.

What Max Factor used to look like!

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