Monday, April 30, 2012

Something New at the Museum

Francesca Woodman: House #3, Providence, RI 1976
Yesterday Gabriel and I had a "very LA day": crepes at the Farmer's Market at 3rd and Fairfax, lunch from the Dosa Truck and the Fresh Fries Truck (who knew that goat cheese and raspberry preserves could taste so good on fries?) and a trip to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

I've generally been disappointed by the shows we've seen there in the past, but I wanted to catch a new exhibit of pre-Columbian mexican art so we took a chance. We had forgotten that there was also an exhibit of female surrealist artwork still up that friends had recommended as a cut above. Turns out that they were right!

The show is called In Wonderland: The Surrealist Adventures of Women Artists in Mexico and the United States. It includes many of the works you might expect by artists like Frida Khalo (wonderful to see in person) and Kay Sage, as well as a lot of work that was new to me. Dorothea Tanning, for instance, was a name I had heard but whose work I was quite unfamiliar with. If you don't know who she is, do yourself a favor and find out.

And then there was Francesca Woodman's photographs. I had never even heard of Woodman before, but I found her work so intriguing that I had to find out more. Turns out that she died so young (at the age of 22) that her body of work is quite small. Only a quarter of it has ever been available to the public.
Francesca Woodman: From Angel Series, Rome, 1977-1978
It seems that she came from a family of artists: her mother Betty Woodman is a sculpter, her father George a painter, and she herself seems to have been something of a prodigy. Sadly, she died after jumping from the roof of a loft in Manhattan in 1981, a full five years before her work was publicly shown. Today, over 30 years later, it is in the permanent collections of several major museums.

Francesca Woodman: Untitled, Providence, RI 1975-1976

Almost all of her pieces are petite, just 8x10 inches or smaller, inviting close examination. The ghostly imagery is irresistible. It's sad to think that she could have still been working today, as she would have only been in her early 50s by now. But I'm glad that she left behind as many images as she did, and I'm glad that Gabriel and I spent some of a sunny LA day in a hushed museum, discovering new things. 

Friday, April 27, 2012

World Tapir Day

It's an accepted fact (at my house, anyway) that tapir babies are the cutest in the animal kingdom. Looking just like little watermelons with snouts and legs, they can't help but charm everyone who sees one. So how can it be that tapirs are so terribly endangered?

Sadly, tapirs in general get little respect and even less press. They're importace to the biodiversity of the rain forests they call home can't be overstated, and yet the average person on the street can't identify one on sight. You don't need to take my word on that statistic, either. I once shared desk space with a scientist who was studying the public's attitude towards these odd ungulates. The result? Misidentifications included anteater, aardvark, hippopotamus, and even dinosaur, but very few people knew what a tapir was.
Since that time I've tried to do my part to change things, and so have a small but dedicated group of tapir fans and researchers. For several years now April 27th has been known as World Tapir Day, a day set aside to celebrate all things tapir. Personally, I'm a huge tapir fan. My senior year thesis was devoted to tapir conservation and to this day I maintain a small shop (you can see some of my wares to the right) on with the profits all going towards tapir conservation. I have had the good fortune to personally meet several mountain tapirs, and can tell you that they are animals worthy of attention.
I'd be thrilled to have you join me in observing World Tapir Day this year. Learn a tapir fact, tell someone about tapirs, or just forego that raised-in-South-America hamburger in favor of a locally grown chicken patty (cattle ranching threatens tapir habitat in ways big and small). And above all, marvel that an animal this important, this charismatic, and with babies this cute could possibly so little known. Then find a tapir and give it a hug. Or at least a reassuring smile. The tapirs and I thank you!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

May Happenings

Stuff! It's happening in May!

April was quite the whirlwind. Emerald City, C2E2, seeing family and trying to fit in a bit of work too... Can there really be anything left to do in May?

The answer: yes!

First up is Free Comic Book Day. Gabriel and I will be at Collector's Paradise in Pasadena on May 5th from 2pm to 5pm, together with Steve Niles, Shane Houghton, Chris Houghton, and Matt Whitlock. Collector's Paradise is a great shop with a friendly, knowledgeable staff. Plus, free comic books! What more could you want? You can RSVP here if you'd like.

The following weekend, May 12, will find Gabriel at the Summit City Comic Con. He'll be doing sketches and signing things while I'm at home working and looking after our menagerie. I'm sad to be missing this one, but don't let that stop you from stopping by saying hi if you're in Fort Wayne! Gabriel did the sketch on the right during this year's C2E2. If you'd like to get on his pre-order list you can tweet him or find more details here.

The weekend after that Gabriel and I will be Bowling for Rhinos, a charity event that we participate in every year that raises money for rhino conservation. While it doesn't have anything to do with comics, it is a cause that's very near to my heart. If you would like to find out more about how to help rhinos click here. Or watch this space, since I'll be posting more information about it as it gets closer.

I really meant to do a C2E2/Emerald City wrap-up post, but April got away from me. I'll just say that we had a fantastic month and met too many wonderful people to mention in one post. Some of them even took photos of us!

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