Art and beauty, books

How to be an Artist – Jerry Saltz

Jerry Saltz won the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 2018.

Since 2006 he’s been senior art critic and columnist for New York magazine.

Astonishingly, he was a long distance truck driver until age-41.

One of the very LAST words I’d use to describe myself is artist. Yet even I found this book useful in my quest to become a more artistic video creator.

Click PLAY or listen to an excerpt on YouTube.

Art and beauty, books

The Beauties by Anton Chekhov

I’ve never really got into short stories.  Nor Chekhov.

But I was convinced by Phillip Pullman that this short story is a masterpiece.

You can listen to it on The Guardian.

Chekhov’s genius lies in the way he manages to convey with such apparent effortlessness a profound sense of the mystery of beauty, and of the sadness of those who observe and think. The narrator of this apparently inconsequential tale fixes on exactly the right details, from a myriad of possible ones, to strike at the heart. It’s a masterpiece of minimalism.

A schoolboy is accompanying his grandfather as they drive in their carriage along a dusty road across the steppe on a sultry August day. They stop for refreshment at the house of an Armenian friend of the grandfather. The boy, the grandfather and their Ukrainian driver are all struck by the beauty of the Armenian’s daughter.

Some years later, now a student, the boy is on a train that stops for some minutes at a country station. He gets out to stretch his legs, and sees a girl on the platform talking to someone in one of the carriages. She is very beautiful.

It’s about as spare and empty of plot as a story could be; two impressions that barely even amount to anecdote.

Like Waiting for Godot, it’s a story in which nothing happens, twice

Who has not fallen in love at first glance of a stranger?

Art and beauty, video

‘ Just a YouTuber ‘

6 months ago I still had a low opinion of those trying to make a living on YouTube.

It seemed a juvenile race to the bottom. I did not watch any of the top YouTubers. Not even my friend’s son, Cody Ko, who has 5 million + subscribers.

BUT — even then — I did follow a few favourite vloggers on HIKING and TECH.

Fact is, young people on YouTube and now TikTok are in the midst of a video editing revolution. Most future great film and TV directors are currently doing their own thing on social media.

Peter McKinnon, for example. In this fantastic 7 minute edit he pays tribute to the art form.

McKinnon is as skilled at video editing as anyone.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Art and beauty, travel

Prague Castle

Every tourist visits Prague Castle.

According to the Guinness Book of Records, it’s the largest ancient castle in the world, sprawling across the hill above Charles Bridge.

Built and expanded over hundreds of years, it’s an architectural Frankenstein.

At the start was a memorial to the fall of the Berlin Wall. Very interesting.

It takes a few hours to tour walking top to bottom. For a quick first look. The highlight is the Cathedral of St Vitus.

The main nave is massive.

Our very enthusiastic guide insisted that the BEST museum in Prague was here in the castle – the Lobkowicz Palace.

Original manuscripts from Mozart and Beethoven as well as the oldest and largest privately owned art collection in the Czech Republic.

As we stood outside the front door a distinguished gentleman entered. And returned. It was Prince William Lobkowicz himself, who grew up in Boston. He gave some gifts to our guide saying he had never overheard any other more accurately description of the collection. Our guide had tears in his eyes. It was an emotional moment for him.

The tour finishes with a walk downhill to the Charles Bridge.

An excellent half day.

Art and beauty, food, travel

walking Prague

I hadn’t realized how tourist-swarmed Prague has become. I visited in October, low season, yet everything was packed.

My hostel — Mosaic — was superb. Best breakfast I can recall.

To get oriented I took one of many available free walking tours: Wenceslas Square, Old Town Square, Astronomical Clock, …

Guides on free tours are paid by tip. They only survive if they are very good at the job.

My group had one awkward moment at the Jewish District when a tourist brought up the Palestinian cause … An important issue, but standing on ground where Nazis had murdered 90% of the Jews was wrong time, wrong place. We shut him down.

There are quirky, unusual attractions at every turn.

Wandering Prague at night with a flask of red wine was even better than daytime.

Yep. I hung out around the Charles Bridge every evening.

Art and beauty, books

An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin

I’m not sure I can recommend this 2010 novel.

It’s well written, but something is odd. It doesn’t reflect any kind of Steve Martin humour.

The book by follows the New York art world climb of Lacey Yeager, a beautiful and dislikable young woman.

Too ambitious. Too much an opportunist.

The only reason to read this book would be to learn about the NY art scene.

NY Times review 

Art and beauty, travel

revisiting the British Museum

Anyone visiting London MUST visit.

The British Museum, located in the Bloomsbury area of London, in the United Kingdom, is a public institution dedicated to human history, art and culture. Its permanent collection numbers some 8 million works …

It first opened to the public on 15 January 1759 …

Its ownership of some of its most famous objects originating in other countries is disputed and remains the subject of international controversy, most notably in the case of the Parthenon Marbles. …

The Tree of Life is a sculpture created by four artists in Mozambique. It was commissioned and then installed in the British Museum in 2005. It was built from the surrender of 600,000 weapons that were converted into art following an initiative started by Bishop Dinis Sengulane. …

Art and beauty, travel

revisiting the National Gallery, London

FREE MUSEUMS (donation recommended) in LONDON are awesome.

Founded in 1824, it houses a collection of over 2,300 paintings dating from the mid-13th century to 1900. …

Its collection belongs to the government on behalf of the British public, and entry to the main collection is free of charge. It is among the most visited art museums in the world, after the Louvre, the British Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. … 

Overwhelmed, I jumped quite quickly to the the Impressionists and Post-impressionists. My favourites.

In fact, one special exhibition convinced me to buy a ticket.

Courtauld Impressionists: From Manet to Cézanne

The image they used for the promotion is La Loge (The Theatre Box) by by Pierre-Auguste Renoir. (1874)