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March 09, 2000 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily, 2000-03-09

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A 'Dangerous' Wyatt

Not the legendary lawman of the West
nor. Henry Fonda, Kurt Russell or (gasp)
Kevin Costner, poet Wyatt Prunty reads
from his work, including 'Unarmed and
Dangerous.' Rackham, 5 p.m.
: michigandaily.com /arts

I Ri

hIA

THURSDAY
MARCH 9, 2000

k

40*

Van Gogh shows his face at DIA

By Jenni Glenn
Fine & Performing Arts Editor
Vincent van Gogh remains one of the most
recognized painters in history more than 100
years after his death. While van Gogh gained his
status primarily through his famous landscapes
such as "Starry Night," the Detroit Institute of
Arts' new exhibition explores another aspect of
the artist's work, his portraits.
"Van Gogh: Face to Face" takes visitors on a
fascinating journey through van Gogh's life
using his portraits as a guide. Arranged in
chronological order, the 66 portraits in the
exhibit illustrate the changes in van Gogh's per-
sonal life as well as his growth as an artist over

time. Free audio
Van Gogh:
Face to Face
Detroit Institute
of Arts
Mar. 12-Jun. 4

tours and informative signs on
the walls, featuring small
reproductions of the artist's
landscapes to set the scene,
connect the content of van
Gogh's work to the stages of
his life, enabling all art
lovers, regardless of experi-
ence, to gain a comprehen-
sive picture of van Gogh's
personality and his art.
Largely self-taught, van
Gogh only became an artist
during the last 10 years of
his life. As a result, his early
works consist of chalk and
pencil drawings he modeled

on instructive art books. He began by drawing
the working class around him in the city of The
Hague.
The exhibit's first sketches show van Gogh's
continual emphasis on capturing the details of
his subjects' facial features as well as the expres-
sions in their eyes. The artist's humanity shines
through in his choice of members of the working
class as models. "Face to Face" presents these
portrayals as a result of van Gogh's intimate rela-
tionship with a struggling seamstress and her
family who lived with him during his time in The
Hague, including tender sketches such as "Sien
in a White Cap," which uses the seamstress as a
model. The values of detail and compassion seen
in these early sketches stayed with van Gogh
throughout his artistic career.
In these early years of sketching the urban
poor in The Hague, van Gogh focused on the
contrast between shadow and light in addition to
the detail of the subject:s1 faciai features. Fie e Icen
experimented with milk as a fixitive, spilling it
onto pieces such as "An Old Age Pensioner
Drinking Coffee" in order to keep the pencil

Courtesy of Rijkmusuem. Amsterdam
Self-portrait of Van Gogh, a very debonair gentleman.
shading dark. This technique also created a sort
of halo around the figure in the portrait, reflect-
ing van Gogh's own interest in the spiritual.
The next section of the exhibit examines van
Gogh's return to his parents' home in the Dutch
countryside, which coincided with van Gogh's
first ventures into oils. Fascinated by the rough
life of the peasants, van Gogh used them as mod-
els for his first, dark oil paintings. "Face to
Face" presents several of these peasant portraits
to effectively show the development of van
Gogh's first major painting, "The Potato Eaters."
Following that painting's commercial failure,
van Gogh retreated to his brother's apartment in
Paris, where he discovered the growing
Impressionist movement. This influence shines
through in the five self-portraits featured in
"Face to Face." These move beyond the familiar
image of van Gogh with his straw hat and blue
smock to pointillist renderings of him wearing a
coat formed from dabs of red, yellow and green.
This experimentation became the basis for van
G;ogh's most productive period, spent in Arles.
France. This portion of the show ccnitcrs on an
Gogh's favorite subjects, the Roulin family. The
exhibition includes at least two paintings of each
of the five family members, filling one and a

half rooms. This enables visitors to see the dif-
ferent angles, colors and brushstrokes van Gogh
selected in tackling the same subject multiple
times.
His work in Arles demonstrates van Gogh's
refinement of his artistic technique. In works
such as "L'Arlesienne, Mme. Ginoux," he per-
fected color contrasts, placing a bright yellow
background behind his subject in a blue-black
dress. He used a similar color scheme in one of
his studies of the postman Joseph Roulin, pair-
ing royal blue with bright yellow. "Lullaby:
Madame Augustine Roulin Rocking a Cradle"
also challenges the eye, setting the serene,
orange-haired woman against bright green flow-
ered wallpaper and a red floor.
Further refinements carry over into van
Gogh's last works, even after his mental break-
down began. "The Gardener," painted while the
artist was in the hospital, combines van Gogh's
landscape technique with portraiture for the first
time. However, van Gogh's work took on a decid-
edly somber tone as his mental health deteriorat-
ed. In the exhibit's final picture, "Portrait of
Adeline Ravoux," van Gogh reversed his typical
format by painting his subject in yellow and pale
green against a black background punctuated by
green and blue plants. "Face to Face" suggests
that this paralleled a change in van Gogh's frame
of mind which led to his suicide in July 1890.
"Face to Face" provides real insight into not
only the changing nature of van Gogh's art but
also into his character. Quotes from the artist
and excerpts from his letters to his brother scat-
tered throughout the exhibition serve to further
develop visitors' impressions of the artist.
The exhibit shows that van Gogh considered
his portraits his most important contributions to
art. He wished to capture the insurmountable
spirit in ordinary people, and this exhibit
demonstrates that admirably. One of the featured
van Gogh quotes on the wall of "Face to Face"
states, "I should like to do portraits which will
appear as revelations to people in 100 years
time." This collection of paintings successfully
makes that wish a reality.
- More than 90,000 tickets have already
been sold to the van Gogh exhibit. The DIA
ex)ects approxnmate/ 500 people Will see it
every h'ur hefore it m(ov)s on to Boston and
Phi/adelphia. Tickets may he puchased through
Ticketinmaster at (248) 433-8444 or at the D/1,
Tichts a re S1( /nr weekdfav'< and S8 'ir
Sarturdarys and Strndcr s. .lone l/ormration i.
aaila/le/ifom the D/A van Gogh Hot Line at
(313) 833-8499 or at the mnusean web site,
mnwd.tlia.Org.

Humorous 'Boy' a compelling memoir

Courtesy of FinenineFe'dures
Janet McTeer towers above co-star Ava Walker in Gavin O'Connor's "Tumbleweeds."
'Tumble!!weeds'
rolls to the heart
By Erin Podolsky frank relationship, their winning
Daily Arts Writer personalities shining through in
such scenes as Jo teaching Ava how
"Tumbleweeds" is a small, sweet to properly kiss a boy with an apple
film that addresses the tempestuous as a teaching aid.
relationship that exists between all Nearly every scene =in
young adolescent girls and their "Tumbleweeds" - even Jo's cliched
mothers - some more tempestuous dealings with a dead-end job 4nd
than others. This in itself is no great dead-end men - plays as if pluted
achievement; it's been done before, not from a soap opera but fromral
as the close release dates of life. It's the documentarian spirii of
"Tumbleweeds" (originally released the film that makes it both affeting
in the fall) and the slicker, studio- and appealing, along with wini1g
ized box office bomb "Anywhere performances by its two principis.
But Here" will attest. Brown makes her feature d(but
The , difference is not that (she's done voice work) and canri4es
"Tumblewceds" was made on the the quiet emotional wcight of uis
cheap (it was), or that its most rcc- kooky duo. For her part, NlCTeer$Ias
ognizable cast member is not a mul- garnered an Academy Award nomi-
timillion dollar star like Natalie nation and is considered a front-rtn-
Portman but Laurel Holloman of ner (along with with Hilary Swank)
"Boogie Nights" for the win after taking a Golden
fame (it is), or Globe in January. Previously best
that its director known for her stage work, the
/ isn't some big- British actress delivers here not js
Tumbleweeds shot like Wayne ,a note-perfect Carolina accent, butt a
Wang (he's not), spot-on performance of a woMan
Grade: B+ "Tumbleweeds" always two steps away fromthe
rings true where proverbial edge.
At the Michigan its Hollywood The cast is rounded outEby
Theater counterpart does writer/director Gavin O'Conno||as
not. That's more Jo's latest live-in love, Jack, tang
than enough to the role to help defray the cos||of
recommend a getting the film made; Jay O.
film, but in the Sanders, recognizable but unpte-
case of able, as a knight in shining afor
"Tumbleweeds" for the two women; and, best ]nd
it's only the tip of the iceberg. most creepily of all, Michael, J.
Mary Jo Walker (Janet McTeer) Pollard (forever known as young
has spent her motherhood dragging C.W. Moss of "Bonnie and Clyde")
her long-suffering just-entering- as Jo's weird boss.
adolescence daughter, Ava The supporting cast is justan
(Kimberly Brown) from state to added bonus, though, to the wonder
state and marriage to marriage, with which McTeer and Brown crIse
always running from the men in her through their roles. "Tumbleweeds"
life rather than try to deal with her might not register on your movie
poor choices in husbands and radar with its subject matter, but the
careers. They're basically white funny, heartfelt relationship it driws
trash, and they know it, but it's okay between mother and daughter make it
with them. They have a beautifully a film not to be missed.
WMWW.ICHIGANDAIL Y. COM

Sy Autumn Kelly
For the Daily

Lewis Nordan tried to fly at an early age. Most
of us imagined doing the same thing when we were
children. We stood on the garage roof or at an open
second-story window, umbrella or bed sheet in

yI.
Boy with
Loaded Gun
Grade: B
Lewis Nordan
Algonquin Books
of Chapel Hill

hand, and pictured ourselves
floating smoothly to the
ground. We thought we could
fly like Mary Poppins or Peter
Pan or Superman. We did not
really jump. Nordan did. He
jumped from his front porch in
the excitement of getting a TV
and was knocked unconscious.
This is an appropriate way
to begin his memoir "Boy with
Loaded Gun," which is remi-
niscent of watching birds learn
to fly. Time and again, Nordan
jumps from the nest, at first
successful and then falls head-

daydreamed in class (don't we all?), managed the
high school football team and got a bad case of
acne that lasted through college. All of this makes
him sound perfectly harmless and perhaps it is not
the threat of danger that the title implies so much
as a reckless humanity.
Throughout life Nordan let passion control him.
He began by trying to kill his stepfather, then in
college decided to elope. One would hope he has
learned his lesson when he has his first affair a
few years later, but then there would be no story to
tell. It may also seem that "Boy With Loaded Gun"
is more of a tell-all than a memoir, bombarding
the reader with shock upon shock, but it's not.
Rather, Nordan has written an open reflection of
his life and invites us to listen to the story. There
is certainly nothing magnificent about the way he
has lived - no acts of heroism - and the closest
he came to fame was a glimpse of W. C. Handy in
Memphis when he was 15.
What is stunning about this book, then, is the
honesty of Nordan's narrative. He takes us through
two marriages, a month of homelessness and his
life as a hippie. Looking back, he can show us the
humor as well as the recurrent themes like sleep-
ing on mattresses on cement floors and falling in
love.
And love is, through it all, what Lewis Nordan
has written about: The father he cannot remember,
the cities he ran away to, his wife, his lovers, the
son that he lost and the son who lived. He knows

- and shows us - the stupidity of some of these
loves, the blatantly bad decisions that were made
along the way. At the same time, we can see how
we might someday be caught in the same position
and we can take a little learning from Nordan's
own experiences.
"Boy with Loaded Gun" carries beneath the text
hints of adult advice on navigating the world.
Think of the stories your parents and grandparents
told, the ones that came with morals which you
ignored. Nordan's knowledge can get you out of
many tight spots, from being stuck naked in a
bathroom in New York City, to the trick of down-
ing one more shot when you're too drunk to lift the
glass, to sweeping the shit out of your bedroom
when the sewer backs up. These are stories you
cannot forget.
At the end of the book we are left wondering
what, if anything, the author himself has learned
from life. The point, however, is not what has been
learned but that a story has been told, and a good
one at that. There were times in reading this book
that I laughed out loud. Other times I wanted to
grab the boy before he jumped into the air, but of
course could only watch for the pain of landing.
Few memoirs are as readable as this one; few
authors have reflected so openly about their own mis-
takes. Nordan knows just what to say to recreate the
scenes of his life - the serious, humorous and ironic.
He has the rare talent of a good storyteller and is not
afraid to use it.

first toward the concrete only to be saved by luck
(fate, whatever you call it) and love.
Buddy Nordan was the boy in school who con-
stantly got into trouble for whispering, making
jokes and generally goofing off. His mother called
him "an odd child." He brought reptiles into class,
imagined bees were serenading him and became
obsessed with buying things through the mail. He

- 1

-MSevc- - sn si -t n
The marketing team at Eastpak, the world's leading
daypack company, is looking for top-notch college
students to serve as Field Service Representatives
tFSR) for an eight-week period (July 10 - September 1)
this summrer.
Responsibilities for this position include:
" Building a positive working relationship with store
personnel
" Confirming product deliveries
" Creating new product displays; improving existing
displays... ..-

C '4

Celebrate National Women's History Month.;.
AnRTEMISIA

CONFERENCE
Artemisia 2000 is a women's conference"
which will offer the University community
an evening of speakers, discussions,
workshops and entertainment, addressing

r

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