Fujichia

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Orange White, 1961 - present

2020/06/23
PREAMBLE / WILL FLY / DON'T BLAB / WHY NOT / INTRO / COOL LITTLE DUDES / CRAB LIKE, DOG LIKE / A NEUTRAL KIND OF OMINOUS / ORANGE WHITE / SCANS (INCOMPLETE) / AGAINST NATURE / LINKS
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About this project

This post is a scan of a notebook (still in progress) that I've been casually adding to for two years, for an idea that's been kicking around at least since 2008, which is a show at the Worcester Art Museum. The show is based around the Ellsworth Kelly painting "Orange White" (1961), which is in their permanent collection. I think it stands as a testament to my unreasonable, recalcitrant, pigheaded buoyancy that I 100% assumed that every part of this was completely achievable-- that at some point I would somehow land a show at or under the aegis of the Worcester Art Museum, and hunker down for six months somewhere manufacturing everything in this notebook as well as the hundreds of other riffs I'd have added by then. The big show, that was the original 2008 concept. The handmaiden of that long-simmering idea was the 2018 idea of making this notebook, as a thing to fill with notes in "exhaustive riff" mode, something to add to in idle moments, and pull me closer to my goal, however far away it might be. It's still a joyful idea, nice to think about. But to be honest my framework of the future has changed-- the path from here to museum soirée, once obscured only by distance and a light cloud cover, now seems covered in brambles, buildings, demonic laughing trees, skulking beasts that prowl, and Stygian vines that grab and twist. That said, I'm here, I'm flipping through my notes, I'm having a great time, come on in.

Instead of presenting these notes as like "here are some thoughts for an exhibition", I've decided to do this as though the exhibition already happened, and this is the catalog. I hope that's not too confusing, but I'd rather we jointly imagine a fun event we're all at than be like "ah, too bad, this would've been great". Furthermore, the catalog is presented here in an incomplete form. I mean I'm going to keep adding to my notes on this, why would I stop. But for right now anyway think of those unwritten pages as not unwritten but merely "unavailable", like they're failing to load due to a server misconfiguration (which is partly true, if you think of me as the server). Obviously there are way more ideas for this that I haven't shaken out of my head yet-- there's not even a hundred things here, that's a disgrace. I wouldn't dream of really doing a show with less than 3 times that. Maybe I'll update every hundred new ones, that's a distinct possibility. I'm sure right after I hit send I'll think of a dozen more good ones, that's how these things usually go.

In regards to the manufacture, I mean I know that some of these items might have gotten cut for logistical reasons but by and large I feel like there's nothing in the book that's too tough to bring in on a reasonable budget. And in regards to landing the gig at the museum, I realize it's a little outlandish but I insist it's in the realm of the possible. It's unlikely that I could swing it in the next year but in ten or fifteen years? Why not? Who can say? Anyway I bring it up these practical concerns just to reassure you that this is not a satire or a fantasia or an exercise or even a dream, these are plans and diagrams, or if you like, just "descriptions". As RAMM:ΣLL:ZΣΣ said, "What I draw is architecturally built and will fly".

Anyway I would really appreciate it if, as you looked through this, you imagined being at the opening party at the museum, and I'm there, and I'm eating fried sweet potato and drinking a screwdriver, and there's free face paint for the kids. In fact, don't even try to imagine it, just try to remember it. You're flipping through the catalog, remembering being at the show, which was great. Remember me telling you "you gotta try this sweet potato".

As is the custom, the catalog has an intro which you can skip at will. This isn't the intro, the intro is after this. This is the last paragraph of the preamble and it's too late to skip it, you're almost done. The next part (after the picture of the museum) is the catalog. In addition to the scans there's also a few footnotes (unneccessary) and an appendix at the end about the color orange, culled from other publications (dubious). If anyone at the museum wants to party just give me a call.

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When I was young I was with a bunch of kids running around at Halloween night throwing tomatoes, and all that kind of stuff. And in the darkness, I was looking at a window. And I saw a... shape. And I left the gang... I said, "I've got to find out what that is."

--Ellsworth Kelly


I don't know how it is now, but when I was growing up, the Worcester Art Musuem was free on Saturdays, before noon. I don't have a good answer for why I did this but starting when I was a teenager I used to go all the time and just hang out, any Saturday where I could get downtown before noon. I liked going to museums in general, but I really enjoyed being in the museum for free, over and over. It was nice to not feel like I had to get my money's worth by visiting every room or spending all day. And because I wasn't concerned with maximizing my value in any way, I could skip reading the wall text and just have my own thoughts. My time and my presense were entirely unaccounted for.

It was nice to build up a casual familiarity with so many of the pieces there, and with the rooms in general. Different materials require different kinds of atmosphere, for preservation reasons-- this lends each room a distinct smell that for me became inseparable from the art. Each artwork was its own character with its own mood and philosophy. Over time I started to notice relationships between these characters, and between adjacent rooms.

In short, it wasn't hard for me to imagine all the paintings coming off the walls at night to party, and I did so with little provocation. There were some that I thought of as my friends, some that were just people I saw around town. It was kind of magical but that's how I feel about people you see around town-- who are they, what are they doing? Maybe there's someone you always see walking down the same street-- where else do they go? The guy with the green hat, what does the hat represent? The people at the coffee shop-- what if they were all in a band together? That sort of thing really happens.

The Modern Art zone spans two floors, occupying about half of each floor. On one floor it's opposite the colonial furniture collection, on the other floor it's opposite the pre-Columbian room. I think this context is very valuable-- it led me to approach modern art as the creation of objects that are both a regular part of life and a representation of (or vessel for) a living spirit. The pre-Columbian collection is extremely good and has lots of what I would call "cool little dudes", of the sort that I had a lot of experience playing with / venerating. The colonial furniture room also has cool dudes in it, in the form of mahogany cabinets on claw feet, crab-like in gait but dog-like in personality. The modern rooms featured a lot of chaos characters-- screwballs, blowhards, gothic industrials, punks, louds, and messy eaters.

Orange White wasn't my favorite artwork in the museum or in the modern room, but it was the hardest to pin down, emotionally, the most vague. I imagined it lurking around a corner somewhere, like I might be climbing George Street and see it at the top of the hill, but when I get there and look around it's further away in a different direction, larger, immobile. Always in a different place but you never really see it move. I couldn't picture it as having mass, only as a shape imposed on the landscape, like a mask layer. Because of this it's impossible for me to imagine its true form from any angle other than straight on at eye level. The effect is a neutral kind of ominous, completely without fear but also absent of any kind of understanding. It doesn't say anything to me or ask anything from me, nor do I feel it can be spoken to or acted upon. It feels completely unreasonable to wonder "what's that guy's deal?". I guess it's this lack of any sort of resolution, this absense of the possibility of resolution, that kept it alive in my mind for so many years. To be honest, I don't know if this painting is good. It creeps me out but I dig it. Not sure why though, sorry.

Thank you to the Worcester Art Museum for being free on Saturdays before noon and for the opportunity for this show.


Dimensions are not listed but should be fairly evident. In the cases of the mostly flat wall hanging artworks, they should be sized approximately the same as the original Orange White, which is 84.5 x 60.125". Some of the smaller works were designed as multiples, to be sold inexpensively as commercial goods or given away.

Works involving food were only available during the opening and closing, except for coffee, which was available Saturdays and Sundays but not allowed in the rest of the museum.







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"horrible room" here refers to an Ames room, a classic optical illusion

"OK ꓘO OK" is via some cryptic graffitti on a garage on Bucklin St in Providence. I didn't get a pic, now it's painted over. note extra headroom on this one, that's how it was on the garage.



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"AT&T building" refers to this ominous building in downtown Worcester. I imagined it with two trees in front because I just didn't remember it as ugly as it is.

"tinted plexi" is specifically the grey-brown Italian plastic of this exact pencil holder:
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"nativity shitter" refers to the Caganer, a pooping figure traditional to Christmas Nativity displays in the Catalan region.

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NB: Chinese lantern is red, not orange


"bounces lazily in wind" is 6" tall, powered by a small fan.


NB: "magnificent stacked coil baskets" are unpainted. they're dried grass color or whatever color they usually are.



I did a bad job redrawing this Franz Kline (Spectre, 1956). It hangs within sight of the original Orange White at the museum.


NB: it's "Love For Three Oranges"







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Appendix: additional notes on the color orange

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hanky code

The Hanky Code is a traditional form of signalling to others what your sexual preferences and interests are. Gay men used this code to communicate with each other in the noisy and distracting environment of gay bars. Although not as widely used these days, it is still a worthwhile resource and is, among those who know, a great conversation starter.

via https://user.xmission.com/~trevin/hanky.html (link below)

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Mothers News Archive, searchterm "orange"

issue #38, Feb 2014

THE VISIBLE SPECTRUM

...

ORANGE

Orange is kind of a freaky color, I feel like it has no reason to exist, which affords it a quality I would call "erotic" (a measurement of sensuality times the inverse of procreation). Orange is the color of rust and vibrant decay, and carrots, which are very colorful yet live almost entirely in the dark (or the orange parts do anyway). Oranges are orange, everyone knows that. But this is a dodge- many things are more orange than an orange- rust, vibrant decay, a carrot. Any pedant will tell you that nothing rhymes with "orange", and that is true. But isn't it shocking, or maybe even telling, that new words get coined every day, new names for new things and new combinations and new situations, and none of these new words ever rhyme with "orange"? Why is that? We've gone thousands of years without a single orange-rhyming word, a massive possibly accidental conspiracy to keep this color out of poems.

--

issue #06, Oct 2010 (Monsters News)

ORANGE

"Those persons... who are energetic and incisive, the plethoric, red-blooded... who fling themselves unthinkingly into the affair of the moment, generally delight in the bold gleams of yellows and reds, the clashing cymbals of vermilions and chromes that blind and intoxicate them.

But the eyes of enfeebled and nervous persons whose sensual appetites crave highly seasoned foods, the eyes of hectic and over-excited creatures have a predilection toward that irritating and morbid color with its fictitious splendors, its acid fevers--orange."

--JK Huysmans, A Rebour

- Orange is the contrasting colour of blue and is highly visible against a clear sky. Therefore, shades of orange such as safety orange are often used in high visibility clothing and other safety equipment and objects.

- In hindu Tantrism, Orange is used to symbolically represent the second (Swadhisthana) chakra. Swadhisthana is positioned at the tailbone, two finger-widths above Muladhara. It has six petals which match the vrittis of affection, pitilessness, feeling of all-destructiveness, delusion, disdain and suspicion. Through meditation on Swadhisthana, the following siddhis or occult powers are said to be obtained- You are freed from all your enemies, and become a lord among yogis; your words flow like nectar in well-reasoned discourse; you gain loss of fear of water, awareness of astral entities, and the ability to taste anything desired for oneself or others.

- Orange is used to promote awareness of self-inflicted injury.



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diary notes

July 2014 - me and Sakiko met my mom at the Boston MFA for their quilt show ("Quilts and Color: the Pilgrim/Roy Collection"). It's all from the collection of this one couple, artists who have been gathering quilts for years. There's no real theme beyond "here are some quilts we liked" but it's a great set spanning hundreds of years and everything's really good. One incredible thing about the collection is that a lot of the quilts have orange fabric in them-- as I understand it antique quilts with orange don't fetch as high a price at auction, because orange doesn't seem sufficiently "antique", or it's somehow unseemly. These collectors were working on a budget, so they wound up with mostly orange-inclusive quilts. And now it's in the museum! It's like a check against survivor bias. That said it does look weird. The orange pops in a weird way, every time.


Links / misc


Thanks for reading and thanks for coming to my show! Thanks for visiting me here in my castle. It's extremely nice to get notes, now more than ever, so if you're feeling free, drop a hi how are you, a scene report, a question, a comment, or just a string of emoji over on the contact page: [link].

If you want to get these posts by email you can sign up to do so at [fujichia.substack.com]. Each post will begin with a link back to the castle, so you can click through and read them there in their intended setting, or just read it in email like a regular person. Actually this one, the formatting was too weird, I just emailed the link. I hope people clicked it.