Wednesday, February 21, 2018

What is it like to be married to the Zymoglyphic Museum?

Jim tells me “what does your wife/Judy/Mrs. Stewart think about the Zymoglyphic Museum?” is in his top 10 most frequently asked questions. Here is an effort to explain, in mere words, what the museum means to me.

By the way - I am Judy/Jude/Judith Hoffman - not Mrs. Stewart. Nothing wrong with the Stewarts, I love them dearly. But when I divorced my first husband I decided if I remarried I would not take my husband’s name again. It’s anachronistic in my opinion.

In 2011 I made a pinhole film camera called the Zymo 127, took photos, and made an artist’s book titled Spirits Under Glass to house the photos. Spirits Under Glass and the Zymo 127 now reside in the Zymoglyphic Museum.

When I completed the Zymo 127 project I wrote:

“The Zymoglyphic Museum
We all know, at least in theory, that life is not static. Change occurs constantly and the world is new again and again. The Zymoglyphic Museum is the perfect example of this. Its displays are constantly evolving. The museum staff doesn't try to fight this trend, instead they embrace it. Many of the displays contain objects that are rusty, or made of dirt or decaying objects. There is no effort to stabilize the displays. Things decay as time passes. Little pools of rust or dirt fall around the base of some of the objects and become as much a part of the museum as the original object. Dust, cobwebs and blown-in leaves accumulate.

When it's not open for visitors, the Zymoglyphic Museum is a dark and shadowy place. Light comes in a single window and illuminates a jumble of mysterious objects waiting to be placed in their display cases. With their interior lights off, the dioramas are dark windows, with shadowy figures behind. (img274lookingtowardwindow.psd) or kachina photo?

Over the years the museum has taken on its own personality, just as each person does. It is made of some deep thoughts, some random junk and some accumulated stuff that may or may not be valuable. It is a place to meditate on life and death. The exhibits are not about "Xenophora" for example, but about how life progresses. It's wonders and mysteries, how we change over the years, becoming both wiser and a little crusty, and how even the lowliest insect or a decayed leaf can be beautiful and mysterious.”

My take on it now: I like it very much - it’s magical and mysterious, dreamy and ugly/beautiful. I don’t mind the dead animals or bones. My major objection for years was that I have an allergy to dust and mold. Some times of the year my reaction can be pretty bad. When we lived in San Mateo there were fewer displays. The dioramas and a few free-standing figures were housed in Jim’s study, a spare bedroom. When I learned of my allergies, I persuaded him to get a garden shed to house the museum. I felt bad about it. Although he agreed, he seemed to feel rejected. Things did work out well in the end. As the museum space increased the number of displays increased. For years it was Jim's main weekend project. Unfortunately over the years more and more random stuff accumulated in the museum prep area in our attached garage, hence the need for a large detached garage here in Portland.

I am a student of the Zymoglyphic way, which is an intuitive thing. I may never truly get it. I know it helps if things are weird, decaying or unidentifiable. Still I often pick up things when we are out walking and show them to Jim just to have him put them back. There is an undefined criteria each object must meet.

It is true that when we met I had boxes marked “skulls” on my shelves of art materials. (Rabbit skulls) Also some mummified mice and other strange things I had been attracted to. Of course they all joined the museum collection long ago.

I must also confess to some envy - Jim set up shop, started telling people about the museum and they started coming. Word spreads, it has become more and more popular. We have been in Portland 3 1/2 years and he seems to average 100 visitors a month. I would love to put my books somewhere and have that kind of audience. Of course I am also very happy for him, and proud of his success. The museum is a one-of-a-kind place that needs to be seen. And you can call me Mrs. Zymoglyphic if you want to.

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Museum Hours

How could an artist not want to watch a movie with the title "Museum Hours?" This is one of my all time favorite movies. The first time I watched it, a scene with a visiting lecturer explaining Bruegel paintings stuck in my mind as the best part.

My recent second viewing seemed very different - there is a scene at the very end of the movie that I now think is possibly the best part. The narrator (Johann, a museum guard) describes an everyday scene in the movie as if it is a painting. It's the kind of thing we all see daily and probably don't notice. He says "And here, a landscape of sorts. A tall building stands on a rise and just as it draws your eye up and away the figure of an elderly woman, her clothes black as pitch, appears and makes its way up a central path which curves to the right at just enough of an incline to make one sense the lady's resolution. For it's cold and snow is just starting to fall and she must get where she's headed before obstacles increase. And one begins to wonder what the main subject is. A distant building which, tall as it is, can only rule over this kind of working class suburb or the old woman setting herself against the cold and the asphalt path until she disappears behind an enormous hedge. Leading us to wonder if the main thing could be the path itself and then there is the grey-white atmosphere which calls special attention to the bright red taillights of the cars on the left which seem impossibly red and even beautiful. . . "

I think most people will love or hate this movie - no chase scenes, no car wrecks, no vampires, no blood and gore. Just people looking at art and talking to each other.

Here is a trailer:

I thought IMDB had a place where you could see a list of places to view a movie, but I can't find that now. However just seems to be helpful:

Experiments With Text

Playing in my sketch book I came up with this - In my dreams I have been many things, a troll, a mean demon, a man, a bear, also people living in different times. It's part of what I find so interesting about dreaming. I think people's dreams are individual, there are no real "standard" ways of looking at things in dreams.