Link to What's New This Week. Issue for Week of November 17, 2003

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Current Issue:
Volume 18, No. 13, Week of November 17, 2003

Art and Answerability: Matisse
Preview of Project in answer to students requesting information on Matisse.

Fall 2003 Gala Exibition: Naked Space
Invitations, Flyers, Coloring Book, Catalog, Exhibit Plans, Scheduling, Invitation Lists

Midterm and Project Guides
UWP and CSUDH

Jeanne and Pat will not be in classes the Week of November 17. We'll be back on Friday of that week from coverage of the American Society of Criminology (which Susan is covering) and from Havana (which we are covering). Will return with participatory video. Students who are working on midterm editing and on Exhibit projects are encouraged to work together so they have the benefit of each other's sharing. You may use the classrooms. Tuesday, at 4 p.m, in Welch Hall F 144, a large group of us will be putting labels on the thousands of invitation envelopes. Please try to help. And please don't forget that you must let Michael and Zerrona know about when you and/or your guests will be attending the exhibit, so that we can plan an orderly reception. love and peace, jeanne and Pat

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Previous Issue: Volume 18, No. 12, Week of November 10, 2003
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Latest Update: November 10, 2003

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takata@uwp.edu

Art and Answerability and the Views of One Great Artist, Matisse

The Red Room, jeanne, after Matisse

The Red Room. jeanne, after Matisse.

Site Copyright: Jeanne Curran and Susan R. Takata and Individual Authors,
November 2003.
"Fair use"encouraged.

Topic of the Week:

Art and Answerability

Some of you asked about Matisse this week. Certainly an artist you should know, at least according to my preferences. I decided to introduce you to him by using a disc of floral patterns for the background, and then drawing on top of those floral patterns in the style of Matisse as he has influenced me.

Sometimes the best way to really understand a skill you do not share is to try it. When I wanted to understand what it felt like to race the downhill in the Olympics, I made my whole family sign up in a course designed to prepare you for the local mountain race. I was scared to death of going fast on skis. The poor instructor asked me why I took the class, if I was so scared. My answer: I wanted to know what it would feel like for those athletes going to the Olympics. Needless to say I brought up the end of the line on every practice race; my heart was in my mouth every time I took off downhill. But I survived. My husband and daughter, braver than I, did very well. I'm sure the other students laughed at me, though I was too scared to notice. But ever since, as I watch the Olympic athletes come out of that gate on their way to that downhill victory, I feel that gate, the pressure, knowing that you can't turn back, knowing that that's a scary downhill run, but that I CAN do it, if I just work hard at the discipline such a run requires. I feel the Olympics; I don't just watch them. In terms of Steve Riskin's theory on language, I've increased the fractal patterns available to me to imagine creatively in the naked space.

I see such learning as having multiple effects. First, I understand ski racing better. I have a better idea of the skills I need if I want to continue this activity. And that adds to my respect for the person who has developed those skills. Second, my view of the world has broadened. Though I may be limited in skill, I am no longer so limited in understanding the skills of others. Third, I can appreciate the skills of the experts, and have gained some right by my own experience to decide for myself what I think of the skiers. Fourth, I'm less likely to judge a skier by his/her country of origin, color of skin, body build, etc, because I understand and respect the skill of skiing, and so am more likely to include that understanding in the judgment of those who take part.

When you asked about Matisse, I wanted to give you this kind of experience so that you could judge his work with some feeling for what it involved and what he was trying to accomplish. To that end, I want to show you Matisse's The Red Studio (of 1911):

jeanne's rather freely colored Matisse's Red Studio, starting from Matisse by Abrams.

Matisse's Red Studio
rather freely colored by jeanne

I've never had the pleasure of seeing this painting in an exhibit. But this is what my imaginary sees it as. It came out rather pallid when I tried to scan it in, so I started in altering the colors some, even in the paintings on the wall. My only authority for that was other reproductions of some of the paintings on the wall with which I am familiar. So this result is very probably more jeanne than Matisse. But it will give you an idea of what Matisse was doing with color and decorative painting in 1911. The change in color over the room is barely perceptible. My impression is that Matisse still captures the light in the room, but that could come of reading too much art history. You'll have to find the real thing in a museum to tell for sure.

The pale lines defining the furniture and the room's corners and paraphernalia are rather more noticeable in my drawing, but I didn't have a brush and a real canvas to hand. The red chair almost disappears; same with all the red furniture in the room. Why would Matisse want to do that? Well, if you don't mind getting into a "Dear Matisse" phase, we could imagine. Matisse valued painting. He wanted to express something with his painting. That in painting, realism didn't matter. Cameras were soon to replace the need for realism anyway. What mattered to Matisse was color, wild and wonderful color, that would make us feel good. (I've never met a fauve painting that didn't make me feel good.) He was playing not with the objects themselves, but with the representations of objects, and that gave him great freedom to explore (naked space). As the chair and furniture disappear in the merging of color, only obejts d'art are left, floating about in an orderly and decorative pattern. There's no clutter in this studio. Everything is in its place, contributing to the sense of calm and security. The thin line that holds the furniture to its place almost disappears in parts, allowing the picture to merge into fantasy. Matisse wanted to express beauty in the midst of an increasingly chaotic and violent world.

I tried toning down the color in my Red Room to see how that would feel:

The Red Room, jeanne, after Matisse

Toned down Red Room. jeanne, after Matisse.

I tried toning it down even more, but it would have taken too long with my little freebie program, so I settled for this. Now in the Red Room I was thinking of Matisse's use of background patterns. So I wasn't trying to create the same effect he was in the Red Studio. In the Red Studio, notice that the merging of color of inside and outside. If, in fact, there be an outside in that studio, it might be the hidden by an aqua curtain to the left, though that could easily be another painting. Nonetheless, the room feels brightly lit by sunlight, but filtered. This would fit Matisse's need to merge indoors and out.

There's no background patterning in the Red Studio. Instead, Matisse has placed his own painting on the wall like decorative objects on a table.

I started with Floral Patern No. 87: Kind of wild:

From floral patterns CD.

I chose it because the colors fit with my sense of Matisse, and because of the boldness of the flowers and the branches which look almost like stripes, which Matissse uses often. I toned down the flowers and branches in the window by using some scratching with lighter colors, and I ignored perspective for the table and the chair. Like Matisse, in the Red Studio, I put a protrait on the wall, one that could have been Matisse's. A red chair was simply too inviting so I plopped King Tut right in the middle of it. And used Matisse's decorative technique of repeating patterns over space. He was very much interested in textiles and pottery for their patterns. I liked the way the outside view from the window merged with the inside, as Matisse tried to make it happen. I gave the same strength of line and color to all the objects, the background flowers, the windox scene, the portrait, the table.

I added the large vase in the lower left hand corner because it insisted. But I kept some of the flower decoration on it, so that the background didn't disappear completely. I sprinkeld objects over the table with greatest regard for paterns and decorative touches. Then I uploaded it and purred.

I like it. It feels warm and yet not too bright, protected from the beautiful sun outside. The inside merges with the outside, an effect that Matisse sought. And the painting is pleasant and relaxing. I could just sit and ponder it when I get home in the evening, tired from the hassles of work. And that is what Matisse sought. He wanted the businessman to enjoy the pleasant restfulness of his paintings. He didn't want to make political stands and change the world; he wanted to make the world more pleasurable, and make our lives more pleasant in that world. To accomplish that, he sought to create paintings that were beautiful, pleasant, because he thought that art had the power to make life more beautiful, more satisfying. He did not wish to burden his art with political messages.

Matisse was the leader of the "Fauves," the "Wild Ones," who believed that color was the primary focus of painting. The Fauves were not true to representation. They weren't creating photographs of reality. They were using their imaginary to create an exciting, but peaceful world. The colors they used most often didn't match reality. So you will see red trees and green people. Whatever. Color is a tool of language to be used to create new visions in the naked space. I almost forgot that when I put King Tut in the red chair. I painted him gray, because he is gray. But something was wrong. I was uncomfortable with him. Then I realized that I was being held to the language of reality. And I went to that naked space and thought about what color he should be. Lavendar. Wow! When I first tried that, he was so bright he immediately drew your attention to that lower right hand corner. But Matisse wouldn't have done that. Matisse would have balanced and merged the colors. So I went back and added some gray. That settled Tut back down into the painting of merged colors and spaces.

There's been a lot of criticism of Matisse as a decorative artist. "Decorative" is a pejorative word in art history and critique. But I am very much drawn to Matisse, as are most people. Clement Greenberg, the art critic, defends Matisse's decorative art. I'm not sure it needs all that much defense, except in the hallowed halls of academy art. In today's world of global and terrifying issues, we need to come back to a safe place, a beautiful place, a place where love makes sense, even while we're blowing up large parts of the world. Matisse takes us there, to the pleasant safe space. That doesn't mean that we don't need Picasso and Guernica to remind us that the world is not a paradise. But I can linger with Matisse a while to refresh my spirit. Then I can go out there, into the real and ugly world again, to try and make a difference.

But back to Matisse, because I was having so much fun with my CD of floral patterns. I wanted you to see how easy it is to make art, not for museums, of course, but for your home, your self, your children, your friends. Matisse does many painting of red rooms. But he also does blue, and so I tried another floral pattern for the Blue Room:

Floral Pattern No. 84from CD of Floral Patterns.

from which I painted the Blue Room to emphasize some points about Matisse's social position on art.

The Blue Room: jeanne, after Matisse
The Blue Room: jeanne, after Matisse

Notice that I ignored perspective for the chair. Didn't notice? Fine your imginary has adjusted to letting things be different in naked space. That's how my chair felt. I saw the back straight on. For looking out the window. But I wanted the complexity of the rest of the chair. Why? I don't know. Maybe because in my world everything is a little skewed. At any rate, I was content with it this way.

Here's what Matisse did with the Blue Room:

Matisse, the Blue Room, from John O'Brian's Ruthless Hedonism, at p. 183.

And here's one of the paintings for which Matisse was most criticized:

One of the paintings for which he was most criticized (John O'Brian, Ruthless Hedonism, The American Reception of Matisse, 1999. The University of Chicago Press. At p. 117.) was The White Plumes:

Matisse's White Plumes
Matisse's The White Plumes

This painting was criticized in much the same way that we criticized the Naked Lady Mudflaps. The face was made up, and reflected the modern preoccupation with fashion and beauty supplemented by artificial means. The young woman is "pretty," not older, not ordinary, but a "feminine ideal." Critics complained that such an ideal would keep women in corsets and cosmetics forever and provide no voice for the "real woman." We've heard those arguments before. How such ideology harms women through providing a model that encourages unhealthful and unwholesome practices. Driving to school or an exhibit recently, I passes a young woman in a sleek modern car. On the left rear window was a sticker of the Naked Lady Mudflap design! Whatever does it all mean?

Matisse and the facile. - I'll continue this tomorrow. Because what Matisse did looked easy, people criticized him for being facile. In fact he was an extraordinary painter and colorist (according to Clement Greenberg) and greatly resented being identified with cosmetics and fashion of the moment. Perhaps paintings like the Red Room will help you to see some of his artistic objectives.

Matisse, Standing Nude, taken from  Xavier Girard's Matisse in Nice. © image.

Is this a facile image of woman, or does it fit into Matisse's artistic objective? Consider that the red room appears again, with its objects laid out in calming order. Consider the role of eroticism in art from the very beginning. Does that make it facile? Wonder about all this. jeanne

Fall 2003: Naked Space

A Multimedia Exhibition of the
Sociology of Answerability

Wednesday, December 3 and Thursday, December 4, 2003
Loker Student Union, CSUDH
10:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Both Days

sponsored by Dear Habermas Website as evolved from Moot Court

Explanation of Aesthetic Process and Definition of Naked Space First draft by jeanne. You're all welcome to join in. Will try to finish it on Monday, but have to take time out to go for flu shot. jeanne

  • Michael Griffin's poem on Naked Space
  • Exhibition Schedule - In Progress - Please Check
  • Rough draft of Invitation. Katie Williams in charge. Limited time to get this out.
  • Invitation background painting - tentative
  • Invitation background - tentative
  • Added Thursday, November 7, 2003. More on the invitation and the flyer: New Ideas, shared by Professor Dorsey Be sure to get your ideas in soon. jeanne
  • Response from invitees - just starting. Be sure to let jeanne know of anyone you invite so she can include them on the invitee list.
      First Draft of Catalog for Naked Space Fall 2003:

    • Sunday, Nov. 2 added Belly Wisdom.
      Coloring Book on Answerability and the Statue of Liberty For the Fall 2003 Exhibition.

      We welcome you to consider other coloring sheets that might bring our visitors to awareness of the crucial issues today in our lived experience. We don't yet have any sheets on the labor issue. I think that's important. And I'd like to hear your other ideas. I'll help with creating the coloring sheet if you need that. jeanne

    • Establishing an Awareness of an Empty Memory Space to Reconfigure the Fractal Patterns That Yield Answerability A Visual and Aural Research Experience About Giving Students Voice.

      We welcome you to submit questions for interview schedules, to help with the survey and analysis, and to share with us the interpretation of our students' need for answerability, both now and as alumni. We will address the importance of student voice in the future of the university. This experience will encompass a substantial portion of the work in Statistics 220 in the Fall of 2003. And it will combine some of the theoretical foundations of Bakhtin (as interpreted through Greg Nielsen) and Steve Riskin.

    • A Book on the Practice of Answerability First draft of a report of this teaching process.

      We welcome you to help us find the fractal bits and the vacant memory space that may render the model useable for many others of all ages and educational levels.

    • Revising our College History to Introduce Answerability. A proposal by Francisco Reyes, with jeanne's response. Maybe you could share a few excerpts, so we could sample what such a history might be like. jeanne

    • Planning, Sharing and Curating the Fall 2003 Exhibition

      We invite you to help with the art, the dance, the music, the text, the theory, and the curating of this Fall's exhibit. Each of the proposed projects will go up here as fast as my little fingers can type them up. jeanne

      • Monday, November 10, 2003. Answerability and the Arts: Body Imagery Essay and Project on the changing perspective of beauty in the human body.

      • Monday, November 10, 2003. Answerability and the Arts: Matisse and the Justification of Art as Beauty This piece stands in direct contrast to the one on Body Imagery.

      • Answerability and the School System Author and Director: Guadalupe Saldana, CSUDH. Lupe would like someone to help with the visual components of this project. She does have photos.

      • Community Short Story of Fall 2003. Welcome to join in. I'll join in later. Ran out of time. Change names, characters, plot, whatever you wish. I just put this up to give you an idea about how some of you might like to tell the tale of some of your lived experiences. jeanne

      • Naked Space, A Poem Author, Michael Griffin, CSUDH. Michael broaches our theoretical position on naked space and fractal lived experiences through poetry.

      • Paintings in Memoriam of Sept. 11 Can be sent as e-mail. Donna Hill forwarded the site and one of the paintings to be attached with her article on "America was attacked because it was good" for the Illocutionary Discourse or War and Revenge?. The picture she chose was:

        and Donna will discuss the theory, with full permission for sanctioned plagiarism, as I discuss elsewhere in this issue. jeanne

        We'll want to discuss how such paintings, e-mail available, fit into answerability. Some of you are still misreading answerability. Answerability is NOT accountability. Answerability means that we each of the gift of ability to speak out and make our voices and/or our feelings known. Doing that answering is a learned skill using the gift of the ability. So I'd like eacho of your projects to clarify the role of answerability. How is the Other heard, not heard, ignored, assuaged, what notice is taken of the Other, and how is that notice given a focal point in the majority agenda?

        For example, if I am offended by your statement that Jews control the financial world. Answerability is the gift of having a fractal pattern of lived experience that lets me understand deeply why and how I am offended, and together with a naked space for creating new language and understanding, then you and I can interrelate. That doesn't mean that I will change your mind. It doesn't mean that you will change my mind. We're still going to disagree over Jews controlling the financial world. But the creative and active willingness to engage in the aesthetic process of listening to one another in good faith is a way for us to begin to engage each others as humans and to resolve some of the pain and tension between us. Maria Pia Lara calls that illocutionary discourse. Bakhtin calls it answerability. Steve Riskin gave me the idea of naked space.

      • Religion and Understanding
  • Patricia Morris: What Is God Like?

    What God Is Like

    Patricia Morris and Nita McKinley will describe their project from which the children's view of God emerged in this painting done by Patricia Morris. See for conceptual review on how to do this.

  • Race and Answerability

  • Visual Understanding

    Formal Announcements:

    On Tuesday, October 28, 2003, Brent Taylor Stenhouse of the APSS (Political Science) Club wrote to invite us:

    Abortion Debate sponsored by the Political Science Club
    on Monday, Nov. 24th from 11:30am-1:00pm.

    "Dr. Waller (Philosophy Dept., CSUDH) will be going head-to-head with Mr. Steve Wagner (str.org). It should be as informative as it is entertaining!"

    The abortion issue brings us into both the ethical and moral sphere as well as that of answerability. As the event comes a little closer, I'll try to post some reading material. jeanne

    A Range of Sources on Global Events

    Left/Right Perspectives - Cursor - New York Times
    Arts and Letters Daily - The Economist - The Guardian
    Wall Street Journal -The Weekly Standard - The Nation
    Los Angeles Times - Chicago Tribune - The Washington Post
    Cursor's Al Jazeera Archive - Ha'aretz - Palestine Monitor

    Indymedia - Mother Jones - BBC News - New Profile
    Progressive Sociologists Network

    Using Academic Language Effectively:

    Merriam-Webster Dictionary Search:

    Dictionary of Critical Sociology
    Maintained by Robert E. Mazur, Associate Professor, Iowa State University, Sociology.

    Words of Art: Front Page
    Wonderful Fine Arts dictionary at Okanagan University College in Canada.
    Will cover many of the terms social theory shares with literary theory.

    Today's Word: From the Word.A.Day Site

    Social Theory across Disciplines:

    Peace and Social Justice

    Advanced Theory:

  • Tuesday, November 4, 2003. Jefferson and Slavery: Scan of LA Times photo Jefferson and Slavery The LA Times did a commentary this weekend on the same material that led to the New York Review of Books article on the Negro President. I'll try to get this material up soon. jeanne

  • Monday, November 3, 2003. The study of theory: Sociology 782: Classical Sociological Theory Professor James Moody. Ohio State University. Backup
    Professor Moody's Survey of Social Theory Knowledge This is for his doctoral students. Could we develop such a survey that would reflect what we think our B.A. and M.A. students should know? Would our alumni like to help with that by telling us things they wished later they had spent more time on? Backup

    The Philosophy of Social Science One of the texts Professor Moody provides online for his students.

    * * * * *

    Commentaries on Issues

    Index of Commentaries
    No updating until we have the Fall 2003 Exhibition set up. Sorry, jeanne

    UWP Commentaries in Chronological Sequence:

    CSUDH Commentaries by Topic

    • The Statue of Liberty

      • Monday, November 10, 2003. The Body: Body Imagery Another whole perspective to go with the Naked Lady Mudflaps.

      • Monday, November 3, 2003. The Statue of Liberty: Color Doesn't Matter Commentary by Sheila Velasquez, CSUDH. Sheila stopped short with her feelings. That's an important beginning, but now you need to go on with conceptual linking to our substantive issues. Examples are given. Use this as a guide. jeanne

    Lived Experience:

    Kids, Etc.: Stuff to Share with Others

    * * * * *

    Art Shenanigans

    • Monday, November 3, 2003. Reclaiming Memories from Old Photos:

      From photo by Katie's Mom.

      I took this image of Katie from the Halloween photograph to remind her of how her mom loved that tapdance costume. I used Katie's photo from her website and Paint, the freebie program that comes with WINDOWS. I did the writing in Katie's place, but the photo without the writing is at Katie.

    Academic Discourse