Friday, August 19, 2011

Ed Ruscha & Richard Diebenkorn Shine at The Modern in Fort Worth + Sweet Tea

"The Modern" Art Museum of Fort Worth (above) was designed by Japanese architect Tadao Ando. It has five flat-roofed glass pavilions magically rising out of a beautiful reflecting pool. All of Fort Worth's Art Museums were designed by world renowned architects: the Kimbell Art Museum was designed by Louis I. Kahn with an annex (under construction) designed by Renzo Piano and the nearby Amon Carter Museum was designed by master architect Philip Johnson.

"The Modern" 
Art Museum 
of Fort Worth, TX
There have been very few positive things said about "red meat" or "big oil" for quite some time! One very good thing which has resulted from these two out-of-favor American icons IS the once dusty cowtown of Fort Worth, Texas which has been turned into an American cultural mecca. (see postscript) Fort Worth has one of the most interesting collections of Art Museums anywhere in the world and yes, we owe it all to Cowboy Cattle Ranchers and their "Oil & Gas" wells!

The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth is celebrating two California Artists this year with "ED RUSCHA: ROAD TESTED" and "RICHARD DIEBENKORN: THE OCEAN PARK SERIES". The Ruscha show ended last spring, but Diebenkorn will run from mid September through the end of the year. Both of these "West Coast" artists have ascended to the very pinnacle of America's Modern Art.

If you enjoy a beautiful museum experience, make the trip to "The Modern" museum in Fort Worth, Texas. It lacks the dense crowds of New York, Chicago or LA museums but otherwise you know you are in a fantastic, edgy and thoughtfully curated contemporary art space. Plus, like New York, you can walk to the next museum to see more great modern art and then walk a few more blocks to see yet another excellent art museum. Fort Worth is an amazing art destination.

I have two personal stories related to artists Ruscha and Diebenkorn. 

RUSCHA - Los Angeles painter, Ed Rushca, has attained recognition as one of America's living masters of modern art and I had the privilege of spending a day with him in New York as a part of a small ART WALK, NY group. He is an unassuming, conversant and very "normal" man. So much so, I relate my conversations with him that day, to time spent talking with a neighbor or good friend. He was just another art person in NY, dressed in a t-shirt and jeans, but with impressive hair - thick, full coverage (for his age) and quaffed in a slightly messy comb-back.

DIEBENKORN - When I was a 20-year-old, on my first visit to the Chicago Art Institute a fellow art student in our group was awe struck as he passed by the first Diebenkorn he had ever seen. As Ocean Park paintings go, this was a rather simple one. He spent the next five hours in that one spot, taking in every nuance of the boxes of pastel color and brushstrokes in "Ocean Park No.45". Obviously, it was love at first sight. The average time spent by most people who stop to look at a painting in a museum is usually three seconds or less. 
This artist's sees his world from his automobile and comments on L.A's urban landscape.

Artist Ed (Edward) Ruscha, pronounced ru-shay, (1937 - ) was born in Omaha, Nebraska, but was raised in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, where his family moved in 1941. At age 19 he moved to Los Angeles to attend the Chouinard Art Institute, and had his first solo exhibition seven years later at the FERUS Gallery in LA. In 1973, Ruscha began showing his work at the famous Leo Castelli Gallery in New York. He continues to live and work in Los Angeles, and currently shows with one of America's leading galleries, Gagosian NY & LA.

Ruscha has consistently seen the cityscape of LA as a particular urban experience. Ruscha's painting, drawing, photography, and artist's books holds a mirror up to the banality of urban life and the barrage of mass media-fed images which confront us daily. Ruscha's early career as a graphic artist continues to strongly influence his approach with his use of typography and illustrative, graphic images.

"Ed Ruscha: Road Tested" is all about the artist’s fascination with driving. Since Ruscha’s first road trip from Oklahoma City to Los Angeles in 1956, the artist has incorporated into his work the images he has encountered along the highways and streets of the West and southern California. In this exhibition: some of his most iconic paintings, including two large-scale works from the 1960s, Standard Station, Amarillo, Texas (1963) and Standard Station with Ten-Cent Western Being Torn in Half (1964). The exhibition was the first time these two paintings were reunited in over thirty years.

Ruscha is known for his exploration of the topographical landscape of greater Los Angeles which he represents in paintings that depict aerial grids of the city - in smog and at night - as well as various Southern California horizons and sunsets, plus paintings inspired by street names and road signs. The Modern's exhibition had many of the artist’s most famous books, including Twenty-six Gasoline Stations, Real-Estate Opportunities, Some Los Angeles Apartments, Thirty-four Parking Lots, and his innovative panoramic Every Building on the Sunset Strip.

Ed Ruscha has had a lifelong interest in the mechanics and design of cars which he shows in many of his paintings, photographs, drawings, and in the film Miracle, which tells the story of a mechanic who is magically transformed as he rebuilds the carburetor of a 1965 Mustang. Curator Michael Auping: “Ed’s work has always been associated with the theme of travel, but amazingly an exhibition bringing together many of the images that have been specifically inspired by the road had never been put together.” 

Ruscha has been the subject of numerous museum retrospectives around the world. In 2005, he was selected as the artist to represent the United States at the 51st Venice Biennale and he was tapped during the Bush administration to serve as the United States' Secretary of Arts and Technology. In 2001, Ruscha was elected to The American Academy of Arts and Letters and the first comprehensive monograph on the artist was published by Phaidon in 2003. A major retrospective, "Ed Ruscha: Fifty Years of Painting," opened at the Hayward Gallery in London in October 2009 and also traveled to the Haus der Kunst in Munich and the Moderna Museet in Stockholm.

EXHIBITION - Richard Diebenkorn: The Ocean Park Series 
Form and color as poetic metaphor.

This is the most comprehensive show to date of Diebenkorn's most celebrated series. Co-organized by Orange County Museum of Art and the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth and will feature more than 75 paintings, prints, and drawings, spanning two decades—the largest selection of his work ever on view together—this show will offer visitors the opportunity to view the complexity of Diebenkorn's artistic achievements. With works in various media, the exhibition presents a long-overdue opportunity to explore the breadth and depth of "The Ocean Park Series", showing the variety, subtlety, and intricacy of the artist's range. Many of the works are from private collections and are rarely seen in a public venue.

Richard Clifford Diebenkorn, Jr. (1922-1993) was born in April in Portland, Oregon. When he was two years old, his father, a hotel supply sales executive, relocated the family to San Francisco. Diebenkorn attended school there, then entered Stanford University in 1940 concentrating on studio arts and art history where he became interested in one of his great influences, Edward Hopper. While there he also visited the home of Gertrude Stein's sister-in-law, Sarah Stein, to see works by the the great modern European painters. At Stanford he met and married fellow student Phyllis Gilman.

Diebenkorn served as a Marine during WWII. In 1946, after returning from duty, he returned to San Francisco to study but soon received a fellowship to spend a year in Woodstock NY with fellow artists looking to find their way in the new "abstract" world of art.

Richard again returned to San Francisco to teach at California School of Fine Arts and in 1950 he enrolled in The University of New Mexico for graduate school. His graduate work of soft scrubbed flat colors hinted at his ultimate style, although at the time he was influenced by Clyfford Still and Arshile Gorky so the shapes were all random and organic, not geometric. In Albuquerque he experienced a viewing of the landscape from a low-flying plane. He then combined flat patches of color in stylized landscapes with this aerial perspective into an artistic style which flowered. This is also the time, he established his pattern of working simultaneously with large-scale oil paintings on canvas and with small experimental works on paper. 

For the next 16 years - through various teaching positions and fellowships - he moved around from Sausalito, to Urbana Illinois, to NYC, to a residency in the Soviet Union as a cultural exchange through the State Department, and back to Berkley.

In 1966 Diebenkorn moved from teaching at Stanford to accepting a position at UCLA, so the family moved to Santa Monica, California in southern California. He began working in a studio, located near a beach known as Ocean Park. It was here the artist flourished, he embarked on his most famous and important works - a cycle of paintings and drawings known as "The Ocean Park Series". He was now working in his own invented abstract language, which he would pursue for the next 20 years. During this time both the drawings and paintings became ever more richly chromatic and compositionally complex. 

In 1976–77, a major exhibition of his work, organized by the Albright-Knox museum, traveled to from Buffalo to DC, NYC, Cincinnati, LA and Oakland. By 1976, having had major annual shows in NYC for the past 10 years and now with a traveling museum retrospective, Diebenkorn was regarded as a well-established American master and closely associated with California. Although Diebenkorn lived all over the US, his classification as a "California Artist" has become a large part of his identity. Because of his acceptance as a world-class artist he is credited as elevating the stature of the California art scene in eyes of the art world. 

In late 1992, the Diebenkorns moved from their home in Healdsburg, CA to their Berkeley apartment, to be near medical treatment. Richard Diebenkorn died there from the complications of emphysema on March 30, 1993.

LINKS to eras in Diebenkorn's carreer:  His "wartime” work, the Sausalito Period, the “Albuquerque Period”, the “Urbana Period”, the “Berkeley Period”, 1955's exhaustively experimental figure drawings and still life drawings, at the Poindexter Gallery in New York, a 1964 lyrical group of figure drawings, the late figurative period, 1980/81 the “Clubs and Spades” drawings, 1988 small scale, gem-like, quirkily decorative works, the late etchings illustrating a book of poems by W.B. Yeats.

(Note: Diebenkorn's Ocean Park Series were all titiled with just numbers. Sources:,, Wikipedia, The Art Institute of Chicago, Gagosian, 
The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
3200 Darnell Street
Fort Worth, Texas 76107
Telephone 817.738.9215
Toll-Free 1.866.824.5566
Fax 817.735.1161
Museum Gallery Hours
Tue-Sun 10 am-5 pm
Fri 10 am-8 pm
Admission Prices (includes special exhibitions)
$4 for students with ID and seniors (60+)
$10 for adults ($13+)
Free for children 12 and under, for Modern's members and for all on the first Sunday of every month.


Southern Sweet Iced Tea

Southern Sweet Tea is known as the signature drink of America's Southern States. A tall glass of iced tea in the South goes with just about every event— pot luck dinners, family meals, reunions, Thanksgiving meal, Christmas dinner, Easter dinner, every holiday dinner, luncheons, after golf or swimming, 10am break, back yard gatherings and it’s just perfect for sittin' and visitin'. Iced tea is inexpensive, easy to brew and its a good option for a large, thirsty crowd. Beginning with tea specifically blended for iced tea and allowing for the correct steep time are two important elements in arriving at the perfect pitcher of iced tea.

America's Iced Tea Habits:
South: If you order "tea" in the South it will come iced, unless you specify, "hot tea". Although a few health conscious diners in the southern United States prefer unsweetened iced tea, most in the region find it hard to claim that iced tea can be “too sweet.” In most Southern restaurants if you order "tea" it is likely to come pre-sweetened, so be forewarned and specify unsweetened tea, if ordering "Iced Tea" south of the Mason-Dixon line. In Southern restaurant kitchens, iced tea is brewed by the gallon and the sugar is added while the tea is hot, to insure a good solution and because it takes less sugar to make the tea sweet.
North, East & West: As has happened many times in New York City, if a patron orders "Iced Tea" it is possible they will be served a glass of ice, a small pot of hot tea, and a lemon. America is becoming more homogenized, but except in the South, Iced Tea will never come to your table pre-sweetened, without your request!

South Carolina is given credit as the first place in the United States where tea was actually grown and the only place it was ever produced commercially. The oldest known "Sweet Tea" recipe in the US, can be found in a community cookbook published in 1879 titled Housekeeping in Old Virginia, by Marion Cabell Tyree. "Iced Sweet Tea" blossomed in the South only after the invention of refrigeration made ice easy to come by during hot weather and the South was known for its plentiful crops of sugar cane - all leading to a refreshing and inexpensive sweet treat, "Sweet Iced Tea".

So, if you’re in a state where there is a barbecue joint, a fried chicken place and a catfish restaurant on every other corner - stop in and order some "tea" with your meal, iced and sweet!
(Sources: Several articles in Southern Living Magazine, Recommendation: consult the May 2011 issue of Southern Living to learn "23 Ways to Enjoy Tea")

Recipe: Southern Sweet Tea

  • YIELD: Makes 2 1/2 qt.
  • COOK TIME: 5 Minutes
  • PREP TIME: 5 Minutes
  • STEEP:10 Minutes
  • COURSE: Beverages
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 family-size tea bags
  • 1/2 to 1 cup sugar
  • 7 cups cold water
1. Bring 3 cups water to a boil in a saucepan; add tea bags. Boil 1 minute; remove from heat. Cover and steep 10 minutes.
2. Remove and discard tea bags. Add desired amount of sugar, stirring until dissolved.
3. Pour into a 1-gal. container, and add 7 cups cold water. Serve over ice.
Peach Iced Tea: Stir together 1 1/2 qt. Southern Sweet Tea made with 1/2 cup sugar; add 1 (33.8-oz.) bottle peach nectar and 1/4 cup lemon juice. Stir well. Serve over ice. Makes about 2 1/2 qt.
Tea 'n' Lemonade: Stir together 2 qt. Southern Sweet Tea made with 1/2 cup sugar; add 1 cup thawed lemonade concentrate, and stir well. Serve over ice. Makes 2 1/4 qt.
(Recipe first published in Southern Living Magazine)

Until later, 

ARTSnFOOD, All rights reserved. Concept & Original Text © Copyright 2011 Jack A. Atkinson under all International intellectual property and copyright laws. Images © individual artists, fabricators, respective owners or assignees.

A Short History of 
Major General William Jenkins Worth (1794–1849) was given command the Department of Texas in 1849. That same year he died of cholera, so they named one of the Army forts, on the Trinity River, after him. Fort Worth still embraces its Western heritage, the rodeo and "Stockyards" are tourist attractions and you can still get a beer and dance the Texas two step at Billy Bob's cowboy bar. During the "Old West", Fort Worth was known as Hell's Half Acre, for its crime, violence, drunks and the largest concentration of bars, dance halls, gambling and "pleasure" houses south of Dodge City.  
Today Fort Worth is one of America's cultural centers! For Theatre lovers there is the Bass Performance Hall; for Art lovers: the Kimbell Art Museum (best old masters collection in the Southwest), the Amon Carter Museum of American Art (outstanding collection of American art and possibly the best collection of exclusively American photography in US), the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth (international in scope, artworks of living artists and modern masters), and the Sid Richardson Collection of Western Art. For Music lovers you will find the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, Texas Ballet Theater, the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition at Bass Hall, and the Fort Worth Opera. Rounding out the cultural options are the Fort Worth Zoo (home to over 5000 animals) and the Fort Worth Botanic Garden

Postscript extra:

Ed Ruscha's Murals in the Denver Public Library
A Rolling Historical Landscape of Colorado and the West
On permanent display in the Denver Central Library's Schlessman Hall, is a mural, 130 yards long, which includes 70 panels and spans the entire length of the atrium in a 360 degree panorama. 

"A rolling historical landscape" of Colorado and the West is how artist Edward Ruscha describes his panoramic artwork for the Library. The work unfolds in epic fashion on 70 painted panels high above Schlessman Hall, and in the atriums on either side of the Hall.

The complete artwork took more than two years to produce from concept to finished canvas. It was commissioned for the Denver Public Library by the Denver Mayor's Office of Art, Culture and Film, which awards one percent of major public construction budgets for original art. A panel of local art and design professionals, and library and community representatives selected Ruscha's entry from more than 400 submissions in this national competition.
Anamorphic writing in the tepee panels reads: Ouray, Ute Jack, Colorow, Black Kettle and Chipeta, all leaders of the Ute Indian tribe. The anamorphic writing in panel T reads Baby Doe, miner and wife of Horace Tabor, and near the postmark in panel W reads Soapy Smith, a famous Western flimflam man.
One section shows 'Voice Prints' which "came about by accident" admits the artist. 
"Reading the history of Colorado Indians made me think of voices from the past. The use of anamorphics planted a vertical notion in my mind, and the voice prints evolved into acoustically vertical images." The buffalo panel voice prints signify one-and-one-half seconds of a stampede and the beast's snorts and sneezes. The trill of a lark bunting accents the painting of the Colorado State Bird. For additional prints, the artist's wife read selected words aloud, which were then transposed, via computer, into graphic voice prints.

Ruscha shipped the finished paintings to Denver in June 1995 and the six day installation of the canvases took place at night while the Library was closed.

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