Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Artists and their Muses Revisited

For the summer we are putting up new episodes every other week and giving you another chance to listen to old episodes!

The Muse has always been attached to the artist in one form or another.
Three Graces

Just before the Renaissance, there were many ancient sculptures that were being discovered and inspiring artists. The Three Graces inspired the use of the female form as a representation to the muse.

Pastoral Symphony by Titian

This is an example of the Three Graces being implemented in painting.

Bathsheba at her Bath by Rembrandt

Although his wife made sure Rembrandt couldn't marry his mistress after her death, he consistently used her within his works of art.


Luncheon on the Grass
Street Singer

These are all pieces by Manet, who found himself using Victorine (his "muse") often in his art.

Make sure you catch the Elizabeth Gilbert Ted Talks presentation this episode was inspired by-- in fact, Elizabeth can be said to have been the muse for the podcast brought to you today!

Who's your muse?

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Going Places

Back in April--when I was deciding on exact dates for when I'd leave to Estonia where I am working on my final project for school--I figured out I would likely arrive to Estonia on my birthday.

"Wow, I never thought I'd beat the birthday I went to Venice," I commented.

And then I realized.

I sounded like a totally spoiled, rotten brat.

And maybe I am. Sometimes when we discuss topics on the podcast and we're able to talk about actually going and seeing this painting or that statue, I wonder how many of you think well, that's nice... I'll never get to do that. Which is why I'm here to assure you...


You see, I haven't been on study abroad because of some hidden wealth I have, or my family for that matter. In fact, if you saw my bank statements you would laugh. Hard.

So I thought it might be helpful to give you a few tips on how I've been able to visit all over Europe and, more importantly, how you could too!

1) Don't bother with a Plan B.

This was actually a suggestion a friend verbalized, but which I have found most helpful. Don't talk about plans to go somewhere as "well, some day... when I win the lottery... and don't have to work anymore". Guess what... it won't happen! Estonia has been a place I have wanted to go my entire life. Literally. My grandparents came from this little country and when I was thinking about projects I would want to work on, I knew this was it. People--with good intentions I'm sure--would ask "what if..." and something along the lines of what I would do if I didn't do that project. This came from concerned parents more than anywhere else.

I ignored this to the best of my ability. I was lucky to have advising professors that never threw a "what if" or asked for a back-up plan. And, more importantly, I knew that it wasn't time to think or invest in a "Plan B". I knew I was smart enough to have others ideas, if it came down to it, but I also knew I was smart enough to come up with ways to make Estonia happen. If you really want to go some place, do it! As the cliche goes, "if there's a will, there's a way!"

2) Keep an eye out for opportunities.

I applied for a million grants and scholarships. At least that's what it felt like. And guess what... not one of them came through. Admittedly, I was disappointed, but I hadn't been waiting for the answers to figure out how to fund my project. I did what I could, savings-wise, and had some help and advice from a fellow student who had used Kickstarter, which is a way of setting up a creative projects and requesting funding from anyone and everyone. I was able to get some jobs (via Craigslist) in this month while I've been waiting to go, and I am continually looking for ways I might be able to work remotely from across the ocean. Do what you have to and take every chance there is.

Another example was when I had the chance to go to Italy for the study abroad program with UVU. Two weeks before the application deadline a couple made available grant money for students who wanted to go, but couldn't afford it on their own. I still don't know these generous people, but am grateful for the opportunity this provided. For my part, I had kept good grades and got the application in with a request to be one of the benefactors. If you're in school, look for any kind of grants and scholarships that can give you these amazing opportunities. They're out there if you're looking.

3) Be Smart, not Scared

When you're about to venture out into some great unknown, people will give you a look. It's one where eyes widen, jaws slacken, and a sort of incredulous/impressed "wow" comes out without any effort. "Wait... you don't know anyone there? You're going by yourself???"

Why yes, yes I am. I live on my own, I drive all over the states on my own, I work and play and study on my own... why on earth would I feel an absolute need to have someone with me when I travel? The fact is, most places are about the same, safety-wise. Yes, there are pickpockets and thieves... but tell me... how is that any different from home?

The major difference is that we are familiar enough at home to know when something or someone is "off". When you're traveling elsewhere it isn't so much that you need to be worried about every person who passes, but that you need to prepare in a smart manner as you go out. Pack your bag in a way that makes it next to impossible for someone to just grab your wallet. They're looking for easy targets, so don't be one. Even if you look paranoid, wear your backpack on the front in the subway. Read up and understand how these pickpockets work. Don't be in secluded places after dark (at least for girls this is pretty much the same as if you're home, right?).

Really, to sum it up, there's nothing to be scared about. Be aware of your surroundings and you will enjoy traveling whether or not you are on your own or with a group of 100 people. Just don't let fear be a deterrent for seeing the world.

I hope that this helps to get at least a few people out there and going places. You never know who you're going to meet or what experiences you're going to have. Lucky for me, I've had aunts and uncles keep up with some relatives here in Estonia. I've been able to meet a few people, so far, and hope to meet more and build up relationships with people from around the world. Take a chance and you may just surprise yourself!

Happy Travels!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Giveaway Winner!

Congratulations to Carrie Espinoza! She won the giveaway for the Van Gogh art print of 'Starry Night'.

Thank you for your support Carrie!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Episode 32: The Medicis

Have you ever waken up one morning and thought "I'd really like to rule the world today." Well we have the perfect family for you to follow if this is what you'd like to do! (Everyone needs a good mentor after all.)

Step 1: Specialize in a needed field of work. (i.e. Banking)
Step 2: Marry off your women to important figures, politicians, and, ideally, Kings of France.
Step 3: Become patrons to important artists that will make sure your name goes down in the history books!

Giovanna Medici-- he started it all

This is one of the Grand Dukes of Tuscany, Cosimo I. There were also a few Medici who held the papal throne in Rome, becoming popes and prominent figures in the church.

Catherine de Medici: wife, mother, queen... glove poisoner.

Marie de Medici was a more beloved queen, but had some of the same political pull as Catherine.

For more details, listen to the podcast. Good luck and arrivederci!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Why I like Art History: Julia

I love art. I particularly love really, really good art. The first few minutes I spent at the Muse Orsay, I had to concentrate on not hyperventilating. You think I'm kidding, but I'm really, really not.

History has always been a hobby of mine, it's sort of a family thing. We've all got this interest and a kind of sense of being born in the wrong time. So, put art and history together and you've pretty much entered my personal nirvana (I know, I'm soooo un-cool), but there is more too it than that.

I like art history because when I look at a painting by Van Gogh, or Rembrandt, Titian, Pollock, etc. etc. I have a better understanding of what I am looking at and a better appreciation for what the artist is trying to convey.

I’ll give you an example (I’ve over shared this with my friends, so they can just ignore me right about now). In the past I didn’t really like Van Gogh’s work, the best way to put it is that I just didn’t get it. It was too much of too much for me. Then I saw some of his work in person and my opinion completely changed. I stood there in front of ‘The Siesta’ and got it. I used to think that seeing his work in person was what changed it for me, but that’s really only part of it. The other 50% was knowing his story.

Van Gogh, "The Siesta"

He painted his (probably) most famous painting, “Starry Night”, from a cell in an asylum. His use of color was personal for him; he attached his own meanings to the colors he used.

Yellow = Hope and trust.
Red and Green = Terrible Passions of humanity
Blue = Spirituality

Knowing these three things, look at “Night CafĂ©” and then look at “Starry Night”.

Van Gogh, 'Night Cafe'

Van Gogh, 'Starry Night'

To me there is a huge difference between liking, “Starry Night” because it’s peaceful and lonely feeling and liking it because you know that the deep blue sky represents spirituality and the yellow stars represent hope and trust. Van Gogh said that stars were places he hadn't been to yet, places he'd be able to visit one day.

So, in a nutshell, that’s why I like art history.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Episode 31: Jackson Pollock

Jackson Pollock makes for an interesting artist to start a discussion of the value of art. As an abstract expressionist, Pollock created gigantic paintings that incorporated his "Jack the Dripper" style.

Lavender Mist, 1950

Pollock's work method

While Pollock was a trained artist, these paintings were done with experimental medium... particularly house paints and cardborad. Not so great for archiving, Pollock. Still, there was a Pollock that sold for $50 million dollars...

In step Teri Horton. This 73 year old trucker found a "Jackson Pollock" for five dollars at the thrift store. Since then, she's been trying to get the painting authenticated.

While she's received offers in the millions already, she's looking for the big 50 in the front of all those zeros and half the art world agree that she has, indeed, found a Jackson Pollock.

What do you think? Pollock or Knock off?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Why I Dig Art History: Marie

There is a genre of novels that are considered dystopian. They take place in some future time when the world has either had or is coming to some kind of Armageddon. The characters in these books often learn about the betrayal of their government or the fact that while they lived in some "perfect world" there were things they were ignorant to.

One common thread many of these authors use: a lack of history. Either the people are hidden from their own history or it's distorted, but there is a truth in this approach that I think we can all learn from--our history is a part of what makes us who we are. A large part, actually. Our history tells us where we came from, what we can expect, and helps us in that daily battle of understanding who we are. Art history is the same for an artist's identity as any other type of history.

Alright, so you may think I'm being a little dramatic, but think about it... the artists who are most successful have someone else they were looking towards in one way or another. Picasso knew his history well enough to be influenced by Van Gogh. David was influenced by Caravaggio, like many others before and after him. There was an entire division between groups of people who preferred Ruben's style and another who followed the style of Poussin. Even visionaries knew what went before them; it's what made them able to analyze what had been done and see where their contributions could add to the genre.

Another reason I continue to dig through the writings of artists that have gone before me is the fact that so many times, I need their words of wisdom. While reading Edward Weston's Daybooks (at least the 80 pages I got to read before school took over my life), there was an experience that I really connected with. Weston talks about taking his portfolio to Alfred Stieglitz --a famous photographer from the generation before Weston. Now keep in mind, Weston was the photographer of Modernism. He was doing work that helped elevate photography to an art and he was a mover and shaker. During this early experience, however, Stieglitz took print after print, tossing them into the trash.

Weston took the experience and learned from it. He was humble and took the criticism and I believe the advice he was given about giving attention to every little detail was what helped improve his future work. This came at a time when I was struggling with what seemed to be an onslaught of evidence towards the lack of ability in my own work. I took comfort in knowing this has occurred to photographers much greater than myself.

I hope every artist out there is able to find some other artists that they can connect with, and if you're not an artist, I hope it can help you understand where these artists were coming from. And, of course, keep the history alive by sharing your insights!

Until next time!


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Looking Back: Movements of the 20th Century Revisited

We have a treat for everyone! Courtney Davis has come to the podcast (our first *ahem* celebrity). As usual, here are the images you can enjoy seeing as you listen.

Night Cafe Van Gogh: Post Impressionism

The Red Room Matisse: Fauvism

Madmoiselles d'Avignon Picasso: Analytical Cubism
Chair Canning Picasso: Synthetic Cubism

Armored Train Severini: Futurism

The Fountain Duchamp: Dada
L.H.O.O.Q. Duchamp: Dada

Persistence of Memory Dali: Surrealism

Marylin  Warhol: Pop Art

Campbell Soup Can Warhol: Pop Art

Free Ride Tony Smith: Minimalism

Don't forget to check out UVU's International Study Programs. There are Art History and Photography programs going to London, Paris, and Barcelona as well as a study abroad focused on Renaissance and Baroque art in Italy. Information about the programs for the summer of 2013 will be up soon!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


We're pretty excitied, we've hit a milestone in our humble oppinion! 20,000 hits on the blog! Woo Hoo!!! We've come a long way since our humble beginnings and we want to celebrate!

In honor of our 20,000 hit here on the Arts and Facts blog, we are giving away a free art poster of Van Gogh's, "Starry Night".

To enter our give away you must do three things.

1.) Comment on this post.
2.) Join the Arts and Facts Blog
3.) Like our Facebook Page

The drawing will take place on June 20th!

PS. Bonus points for submitting a podcast suggestion on either Facebook or here on the blog!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

A Baffling Series of Events: Kenna Likes Art History!

Don't get me wrong, world history is great. All those cultures and wars and politics and whatnot. I've taken a fair amount of history classes in my day, I've watched a fair amount of historical documentaries, I've even read books on the subject. And I've quite thoroughly enjoyed all of it. It's great, really.

But here's the thing: if you were to ask me for a sampling of my historical off-hand knowledge, I wouldn't be able to tell you diddly-squat. Zilch. Nada.

But why not?(as you may be asking yourself) If you really are as well-read as you claim to be, surely you could at least give us the cliff-notes version of what started WWI? Or a summary of the USSR? What about the Mongols? Tell us about the Mongols...

I'd love to, but no-can-do, friends. I read it, listen to it, study it, and none of it sticks. Names, dates, places...none of it sticks in my brain no matter how hard I try. My brain is like Teflon when it comes to world history.

And then I took my first Art History class. And everything changed... (*insert magical harp music*)

Now I find myself looking at paintings and recognizing things like chiaroscuro, contraposto, and tenebrism. Not only recognizing them, but remembering and understanding what those words mean and where they come from.

Now, much to my surprise, you could pick a random year and if I can think of a work of art or artist from that decade, I can extrapolate and tell you what was going on in the culture at that time, the socio-political structures being questioned, and innovations that were being made.

This all sounds very strange...why Art History and not History in general? (as you may be wondering)

Well I'll tell you!

(*insert crickets chirping*)

I really don't know.

As much as I would love to be able to impress people with random tidbits of information concerning the general history or our planet at dinner parties, I will have to settle for being the nerdy gal at the table whose only conversational contributions revolve around art (and sometimes in desperately obscure ways, I confess).

I have taken the time to theorize on this phenomenon, and here are my conclusions:

  • Perhaps I gravitate to Art History because of the visual aspect. Being able to look at a picture, an image, and break it down to it's formal qualities and then relating those qualities to a time period, seems like an easier way to memorize dates and places.
  • Perhaps it has to do with the creative aspect. I love drawing and painting and have great appreciation for literature. Studying the history of the evolution of human beings' creativity possibly sparks a part of my brain, inspires it to retain information, in a way that the history of The American Civil War simply does not.
  • My final theory is that art provides a more vivid look into the minds of the people belonging to a certain time period. Their art provides us with insight as to what they were concerned about, the issues they were fighting over or defending, their hopes and fears and even examples of their every day lives. The art they've left us is a visual representation of their psyche, their imagination, their emotional state.

What other subject of study can give you that?

I'm interested to know if you are interested in Art History for the same reasons, or if you have reasons of your own. Why do we care about Art History, of all things? Totally open forum here. Let's discuss!