Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Wols At The Menil Collection

Wols Brad Ford Smith
I first saw Wols artwork at the Barnes Foundation in 2009, three small watercolors nestled amongst the vast collection of Post Impressionist masterpieces. I noted his name in my sketch book but never followed up on him.

This past fall I flew up to Philadelphia to see the Barns Foundation in its new home, and there were those three little scribbles on torn out book pages. Again I noted down his name. When I got back to Dallas I saw that the Menil Collection in Houston was having a Wols retrospective. And so, after a few false starts I made the three and a half hour road trip from Dallas to Houston.

Was it worth the drive? Yes!

Wols (1913- 1951) is one of those artists who made a great impact while he was alive, and in Europe he maintained a high profile after his death. But he quickly disappeared from the annuals of art history as seen from the American vantage point. Talking with the book buyer at the Menil Book Store I learned that there are only two books on Wols written in english, one being the must have Wols Retrospective catalogue published by the Menil Collection.

Wols retrospective
I am a sucker for artists such as Paul Klee, Max Ernst, Hans Bellmer, and Joan Miro. Artists who function on that edge of subconscious abstraction and the exploration of lush materials.

Wols Works on paper
This retrospective of Wols artwork is like finding new chapters to your favorite book. It brings a new perspective to art history, and makes you question how much Wols was influenced by his comrades and how much they were influenced by him.

I don't know much about Wols' life other than a few intriguing hints of drama such as being imprisoned in France with Max Ernst and Hans Bellmer for 19 months, dieing of food poisoning, and that his wife continued to create and sell his paints long after he was dead. Sounds like this catalogue is going to be a good read.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

An Introduction To The World Of Nomadic Fungi

Director of the Nomadic Fungi Institute
Dr B.F. Smith PhD
A few weeks ago I was hiking around Dinosaur Valley State Park, enjoying the cool weather and comparing my shoe size with those of various dinosaurs. Around lunch time as I sat on the river bank, a group of Webelos Scouts walked by being led by a tour guide. But this wasn't your normal park ranger, this man was dressed in a charcoal gray, pin stripped, wool suit, with matching fedora. His gray beard and horn rimmed glasses gave him the air of someone of knowledge. I couldn't help but easdrop on his lecture...

He rambled on about the size and weight of the various dinosaurs, and their eventual extension. That's when he slipped off topic and began to talk about the eventual extension of the human race, and how  Nomadic Fungi were sure to play a big part in our demise. The kids started to get a bit freaked out. I was like WTF is he talking about!?

Later in the day, after having my fill of dinosaur tracks, mosquitoes and chiggers, I headed back to the car. As I was tossing my backpack and muddy shoes in the trunk I noticed the wool suited tour guide was unlocking the car next to me.

I just had to ask, What was that killer fungus thing all about?

He introduced himself as Dr. B.F. Smith PhD. He's the director of the Nomadic Fungi Institute, and that the "killer fungus" is a modern mutation known as Nomadic Fungi. It is a parasitic fungus that attaches itself to automobiles and feeds upon the various components. The spores of this fungus are spread on the wind, and if not addressed this fungus has the capacity of decimating the transportation network that our society is built upon.

...Two weeks later, I 've started my new job as the "Archivist" at the Nomadic Fungi Institute.