Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Here’s to Life


Today marks the 75th anniversary of LIFE magazine being in print, and as such they have a couple of great “Best-of” lists going on at their website.  Whenever I think of LIFE it is inevitably the iconic photographs that have been produced in it's tenure that come to mind.  Lucky for you their website has created a list of the top 75 photographs from the past 75 years.  75!!!!!!

In honor of this grand achievement I thought it would be fun to cull from The John Cleary Gallery’s very own collection of LIFE photographs, some of which are found on the best-of list.  In the instances where there is an overlap, I have copied the blurb provided on LIFE’s website.

Three Frames of Children at Puppet Theater, Paris, 1963

Alfred Eisenstaedt: Three Frames of Children at Puppet Theater, Paris, 1963

“Yes, LIFE's photographers took many classic images of the powerful, the rich, and the famous -- but Alfred Eisenstaedt's gift was making stars out of everyday people, by patiently observing and capturing them in magical moments of joy and wonder. Here, he trains his eye on a young audience at a puppet show in a Paris park: Each delightful child reacts in an extreme and distinct way to the moment when St. George slays the dragon, displaying a range of emotions -- amusement, horror, triumph, fear -- that hints at the many facets of the human experience.”

American Woolen Co., Lawrence, MA, 1935

Margaret Bourke-White: American Woolen Co., Lawrence, MA, 1935


Edward Steichen, 1959

Philippe Halsman: Edward Steichen, 1959



Mickey Mantle having a bad day at Yankee Stadium, 1965

John Dominis: Mickey Mantel having a bad day at Yankee Stadium, 1965

“In perhaps the greatest-ever photograph of a legendary athlete in decline, John Dominis captured New York center fielder Mickey Mantle at Yankee Stadium in June 1965, at a point in his career when alcohol, injuries, and plain old advancing age were dulling the incandescent talents of the future Hall of Famer. Here, in Dominis' photo, Mantle flings his batting helmet away in frustration after a terrible at-bat -- a gesture that, even in the twilight of his career, Mantle managed with physical grace and, somehow, a kind of flair.”



Joan Miro

Yousuf Karsh: Joan Miro



American Gothic

Gordon Parks: American Gothic, 1942



The Beatles, Miami Beach, 1964

John Loengard: The Beatles, Miami Beach, 1964

“In John Loengard's popular photo of John, Paul, George, and Ringo, taken during their first trip to America, the lads' famous mop tops bob undisturbed above the water's surface. The pool was quite chilly that day, thanks to a cold snap -- check out Ringo's grimace -- and Loengard has said the Beatles even began to turn blue; still, in the short minutes he had to get this shot, the photographer cleverly asked the boys to sing, and thus managed to draw out the playfulness and passion that made them so beloved.”

Frank Gehry Testing His Furniture Design, NYC, 1970

Ralph Morse: Frank Gehry “Testing” His Furniture Design, NYC, 1970 (Some of you may remember a stairway design by Frank Gehry from a post on stairs—yes, a whole post on stairs—from a little over a year ago!)



Dancing at Rosie's Cafe, Texas, 1937

Carl Mydans: Dancing at Rosie’s CafĂ©, Texas, 1937… because why not end with a shout-out to my home country!!


Artist: Barbra Streisand / Album: Love is the Answer

Monday, November 21, 2011



As I am sitting here in the lobby of an oral surgeon in League City waiting for Mallory to get out of some (minor) surgery I thought I’d do a quick blog post of a video I saw a while back on BoingBoing. What exactly does this buh-crazy animation of cats have to do with Mallory or surgery? – not much, but I’d imagine that with the drugs I’m sure she’s currently on, it’s not to impossible to imagine her hallucinating the following:

Omg WHAAAAAAAAAAT IS HAPPENING!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?! (PS… I love this)


Artist: The Cranberries / Album: Bury the Hatchet

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Big Black Lady Stops the Show


A couple of weeks ago I had the chance to knock off another one of my “must do’s” while living in Houston: going to the gospel brunch at the House of Blues!!!  My gallery neighbor, Yvonne, recently celebrated her birthday and her husband put together a surprise party at the venue and I was lucky enough to get an invitation.  As the moniker “gospel brunch” might suggest, there is live gospel ensemble that performs while you eat your delectable brunch (oh you’d better believe there were chicken and waffles to be had!!)

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Yvonne and I with Geri, owner of Hooks-Epstein Gallery, who is actually making that face on purpose


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Open mouth, unhinge jaw!  Oddly enough, I’m referring both to how I ate my lunch and how fabulously these gospel singers manage to perform


For those of you who do not know, I am a huge fan of gospel music and for the hell of it here is one of my fav’s  Jennifer Holliday (she of the original Effie-ness—deal with it Jennifer Hudson!)

WHAT JUST HAPPENED TO MY EARS (and her vocal chords)!!!!  One of my favorite user comments on this video: “[Girl] ain’t got jaw tension… [girl] got HEAD tension!”


I would also be remiss to not make mention of Our Lady of Gospel Music, Mahalia Jackson, in an entire post on the genre.



I also happened to notice a picture of Lightnin’ Hopkins on the wall, which quickly reminded me of a statue of him that resides in Crockett.  In reading over his wikipedia page I discovered that, at least as far as I can tell, there’s no connection between him and my home town… I had always assumed he was born there or something. Count that as the new something I learned for the day.

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Picture at House of Blues and statue in Crockett, TX


Artist: Martin Short / Album: Fame Becomes Me

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

After the Fall


I’ve been meaning to do a Fall post for a while now, but since the word Fall is really quite meaningless here in the great nation of Texas then I thought now was as good a time as any.  Case and point… there is a forty degree difference between the expected high in Houston and Ann Arbor, MI for tomorrow.  At any rate, here is a menagerie of things that make me think “Fall.”

Subject to change.

Subject to Change, by Maggie Taylor.  I mean come on, if ever there were a Mr. November in the Maggie Taylor twelve year calendar then this would be he.


Pianist/Comedian Victor Borge and baritone Robert Merill performing “Autumn Leaves”

I remember watching Victor Borge all the time on PBS fundraising drives when I was a kid and he has consistently made me laugh ever since then.



One of my favorite things about the change of seasons is the drop in temperature… the colder the better! Partly because I enjoy breaking out my coats and scarves but mostly because I can use my Pottery Barn faux fur throw without breaking into an instant sweat.  Seriously… this thing is amazing!


fur-mazing! (gross)


And finally, the advent of Fall means the approach of Thanksgiving and the wonderful inevitability of devouring a Greenberg smoked turkey!!!!  That’s right, these perfectly smoked—and mail orderable—birds out of our very own Tyler, Texas are one of my favorite things about the season. 


Oprah loves ‘em and, though that may be a deterrent for some of you, so should you!


Artist: Journey / Album: Frontiers

Friday, November 11, 2011

At the Round Earth’s Imagin’d Corners


2011 appears to be a great year for the notion of the sudden appearance of another planet in the night sky, at least as far as the cinema-scape is concerned.  Lars von Trier’s Melancholia opens today in theaters, the narrative of which “…revolves around two sisters during and shortly after the wedding party of one of them, while Earth is about to collide with an approaching rogue planet.” (via Wikepedia)

I’m pretty sure this will clobber the competition for best comedy of the year … … …


Earlier this summer another movie, this time focusing on the appearance of not just a rogue planet but another Earth itself, was released.  The aptly titled Another Earth follows the story of “…Rhoda Williams, a bright young woman accepted into MIT’s astrophysics program [who] aspires to explore the cosmos.  A brilliant composer, John Burroughs, has just reached the pinnacle of his profession and is about to have a second child.  On the eve of the discovery of a duplicate Earth, tragedy strikes and the lives of these strangers become irrevocably intertwined.” (via the films homepage).


So you’ve got your rogue planet and you’ve even got your parallel Earth… but let’s take it a step further, shall we?  Last week NOVA began a new four part series, The Fabric of the Cosmos, based on (and hosted by) the work of acclaimed astrophysicist Brian Green. In the summation of the first episode, which focuses more specifically on the notion of space itself, the scientists delve into a new theory about black holes and the notion that perhaps our Earth is merely the projection of an astral hologram, a universal imprint on the edges of a black hole.  I’ve embeded the video to start at the relevant time but watch the whole episode if you’ve got an hour to kill!

Mind = BLOWN!


Artist: Benjamin Britten / Album: Holy Sonnets

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery


It’s been a while since we’ve had a mention of Our Lady of Tennessee (AKA soprano supremo Sabrina Laney Warren) and a recent post on her Facebook wall was pretty much begging for some blog postage. 

A quick bit of backstory… over the past couple of weeks I have been getting texts from her about how someone who plays for some of her lessons reminds her a lot of me and she’s even starting referring to him as my blonde doppelgänger.  Then I later found out that he is also a Baylor grad.  His last name is Aber, which is eerily reminiscent of our Eber day in Germany.  THEN Sabrina informed me that he also had one of the same shirts that I took on tour this summer and apparently that was the last straw—they decided to do a bit of photo reenactment from one of my earlier posts:

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Artist: Gerard Alessandrini / Album: Forbidden Broadway, Volume 3

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Like a Rock


One of the wonderful (and yet, often troublesome) aspects of being in this biz called “show” is that it is a very very small world. Example: I recently went to a birthday party for my friend, Julia, who studies at the University of Houston and naturally I ran into three people I knew, one with whom I had gone to Michigan, and those whom I didn’t know at least had many mutual acquaintances.  That’s always my favorite awkward moment… when you realize you know someone in common but don’t know if you share the same opinion of said person.  It’s always a bit of a verbal ballet (which is about the only kind of dancing opera singers tend to know) we all do to figure out what level of dirt telling we can get away with.  Which, by the way, the scale of “dirt telling” for singers basically has a base line of about 6 on a scale of 1 – 10.

Yet I digress.  All this to say… with as much traveling around that we all do for auditions, performances, lessons, etc. it’s not uncommon to see old friends pop up outta the blue every now and then—which brings me to the point of this blathering. 

A small opera company here in Houston, Opera in the Heights, is doing a production of Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte and my friend and studio mate from Baylor, Sarah Beckham, is performing (the hell outta, btw) the role Fioridiligi in one of the casts.  I haven’t seen Sarah in about seven years, the last time being when I went to audition at Boston University… an experience I mentioned previously back in February when I took a small vacation to the northeast.



In addition to Sarah as Fioridiligi, my friend, Zach (who was mentioned in one of my favorite posts ever but has thus far eluded being photographed) is performing the role of Ferrando in Sarah’s cast and Jennifer is the Despina in the other cast. I unfortunately have conflicts with Sarah and Zach’s performance dates so I was able to go to the final dress rehearsal with Jennifer and the above picture is from the casts’ post-performance drink session.

Thought it’s a bit of short notice, if you want to listen to some live performances from Cosi by Zach and Sarah you can tune-in to Houston’s Classical 91.7 (streaming online here) for today’s edition of The Front Row at NOON.

And, as a bit of a parting shot—and because there’s not really anything she can do about it—my absolute favorite picture of Sarah evar!

Sarah Mardi Gras


Artist: Bob Seger  / Album: Like a Rock

P.S.: A little back story behind today’s post title.  As Sarah is not from Houston, the company has put her up with a host family and the “father” was at the final dress as well.  He came up to her at intermission because he had to leave after the first half and the conversation went something like this:

Man: Sarah! You sound so fantastic… just spectacular!

Sarah: Oh thank you!!

Man: I especially loved the, hold on one second… I really like that one song, wait a minute I wrote down the name of it… that part where you sang by yourself, where IS that paper—oh here it is.  My favorite song of yours was that “Like a Rock” one, that was just great!

The adorableness of this is that “like a rock” is the translation “Come scoglio,” which also happens to be one of the most famous arias from the opera and like, ever… but as some of you southerners may know, is also the name of that song from the Chevy truck commercials.  So for your listening pleasure (and because I think everyone should listen to the aria at least once), here is lady Renee Fleming rockin’ out some Mozart.