art

Understanding Abstract Art

The term “abstract art” brings to mind patters of lines, colors, and forms splashed across a canvas with rules of the art form seemingly varying from artist to artist, and at times, from artwork to artwork. While this independence from the physical world is what defines the abstract genre from other forms of art, this same trait is what has made abstract art a target of negative criticism since the height of art forms focused on hyper-realism and perspective.

Abstract art however, has some of the oldest roots in the artistic scene. Basic patterns of lines on ancient pottery were used only to vaguely depict something in the physical world; zigzags of blue could represent water, and a simple stripe of black could be the night sky. The way in which the two may be arranged could be the ocean at night. This level of visual stimulus leaves more to the imagination of the individual than “traditional” art forms. This means that abstract styles are meant to project feelings and sensations rather than display objects.

This means that appreciation of abstract art requires a different take than admiring the hyper-realism of – for example – a painting of a bowl of fruit when compared to that which it was modeled after.

Take a real-life scenario: a man holds another at gunpoint. Here, the scenario is clear; there is a clearly stated model of firearm, and there is an absolute definition of intent when the former points the weapon at the latter. Such a scenario forces an imprint of itself onto the onlooker’s mind, stating that “this is reality.” That is the approach of perspective and realism toward art, and that is how fans of hyper-realism enjoy art.

Abstract art however, is more comparable to a real-life scenario where a person is standing, back turned to an alleyway, pitch black with some unidentifiable silhouette within; there is no clear danger. The silhouette could be a pile of trash, or, it could be a criminal with a knife. The person is no clearly defined either, and could be an innocent bystander about to fall in harm’s way; or he could be waiting for whatever is in the shadows. The onlooker doesn’t know. He/she sees the situation presented, but does not have access to pinpoint information, rather, is only given clues, and has imagination drive the scenario for him/her.

This trait is the strength of abstract art, allowing it to depict things in the real world that otherwise cannot be represented. The painting Disks of Newton, Study for Fugue in Two Colors by Frantisek Kupka for example, is a painting of several disks of vibrant color meant to produce a sense of whirling and spinning movements. Such subjects are difficult to capture with realistic imagery, but are easy to capture with abstract painting. The same painting is also meant to express Kupka’s claim of “find(ing) something between sight and sound,” as presented by the words “Newton,” and “fugue” in the title.

In that sense, the quality needed for a person to appreciate the abstract genre and all the styles that fall within its bounds can almost be defined as empathy. Because abstract art projects sensations, one is not able to truly connect with the art form with closed emotions. Take Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket by James Abbot McNeill Whistler. The cityscape painting depicts a fireworks display in London; that is discernible enough alone. However, abstract techniques were utilized in its creation in order to project the feeling of actually experiencing the movement of the sparks of the rockets in the sky. Without empathizing with the emotions Whistler must have had when painting The Falling Rocket, the full impact of the painting is lost.

As with all works of art, the abstract form requires a certain level of depth of though to comprehend. If the perception is too shallow, the meaning is unclear. If it is too deep, the message of the form is overshadowed by personal opinion. The trick to appreciating abstract art therefore, is somewhere deeper than admiration of the art, and somewhere shallower than interpretation. Is it empathy? Yes and no. Empathy definitely pulls the observer to the moment the artist created the art, but does not provide form; because form is provided by understanding.

Without understanding, everything in the world is formless and meaningless, just like the random lines and colors children draw with crayon. With it however, the lines become motion, and the colors become time. The blend of empathy and understanding turn anything – even abstract art – into something far more real than many “realistic” art forms can be.

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museum

Top 5 Museums in the World

 

Museums are a major part of almost every nation’s economy, particularly due to the effects they have on the tourist trade. In fact, millions of tourists either start or end their trips to hotspots with trips to museums. However, not all museums are alike, and they vary greatly from each other in terms of theme and content among other things.

This makes it a difficult task to judge which museum is better than another; all the more difficult when compiling a list of the best in the trade, because for certain, what one museum has, others probably don’t have.

It is however, much easier to judge a museum based on its popularity. Especially among favorites among tourists and enthusiasts, numbers do not lie; any attraction draws large numbers for a reason. It is possible – albeit roughly – to equate the number of visitors a museum has each year to a vote for it to be the best. That said, if a list were compiled, and a select few chosen as the best of all museums, it would be as follows:

Top 5: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City – This is one of the most popular museums in the world because of two main factors: First, it is conveniently located in one of the busiest places in the world. Second, the museum has a collection of seventeen curatorial departments with a total of over two million individual pieces ranging from ancient Egyptian to modern contemporary art. Popularly called the Met, this monster of a gallery is home to a permanent collection that includes the works of Rembrandt, Botticelli, and Dürer’s famous Adam and Eve.

Top 4: The British Museum, London – This is another museum of monstrous proportions, and in its early days in the 1800s, was called the largest construction site in Europe. While it now dedicates itself to the world’s cultural history, no longer housing a natural history collection, the British Museum still has a massive permanent collection of over eight million pieces, including the famed Rosetta Stone. Another reason for its spot in the list is the fact it has a free admission.

Top 3: The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Washington D. C. – This museum not only houses the largest collection of aircraft and spacecraft in the world including iconic craft such as the Flyer and the Enola Gay, but is also a research center for aviation and space travel. It also houses the Phoebe Waterman Haas Observatory, which has been open to the public since 2009, and boasts over sixty thousand aerospace objects, and more than twenty-thousand cubic feet of archival records. Finally, just like most other attractions on the National Park, entrance to the museum is free.

Top 2: The National Museum of Natural History, Washington D. C. – Also located on the National Mall, the National Museum of Natural History is currently the most popular mall in the United States. Its location helps draw in close to seven million visitors every year, turning it into the most visited natural history museum in the world. It has a collection of 125 million specimens from the natural world, including fossils, rocks, plants, and animals; it even houses a near perfect 330 carat blue star sapphire called the Star of Asia.

Top 1: The Musée du Louvre, Paris – The Louvre Museum holds the top spot for almost every year in terms of popularity at nearly ten million visitors every year. It is not as intimidating in terms of architectural span and size compared to the rest of its competition, but it fights with a collection of thirty-five thousand iconic objects that span from early prehistoric items to modern art. It boasts a variety of historically infamous masterpieces such as the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo, and the Louvre Pyramids. The Louvre has learned to bathe in the controversy, becoming more enigmatic and attractive over time.

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medicine and thermo

Missing in Action

I have not heard from Ralph for a while and it is rare, so I got worried about him. I tried calling him on his cellular phone, but it does not ring. After work, I went to his house to say hi. I knocked on his door and I was surprised to see her daughter open the door. I asked for his father and she told me that he is sick for a week. I was taken aback by what she said. I told her that her dad did not tell me about his condition. I asked if I could see him and she let me in.

I saw Ralph on his favorite chair in his room. He was surprised to see me and he asked me what is going on. I told him that I should be the one asking him that and we both laughed. I asked him about why his phone does not ring and he told me that his line was cut off. I told him that I am worried about him because he always calls me almost every day. I asked about what happened to him and he told me that he has been experiencing fever, difficulty of breathing and some coughs. He told me that I was just in time, as they just came from the hospital for his check-up. I asked him how did it go and he shared that his doctor suspects that it is between bronchitis vs. pneumonia. He added that his results would go out tomorrow and he would go back with her daughter to get them. I told him to call me tomorrow about his results and I would come back again after work.

Ralph and her daughter went the hospital again in the morning. The doctor told them that his x-ray confirmed that he has bronchitis. He told Ralph to keep drinking water so soften up the phlegm in his throat. He was prescribed with a broad-spectrum antibiotic to be taken for ten days straight. He was also advised to refrain from doing strenuous activities as it could hinder his full recovery. He told the doctor that he does not want to feel useless in just lying in bed all day. The doctor told him that he could watch TV or read books, but it is advisable to keep him inside his home until he is healed. The doctor asked him about when was the last time that he smoked and he told him that he had a stick last week. He added that he has been trying to quit smoking for a few months and it has been great. He has not felt any withdrawal syndrome because he is quitting gradually. The doctor told him that it is an excellent move since he really needs to quit because of his condition. The doctor also cited a number of bronchitis remedies like chewing on a fresh basil and drinking turmeric with milk that could help him heal faster, more about these remedies can be found at treatingbronchitis.org.

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beautiful lake

Memories of Fishing with Sherry

When my wife, Sherry was still alive, we used to fish around our area. Suffolk, Virginia is filled with rivers and lakes with many fishes to catch like catfish, trouts and even bass. Every weekend, we see to it that we get out of the house and have frequent nature trips, which also became our bonding time. She used to tell me that I needed to give her more time on weekends because I was always busy on weekdays with police duties and I made an effort to give in to her wishes because I always wanted to give her the best that I can.

I remember the last time that we fished; it was almost two years ago. We planned to wake up at four in the morning, but we stayed up late that night, so we woke up late at around seven in the morning. It was still acceptable, but I expected that there would be people on my old fishing spot so we might have to find a new, good fishing spot. I double-checked the insides of my tackle box, as my wife sometimes take things off it. I checked the sinkers, bobbers, catfish bait, flies, hooks and it all looked good to me. Meanwhile, my wife was preparing our snacks and putting them inside the cooler. I told her to put in a six-pack for a merrier trip and she agreed.

We arrived at exactly 8am and as expected, there were too many people in the area so we needed to go further down the river. We got our rented boat and loaded our gears and food that will keep us company for waiting for our catch. As our boat moved forward, Sherry pointed her fingers to people noodling catfishes. She had no idea on what they were doing. I told her that they are trying to catch catfishes with their bare hands. I added that it is harder and trickier, but it is fun to do as I have tried it a number of times. She was surprised with what I said. I also added that noodling is also considered a sport. Normally, it is a two-man job, which consists of a noodler and a spotter for a higher chance of getting a fish. Noodlers search for shallow waters inside mud banks, fallen trees and submerged logs, while spotters act as their assistants in case they needed help with their catch.

Sherry was so fascinated with what I told her. She wanted to try noodling, but I joked that she should try on a Cory Catfish first and we both laughed about it. I promised her that on our next trip that I will teach her noodling and she was delighted by it. Too bad that it was the last time that we went on a fishing trip. I miss her so bad.

My friends still go out fishing and they always invite me to come, but I do not want to because the memories are just too painful for me. I am glad that they understand what I am going through and they told me that they would not get tired of waiting for me to move on. They even told me that they would keep inviting me week after week until I am ready.

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strong sun

Honeymoon at a Foreign Land

My wife, Sherry has always been a beach bum ever since she was younger and before she died. She always made a point to be healthy and fit all year long, so she can always flaunt and look good wearing a bikini at the beach. Every summer, we went to the beach and do stuff like snorkelling, scuba diving and playing catch with our dog, Rusty. She always see to it that we both put sunscreens an hour before we go out under the sun to prevent second degree sunburn. We learned that we really needed to wait for an hour before we go out and stroll under the sun the hard way.

About thirty years ago, we had our honeymoon in Phuket, Thailand and we had a blast out there. Their beach is regarded as one of the best in the world and I agree about that. We spent a whole day beach hopping and still, we did not get to see them all. I love the laid-back scene at Kata and Karon beaches. The blue, serene and calm beaches with the ambient sounds of friendly waves was surreal. It was a perfect honeymoon if not for our sunburns. We thought that it was enough that we put our sunscreen on, and what we did not do was to let it dry first for an hour. We had a hard time finding a pharmacy, which sells a burn ointment because they were saying that they ran out of stock. Fortunately, we encountered a pharmacist who was so helpful that he taught us a household remedy of vinegar for sunburn. I did not believe him at all, but Sherry and I did not have a choice, so we went to a restaurant and asked them if we could get a small amount of vinegar for a price. It was a good thing that people there were generous as they gave us a half full or half-empty bottle, depending on how you see it, for free. We thanked their manager and told him that we were going to use it as a remedy for our burns. He shared that many foreigners suffer that same fate because they underestimate the sun’s rays and we agreed and told him that we learned it the hardest way possible.

We directly went to our hotel room and applied the vinegar on our backs and arms. It was soothing, but it smelled weird and we did not care because it was working. There was a free computer with an internet service inside our room so I searched the web about it and it was all true. I have read that vinegars are antiseptics that will help our wounds heal faster. If not for its smell, I will also use it outside.

Sherry and I were both relieved that we have something to treat our burns for the meantime. We asked the concierge of the hotel for a pharmacy that has a stock of burn ointments and they told us that they could buy one for us.

 

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Time to Move on

My wife died a year ago and working in the art museum makes me sane. I still miss her a lot and I often see her in my dreams. I told my friends about it and they tell me that I need to move on with my own life and be happy. They added that I could not keep dwelling on my past because it will just cause me more misery and loneliness. I know that I need to do it, but I do not know how to start.

Every day, I work as a tour guide around the whole museum and I meet many nice people from all ages. I love meeting people in museums because we have the same interest and that is art. I met Kirsten three weeks ago and she is very pretty, charming and kindhearted. I do not know what happened, but I was drawn to her easily. Maybe it was because she was easy to talk to, no pretensions. She was surprised to learn that I used to be a cop. I smiled at her and asked her about what kind of profession does my look emanate and she joked that I looked like an old, grumpy, Math teacher in middle school and we both had a laugh about it.

Since then, we have been going out once or twice a week and it has been great, but I just cannot help it when I compare her with my wife. I told my friends about it when we were drinking and they told me that I should not do that because it is unfair to the new girl that I am dating. They added that in my eyes, no one would ever come close to my wife. It was sad hearing them say that, but it was the truth. Another friend of mine asked me if I knew the Myer-Briggs Indicator Test or MBTI. I told him that I have read it somewhere that Forbes Business executives use them on their hiring department to determine which person is best for the job. He told me that I was right, but he added that it could also be useful to my love life. I told him that I could not make Kirsten take that silly test because that is going to be awkward and stupid. He told me that it is not really a test and it is just four choices that will take us a minute. He added that she would need to pick from Extraversion and Introversion, Sensing and Intuition, Thinking and Feeling, and last but not the least, Judging and Perception. From there, we can figure out if we are compatible or not. I told him that I would give it a shot on our next date.

On our date, I told Kirsten about the MBTI and she laughed because she was also thinking about it. She shared that she is in the INFJ relationships and I told her that I am in the ENFJ relationships. We found out that we both have strong personalities, as we can be intense and direct, but at the same time very warm and nurturing. I told her that I do not believe in these tests, but sometimes I need to. We both laughed and had a great date.

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