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How much for a lobster claw??

by Rachel Buse on November 5, 2014


Newman’s “Stuffed" (Source: Buse)

Most recently at the Transient Gallery, Emily Newman installed Real Value, a shop filled with reproductions of various things. The things were organized by kind and displayed in a grid. Each product was encased in its own packaging to help sell it’s story.  


Postcards depicting Nankoweap Canyon, Arizona (Source: Buse)

At the cash register, the clerk couldn’t break my ten-dollar bill.  She reccomended adding a postcard to my purchases. So I selected a MDF laminated image of some part of the Grand Canyon. Of the many postcards displayed in rows beneath the checkout counter, I grabbed one near the bottom with a green meandering river. Some of these images were personally shot by the artist. All the others were sourced from Google images. After some scrutiny, I think mine is from Google.

Now, I have this image.  It’s shot by someone who visited the canyon. They  felt the awe of the moment, trying with all their might and power to encapsulate the total sum of their journey. I can see that it is beautiful, but it’s also easy to dismiss. It’s a stereotype of a gorgeous landscape, absent of the memory of being there.  But maybe I’ll go to the canyon. Trek there to get a memory for myself. Would I need to take yet another photo? Would my image have more value than the image I already own of the same place?


My loot from opening night, Oct 11th, 2014. (Source: Buse)

The other things I brought home were a teddy bear nose and a piece of poorly cast toast. They were in the clearance section. I get a thrill from being a bargain shopper, it’s like cheating the system. Recently I was reading something about the mistake of using your creative energy to shop. It’s so easy to buy something and feel like your doing something. Certain purchases help confirm your sense of self. "Am I the red one or the one with cowboys?" 

I get the feeling that the products selected for Real Value have some association with Newman’s sense of self. Familiar things. A bunny cracker she offers her kid. A piece of bread. A funnel. Lobster Claw. Her connection and experience with each thing is summarized in the price.


Rubric determining how Newman placed monetary value on the products for sale. (Source: Buse)

What about the value of an original versus reproduction? Most of the things chosen to be reproduced aren’t even originals themselves. A bunny cracker is one of so many. They are reoccurring and dependable. Easy come, easy go. The pretzel and bread too.  Vacation photos are reproductions of an original experience. Packaged as sculptures, the significance of the things can be sold to people detached from Newman’s attachment to them. As art, they will be adored and cared for in the homes of the new owners. New values will be applied to them. Thus the reproductions becomes more original, special and appreciated then the objects they are based on.

Emily Newman on the Transient website.

Rachel Buse makes sculpture. Website.

Notes! Amy Worthen on Henri Matisse's Jazz

by Rachel Buse on May 29, 2014


Look what Amy Worthen found: the French publication VERVE, issue #1, cutting edge in 1937, with a cover by Matisse. She brought it out for her presentation on the Matisse series “Jazz,” paper cut-outs, shown in full for the first time in 8 years — at Des Moines Art Center. (Source: John Domini)

-First cutouts were used for mock-ups of set designs. Also did them for many book covers.

-Associated with the Fauve movement, French for “the wild beasts”

-Jazz was assembled in 1947, near the end of Matisse’s 40 year long career

-A collaboration between artist, publisher and printer. Also, the collector, museum and viewer.

-Matisse would cut from paper that had been first, covered in flat washes of gauche. “flat, unadulterated color” Let the paint dry, then cut.

-At the end of his life, Matisse was ill and would draw from bed with charcoal attached to the end of a long stick.

-Is the series joyousness in a vaccum, or was it responding to and referencing the time? (How was it seen in it’s time?)

-Post WW2, a dark time in history


Icarus, Plate VIII (Source)

-10. Icarus – The story goes that he had wax wings and should not fly too close to the sun. He did and they melted. He fell into the sea and drowned. His heart in represented as a red dot.

-19 – 21. The Lagoon – In response to a trip, depicting paradise. Abstracted landscape depicted foliage and water.

-Circus motif metaphor of the artist as acrobat, swimmer. The artist is risky, defying gravity. 

-No music motifs. Why Jazz?

-The printing process is called Pochoir, which mean brushing ink through a metal/plastic stencil. The stencil makers are called, “découpeur”. The printers called, “coloriste”. This process allows for the prints to be made with gauche, preserving the original intense color of the cut-outs

-The prints used from 3-9 different colors

“Cutting directly into color reminds me of a sculptor’s carving into stone.”

– Matisse

-Try it! Spontaneously cut some shapes. Cut straight, turn. You get the shape you cut, and the leftover shape too. Henry used both the initial shape and the leftover shape.


John Domini holding his cut shape. (Source: Rachel Buse)

-Correspondence exists documenting multiple requests to get Jazz for the permanent collection at the Des Moines Art Center. It was so rare, many nos, one gallery offered reproductions. In 1985, the 20th of the original 100 pressings was donated to the permanent collection be Mr and Mrs. E.T. Meredith III

-After the first 100, 250 more were printed with writing from Matisse beside/within the series. Preference for collectors in the original 100, hung flat. 

-Three types of compositions throughout: half, full, duality. Compositions consider the ability to be bound as a book.


Portfolio designed to store the prints. (Source: Rachel Buse)

-The portfolio cover is brush-drawn lettering by Matisse

-prints on view in the print gallery until September 21, 2014

-Construction of the Des Moines Art Center (1948) corresponds with the creation of the prints (1947). “The prints are at home here.” The space is a contemporary of the prints. 

Rachel Buse makes sculpture.  WEBSITE