Victoria’s new lift bridge

I am impressed by Victoria’s smart, new Johnson Street Bridge and by Danica’s pano photo of it. Click the pic to see it larger.

We are also treated to a close-up of the snazzy gears that make it go. Well done, Victoria! And thank you, Danica.

Victoria is also to be congratulated on its better-late-than-never resolve to treat the sewage it pours into the Pacific. The plant is under construction and I trust that it will be as beautiful to look at as it is effective.

Toronto’s confusing leash by-law

This dog was making a good effort. The man he was walking had a leash across his torso, like a shoulder bag, but the dog should be holding one end.

We have a neighbour who is equally unsure about how leashes work. Her dogs are on a leash, but she is not attached. I hope the strap doesn’t drag through the poop when her doggie goes on our lawn. That would be almost as unpleasant as running over the stuff with the mower.

One Olga Philip paper piece

Interest shown in my Olga Philip posts (below) prompted me to return to the show today for a photo one of the pieces that appealed to me. Web photos never do justice to colour, but I am showing a detail that may help a bit.

Detail of handmade paper art by Olga Philip, 1998

Stepping back reveals the whole composition, but you miss the subtle colour and natural texture that make the piece a pleasure to see in person. I added the copyright line. It isn’t in the original.

Basket of Flowers, 1998, handmade paper and woodcut, by Olga Philip. $450

Thanks to Olga Philip

Some pieces in Olga Philip’s current show at GAS made me wonder if she had been inspired by David Hockney‘s pulp paintings of the 1970s. The question also led to another discovery …  about Chuck Close.

Left: Hockney at work. Right: Detail from a pulp-painted pool picture.

Quoted from the Goodreads blurb under the book, Paper Pools:

Water and light, which have fascinated David Hockney for a long time, are the themes of irresistibly cheerful works he has dubbed ‘Paper Pools.’ To produce them, the artist ‘drew’ with colored paper pulp on handmade paper; when pressed and dried, the pulp merged with the paper. The images is thus part of the paper fiber itself.

I love the discipline and the looseness of Hockney’s challenge; to render a subject full of motion, sparking light and transparent depths using globs of opaque, wet pulp. Subject and medium seem completely at odds with each other, Surely the soft gradations of an airbrush would be more useful, to imitate the play of light.

But no. Using pulp slurry limits the possibility of subtlety, detail and finnicky control. Only a rigorous understanding of what is being seen can guide the maker. Hockney’s ability to analyze vision is powerful. The medium, however, demands simplicity and mastery of the general idea. It does not lend itself to the uptight rigidity that is often the look of analysis.

The Chuck Close revelation

Quite a few Olga Philip works explore use of grids … “mosaics” of imagery and colour. The most famous 20th century artist to work with grids must surely be Chuck Close. I saw motifs in one Philip piece that reminded me of him.

It came as news to me that Close has also done some amazing pulp paintings. I feel more convinced than ever that Olga Philip knows all about these.

The Chuck Close method of pulp painting is different from Hockney’s, controlled with the use of mylar-cut stencils, it looks like. I admire Hockney’s way more, I think, but that’s of little consequence. Both artists are “old school” in their craftsmanship and timeless in their ability to see as artists. Close needs assistants because he is paralyzed. That means that he must know, clearly enough to direct others, exactly what he wants to do. It is very brainy stuff.

Getting better

Linus Torvalds has had a breakthrough on par with his youthful invention of the famous Linux operating system that powers half the internet. He recognizes that he needs help to overcome with his abusive scorn for other programmers who attempt to contribute code to the Linux project.

Torvalds has final say over what code gets accepted. Power and responsibility seem to have overwhelmed his ability to cope with fellow human beings and he has a long history of erupting into foul-mouthed, demeaning insults to those with whom he disagrees.

For years, Torvalds claimed that his attitudes and behaviours were important contributors to the success of Linux. He could not change as long as he held that belief … and he did not want to.

Now 48 years old, he has finally apologized sincerely for the feelings he has hurt. Recognizing that he has a problem, he is taking a leave of absence from Linux, to work on his social shortcomings. I wish him well and congratulate him on having the courage and insight to understand what he needs to do.

Torvalds’ error, the belief that forceful, aggressive, abusive leadership is necessary for major accomplishment, is seductive. Steve Jobs comes to mind, and many politicians who are enjoying “a moment”. Such behaviour is a flaw, not an asset. It hinders progress and disrupts constructive processes. It is destructive, not creative.

When the flaw is part of an individual who also has abnormal talents and abilities, it’s easy to see why such personalities are forgiven, or even adored by awestruck fans. Tantrums are dressed up as “creative destruction”. It’s BS.

Linus Torvalds’ awakening inspires hope.

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