Tag Archives: Allen Ullman

Art and storytelling, Best Friends Forever

By Bob Hicks

The fun thing about art is that it always seems to come with a story. Not that the stories are more important than the art — at least, not usually — but they do have a way of getting a potentially esoteric subject down to the nitty gritty.

Alfred Maurer, "George Washington," Portland Art MuseumMartha Ullman West, whose tale about the painter Titian and the man-about-Europe Pietro Aretino provided the pith for our previous posting, took a break from the thickets of her book manuscript to send along another quick story, this one about the American painter Alfred Maurer, whose 1932 Cubist version of George Washington was included in a piece I wrote in this morning’s Oregonian about images of faces in the permanent collection of the Portland Art Museum. The story was a sidebar to my cover story about Titian’s La Bella, which is on temporary display at the museum. Martha’s father, to complete the setup, was the New York painter Allen Ullman, and her grandfather was the artist Eugene Ullman, so inside stories about artists flowed like wine in her childhood home.

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Dance-plus: random notes from all over

Drawing of the RMS Mauretania, from a cigarette card, ca. 1922-29. New York Public Library/Wikimedia Commons

In the past few months Art Scatter’s chief correspondent, Martha Ullman West, has been (as The New Yorker likes to say about its own correspondents) far-flung. We could tell you how much flinging she’s been up to, but it seems more appropriate to let her tell you herself. We will mention, however, that one of her flings was up the freeway to Seattle, where the national Dance Critics Association held its annual meeting and presented her with its Senior Critic’s Award, an honor that recognizes her position in the loftiest echelon of the profession. Congratulations, Martha, once again.


By Martha Ullman West

It’s a long time since I’ve made my presence known on Art Scatter (except to comment, lazy me). Since I last posted, on April 10, I’ve seen quite a lot of dancing, a Greek ruin or two or three, Maltese, Sicilian and Spanish museums, the Holy Grail (or not…), a clip aboard ship of the latest royal wedding extravaganza. I also received a prize, for which I had to give a lecture, and that little task made me think about all of the above and more.

Just before I skipped town on April 23, I witnessed Anne Mueller dance ballet for the last time opening night of Oregon Ballet Theatre’s final show of the season, still at the top of her form, showing her range in Trey McIntyre’s funky Speak, Nicolo Fonte’s Left Unsaid, and Christopher Stowell’s Eyes on You. More down the line about the opening ballet in that program, Balanchine’s Square Dance, which I also saw New York City Ballet perform in May.

Earlier in the week, at Da Vinci Middle School’s spring concert, a motley batch of middle school-age boys, seven of them, performed, identifiably, Gregg Bielemeier’s idiosyncratic juxtaposition of small precise movement and space-eating choreography, improvising within the form. At an age when going with the flow ain’t a goin’ to happen, they did just that, and it was lovely to see.

And then I was off on a cruise of what was originally supposed to be the Barbary Coast and include Tunisia, where I’ve long wanted to go, but world events interfered so Sardinia and Menorca were substituted, as well as extra time in Valencia, where in addition to one of the Holy Grails (housed in the cathedral there) we saw a parade in traditional garb — little girls in ruffled dresses and mantillas, elderly gents trying to manage their swords — and after that, in Granada, the magical Alhambra. That’s a place I’ve wanted to see with mine own eyes since my father rendered in paint how he imagined it looked in the Middle Ages.

Allen Ullman, "Granada," 1966, oil and casein. Courtesy Martha Ullman West.

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