Saturday, February 28, 2009

Improvisation for Frank Gehry (Cityscape)

T. Renner, "Improvisation for Frank Gehry (Cityscape)," 2009, acyrlic on coated card stock, 6" x 4".

Friday, February 27, 2009

Improvisation for Syd Barrett (Shine On You Crazy Diamond) #1

T. Renner, "Improvisation for Syd Barrett (Shine On You Crazy Diamond) #1," 2009, acrylic on paper, 17" x 11".

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Portrait of Tina Modotti #2

T. Renner, "Portrait of Tina Modotti #2," 2009, pastels on paper, 11" x 15".

Here's another portrait of Tina Modotti; this time in the style of the cover of The Wild Party original Broadway cast compact disc.

Here's a review of the biography Shadows, Fire, Snow: The Life of Tina Modotti by Patricia Albers from Publishers Weekly:
Art historians have called Tina Modotti (1896-1942) "the best-known unknown photographer of the 20th century." She also acted in silent films in Hollywood, went to Mexico with Edward Weston in 1922, was a nurse in Spain's Civil War and a prominent Communist, antifascist and internationalist. Partner to equally extraordinary men, friend to the most creative minds of her generation, she died alone in a taxi cab at the age of 46.

Shadows, Fire, Snow is her first truly satisfying biography. Patricia Albers has built upon Mildred Constantine's Tina Modotti: A Fragile Life and Margaret Hooks's Tina Modotti: Photographer and Revolutionary, but hers is a more deftly researched book that takes greater risks. In tightly written passages -- almost too dense at times -- she beautifully evokes pivotal scenes in Modotti's artistic and political development, revealing her generosity of spirit and the passionate commitment to her ideals that kept her moving from country to country and eventually drove her to give up her art. This is a biography divided by place -- Italy, Austria, Hollywood, Mexico City, Berlin, Moscow, Madrid -- and about a woman who longed to be rooted to a place, but who couldn't allow herself to settle down. Albers's understanding of this contradiction provides the narrative tension that makes this biography such riveting reading (and great film material).

Throughout Modotti's short life, she counted among her friends and co-workers Mexican artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, American writer John Dos Passos and Russian revolutionary and feminist Alexandra Kollontai, among many others. Modotti's photographs were often documentary in nature, what Carleton Beals called seeking the "perfect snapshot." Albers's rendition of Modotti's life goes a long way toward allowing us to understand this extraordinary woman.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Shooting of Andy Warhol: A Short Short Story

T. Renner, "Red Typewriter," ballpoint pen and gouache on paper, 2003-2009, 4" x 3.25".

Way back when (October 22, 2003), I attended an event for teachers (not that I was one but it seemed like the right thing to do at the time) at the St. Louis Art Museum. The event was called "In the Write Space" and involved various workshops in various galleries at SLAM.

One of these workshops was "Parking Space: Letters, Journaling, and Diaries," led by Stephanie Sigala, in a contemporary furniture gallery. Items in the gallery included "Valentine Portable Typewriter" designed by Ettore Sottass, Jr.; the "'Mezzadro' Stool" (Tractor chair) designed by Achille Castiglioni; 'Baolum' Lamp," designed by Gianfranco Frattini; and "'Toio' Floor Lamp," designed by Castiglioni.

One of Stephanie's assignments was for students to sketch the typewriter (color added recently). See above.

Another of her assignments was to imagine three items in a room and describe what happened in the room on a specific date. Stephanie offered "extra credit" for describing May 4, 1970:
It’s Andy Warhol’s Factory, New York, NY. It’s 2:00 p.m., May 4, 1970. A photo shoot is in progress. Click-whirl-click. “That’s it, baby. Sell it to me. That’s right, make me feel it.”

Andy has Ultraviolet sitting in the tractor chair with the Toio lamp providing the light. It’s not enough so Andy has her drape a Boalum lamp around her shoulders. The lamp is a glowing plastic coil, as if someone has stuck a strand of Xmas lights inside of a hairdryer hose.

Suddenly, there is shouting. “Where is he?! “Where is he?!” It’s Valerie Salonas, and she’s looking for Andy Warhol, and she’s mad.

“Look out! Look out, Andy,” someone screams. It’s too late, though. Valerie has gotten close to Andy, stuck her gun in his belly, and pulled the trigger. BLAM!, like that. Real loud, louder than on TV.

Everyone in the room rushes to Andy’s side. Solanas is wrestled, not gently, to the ground.

“Oh, Andy, poor Andy,” says Ultraviolet.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Portrait of Tina Modotti

T. Renner, "Portrait of Tina Modotti," 2009, pastels on paper, 10" x 10.5".
From the front cover flap of Tina Modotti: Between Art and Revolution by Letizia Argenteri:
A charismatic stage and screen actress. A model whose beauty inspired some of the most arresting images of the twentieth century. A visionary photographer. A revolutionary with deep commitments to communism. A lover of powerful men. A woman whose life -- and death -- were controversial. Tina Modotti (1896 - 1942) was all of these. Her life as one of almost unimaginable glamor, scandal, and turmoil.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Improvisation for Ray Bradbury (Icarus)

T. Renner, "Improvisation for Ray Bradbury (Icarus)," 2009, acrylic on coated card stock, 6" x 4".

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Improvisation for Wayne Shorter #1

T. Renner, "Improvisation for Wayne Shorter #1," 2009, acrylic on coated card stock, 6" x 4".

Composition for Kasimir Malevich

T. Renner, "Composition for Kasimir Malevich," 2009, charcoal and acrylic on paper, 11" x 8.5".

Saturday, February 21, 2009

"Environmental Watercolor #2 (Rain)" On The Auction Block

T. Renner, "Environmental Watercolor #2 (Rain)," 2008, watercolor on paper, 14" x 11".
I have donated the above piece to the Missouri Coalition for the Environment's eARThworks 2009 art exhibit and auction. The opening reception is Friday, May 8, from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. in the Gallery at the Regional Arts Commission, 6128 Delmar Boulevard, St. Louis, Missouri. The auction and party (!) will be Saturday, May 30, at 6:00 p.m.

"Environmental Watercolor #2 (Rain)" is an exercise in letting rain, gravity, and the capillary action of the fibers in paper do the work. That is, I dabbed some pigment on a sheet of paper and set it out in a light drizzle and went off to do something that I no longer remember doing. On returning, I was very pleased that it had not rained very hard and that the pigment had spread very nicely. I picked up the sheet very carefully and turned it once vertically and once horizontally and hung it to dry. (I did touch up a couple bits of pigment with a water charged brush but I couldn't identify the areas now.)

From Missouri Coalition for the Environment's Winter 2009 The Alert:
Contributing artists:

Gloria Attoun, Michael Bauermeister, Tim Black, Joan Bugnitz, Julie Bunitz,
Tom Bugnitz, Mieko Catron, Cynthia Pitsinger, Bill Christman, Elizabeth Concannon,
Susie Cooper, John Cournoyer, Andrew Cross, Joseph Farmer, John Goessmann, Benjamin Guffee, Susan Hacker Stang, Heather Haymart, Nola Heidbreder, Jan Hessel, Hilary Hitchcock, Terry Hoffman, Cary Horton, Christine Hotlz, Jim Hubbmann, Paul Hubbmann,
Tom Huck, Angela Hunter-Knight, J.S. Johnson, Richard Knight, Robert Knight, Patricia Kohn,Paul Krainak, Lawrence Krone, Katie Lacewell, Ronald Leax, Adam Long,
Heidi Lung, Richard Meyers, Mary Nasser,Bill & Julie Newberry, Pat Owoc, Joyce Pion,
Melisse Reichman, Tony Renner, Nancy Rice, Sue Rothschild, Paul Shank, Mary Beth Shaw, Kelly Sipes, Thomas Sleet, Timothy Smith, David Stine, Fern Taylor, Pamela Todorovich, Anne Treeger Huck, Fran Vinnacombe, Celeste Webster, Linda Wiggen Kraft, C.J. Woods, III

Improvisation for Stan Getz

Friday, February 20, 2009

Improvisation for Lennie Tristano

T. Renner, "Improvisation for Lennie Tristano," 2009, acrylic on paper, 6" x 4".

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Improvisation for Skip James #3

T. Renner, "Improvisation for Skip James #3," 2009, acrylic on paper, 14" x 11".

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Improvisation for Tony Williams

T. Renner, "Improvisation for Tony Williams," 2009, acrylic on paper, 4" x 6".

Monday, February 16, 2009

For Robert Rauschenberg #2

T. Renner, "Improvisation for Robert Rauschenberg #2," 2009, acrylic on paper, 6" x 4".

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Improvisation for Skip James #2

T. Renner, "Improvisation for Skip James #2," 2009, acrylic on paper, 14" x 9".

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Nightwood #2 (for Djuna Barnes)

T. Renner, "Nightwood #2," 2009, acrylic on paper, 14" x 11".

Friday, February 13, 2009

Improvisation for Skip James #1

T. Renner, "Improvisation for Skip James #1," 2009, acrylic on paper, 10" x 9".

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Improvisation for Bill Evans

T. Renner, "Improvisation for Bill Evans," 2009, acrylic on paper, 7" x 5".

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Improvisation for Blossom Dearie

T. Renner, "Improvisation for Blossom Dearie," 2009, acrylic on paper, 6" x 4.5".

From National Public Radio:
Chanteuse Blossom Dearie Dies At 82
By Elizabeth Blair

With her wispy, delicate voice, Blossom Dearie was a darling of the jazz world for decades. The cabaret singer and pianist died Saturday of natural causes in her home in New York City. She was 82.

She was a small woman with a small voice, but blogger Marc Myers says it was a distinctive style that made you want to listen.

"Blossom's voice always had this pixie-like sense of wonderment," Myers says. "Her voice was sort of helium high."

Myers says that when Dearie began singing in the '40s and '50s, some of the most acclaimed female jazz vocalists were hitting their stride.

"She sort of walked among giants. You had Peggy Lee, Sarah Vaughan, Carmen McRae, Ella Fitzgerald. But Blossom stood out by fusing cabaret and jazz together," Myers says. "She had this whimsy, but this very deep passion."

Dearie Makes A Hit With 'Hip'

When she was a little girl in upstate New York, Dearie studied classical piano, but quickly gravitated to jazz. She liked to have fun and was known for her wit. Over the years, she worked with two other funny jazz musicians: Bob Dorough and Dave Frishberg. She recorded one of the songs they wrote for themselves, called "I'm Hip."

"We both thought it would last a season after people got the joke," Dorough says. "Blossom made a little hit out of it."

Later on, when Dorough was hired to write the music for the kids' show Schoolhouse Rock, he asked Dearie to sing a couple of songs.

Describing Dearie's voice in The New Yorker, Whitney Balliett once wrote, "It speaks of porcelain and Limoges."

A No-Nonsense Performer

But this delicate artist was also very demanding. In the 1970s, she started her own record label, Daffodil, and she had a reputation for not tolerating people talking or smoking during her shows. Dearie would stop in the middle of a song and tell people to be quiet.

Dearie was a regular act at a club in Manhattan up until just a few years ago. She told Marian McPartland, host of NPR's Piano Jazz, that in later years, as she sang her collection of popular standards, her fans were always respectful.

"They're very aware of the music," Dearie said. "They know everything. I always say, 'I'm not afraid of forgetting the lyrics, because if I forget the lyrics, somebody in the audience knows the lyrics.' They cherish these songs. My audience is very with it."

Click here to listen to an archived edition of Piano Jazz.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Doctor Viktor Von Doom (Cubist) #2

T. Renner, "Doctor Viktor von Doom (Cubist) #2," 2009, acrylic on paper, 5" x 7".

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Doctor Viktor Von Doom (Cubist) #1

T. Renner, "Doctor Viktor von Doom (Cubist) #1," 2009, acrylic on paper, 5" x 7".

Crosses at Crave

T. Renner, "White and Black Improvisation (Cross #1)," 2007, acrylic on canvas, 8" x 10".

I'll be having an exhibition of several paintings of crosses at Crave Coffeehouse, located on Saint Louis University's Medical Campus, in September and October.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Improvisation for Lukas Foss

T. Renner, "Half-Remembered (Improvisation for Lukas Foss)," 2009, acrylic on canvas, 8" x 10.

The composer Lukas Foss recently died, and "Fresh Air" ran an interview from 1998 with him today while I was working in my new studio. Foss said something about his work being an attempt to recreate half-remembered music. The above painting is my attempt to recreate a painting on the cover of an album by Al Grey. I didn't have the album cover in front of me so I was definitely working from memory.

Charcoal Sketch

T. Renner, "'The Birth of the Cool' Preliminary Sketch," 2007, charcoal on paper (detail).

Here's a detail from a charcoal sketch that I made while I was working out some thoughts that culminated in my "The Birth of the Cool" series of paintings.

I'm posting this detail because it reminds me so much of a dream -- nightmare, really -- that I had in the waning days of W.'s administration. I dreamed that the U.S. government had decided to attack its own cities in order to create a huge re-building program.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Graphic Scores for Two Instruments

T. Renner, "Graphic Score for Two Instruments #'s 1-3," 2007, acrylic on paper, 7" x 5".

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

"Map (for Jean Arp)"

T. Renner, "Map (for Jean Arp)," 2007, collage with construction paper.

Killing time a work, I found a couple of pieces of brightly colored paper, tore the yellow piece into two squares and dropped them on the field of blue. I didn't affix them except my means of the digital scan you see above.

Note that I haven't given dimensions because this piece really only exists in the digital realm and, thus, can be as big as the viewer can make it. Please click on the image to view it at 1200 pixels wide. At that size, it is possible to see the fibers of the torn pieces.

This piece owes everything to Jean Arp's "Collage with Squares Arranged According to the Law of Chance," 1916-1917.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

An Untitled Sketch

T. Renner, "Untitled Sketch," 2008, charcoal on paper, 4.5" x 5".

I wish I had made a note of who this sketch is supposed to be. At least I think it was drawn from a photograph. As usual, when I finished the drawing I was disappointed because it wasn't exactly what I wanted but when I found it in a sketchbook I was thrilled with it. I especially like the way the charcoal has been smudged.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Composition for Howlin' Wolf

T. Renner, "Composition for Howlin' Wolf," 2007, oil and canvas, 8" x 10".