We all have certain objects we own that have more meaning than other objects in our lives. A favorite sweater, a household item given to us by a family member, our cell phone, a beloved book, can all be touchstones that anchor us to a sense of connectedness in our life.
It’s always been this way for us. Museums are great places to see objects that are revered and held in high esteem for a multitude of reasons. They are anchors to the past and learning as well as examples of what we have valued throughout time.
Even our pets often have objects that are beloved. Certain objects are just important.
And then there is art…
Many of the objects created by artists are one of a kind. They are unique and have an expressive quality that you either appreciate or not. They differ from the favorite sweater you chose off the rack or ordered online. Unless the sweater was made for you it’s simply one of a multitude of sweaters being worn by many. Sure you can individualize some of these objects like your phone to some extent but still it’s a phone like thousands of others around you.
Creating a piece of art brings something into the world that literally didn’t exist before it was created. It’s almost a magical act of creation. It’s exciting!
Here’s a caveat… Art has a very long history. What we do now is influenced by that history. We almost can’t escape that fact. For a few fantastic examples check out the previous post by Mari, “Visiting the Moderna Museet in Stockholm - and Other Museums We Can't Stop Talking About” However, that doesn’t change the fact that when we create something new and different we truly have brought something new into the world.
"Original thought is like original sin: both happened before
you were born to people you could not have possibly met."
Art for me is a part-time endeavor. It satisfies the creative urge that often calls to me.
Here are a few examples of recent work with obvious artistic shout outs to those who came before.
Things Cubed - A series that continues to grow.
Our spring trip to Europe was all about renewing our inspirations and dipping our brains and toes in some of the best art museums (according to us).
Our Journey began in Stockholm, Sweden, although it not the best place to acclimate to the 8 hour time change. The sun was rising around 3:30 A.M. and setting around 10 P.M. As we quickly learned, Stockholm had nearly 18 hours of daylight per day! Insert jet-lag nightmare here.
You may have heard of the Moderna Museet back in 1993 when eight works by Picasso and Georges Braque, the French cubist, valued at some $60 million, were stolen.
Responsible for housing one of Europe's finest collections of modern and contemporary art, the Moderna Museet was certainly one of the highlights of our trip to Europe this spring. They had over 35 pieces of Duchamp's alone in their permanent collection!
After Stockholm we spent some time in Amsterdam. There we visited several museums, amongst them the Van Gogh Museum, which merited almost an entire day. Lost in Van Gogh's brush strokes you're transported to another time. You are there in his studio witnessing his latest painting, dabbing the finishing touches with a stroke so famous and so unique. Tragically, like many creative geniuses, Van Gogh ended his own life, two gunshot wounds to the chest, taking his last breaths in his brother Theo's arms. One can bear witness to their strong relationships in the hundreds of letters they exchanged while they were apart, The letters chronicle Vincent's life like an autobiography. All art has the potential to be powerful and create strong and even unfamiliar reactions inside us, but in particular I think we had the strongest "aha' moments at the Van Gogh Museum.
To mix feelings up further, the temporary exhibit at the Van Gogh was 'Easy Virtue' depicting prostitution in French Art from 1850 to 1910. The exhibit examined how the theme of prostitution was dealt with by over 40 different artists. It included rare private and public collection works by Van Gogh himself, Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec and Picasso among others. A fitting and interesting introduction to Amsterdam and the Red Light District.
In Amsterdam we also visited the Stedelijk, and the Moco Museum (which was exclusively featuring works by Banksy and Warhol).
In Paris, we never miss the Louvre but this time we also visited the Georges Pompidou Center to see the Paul Klees exhibit as well as Espace Dali to see a great collection of Salvador Dali's work.
Finally, in London we went to the Tate Modern. Interestingly, a whole section of the Tate was being prepared for a major Georgia O'Keeffe exhibit. This was of course an interesting fact to us Santa Feans.
When we've arrived some place, especially if it's new (to us) or we've traveled long distances, I always ask myself "Why am I here? Why have we devoted our time and resources to be here, visiting this place?'" We don't love jet-lag, unfamiliar beds, and the lack of direction, plus we miss our cat. So, why?
The question lingers throughout the journey and every time we do it, I feel myself getting closer to... asking a better question. Always approaching but never arriving. Cliche as it sounds, it's truly the moments in between that feed our wanderlust. It's a discovery of ourselves in a new city, speaking a different language, engaging in different contexts.
It's a step back and a step closer. It's watching the man religiously feeding the pigeons, it's figuring out if finding the entrance to the gallery at the Tate Modern is an exhibit in itself, it's realizing yourself in the escalator "tube" at the Pompidou. It's watching the watcher and enjoying children chasing bubbles in a busy square. It's taking a quiet ferry and time to stroll through the Tulleries not knowing where you're going.
It's the loss of familiarity and the acceptance of being in those moments, that make us more prepared to return home again.
One Minute of Moments
I put this video together to acknowledge those random yet substantial moments in an attempt to linger in that time, but also explore the origin of that wanderlust and curiosity. I'm still working on articulating it.
We could be any of these characters. You could be the man with the birds, the lovers, the crowds or the tour group. I could be you. You could be me.
Music is "We Move Lightly" by Dustin O'Halloran.
We provide marketing and publicity for authors and their books. It’s a fascinating endeavor that provides us a chance to work with smart, creative, individuals who are dedicated to a noble profession.. It also gives us a chance to read some great books before they enter the market.
Throughout time, writers like artists, have been the chroniclers of history and all aspects of society and civilizations. Whether it’s fiction or non-fiction they have provided a way to objectively see our world. They teach us new perspectives and ideas through the lenses of their books. They challenge us to seek within ourselves the attitudes and implications that their characters bring to life. Simply put, they make us think about ourselves.
If the book is non-fiction we are brought along for the ride with actual living and breathing people, places, and times. We get to glimpse the perspectives of people who have experienced things we may never have imagined. We walk in their shoes and see what they saw. We are challenged with the question of what would I do? How would I react? What decision would I make?
Unlike films, books force us to construct internal visions of the people, places, and situations they depict. The description of a house may be detailed but we build the total picture in our minds of what that house looks like. We personalize our experience with the writer and sometimes that connection can be magical. If you are a book lover you know exactly what this means. It can be like finding a friend and finding a place where you too fit in and feel comfortable. Or, like the character you feel the discomfort that they feel. Empathy is a powerful emotional connection.
Writing a book is hard work. It takes dedication and a great degree of creativity. It also takes a willingness to put yourself and your work out there to an unknown audience who can respond in a multitude of ways online or otherwise. We are finding that most authors are happy to have your response whether it’s positive or negative or somewhere in between. All that dedication to the craft of writing makes them pretty resilient.
Obviously we love books and we know they make a real difference in our lives. It’s our distinct pleasure to present a few of the authors and books we work with.
It’s certainly no small task to write a book. It takes a lot of time and effort as well as determination. Our customer Claudette Sutton spent years researching and writing Farewell, Aleppo. The book was published in October, 2014 by Terra Nova Books and we created the “Book Trailer” for it. We toast Claudette for creating a moving and prescient book about her father leaving Aleppo, Syria for the United States. The past reflects the present in this great telling of a real tale.
FAREWELL, ALEPPO – Book Trailer
My Father, My People, and Their Long Journey Home
First Place winner of the New Mexico Press Women’s Award and the National Federation of Press Women’s Award (2015)
Farewell, Aleppo Synopsis:
In the middle years of the twentieth century, the fabric of society that had swaddled the Jews of Aleppo, Syria, for more than two thousand years was being rent apart by the powerful surge of Arab anti-Semitism.
To Selim Sutton, a merchant with centuries of roots in the Syrian soil, it was clear that his family must find a new home. With several young children and no prospect of getting enough visas, he devised a savvy plan for getting his family out: “exporting” his sons. For the oldest of them, Meïr —soon to be renamed Mike—thus began an odyssey that was to take him more than halfway around the world, to Shanghai where he survived the Japanese occupation throughout World War II, and then on to a new life in America.
It is a tale that his daughter, journalist Claudette Sutton, tells now in Farewell, Aleppo, a poignant narrative blending her family’s individual lives with the broader story of a people’s survival over millennia, in their native land and far away, through the strength of their faith and their communities. Multiple threads come richly together as she observes their world from inside and outside the fold, shares an important, and nearly forgotten, epoch of Jewish history, and explores universal questions of identity, family, and culture.
Buy Farewell, Aleppo
Photography has always been a big part of all the design work we do. The objectifying aspect of what the camera lense does for what we see can be compelling but also instructive at times. We care about innovation, enterprise, culture, and art and so wherever we go we snap a few shots. Those shots sometimes end up promoting the people and enterprises we like on our site and elsewhere. Occasionally they end up as book covers and in publications.
On the book cover below you see a shot of two of us visiting an archaeological site in northern Mexico in the state of Sonora. The site is called Cerro De Trincheras. People of several different cultures in the the southwest US and northern Mexico region built terraced hilltop sites over a span of 2500 years. The earliest sites were occupied 3000 years ago, but others were occupied as late as the century when Columbus reached the Americas. These terraced hilltops are still not well understood. In the case of the one you see on the book cover, as you reach the top of the hill you are greeted by a simple and yet elegant labyrinth. Despite our efforts at photographic
“The creative act lasts but a brief moment, a lightning instant of give-and-take, just long enough for you to level the camera and to trap the fleeting prey in your little box.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson
We “Modern Humans” often think of humans who came before us as less capable or less intelligent and even less creative. We point to modern civilization as an example of proof for this belief. However individually none of us created what we currently see. It was a culmination of ideas and their implementation by many over time. Individually we all have varying degrees of ability in different areas. For the most part humans are creative and intelligent and have applied themselves in acts of creativity in all time periods. The National Museum of Anthropology and what it contains makes this point clearly. The looks of awe and amazement on the faces of the visitors around us said it all.
If you get an opportunity to visit this museum, do it!
Selected Photos from the Museo Nacional de Antropología
Photos by Artotems Co.
Francisco is one of our newest client’s at Artotems Co. A talented artist, his speciality is the ancient greek method of encaustic painting.
Francisco Benitez considers himself an atemporal archaeologist who excavates lost and forgotten styles of painting long assigned to the shadows to reveal the ever-transient nature of the human psyche. Trained in a rigorous atelier program at the Art Student’s League in New York, he frequented museums and copied old master paintings in order to master their techniques and conceptual strategies. However, impelled by an emotional/psychological impulse, he initially embraced a Caravaggesque approach to his subjects, in which narratives were weaved about the subjects as light sculpted their forms out of shadow.
Always concerned with presenting the human psyche in all its complexity, Benitez later discovered the ancient Romans and Greeks, and in his desire to fuse the gravitas of history with the psychological narratives of his subjects, he embarked on a new series of works in encaustic, one of the most ancient painting techniques known to humanity, and one of the most difficult to master.
As the Fayum portraits of Ancient Egypt attest, wax not only served to embalm the dead but to resurrect and revivify the subjects represented. By using the ancient tools and restrained palette of the Greeks, Benitez has isolated the psyche and placed it on center stage, whereby the viewer brings his/her subjectivity to the work and in effect initiates a complicit relationship with memory, history, and the geological layering of the collective human experience through the represented individual.
Born in 1967 in Taos, New Mexico, into a family of performing and visual artists—Maria and Cecilio Benitez—he obtained his BFA from the University of New Mexico, after having studied in Granada, Spain, the Art Student’s League, and St. John’s College. Besides actively showing in the US, he has also lived and exhibited widely in Europe, especially in France and Italy, where he has participated in a number of museum and gallery shows.
We started the day with a guided bus tour around Barcelona. We had an incredible guide who was able to give us an excellent glimpse of the city and it's rich artistic and political history. Speaking of politics, it was during our guided bus tour that the breaking news came in. In a nationwide address King Juan Carlos announced that he would passing the crown down to his son, Prince Felipe. This was big news for Spain, Juan Carlos had been king for 39 years. But after so many years of illness, it seemed to be the right time.
Shortly after, we arrived at Park Guell.. The park includes a collection of some of Gaudi's most innovative structures. At the time that he built them, though later proven unsuccessful, the intention was for it to be a development of high quality, yet very artistic homes. An architectonic genius, he based his designs on the foundations of geometry. The park is replete with iconography, colorful mosaics, gardens, and mythological elements. A true feast for the eyes!
You can learn more about this trip and other trips we've arranged here: http://maritravelbug.blogspot.com/
The New Art of Promotion
(Excerpt from a piece we did for the book “True Acting Tips” by Larry Silverberg)
If people don’t know about you, you won’t be found. If people can’t find you, you won’t be contacted. Simple truths. Let’s put you in that empty chair!
As most consumers know, a sea change has occurred in how we communicate and how we must promote what we do if we expect to succeed. While the phone and letters are still valid forms of communication, they require an extra effort that many busy recipients don’t have time for and relegate to the circular file. What they make time for is the web. Whether it’s email, search, or social media, that’s where contact now occurs. With this change, even traditional outlets of promotion using print ads struggled to adapt to digital consumption of what they have to say. They know they must evolve. Demographics for that consumption clearly show that if you want to be seen and heard by a very large part of potential audiences the place to start is online. Whether you are a company creating widgets or an actor performing drama, welcome to the new boat. We are all in it together.
As an artist you want your efforts to be seen. In the past others often controlled how you were seen. That, too, has changed. As a creative individual, you can now promote your own work in ways that are powerful and reach a worldwide audience. You can shape and control the presentation of your efforts. You can reach out and develop an audience. Chances are, if you create it, there is an audience out there for it. What does it take to do this? Time, effort, and access to basic computer technology are all that is necessary to begin.
Ah, time! If only we had more of it. Our good friend, the artist Steve Muhs has this to say about promoting his work: “I know I need to do it, but I don’t want to stop working to do it. If I don’t, though, then who am I making the art for? Who will see it?” His concern and his questions are valid. Like a lot of creative people, for him time is an issue. His work is demanding and requires a great deal of attention, and yet it still must be seen in order to be experienced and appreciated. He also adds that it “feels odd” to promote himself and his work. Our response is this: If you owned a company that produced a good product, would you be hesitant to promote it? Of course you wouldn’t. If you don’t do it who will? As an artist/actor you are essentially running your own business. It, like other businesses, must be marketed. And like other businesses, it has competition. However as an actor the products you produce are unique because they are creative expressions from within you. Martha Graham, the dancer, had this to say about creative expression: “There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening, that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique.” Finding an outlet for others to see and hear your unique talent is essential, so the time and effort are worthwhile. Whether you do it yourself or find an individual or organization to help, the online resources are out there.
At Artotems Co. we think artistic endeavor is a vital part of our lives. We make it a point to promote the creative efforts of many. To learn more about what we do go here.
Works by Steve Muhs
True Acting Tips by Larry Silverberg
True Acting Tips leads stage and screen actors on a journey of passion, intimacy, and personal investment. This isn't to say that there will not be heavy demands and a high cost, but ultimately, this book is designed to offer the clarity and encouragement to become an actor who makes a difference in the lives of the audience members. "True Acting" is not a reproduction of anything that has come before and True Acting Tips is not a book concerned primarily with the technical demands of acting. Instead, it is an in-depth examination and invitation to see and experience acting as a momentous burst of creation new, surprising, and deeply human. It includes inspirational quotes, more than 200 acting tips, and images that reveal a powerful philosophy to assist in the most difficult moments.
Available on Amazon here.
Thoughts on the implications of creative efforts and the customers we work with.