Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

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Manly Art of Knitting

7 November 2012

Benjamin and Christopher Levisay are every bit a part of the knitting industry as the women-folk of the family.  XRX Inc., the family business, produces knitting literature and hosts shows.  Christopher isn’t at all bashful about “the manly art of knitting.”  He’s pretty good at it, it seems, judging by the $300 he fetched for a stocking cap.  For more on the Levisay’s craft, see this article from the Argus Leader.

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Green Lantern to Join Ranks of Gay Superheroes

1 June 2012

Gay characters have inhabited the pages of the comic books for a number of years now. Kevin Keller of Archie Comics is openly gay, as was Extraño and Bunker. Northstar, I hear, is slated to marry his boyfriend in an upcoming storyline. Even the current incarnation of Batwoman, Kate Kane, is a lesbian. But DC Comics will push the envelope next week in the second issue of Earth 2 when it reinvents the Green Lantern as gay – openly, unabashedly gay. “He doesn’t come out. He’s gay when we see him in issue two,” says comic creator James Robinson.

The reconstruction of Green Lantern strikes me as significant, since only a handful of characters in the DC universe are “mainstream” good guys, good guys without significant alienation from society. Someone from the X-Men, for instance (to skip into the world of Marvel for a second), wouldn’t be terribly noteworthy as gay or lesbian or even intersex; X-Men are already “freakish” outcasts. Green Lantern is part of the hegemonic cast, and therefore his reincarnation as a gay man signals a shift in DC Comics, in their willingness to promote gayness as a norm.  Nay, a super-norm.

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American Tragedy

18 September 2010

The American, Anton Corbijn’s new film about an assassin-spy who hides out in Italy while he tries to finish his final job, has received very mixed reviews.  The slow pace and minimalist script has thrown a number of people expecting to see another George Clooney thriller.  Others, however, have recognized the fantastic cinematography and the impressive acting from a cast of relative unknowns.

What hasn’t been discussed as much is the classification of The American as a modern tragedy.  Jack (George Clooney) cannot escape his past; neither can he seize his future.  Attempts at honesty and romantic love are thwarted by his dark occupation.  Only in the last ten minutes of the movie – spoiler alert! – does he try to get to Clara to tell the truth about him, and reaches her only as he dies.  She has come out of her cocoon.  But he is a stillborn butterfly.

The movie can be understood as commentary about the traditional male, I think.  The opaque lives we live often never way to transparency.  A desire to love is always handcuffed by mistrust and self-defense.  Clooney’s wordless acting in that final stretch of road captures the tragic dynamic so well.  He will die before he has the chance to love and be loved.

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Men in Their Medium: Mel Spinar Exhibit

4 September 2010

Those of you around the Sioux Falls area would do well to head to the Washington Pavilion this autumn for the Mel Spinar visual art exhibit.  Spinar has had a lengthy and influential career in this region, and has taken several approaches to representation of his world, but none is more arresting than his portraits of men in the 1970s and 80s.

Spinar’s images of men capture men – real men – at ease and unassuming.  They reflect a masculine confidence, though several of the portraits, I think, betray a note of anxiety of the age.  The 1970s and 80s were turbulent times for gender, and the flamboyant designs men wore in this period suggests this.  Spinar catches these men performing their lives, working, playing, smoking, befriending, lounging, even flirting.  The intimacy one would hope for in portraiting comes through, the love of the sacred commonplace.  There is something of the spirit of Walt Whitman in the gallery.

At the Washington Pavilion through November 10, 2010.