Drifting and striding, in Hollywood and elsewhere, with Geoff Nicholson - author of The Lost Art of Walking, and Walking in Ruins withcholson, author of Toff Nidrifting and stomping withcholson, author of The Lost Art of Walking, considers the narrower and wider shores of obsessive pedestrianism.
Showing posts with label Simpsons. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Simpsons. Show all posts

Sunday, September 27, 2015


Let me begin by quoting Homer Simpson (or at Tim Long who wrote the lyrics) and his song “I Love to Walk”  - ironic, huh?

Oh, I love to perambulate,
It's standing still I really hate.
So let me please reiterate:
I love to—

I’ll eventually explain the relevance of that remark.

I’m always interested in the odd way that people walk in art galleries – soberly, quietly, with reverence, a little hesitantly, showing off the fact that they’re serious about this whole art business.  And I’m no different.  My walking in art galleries is as inauthentic as anybody else’s.  But the consequence is that after about an hour of this kind of non-standard walking your feet are sore, your legs and back are aching, and you’re in need of a sit down in the museum cafe.  If you’d done an hour’s walking in the real world you’d be fine, but a short walk on the hard floors of a gallery just gets to you.

One “art space” I know where things are very different is the Noah Purifoy Foundation in Joshua Tree, a ten acre open air desert sculpture park (so much more fun than that sounds) where you tread the sand of the Mojave desert.  Walking around there is somehow very much easier.

Lately however, there’s been a Noah Purifoy show at the LACMA (that’s the Los Angeles County Museum of Art – a name they rarely use cos I suspect they think it sounds a bit square).  This exhibition partly involved bringing some of the outdoors in.   Certain of Purifoy’s outdoor works had been transported to the museum gallery from the desert. 

Frankly I was a bit worried about this, I thought the move to the interior of a formal art gallery might diminish Purifoy’s work.  And certainly I think the works they’ve got at LACMA look as though they’ve been seriously cleaned up, a thing that Purifoy himself never did to them.  

On balance I think the exhibition just about got away with it.  I think the sculptures look very much better out in the wilds, in their natural habitat, but they still look pretty good in a museum too. 

LACMA wasn’t crowded on the day I was there, and of course I looked closely at at Noah Purifoy’s art, but inevitably I also observed the few other people in the gallery, seeing at how they walked.  And I was looking at this one guy – surprisingly well-developed calves (maybe walkers’ calves), and with a Band-Aid on one shin. 

And blow me down – I suddenly realized it was Dan Castellanata – the guy who voices Homer Simpson.  I was far too cool to go over and talk talk to him, but I was quite uncool enough to sneak a picture of him as I was photographing some of Purifoy’s work.

Monday, May 6, 2013


And speaking of John Keats and things writ in, or on, water, I discovered an Italian “street artist” named Guildor who cuts letters out of foam and arranges them into words and phrases containing vaguely uplifting sentiments (in Italian), phrases like “Think thoughtless,” “Love, let the rest flow,” or “Happiness happens.”  At least that’s how they were translated by the New Yorker.  He then ties the letters together using nylon cord and floats them on the surface of Italian rivers; I’m not honestly sure which rivers to be honest.

This reminds me of a time I went walking by the canal in Sheffield a few years back.  Growing up in Sheffield I never even knew there was a canal, but now that the heavy industry has died in Sheffield, many of the remaining industrial relics have been cleaned up, turned into heritage, and made accessible as a walking route.

I was there by the Sheffield canal one Sunday afternoon with a companion, and we were walking on the towpath and suddenly we saw a big foam letter floating along the canal towards us.  It was the letter Y.

Now, my pal, a man of spiritual inclination and yearning, suggested that the universe was sending us a message, encouraging us to consider the big questions: Why? Why indeed?  Why anything?  I, being less that way inclined was reminded of the old Simpsons episode, you know the one with Ringo Starr, in which Marge becomes a painter, and there’s a show in an art gallery and one of the  paintings looks like this:

Still, it was a good walk by the Sheffield canal.  And there are many, far worse things to find floating in the water than a big foam letter.