Rothko’s Red

Portland Center Stage just finished a run of the play “RED” about Mark Rothko. Originally staged in London, the play opened on Broadway two years ago and won the 2010 Tony for Best Play.

This two-person play by John Logan is set in Rothko’s studio in the late 1950′s.  He is working on paintings for the opening of New York’s elite Four Seasons restaurant. His new and much younger assistant, Ken, bears the brunt of his insecurities for taking on this prestigious, and lucrative, commercial commission. In their give and take the audience is treated to a thought-provoking lesson in mid-century art history and a glimpse into the heart and soul of Rothko’s passion for color.

I won’t do a review here – there are many good ones online -  but three quotes about color stuck in my head. The quotes come from separate sections of the play but together they illuminate the themes.

ROTHKO: There is only one thing I fear in life, my friend… One day the black will swallow the red.”

ROTHKO: Because black is the opposite of red. Not on the spectrum, but in reality.

KEN: In reality we both know black’s a tool, just like ochre or magenta. It has no affect. Seeing it as malevolent is a weird sort of chromatic anthropomorphizing”

Daniel Benzali played Rothko at the peak of his career yet concerned about his legacy. Patrick Alparone played Ken as the student turned teacher. I will need to read the screenplay to remember all the choice lines of dialogue. As an artist, a colorist, and a fan of abstract expressionism, it struck chords on many levels. I could go on and on about what I liked (and in some cases – disliked) but let’s just say I was thrilled to be able to see it.

Coming up: A visit to the Portland Museum’s Retrospective of Rothko’s work from the 1920′s through the 1960′s.

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Zooming In

Often  zooming in on an image can inspire new design and color combination ideas. Today I’m zooming in on chairs.

These are three very different details from chairs made by artists for the Chair Affair fundraiser – the annual auction for the Portland Community Warehouse.

Many Portland artists contribute pieces to the auction. Some make the chairs from scratch, some use recycled chairs. My friend and neighbor, pastel artist Greg Danielson started out with an old chair and the idea of making the legs of a chair be something else. Since many historic chair designs have legs inspired by animals he thought he would do a modernized version.

His first choice of animal was a giraffe, but the proportions caused a problem. How tall would the back need to be to mimic the long neck of the giraffe? His second choice was dogs. Multiple animals seemed more appropriate. While looking at photographs of African animals he saw an image of two zebras who seemed to be embracing neck to neck. Danielson decided that would be perfect.

He started out wanting the zebras to be 3D with the heads curving around to the front but that ended up tipping the chair over. So he went with a 2D design.  He calls his final version a “wingback” chair and says he was painting stripes for a week.

The auction raises money to provide basic furnishings to over 5000 people in need every year.  You can see the full size chairs and other auction items in the gallery for the 2012 Portland Chair Affair.
Portland Community Warehouse 2012 Tables, Chairs and Artists

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The Gift of Color for Valentines Day

Target aired a new commercial on the Grammies. It features the song ‘Alouette, Gentile Alouette’ by The Delta Rhythm Boys. If you haven’t seen this fun spin on color, check it out on YouTube.

Happy Valentines Day! May all your days be filled with color!

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Pasta Machine Standards 4.0

Since I alway start with the #1 setting, this version of the chart has the thick settings at the top. PDF Version: Pasta Machine Standards 4.0

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Pasta Machine Standards Version 3.0

Here’s my latest draft of a chart based on input from many sources. The standard sheet thicknesses are now only in millimeters, plus I added a column for the size of the sheet (in mm and inches) that you will get from a regular sized block of clay at the THIN, MEDIUM and THICK sizes.

Look for a guest post from Sage Bray and myself coming soon on Polymer Clay Daily. We will include a short survey to collect data on as many pasta machines as we can. It may take some time but we will have standards soon! In the meantime please keep the comments, suggestions and emails coming.

PDF Version Pasta Machine Standards – Version 3.0

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