PB & Jenny

A twist to a favorite American standard. My thoughts on new adventures, also with a twist.

Talented Thai Elephants are a Triple Threat January 31, 2008

Who knew that elephants are capable of so many varieties of artistic expression?  Not only can they paint as I touched on here, but they’re also musically inclined.     

The Thai Elephant Orchestra consists of up to a dozen elephants trained to play instruments ranging from drums and harmonicas to the theremin and electronic keyboards.  You can listen to samples of their music here or at Amazon. 

The orchestra was created and is conducted by elephant conservationist Richard Lair of the Thai Elephant Conservation Center, and the American composer/performer Dave Soldier.  They already have two CDs released on the Mulatta Records label, and a third is in the works. anim66.gif

I looked online to see if I could locate any dancing elephants, which would make them a triple artistic threat. I didn’t expect to find any hits, but lo and behold, these elephants can dance!  Check out this commercial with a dancing elephant. 

For info on how it was made, you can refer to this website.  There truly are real dancing Thai elephants though.   

These talented Thai elephants are definitely marvels of the animal world.  Just think, if you end up purchasing an elephant painting, or musical CD, not only are you helping provide the elephants with additional food, proper veterinary care, and improved shelter, but you’ve also got a cool conversation piece. Unless you want to be tricky and when your friend mentions, “I love this, who’s it by?” you can answer L.E. Font (or Ellie Fant).   

EDITED TO ADD = I forgot to mention that I read a book about an elephant recently called Modoc: The True Story of the Greatest Elephant that Ever Lived by Ralph Helfer.  The sweeping saga spanned 7 decades and 3 continents, following the life and times of a remarkable elephant and her faithful companion and trainer.   

I pulled this summary from Amazon:  Modoc is the joint biography of a man and an elephant born in a small German circus town on the same day in 1896. Bram was the son of an elephant trainer, Modoc the daughter of his prize performer. The boy and animal grew up devoted to each other. When the Wunderzircus was sold to an American, with no provision to take along the human staff, Bram stowed away on the ship to prevent being separated from his beloved Modoc. A shipwreck off the Indian coast and a sojourn with a maharajah were only the beginning of the pair’s incredible adventures. They battled bandits, armed revolutionaries, cruel animal trainers, and greedy circus owners in their quest to stay together. They triumphed against the odds and thrilled American circus audiences with Modoc’s dazzling solo performances, only to be torn apart with brutal suddenness, seemingly never to meet again. Hollywood animal trainer Ralph Helfer rescued Modoc from ill-treatment and learned her astonishing story when Bram rediscovered her at Helfer’s company. His emotional retelling of this true-life adventure epic will make pulses race and bring tears to readers’ eyes.


ART BATTLE January 13, 2008

Filed under: Art — Jenny @ 2:30 am
Tags: , , , ,

I have visited online art battles before, but just got back from my first evening out at a LIVE art battle at the Russell Industrial Center in Detroit. If you’re wondering what this is, below is a description from the event organizer:

“Over 30 visual artists of all genres (Drawing, Painting, Sculpture, Fashion and Graphic Design, and more) will compete for cash prizes in a live performance. Artists are given 3 hours to create an original piece of art in front of an audience. The audience will judge as they walk around and interact with the performing artists. At the end of the 3 hours voting cards will be collected and tallied.

The winners will then be announced ($1,000 for first place, $250 for second, and a gift bag for 3rd). Artists from Cranbrook, College for Creative Studies, Wayne State, Kendall, and all around the Metro-Detroit area will be participating. There will be live music, food, and alcohol. ”

In reality, the event was essentially an art rave party. A basically abandoned warehouse was the setting for hordes of alternative students to congregate and flirt, and who got to listen to throbbing techno music while getting a contact buzz high from the paint, glue, and pot fumes. My friends and I joked that our breast-feeding friend should probably avoid feeding her daughter when she got home.

So, definitely an interesting event to kick off my blog. I got especially excited about this being my first post when some of the live art was random placements of PB&J sandwiches throughout the space. You can see some examples in my slide show, but they were everywhere.

While I love art, I have a hard time appreciating contemporary and avant garde art. Usually I feel that the exhibits would be perfect for a Saturday Night Live skit. Or a candid camera show, where behind the scenes we’re laughing at the people who took the art so seriously (those that infuse the art with symbolism and meaning), when in fact it was done by an elephant with a paintbrush.

Large museum exhibitions help give credibility to such art. I know that art and beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, but I can’t help but feel that such shows are a variation of buying into the Emperor’s New Clothes mentality.

For example, last year at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) I saw an exhibit by Richard Tuttle. I just couldn’t understand the enthusiasm over his work. I found at least some others have agreed with me since the curator of The Whitney in NY was fired after booking a special exhibition of his work in the 70s. However, since then, at least one piece of his work has sold for an exorbitant sum. He sold Letters (the 26 series) for over $1Million at Sotheby’s auction in 2002.

My friend Mellanee mentioned that the impressionist artists weren’t understood and appreciated in their time. Am I just behind the curve in appreciating modern art?

Here are some photos from the event. Be sure to open up the slide show to see my comments on the pictures.