Random Sunday: Art

Man, has this ever been a full moon couple of days.  I won’t even bore you with the weird details.  Instead:

1) For those of you who have wondered, over the past months/years, exactly what it is the Big Cheese is doing on his extended trips to Asia — among other things, he is collecting art.  For the past several months we’ve been working on his gallery website.  It is far from complete and still needs a fair amount of revision in terms of content, and he’s still uploading images, but if you’d like to see some interesting artwork, here’s a link to his site. I’m really proud of the work he’s done.

2)  My  86-year-old dad dragged me to The Curious Case of Benjamin Button yesterday; he wanted to see it because he’d read the Fitzgerald short story decades ago, and I had to drive him.  I had zero interest in the movie, based on a review I’d read and my assumption that the alleged items of interest were: 1) Brad Pitt and 2) watching the wonders of prosthetic makeup as they reverse-age him, and who cares?  I thought the plot sounded stupid.

Instead I was blessed with one of the best movies I have seen in recent memory.  It is fundamentally about love in its infinite variety, and the ways we express love, and the price we pay for daring to love one another.  My father and I cried at different parts (it begins around WWI, and some of the historical stuff really resonated for him.)  I’d say go see it just for its sheer retro gorgeousness — the clothes! the cars! — but that would be selling the movie short.  I didn’t cry because the movie made me feel sad; I cried because the movie made me feel.  Also, it’s got Cate Blanchett and Tilda Swinton, my idea of heaven.

Cribbing from the review in Newsweek, “the overall impact of Benjamin Button is greater than the sum of its parts. The metaphor of a life lived backward is strangely haunting. Benjamin’s saga is singular yet universal: anyone who has contemplated his own mortality will find it hard not to be moved by the evocation of the fickleness of fate. Lyrical, original, misshapen and deeply felt, this is one flawed beauty of a movie.”  Also, go when you’re ready to kick back and relax  — I didn’t realize until we left the theater that it’s two and a half hours long, a movie length that in most cases would have me climbing the walls.  Not this time.

image: Khine Minn Soe, Guavas,  chrisdodgegallery.com

  • Joe says:

    I’m weeping because I haven’t made it to SE Asia yet. Burma’s very high on my list (and grappling with the dilemma of pumping money into their formal economy) — I want to see the temples of Pagan before they rebuild the whole thing with poured concrete (ask BC if that didn’t make sense).

    I’ve definitely seen The Deep End. If you’re up for some real arcane Tilda stuff, check out some of Derek Jarman’s 1980s-early 90s flicks. I think she was in “Caravaggio,” but I mostly remember her dressed in full royal regalia in “Edward II.” A real sight to see, though the movies themselves are too arty for words and sometimes hard to “get.” Oh yeah, also “Orlando”… another great, strange one. Yeah, I’m a fan of Tilda.

  • Joe says:

    Wow, the Big Cheese’s work looks fascinating. How exciting. I wouldn’t have minded curating a gallery of contemporary African art at one point…. but maybe in another lifetime. Sigh. I need a career counselor.

    Also enjoyed Benjamin Button, though I’m no Brad Pitt fan (though he was stupendous in “Burn After Reading” though) — and I agree that any film with Cate and Tilda is perfection. Tilda has such an interesting face — not exactly beautiful, but I could study it for hours. I have to say I think they could have found 20-30 minutes to trim out of that film without affecting it overall.

    I’m still blown away by the art gallery — I just maybe assumed he was an oil executive in cahoots with the military regime, all just to keep you in diamonds and JAR or something. HA!

    • March says:

      Nope! No executive, no cahoots. He went on one of those sketchy-sounding “courier” trips to Thailand when we were young and dumb (I’m not sure those are even legal any more) and just … fell in love with Asia, the more remote bits. Japan is great, but his real feelings are for Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Burma. He’s planning some sort of scheme now involving motorbiking from Siem Reap to Laos, he wants to go back to Angkor Wat before they start running everyone in there on trams and tour buses.

      Kate and Tilda are connected somehow — Tilda being Cate’s less-traditional mirror of beauty, but I think they’re both exquisite. Did you ever see the movie The Deep End with her in it? Stupid name, great flick. She’s evading these black-mailing thugs while trying to cover up a murder, all while maintaining this flawless facade as a mom living on Lake Tahoe…

  • Existentialist says:

    Very neat stuff. I hope the gallery is a success. I think my favorite of what is loaded thus far is “Buffalo in Man Costume”. Best of luck to the Cheese. Is he concentrating on painting, or does the gallery also show three-dimensional art as well?

    • March says:

      Pretty much painting at this point, because the logistics are so impossible. He has to hand-lug most of this stuff out of Yangon on the plane, rolled up in giant rocket-launcher-looking tubes. And he lugs in art supplies the same way.

  • Patty says:

    The site looks gorgeous!!! I agree with you about The Button. At first I thought, really well done, loved the actors, the period, the special effects, but the movie as a whole has stayed with me as few movies do. You’re right, it wasn’t sad, not in the way I cry about sadness, it was like hopeful crying because we do the damnedest things when it comes to love, when we should know better.

    • March says:

      Lisa did it, bless her.

      I was trying to describe it to someone — you’re meant to be moved, obviously, but it’s not crassly manipulative. It’s exploratory. I said to a friend, it’s not “someone shot the puppy” sadness. It’s the whole beautiful, strange mess of life. At some point the whole thing was like a dream that I didn’t want to end.

  • erin says:

    What a wonderful and important resource The Big Cheese has created. Noble, but obviously growing and vital at the same time. I look forward to getting to know the artists featured there.

    I too was caught off guard by how much “The Curious Case” moved me. The reviews haven’t done it justice, really. So lyric and appealingly wistful, such a beautiful meditation on how life/death is and will be inextricably bound together.

    The scene that most blew me away was when Daisy is at the gazebo with Benjamin, nattering away, so self conscious, trying desperately to be some version of the woman she hopes to become and failing spectacularly. I think any woman who ever held such youthful notions about “the artistic life” and sex must have identified deeply with that moment in the film. I found myself slinking down in my seat as I recognized my formerly frivolous and pretentious self in that brilliant scene. Cate Blanchett is an absolute miracle of an actress I think…oh, and Tilda Swinton, too. So soignee and perfectly chilled!

    • March says:

      He’s worried that a lot of the original collectors are now old, and that a bunch of the art could wind up in the trash if people don’t see or know its worth. And I think the other part that speaks to him is the opportunity to support so many younger artists.

      I was so moved… we went to the coffee shop next door to the theater so I could collect myself, I can’t think of the last time I needed to do that. Maybe it’s good my expectations were so low, that way I could be dazzled. And that seen you’re referring to was wonderful, I know what you mean.

      • erin says:

        Good Lord, the trash? Really? That’s truly awful.

        I’m going to send the link you posted to the site out to my whole department. It takes a village, yes?

  • Catherine says:

    The marionettes of Win Pe gave my heart a little skip! Love it. And congrats to the Big Cheese! Opening a gallery and finding one’s artists is a huge deal. It takes love, passion, and belief in the artists.

    I’ve been dying to see The Curious Case. The trailers, I thought, gave the impression that your review lays out. I’ll probably need to wait until it comes out on dvd–but then, I love watching movies in the comfort of my big, cushy chair with my cat curled in my lap.

    I had a wonderful full moon…mucho cooking, a long, long, long conversation with a friend.

    • March says:

      I love Win Pe’s work. We have several watercolors and some other things. He’s an interesting man, I’ve met him.

      Well, I can’t really argue that it’s the sort of visual blockbuster you need to see on a big screen, although certainly it’s gorgeous. I might never have seen it if not for my father. Movies out are a solitary pleasure of mine, though — no interruptions! 🙂 I don’t have to get up once and break up a fight/make a meal/etc.

  • Musette says:


    This is a lovely website! The art is intriguing and I love the fact that Chris is working so hard to preserve and promote these works (and these artists, both established and emerging). As a painter myself (though I am fortunate to have a gallery) I know how difficult it is to find representation – and it’s bloody 😮 to try to represent one’s self, especially cross-culturally (remind me to tell you about my forays into Mexican galleries sometime – but I will have to be very intoxicated to do so – it isn’t a pretty tale! /:)

    My congratulations to Chris – and to you, for being so kind as to help him with the site. Putting a website together is hard work!

    Beautifully done! I’m going to link friends and colleagues who I think would enjoy seeing (and possibly buying) these works.

    xoxoxo>-) ( he just popped through the other emot’s head again – very disconcerting!)

    • March says:

      Hey, thanks, hon! We hired the same gal who did the Posse site to do his… there are still a few issues but I think she did a nice job. I kept putting off saying anything about it until it’s “perfect,” but … when will it be perfect? 😉

      I need to clear out my cache, I want to see the alien morph.

      PS Lazy day today. NY Times Travel list for 2009 – Wash DC #2! Those people must be nuts. Chicago is 14, I think…