Sunday, October 31, 2010

At London's St. James Park, Life's A Beach

World travels took me through London twice, and only via the airport. One travel goal by next May is to check out the city in advance of London 2012.

So I've never seen, but often heard, of Downing Street and St. James Park. It pleased me to read that the London 2012 beach volleyball venue will be wedged between both destinations at a spectacular temporary venue, announced last week and reported by the Telegraph.

Both in Athens and Beijing, a good friend and I each trekked to Beach Volleyball for the women's gold medal finals. Kerri Walsh-Jennings and Misty May Treanor are 2-0 for gold, and a three-peat would be an awesome feat to witness.

In Athens, the venue was on the Mediterranean beach near Piraeus. In Beijing, an amusement park ground (in pouring rain). What will the London venue include? Views of Big Ben and the London Eye, apparently (can't wait).

Saturday, October 30, 2010

More Images from Salvador Dalí: The Late Work















To supplement the post of a few moments ago, here are a few more images captured at the media preview for Salvador Dalí: The Late Work, the current exhibition at Atlanta's High Museum of Art.

This is for REEL









With thanks to the High Museum of Art public relations team, a couple of months ago I attended a media preview for the current exhibition Salvador Dalí: The Late Work.
A few days later, in Milwaukee, at trip to The Monster Ball Tour provided a second dose of surreal, courtesy of Lady Gaga.

I read or heard over the years that Dalí infused zeal to his U.S. exhibition debut by creating a P.R. stunt, breaking into his own exhibition and getting arrested by New York City police. Everywhere you look these days, Gaga is creating a similar spectacle, sans police involvement thus far.

Among the most stunning moments of The Monster Ball is the series of video vignettes projected on a white curtain. In the mini art house films -- with Gaga, clad in some of her elaborate fashion creations including a white gown on which a female model vomits a neon green liquid to the squeals and screams (of awe and curious delight) of onlookers -- the visuals serve as filler during set changes for the event.

The complete Gaga experience from costumes to flaming props and custom guitars, and the videos in particular, made me wonder how big Dalí might be grinning if he were among the audience members. I also wondered how long it may be before Gaga will appear with her own handlebar moustache.

Today I read that the High Museum of Art is hosting its first SurREEL video contest with a deadline of mid-December. This is a tempting invitation to roll out the Flip Video camera and dust off the video editing skills.

Whether or not you choose to enter the contest, consider this recommendation and review of Dalí: The Late Work.

At the museum's main entrance to the Renzo Piano-designed structure, welcome signs covered with Dalí-esque red ants foreshadow some of the arachnid-inclusive paintings inside the venue. With ticket in hand, emerging from the gallery elevator, it's your Dalí Time, almost literally, as all eyes meet with a billboard-sized blowup of one of the Philippe Halsman's black and white photographs depicting Dalí's whiskers as the hands of a clock ("Dalí Time" appears also at the exhibition's end with a Time magazine cover among many magazine covers featuring the Spanish artist).

Each room of the exhibit includes many surprises. Among the Halsman photographs, for instance, there is a staged image in which Dalí appears to be hanging by his facial hair from a helicopter. This iconic image of the spread eagle and dangling painter appears later in some of the paintings.

Room two includes the small and beautiful painting Morphological Echo, which impressed me for its miniature detail much like the famous work, also of the 1930s, The Persistence of Memory soon to be added to the High exhibit, on loan from the Museum of Modern Art.

Bring on the ants!

Moving into the next gallery, the massive work Santiago El Grande is muy grande and draws you in for a peek up close (much like in the smaller works, this painting includes many small details worthy of close inspection).

During our media tour, some of the attending reporters took the guide's advice and got flat on the floor to gaze up at the expansive blue and white canvas. Standing at a distance, one can almost make out the head fashioned from the many arches that form a cathedral ceiling framing the centered white horse.

The same head shape appears across the room in a series of photographs of nudes who posed under Dalí's direction to form a skull. Take note of the white "teeth" made of the models' feet dusted with powder for effect.

Science and religion merge in Dalí: The Late Work through several works comprised of atomic particles turned surreal mosaics.

I also enjoyed the large gathering of portrait paintings, including a commissioned piece recognized on loan from the California Palace of the Legion of Honor. Favorite among these portraits: a painting of an unknown woman who apparently did not pay the artist, inspiring his brush to convert her likeness from socialite to Medusa. If my ex-girlfriend from St. Louis is out there reading this blog ... well, you know who's resemblance is striking in this snake head work.

It was good to see so many representations of Gala, Salvador's wife, in one place. She appears in several paintings from the early to the later years. Don't miss the Marilyn Monroe/Chairman Mao photograph and the sculptures that appear just beyond a side gallery exhibit of film works and collaboration with Andy Warhol.

By far my favorite surprise of Dalí: The Late Work appears in the final room of the exhibition.

Feast your eyes on Fifty Abstract Paintings Which as Seen from Two Yards Change into Three Lenins Masquerading as Chinese and as Seen from Six Yards Appear as the Head of a Royal Bengal Tiger. This is a painting I had not previously seen in the many Dalí books collected over the years. Bright, bold, and vivid.

And to its right is the Ben-Day Dot-filled Portrait of My Dead Brother which I had seen many times in books but now believe must be seen in person. Many of the dime-sized (or smaller) dots feature their own "personalities" while other details, observed up close (as close as security may let you get to the canvas) reveal another world from the large portrait of a boy.

It was in this final exhibition room, I asked Dalí scholar and exhibition/independent curator Elliott King whether any works by the artist (in the High exhibit or otherwise) had a specific Olympic connection. King seemed convinced there IS some possible five-ringed connection, but he could not recall one on the fly, including the Barcelona 1992 Games held near Dalí birthplace (in the moment King believed Dalí was part of Spain's Games which occurred three years after Dalí died -- we were unable to complete the interview as we were rudely interrupted by a film crew for the museum).

One thing missing from the Dalí: The Late Work -- and I believe a lost revenue opportunity for the High Museum of Art -- is Chupa Chups. Where are they? Not in the High Museum. Dalí designed the logo for this global candy brand, and it seemed a natural that these might be on hand (for sale) for folks departing the exhibit.

I wonder if the museum will hand out Chupa Chups for their Dalí-Ween Halloween event tomorrow. If not, that might chupa (suck).
It's my intention to visit the exhibition again once The Persistence of Memory arrives in November. If you have a favorite Dalí story or work to share, please post it as a comment on this blog and I'll send you a nice Barcelona 1992 Olympic pin or Olympic blog pin.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Atlanta Loses An Olympic Contributor

It was troubling to learn that one of my clients and new friends of the last year, Holly Mull of Holly Mull & Associates, suffered a major stroke last week.

Very sad to learn today she died Thursday, just a couple of weeks after her team produced the successful Midtown Festival of the Arts, which more than 20,000 people attended.

It was only through the Atlanta Journal-Constitution obituary, Maria Saporta's blog post and numerous Facebook messages of condolences that I learned of Holly's many connections spanning Atlanta's Olympic bid (all the way back to the late 1980s through September 1990 -- note, the AJC.com hyperlink takes you to an archived report which incorrectly lists Denver as the home of the U.S. Olympic Committee, which has always been based in Colorado Springs -- this uncorrected error from 1996 led to a factual error in today's AJC.com obituary -- where are the copy editors of 1996, and 2010?) and eventual work with the Centennial Olympic Games.

Holly mentioned her Olympic work from time to time, but never the full extent of her five-ringed contributions. Holly was just a couple of years younger than my mother, and seeing Holly in action at meetings and events reminded me of witnessing my mom's work with community events back home.

I will miss working with Holly. Condolences to her family and many friends and associates.

Photo via AJC.com, which attributes the photo to the family. This photo also appeared on the Holly Mull & Associates website

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Chicago 2016 One Year Later

Has it really been a year? A year since "Black Friday" in The Windy City?

Until receiving an email from World Sport Chicago on Friday, it almost slipped by this weekend: The anniversary of Rio de Janiero winning the 2016 Olympic Games bid, and Chicago's first-round elimination in the big vote at Copenhagen.

The loss for Chicago was a disappointment to thousands of people, notably the hard-working army of volunteers who donated time and resources to World Sport Chicago and the multi-year bid effort.

On this day, there are likely folks in Madrid and Tokyo pondering their Olympic dreams denied as well.

It still hurts thinking about the stunning news delivered via satellite when my girlfriend, her sister, thousands of Olympic enthusiasts and I stood shoulder to shoulder in Daley Plaza on a Friday morning. Like Phil Rogers expression and the "face" of the plaza's famous Picasso sculpture, the devastating news -- Chicago was out -- left us all breathless and frozen. Stunned silence. Like a kick hit everyone in the solar plexus.

I was very happy to learn yesterday, however, that one year later, World Sport Chicago, NBC 5 in Chicago and others collaborated to create a one year later video titled "Making Big Plans: The Story of Chicago's Olympic Dream" to focus on the positive aspects of the bid, and (I suspect) to close the books on the 2016 with an inspirational message for a future potential attempt to host the Olympic Games in Chicago. This was a classy move.

The trailer for the film includes Patrick Ryan, father of the bid, Mayor Daley and other key players from Chicago 2016. Here's wishing someone can share a recording of the full broadcast with me -- I really would like to view it.

Love that Ryan states "Chicago didn't lose. Rio won. But Chicago won in so many ways" and Mayor Daley summed it up with, "You have to take risks and if you don't you never succeed in life, and that's why I'm glad we did it in Chicago."

In my bones I have a feeling that Chicago will someday be a great Olympic host city. For 2016, it just wasn't our turn again for North America and the U.S. When another bid team is ready to start work, sign me up to help make some big plans.

The Social Network and the Olympics

Just got home from a matinee screening of "The Social Network" at Midtown Art Cinema.

"The Social Network" is about the best film I've seen in months, including a thoughtful, compelling and dry humor-packed script, an outstanding soundtrack (thrilled to see Trent Reznor in the opening credits), excellent acting, interesting photography (would love to know how they filmed the rowing competition to make it look like a miniature landscape), a bit of recent history and, of course, an Olympic connection.

Actually, two Olympic connections (or three, if you count each involved Olympian twin once).

Before getting to these five-ringed ties, a bit about the "The Social Network" overall:

I've only been in Boston twice, and on the Harvard campus once, during October in 2003, when and where this film opens. Through some of the opening sequences of Mark Zuckerberg trekking to his dorm after a breakup, the filmmakers really nailed it capturing the Harvard experience of an autumn evening. There's a curious energy -- perhaps from the convergence of intellectuals, money, society, history and creativity -- on the campus and somehow they caught it. Brilliant!

Mark Zuckerberg is portrayed by "Zombieland" and "Adventureland" co-star Jesse Eisenberg, and this role is likely going to go Oscar (I predict a nomination at least). He does a fine job delivering Zuckerberg douche bag one-liners as cool as George Carlin and his matter-of-fact style and timing.

I highly recommend seeing this film.

Much has been made in press and reviews for "The Social Network" regarding the film's dramedy versus factual portrayal of Facebook's early days. In my book, mincing the facts for the sake of a more entertaining story is OK in the movies (provided the mincing is acknowledged). But I did take issue with one of the mini-fictions portrayed in "The Social Network," and this is where the Olympic connections come into the picture.

Two of the main characters in both the true, and faux-non-fiction, stories of Facebook are the twin Olympic rowers for Team USA: Tyler Winklevoss and Cameron Winklevoss.

I must admit, unfortunately, in spite of Olympic writing and travels, today was the first time either of their names came into my world. Apparently they both competed in rowing at the Beijing Olympics (and I even went to the rowing venue in 2008!). One must take for granted that the filmmakers for"The Social Network" took liberties with their portrayal of with Winklevoss twins.

But where the filmmakers crossed the line, or brought even more fiction into the mix, is during a scene of "The Social Network" where the Winklevi (a clever nickname from Zuckerberg) allegedly met Prince Albert of Monaco at a British rowing event.

They got this scene downright wrong on three details (here comes the Nick-nitpicking).

First off, Prince Albert of Monaco does not have a British accent (duh!).

Next, Prince Albert, though articulate, thoughtful and genuine in conversations and public events, could not have stated the script as shown in the film, for Mr. Grimaldi has a very slight stutter (10/3: correction speech impediment*), which is apparent in an interview with the Monégasque IOC member for this blog (here's a link to that interview filmed in Vancouver earlier this year).

Third, I doubt that such an introduction of the Winklevoss brothers would have taken place without some Olympic discussion during the conversation, seeing as the Winklevoss Twins aspired to compete in Beijing and Prince Albert is a five time Olympian.

Did the screenwriters or the actor portraying Prince Albert, James Shanklin, do ANY research of Prince Albert (other than his haircut and suits ... oh, wait, the makeup and costume crews did that research)? It came as no surprise to discover that Shanklin's background includes acting in soap operas and the occasional TV episode. Bravo!

OK, that's all the nitpicking for this post.

Like I wrote, "The Social Network" is excellent and worth the time and ticket price -- and (bonus!) not a single car chase, firearm or 34B breast on screen (though Zuckerberg does reference at least one of these three topics in one of his blog posts at the opening of the film.

Enjoy!
*10/3: Upon reflection since original post, determined he does not really have a stutter, but rather a regular pause during speech.

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