Thursday, May 19, 2011

Yves Klein Blue or Heather Meyer Gold Leaf

Feb 2011: Yves Klein Art Exhibit

Quick review: The art was great. Especially the sponges on sticks. Everything was blue. There were quotes on the wall. I took picture of the quotes. Then a young helpful, underemployed ‘guard’ put the smack down on my photo taking. I pointed out I was taking photos of the vinyl quotes on the wall, not trying to steal the art's soul. I know those are not the art. And it’s not like I am going to steal the quotes and claim them as my own. The quotes have the sayer of the quote right on them. That is what makes them a quote.
Here's the first quote.

The stern sixth grader didn’t by my story, nor thought I was the least bit amusing. I bet if I had farted he would have laughed. Who wouldn’t? So I stopped taking photos. I wanted to take some secret photos just to be brave, but I am too much of a square.

(Some galleries at the photography is allowed, just not at the Yves Klein exhibit, this information is useless since the exhibit closed on Feb 14, unless you have a time machine. If you did have a time machine you probably would screw up and go to a time without camera phones so it wouldn’t matter anyway.)

But I did get a photo of something other than non-art vinyl wall quotes.

Is this Yves Klein's toolbox?

Yves Klein also liked gold leaf. I have a special kinship with gold leaf. 

Another quote!
“Gold lame, just like basic black” I coined that phrase in college.

Let me tell you about gold leaf. I know about gold leaf. I used to be a really important scenic painter. One of my gigs was at Big Fancy Theatre in St. Louis. It was awesome. I was one of four scenic painters. We had a whole warehouse across the pond from the carpentry shop for our painting needs. The whole production side was a theatrical compound with gardens and snakes and bridges! We did three shows that summer, 1776, Big: the Musical and La Cage Aux Folles. 1776 was grey and brown, Big was BLUE (Yves Klein!) and La Cage was purple and GOLD LEAF (Yves Klein!).

I was assigned to gold leaf a beautiful antique sofa that had been reupholstered by Brooke in the prop shop (across the stream). Brooke had ushered the adorable sofa proudly over the bridge to our warehouse in the back. She showed off her upholstering job and skill at making sure the very limited amount of fabric work perfectly the cover the chair. They had used every bit of that fabric they could find! And it was perfect. She was pleased that they had just enough fabric to upholstery this sofa and the matching chairs, because there was not an ounce of that fabric left on the planet.

I had never gold leafed before, but as a smart woman who knows how to read directions, I knew I could handle it. (And Brooke gave me a tutorial).

I was rocking and rolling the gold leaf. Gold leafing is awesome and glamorous! From drab to fab with a little adhesive and gold foil sheets! I filled every little nook and cranny in the intricately carved frame. I was a master! I shall gold leaf the world. And then I dropped a glob of adhesive on the newly upholstered chair.

Again that is:

I dropped a glob of adhesive on the newly upholstered chair that had been upholstered in the last remnants of that particular fabric on earth.


I tried to wipe the glob of adhesive off that was now drying the fabric to a darkened splotch.

Wiping it off, however, just rubbed it in and collected the dirt from my grimy hands in to the sticky adhesive. Now it was worse. 

What the hell was I going to do? This couch was a big deal. A BIG deal. There isn’t a bigger deal than this couch. This production of La Cage Aux Folles was "pull out all the stops" important. And I had just pooped all over it. Permanent, immovable poop.

Double Yikes!

I didn’t want to tell any of my fellow painters. They didn’t need to know, they couldn't fix it.  And if  id did tell them it would just fuel the “Reasons Why Heather Sucks” list compiled by one member of the team.

Reasons Why Heather Sucks List
1: Heather is a broad strokes kind of girl
2. Heather didn’t like to listen to talk radio all day long
3. Heather thought a paint shop was a paint shop
4. Heather was AMAZING at mixing colors
5. Heather usually had a wet paint spot on her clothes at all times
6. Heather made a lot of jokes.
7. Heather spilled paint on the concrete and then cleaned it up.
8. Heather is a happy positive person
9. Heather didn’t use bamboo (as is the industry standard) to paint drops, she just bent over

So to avoid adding to that list and as an honest person, I had to tell someone.

I had to tell Props, it was their prop that I had ruined.

I had to tell Brooke. She was my friend, roommate and the props master. She always has a solution.


So I put my brave balls on and called a meeting with Brooke. Brooke was understanding and the only thing she could tell me was to avoid doing it again. She said it was pretty unnoticeable. Which is was. And it was onstage, in a proscenium, in a huge theatre. And in a production this afire, a quarter-sized slightly darkened spot was the least distracting thing on stage. 


Wrong. So so so so so so so so so wrong. Rumor has it the dark stain was the worst thing to ever happen to theatre. Ever. Theatre was dead, and I had killed it. There was no solution, no throw blanket or pillow could cover it, it was un-cover-up-able. The show was ruined.

Or was it? 

Nah. Nothing can stop a musical. It was an awesome show, with amazing performances and blah, blah, blah achievements all the way around.

Here's the couch in action!
That poor actor had to hold his knee up over the couch the whole show.

So Walker Art Center, let me take photos of the quotes on your walls or I might drip gold leaf adhesive all over you and ruin make you think I ruined your life but in fact improved everything in the world.

Disclaimer: I think I am allowed to public tell this story now because the statute of limitations on scenic painting crimes has expired. And because everything turned out OK.

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