Sunday, July 31, 2005

The Synopsis you have all been waiting for...

So I am writing this synopsis all amped from watching tonight's episode of Six Feet Under. I figure good writing should inspire me, might as well be productive. Kind of like how looking at good art gives me ideas about my own work.

Anyway, so this synopsis will hopefully solidify my thoughts and get my ass in gear. I am all psyched to hand my advisor a copy at the orientation breakfast. And next week is chock full o' running around with my sister, to her baby's doctor's appointment (oh no, shots!) and to get her wisdom teeth pulled. So I want to get chugging along, because it's much easier to keep going than to get started. So about Lisa Yuskavage.

Lisa Yuskavage is a painter. She's in her early forties, born in Philadelphia and raised in scenic Juniata Park. She's a Catholic School girl, like myself. Also, In her extended family she has an aunt who is a nun. This is often mentioned in biographies of hers, because the subject matter she paints is so stunningly not religious (I don't get this, but hey, I write about porn with my background). She also went to Tyler, which is where I go now. Cool stuff.

My thesis will be broken down into three chapters. The first two will speak about the ways in which her paintings are criticized. She often receives acclaim for her paint handling and techiques that she uses in making her painting. Formal qualities of her work are often paralleled with old masters, and her use of plaster maquettes especially is aligned with Tintoretto and Michelanglo. So oftentimes writers gush about color, lush brushwork and other visual qualities of her work.

The second chapter represents the catch to her work. Her paintings are traditional in their subject matter, to a point. She paints the female nude or semi-dressed. So have thousands of other painters for thousands of years. But her babes are not model-thin, or in many cases even realistic. They are painted from memory or imagination, and often their sexuality is pronounced to say the least. She takes cues from Penthouse magazines from the 1970's, from which she remembers learning about sexuality in the first place. This section has the potential to be huge. I can bring in other artists who work in this vein. Vargas girls, Mel Ramos, John Currin, Vanessa Beecroft, etc etc. But what makes Yuskavage's work so interesting is the tenuous relationship they have to feminism. She is a woman, after all. But her work is not a clear criticism of pornography, nor does is necessarily embrace it. Second and third wave feminism, oh my! So as you can see, this section is the biggest, and it's the most rich with possibility. It helps that last semester I got the chance to see Lisa speak at ICA and she addressed her strange relationship to the f-word. She said, when asked if she was a feminist, "Well, what's the opposite? I mean, it's not as easy as saying, well, I'm not a misogynist, so I must be feminist." Yeah, paradox, gotta love it.

The last section will deal with one of her most talked-about bodies of work. The Penthouse pictures are right for this because they have a naughty subject matter, and they are copied from magazines (with just enough artistic tweaking to be acceptable). See Day and Night. So we have dubious subject matter and questionable technique.

I guess what makes this project persuable is that though she has been written about a good deal for such a young painter, I don't feel anyone has quite gotten it. I feel like she is purposely mixing high and low, and that she is deliberately contradictory. It seems to me that there is an attempt from both factions of each aspect of her work that are trying to claim her for their own.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Cleaning and listening to power ballads

Oh my God. I think I may have lost my mind. It's Saturday night. I'm cleaning. I'm cleaning and I'm listening to power ballads. More specifically, Def Leppard power ballads. Bringing on the heartbreak is on now. But my very favorite is Love Bites. There's something about overproduction that I love! I mean, I love layered things, contradictions, complicated things. This is what I deal with in art all the time. It makes sense that I crave it in music too. I know I have shitty taste in music sometimes.

Sometimes I feel like, you know, I'm a grad student, maybe I should be listening to opera or something. But you know what? I do listen to music from the era I study. I could be pretentious and say it's all research. But I'd be lying. I really just like shitty music. I love Def Leppard, I love bruce Springsteen, I love love love Bon Jovi. It's ridiculous. And pretty much all the older people at school have no idea what I'm talking about. They listen to NPR and all the granola crunchy stuff. And there's nothing wrong with that. But I like my WMMR, WYSP kinda tunes.

I like a lot of good stuff too. I love the STones (especially the older stuff) I love the beatles, I love Pink Floyd. Though most of these bands went through their over-produced phases. The long and winding road. The whole Tatoo you album. The division bell.

But let's be serious. Hysteria is a GREAT album. It's a producer's wet dream, as kevin would say. It is layer upon unneccessary layer of sound. I mean, come on. The other guys had to do something while the drummer learned to drum again, right (this is Kev's observation, too). It took 4 years to produce. It's like candy for your ears. It's coated, coated with sounds! It's fantastic, and I challenge anyone who says it isn't to...well... I don't know, cause I'm not in the business of challenging people, really.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Yeah, so about that journey...

I'm having troubles getting started with the thesis. I can't decide if I want to introduce the artist first, or give an idea of how I came up with the project. Really what I should do is just jump in, for god's sake. Why am I such a procrastinator? Why am I so lazy? Why can't I sit down and bust this thing out?

On a positive note, I've emailed my advisor, and I've locked myself in to handing him a completed draft the first week of school. God, I can't wait to go back to school! This semester I'm taking a class on Caravaggio. That will be fun, because it's sort of a historiography class, meaning that we'll study the way Caravaggio was studied from his own time to the present. All kinds of cool things, including queer theories and good sexy stuff like that. I'm also trying to get a class on drawings. It's through UPenn, and it's given at the PMA. So I'll be able to physically handle and look at real drawings in the PMA's collections. How's that for art-nerdiness? And for my final class, I'll be taking a Directed Research, probably with my advisor. I'd like to focus on the eighties and see what comes up.

But I simply cannot show my face at school if I don't get the damn thesis done. It's all up here, why do I have to write it? What I should do is post a synopsis of my arguments. I did write an outline, so maybe tomorrow, for your reading pleasure, I'll give you an abstract. I know you're waiting with bated breath.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005


I feel pretty good about myself today. I got a lot done. I was able to write an outline for my thesis, woohoo! It's something I've been sitting on all summer. Could it be that I have performance anxiety? Because it's certainly not a lack of intereset in the project-- I'm still totally stoked about that. It must be performance anxiety. Or it's just plain laziness.

I get really crazy when I write. To back it up, I'm not a "writer", per se. I write papers for school, but it's not like I'm sitting here trying to churn out the great american novel. Just my thoughts on artists. Just needs to be coherent and somewhat original.

It might be that I have a hard time impressing my advisor. Other profs like what I do, to greater or lesser extents. But for he who shall remain nameless, I fear getting papers back from him. Always with the red ink swaths and nit-picking of my normally flawless grammar.

But it must be done. Now is the time to buckle down and get this sucker done! And I will. I am well on my way. I'm looking at my brand-spankin'-new outline right now. I have direction. And tomorrow, I begin the journey.

Friday, July 22, 2005

This one will be short...

Tonight we had to take my nephew to the hospital. He had a fever of 103. That's actually not incredibly high for a baby, but he's only 6 weeks old. Poor little guy didn't get his 2 month shots yet, so they had to do all these tests. Including a spinal tap! Oh my! But he's much much better now, and they let him come home. Thank goodness.

This weekend we'll be helping my sister move. She and her boyfriend have a place that is a few blocks away from our house. I'm sad! We've gotten to be much closer since she got pregnant, and this summer with her being on maternity leave. Sometimes I feel a little guilty, since I'm ostensibly supposed to be writing my thesis. This leaves little time for a jobby. But this summer is one of the best of my life. I'm married to Kevin (and he's not bummed out about being unemployed this summer!) and we get to spend lots of time together. And the added bonus of mornings and afternoons with Liam. Far supercedes my need for money. And, not to be a snob, and this is totally going to sound snobby to most, I think I'm just a little bit overqualified for most summer jobs. I'm Liam's au pair. This is a French word, meaning unpaid.

The weekend will be spent helping Steph and Steve (their real names, I shit you not) to move. I was looking forward to my friend's housewarming party, but with the little studly man sick, I don't want their kids to get sick. I hope to get my hair done. I've got a gray streak that is starting to strongly resemble Rogue. And my eyebrows are modelling themselves after my birthday buddy, Abe Vigoda.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Some fun things about having cats in your home

For this story, pictures tell the story so much more effectively. But I will set it up for you first.

I am taking a class at the Fleisher Art Memorial. It is a seven-week class on working with pastel. It's a great class. I'm the youngest one in it, with the age gap being approximately 30 years. The teacher is married to my very favorite instructor from Beaver, Scott Noel. Janice is really cool, she's really laid back, and as is, I'm sure, common when you've been married for many years, she uses a lot of the same phrases as Scott does in class.

Anyway, I had a drawing that, while it wasn't finished, I kind of liked for some reason. I brought it home with me, and left it on the kitchen table. When I woke up I found this mess.

You'll notice that there are two distinct sets of pawprints. One is Sam's, and one is Sophia's. Sophia's role in this is apparent because she is so small, therefore we were able to catch her and pawprint her. Just like CSI. Sam, well, he was hard to distinguish from the other big cats. Or he would have been, had he not had a big blue smudge on his ass.

Please also note that you can see paw prints now on the drawing.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Lucky boy, lucky girl

My husband, Kevin, is a lucky lucky boy. (That still sounds funny to me, even after fourteen months of wedded bliss). Anyway, he's the type of person who seemingly ambles through life and always lands on his feet. Now, I live with him, and I know this is not entirely true, but for the purposes of this post, let's just say he's pretty lucky.

He had been hemming and hawing about going to Ozzfest. He's had a renewed interest in metal since he joined Se7enheads. It's been really good, too. It's completely different from his other band, Problem Solving, and he's been hanging out with his friend since grade school, Jim. They had sort of lost track of each other after college.

So to make a long ramble shorter, Kevin never got the tickets for Ozzfest. Last night he headed out to practice. When he came home, what did he have? Yes, a free ticket for Ozzfest. And not only that. This was no general admission ticket, it was in the seats in the pavilion! Lucky boy! So on a day off where he had nothing planned, he got to go to a concert, for free, in the shade.

Today I dropped Kevin and Jim off at the ferry from Penn's Landing over to Camden. He just got back a little while ago. He had a good time, and is now sleeping so that he can get up at 2am to go to work.

I love how we can each do our own thing without feeling like we have to be together all the time. We have interests outside of each other. It may not always be like this, but right now, it works for us. Maybe that comes from being together for over 10 years. We, or at least I, did the whole, I have to go to every show because he likes the band sort of thing. But now I'm confident enough in myself and our relationship to say, Nah, I don't like whoever, I'll stay home. I love that I could drop Kevin off at the ferry today and not feel the need to go. I had a good day, and so did he. He's a lucky boy, but I think I'm a very lucky girl too.

Monday, July 18, 2005

A brief introduction

This blog is entitled "Ramblings of an Art Nerd". In it, I will probably write about art that I love, shows I have seen and things I have done. More often, I will bitch about school and how much of a lazy procrastinator I am. My name is Lauren, and I go to school for Art History. I'm writing my master's thesis right now, and I'm also almost finished with coursework for my PhD. Because I'm crazy like that. I concentrate my studies on contemporary art, particularly that of female artists who deal with, well, sex. I've inadvertently become the go-to girl in the department for porn. Them's the breaks, I guess. My thesis is on Lisa Yuskavage, a painter who also hails from the Northeast section of Philadelphia. I'll post some paintings of hers when I learn how. It is my hope that by making my struggles with school public knowledge, I'll be able to overcome my overly laid-back tendencies.

In relation to non-art-nerd things, I am married to Kevin. He's great, he's a musician with a band times two and he's an artist. We live in NE phila, with my parents for right now. Shhh, we're poor. We have two cats, Sam and Sophia. I'll add pictures of them. They're crazy, needy cats.

So that's it for now. This is an experiment, and I hope that others find my life interesting enough to read. It's not a glamorous life, but it's mine and I like it. ;)