Your eyes and ears on the world of art and culture. We remind you that 16 years of back issues of eMusings can be found on our archives page.

A You Tube documentary about Jean Michel Basquiat is well worth your time. This young, enigmatic art world sensation fascinated art lovers before his untimely death at a young age. The video, made in 2018, offers a fascinating look at the puzzle that was Basquiat. Like Keith Haring, Basquiat did not live long enough to develop his gifts fully.

Rosbert S. Cohen has composed a choral piece titled "Alzheimer's Stories (2009)". Composed for soloists, chorus, and large ensemble, "Alzheimer's Stories" was commissioned and premiered by the Susquehanna Chorale in 2009 and includes a libretto by 2012 Grammy winner Herschel Garfein. The stories record the exeriences of chorale members and the local community about the disease and its effects on their families. You can listen at this site, and you can also download the libretto. (Thanks to NH for this.)

Rei Kawakubo designs for the fashion label Comme des Garcons. She has also created costumes for a Vienna State Opera production of Virginia Woolf's "Orlando". The costumes are lush, imaginative and eye-catching. Kawakubo states of her work: "I have always started from zero, trying to make something that didn't exist before. The process of creation is done mostly by words and imagination."

Christie's Auction House offers a collector's guide to acquiring Buddhist sculpture. The text and illustrations bring an invaluable trove of knowledge to a fascinating field in art history.

Singer songwriter Joan Shelley has recorded her fifth album, called "Like the River Loves the Sea". Recorded in Iceland, her delicate delivery and lush poetic lyrics bring to mind the early Carole King or perhaps Joni Mitchell. Shelley charts the course of a love affair, from early attraction to eventual breakup, with tenderness and a sense of inevitability. As she writes: "the drift from friendship into sensuality, the unexplained late arrivals home and the mournful epitaph of seeing others 'so entwined, as you and I used to be'".

The oldest rock art ever created by human beings has been discovered in Central Java, Indonesia. The figures depict creaturess that are hybrids, half humans, called therianthropes. Dated to 44,000 years ago, the creatures have human-like bodies but with other body parts that look like birds and reptiles. It is speculated that these works are the first indication that early hominids conceived of things that they did not see in the world around them and thus could represent the eariest known evidence of spirituality.

Portuguese artist Vanessa Barragao uses cast-off yarns from the textile industry to create rugs and wall hangings that mimic the structure of coral reefs. In the process, Barragao uses ancient techniques like latch hook and hand-tuft along with felt and crochet to create her environments. Her pieces have an unearthly quality, suggestive of both life and its subsequent decay.

A Japanese artist named Atsushi Adachi uses old newspaper clippings to create miniature replicas of objects from the past. Adachi describes these as "a meditation on memories of our collective memory". He feels that working with newspaper articles of earlier periods brings him closer to the designers and artists of those days.

"Ground-breaking", "unique and compelling", and "unusually powerful" are some of the descriptive phrases used in evaluating the chamber opera written by Lei Liang. Called "Inheritance", the work centers on Sarah Winchester, the heiress to the Winchester rifle fortune. With a libretto by poet Matt Donovan, the opera describes the labyrinth-like home in which Winchester imprisoned herself as she sought refuge from the spirits of those killed by the weapons whose manufacture afford her a life of huge wealth. After receiving his PhD at Harvard, Liang has been named the First Research Artist at the University of California San Diego Qualcomm Institute. You can also listen to Liang's "Verge", or Tremors of a Memory Chord, which combines Chinese and Western instruments to investigate sounds from individual pipa to a full orchestra.

A film called "Fantastic Fungi" takes us into the earth's huge reserves of Mushrooms and Mycelium. Frequently hidden, like a vast underground Internet, these creatures have existed for 3.5 billion years and provide the soil required for trees and plants to develop.

We have not heard much of late about the British duo Gilbert and George until an exhibition called "The Paradisical Pictures" appeared at the Spruth Magers Gallery in Los Angeles. The two men appear in somewhat contorted panoramas with their usual wit, sensuality and devastating acidity.

Born in San Francisco in 1960, Los Angeles-based artist Tim Hawkinson produces large-scale works that speak to different memories in each person but combine to evoke a common experience that all share. His series called "Blindspot" examines the parts of his body that he cannot see and raises questions about self-awareness vs perceptions of oneself by others. Another piece called "Organ" features an electric organ reduced to nothing but its wiring, suggestive of a human body stripped down to its bare nerve endings. Although loathe to discuss his works, Hawkinson manages to strike a deeply human chord without specifically annotating his subject.

Sarah Amos is one of several artists taking print-making in new directions. Living in Australia and Vermont, Amos combines stitching and collagraphy on felt. Her fertile imagination uses these known processes to move beyond them into a world of associative thinking, somewhere between fantasy and reality and between disparate cultures.

c. Corinne Whitaker 2020