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.
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.
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.
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.
Tucked away in the El Castillo caves in Spain, first discovered in the 19th century, scientists recently re-tested the hand stencils painted in one of the caves. Much to their surprise they were far older than previously thought. They were so old in fact; at an estimated 40,800 years, Neanderthals may have created the stencils. Whoever created them and for whatever reason they proclaim, “We were here and if you find this we want you know it!”
Looking at the hand stencils one can’t help but marvel at the connections across time that these simple human intimate representations signal to us. The hand, our most unique physical way of making a mark becomes the mark they make to speak to us. Who doesn’t understand a signature as universal as that? The cave painter’s accomplishments in the caves don’t stop with hands but represent the world they lived in and what mattered to them. Like other archaic cave paintings discovered throughout the world these marks speak to us about their creator’s unique abilities and leave many of us with a deep appreciation of those who came from a time so long ago. We see their incredible skills at carefully rendering elements of a world whose difficulties we can’t really imagine. They took the time to create these and surely they knew others would find them.
We all in one-way or another want to make our mark. Whether personally, or within an organization or a team we want to leave a legacy that says, “I/We did this.” The ways to do this have vastly multiplied. Communication avenues have increased like never before. There has never been a better time to make your mark and have the ability to tell the world that you have done so. Each time we create a web site or post on Facebook we are making a declaration that says this is what matters and unlike the hidden cave paintings the potential audience is unlimited.
Each Flickr photo or Pinterest post makes a statement and reaches out to others and like the cave paintings visually proclaims, “I/We care about this and want you to know it!” It’s any ones guess how long these digital proclamations will last but there is no doubting the potential reach they have in the present. Like the cover photo we created in chalk for this blog post they may easily disappear but for that short time the audience is enormous. The cave paintings on the other hand have now lasted for tens of thousands of years and have the advantage of being presented to this much wider audience. Wow, we are impressed and are glad they are still there!
As we work with others throughout the world we are continually inspired by what our customers accomplish and what they create. We are honored to help them proclaim, “We did this and we want you to know it!”
The Cave of Forgotten Dreams by Werner Herzog
Note: Since this post was originally posted Jay passed away in December of 2015. RIP Jay, you will be missed by many! He was a big man with an even bigger heart.
We often run across great art in the Santa Fe, New Mexico area. New Mexico is not only the land of enchantment but also the land of Art, and yes with a capital “A”. Inspiring works of art can be found at every turn, from roadside creations to galleries, art is a big part of what makes the area tick culturally and economically.
One day in July, Mari ran across a fellow working in his yard on something we at Ar(totems) Co. of course have a great appreciation for, Totem Poles. Since then we know the creator of these Totems is Jay Womack and we have begun representing him online and elsewhere. See his new Facebook page here: Jay Womack – Artist
Jay comes from a background of construction and fine woodworking. Like his totems he strikes a large imposing figure despite his amiable personality. After a couple of beers and a good conversation we realized his talent and his attitude fit well with our mission and representing him would be a pleasure. Jay’s great-grandmother was a Native American and while not all of his work is traditional much of it has the stunning impact a totem pole can have. Unlike many traditional artistic sculptures totem poles typically have specific meaning based on cultural and familial or group relationships. They are most closely associated with the cultures of the indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast of North America. The scholar Eddie Malin has proposed that totem poles progressed from house posts, funerary containers, and memorial markers into symbols of clan and family wealth and prestige.
A Bit About Totem Poles
“The meanings of the designs on totem poles are as varied as the cultures that make them. Totem poles may recount familiar legends, clan lineages, or notable events. Some poles celebrate cultural beliefs, but others are mostly artistic presentations. Certain types of totem poles are part of mortuary structures, and incorporate grave boxes with carved supporting poles, or recessed backs for grave boxes. Poles illustrate stories that commemorate historic persons, represent shamanic powers, or provide objects of public ridicule.” Wikipedia
We Need One
Given the work that Jay does and our appreciation of it we had to work a deal out with Jay to create a totem pole for us. It just makes sense, eh? When it’s done we’ll feature it here. In the meantime here are a few photos of his current projects. Also check back here to find his new website soon.
Jay's Current Work
Sharing our creative efforts, work and travel.