To be inspired. That is the thing. / to be possessed; to be bewitched. / To be obsessed. That is the thing. / To be inspired. (William Baziotes)
Here are a few things possessed, bewitched, obsessed and inspired us in 2018! There’s not enough bandwidth to list EVERYTHING, so consider this a sizzle reel.
The Tin Man: A Novel, Sarah Winman
This novel is on the smaller side, but it contained a big, heartfelt, human story. It is, at its heart, a love story, making room for many complex types of love between its pages. It’s easy to get lost in its prose and setting, and wish for more when its finished.
David Grann at Arts and Letters Live, Fall 2018
Mr. Grann spoke primarily on “The White Darkness,” about Arctic explorer Henry Worsely. This was an interesting evening, because it was the first author talk we’ve been to where the speaker incorporated such robust multi-media components into the evening. Far from being the distraction that it could be, it made the subjects very real to the audience, and gave a deeper look at what they experienced.
Jesmyn Ward at Arts and Letters Live, Fall 2018
Ms. Ward’s event was the perfect combination of reading and process sharing. And, when she speaks extemporaneously, her words are so eloquent and engaging that they could be published as-is and fly off bookshelves. She was there to discuss “Sing, Unburied, Sing,” but gave the audience a chance to really understand who she is and what is her perspective as a writer, not just in one particular book, but across her catalog.
Yes, we understand the criticisms, but we truly loved the experience. Is it art? Maybe. Fine art? Probably not. Regardless, it was a lot of fun, and it was neat to see people of all ages enjoying and interacting with the space, being excited about its creativity. We also liked that it pulled a narrative story into the experience, which offered a framework for people who needed it, and perhaps made it less intimidating for those who wouldn’t have felt comfortable going, or would have been overwhelmed otherwise.
Takashi Murakami, The Octopus Eats its Own Leg, at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth.
This one’s probably on many 2018 “Best Of…” list, but there’s a reason for that. It was a candy-colored, surreal, pop-culture explosion in Murakami’s unmistakable style. But what was also interesting, especially for artists, was to see Murakami’s early-early works. They were nearly unrecognizable. It proved that where you start isn’t usually where you finish, and even the greats evolve.
This whole museum, in general, was a gem of a find. Every room had something interesting to see, and women artists from nearly every ethnicity, age, artistic time period and style were represented. It wasn’t so big as to be overwhelming, but there was still plenty to see.
Another surprising find while traveling. When we were there in June, it was showing Lorna Simpson’s “Blue Wave,” “Big Yellow,” “White Roses,” and “Redhead” collages as part of its “Multiply, Identify, Her” exhibition. There were other memorable and interesting works exhibited, but those were my favorites, and really stood out.
Jacob Hashimoto, Clouds and Chaos, The Crow Museum of Asian Art
We saw one of Hashimoto’s sculptural pieces at this year’s Dallas Art Fair, and fell in love with it. The colors, the texture, the tactile nature of the work - it was simultaneously fun and meticulous - a satisfying balance. At the Crow Museum, there were two main elements - “Nuvole",” a huge, room-sized piece of monochromatic white discs, and downstairs, a more traditional gallery set-up with his graphic, colorful woodblock disc sculptures.
“Come From Away”
We went into this assuming it would be a feelgood show, and while we weren’t wrong, there were also points where we felt simply awful. But this is a compliment - the characters and story were so relatable, authentic and just KIND and HUMAN, that we experienced the ups and downs through them. I (Stephanie) was living on the NYC/Jersey waterfront during the 9/11 attacks and typically stay away from media about it. I remember that day just fine, thank you! No real need or desire to relive it. But this was just perfect, poignant without being overblown or sensationalistic, and I’m so glad that this story exists. I also could relate to how the characters were so close, so impacted by that day, yet so helpless. They did the best they could from where they were, which is what we all did that day, whether in Gander, Newfoundland; New York, New York; Union City, New Jersey, or elsewhere.