Armistice Day

Colorized Photo of Men of the Artists Rifle and 2 Scouts in Front of the Tower of London 1914

Armistice Day commemorates the end of World War I, which took effect at eleven o’clock in the morning, the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” of 1918. Today is the centennial of that commemoration. Last year, when we were in London, Anne took a picture of the above photo, while touring the Tower of London. The Artists Rifles was a volunteer battalion of the British Army that was drawn from painters, musicians, actors, architects and others involved in creative endeavors. They were billeted at the Tower in October of 1914, before being sent to the front. She took her picture with the intent of sharing it with our son, Dan, who is also an artist. The original photograph is black-and-white, but using an App from Algorithmia, I was able to colorized it. I think that adding a little color helps to humanizes these people a little bit. In part, because the Great War didn’t turnout to be the war to end all wars, we now call Armistice Day Veterans Day and it is usually observed on Monday, making for a three-day weekend. A lot has changed in a hundred years.

Graphic Revolution

Figure Group Series, Rosa Lee Lovell, 1969

On Friday, we attended the opening of the Saint Louis Art Museum’s big winter show. Anne taught a half-day in the morning, but her afternoon was free. The show is Graphic Revolution: American Prints 1960 to Now. It features lots and lots of Lichtenstein. Who knew that the museum’s collection included so many of his works and this show is primarily drawn from the museum’s collection. I suspect that the largess of last summer’s big Egyptian show ordained this more modest exhibit. I hope the curators didn’t run their budgets underwater with that one. I noted that our mummies are all safely ensconced in their resting places.

Graphic Revolution opens to the general public on Sunday, but is open now to members, which we currently are. Anne was gifted with this membership last year, at the end of one of her long term substitute gigs. So, this is the first time that we have been able to partake of this privilege. Normally, we sneak in on free Fridays (Dedicated to Art and Free to All), the first one is next week. 

Graphic Revolution explores the explosive mix of art and printmaking that began in the US in the 1960s. The experimentation embodied in this revolution transformed contemporary art. Shown are examples of how printmaking was used to push the boundaries of modern imagery by engaging with current issues and new technologies. In addition to Lichtenstein, many other iconic artists are featured in this exhibit. Warhol’s Campbell soup cans made the show. Due to the fragility of many of the works here, most have not been regularly displayed. The show also gives one an insight as to the depth of the museum’s collection.

Echoing Andy Warhol’s style, the above Rosa Lee Lovell work is set on Delmar Boulevard in Saint Louis. The bright colors and crisp outlines of its screen print are collaged with photographic imagery of the Loop. The Tivoli Theater is seen in the upper right. Lovell soon died after making this print. 

Poetry in Motion

Night from a railroad car window
Is a great, dark, soft thing
Broken across with slashes of light.
– Carl Sandburg

Jillian Tamaki has created several graphic novels. A self-proclaimed feminist, Tamaki’s work aims to include diverse characters who represent her readers. This subway car card, “Platform”, was commissioned by MTA Arts and Design and installed in subway cars in 2016. It is the first of these posters to use the comic strip formant. This work was included in the New York Transit Museum’s show, Underground Heroes, which features NYC transit in comics. For better formatting, I have broken her strip into two parts. Artwork like this is designed to be seen in the soffit corners of subway cars and is representative of art that the MTA sponsors, which in addition to visual art also features poetry.

Sometimes a crumb falls
From the table of joy,
Sometime a bone
Is flung.

To some people
Love is given,
To others
Only heaven.
– Langston Hughes

As part of a program dubbed Poetry in Motion, these car cards are interspersed among advertisements and announcements. Mostly short and pithy, sometimes subway relevant, sometimes famously authored, but frequently not, these poems give the train riders a moments escape. Something to think about besides the train’s clamor, your life’s problems, the people around you and the daily grind.

Albert J. Bell
Forty years of friendship
with my grandfather,
and still Uncle Al cannot eat
with chopsticks

Forty years of friendship
with Uncle Al,
and still my grandfather forgets
to offer him a fork.
– Janet S. Wong