Iceland’s Hverfjall, mini-craters, folk art, Akureyi and another fabulous pool

Lunar terrain Iceland

Before leaving the Myvatn area, we breakfasted on the moon and had our first taste of lava bread—a heavy rye, baked in the ground with geothermal heat. Then we hiked Hverfjall.

Hverfjall

It’s a a steep climb to the top of the black, gravelly volcano, which is a kilometer across and offers fab views. (You can tell by the sliding tracks that some people actually attempt to hike down into the volcano. We didn’t.)

Hverfjall Top

There were only a few other hikers, so Jamie had her mp3 player, and I played Sigur Ros on my phone, because it seemed like the perfect accompaniment to this odd terrain.

Myvatn Iceland

On our way out of town, we walked the paths winding between the nearby mini-craters, which were a bit anti-climatic. But no matter—Iceland had already impressed us plenty.

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One Man Band Alert

From writer David Breland, in the Mississippi State student daily paper:

Jayson Triplett is a Starkville original. An artist that makes his way living, preaching, teaching and playing his art. Better known to some by his alternate persona, Ming Donkey, Triplett has been a fixture in town for the past few years. He is a prolific artist, creating in various mediums. Arguably, Ming Donkey’s one-man band is as much performance art as it is raucous, driving roots music.

His latest release as Ming Donkey on Ultra Low Fidelity vinyl epitomizes the one man approach. Touted as “written, performed, recorded and designed one July weekend in 2009,” the album is down-home gold. The A side to this back-woods release is “Lil’ Cross-Stitch Bitch” followed up with “Waiting On The Georgia Line” on the B side. What you hear is what you get on this recording.

Keep reading at The Reflector.


Greely Myatt Takes On Memphis

In mid-September, Greely Myatt was the focus of a citywide, 8-venue exhibit celebrating his twenty years of service teaching sculpture at the University of Memphis. More recently Myatt exhibited at Mississippi State University, a school he briefly attended on athletic scholarship in the 70’s. After the accompanying panel discussion, I had a brief  chat with Greely. Among other things, we discussed our mutual admiration for Dave Hickey’s essays and pondered what Hickey would think of Damien Hirst for working over the art market, rather than letting it work him (conclusion: Hickey would love it).

Greely grew up in tiny Aberdeen, Mississippi in the 50’s and 60’s. There was little exposure to “art,” but there were Biblical illustrations, paintings in History textbooks and best of all, comic books. His childhood sounds idyllic: jigsaw puzzles, erector sets, homemade tree houses and go-carts, laying the foundation for a lifetime of making things.

Clever and subtly humorous, Greely’s work is a dialogue between esoteric allusions and “simple” vernacular methods. Maybe it’s even an example of high-art being subverted by folk (low-brow) art. His work is made from found objects that reference the narrative of daily southern life (broomsticks, road-signs, decorative food tins) but it makes sophisticated statements about canonical art. Essentially, Greely is critiquing art as institution both from within the institution—the public university and the museums—and from outside the institution, as a rural southerner and a vernacular artist. While remaining generous and genuine, his work comments on how vernacular art functions (dismissively) in the academic canon and how this canon has come to define how we think about art.

But you don’t have to get the joke to get the art. Greely has a genuine respect for his materials, for their history and connotation, and for his own geography. If you’re seeped in southern culture, even if you know nothing about art, Greely’s work is touching and validating to your daily experience. A scholar will see one thing, a casual observer another, but both will get something from of the experience—and something different from what Greely, in his perpetual quest to amuse himself, is getting.

Keep reading at Juxtapoz.