|NIGERIAN ARTIST EL ANATSUI|
First, my dear writer friend Julia had me over to her Bronson Canyon manse and fed me turkey soup with collards (delicious, simmered from the carcass), a caprese salad with mozzarella di bufala, and in a new green glazed oval dish called not a terrine, not a cocotte, but a baker (long conversation), a raspberry chômeur (I'd never heard of it either). We did a post-mortem of Thanksgiving, cackling heartily, and planned a trip this coming Saturday to that grande dame of L.A. literary venues Beyond Baroque to hear Julia's father, Morgan Gibson, also a writer, read from his new collection Nonzen Poems. Thereby reminding me that friends really do support you, sustain you, encourage you, delight you, surprise you, shore you up, and save to kingdom come your dragging ass.
|EXCELLENT COVER, RIGHT?|
Third, I made my way over for about the tenth time to the UCLA School of Dentistry where, though the visit did not go well I remained unfazed, and while there wandered across campus--gorgeous sunny Southern California day--to the Fowler Museum of Cultural History. They have all kinds of great stuff but the one thing that really caught my eye was this giant wall hanging-type affair, all fluid and shimmery and the color of the inside of a sardine can or in this case, approximately a milllion sardine cans. When I got up close I started thinking: This looks familiar somehow...well it turns out the artist is Ghana-born El Anatsui, whose career has developed largely in Nigeria and who has made many such creations out of things like evaporated milk cans, cassava graters, ceramic plates, and snippets of copper wire. This particular work, however, entitled "Versatility," had been fashioned, in toto, from discarded aluminum caps, fabric (though I couldn't make out the fabric) and the metal neck rings from liquor bottles.
The thing was truly gorgeous, and thrillingly draped, and unusual, and cheery somehow. It's also BIG--you can see the human being below is dwarfed by it--and I couldn't help thinking that I myself would love to have a giant bed, and a giant liquor bottle blanket to put over it, and with all the booze I drank in my day, I could have made a whole chestful of them except for the fact that I completely lack El Anatsui's stunning artistry.
EL ANATSUI, 2006
Here's a link to photos of more of El Anatsui's amazing work. A retrospective called "When I Last Wrote to You About Africa" recently opened at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto and will be touring for three years. Let's hope it comes to somewhere near you, or me, or all of us...