Emerging Artists: Dante and Ceramics (2014)

cracked plate jesus vasquez inferno ceramics

“It was a cracked plate that almost ended up in the scrap heap.

“Instead of throwing it away, 17-year-old Jesus Vazquez fashioned it into an award-winning piece of ceramic art.” [ . . . ]

“Rather than discard the slightly cracked plate, Vazquez broke it into multiple sections. He applied different surface decorations to each piece. Using metal wire, he sewed the pieces together again, recreating the original plate.

“For one section, Vazquez took pages from Dante Alighieri’s 14th-century epic poem Divine Comedy, burned them with a blow torch and glued them on the plate.

“Vazquez said he was seeking a literary reference for hell, fire, evil and associated concepts. ‘There’s a video game called “Dante’s Inferno,” and I had read parts of the book as well,’ he said. ‘What intrigued me the most is how it explains evil. It’s not that I like evil. It shows the extremes that people are willing to go.'”   –Stephen Wall, “Riverside: Student’s broken plate wins art award,” The Press Enterprise, May 18, 2014

Royal Ground Coffee, Geary Boulevard, San Francisco

Royal-Ground-Coffee-SF-Geary-Dante-PortraitRoyal-Ground-Coffee-SF-Geary Royal-Ground-Coffee-Geary-SFWalls in the Geary Boulevard location of Royal Ground Coffee (a San Francisco Bay Area coffee shop chain) feature a few citations of Dante’s poem, as well as a portrait of the poet.

Contributed by Josh Landy

Niki Ulehla, The Inferno (2011, 2013)

Niki-Ulehla-Puppet-CharonDuring a 2011 residency at Recology SF, San Francisco puppeteer Niki Ulehla began a multiple-phase project to dramatize Dante’s Inferno with her handmade puppets. The first performance, featuring puppets crafted out of discarded materials from the Recology Public Disposal Area, staged the first seven cantos of the poem.

This performance was followed by a second, at the Sanchez Art Center (Pacifica) in February-March 2013, in which a new set of puppets embark on the second part of the journey, Cantos 8-17. Sanchez Art Center describes the second performance as follows: “[Ulehla] combines traditional carved wooden marionettes with found object based ‘toys’ to create the characters inhabiting the hell described by Dante. [. . .] The performance will begin with the two travelers, Dante and Virgil, crossing the river Styx. They will pass through the fifth circle of Anger, the sixth of the Heretics and the seventh of Violence. This portion of their journey will end riding away on Geryon, the beast of Fraud.”    —Sanchez Art Center, Pacifica, CA

Video of both performances can be seen here.

Cleaning the ‘Gates of Hell’

stanford-gatesofhell_news

“Somebody has got to keep the Gates of Hell safe from the elements. Meet the students on Stanford’s outdoor sculpture preservation crew. They conduct preventative maintenance on Rodin’s Gates of Hell and 100 other outdoor sculptures across campus. In other words, they get lots of hands-on-the-art experience because they have permission to touch.

“Given the nature of their work, which combines art and science, it’s no surprise that the crew, led by Elizabeth Saetta, is an extension of the Cantor Arts Center’s Art+Science Learning Lab, run by Susan Roberts-Manganelli.” […]

” ‘Regular care protects the sculpture from exposure to the elements, pests and public, and also prevents the need for invasive conservation treatment or repairs in the future,’ Saetta said. She is currently seeking a hands-on student to join the crew – one who’s not afraid of waxing hell.”    —Stanford Report

Tchaikovsky’s Francesca da Rimini, San Francisco Ballet (2012-2013)

FrancescaSFBallet

During their 2012 and 2013 seasons, San Francisco Ballet choreographed a ballet to Tchaikovsky’s Francesca da Rimini, a symphonic poem setting to music the tragic story of the adulterous lover the pilgrim meets in Inferno V. Possokhov’s choreography also incorporates elements from Rodin’s sculptural groups inspired by Dante’s Comedy.

From the program notes: “The story of Francesca da Rimini, immortalized in Dante Alighieri’s epic poem The Divine Comedy, has a long and varied pedigree in the art world. The snippet of history has
made its way from literature to opera to symphonic fantasia to ballet—and now to San Francisco Ballet, in the creative hands of Choreographer in Residence Yuri Possokhov. For someone like Possokhov, with a tendency to lean toward the dramatic, who better than Dante for the story, or Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, the composer of so many beloved ballets, for the music? Tchaikovsky’s Francesca da Rimini, a 25-minute symphonic poem, attracted Possokhov years ago. He describes it as the most romantic music in history, with an ending ‘like an apocalypse.'”    —SF Ballet

Contributed by Elizabeth Coggeshall

“Heaven, Hell, and Dying Well: Images of Death in the Middle Ages” at the Getty Museum (May-August, 2012)

getty-museum-images-of-death-in-the-middle-ages“Denise Poncher before a Vision of Death”
Master of the Chronique scandaleuse
French, about 1500
Tempera colors, ink, and gold on parchment
5 1/4 x 3 7/16 in.
MS. 109, FOL. 156
“Heaven, Hell, and Dying Well: Images of Death in the Middle Ages” at the Getty Museum

See also: film screenings

Dante Fried Chicken, Los Angeles

Dante Fried Chicken, Los Angeles
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dante-fried-chicken

Dante at the Supreme Court

dante-at-the-supreme-court“From Justice Scalia’s majority opinion in today’s case involving violent video games, Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Assn.: California’s argument would fare better if there were a longstanding tradition in this country of specially restricting children’s access to depictions of violence, but there is none.  Certainly the books we give children to read — or read to them when they are younger — contain no shortage of gore. . . In the Inferno, Dante and Virgil watch corrupt politicians struggle to stay submerged beneath a lake of boiling pitch, lest they be skewered by devils above the surface . . . Justice Alito accuses us of pronouncing that playing violent video games “is not different in ‘kind'” from reading violent literature.  Well of course it is different in kind, but not in a way that causes the provision and viewing of violent video games, unlike the provision and reading of books, not to be expressive activity and hence not to enjoy First Amendment protection.  Reading Dante is unquestionably more cultured and intellectually edifying than playing Mortal Kombat.  But these cultural and intellectual differences are not constitutional ones.  Crudely violent video games, tawdry TV shows, and cheap novels and magazines are no less forms of speech than The Divine Comedy, and restrictions upon them must survive strict scrutiny[.]” […]    –Marc DeGirolami, Mirror of Justice, June 27, 2011

Contributed by Patrick Molloy

Leslye Headland, “Bachelorette” (2010)

leslye-headland-bachlorette-2010“…Bachelorette was the second in Ms. Headland’s series based on Dante’s seven deadly sins. The company has been presenting the plays in the order she has written them since she started in 2007 with Cinephilia, her lust play.
Bachelorette is about gluttony, which in Ms. Headland’s contemporary take is expressed through self-destructive addictions to alcohol, drugs, shopping, bad boyfriends and binge bulimia. With greed (Assistance), sloth (Surfer Girl), and wrath (Reverb) also under her belt, she is now completing Accidental Blonde, about envy.” [. . .]    –Celia McGee, The New York Times, July 13, 2010

See Also: IAMA Theater Company, Los Angeles

Harriet Moore’s Paintings and Sculptures of the Comedy

harriet-moores-paintings-and-sculptures-of-the-comedy“Harriet Grannis Moore, well-known San Francisco sculptor and instructor in stone and clay, created a series of paintings inspired by Dante’s Divine Comedy in the 70s and early 80s. The paintings, measuring 9 feet high by 4 feet, will be accompanied by related ceramic sculpture.
Thirty years ago the noted San Francisco sculptor Harriet Moore was obsessed with Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy. By the time she was finished (or it was finished with her), she had painted more than 20 nine-foot by 4-foot panels and completed 22 related sculptures in terracotta, bronze, and wood. Fifteen of the panels and several sculptures (on loan from a private collector) will be shown this spring in ‘Harriet Moore: The Divine Comedy.’ The exhibition opens April 18 and continues through June 27. The opening reception is scheduled for Sunday, April 18, from 1 to 4 p.m.”    —Peninsula Art Museum (retrieved on April 26, 2010)

See Peninsula Art Museum homepage.

Contributed by Patrick Molloy