Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Judith Owen and Sally Mann, belatedly

I've been meaning to post about some of the great shows that have been going on around town, but I've been too busy to get any posts up, about anything. Except Sarah Palin, who has seemingly hacked into my blog to post embarrassing info about herself.

Back in September, Judith Owen played a show at the CAC. Judith is a great songwriter, pianist, and singer. Her style is bluesy, jazzy, folksy--a bit of a Joni Mitchell influence, but with a wicked sense of humor. She also happens to be married to Harry Shearer and loves dogs. Judith has said she'll do a...something...to raise money for the Sula Foundation, but scheduling is impossible, so we'll see. In any case, the show was great. She played with a small string section, and reworked some songs from her new CD, Mopping Up Karma, which was actually supposed to be released by Capitol a decade ago as producer Glenn Ballard's followup to Alainis Morrissette. Of course, this is another reason I love Judith Owen--she introduces songs by telling the story of how everything has gone wrong, how foolish she's been. And she tells stories about how much she loves Harry. The highlight of the evening was a new song, "Manhole," which is about depression and it knocked everyone's socks off. Well, not literally, but you know what I mean.

A few weeks later, at the Ogden, photographer Sally Mann held a discussion about her show there: "What Remains." I thought it would be interesting to hear her speak, but was a little aghast when I saw the show. The entire first gallery focuses on photos of her favorite greyhound after it died. Most of these are photos of the dog's bones, exhumed a year after its death and carefully arranged. These didn't bother me as much as the photos of the dog's skin hung like a cloak on a hook. I asked her about that "process" and she said, "Yes, that is different, isn't it?" The exhibit continues with photos of dead bodies in a "body farm"; a series taken on Mann's farm the day an escaped convict was cornered and killed himself in a grove of trees; a civil war battlefield; and extreme closeups of her now grown children. It was interesting to hear her talk about what she was going through while taking these photos, her thoughts on death and mortality. But I don't know that what she had to say really exists in the photos on display.

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