Friday, February 27, 2009

glassy eyed

I read a great review today for Los Angeles-based artist Katherine Gray's first solo show, "It’s a Very Deadly Weapon to Know What You’re Doing,” at the Acuna-Hansen Gallery. Though Gray typically blows her own glass, the exhibit consists of glittering, eye candy sculptures made from pre-existing glassware, both found and thrift store purchased.

Gray's work is historic and socially-minded in nature. She responds to glass as a traditional craft through her reimagination of its place in modern art through minimalist constructions emphasizing form versus void and line quality. Yet, she also uses the medium as a testament to the form and ensuing void that marks the current state of our natural resources - the delicate and fragile quality of our environment. Gray's Forest Glass refers to 'waldglas', or Northern European Midieval glass, which was characterized by green and brown tints from the local raw materials used in the glass-making process. These glass factories were located in forests for easy access to, and ultimately were responsible for the depletion of, timber to fire the furnaces. As LA Times reviewer Holly Myers described, Gray's exhibit "draws on present-day notions of reuse and recycling to posit a clever sort of reforestation."

...nobody puts it more poignantly than Gray herself:
"Because skill is a trap, because the promise has faded, because no one told me about that trap, because our society is increasingly about the simulated experience, because creating is destroying, because we haven't learned from our mistakes, because it is all coming to an end, because I am out of sync, because objects are our history. And because glass is devastatingly beautiful."

Sadly, found object art certainly has a new relevance and a remergence since Marcel Duchamps original conception. But there's a haunting beauty in the creation that emerges from destruction.
For more, check out one of my favorite found object artists, Stuart Haygarth.

Stay tuned in late April 2009, when Katherine Gray's exhibition will travel to the Chrysler Museum in Norfolk, VA.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

london calling

Though London Fashion Week wrapped yesterday, I've decided to share a different kind of art with you from across the pond. Today, The Guardian reported the latest project from British sculptor Antony Gormley to be installed atop the granite plinth in the corner of London's Trafalgar Square.

The medium? You.

The installation, named One & Other, consists of 2,400 British citizens who will position themselves on the plinth for one hour each. The exhibit opens July 6th, and will run 24 hours a day, for 100 days. What exactly will participants do during their 60 minutes of fame? Just about anything they can come up with. Gormley said yesterday: "I will be very upset if somebody doesn't take off their clothes when they get there." Nudity or not, let's hope this sculpture-meets-performance-art installation is more exciting than watching David Blaine prune up in a tank of water for a week.

Gormley went on to say:
"The idea behind One & Other is a simple one...through elevation onto the plinth and removal from the common ground, the body becomes a metaphor, symbol, emblem - a point of reference, focus and thought. In the context of Trafalgar Square with its military, valedictory and male historial statues to specific individuals, this elevation of everyday life to the position formerly occupied by monumental art allows us to reflect on the diversity, vulnerability and particularity of the individual in contemporary society. It could be tragic but it could also be funny."
The casting call for One & Other is already underway. But before you practice doing your best worm for the auditions, you should note that all participants will be randomly selected, but weighted to ensure equal numbers of men and women, and fair representation for all regions of Britain. Gormley himself will be applying for his hour in the sky, along with the director of the British National Portrait Gallery which will host a live camera link to the plinth through Sky Arts for the entire 2,400 hour exhibit.

The human form is a common subject for Gormley's art, which tends to be based on his own naked image and often contains strong sexual overtones (click here to read about his proposed 36-foot ejaculating man sculpture for Seattle's waterfront). His best known work is perhaps his Angel of the North, a public sculpture in Gateshead, England commissioned in 1995 and erected in February 1998.

Antony Gormley's Angel of the North

Visit Artsy's page on Antony Gormley for a comprehensive look of upcoming exhibitions, Gormley's works, and exclusive articles.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

love of country

Elegant simplicity. This design is by far a new favorite for 2009. Created by Granite Pass partner Greg Beauchamp, this graphic has now been translated into a poster for President Obama.

You may be familiar with other strokes of genius from Beauchamp; he's the executive producer of the industry documentary Art & Copy, and was also responsible for the McCain Poop Flag guerrilla campaign during the 2008 election where Beauchamp placed small flags with phrases like “McCain: Economic Policy” or “McCain: Healthcare Reform” in piles of dog poop throughout Venice, California.

Read more about Beauchamp's States United campaign here.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

lucky dog

It’s good to be a dog…especially if you happen to be the First Dog, or “Summa Canum”, also the name of this soon-to-be Obama family pooch’s new eco-luxury digs.

The Summa Canum doghouse by Sustainable Pet Design features a green roof with plants from Maryland nursery, Emory Knoll Farms. The doghouse will arrive unplanted, however, to give the First Family the chance to personalize their green roof garden. The roof itself is constructed out of historic naturally felled Tennessee Aromatic Cedar trees from President Andrew Jackson’s estate, The Hermitage. Summa Canum will also feature zero-VOC paint and varnish from Architectural Coatings and Design Center, solar panels, radiant floor heating, and a graywater recycling system.

…and what better way for the Summa Canum to arrive on White House lawn than from grunge-godfather-meets-environmental-activist Neil Young, himself. Young will be delivering the Presidential Pooch Palace in his all-electric 1959 Lincoln, LincVolt, which contains a turbine generator, regenerative breaking and electric motor to the White House over the coming weeks. For now, the dog pad is ready and waiting in Neil Young’s garage as the final touches to LincVolt are applied. Click here to watch the web cam from Neil’s garage.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

high fashion for a low glamor economy

There are few things I enjoy more than watching the returns come in from New York Fashion Week. Though today's economy doesn't exactly jive with the glamor and decadence that Bryant Park typically has to offer, we saw some interesting cost-cutting from the fashion houses this year, coupled with uplifting and colorful collections. Who says our fashion has to match our dreary financial outlook? ...and our Fall fashion, at that!

Here are some of my favorite looks from collections that took to the catwalk as of Tuesday night, circa 6:00 pm.


SAT. FEB. 14, 2 PM at the Promenade.
Color is in this Fall! Gorgeous Fall jewel tones with a subtle preppy-retro-chic eclecticism. I love Adam's clean lines and delicate mix of plaid and metallic.

Matthew Williamson

TUE. FEB. 17, 11 AM at the Promenade
. I LOVE this collection! A lot of animal (sorry PETA) with the fur and leather - but what a gorgeous Fall palette with light knits and playful layers.

Mara Hoffman

SUN. FEB. 15, 11 AM at the Promenade. Mara Hoffman delivered with gypsy-jewel prints. Playful and sophisticated.

Carolina Herrera

MON. FEB. 16, 10 AM in the Tent. What's a Carolina Herrera show without some fairytale gowns? The fashion house turned it on full force with a metallic, classic collection with gorgeously feminine silhouettes.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


In recent years, I’ve become increasingly interested in collecting textiles – namely, quilts. I’ve discovered few modern quilt artists out there today who have truly captured me. Not surprising – my Grandmother is a crazy brilliant artist; she’s a painter, an award winning gardener and quilter. Her quilts are inspired. I’ve learned to appreciate them so much as I’ve grown older – her varied composition and aesthetic (some have more traditional patterns – others are wildly psychedelic), the delicate, patient precision of her hand stitched quilting, the years it can take to complete one of her masterpieces, the love she puts into each one.

Evellyn Yeager

One of my Grandmother's quilts from my collection. She gave this quilt to me as a college graduation gift. The quilt tells the story of the universe - a nod to my love for the cosmos and Carl Sagan.

'COSMOS' Detail.

Evellyn Yeager

A crazy quilt of my Grandmother's from my collection. Crazy quilting was all the rage during the Victorian Era in the final decades of the 19th Century.
They're typically made of abstract shapes and various types of fabric sewn together with embroidery seams and motifs to embellish the quilt including flowers, birds and sometimes a spider and web for good luck. These quilts are typically made smaller than quilts used as bed coverings and used as decorative throws.

Detail of Untitled crazy quilt. My grandmother sews in fabrics, trimmings and other items that she has collected over the years - many of them come from the clothing my mother and her sister wore as children, old silk ties, various pins and clothing labels. I love hearing the stories behind the different elements - a true family portrait!

While I tend to prefer modern art (turn of the century and beyond), I’ve also begun to really admire Amish quilts from the mid 1800’s for their simple block patterns and color harmonies. The collective creation and storytelling of the Amish quilting bee gives quilts from this era a certain soul.

There’s a fabulous restaurant in DC, Restaurant Nora – one of the best in the city – that has this gorgeous collection of museum quality antique Mennonite and Amish crib quilts. In addition to the daily-changing, completely organic, unreal yummy menu, I can’t get enough of Nora for the art – a must try.

Restaurant Nora's Wine Library and Main Dining Room. Gorgeous Mennonite and Amish crib quilts.

Today’s modern quilts tend to borrow from other media – taking on a painterly or collage-like feel – mimicking perspective, shadowing, subject matter and composition, transforming the medium much like sculpture did for painting and industrialism and architecture did for music.

Two pretty psychedelic quilts from Brooklyn based, Tokyo born artist Ai Kijima

Quilts from Phoenix-based
Regina Alexandra's Faces series.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

scarlet begonias

Brussels's Grand Place square in bloom. Every two years, a new 'flower carpet' is constructed out of nearly a million begonias in mid-August. It lasts for only a few days. Truly stunning!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

jpegging the liner notes

We had a great year in music in 2008, with equally stunning artwork to accompany some of our favorite new releases. Yet, while many speculate the diminishing importance of album art - after all, experiencing the album art and liner notes from a thumbnail just isn't the same as the tactile experience of a record, CD or other physical artifact of the album - these covers stand as testament to the continued attention, affection and relevance given by bands and artists alike to music least from an artwork standpoint.

From an everything-other-than-the-artwork standpoint, there's a lot of white space in the market to leverage the endless possibilities of experiential, interactive music packaging available today, and thus asserting the relevance of album art in today's digital record shop. What vinyl bears in physical art real estate, Web 2.0 exponentially offers in multimedia opportunity.

...but what, really, have we seen in music packaging interactivity? Sure, we've seen some downloadable songbooks and bonus features... Radiohead, of course, in 2007 inspired Google themes through their cover of In Rainbows, while Neil Young's Greendale offered some online interactivity.

...Or what about making the physical album relevant again? Take Beck's 2006 sticker customizable album cover for The Information. Music packaging in general has offered scarce innovation in design. I'd love to see IDEO take this project on, a la the Identity Card Exploration.

What we did see in 2008 album art, however, was a lot of stylistic graphic exploration. Sure, there were your usual suspects stylistically: the retro effect, plenty of photographic band portraits and the continuous play with the band name wordmark. But we also saw some interesting trends and themes emerge:

A reimagination of art history

Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes

Fleet Foxes self-titled album details the 1559 painting Netherlandish Proverbs by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. Vocalist/guitarist Robin Pecknold on the original paiting:

"When you first see that painting it’s very bucolic, but when you look closer there’s all this really strange stuff going on, like dudes defecating coins into the river and people on fire, people carving a live sheep, this weird dude who looks like a tree root sitting around with a dog. There’s all this really weird stuff going on. I liked that the first impression is that it's just pretty, but then you realize that the scene is this weird chaos. I like that you can’t really take it for what it is, that your first impression of it is wrong."

Coldplay - Viva La Vida

Coldplay's latest combines almost graffiti-like lettering and paint splattering with furiously fast paintbrush strokes juxtaposed against the delicate perfection of Eugene Delacroix’s 1830 painting Liberty Leading the People. Art Direction & Design by Tappin Gofton.


Elbow - The Seldom Seen Kid

Elbow's cube plays with perspective and architecture - the building of things, with the urban skyline in the background and flanked on either side with cranes, perhaps illustrating the backdrop for the album track
The Loneliness Of A Tower Crane Driver.

It reminds me of the Apple store cube on 5th Avenue in Manhattan.

Black Mountain - In the Future

Black Mountain's In the Future feels eerily retro-post-apocalyptic, and was designed by the band's
keyboardist, Jeremy Schmidt. Front man Stephan McBean notes, "I know Jeremy was inspired by all of those classic Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin LP covers. That’s the sort of stuff he loves, and so do I."

There's something shiny in your mouth

Santogold - Santogold

Santogold's debut album cover uses layering and mixed media, combining photography, a paper-cut-out styled wordmark and 3D-looking gold glitter breaking perspectival planes as it lays on top of the image and its reflection. Designed by Isabelle Lumpkin.

Foals - Antidotes

Again, a layered, mixed media treatment with handmade typography for the band name wordmark. Designed by Tinhead.

...and finally...

Hand drawn sketches

The Twilight Sad - Killed My Parents and Hit the Road

This eery retro-comic cover has the the kind of ironic caption (title) you might find in a Lichtenstein. The masks on the subjects make it difficult to determine their ages - but it has a Children of the Corn kind of possessed child quality about it only found in horror movies.

Minotaur Shock - Amateur Dramatics

There's a minimalist, yet playful simplicity to this cover that doesn't take itself too seriously - or maybe takes itself really seriously in a hipster kind of way... regardless, the subtle head cocking and oh-so-human stance gives the bird an endearing quality. The sketchy line quality implies movement, as the bird engages you directly - square in the face - seemingly about to move into the viewer's space.

Amateur Dramatics is David Edwards's 4th album. The cover was designed by a friend of Edwards', Warwick The Skipper.