Follow-up on Goldberg

Here's a review of the Abramovic/Levit concert at the Armory in New York. With really great photos.

"A Kind Drone"

A clothing commercial. With clothing-less dancers. And perfectly placed drones. Watch it!

Rothko: a Counterpoint

After you've seen the Rothko retrospective at the MFAH, read this essay that's more skeptical of Rothko as an artist (and a brand) than many of us are.

Speaking of Mona Lisa

Here is Hyperallergic's "Brief History of Mona Lisa Theories."

Maybe a computer will determine the next set of works for the AP exam

I'm not sure I'm reading this article correctly. They took a bunch of widely accepted works of art, made algorithms to reflect that the works are widely accepted, and then claim that the the algorithms may be good at spotting widely accepted works of art? Whatever; the algorithms understand that Mona Lisa os overrated, so they're fine with me.

Guns and art

With so much talk about guns, gun control, good guys with guns, and all the other gun talk, Glasstire posted a roundup--and they promise more--of major artworks involving guns. It's really interesting to see so many guns presented in so many ways. I'll warn you, thought, that all of the works are serious art, but several are still not school appropriate.

An Abramovic installation you can try at home

For Goldberg, pianist Igor Levit has teamed up with Marina Abramovic to enhance the experience around listening to music. The centerpiece is Levit's live performance of Bach's Goldberg Variations, but Abramovic has designed the process. Attendees will first put all of their distractions, like phones and watches, into a locker. Then they will sit in a comfy chair, in the dark, for about half an hour. Wearing noise-cancelling headphones. Not until then, when listeners have nothing to do but listen, will Levit begin playing.

While you're not likely to get Levit into your home, you can recreate the rest of the process. Before listening to an album, try getting rid of all distractions and sitting alone in the dark first. See if the concentration helps the experience. I'll try this soon, with Simone Dinnerstein's recording, and report back.

Study tip: organize like an athlete

I’ve heard the same thing from a few executive types: they like hiring NCAA athletes. Not because there’s something magical about jocks, but because they know that college athletes already “have the time-management skills down.” I looked it up, and indeed there’s a lot written about the advantage to hiring college athletes.

You may not play sports in college, but you can still work on the same skills and traits that make them successful. According to this article in Fast Company, athletes are good employees because:
·      They’re achievement oriented
·      They’re resilient
·      They’re strong communicators
·      They’re team oriented

·      They manage time well

"Red line of mortality"

According to this bank chart, you should go ahead and look forward to your 20s. Or be older than 35 and cry. Those seem to pretty much be your options.

Study tip: keep a not-to-do list

I was browsing through a search of “best productivity advice” and found something I’d never seen before.

A “leadership consultant” named Robin Sharma advises: “Write a Stop Doing List. Every productive person obsessively sets To Do Lists. But those who play at world-class also record what they commit to stop doing. Steve Jobs said that what made Apple Apple was not so much what they chose to build but all the projects they chose to ignore.”

This makes a lot of sense. We know that one of the key words to leading a productive, successful life is No. We have to be able to say no and keep control of our own time and resources. And we also have moments where we learn a big lesson and think “I’m never going to do that again.” And so maintaining and reviewing a list of those things you know not to do again sounds really smart. It’s a way to overcome the habit energy that keeps us doing things we know we ought not be doing.

I’m going to try this. Maybe you will too?

Five albums in seven sentences

Roar, the 2010 EP from Dirty Gold, may be the ultimate summer album (especially the song "California Sunrise"). I wish these guys put out a full album!

The Beginnings Stages of..., the debut album of Dallas's Polyphonic Spree, contains one of my most joyful memories.

The Live version of Bjork's Vespertine is even more transcendent than the studio original.

I know it dates me to recommend My Bloody Valentine's Loveless, but for many many people my age the album never gets old. Don't even consider listening to it on your laptop--it needs decent speakers at a bare minimum.

I'm not a huge fan of LCD Soundsystem per se, but I sure am a huge fan of Sound of Silver.

Importing Medieval Buildings

From Atlas Obscura, here's a long but interesting essay on the late 19th/early 20th century trend of rich Americans importing entire medieval buildings from Europe.

More paintings with funny captions

I should be more of an adult and not laugh at this stuff. But, well, too bad. (It's N completely SFW.)

Paris after the attacks

Here's an angle of the Paris recovery story I wouldn't have thought of: while The Louvre is open, almost nobody is there. Here's a photo from a few days ago that shows only about 10 people in front of the Mona Lisa. There are usually hundreds of people in this gallery at any time.

The ol' Dallas-Houston rivalry.

While the MFAH is in the middle of its Rothko retrospective, the DMA is opening a Pollock retrospective.

This seems appropriate in a number of ways.

Two stories (and a novel) on art theft

A man recently sent a ransom demand for a stolen Klimt painting. It was stolen 18 years ago.

Here's a summary of a 1961 art heist--and the following trial--so weird and famous it made it into a James Bond movie. Spoiler: the thief (or was he?) was convicted for stealing the frame...but not the painting.

If you like your art heist adventures more on the fictional side, don't forget Donna Tartt's novel The Goldfinch.

"Paris must become a little less charming"

Ian McEwan, author of Atonement, is currently living in Paris. He sent this note the day after the recent attacks.

Reading poetry

A 20-step guide.

Study tip: do more with your notes

While there are a lot of different note-taking systems, and I have no idea which works best for you, I do know a few things:

1.   Every expert out there agrees that taking notes during lectures, presentations, and discussions is good for retention and understanding.

2.   They also agree that the sooner and more often you review your notes, the better. If the first time you look over your class notes is right before a test, days or weeks after you took the notes, then the notes are likely to be completely useless. You should review and rework your notes in the first 24 hours after you take them.

3.   The sooner you find what works for you, the better. Dartmouth College has an excellent page at their Academic SkillsCenter. Spend some time going through it.

High school art collection?

I'm not usually a fan of bandwagons, but this program at Woodlands High seems like a great idea for Carnegie. They have a trust that actually acquires and maintains art for the school. The student body gets to vote on which pieces they buy each year.

Auction update

As expected, a Modigliani painting sold tonight for a lot of money. Around $170 million.

What are you doing Thursday evenings?

Or in our case, Thursday afternoons?

The Tate will be live streaming (should that be one word, o Millennials?) performances from the museum on Thursdays from November 19 - December 10.

You can also see archived performances from past years of the series.

Thanks to Lynn for sending this to me!

Terracotta Daughters

French artist Prune Nourry made 116 life-sized "Terracotta Daughters" to highlight the plight of women in China. After traveling the world, the sculptures have been buried to "sleep" for 15 years.

This piece, which I'd not heard about until this week, stands as a great example of how artists use works from the past in very powerful and not-at-all-derivative ways.

Advice for anyone who ever takes a class. At a school. Or other school-like place.

This Captain Awkward blogpost deals specifically with behavior in a grad school seminar. But it applies, to all of us, and it's really worth reading a few times.

Thanks to my friend Molly for sharing this--I didn't know anything about Captain Awkward until she posted this.

Fun video!

Like animation, owls, Russian, and/or short videos?

Try this one. A former Art History student sent it to me.

*Updated. I had a bad link before, but not it should work.*

A quick read on auctions

As the fall art auction season gets underway tonight, there's sure to be some news on big sales. The New York Times has this piece on how auctions work.

There's also a more detailed (and, to me, more readable) explanation in Sarah Thornton's Seven Days in the Art World.

Pride and Prejudice and Erotica

This week in English class we've been talking about Gilbert & Gubar and feminist readings of 19th century English novels. And the same week I come across, for the first time, "Jane Austen Erotica." (Totally SFW.)


John Singer Sargent

A friend sent me this news piece about Sargent, featuring Met curators from an exhibit on his work.

Poetry and passwords

Thanks to this story, I can now kinda understand computers and kinda understand poetry at the same time!

What it means to be an artist

If you're in any sort of creative field--or hope to be--please take a moment to read this great essay and rallying cry in Glasstire.

Study tip: Get SelfControl over online distractions

We know that keeping yourself focused and distraction-free is necessary to do good work and good thinking. The problem is that these days, we go to the same place for distractions as we do for work—the computer. The work we’re doing has to compete with social media, incoming messages, and virtually all the information in the world. It’s very difficult for any of us to maintain self control when all those distractions are right there.

If you’re struggling with that self control, consider downloading SelfControl. It’s, in its own words, “a free and open-source application for Mac OS X that lets you block your own access to distracting websites, your mail servers, or anything else on the Internet. Just set a period of time to block for, add sites to your blacklist, and click "Start." Until that timer expires, you will be unable to access those sites--even if you restart your computer or delete the application.”

If SelfControl isn’t the app for you, or if you’re not using a Mac, there are plenty of similar programs out there. Just search “apps to block social media” to more than a dozen. Please consider trying some out and see how it works for you.

Music: Year of Hibernation

Right now Youth Lagoon's newest album is getting a fair amount of attention, and rightly so.

But on a rainy Sunday when we're stuck inside all day, it's his first album, 2011's The Year of Hibernation, that I could listen to over and over.

On public sculpture, The Empire, and wifi

Alexander Milov turned a Ukranian public sculpture of Lenin into a public sculpture of Darth Vader. He added onto the Lenin, so the original sculpture is intact if later generations want it back. He also added a wifi router, so that the interent literally emanates from Lord Vader's head.

Got my mind on my music...

I've been listening to--and thinking a lot about--classical music lately. It seems I'm not the only one.

Here is an essay in The Guardian about a number of Classical traditions and what they have in common. You'l learn a lot from this one.

Here, also in The Guardian, is a love note to classical music and a plea to younger people to experience it. It's "not exclusive or elitist," Brigid Delaney writes.

Here, in a place other than the Guardian, is a more nuanced--and acceptably elitist--essay on the problem with so many superficial discussions about "what's wrong" with classical music.

Enjoy the reading! Or don't, and just go enjoy Simone Dinenrstein's recording of the Goldberg Variations.

MoMA Teens Online

Are any of you 13-17? If so, consider this online class, "A Tale of Three Cities: London, Chicago, and New York's Art Scenes Exposed!" It begins November 4, and it's free.

Music: Mozart's Divertimento, K.563

This is the best, most exquisite Mozart piece you've (probably) never heard. It's as good as all the famous ones.

I've been listening to this CD for around 10 years now, a 1990 recording with Gidon Kremer, Yo-Yo Ma, and Kim Kashkashian.

Just don't think of it as background music.

Study tip: use good ol' fashioned note cards

A while ago I put out a call on Facebook asking my friends for study and productivity advice. Several people responded that their advice is not to forget about note cards. They’re low-tech and time-consuming, so we might be tempted to think they’re useless. But note cards remain a great way to organize your thoughts and retain things you want to remember.

I require my Art History students to make note cards for works they’re supposed to remember. And the students hate it; they often complain about how time-consuming they are. However, I get notes from former students every year telling me how effective the note cards were, and students continue to use note cards for college classes.

There are a number of online flashcard programs out there. They certainly have their uses (I use one on my iPad to practice blackjack), but you potentially lose a lot of the value of note cards when you take away the tactile elements.

Dali's house

Salvador Dali's house looks pretty much like you'd expect it to. Which is awesome.

Music: Muchacho

Imagine an album written by Leonard Cohen, dark and poetic and yearning, but then reimagined by Dwight Yoakum--all that swagger and yodel. Then get the album on major pain medication to mellow it out. That's Muchacho, by Phosphorescent. Phosphorescent is the band name for Mathew Houk, an Alabama boy who moved to Brooklyn. Listen to this album when you've just fallen in love, just broken up, are going on a road trip, or are stuck inside for days. And then listen again and again.

When the art is the attacker, not the attacked

Glasstire has a nice compact essay on art exhibits that intentionally destroy or damage the exhibition space. If for no other reason, read it to get down to "An artist with a sledgehammer wakes you up."

Music: Blue Lines

When it comes to albums I can listen to over and over and over, there's nothing even in the same spectrum as Massive Attack's 1991 debut Blue Lines. I got it on cassette (because that's how you mostly got music then), and I think I literally listened to it every day for about 18 months. I wore out the cassette tape and had to replace it. And then a few years after that when my cassette player broke and I shifted to CD, Blue Lines was among the first I bought. I wouldn't surprise me to learn I've listened to this short--only nine songs--album a thousand times.

Blue Lines navigates like no other album the deep grey areas where soul, hip-hop, psychedelia, reggae, and R&B overlap. The term "trip hop" was pretty much invented for this group. They've gone on to have a long and always-interesting discography. Their most recent album was released in 2010.

Here's a Pitchfork retrospective review of the album that does a really good job of contextualizing Blue Lines.

Personal and almost-sad note: when it comes to narrowing down a "favorite band," the two contenders are Massive Attack and Bjork. And I've never seen either of them live (though I did go to a Sugarcubes concert in high school so I guess that kind of counts for Bjork).

Occupy Impressionism!

Here's a weird protest: this week people showed up outside the MFA Boston to protest the museum's collection of Renoirs. According to one of the picket signs, they're not iconoclasts, "Renoir just sucks at painting."

Apparently one of Renoir's descendants is responding on Instagram.

Study tip: use a to-do list

To-do lists are so important to productivity and time management because they allow your brain to focus on what is in front of it—be it homework, enjoyment, talking to someone, whatever—and not be distracted by trying to remember everything else it needs to do. If you have a system in place to write down what you need to do, and you regularly go back to that list, then your mind stops spending so much energy and trying to juggle all that information. A lot of you stress comes not from things you’re doing, but things your brain is trying to remember to do later. You can better focus on the task at hand and feel less stress if you use a good to-do list.

Think of this example: someone gives you their phone number, and you need to call that number in exactly one hour. You can write that phone number down and set a timer, or you can try to memorize it and watch the clock. If you write it down and set a timer, you now have an hour to do other things without worrying that you’ll forget the phone number or forget to call. If you try to memorize it and watch the clock, that’s all you’ll be doing for the next hour, and you’re still likely to mess up the number.

Each task you’re assigned, for school or otherwise, is like getting a phone number. Write it down in a place you’ll know you can retrieve it, and your mind is much less focused on trying to keep the details. If you write it down or have it written down for you, but you don’t trust the system for keeping it—because you never check your to-do list or are often losing papers—then it’s the same as not writing it down at all as far as your brain is concerned.

There are lots of ideas out there for how to write and use a to-do list. I’d be happy to share my system with you if you’re interested. The important thing is to find a system that works for you and use it. Who doesn’t need better focus and less stress?

Brian Eno lectures us, in a good way

In his BBC John Peele lecture, legendary musician/producer/creative guru Brian Eno defended and helped define The Arts and Culture. "Art is everything you don't have to do."

Art attack!

A man with a history of crimes--and, sadly, a history of mental illness--seems to have deliberately destroyed a dale Chihuly glass sculpture in Washington.

As always, let me know if you hear of any art attacks--I'm fascinated.

Butter Sculpture

One of the things I miss the most about my home town is the State Fair of Texas. Imagine the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. Got it? Now get rid of the rodeo and concerts, but make all the other stuff--the rides, games, exhibits, and food tents--about five times bigger. That's the State Fair. It's where corny dogs were invented, it's the home of Big Tex, and it's the mothership of weird fried foods. It's also, if you're more artistically minded, a place to see amazing sculptures made out of butter. Yay art!

Study Tip: read Cal Newport

Cal Newport is a computer scientist at Georgetown University. He works with distributed algorithm theory, whatever that is. But his hobby is thinking about—and writing about—productivity and efficiency. The past few years he’s really focused his productivity work on Knowledge Workers: academics, designers, writers, people like that. Knowledge Work is most likely the kind of work you aspire to.

But early on, while he was still a grad student at M.I.T., he wrote a lot of really good stuff about being a more successful, efficient, and happy student. Check out his book How to Be a High School Superstar. If you’re about to be out of high school, look for Howto Win at College. Also go to his blog called Study Hacks. It’s a When you get to his blog, click on the “if you’re new to Study Hacks click here” link on the right and scroll down to the “What did you used to write about?” section. Read those older blog posts. They’re very worthwhile.

Music: ( )

Sigur Ros's 2002 album ( ), commonly referred to as "the bracket album," is one of those I can listen to over and over and over again. It's intense. A few things about it:

  * There's some music great for listening to on a drizzly grey day. This album, however, is the best album there is for listening to during a nighttime storm.

  * The lyrics are sung in a made-up language called "Hopelandic." They don't "mean" anything.

  * I have a strong memory of NPR using track four as interstitial music connected to the World Trade Center attack. In my mind, they played a snippet on September 12, 2001. Since the album was't released until over a year later, I guess that's not possible. Maybe it was for an anniversary piece? Maybe it was another Sigur Ros song, but my mind has replaced it? Maybe it was another tragedy? Whatever the inaccuracy of my memory, I still associate the song, one of my favorite songs in the history of everything, with the sadness of that day. And the first four songs are considered the happier half of the album.

That skinny Hamlet

I start Hamlet with my seniors tomorrow morning. And as I read the play again, I know one question I'll have at the back of my mind: is Hamlet fat?

Land Art

Stan Herd reproduced a Van Gogh painting using over an acre of ground. It's like the outfield of a professional ball park, only a little more detailed.

Tattoos forever!

You've been warned that when you get a tattoo you're stuck with it forever. But now you can make it last even longer! There's an organization that will get your body art after your body is dead, preserve it and frame it for your heirs. Seriously.

Study Tip: consider waking up early

You should be getting eight to ten hours of sleep a night, but we all understand that sleeping that much isn’t always possible. When you need to sacrifice some sleep for work, consider waking up early instead of staying up late.

For example, imagine it’s midnight, and you’re tired. You normally wake up at seven, and you still have about two hours of work to do. Instead of staying up until two, consider going to bed right away and getting up at five. You get five hours of sleep either way. You have two hours to work either way. But if you go to bed and wake up earlier, you’re doing those two hours of work rested and refreshed instead of sleepy and worn out. You also have fewer distractions, since most of your friends are still asleep.

And remember, work and life-changing experiences are the only things worth losing sleep for. The games, social media, and art projects can wait.

Cubist tattoos

Check out these gorgeous tattoos on Colossal.

A major find from Ancient Egypt!

Where was this eight-foot leather scroll discovered? A tomb? A pyramid?

It was found in a library in Cairo, where it was apparently placed and forgotten 70 years ago. Oops!

Alec Baldwin interviews Andy Warhol

Well, no. Of course not.

But the latest edition of Here's the Thing does feature Baldwin interviewing Eric Shiner, director of the Warhol Museum. It's got a lot of fascinating biographical facts I never knew. Give it a listen.

Study Tip: you don't work better under pressure

Many procrastinators tell themselves—and others—that they procrastinate because they work better under pressure or time constraints. This is almost never true. We tell ourselves this for two main reasons:
·      Waiting until it’s almost too late and then finishing the essay or project triggers the risk-and-reward chemicals in our brain. It feels good to procrastinate and then somehow get it done. It’s the same type of reward stimulation that makes driving too fast feel fun, and it’s the same type of risk that makes driving too fast dangerous and stupid. There are safer, more interesting ways to stimulate your brain than putting off your work. Play a video game (as a reward after you’ve finished your work); challenge yourself to build something in less than an hour; get up the nerve to ask that person out on a date; go for a run—all of these are better options.

·      Very often it seems we work better under pressure because it’s only when we’re under pressure that we give ourselves time to focus. It’s 1 am and you have a paper due at 8? And you haven’t even begun it yet? You’re going to focus and “power through” on that essay, and you might think it’s the powering through that made you write a good paper. It’s actually the focus that made it good. Had you allotted two or three hours to focus and work only on the paper when you weren’t sleep-deprived and in a panic, you would have written an even better paper. Give yourself time for deep focus, and don’t always make it in the middle of the night before something is due.

So, next time you have a big essay or project due, allot yourself a big chunk of time before the last night to work on it. Turn off any distractions. Reward yourself with something creative and fun when you finish. If after trying this a few times you still think you’re the rare genius who works better under pressure, go for it. But there’s a 99% chance you’ll just do better work and get better sleep.

Music: Lisbon

The Walkmen had been on my radar for a long time. I was visiting a friend in New York City some time between 1997 and 1999, I don't remember which specific visit. One night he took me to a bar to hear a band called Walkmen. I remember that I liked the venue, that I thought the band was pretty good, and that the lead singer didn't sound anything like Bono, but still gave off a Bono-ish feeling. His voice was loud and strong and gravelly.

Over the next few years I came across The Walkmen from time to time. I first heard the song "We've Been Had," and then listened to their first few albums once or twice as they came out. I liked them, but I didn't think they were necessarily anything special.

And then I heard Lisbon, their 2010 sixth album. Lisbon is more than good--it's transcendent. The guitar and the vocals, which had always been a good match, suddenly sounded like they were meant for this moment. I don't think Lisbon is a great social album; it's not made for listening with a group. But whatever isolated mood you're in, be it a quiet funk or a nervous energy, Lisbon is an album you should try.

Tribute in Light

The New York Times had a thoughtful essay and video yesterday about the power of the simple-but-profound light memorial at the World Trade Center.

Cross-curricular activity

University of Houston engineering professors are teaming up with the Blaffer Museum and and artist Jo Ann Fleischhaur to see if they can tell just what goes on when you make and consumer art. Brain scans and art will surely combine to form something interesting!


Who needs a Stonehenge when there's a Superhenge nearby?

(This guy maybe does.)

Study tip: use the Pomodoro Technique

When you sit down to perform a task, whether it’s homework or studying or writing, focus completely on the task for 25-minute intervals. The Pomodoro Technique says to:

1.   Set a timer for 25 minutes.
2.   Work on the task without interruption or distraction for the full 25 minutes. Use SelfControl or another app to keep you off the internet if you need. Put your phone on Airplane Mode.
3.   When the timer goes off, take 3-5 minute break to do whatever you want. Mark an X to keep track of completed blocks—this help you monitor time and also build confidence.
4.   For every four blocks—once you’ve marked four Xs—take a longer, 15-30 minute break.

If you use Chrome, Strict Workflow has a Pomodoro extension that will help block web use during the 25-minute blocks.

Quirky fact: the method gets its name from the tomato-shaped timer the creator used. Pomodoro is Italian for tomato.

Teddy Abrams in Louisville

Photo PBS. He's wearing a leather jacket, so you know it's cool.

When it comes to answering the question "how do we keep Classical musical relevant?" the answer seems to be, in so many words, "hipsters."

  * Kevin Yu designs a high-tech tuxedo shirt for musicians.
  * The Prometheus Chamber Orchestra plays conductorless, sometimes in a soup kitchen.
  * Bryce Dessner, guitarist for The National, also writes classical music for the Kronos Quartet.
  * Danielle Kuhlman, member of the local River Oaks Chamber Orchestra, plays a horn with a pink bell and also plays with a quartet called Genghis Barbie.

But for all these cool and outsider sorts of innovations, there's also the centuries of tradition and ritual that many classical musicians and programmers don't necessarily want to give up.

A great way to see these two sides work together is to follow PBS's series Music Makes a City, about the new 27-year-old director of the Louisville Orchestra. Each episode is short, only about 6 minutes. And it's exciting. Give it a try, even if you don't think you like Classical music. Especially if you think you don't like Classical music.

(CVHS students: I never tire of talking about and advertising R.O.C.O. Ask me about this amazing and innovative local orchestra any time.)

Study tip: never do homework in bed!

Your body and brain work on habit energy, and studying in your bed confuses them. Getting into bed ought to signal to your brain and body that it’s time to go to sleep—and that’s often what happens when you get into bed to study. You can sleep better AND study better if you have a dedicated space for studying.

Phone Operator Haiku

What if the person answering the phone at the art museum is also a poet? The Toast has the answer.

Ukiyo-e, updated

This week in Art History we watched a video on Hokusai's The Great Wave. Here you can find other Hokusia works--turned into gifs. Have fun!

Music: Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots

Rather than get into conversations about "best" or even "favorite" albums, I prefer to think of it in terms of "albums I never get tired of listening to." They don't necessarily expand my way of thinking about the world, and I don't necessarily get more and more out of them with each listen. Some have some sort of emotional connection that places it at a certain time in my life, and others just seem to get along with me really well.

When I think about albums I never get tired of listening to, one of the first to come to mind is always The Flaming Lips' Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (2002).

"It's Summertime" and "Do You Realize" are the types of songs that just might make you cry. They're melodic and happy but in no way superficial. But the gem is--of course--the song about Yoshimi. "Her name is Yoshimi. She's a black belt in karate. Working for the city, she has to discipline her body."

Listen to this album for a lush and melodic trip through a fantasy land and your own melancholic emotions. Or don't. But I will, again and again.

Funny Summer Art Stories

Artnet has a run-down of 20 funny stories from the art world this summer. Enjoy!

Study tip: pick some study music

For students who want to increase efficiency or productivity, my first piece of advice is always to choose some study music. It should be instrumental. It should be neither too fast nor too slow. It should have no other emotional associations for you.

Once you choose your study music, stick with it. Play it every time you sit down to study or do homework. Do not listen to other music when studying or doing homework. After a while—it doesn’t take long—habit energy takes over. You’ll no longer actively hear the music, but you won’t be easily distracted by other sounds. Your brain will recognize that it’s homework time when it hears the music (think Pavlov’s Dog) and will calm down. You’ll even be able to put yourself in the mood to do homework if you weren’t before—and who’s ever in the mood to do homework?

If you're looking for recommendations, try Kid Loco's soundtrack to The Graffiti Artist


While this Harvard Business Review post has nothing to do with art, I figure all my readers (like, all four of you) have to deal with giving and/or receiving negative feedback. So why not pass it on?

Kapoor in China?

(photo mine)

The term "Chinese knock-off," which I hadn't heard in a while, has been repeated a lot in the art news this week. That's because a city in China has a public sculpture that looks almost identical to Anish Kapoor's iconic "Cloud Gate," and Kapoor is suing them over it. "Cloud Gate," better known as The Bean, is the large-scale 2006 in Chicago's Millennium Park.

Damien Hirst in The Guardian

Here's a relatively long profile on Damien Hirst from The Guardian this summer. Some days Hirst is a guilty pleasure for me, and some days I straight-up like him. (Not so much the Spin paintings, but still.)

Hooray for the Gorilla Girls!

Here's a piece, including interviews, on their 30th anniversary.

Calatrava and those bridges

Last night I was driving from Globe Life Park (go Rangers!) to my parents' house in Terrell. Which means that I drove right through downtown Dallas and had a chance to talk with my architect Dad about the really weird "Bridge to Nowhere" finished a few years ago, and the under-construction pedestrian bridges that are currently going up. They're really weird, expensive projects that add little (maybe nothing) to the city.

And today I find an essay about how Dallas's Calatrava bridge(s) are a problem for lots of cities, not just my home town.

Unapologetic bragging

Yesterday I got to tour the Treasure Rooms at the Menil. Well, four out of five of them. They are even more amazing and magical than I expected.

My host was a friend and former Carnegie student who now works at the Menil. I often remind students that they're there 10% for their education and 90% for my entertainment. That holds true after graduation as well.

The finest of art...on Failblog

David Irvine paints pop culture characters into thrift store prints and paintings. Unlike similar jokes that are all-digital, Irvine makes physical, individual new works out of the old ones. And yes, I saw it first on Failblog.


Guys, listen to or read this podcast about the red AIDS awareness ribbons. It teaches us a lot about AIDS in America in the 80s and early 90s. It also teaches us a lot about the birth of the now-ubiquitous awareness ribbons (hint: artists!).

Breaking my own rules

I don't want this to be a space for arbitrary pronouncements of The Best, listicles, or clickbait.

But hey, it's summer.

So if you want art you experience in the cool of your own home, check out this list of The 10 Most Beautiful Movies. I've only seen four of them, but I can vouch for their beauty.

Take your medicine

These funny pill packets by Dana Wyse remind me of the silly, kitschy gums they sell at the candy store. Only these have more of an edge to them.

Restoring a centuries-old painting

The Met has a really nice video about the restoration process they used with a Charles LeBrun painting from 1660.

If classical music puts you to sleep..

If classical music puts you to sleep, then you might be excited about Max Richter's new piece. "Sleep" is an eight-hour piece (apparently the longest classical composition ever) that's meant to be played while people sleep. The premiere will happen at an overnight performance where the audience will listen in beds, presumably asleep.

(By coincidence, I put on a Richter album last night to help me fall asleep. I can vouch for this guy's talent.)

Really old advice

I know it's June and the time for graduation speeches is over. But consider--no matter when you graduated and at what level--this open letter of advice to the class of 2015. It's advice so old it seems really fresh and interesting.

Suits (almost) as amazing as the paintings

How does Kehinde Wiley get awesome suits that look so similar to the backgrounds of his paintings? Well, he uses material for the suit that he buys to model for the paintings. Check some great ones out here.

Anish Kapoor at Versailles

During the school year I would hesitate to post this link, but if you're reading this now then you're almost certainly a legal adult whose parents aren't going to complain or get me fired or whatever.

Anish Kapoor, he of the monumental sculptural works, is the latest contemporary artist to show at the historic Versailles Palace. And, of course, he's made quite a stir by referring to one sculpture as "the queen's vagina."

More graphs about art

Here are some charts documenting the still-small acceptance of women in art.

Palettes of famous artists

This is what the paint looks like before it's on the canvas.

Yoko Ono at MoMA

While I never thought of Yoko Ono as "the woman who broke up the Beatles," I must admit that I only thought of her as John Lennon's wife. That was silly of me, because a) no person's identity should be limited to their spouse, and b) she's an accomplished artist.

Her show to MoMA will (hopefully) help to break the limiting label. You can read this synopsis of her career to help not make the same mistake so many of us have made.

For what it's worth...

...the school district internet filters are now keeping me from Blogger at work. So posting here has been difficult. I don't know if moving to a new host site will solve the problem or only delay.

Why is the timpani player smelling his drum?

Here's a quick rundown of some funny questions you might like to read before going to a classical music concert.

If you do go to one, let me know! I love to talk about concerts, but rarely get the opportunity.

Chiharu Shiota's keys

A key is a powerful symbol of security and belonging. So why not 50,000 of them?

"Why Don't They Come?"

This seems important to read. It's got math and charts and stuff, but it's really important.

This can't be happening

I think I may have somehow become a Frank Gehry fan. I'd never really liked his buildings. While the Guggenheim Bilbao is supposed to be a masterpiece, I always thought it looks like a hunk of broken mess. I wasn't surprised to see in an exhibit that Gehry likes to do his sketches not with pencil on paper, but with wadded up pieces of paper. One man's trash is another man's Architecturally Significant Building.

But then I had to admit that the Walt Disney Hall really is spectacular.

And then he did the residential tower in Manhattan, which is supremely and surprisingly elegant.

And the sneak peaks we're getting of his giant new Facebook headquarters are...well...really cool.

I don't know if Gehry's getting older or I am. Maybe both.

Street art

(Photo: Arash Khamooshi for The New York Times)

All of Tehran's roughly 1,500 billboards now have art on them instead of advertisements.

A personal note... whoever changed the name on my door. That's very sweet. It's been a good year.

On clothes, mindsets, and power

Stanley Marcus (the Marcus in Neiman Marcus department stores) once said that "a casual wardrobe produces a casual attitude." Science is proving him right. It turns out that wearing formal clothes "makes people think more broadly and holistically." Wearing a suit or other business wear will likely make you think more like a powerful person and act more like a powerful person.

While I believe this broad thinking and confidence is largely a good thing ("dress better than you have to" is one of the axioms I live by), there can be negative consequences: thinking of yourself as powerful and in a higher social class might make you less ethical.

Pop culture crossover: Mad Men!

Eight Tips on Creativity

I don't know who Michael Smith is, and I try to avoid passing on too much advice. But I like this quirky list from a professional.

What's she doing with her hands?

I've never even thought about what the Venus de Milo is doing with her missing hands. I just assumed they were in some pose meant to be beautiful. But lots of people over the past two centuries have made conjectures, and 3-D printing is coming into the conversation. Maybe she's spinning yarn? It's plausible.

Playing to the Gallery

I'll be reading Grayson Perry's Playing to the Gallery: Helping Contemporary Art in Its Struggle to Be Understood this summer. If you do too, then we can talk about it!

Daily Overview

I could spend hours looking at these.

About that Kara Walker piece

If you've been to the Menil recently, you've surely seen the giant Kara Walker silhouette piece now up in the newly rehung Modern and Contemporary gallery. (If you haven't been to the Menil recently, now is a really great time to go!)

I saw a friend yesterday who works at the Menil, and I asked her what exactly the collection owns: the actual paper silhouettes? The stencil? The right to reproduce the work?

She explained that the Menil owns the stencil used to make the work; when it's removed, they don't have to preserve the thin paper attached to the wall. However, not just anyone can remake the work using the stencil. They had to get one of Walker's assistants to come to Houston to "make" the work for the space. Apparently it was a bit of a budget buster, but everyone agrees it's worth the cost to have such an amazing work on display.

Here is a similar work from Walker, if you're not familiar. This isn't the same one as at the Menil.