Two artists stood out at yesterday's opening day of the Fort Worth, Texas Main Street Arts Festival.
Probably the loudest commentary from passersby was that heard around the booth of Artist Michael Brown. People would pass by, stop, back up and take a second, third and fourth look and then go to all the works on exhibit by Brown. Brown, a photographer, has used an old technique in a new way to make a photo reflect two seasons from different angles. His website has an example of this work, at right, showing winter and spring.
Brown takes a photo using a tripod from the exact position a second time, in a different season.
Another artist worth mentioning is Katherine Allen Coleman who has a studio in Georgia. She takes the dresses of children, or ladies' gloves from yesteryears and using an acrylic method, layers them onto canvases. Sometimes she uses old patterns or buttons, but her works combine a sense of fashion and dimension as well as paint. Women of all ages seemed drawn to her booth.
I would call this art piece Empty Your Heart Out... but it is titled "Yellow" by New York Artist Nathan Sawaya, The Brick Artist. His incredible art is not done with paint or bronze but with LEGO building blocks. His works are on tour in North American museums in a show titled, The Art of the Brick. He has one show in Alberta in 2009 and more planned for 2010. There are other LEGO artists such as Andrew Lipson. Legoland California did a seven-city search back in 2007 to find a new master model builder.
My oldest daughter traveled after graduation to Germany where she was most intrigued by the Legoland there. Her pictures were fascinating and I knew of no such thing.
My youngest daughter drew my attention to another interesting LEGO artist this month. Christopher Neimann's approach to LEGO art is featured in his art/article in the NYTimes, Abstract City, I LEGO N.Y.
Vladimir Putin picks up the paintbrush and paints a starry night, a view from inside, looking out a window. Lace curtains, perhaps rather provencial, a touch of red...
Prince Charles paints landscapes in watercolor and I don't know if outgoing President G.W. Bush ever painted a thing but fear itself, in broad brush strokes. But, to look into this deeper, Putin paints himself as an insider. I found this interesting as Obama is an outsider's outsider. So I've thought of what might a window represent, symbolically... I think of this especially as this week I notice that one of the first official photos of President Obama showed him at work, sitting in an empty Oval Office, his back to the windows. The windows frame him. The view is not to the outside, but to the activity taking place at work in front of the windows.
What is the window, as an idea, such as the one Putin has painted? A window is a barrier between in and out. Unlike a door, through which one may pass to enter another place, a window only allows a view to elsewhere, not direct participation. It is the frame of a watcher. Some view the world from the inside looking out, and others, from the outside looking in. What views the windows frame, and especially those in our dreams or visions, such as the ideas that Putin paints, could be representative of deeper meanings.
So. Putin sees stars from the comfort of a place contained.
Andrew Wyeth died this week. One of my favorite American artists, Wyeth's realism in his painting style, the matte finish of the tempura paints and the precision of his watercolors take second seat to the somber, cold and lonely feeling of his subjects and compositions. Time magazine's article in noting his death emphasizes that Wyeth's elusive canvasses stay with us.
That elusive emptiness is what I played in an iteration of yearning. The lonely rural life created by our mono crop agribusiness industry was my remix theme, left, taking Wyeth's Christina (who actually was his wife) leaning towards a lonely abandoned farm house I found in the Texas panhandle completely surrounded by plowed earth, and nothing else but plowed earth. Christina's World reinterpreted, if you will, on the Plains in our modern landscapes of rural desolation.
Wyeth's Christina's World, below right, hangs in a small foyer entry to the great American paintings in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City (I think it is great that the MOMA allows photography. I wish more museums would). Another review of Wyeth's legacy noted that the MOMA, by hanging Wyeth's Christina's World in the foyer rather than in with the rest of the famous 20th century paintings in the adjacent gallery, was a statement that Wyeth's paintings don't stand with other art and, like Christina's longing to be in that other place, his art just "isn't there" according to critics.
New Mexico can claim a Wyeth heritage. Henriette Wyeth, Andrew Wyeth's daughter, became an artist and married artist Peter Hurd. Both lived in New Mexico until their deaths.
After touring the Beringer Winery in Napa Valley in April '08, I used a NYTimes Sunday business page article as a backdrop for a photo of my favorite wine from the Napa tours, below right. The art for the article, Almost as if the Sky Were Falling, illustrated something I thought might be coming -- a crash in the bubbles that I felt were out there. It was a great illustration. The artist uses conceptual twists that make business stories pop.
The art stuck with me, as good art will, so I want to highlight the exceptional business illustration talent of Tim Robinson. Yet another of his excellent market visuals appeared this week that caused me to research his work.
As I've watched the economic crisis unfold, the art of it all is very boring for the most part. How do you make an economic story interesting? How do you tell the story of financial facts in visuals? When I saw the illustration, at left, accompanying a January 10, 2009 NYTimes story, Off The Charts, In the Wrong Direction, I recognized that this was the same artist I'd seen do several illustrations on economic stories for the NYTimes.
Robinson is a free-lance illustrator living in New York state with a BFA from Syracuse University. He worked under Milton Glaser, one of the most talented graphic artists of our times. His market graphics are one of the few colorful appealing illustrations that contain a narrative with a whimsical twist. It is no wonder he is becoming hot with his financial graphics.
Dirty Car Art is what this is called. Artist Scott Wade calls the art he does on his dirty car impermanent. I would call it ephemeral. Regardless, it is much better public art than what is going up these days in Denver. Art like this makes you smile!
Hot Dog Phallic is what I'd name this new piece of public artin Mile High City. A Christmas Tree would look better, but gee. This is permanent stuff. Plus, the name the artist gave it is stupid. National Velvet? Really? If this was street art in NYC, would you say, "meet me by the National Velvet?" Denver, you've gone too far. Or maybe not. Maybe I need to stretch a bit.
Is the audience and the artist in the same universe, one critic might ask, pointing fingers at why public art is missing in San Francisco.
Update: Called "National Velvet by artist John McEnroe, the piece is near the I-25 pedestrian bridge in the highlands area of Denver and cost $53,000. Denver requires one percent of city money spent on construction projects over $100M going to art.
Color me colorless, but black is the new black is the new black. Besides being practical, which is something needed in these dour times, it is a serious functional color. When Pantone announced it's new color for 2009, Mimosa - "a warm and engaging yellow" I thought: ugh. 60's redux, next up: shag carpet. But for a little accent here and there? ok. maybe. Pantone's reasoning: "Mimosa represents the hopeful and radiant characteristics associated with the
color yellow. Mimosa is a versatile shade that coordinates with any
other color, has appeal for men and women, and translates to both
fashion and interiors."
Black: The History of a Color by Michel Pastoureau (Princeton University Press, $35) just came out in November and is listed as one of the top art and design books in the NYTimes Critic's picks 2008 Gift Guide.
I think we're a year early for this new day dawning intensity. Or maybe not. Bold? Color me questioning.
Meghan McCain's post this week, Musings on Politics from a Pop Culture Girl, had a very sweet graphic of her Dad, done in the pop graphic style of Shepard Fairey's Obama Poster. It was sad to see that she is doing an iteration of a pop culture style made famous in the graphic of her father's opponent, associated with the word hope. But oh well. It is sweet that she features her father as a hero, which he is, and every daughter should have a hero for a father. McCain is a good man, I believe. And his daughter's tribute is sweet.
It is too bad that a cool graphic using the word hero, as Obama used hope/change, couldn't have gained viral traction. It would have been cool. Woulda Shoulda.
Maureen Dowd asks questions that stump me, too: Why did he allow his campaign to become a host body for a Bush virus looking for someplace to infect? .... Why did a politician who once knew how to play the game so well, who was once so beloved by people of very different political stripes, allow his campaign to get whiny, angry, vengeful and bitter?
McCain turned in a great performance w/ Tina Fey as Sarah Palin last night on SNL. What a good sport. How brave. He pulled it off. His genuine side was there.