Tag Archives: art

On Nazi looting and bad temp jobs.

In this week’s Boston Phoenix, I write about a new novel by Brookline Native, Sara Houghteling. Here’s an excerpt:

During World War II, Nazi plunderers focused their greedy eyes on Paris and began looting the city’s artwork — operating according to Hitler’s plan to open a massive, self-aggrandizing museum in Germany. Savvy employees at the Louvre emptied the museum and stashed its paintings in dark basements of the Parisian suburbs. So, the Nazis turned to Jewish art collectors and gallery owners, and used the Jeu de Paume Museum (formerly Napoleon III’s tennis courts) as a depository for their booty.

Rose Valland, a Louvre employee assigned to oversee the Jeu de Paume under the Nazis, kept a secret list of the paintings the Nazis had stolen, where they came from, and where in Germany they were being shipped. After the war, Valland worked to recover the lost artwork and, in the process, became a real-life heroine.

Houghteling is an excellent storyteller, and Pictures excellently weaves fact with fiction – the tragedy of Nazi art-looting, the heartbreak that often comes with early adulthood romances, the struggle for parental acceptance, and the complexities of the art-dealing world.

Houghteling has been a writer and a teacher for about a decade now, and had the time and room of one’s own, as they say, to write Pictures, her debut novel, by virtue of a Fulbright Scholarship, which she used to travel to Paris to research and write this novel. As I mentioned, though, she’s a Brookline native and a Harvard grad, and she freelanced a bit for the Phoenix back in the early naughts. Here’s a funny little piece of hers I stumbled across, detailing the various odd jobs she’s had to take in the process of pursuing her writing dream. Her method of excelling at a telemarketing job, in order to raise funds to travel to Prague for a writer’s workshop, is particulary hilarious:

Mostly I called Southern area codes, so I adopted the slow, syrupy drawl of my college roommate from Arkansas. My success rate crept upward. I changed my name to fit the customer’s business. For florist shops, I was Rose or Lilac. Ophelia dialed the bookstore crone, Prometheana called the fire station, and Mary Catherine rang up churches. Ginger and Candy, my porn-star alter egos and most successful saleswomen, phoned gas stations and hardware stores. These names inspired comments such as “You must be thirsty, Candy. Like a drink of me?” Or “I’m a very dirty man, Miss Ginger. I’d like it if you were dirty for me.”

Read the rest of this piece (and marvel at the Phoenix‘s old web design) here.


“Paint Pens in Purses” #2

From the Phlog:

Don’t try to say the name of the show three times fast, just go see it. I was lucky enough to loiter around LAB – the city-hip clothing store/experimental art space/purveyor of weird Japanese toys/record seller and occasional DJ party spot – on Friday night, while store owner Kim Harris, “Paint Pens in Purses” founder Shayna Shenanigans, and other artists hung prints and photographs on the store’s walls, and created a large, trippy, animal-filled mural on LAB’s front windows, before the eyes of anyone passing by on Brighton Avenue. (Transforming windows into canvases, thus taking advantage of the instant audience: Allston’s heavy sidewalk traffic, is the LAB crew’s thing – check out photos and time-lapse video of past works here and here.) Shenanigans and friends were at LAB till the wee morning hours, prepping the space for the opening of the second installment of PPP, the “all-female urban art series” – the first was at Via Matta in August. From the looks of the packed reception party Saturday night, it was worth it. Here’s hoping there’ll be a third, fourth, etc. installments. Look here or here, for more information about the show. Below, you’ll find photos of PPP coming together.

Daniel Johnston’s art sale

Via OTD:

Dirty Pilot, an art gallery based in Cochituate, is hosting an exhibit of Captain America drawings by the indie cult-favorite singer-songwriter Daniel Johnston. The artwork’s entirely online – the gallery used to have a physical space, but now has retired to the Interwebs, according to their website. From the inbox:

“Over the course of Daniel Johnston’s career as well documented through this survey of drawings from the mid 1970’s thru 2005, Daniel has continuously wrestled artistically with his signature character Captain America. This super hero has not only been equated by Daniel with a symbol of Divine Glory and the American Dream, but also with the worship of his father Bill a decorated war veteran.

This overview explores a range of work from Daniel’s early College notebook drawings through his later finished color and B&W drawings.

Recent accomplishments include the award-winning documentary “The Devil and Daniel Johnston”, a property of Sony Pictures Classics, opened to rave reviews on March 31st 2006, in both NY and LA, and the long-awaited DVD release of the film was released on September 19th, ‘06. Running concurrently with the opening of the film was a major show of Daniel’s artwork at a prominent NY gallery and a collection of Daniel’s work at the Whitney Museum’s Biennial exhibit!”

We’ll admit it – we loved The Devil and Daniel Johnston. It was a fascinating documentary of a musician whose influence is evident in today’s indie rock, yet he’s still not particularly well-known (outside of ’80’s and ’90’s indie rock fans, and the aforementioned cult followers). We feel it should be required viewing for any music fan today, along with Stop Making Sense and Runnin’ Down a Dream. Kurt Cobain liked Johnston’s music enough to rock a “Hi How Are You” t-shirt at televised Nirvana gigs:

And Johnston’s artwork was a common thread in the movie (a reflection of the role it’s played in his life), lending an air of levity to a story that’s somewhat heartbreaking, though Johnston’s still around, still playing the occasional gig. Below, a sampling of works in Johnston’s Dirty Pilot show. Purchase if you’ve got the funds – looks like pieces are selling for about $75 – $1,800, and a few have already been sold.

See more here.