Archive for the ‘Museum Art’ Category

Museum of Making Music

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

View from Museum of Making Music

Music Merchants Building, Carlsbad

Up the hill from the Pacific and the Carlsbad Flower Fields and to the side of Lego Land there is a charming museum all about music–things to play it with and its American history from 1900 to present. It is a small space tucked into the larger business building of the National Association of Music Merchants.

The museum space is divided into five galleries arranged chronologically. Each combines written, audio, and displays of musical instruments and music producers.  Lots of buttons to push to hear history and samples of music. Lots to read about the displays. A some very nice “play me” instruments that you can strum or drum and listen to yourself through headphones. Gallery 1 shares with us the early piano and organ music of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s highlighting John Philip Sousa and Tin Pan Alley. The history of music marketing and manufacturing is detailed more on the web site so you don’t need to take notes as you go from gallery to gallery. It’s a wonderful web site.


display of instruments

Gallery 2 takes us into the “Roaring Twenties”, jazz, player pianos, and phonographs. Gallery 3 moves to the mid-thirties and the forties; Gallery 4 into the 1950’s, Elvis, and skyrocketing guitar sales. Gallery 5 brings us into the 1980’s and the different Rock styles. The audios and displays really highlight each time period. The instruments are carefully preserved in cases, from violins to accordions to  a valve trombone.  If you know the instruments you can spend a lot of time finding the one you used to play.

You absolutely have to put on the head phones and strum or tap on the beautiful strings and drums as they come along with the sections.  I tried the harp and the steel drums but I bet the guitars get a lot of  use.

"play me" harp

"play me" guitar


Chinese Sculptor Xiaoye Sun

Saturday, March 17th, 2012

Xiaoye Sun's Washing My Dog

Xiaoye Sun's Me and My Horse

Xiaoye Sun has a second exhibition at Pulse Gallery in San Diego.  His first was exactly a year ago in the same location. That show had a variety of bronze pieces from cats, to roosters, to human figures, male and female.  It also had pieces with titles that made me think.  For instance, Suicide. There are photos of some of these on my previous blog from March 3, 2011.

This show has only nine pieces, bronzes made since 2011. It is a coherent display. All the figures are human with unremarkable titles: Me and My Horse, Washing my Dog, Ansley. So there are no surprises about the “intended meaning” of each piece.  The figures are thin, elemental bodies, and the dogs and horse are intricate to the figures. Animal and human are attached to one another and portray the  bond which exists between both. His human figures seem to aim for a two dimensionality–ultra thin, except that the anatomy is painfully stark and the tooling of the clay origins are evident.

I like this show. The pieces are both positive and strange.

Xiaoye Sun's Suicide

Xiaoye Sun's Ansley

But the excruciating pain portrayed in some of the previous  pieces evoked more thought and an ambiguous  and complex relationship between human and animal.  Compare Suicide from last year’s show to Ansley from this year’s.

Xiaoye Sun could not be in San Diego for this show. He is kept busy in China.  He works at the Jiangsu Wuxi Moder Art Research Institute and exhibits in Beijing and Shanghai. He both creates the clay sculptures and has them cast in China. So I didn’t have the feeling that the artist had discussed these pieces in personal interactions with the gallery host as was the case last year. In fact, it is difficult to find out about the artist and the gallery certainly did not make available anything except the price list. So a very interesting artist remains vague.

Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980

Sunday, November 6th, 2011

Since we set our clocks back last night to Pacific Standard Time, I figured I should write something about the Getty sponsored arts project, Pacific Standard Time.  It celebrates art in L.A.  during the years 1945-1980.  There are three museums in San Diego participating in this very large regional project–Mingei International Museum and the two locations of Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego.

I’ve seen the exhibit in the La Jolla location of MOCA.  Lots of lighted geometric shapes and one really eerie room without light, Eric Orr, Zero Mass.  Zero Mass requires a guide, or at least someone at the entrance to this black room to tell you how to navigate–put your left hand on the black paper wall and follow it around.  And, when you get somewhere inside, stand there and your eyes might adjust to the blackness.  It was totally disorienting.  I couldn’t tell if I was walking in a straight line, if I’d ever get out.  After about five minutes of stumbling along, I did see the very dim silhouettes of three other people in the room, but only after hearing them talk. It was worse than being trapped underground in a English cave with a bunch of other tourists when the electric lights failed and we had to be led out by the guide with a flashlight.

Zero Mass was all the more black because I had just stuck my head in Bruce Nauman’s Green Light Corridor. It is a long, narrow, high walled corridor of green fluorescent lights.  If you are very skinny, you can walk through it.  But, even though I thought that would be a fun walk, I just put my head in for thirty seconds and spent the next five minutes seeing after-images and blinking a lot. That might be the best way to prepare for Zero Mass.

Sculptures of acrylic,  neon, and geometric illusions were interesting. But the La Jolla museum itself provided the best use of light and illusion.  The blue Pacific is visible from the windowed walls and the ocean and palm trees have color filtered through the glass. But there is one corner turn in the windows with a cut out square without glass.  Through that, the ocean, sky, and trees have a different color and intensity. That is worth the price of admission.

Red Tide?

San Diego’s coast just had a red tide–an expanse of algae which is a dark reddish color during the day and smells like seaweed a good way from the shore. It  contains bio-luminescent organisms. The organisms emit a blue light in response to motion. So at night, the waves fluoresce.  It is forbidden to take pictures in the museum so I couldn’t take pictures of the MOCA lights but I did get a lot of black pictures of the red tide waves, with boat lights in the background.  Not sure what this is a picture of, light of some kind on the ocean at night.

Good enough.