Cathy Breslaw's Installation

Cathy Breslaw's Installation
Cathy Breslaw's Installation:Dreamscape

Monday, November 19, 2018

New Associate Curator, San Diego Museum of Art Talks About Her Passion for Art

Interview with Regina Palm, new Associate Curator, American Art
San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego

Regina Palm   Associate Curator of American Art, San Diego Museum of Art

Article by Cathy Breslaw

We don’t typically think of a visit to a museum as being a defining moment in a person’s life. However, for Regina Palm who was recently named the new Associate Curator of American Art at the San Diego Museum of Art, it set the course of her career. While on an elementary school field trip at age 12 to The Huntington near Pasadena, California, Palm was overwhelmed with the beauty of the museum buildings, grounds and the art collection. It was there and then that she decided she wanted her future work to be  at a museum.

Though first in her family to work in the arts, her mother exposed her to her hobby of sewing, painting and carving and her father to his passion for studying Nose Art, the not expressly approved decorative designs painted on the fuselage of planes during World War 2.  It was her love of writing that eventually led Palm to study Art History, Anthropology and Museum Studies at California State University, Chico where she received her Bachelor of Arts Degree and then a Masters Degree in Art History at San Jose State University. 

While studying at Chico State, Palm fortuitously became aware of the conceptual work of contemporary artist, Barbara Kruger who uses black and white photography overlaid with declarative captions to comment on American social and political culture.  Influenced by her father’s interest in propaganda art and the works of other influential women artists like Kruger, Palm began to focus her studies on women artists, especially woman muralists at the end of the 19thto the 20thcenturies. Formerly considered a masculine form of artistic production, womens’ issues of gender and sexuality, and murals became central to Palm’s study for her PhD in Art History from Birkbeck College, at the University of London. 

Prior to her current curatorial position at the SDMA, Palm worked at the Cincinnati Art Museum with 60,000 works in their collection, the Amon Carter Museum of American Art and the Kimbell Museum of Art in Fort Worth Texas, with 350 works in their collection.  

Though identifying herself as a feminist art historian, Palm notes that as Associate Curator at the SDMA, her role is focused on the needs and wishes of the greater San Diego community in all its diversity. She is looking to help continue the growth of thought-provoking exhibitions, and to highlight minority artists as well as those that have previously not been given their due. 

When asked what she will contribute to the San Diego Museum of Art, Palm commented on her enthusiasm, passion and infectious joy and love she feels for her work to oversee the American Art collection. In addition, she feels a commitment toward helping to provide top-notch programming and exhibitions, as well as contributions to collaborations with museum colleagues.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Tim Shaw's Beyond Reason Holds a Mirror to Our Humanity

Tim Shaw
Beyond Reason
San Diego Museum of Art
Through February 24 

Article by Cathy Breslaw
Tim Shaw       The Birth of Breakdown Clown,         2015 – 2018
Robotic figure with motion and sound; foam, steel, and aluminum
Figure: H: 80” W: 32.5” D:21”
Wooden platform H: 8ft W: 4ft D: 4ft

 Irish-born artist Tim Shaw’s Beyond Reason show at the San Diego Museum of Art is his debut exhibition in the United States.  Deputy Curator for Curitorial Affairs, Anita Feldman, comments in the exhibition catalog: “ In the daily lives of many of us, there is a sense that we are cocooned from the outside world. We read of terrorist events on our mobile phones, see them in distant-and not-so-distant places on T.V.  Shaw’s work draws us closer to the reality of these conflicts and dares us to engage with them, challenging us to ask questions about society’s role or silent complicity.”

Shaw’s works include six immersive installations.  Upon entering the museum spaces Shaw’s works occupy, the overall very low lighting throughout creates an alternative context and brings us into the metaphysical and psychologically charged world of Shaw’s making.  The first work we encounter is Middle Worlds,(1989-present) a large sculptural installation created with cement, steel and lead. Produced over twenty years’ time, it also includes small figures in bronze and terracotta arranged upon a tall vessel that is part altar, part pinball machine while beneath it stalagmite-looking forms reminding us of geological time. The figures appear to be in front of a large theater stage, or entrance to a grand ancient building, including symbols of various centuries and ages, where Vulcan bombers and satellites appear adjacent to mythological, Christian and secular symbols. There is a sense of eeriness and gloom, and a suspension of time.

We next encounter Mother, The Air is Blue, The Air is Dangerous (2014). This immersive room installation has its roots in Shaw’s seven year-old childhood memory in Belfast when he witnessed a bombing in a restaurant along with his mother and sister. Having occurred on the historic Black Friday, 1972 when the IRA set off over 20 bombs over the entire city, Shaw recreates this low-lit deep blue lighted scene with over-thrown chairs and tables, food trays suspended randomly in the air while photos of victims lie on tables and the sounds of intense sirens are heard in the room. Shadows of people running across streets are projected onto the walls of this chaotic scene. As viewers, we share a terrorizing moment with Shaw’s experience.

The next work encountered is Defending Integrity from the Powers That Be (2017). This mixed media automated sculpture and sound installation includes two life-sized figures created from metal armatures, old clothes, pillows and stockings. The male and female figures are facing one another while rocking back and forth upon curved ski-like metal forms. Their insides are ripped open revealing wires, and old radio speakers and their mouths are stuffed with money preventing their ability to speak. Highlighting their feelings of  helplessness, perhaps it is fear, greed, or complicity but Shaw seems to be saying that silence has its price.

Soul Snatcher Possession (2011-2012) is the next immersive installation we encounter which includes eight life-size figures in a low lit fabricated room with well worn damaged walls, a fireplace and  lit with naked light bulbs hanging from the ceiling. When entering through a long corridor ,we push open an old beat up door and see four figures huddled in distinctive positions around a crowded central hooded figure appearing to be harassed or intimidated. With rough textures of clothing haphazardly sewn, and worn shoes, these figures were created with metal armatures, old clothes, pillows and stockings.  One figure is of a blind man in the corner with a cane searches the area, while a female figure reclines against another wall with a stocking stretched over her face, and a syringe close-by on the floor. A nearby man is watching her, and in another corner is a kneeling male figure as if in prayer or asking for help. For the viewer, there is a claustrophobic feeling inside this room as well as a visceral intensity that is both disturbing and provocative. These unsettled feelings provoke questions – Are we confronting evil or fear or both, or our own humanity and the limits of our civility?

Alternative Authority (2017) is a life-size mixed media sculpture of a woman, tarred and feathered and tied to a lamp-post. Created with metal armature, pillows, old clothes and stockings, her face hidden from view, and is slumped downward and covered with tar and tons of feathers. This work references 1970s’ Ireland when the IRA punished women who fraternized with police or British soldiers  and publicly humiliated them in public squares. Other women and community members were thought to take part in this public shaming and the resulting psychological and physical scarring for life.

Shaw’s last work is The Birth of Breakdown Clown (2015-2018) which is a robotic life size naked figure with motion and sound, made of foam, steel and aluminum.  This performance piece is a “robot” that moves its hands, arms, head and eyes while presenting a monologue speaking to his “audience”. During the 15 plus minutes speech the robot comments:  “We are no different. All just wires, soft flesh hung onto hard form. Impulses running down the those stringy bits. And when the life force leaves the form, and the water evaporates, we are dust. You and me….” In this work, the viewer becomes the subject. After the monologue the robot encourages viewers to ask questions and a short conversation ensues. Shaw searches for the dialogue between where Artificial Intelligence begins and the place where human beings reside – the space between humanity and machine.

Peering underneath the hood of humanity, Shaw holds up a mirror to our own behavior and psyche in often strange and repugnant ways. There is nothing “pretty” about Shaw’s work. It’s beauty is compelling, in how it reveals our potential self-awareness gained from witnessing  these discomforting installations. With some exceptions, viewers are invited to be in close proximity to the disturbing situations and the grotesque figures he has created. A combination of mythical, political and metaphysical, we are drawn into both historical and contemporary time with Shaw’s large scale works. Some works parallel  today’s experiences of physical and psychological terrorism.   Shaw asks whether we speak up or remain silent, becoming complicit in the effects of our politically charged world, and challenges us as we grapple with how Artificial Intelligence will co-exist with humanity.
Tim Shaw           Mother, The Air Is Blue, The Air Is Dangerous,         2014
Immersive gallery installation (Personal effects including, coats, bags, shoes and
photographs. Chairs, tables, revolving trays, projected images, sound and haze)
Room Dimensions H: 10ft x W: 31.5ft x L: 36ft

Tim Shaw         Soul Snatcher Possession,          2011-2012
Immersive gallery installation (Eight large life-size figures in low lit fabricated room with
corridor; old clothes, pillows, stockings, on steel armatures).
Room dimensions (including corridor) H: 8 ft x W: 21ft x L: 23ft
The Birth

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Holmes & Watson is Full of Twists, Turns and Surprises

Holmes & Watson  by Jeffrey Hatcher
Directed by David Ellenstein
North Coast Repertory Theater, Solana Beach CA
Through November 18th

Article by Cathy Breslaw

Holmes & Watson is Full of Twists, Turns and Surprises

Playwright Jeffrey Hatcher’s Holmes & Watson keeps playgoers on the edge of their seats with mystery, humor and good old fashion entertainment. The play takes place three years after the apparent death of detective Sherlock Holmes at the hands of his arch enemy Professor Moriarty, off the Reichenbach Falls. Mostly set at an asylum in Scotland, Dr. Watson receives a mysterious telegram suggesting Holmes is still alive. Sent by the doctor at the asylum, Dr. Evans explains that three patients in his care are each claiming to be the late Sherlock Holmes. Dr. Watson embarks on a journey to investigate these claims. As the play progresses, Dr. Watson interviews each one, and the audience has to wrestle with whether Sherlock Holmes is in fact alive. Scenic designer Marty Burnett, Light Designer Matthew Novotny, and Sound Designer Chad Lee Thymes together create a marvelous dark, cold and mysterious ambience and atmosphere around which the play takes place. The digital projections and special effects added an important dimension to the experience of this play.  The acting by Richard Baird (Dr. Watson), Si Osborne (Dr. Evans), Jacob Sidney (Holmes 1), Drew Parker (Holmes 2) and Christopher M. Williams (Holmes 3) all give multi-dimensional and intriguing performances. Alice Sherman (The Woman and Nurse) and J. Todd Adams (Orderly) both add significantly to the stellar cast of this production. Could Sherlock Holmes still be alive? Come and determine for yourselves….at the North Coast Repertory Theater in Solana Beach. The play runs through November 18th.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Expressions in Sculpture: Mexican Sculptor Javier Marin

Javier Marin: Sculpture
San Diego Museum of Art
Through March 3, 2019

Article by Cathy Breslaw
Javier Marín. Grupo L 1012, 2016. Polyester resin and
iron wire. 188x196x40 cm. © Armando Canto / Archive
Javier Marín

Javier Marin’s sculptures are as much about the creative process and use of materials as they are about the human figure. Javier Marin is a Mexican artist from Mexico City where he works and collaborates on his mostly monumental sculptures.  Works included in his San Diego Museum of Art exhibition are located in first floor Galleries14/15, Mrs. Thomas J. Fleming Sr., and in the central museum entrance rotunda. 

Javier Marin’s installation (Little Women and Little Men 2000-2015) of 23 polyester resin and lost wax bronze, mixed media figures are each hung horizontally across a large (approximately) 25 foot white wall. With no particular pre-conceived plan, the museum staff worked in concert with the artist on-site to create conversations between small groupings of the figures.  With a focus on identity and human relationship, these are figures in motion relating to one another through gesture and pose. Hung horizontally these 3 foot figures cast intriguing wall shadows, appearing to defy gravity while challenging the viewer to examine the contextual meaning of the installation. The ‘hand’ of the artist is in each of the figures as marks, lines and crevasses pressed into the forms are visible. The wall tableau (Group L 1012/2016) created with polyester resin and iron wire, combines parts of male and female human forms tied together with wire that is both visible and an integral part of this artwork. Perhaps suggesting an ominous theme of death and destruction, Javier Marin may also be using these forms simply as physical shapes creating a visually compelling and beautiful composition.  Situated in the central rotunda, (Untitled I,II, VI 2004), created with polyester resin and iron wire are a grouping of 3 sculptures – each a composite of a main torso sitting upon bronze pedestals  with human body parts emerging from the heads of each torso. They are a construction and de-construction of human forms. In the initial stages of creating his sculptures, Javier Marin uses sourced clays from various areas of Mexico which were also used in Pre-Columbian times.  Overall, his classical human figures historically reference the sculpture of the Renaissance, but with additional gestural and expressive content reflecting his take on our complex contemporary world.

Javier Marín. Hombrecitos y Mujercitas, 2000. Resin from
polyester and bronze to the lost wax. Installation. Alberto
Morago / Archive Javier Marín.

Friday, August 17, 2018

A Visit to Spiral Jetty - A Magical Place

A Visit to Spiral Jetty
article by Cathy Breslaw
Spiral Jetty         camera i-phone        Cathy Breslaw         August 4th, 2018

Spiral Jetty is not an easy place to find. This renowned Land Art sculpture is located at Rozel Point, at the Great Salt Lake. Traveling on a combination of highway, two lane roads and then a gravel/dirt road for several miles, it is a two and a half hour journey northeast of Salt Lake City,Utah. Constructed in April 1970, it is considered to be the most important work of American sculptor Robert Smithson. This 15 foot by 1500 foot natural art piece was created from over 6,500 tons of basalt rock, salt crystals, earth and water.

During the 60's and 70's a group of artists interested in moving out of the museum and gallery spaces began using the land to create art and engage audiences in a profound and non-commercial way. Smithson was drawn to the Great Salt Lake because of its pinkish-red hue (generated from the water's algae) and at the time didn't have a clear sense of how the artwork would evolve. In his 1972 essay, he noted his impressions "As I looked at the site, it reverberated out to the horizons only to suggest an immobile cyclone while flickering light made the entire landscape appear to quake. A dormant earthquake spread into the fluttering stillness, into a spinning sensation without movement." This feeling of spinning while standing still is what inspired Smithson's Spiral Jetty.
As I stood at the top of the hill overlooking Spiral Jetty, I tried to imagine how several dump trucks, tractors, front loaders and a slew of people journeyed to the location, and how the rock, crystals, earth and water was used to create an artwork that today seems to be in perfect harmony with the environment.
Because it sits within the lake, like other Land Art it is subject to water levels rising with the tides and amounts of rain, so the spiral also changes. At times, it has been completely submerged under water, while at other points in time, it's been visible, as seen since the drought of 2002. This process of submergence, and re-emergence will eventually lead to a permanent disappearance of the work.
With this in mind, Smithson documented Spiral Jetty with text, film and photography much like artists Richard Long’s non-intrusive walks and Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s Running Fence, Sonoma and Marin Counties, California, 1972–76.
Lake levels vary from year-to-year and from season to season, so the Spiral Jetty is not always visible above the water line, however, on my visit the surface of the bottom of the lake was visible, with no water to be seen except in the distance.  The surface was dry, salty-hard, a white-ish gray-ish color and crusty, and there was a pink-hued tinge to the water seen in the distance.  I walked the entire path of the spiral which felt like a spiritual walk, similar to labyrinths I have walked previously. The beauty of Rozel Point includes the sounds of the natural environment, with White Pelicans overhead, scrub brush along the shoreline, and where large volcanic basalt rocks cover the landscape. I kept thinking about the task Smithson took on in creating this Land Art along with many others, together with the realization that this is a forever changing environment and where one day Spiral Jetty would disappear permanently.
While there are no facilities at the site, and only a few very small signs directing people to its location, I saw a small number of cars coming and going, and surprisingly a family with small children who camped overnight.  My visit to Spiral Jetty was long overdue, and I wasn't disappointed - it is a magical place to experience.
My husband, Paul, step-daughter Lauren and her dog, Baxter at Spiral Jetty   August 4, 2018

Cathy, Lauren and Baxter - hills above Spiral Jetty    August 4, 2018

Spiral Jetty from above, hill nearby   August 4, 2018

Spiral Jetty, beginning to walk the spiral    August 4, 2018

Salt formations on basalt rock, shoreline, Spiral Jetty  August 4, 2018

Salt formations on basalt rock, shoreline, Spiral Jetty   August 4, 2018

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

100 Year Survey of Fashion Photography at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Getty Center LA

Icons of Style: A Century of Fashion Photography 1911-2011
J.Paul Getty Museum, Getty Center, Los Angeles
Curated by Paul Martineau, Associate Curator of Photography

Through October 21st

Written by Cathy Breslaw

Herb Ritts
American, 1952–2002
Stephanie, Cindy, Christy, Tatjana, Naomi, Hollywood, 1989
Gelatin silver print
46.8 x 50.3 cm (18 7/16 x 19 13/16 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Gift of Herb Ritts
© Herb Ritts Foundation  211.18.28

Why would one of the most well endowed and highly regarded museums on the globe launch a 100 year survey exhibition of fashion photography? That is exactly the question Paul Martineau, Associate Curator of Photography at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Getty Center in Los Angeles wants to answer.  Martineau points out that historically, photography and especially fashion photography has been marginalized. He quotes famous photographer Richard Avedon who said: “Fashion is the f-word, the dirtiest word in the art world.”  Because fashion photography is underrepresented in museum collections, Martineau believed it was time to change that, and in 2010 began to add to the Getty’s collection and launched a long-term plan of putting on a 100 year survey (1911 – 2011)  to help illustrate how fashion absorbed and reflected social, cultural and historical changes over time.  Underlying the exhibition is the position that fashion photography often transcends its’ commercial function, elevating it to works of fine art. Epitomizing this idea of fashion photographs being an art form, is a dye imbibition print by Hiro, an American born Chinese photographer titled: Black Evening Dress in Flight, NewYork(1994). This photo was shot from above, capturing a woman walking with billowing black “wings” of fabric flowing from behind her. Interestingly, the photographer’s assignment was to shoot a shoe.

Icons of Style: A Century of Fashion Photography 1911-2011 includes 89 photographers, 15 of which are women, and some who are relatively unknown photographers. There are over 160 photographs derived from a combination of the Getty collection, loans from galleries, and estates and foundations.  Martineau also collaborated with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to include their costume collection of designer dresses and outfits, including a Chanel flapper dress and an Alexander McQueen skirt suit. The exhibition that also encompasses illustrations, magazine covers, videos and advertising takes us from 1911, when the French publisher Lucien Vogel challenged Edward Steichen to create the first artistic, rather than merely documentary fashion photographs up tp 2011. Viewers are guided through the history of fashion from the first two decades of the 20thcentury where there was a shift from tightly corseted dresses to more comfortable loose fitting clothing, with early photos by Steichen and Baron Adolf de Meyer, who were responsible for creating the foundations of modern fashion photography to those produced during the Depression and World War II revealing how political and economic changes influenced fashion, to the 1950’s considered to be the Golden Age of fashion photography. Well known photographers Richard Avedon and Irving Penn brought the designs of Christian Dior and others to life, while in the 1960’s and 1970’s the youth culture dominated, as well as the sexual revolution, and the women’s liberation movement and photographers like William Klein and Dianne Newman captured the hippie, mod, gypsy styles of mini dresses and patterned tights, all shot from a low angle to give images an unbalanced psychedelic feel. The photographs of the 1970’s from photographers like Arthur Elgort portrayed women entering the workforce, including ideas of work-life balance, and questioning traditional gender stereotypes through shooting the designs of Halston, Anne Klein and Yves Saint Laurent. Fashion photography of the 1980’s and 1990’s embraced the athletic female body, and displays of male sexuality. Photographers Herb Ritt and Bruce Weber portrayed buff male models emphasizing sexuality, forever changing how men were represented in fashion and advertising. In the 1990’s, economic downturns, increases in drug use, and the grunge movement presented sickly thin looking models photographed in shabby environments.  The exhibition ends with a selection of contemporary photographs highlighting the digital tools, technical and conceptual ideas influencing current fashion photography. Today’s fashion photographers identify themselves as “image makers” as their use of fashion blogs, and internet picture-sharing applications like Instagram(2010) and Snapchat(2011) are reshaping and rapidly expanding outlets for their work. 

Including designer dresses and outfits from the LACMA costume collection, videos, magazine covers and ads from various decades, brings this exhibition alive – together with many of the best historical images of no-doubt “fine art” photographs.  For some of us this exhibition brings back by-gone days and for others it provides a glimpse of life before our“time”. From whatever eyes you see the world through, the context of the Getty Museum is a fun, surprising and educational way of engaging with the history of fashion photography. 

American, born China, 1930
Black Evening Dress in Flight, New York, negative, 1963; print, 1994
Dye imbibition print
48.9 x 38.1 cm (19 1/4 x 15 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Purchased with funds
provided by the Photographs Council
© Hiro

Herb Ritts
American, 1952–2002
Fred with Tires, Hollywood, 1984
From the Body Shop series
Gelatin silver print
47.1 x 38.6 cm (18 9/16 x 15 3/16 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Gift of Herb Ritts
© Herb Ritts Foundation

                                                   Victor Skrebneski   American, born 1929   Givenchy Red, Paris, negative, 1990; print, about 1995    Silver-dye bleach print
     51 x 40.4 cm (20 1/16 x 15 7/8 in.)     The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Purchased with funds provided by the Photographs Council copyright   Victor Skrebneski    2016.92

David Sims
British, born 1966
Yohji Yamamoto, Autumn/Winter 1995, 1995
Chromogenic print
88.9 x 71.1 cm (35 x 28 in.)
Courtesy of and © David Sims    EX 2018.7.1 

Richard Avedon
American, 1923–2004
Renée, the New Look of Dior, Place de la Concorde, Paris, August 1947,
negative, 1947; print, 1978
Gelatin silver print
45.7 x 35.5 cm (18 x 14 in.)
The Richard Avedon Foundation, New York
Copyright © The Richard Avedon Foundation     EX.2018.7.94

Richard Burbridge
British, born 1965
In Silhouette, 2007
Chromogenic print
55.9 x 71.1 cm (22 x 28 in.)
Courtesy of the artist  EX.2018.7.170   

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Good Vibrations Meet Geometry - Mary Heilmann at Hauser & Wirth, Los Angeles

Mary Heilmann: Memory Remix
Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles
Through September 23 2018

Written by Cathy Breslaw

Ming      1986                   Acrylic and watercolour on canvas                 152.4 x 106.7 x 3.8 cm / 60 x 42 x 1 1/2 in
 Selected paintings, ceramics and furniture representing several decades of Mary Heilmann’s practice grace  expansive rooms of Hauser and Wirth, Los Angeles.  And while many artists either don’t name their works at all or if they do, do so as an after-thought, Heilmann’s titles are carefully created and intimately tied to the works – and are as poetic, musical and evocative as the works themselves. 
Neo Noir, Pro Tools Remix, Rio Nido, Last Dance Remix #2, Pink Ocean, The First Vent andPal Joey are some of the titles that entertain, and amplify an already energizing display of visual candy giving viewers an added invitation to smile.  A child of the beat generation, her works are also influenced by the hippie generation and pop culture of the 1960’s, and the fashion, music, and cartoons of contemporary culture. Having grown up in California as a swimmer and surfer, and then living and working many years in New York, Heilmann’s art combines both ends of these life experiences and embody the development of her particular aesthetic. Her compositions, though influenced by minimalism and geometric abstraction, are belied by the fuzzy, wobbly edges of many of the geometric shapes contained within her paintings.  Additionally, drips and drabs of paint that seem to be organically and spontaneously dropped in shapes and backgrounds, are left intact rather than “cleaned up” as other artists might have been driven to do. Heilmann’s works are unpretentious and loosy-goosy compared to her artist counterparts who pay homage to the “straight lines” and pristine edges of geometric shapes often found in geometric abstraction. By studying her paintings carefully, the viewer finds paintings that are not composed intuitively, but rather are deliberate and focused constructions with close attention to space, scale, and shape.  Heilmann’s affinity to very bright colors - oranges, pinks, greens, blues and purples sometimes combine with shaped canvases.  Fan #7(1988)and Ray(2017), acrylics on canvas, are examples of these sculptural paintings. Series #1(1984) andSeries #2(1984), Hellfire Cup #1(1985) and Shadow Cup #2(1985) are ceramic red and black geometric dynamic sculptures that appear to have motion, and echo the geometric shapes seen within various paintings.  Also included in the exhibition are a combination of 8 multi-colored and solid colored chairs constructed from wood and some with polypropelene or nylon webbing allowing viewers an opportunity to sit and contemplate the works. Heilmann makes creating paintings look fun and easy – and, as in most things that “look easy”, it isn’t. Memory Remix is an exhibition of composed orchestrations of color, shape and form and Heilmann is the conductor.

Hellfire Series #2      1984         Glazed ceramic             14 x 27.3 x 27.3 cm / 5 1/2 x 10 3/4 x 10 3/4 in

Spider's Stratagem       1995        Oil on canvas          137.2 x 91.4 cm / 54 x 36 in

Green Kiss     1990       Oil and graphite on canvas        198.1 x 147.3 x 3 cm / 78 x 58 x 1 1/8 in

Monday, May 21, 2018

The Many Faces of Humanity Revealed - A Thousand Splendid Suns at the Old Globe Theater

A Thousand Splendid Suns
Old Globe Theater, San Diego
Through June  17th

Article by  Cathy Breslaw

The cast and musician and composer David Coulter              Photo by Jim Cox

Clamorous cheers and clapping erupted from the audience, when Rasheed, the shoemaker husband was killed by his first wife Mariam.  And, for good reason - Rasheed had been beating and often starving both Mariam and Laila, his second wife for years.  This poignant drama, highlighting the complex conditions of their untenable lives mostly takes place within the tight confines of their modest home and is what brought main characters Mariam(Denmo Ibrahim) and Laila(Nadine Malouf) together. It is also where their unlikely friendship grew into respect, love and loyalty to one another and from where the center of the story of A Thousand Splendid Suns unfolds.

The play is mostly set in Kabul Afghanistan during the Afghan Civil War(1989-1996) . After the Soviets left the country, militant groups turned against each other - while one group shelled Kabul from the surrounding hills, others fought to control neighborhoods.  Deadly roadblocks, disappearing neighbors and decaying bodies on the streets were common and it’s where the Taliban emerged to take control of most of the county. The Taliban issued edicts banning women from working, attending school and leaving home without male escort. Their bodies had to be covered head to toe or they would be brutally treated – public arenas became places of stoning, amputations, murders, and beheadings. This is the backdrop from which this play, directed by Carey Perloff, adapted by playwright Ursula Rani Sarma (originating from the novel A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini ) evolved.

(from left) Nadine Malouf as Laila, Denmo Ibrahim as Mariam, and Nikita Tewani as Aziza
Photo by Jim Cox
Set against three generations of Afghan women in war torn Afghanistan , the themes of friendship, marriage, family, death, destruction, violence, loyalty, survival and hope are explored.  This is a play that can be difficult to digest due to its strong emotional and violent content. Expressing the many faces of humanity, it can also educate and inspire us.  The cast gave compelling and evocative performances. Equally important are the Set Designer (Ken Macdonald) , Lighting Designer(Robert Wierzel), Sound Designer(Jake Rodriguez) and Musical Composer (David Coulter), who performed his original music live, as they created a beautiful, enchanting and stimulating visual and sound space for audiences to experience a sometimes heartrending, haunting and horrific tale that we all realize has played out in ‘real life’  in many Afghan lives thousands of miles away.
(from left) Denmo Ibrahim as Mariam, Nadine Malouf as Laila, and Haysam Kadri as Rasheed  
Photo by Jim Cox