Film, Music, Visual Arts

One Tree Is Enough

    Just one line in a one-paragraph writeup in The New Yorker, but it stopped me for ten minutes. “For the past decade, her sole subject has been a maple tree that’s growing outside her studio window.” Seriously? How does any artist focus that calmly, and that narrowly, for that long? Who is Sylvia […]

New Documentary Shows Steve Martin’s Lonely Art and Happy Life

    Steve Martin is known for multiple careers: standup comedian, musician, movie actor, art collector, playwright, and author. I was first a dedicated fan of his comedy albums in the Seventies—Let’s Get Small, A Wild and Crazy Guy, and Comedy is Not Pretty!—and deep-down still think of them as his best work. (No: his […]

Five Years Since Scott Walker’s Gone

      The march of great voices through time and fashion is arguably as revealing about our culture as what we consider great art and architecture. But while art and architecture are so often shared communally in museums and public places, an abiding passion for certain voices has the unique quality of being both […]

A Young Artist Fleshes Out Philosophy

    Done right, philosophy is as charming, irritating, and deliberately provocative as a toddler asking, “But why? Why? Why?” Yet too often it is presented only in rigid black letters, a gray page of text stripped of imagination, the ideas a strain to visualize. Becky Moon intends to change that. She started as a […]

What Miniatures Can Reveal

      You were expecting fairy houses? Look elsewhere. For her MFA thesis, Amanda Kelly has been miniaturizing hoards. Spinning wee vases on a tiny pottery wheel, carving bevels with tiny woodworking tools, painting minuscule, perfect letters with a two-haired brush. With surgical focus, she creates little worlds that render chaos safe. You can […]

Watching Rashomon in the Age of Disinformation

      Released five years after the surrender of imperial Japan in World War Two, but at least two decades before Americans would start loathing Japan’s prowess in mass-producing fuel-efficient compact cars, Rashomon had the immediate disadvantage of provoking xenophobic reactions. Even in the early nineties, as a college student attempting to bond with […]

Digging into the Murder of Gallerist Brent Sikkema

  I am sick of skimming. The news brings one battle, betrayal, or death after another, washing over me without really registering. So when my eye lands on an opaque, terse announcement that a New York gallery owner was killed in Rio de Janeiro, I read every word. Determined to go deep for a change, […]

Lost at sea with Richard and Linda Thompson

        I hear that Marcel Proust’s hero is plummeted into the past after eating a wafer whose French name sounds like my cousin Madeline, the wife of an Italian butcher in Jerseyville, Illinois. It is going to be music, not cookies, for my plunges into the past. I recently listened to Richard […]