Allegory of Art and Life and Whatever (and College Students and Vampires)

I couldn’t sleep last night thinking about art.

Yesterday I stopped by my brother Val’s office/house downtown. I’ve always loved this large stick style home. He purchased it around 1910 and has done a remarkable job of keeping it up over the years when so many Victorian and Craftsman style homes went into disrepair.

Val’s office is on the bottom floor. The second floor is a comfortable space where Val keeps his official home address. On the third floor is an apartment occupied by a couple of college students.

Neither one of the young men, now in their third year of college, would have been able to go to school away from home without the horrible nightmare of college loans had it not been for Val’s Home Away From Home (so they call it.)

I’m not completely sure where he found Colton and Luke. I think Val met Colton studying in the old cemetery or something along those lines and the other kid came along. Colton was worried he’d have to move home and transfer schools and majors, or maybe just drop out. In exchange for rent they watch the place when Val is gone, do yard work and house cleaning, and keep their grades up.

The boys aren’t Vampires either, and they have no idea about Val. All they know is that Val is exceptionally cool and a little different.

Anyway, I was at Val’s thinking about art. Luke showed me some sketches he’d done of some friends of his on his way out to classes at UC Davis (a short trip across the causeway.) The kid is good. I’m ready to beat the crap out of anyone who discourages him.

Val was at his big desk with his computer checking all kinds of financial stuff I know nothing about. I looked up on the wall at his Maynard Dixon painting. It was of a woman wrapped in a shawl looking in profile towards a gold and orange landscape.

“You should donate that to the museum,” I said. “It is a hidden uncatalogued gem.

“Maybe. I haven’t had it that long.”

“You bought it from the artist. How old can it be?”

“Sometime in the 30’s. A mere matter of days for the typical Vampire.” He smiled and gave me that amused look that makes the girls all melt. Well except me because I’m his sister and I know his tricks.

“Why don’t you donate some of your art Juliette? God knows you’ve got it coming out of your ears.”

“I can’t. Not yet. I’m too attached. And I need more. I always need more art.”

Val laughed. I continued. “I bid on something for the art auction, you know the one for public television. I’m spending at least one day a week at the museum. Clara is taking an art history class so we’re talking about a lot of art. That isn’t a bad thing mind you. I’m also working on my art again. I’m also reading a book about art. My house is full of art. I’m going to go into an art coma.”

“Is that a bad thing?” My brother looked at me as if I’d lost my mind.

“No Val, it isn’t a bad thing. It is a good thing. I’m just kind of overwhelmed. And I don’t have a Burning Question for Saturday.”

He told me to make it about art. We thought about it and threw around a lot of really stupid ideas, which is par for my Burning Questions feature.

I’ll think of something, or use one of our ideas.

Around that time Luke came rambling downstairs to say hello to Val. He was a typical twenty year old male with that sort of cute and, always together, always smart, and always on the verge of some sort of disaster look. It was charming.

“The outside lightbulbs are out, on the front and back porches.” said Luke. “Do you have any extras?”

“Sure. In the second story hall closet, next to the laundry room.”

“Thanks. Hey, can I ask you something?”

“Go ahead,” said my brother.

“You kind of like the dark don’t you. I know you aren’t cheap so it isn’t the electricity bill you’re worried about,” said Luke.

“Good observation,” said Val. “Glad you asked. My eyes are sensitive to the light and I just need to rest them.”

“Makes sense. OK I’ll change those bulbs, then I have to study.”

“On a Friday?” I asked.

“For a bit. I’m going out later. There’s a movie at the Tower, Sisters Brothers or something like that. I’m going with Madeline.” Then he gave a shy smile.

Val slipped him a couple of twenties. We talked for a little bit longer.

Val and I are very old. It is always good to be around the very young.

But now my old brain must think up a Burning Question for October 6. It will be something about art – that thing which has twisted up my heart and soul for as long as I can remember.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Allegory of Painting

Allegory of Painting, Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, CA

 

 

 

Mystery at the Museum (and a WTF moment)

St. Stephen was said to have been stoned to death by a group of pissed off folks who didn’t like his brand of religion. Some say he spoke Greek and took care of Greek speaking widows stranded in a world of Romans. St. Anthony is the  Patron Saint of Lost things which would make him the patron saint of most busy moms and Vampires.

So this brings us to a mystery.

Aparrently Tony and Steve were bros and spent some quality time together before Stephen’s untimely and tragic death. Anthony died later of natural causes (not a lost cause, even thought he is the Saint of Lost Causes.)

In a painting by Italian artist Bicci di Lorenzo (1373–1452) Anthony and Stephen are hanging out together with somebody else. Look in the far left bottom corner. What is that? Seriously what is THAT? Is is a dog? A pig? A demon? A lost animal of unknown origin?

Anthony and Stephen hanging out together with a mysterious animal.

 

Seriously, WTF is that?

What is that animal? Is it friendly? Is it a pet? Is it Anthony’s or is it Stephen’s. Did Anthony adopt it in when Stephen died? Did they find it at the local shelter?

We looked around some more and found other interesting things. Oh, by the way, those are stones on Stephen’s head, apparently left over from when he died.

Around the same time another Saint was running around with his weird looking dog.

I’m not making fun. I’m always noticing odd looking dogs and cats in old paintings. Animals aren’t always easy to draw, but sometimes I really wonder about this sort of thing. Did artists draw certain styles because it was fashion, or did they draw that way because it was the only way they knew how to draw? This was way back right out of the dark ages, so maybe they just didn’t have the vision/skill/desire to make it look like a photograph. Yes, that was a joke I know they didn’t have photos back then – just like yesterday when I went to the store with my shirt on inside out and no less than four people informed me that my shirt was inside out.

We also saw this bit in the same painting, way up on the top corner. What was THAT ANGEL up to? Hmmmmm. No doubt he was up to no good.

My brother Val said we could just ask Tellias about it. He was around back then. He might know. But what fun would that be? Plus I know I’d get a long tale of BS and off the subject tales from Tellias.

As we roamed the museum I heard my daughter say to my husband, “Mom is having one of her religious experiences. Just let her look for a while longer.”

I look at the paintings and I can feel the breezes, hear the voices, see into the souls. I a room full of Rodins I can feel the touch, the kiss, the embraces, and the passion of the pieces. The rest of the world is lost and gone and doesn’t matter at that moment that I am with art.

We spent Monday at the Museum.

And we survived.

We more than survived. We came to life, again, and again, and again.

Thank you to Anthony and Stephen. Let us know what that critter is when you get a chance.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

Warhol, Udo, Vampires, Teddy, A Couple of Teens, and Me

I was at an Andy Warhol exhibit today and saw a Polaroid photo of a Vampire. Well, a guy dressed like a Vampire. You know what I mean.

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From there I had to explain to the teenagers I was with all about Warhol’s Blood for Dracula and the handsome as can be Udo Kier. Lots of blood in that one. Lots and lots of blood.

Udo

Udo is beautiful isn’t he.

Frankenstein was great too. Wow. It has been years since I’ve seen his movies.

We went into a room called “The Factory,” where a lot of hipsters and yuppies were all playing around with colored pencils and cute stencils.

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I drew something. The teenagers laughed out loud. And I left it there.

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Later my husband said, “Jesus, Juliette, somebody is going to see that and be traumatized for life.” Maybe.

I looked at my darling husband Teddy and said, “My favorite was the portrait of Prince. He is almost as pretty as you are. In fact you’re prettier than Udo Kier.”

“Good to know,” said Teddy. “Maybe I’ll get cast for the next season of Penny Dreadful. But you know if we move to Alaska we could have our own show. Everyone in Alaska has their own show. We could be Alaskan Vampires.”

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We had a lovely day. Our young teenage friend, who is also as pretty as Prince, had a beautiful drawing in a student exhibit at the museum. I was so proud of him. Warhol was great.

I told the kids to remember that art museums are my churches. That is where I have my religious experiences.

Oh so much more happened and I thought of so much more, but I’m just out of words tonight.  So you just got the silly stuff.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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