Hello Again, Internet!

(Update: The longer this post sits at the top of the page, the more of a liar it makes of me. Instead of trying to live up to the following promise of some kind of professional reliability that I clearly cannot back up, I’ll just be updating the blog intermittently when I have the perfect storm of time, motivation, a computer and an idea. Which is kind of rare.)

As I’m sure no one could have predicted, I got distracted for a couple months and completely neglected posting. I doubt anyone checks this anymore, but I do plan to start posting more again. Because if I don’t share my random thoughts on the internet, do those thoughts ever really exist? No. And in the future I’d like for an artificial intelligence to download all of my information that’s spread across different websites and recreate my brain so that I can live forever. So this blog is really just part of my plan for eternal life.

In that spirit, here is a post with my own recent paintings, which is convenient for me because I don’t have to actually research anything to write this. Plus updating AlexandraSchlicting.com is kind of a pain so I’m going to write my name a lot, (Ali Schlicting, or Alexandra Schlicting if you’re not into the whole brevity thing), in all the captions so that hopefully google sends you to this post with my newer paintings if you search for me.

These are for the Big 200 show at the People’s Art of Portland in the Pioneer Mall, opening December 10th.

by Ali Schlicting

by Ali Schlicting

by Ali Jean Schlicting

by Alexandra Jean Schlicting

by Alexandra Schlicting

by Alexandra Jean Schlicting

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Godfathers of the Renaissance*

Two of my favorite things are renaissance art and mobster movies, so that’s why I like the Medici’s. The Medici family owned the renaissance, going from businessmen to bankers to politicians to monarchy and Pope-age between the 1400’s and 1700’s. They pretty much ruled Florence and were important patrons of art and science. They spent so much money on it that they were directly responsible for a lot of the paintings, sculptures and architecture that came out of the Italian renaissance. Galileo even tutored some of the kids and named 4 moons of Jupiter after them. The Corleone’s wish they were the Medici’s.

Early Medici, Early Renaissance

Giovanni di Bicci de’ Medici is the first notable Medici and the one with the name most fun to say out loud. By 1400 he was the richest man in Florence, commissioning lots of building and sculptures in the town including the Duomo by the architect Filippo Brunelleschi. He felt patronizing the arts was his patriotic duty.

BAM. The first and most important dome ever (or something like that, art history was like 5 years ago.)

Giovanni was a well-liked leader but after he died some rival families drove his sons out of Florence. Those families quickly ruined the city financially and the Medici’s were welcomed back. Giovanni’s son Cosimo became the leader of the republic and was a passionate supporter of art and academics. He commissioned a church from Brunelleschi, had a monastery rebuilt so Fra Angelica could live and work there and built the first public library. He was loved so much that after he died everyone just sort of let his son Piero become the leader, establishing a kind of monarchy of awesome (technically they were ruled by a council).

Lorenzo the Magnificent, Partying Like it’s 1499 (When it’s Really More Like 1470’s-ish)

Piero’s son was Lorenzo the Magnificent and like his family before him he loved to live extravagantly and spent money lavishing Florence. He created an academy to nurture young artists like Botticelli, da Vinci, Verrochio and later Michelangelo. He set up pageants and parties for Florence and wanted to return to the spirit of the classical times of Greece and Rome, essentially ushering in the entire philosophical revolution behind the renaissance. You might even say that he was magnificent. He also supported art that depicted more than just religious subjects, that celebrated secular and humanistic themes as well as using mythological images from classical times, greatly expanding the scope of the visual arts at the time. He was a tough ruler but brought in a time of prosperity for Florence. Good times were had by all.

"Venus" was painted by Sandro Botticelli for Lorenzo back when he was awesome. He gets way less awesome in the next section.

 

Party Foul

Things start going badly for the Medici’s and lovers of excess in general when Lorenzo’s brother was assassinated by a rival banking family and then some douche bag monk named Savonarola got power of Florence for four years. The rival family were the Pazzi’s and they were attempting to murder Lorenzo as well. Francesco Pazzi looked on the surface to be good friends with Lorenzo and his brother. He walked with the brothers into their palace where an ambush waited, killing Lorenzo’s brother as Lorenzo escaped. The people of Florence were not down with this so they ran the conspirators out of town and in the town square strung up the body of a Pazzi who had immediately committed suicide. In the aftermath Lorenzo continued to support art but was no longer a rambunctious partier, focusing instead on serious political business and peace-keeping.

Meanwhile, the monk Savonarola had been preaching death and destruction to the people of Florence based on his hatred art, music, plays and especially the Medici lifestyle. After Lorenzo’s death his message became more violent and he gained a following. Then he and his fanatics overtook power in Florence from Lorenzo’s son. Three years into his reign he and his followers staged a “Bonfire of the Vanities” and burned pretty much anything that brings any kind of fun or joy to anyone’s life. During this time Sandro Botticelli had become one of his followers, first abandoning pagan imagery and then leaving painting all together. He burned his own paintings in the bonfire, as did some other painters. One year later Savonarola was executed by being burned in the same spot the bonfire had been held, in punishment for his rallying against the sitting pope.

Savonarola: hated art, is depicted forver in art.

And Then Three Centuries of Some Other Stuff

After Savonarola the spirit of the renaissance moved south to Rome where the High Renaissance period started. The Medici’s did a bunch of other royal and political stuff, producing 4 different popes, and eventually falling, but this post is long enough.

Pope Leo X: He's the one that sold indulgences and commissioned the Sistine Chapel. Gangsta.

In Conclusion

Writing the other day about how the art market is driven by the demand for status symbols reminded me of Medici patronage. Is it appreciation of art or just displaying wealth? Do those have to be mutually exclusive? Does it matter? I guess I’m interested in the balance and relationship between money and art, customer and artist. As an artist money can mean that you’re limited by the expectations of the purchaser, but it can also be a source of energy for creation. Some of the Medici’s seemed to have genuinely loved art, science and philosophy and had different personal reasons for supporting it, but the most important aspect of those dealings was that like contemporary collectors, in exchange for supporting the arts they got prestige, immortality and a strengthened impression of their power.

Gotta look good.

So really what I’m saying is I would like to be adopted by a rich powerful family in exchange for my paintings, renaissance-style, because that seems like a sweet deal.

*Title stolen from a PBS documentary.

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Frasier Crane on the Art of Collecting Art

“While most Ashanti statues are intended to ward off evil spirits, this one was designed to distract me while my pockets were picked at the Kinshasa Airport.”

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Poster Art

This summer I’ve started getting involved with an awesome gallery called The People’s Art of Portland. It’s made up of 4 spaces at the top of Pioneer Place run by these guys who curate a lot of different shows and installations without as much hassle, restrictions and b.s. that most galleries make you deal with. Plus there’s always a fridge full of beer. Actually I don’t really know how it works, I just show up on Saturdays, but Chris Haberman, Jason Brown and Heidi Wirz seem pretty on top of things.

Besides displaying local artists, emerging artists and group shows, each month they showcase two different national level poster artists as their blockbusters. Having been there for two months worth of shows, I’ve learned about the work of 4 poster artists which are all amazing: Emek, Guy Burwell, Uncle Charlie and Furturtle. Here are some examples of their work:

Emek

Guy Burwell

Uncle Charlie

Furturtle

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Recession: Bad for Artists, Good for Art

I know very little about the contemporary art market and even less about economics in general, but I feel like I probably should know more, so I read a 2009 Newsweek article by Peter Plagens called “Brother, Can You Spare a Painting?” about the effects the present recession may have on the art industry. The article is mostly a description of what the international art market has looked like since Andy Warhol and the pop art years made commercialism acceptable, which is basically a bloated, over-expensive system of trophies for the rich and a spectacle for everyone else. The author describes how gallery districts, flashy contemporary art museums, art fairs and biennials have been popping up all over the world at an accelerated pace. While I think more art and art venues is a good thing, the article discusses how it was driven more by money than creativity.

Not by Andy Warhol

I know from conversations with random people that there can be a pretty big disdain for “modern art.” Then instead of discussing their objections I tell them that “modern art” ended like 50 years ago and it’s “contemporary art” that they have a problem with, and then I call them stupid. (I just like being a bitch.) Without getting into a whole discussion about the artistic merits of contemporary art (another time?), which is usually the focus of the criticism, I agree that there is a lot of money and recognition going to some questionably mediocre stuff. I’m not a qualified art critic, but based on my one trip to NYC and seeing a lot of the fairs and museum shows the article is discussing, there was plenty of what I thought was underwhelming work. But the point made in the article is that this exists because the market has created a niche for it, that money has become the driving force behind art creation.

THIS. I saw this in person at the 2008 Whitney Biennial and hated it with an irrational, all-consuming hatred that I haven't felt for anything before or since. (By Mary Heilmann)

I think this paragraph sums up the attitude on all sides:
“A collector at an art fair was shown a previously undiscovered canvas by a midlevel abstractionist from the 1960s and told that the price was under $100,000. “Well, I suppose I could enjoy that,” she said to the dealer, “if I were poor.” Contemporary art had gotten so expensive that even Hirst–the British bad boy who brought in more than $180 million last year by auctioning his new work directly through Sotheby’s, and who managed to sell a diamond-covered human skull for another $100 million–said last November that, in his opinion, contemporary art cost too much. Though that hasn’t stopped him from cashing his checks.”

Damien Hirst uses the same aesthetic logic as Lil' Jon.

The author points out that the influx of money has caused a lot of wonderful work to be created, and there are plenty of good artists and galleries, but I think he’s saying that the art itself wasn’t necessarily being appreciated, just the perceived prestige that comes along with it, which has caused a whole lot of crappier art to be supported. But now that we’re in a recession, with less money spent and the present system unsupported, the bad art will be weeded out and more thoughtful, interesting art driven by creativity instead of money will emerge, or at least that was the idealistic prediction at the end of the article.

Christo's "Gates" in New York were mentioned in the article as an example of good contemporary art made possible by the art market. So here they are.

Now, I’m not in any way involved in the high-end international art market so I’m just taking this author’s word on it, but I can’t imagine a time in the past few centuries when art and art collecting hasn’t been the domain of the pretentious. I think some people are always going to find ways to show off, and art is uniquely qualified to do that. And there will always be artists willing to oblige, even crappy artists. Because hell yeah, it’s money! That they want to give you! It may have receded for now, but I’m not sure that culture and attitude is going away anytime soon. But from my point of view making art in a recession means forcing you as an artist to not focus on getting into the best galleries, but to become more of an entrepreneur, making opportunities for yourself and your community, which I think will create a richer, more passionate kind of art industry. Hopefully.

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Osaka Street Art

This summer I quit my job and moved from my college town to live back home in Portland and to start my life as an “artist.” And because I’m starting my life as an “artist” I obviously won’t need any of the money I’d saved, so last month I went to Japan! It was like a rebirth: Japan was a warm, humid womb that I never wanted to leave until I was torn from it all, crying through international airports and emerging into stupid reality. That’s what birth is like, right? Anyway, I’m also going to conveniently blame the move and the trip for my lack of posts, but now that I’m unemployed and living in my parent’s house I will have much more time to devote to the internet.

The first place I stayed was Osaka, one of the major cities, and because of jet-lag I went exploring around 6 am when nothing was open. Luckily in the outdoor shopping strip near my hostel there was a lot of painted murals and street art on the closed shop doors which was a lot funner to look at than just souvenirs. According to the friend I stayed with later in the trip these kind of building murals are fairly unique to Osaka. Here are some of them:

Like pretty much everything in japan, this is adorable

Sometimes "adorable" would straddle the line of "creepy"

The long-legged pink deer is my favorite

Pikachu, Goofy, and is that thing Lilo or Stitch? This is copyright madness!

Around Osaka was street art that were more obviously graffiti, but still neat looking

Pretty damn awesome

And, finally, this guy. (From the train station by my place.)

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10 Google Art Logos

Dennis Hwang is the graphic designer who makes the google logos but as a webmaster the logo-creating is actually only 10% of his job. The other 90% is mastering the web I guess. It probably explains in this article. He also said that the artist birthday logos are his favorite to do. Here are a few examples:

Van Gogh

Warhol

Pollock

Escher

Jeff Koons

Dali

Magritte

Miro

da Vinci

Michelangelo

These are all pretty awesome but I think I like the Pollock one the best, just because of how hard it is to read the word Google in it.

 

 

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