Sunday 29 August 2010

Cheat Sheet for Gallery Security Guards

The Things You Find On The Floor
Julian Schnabel: Art and Film

While attending the media launch to the Art Gallery's new exhibition - Julian Schnabel: Art and Film, I picked a 2-page sheet off the floor. It was called a cheat sheet - points of film trivia to help security personnel answer questions from the media as they looked at Schnabel's artwork.
Great idea. Going to steal it. Just a little suprised at some of the terms listed -- who doesn't know that ADreferences dates after the birth of Christ?

Cheat Sheet A Guide to the Exhibition’s References to Cinema
Cinema has had a strong impact on Julian Schnabel's artistic imagination, inspiring his painting in many ways. It is a dynamic force, appearing throughout his work, linking paintings that are visually very different through common themes. Some of the references are explicit, others are less so. Schnabel also references popular culture and mythology, as well as events, people and places that have personal for significance him. Below is an alphabetical (by first name or letter) listing of names and terms referred to in Schnabel's paintings.

Name or Term Reference

Refers to Accattone, a 1961 film written and directed by Italian director Pier Paolo Pasolini
A.D Stands for Anno Domini (Latin) meaning the " year of our Lord." This term is used to signify dates after the birth of Christ.
Albert Finney British actor (born 1936) who starred in the 1984 film Under the Volcano, directed by John Huston. It is based on Malcolm Lowry's 1947 of the same name, telling the story an alcoholic British consul in a small Mexican town.
Andy Warhol Andy Warhol (1928-l 987) an iconic figure American in pop art as a painter, printmaker and filmmaker He was portrayed by David Bowie in Schnabel's 1996 film Basquiat. Warhol was also a pioneer of experimental filmmaking.

Bernardo Bertolucci: Italian film director and screenwriter (born
In l 940) known for such fi1ms as Last Tango in Paris and The Last Emperor. He was the first assistant on Pasolini's Accattone and is a close friend of Schnabel. Brando: Marlon Brando (1924-2004) was an American actor known for his roles in A Streetcar Named Desire, The Godfather and Last Tango in Paris. He directed one film, a western called One-Eyed Jacks (196l) in which he also starred
Catherine Marie-Ange: A reference to a character (Catherine) in the 1971 French film L'Araignde d'eau (The Water Spider) and the actress who played her (Marie-Ange Dutheil)
Cortes A municipality in Spain, not far from Schnabel's home in San Sebastian
El Espontaneo Translated as The Rash One, a 1964 film by Spanish director Jorge Grau
Gary Oldman An acclaimed British actor and filmmaker (born 1958), Oldman starred in Schnabel's film Basquiat a character based on Schnabel himself.
Jane Birkin British model, actress, singer and film director (born 1946) who attained celebrity status in the 1960s.
Jean Vigo A French film director (1905 - l934) who helped establish poetic realism in film in the 1930s and influence French New Wave Cinema of the late 1950s and early 1960s.
JMB Refers to Jean-Michel Basquiat (l 960-1988), an American artist who was the subject of Schnabel's l 996 biopic Basqujat
Malcolm Lowry British novel and poet (l909-1957) best known for his novel Under the Volcano, which was made into a film starring Albert Finney.
Malik Joyeux Tahitian big wave surfer (1980-2005) who was known for tackling the treacherous barrel waves at Teahupo'o, Tahiti. Died in Hawaii taking on the notoriously difficult surf of Oahu’s Pipeline.
Mickey Rourke: American actor (born l 952) known for his recent role in The Wrestler. Starred in Francis Ford Coppola's Rumble Fish and gained notoriety in the film 9 '/2 Weeks
Norma Desmond Refers to Norma Desmond, a character in Billy Wilder's 1950 film Sunset Boulevard. Desmond, played by actress Gloria Swanson, is an aging silent movie star desperate to a comeback.
One-Eyed Jacks the only film directed by actor Marlon Brando, who also played its lead character, Rio. Other cast members of this Western include Karl Malden, Slim Pickens, Jurado Katy Hector and Ben Johnson
Pixote: Brazilian film (l981) depicting the life of Brazil's delinquent youth. Directed by Hector Babenco, who appears as an actor in Schnabel's second film, Before Night Falls (2OOO)
Platoon: Famed l986 film written and directed by Oliver Stone, set during the Vietnam War
Ragazzo Padre An Italian phrase meaning "the boy father." It refers to a line of dialogue from Francis@ Ford Coppola's seminal film The Godfather (1972)

Rula Refers to Rula Jebreal, Palestinian journalist, author and screenwriter who collaborated with Schnabel on his forthcoming film Miral which is based upon her novel of the same name.
Rumble Fish A 1983 film directed by Frances Ford Coppola, based on the S.E. Hinton novel of the same name. Stars Matt Dillon, Mickey Rourke, Dennis Hopper.
Shoeshine: Reference to the 1946 film (Italian title: Scjuscia), which was the first major work by director Vittorio de Sica, best known for his film The Bicycle Thief. Veramente Bestia Italian phrase meaning “beast" or "a true beast."

CUTLINE: Julian Schnabel takes the media through the new Art Gallery of Ontario exhibition: Julian Schnabel: Art and Film

We knew we were in trouble when my photographer's dive computer started speaking in French

St Moritz Watch Company in British Columbia made a fatal mistake - they asked for a quick note from any watch owner who might have had their lives saved by a St Moritz watch.
(asking a writer for a "brief note" especially when there is a prize on the line is like asking a politician on the stumps to say a "brief word or two")

Companies that have products to sell that might not normally gain media traction often resort to holding writing or photo contests to get attention. With the advent of Facebook and other Social Media sites, companies can now contact hundreds of thousands of people who have an interest in your product.
Even when a company is giving away a significant prize, in 2010 they don'need any mainstream media coverage to justify the monies spent on getting their product in the public eye. St Moritz makes a great watch and as an owner I recieved an emailed invitation to send in a story about how their watch might have saved my life (or at least did something unique).
Well turns out, my analog watch did help me once when a computer technology let me down.This story won't mean much to people who don't dive. And it is long winded. But as a freelance writer who gets paid by the word .... and besides, there is a $5,000 watch prize at stake. Will let you know how it goes.
(I posted this here rather than my "stories published blog" because while being a true story, this is all about getting that extra 20 minutes of fame for a product most people in the world will never have heard of ... till now.)


My wife bought my first dive watch from St Moritz at Underwater Canada 29 years ago. St Moritz had sent only one person out to the now defunct national dive show and convention. My wife looked after the St Moritz booth every now and then during the 2-day show to allow for bathroom breaks. In return she got a great price on my first dive watch.
Two years later I traded it in, again at Underwater Canada. I got a Chronosport UDT. I still have it today, thanks in part to always making sure that St Moritz handled the servicing for my timepiece. Although to be honest, like the family's 100 year-old axe (when the handle broke in 1920 it was replaced, then the axe head was replaced in 1950 and the handle was again replaced in 1980) there isn't much, besides the bezel and the watchface that dates back to that 1988 dive show.
It was the all-original watch that saved my ass in the late 1990s.
As I remember it, this is how it happened. I was on assignment in Miami for Diver Magazine and was also helping out with a TV science show. We were looking at the city's artifical reef project. Miami was building reefs to help protect the fish stock and to give divers cool things to dive on. There were ships sunk, old army tanks were stacked onto the sand and even an oil rig was dropped on the bottom just off Miami Beach.
My photographer had his own TV show and as a result received a lot of new equipment that was, at the time, cutting edge and meant to replace all the old fashion dive gear things like pressure gauges, depth gauges and watches. Not all the prototype gear he received, made it into the marketplace.
The two of us - and 2 network cameramen - decided to use a new integrated kit that fed all the critical information one needs - depth, bottom time, decompression information and air consumption - into a single source. As an added feature of this (back then) experimental equipment, you could hear the basic dive information through a speaker that was attached to one's mask strap.
We went out to sea on a dive boat filled with students who were in training to become professional dive guides. The students didn't care about the terrible viz, the current or the wildlife - they had to get their underwater hours in as quickly as possible.
Our first dive of the day was an old oil rig. Our plan was to descend to 100 feet and film a pair of resident Mako sharks who fed on the reef eco-system that had grown up on this deep water artifical reef.
The current was ripping. We had to haul ourselves hand-over-fist down the line to get to the oil rig's platform. It was hard pulling ourselves down since we were all carrying a lot of lighting gear, video and still cameras. My three companions, anxious to shed as much gear as possible, went without a backup computer,depth gauge or watch. I refused to part with my St Moritz Chronosport and a waterproof NAUI dive table card.
All the way down to 100 ft my computer kept talking to me. Every 5ft it shouted out the depth. When I got to a cross-section on the submerged platform, I immediately, as is my practice, checked my watch. I noted the time and listened to the depth.
To get out of the way and to escape the current I waited on the leeside of the huge, coral covered leg that the anchor line was tied to. I watched the cameramen, fighting the current, as they pulled themselves down to my level. Behind them, coming through the gloom was a pack of dive students, pushing and crowding each other as they raced to get to where I hovered.
When my crew reached this spot of calm, I gave them the OK sign. I got two OK's back. The third cameraman wasn't happy. He was slapping the side of his head, he wasn't having ear problems he was having hearing problems, for some reason he had accidently set his computer to verbally give all readouts in metric and in FRENCH!
When it comes to shooting for TV, cameramen are expected to suck it up - sharks,ripping current and malfuctioning computers be damned. They decided, through a lot of gesturing that they would share time/depth information with each other. They began filming, while I did what I do best ... staying off camera and taking life easy. I watched the dive students getting blown off the artifical reef and then having to swim their hardest to get back to the shelter of the platform. I watched a pair of Blue Makos effortly swim against the rage and luckily into the frame of our videocameras.
About 15-minutes into my dive I realized my computer had gone silent. I had no idea of my bottom time, or how much air I had. I turned to my cameramen to tell them I was heading up. They weren't there.
I spotted them on ascending up the line a long swim away. Two of the cameramen were breathing off the same tank. The third was carrying most of the gear. One signalled that they were leaving me to make it up on my one.
They were swimming in a controlled,albeit rushed, fashion. Like me, their units had stopped talking - in any language - and their gauge was flashing zeros. One of the cameramen had drained his tank fighting the current, unaware that he was low until it became hard to breathe.
They were on the line, not sure of their bottom time, maximum depth or amount of air remaining. To make matters worse, a horde of dive students were coming up the line like a just launched space shuttle. Politness was not part of their playbook and they pushed and shoved my buddies out of the way as they too tried to decompress on the line, at exactly the same spot.
Meanwhile down below, with my watch and with my dive tables I planned my exit strategy. I swam three times my body length up the leg of the platform, giving myself more bottom time. I waited until the would-be-dive masters had cleared the bottom section of the line.
I made it to the rope and began pulling myself up towards the surface. I watched the second hand on the St Moritz to monitor my ascent rate. I kept my eyes on the divers overtop of me, and watched as they finished their enmasse stop at 15 ft. When they moved to the stern of the boat, I climbed up to where they had hung. I took a 5-minute stop, entertaining myself by watching the divers attempt a group exit onto the dive platform all at the same time. Just before I climbed onto the ladder my computer started talking to me again and in English!
Back in the boat my three buddies were reviewing what had happened. I was able to tell them that none of them had swam below me at the 100 ft mark. And I was able to tell them that their bottom time was less than 20-minutes. My St. Moritz hadn't saved their lives but it sure saved all of us from a lot of needless worries. It also stopped my buddies from looking for symptons of the bends in each other.
Our old analog kits were reclaimed from the dive bags. Everyone strapped on their wrist watches. We made a second and third dive that day using tables. It wasn't the last time in my dive career that I had a computer crap out on me - my St Moritz watch has never let me down and I continue to dive with it to this day (which reminds me I have to get the battery changed before I head out again)!
CUTLINE: My Watch. My Room. My Mess. 27-year old Chronsport UDT

AGO Opening: Perfection is the Enemy of Done




Thursday morning launch for Julian Schnabel: Art and Film. It all started in typical AGO fashion. The curator, David Moo and the artist take turns at the podium in front of a conference room filled with journalists, videographers, art insiders, bloggers and me. Coffee service at the side. Pastries aligned on glass trays oh-so-perfectly.
58-year old Julian Schnabel is an American artist and filmmaker. In the 1980s Schnabel received international media attention for his "plate paintings"—large-scale paintings set on broken ceramic plates ( on display at the AGO). Now he is best known for his movies - he directed Before Night Falls, which according to Wikipedia became Javier Bardem's breakthrough Academy Award nominated role and the four-time Academy Award nominated The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. He has won a Golden Globe, as well as BAFTA, a C├ęsar Award, a Golden Palm, two nominations for the Golden Lion and an Academy Award nomination.
His show, which opens at the AGO this week, reintroduces his art to the public.
The man himself was at the media preview. Funny! Schnabel all rumpled and dishevelled actually made Toronto journalists look well dressed!
Quotable quote: "“I like this town you have here,” he said. “It’s like Houston was years ago. (Canada is like) a computer chip run a muck!" Realizing that the audience might have interpreted what he said as an insult he explained: "50 years ago before the US went to shit!'
Big thing missing? No AGO CEO Matthew Teitelbaum(holiday) or retiring chief curator Dennis Reid (apparently no longer in the building).
After the 45-minute long official opening we all climbed into a bank of elevators and headed to the exhibition space. What a difference a floor makes. Formal morphed into Controlled Madness. Show not completely hung. Fork lift trucks -- Beep Beep as they back up (real turn off for TV crews!) -- move sculptures around the room. Installation experts were on ladders painting and hanging. Text panels were taped to walls.
The artist revelled in the chaos. He roared around the large space with a large media cloud in tow. " I won't take any questions until you have looked at my show for at least 15-minutes" he warned us. No time to ask questions, artist talked non-stop for the first half hour of the tour!!!
Perfection is the enemy of done - having a media preview in the raw state really worked, especially in context with an artist who specializes in producing work that doesn't look quite complete. You get a sense you are really seeing something before the rest of the world does.
Only draw back not everything up yet ... "One of my paintings was used in Ghost Writer". A film by Roman Polanski - "Problems with insurance, getting it off set and getting it here" people will see that in a week or two.
Of course this media preview during the hanging is something that I do at the McMichael all the time. Out of necessity. For all the coverage the gallery gets, Kleinburg openings are hard sell for journalists covering the art beat. Too far to travel. Group of Seven off their radar. In some cases journalists don't consider the McMichael part of their "beat" (still can't get a reply from Globe and Mail critic R Vaughan, doesn't respond to gallery emails or phone calls).
During the McMichael hangings the curator and/or artist can stay busy while we await visitors ( who don't always come).
Why was AGO so busy? No sure. Schnabel's connection with films and the Film Festival fast approaching? Or is it just that this is the first major "art" happening in the city since the G20 afflicted ROM Terracotta Warrior failed media launch earlier this summer?
Hard to say. But, AGO broke its own mold for this Media Preview. Judging by the positive articles in print and on the TV, it worked. Big Time.

CUTLINE: AGO technician prepares a wall for hanging. Right: Julian Schnabel in the middle of a scrum. Below. A plate. A plant. A blur. Artist's signature piece.