Reflections on Landscape

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Tales Of The Old West

April 3, 2013

Blog Post for The Autry National Center’s production of Tales of the Old West.
Sold out production April 3-6, 2013. Los Angeles, CA.

Set in wild and woolly Wyoming Territory, Tales of the Old West—adapted by Barbara Bragg from the award-winning short stories of her father, William F. Bragg, Jr.—faithfully portrays the hair-raising adventures and harrowing predicaments that Anglo, Native American, and African American men and women faced following the Civil War. The performance—with ten actors performing 25 roles in three acts—will lead audiences through the galleries and feature live music of the period in a manner reminiscent of tales told around a campfire. Production directed by Corey Madden with original new music by Bruno Louchouarn.


Butterfly Time

January 21, 2013

Last Monday, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, was so calm and clear that you could see trees on Santa Cruz Island 26 miles away across the channel, and even, it seemed to me, trees 30 or 130 years in Santa Barbara’s past. I walked with my kids and some friends through the eucalyptus groves and fields at Ellwood Mesa, seeing monarch butterflies alone or in chasing pairs floating on the warm air. Along a muddy drainage and up a hill more butterflies appeared, until we found the spot in a knot of shaggy trees where a small crowd of people stood staring upwards. Among the leaves, greyish in the slanted, yellow light, were clots of bright orange and black hanging from the branches, honeycombs of layered wings blinking with motion. Thousands of the insects were there, clinging to one another or drifting on the air between trees, occasionally falling in orange puffs when a clump got too heavy and lost its grip, like snow falling from an eave.


Hockney's Happy Landscapes

(from the Santa Barbara Independent)

April 11, 2012

LETTER FROM LONDON: David Hockney: A Bigger Picture at London’s Royal Academy (closed Apr. 9) was a smash hit even in a London season inundated with blockbuster exhibitions ranging from Leonardo da Vinci to Francis Bacon. An astonishing number of Hockney landscapes — more than 150 — filled the walls. Some of them, like “Winter Timber” (2009), which covers 15 canvasses, are huge — a bigger picture indeed. Others of more modest size were hung in vast phalanxes. There was a whole wall of watercolors, for instance, and 50-odd iPad works printed on large paper covered three enormous gallery walls in floor-to-ceiling grids. And, except for one smaller room containing a retrospective of landscapes that Hockney had painted elsewhere, the show was made up entirely of recent work depicting the fields and woods of Hockney’s native Yorkshire, in the north of England, where the artist had returned in recent years to tend to his ailing mother.


Victor Hugo Zayas: Mi Obra

February 27, 2012

Like his name, the paintings of Victor Hugo Zayas recall the passions of late 19th century art: his oils are bold, romantic, luminous and seemingly in motion, alive with an astonishing energy. The pigment is layered on in thick, wavelike swirls of deep contrast and color so saturated that it appears wet, as though the paint had not finished drying. (It has: the canvases in this show—landscapes, cityscapes, still lives, and figures—are selected from 20 years’ of the artists’ work.)


Muchachos of the Gardens

(Original - Recent Post On

January 9, 2012

Wade Graham is a Los Angeles, California -based garden designer, historian, and writer whose work on the environment, landscape, urbanism and the arts has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s and other publications. This year, he authored two distinct works about gardens – American Eden, a beautiful volume that takes a sweeping look at the history of America’s gardens and the visionaries behind them; and Jesus Is My Gardener, a little gem released as a Kindle Single that offers a consciousness-raising view of the laborers who tend today’s gardens. Here, introduced by some of his recent musings, is an excerpt from Wade Graham’s Jesus Is My Gardener.


Blakeney Spit: On moving ground

September 28, 2011

On a bright Sunday morning I set out to run to the end of the Blakeney Spit, about 3 1/2 miles from where you can leave a car, across the marshes from Cley-Next-the-Sea. It was a classic North Norfolk scene: huge blue sky stippled with clouds headed for Holland on the westerly wind, whitecaps on the water. The spit is a narrow shingle-pebble bank piled up by waves, a hundred or so feet wide, pushed by the longshore current from the shore into the sea to the east-northeast, it is land building seaward. Between the spit and the coast are marshes, whose vegetation laps the top of the stone ridge, which then drops steeply towards the sea.


The High Line: It's All About the Real Estate

June 14, 2011

When the second section of the High Line Park opened this month between 20th and 30th streets along the West Side, it marked roughly a century and a half since the opening of Central Park in 1857. There are obvious differences between the two: covering 700 acres, Central Park is a landscape-scale facsimile of an ideal countryside, built when there was still open land on the island of Manhattan, while the High Line is a mere ribbon–not even of land, but elevated railbed strung between buildings, the only vacant space left on which to make a landscape. Yet their underlying similarities reveal that the essential dynamics of property and money in New York City have changed very little in 150 years. More...