Oct 14, 2011

TREND | Logos in Art: The power of the brand

Zevs, 2011
Liquidated Apple Logo

Liquitex on canvas
48 x 24 inches
122 x 61 cm

Each day, one person encounters hundreds, maybe thousands of brands, and constantly chooses one brand over another. Whether it’s the shirt he wears or the gas he puts in his car, this person is choosing, though often unconsciously, to represent a brand. So what does it mean when artists bring brands into their artwork? Are these artists choosing to represent these brands, highlight an issue with the brand, or perhaps, both?

PROFILE | Ralph Steadman

Kentucky Derby. 1970. Color Silkscreen. 22" x 30"

 Though he has a large collection of editorial cartoons, etchings, and silkscreens under his belt, Ralph Steadman will always be best known for his work with gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson. The two were first paired together for a sports article titled "The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved" in which Steadman's illustrations accompanied Thompson's early attempt at "gonzo journalism". The two would collaborate later on a project that would go on to define both of them: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

TREND | Cinedance | Where Dance Meets the Camera

“Smoke” choreographed by Mats Ek, performed by Sylvie Guillem and Niklas Ek. Music by Arvo Part.  1995
The contemporary art world is forever expanding and growing through experimental art forms and ideas. Although video art and performance video have been around since the 60’s and 70’s, it seems as though this medium is on the rise in the art world and is quickly becoming popular with many young artists. With the rise of video as a conventional medium and art form in the 60’s, choreographers and dancers evolved and video dance was born.  Cinedance (not to be confused with dance documentary films) stems mostly through modern and contemporary dance styles and allows for choreographers and videographers to push the boundries of traditional theater, dance and art. 

REVIEW | Drop Dead Cute, Ivan Vartanian, Chronicle Books, 2005

Drop Dead Cute Book Cover: Aya Takano, Waking Up, 1999. Acrylic on Canvas, 33x 25 cm.

Drop Dead Cute is a brief survey of 10 rising female artists in Japan: Makiko Kudo, Chiho Aoshima, Yuko Murata, Ryoko Aoki, Yuiko Hosoya, Aya Takano (featured on the cover), Chinatsu Ban, Kyoko Murase, and includes recent work by the "Polka Dot Princess" Yayoi Kusama. What brings these women together are their "cutesy, anime" style of art. While using an anime style can be stigmatizing, what makes the distinction between art, regular anime and manga comics is 
Considered within its larger context, "cute" takes on a certain introspective value. Cuteness, though ostensibly devoid of irony, does not negate darkness, and in fact can be a means to accessing darkness, as characters become loci of emotion and identification
This distinction is achieved with the usage of "super-flat" imagery, and influenced by childhood memories, animals and nature. Super-flat is an art movement started by Takahashi Murakami, coined in his essay "A Theory of Super Flat Japanese Art" (2000). Super-flat explores Post-War Japanese culture consumerism, sexual fetishism, and fears of growing up, by using anime images and distorting them in graphic, grotesque ways. This style is especially prevalent in Chiho Aoshima's prints, where she often creates large distorted women in surreal compositions like ghosts floating in graves or girls being eaten by snakes. Both Makiko Kudo and Yayoi Kusama use childhood memories as inspiration. Makiko Kudo draws from her memories  to paint surreal large scale paintings and Yayoi Kusama explores the lighter, fun side of her memories in her latest abstracted drawings and sculpture.

Oct 13, 2011

REVIEW | Tom Wolfe | From Bauhaus to Our House

From Bauhaus to Our House, Tom Wolf

Artists are influenced by their predecessors, no matter what medium.  In this case, architecture is a broad spectrum of which to be influenced, for or against, a certain style.  The questions posed by Wolfe's book are why we create, what/whom we are creating for, and what benefits do we stand to receive from said ends?  In this book, which is masterfully written, Wolfe not only explores the artist within but also the artist who seeks to profit from what is within and make a reputation from that decisiveness.

PROFILE | Mario Zoots

Denver artist Mario Zoots is an artist who is not limited to just one art form. He has dipped his hands into mediums such as paper and digital collage, photography, and installation art. He also works with video and music. Zoots represents a modern day artist that does not stop at one thing. He is constantly changing and exploring new ideas through various mediums. As an artist who has done some serious dabbling in the sensitive department of appropriation, Zoots has created some very intriguing works. He embraces the use of modern technologies and is not afraid to use them. Much of his work incorporates the exploration of social media, blogs, popular culture and various artist sites. He enjoys studying, analyzing and manipulating issues addressed through our internet culture. Zoots often creates a visual language using images so incredibly available to everyone. 

PROFILE | Edgar Mueller| Watch Your Step

 Edgar Mueller, Lava Burst, International Street Painting Festival, Geldern Germany, August 2008

Edgar Mueller is a German street artist who specializes in 3-D pavement illusions. Using the streets as his canvas, Mueller paints over huge areas of inner-city sidewalks to give them a new, not so improved appearance. Mueller also likes to test the perception and the creativity of the people passing by.

TREND | Photography | The Urban Landscape

Nathan Gibbs, Moonlit Hillside, Tijuana
I have always been fascinated by urban landscape photography. I find it intriguing that a photograph can capture the essence of a city, because it can be quite hard to capture. For me, the challenge in photographing these landscapes lies in finding a new perspective. After all, isn't that what makes an urban landscape photograph successful? Towns and cities each have their own vibe and unique feel that sets them apart from other towns and cities. These vibes aren't always positive, which opens up the possibilities of photography to document that. Photographers don't have to worry about focusing on capturing the qualities and characteristics of different places in a certain light.

REVIEW | Art Of West Texas Women: A Celebration, Kippra D. Hopper and Laurie J. Churchill, Texas Tech University Press, 2010

Art of West Texas Women: A Celebration, Kippra D. Hopper and Laurie J. Churchill, Texas Tech University Press, 2010

Read the title of this book carefully:  Art of West Texas Women:  A Celebration.   This book is not titled West Texas Art by Women:  A Celebration.  Why the distinction, you ask?  Because even though the artists featured in this book are, of their own confessions, working within the influence of the West Texas culture, they are not necessarily a collection of women working within a regional space of art.  While they might be far removed from New York, Chicago, Paris and other pushy, condescending and ethnocentric art worlds, these women do not represent a regional voice of West Texas.  They are simply women who live in West Texas and have been variously influenced by the culture of West Texas.  This is an important distinction to make, as Art of West Texas Women:   A Celebration could be an incredible book about the importance and emergence of West Texas regionalism in contemporary art.  Instead, the authors Kippra D.  Hopper and Laurie J. Churchill  are stuck in a "honeymoon" relationship state with the artists they celebrate: they wax poetic about each artist while ignoring the flaws that savvy readers, art critics and other artists will undoubtedly see.

REVIEW | Ken Aptekar Painting Through the Lines 1990-2000, Dana Self, Linda Nochlin, and H. Aram Vesser, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, 2001

Ken Aptekar Painting Between the Lines, 1990-2000, Dana Self, Linda Nochlin, and H. Aram Vesser, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, 2001
Ken Aptekar re-explains art history dialogue through his autobiographical text. He uses his past experiences through Judaism, masculinity and identity to convey a new approach to western art history. In the book, Ken Aptekar Painting Between The Lines, 1990-2000, three art critics share their opinions of Ken Aptekar’s exhibition in the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art. Dana Self, Linda Nochlin and H. Aram Veeser each present Aptekar’s work differently through their writings as well as their views. 

TREND | Arduino Circuit Board in Art

As an artist, I am interested in different ways to express my own art, and as a gadget freak I am interested in trying to incorporate technology in my own work.  For my trend I would like to discuss mechanical art that involves integrating basic computer programming, sculpture, circuitry, and art.  Different forms of technological art that involve futuristic and even fictional histories continually catch my eye and provide a new form of media.  Sculpture has been around for quite some time and recently there have been ways to take your artwork even further by making it functional through the use of Arduino Microprocessors.  I have checked out Arduino myself and it is quite the amazing piece of technology.  The tech-savvy individuals who have used Arduino have been able to do everything from the mundane of custom kitchen timers, to automating the simplest of functions in their cars. 

Oct 12, 2011

TREND | Celebrities in art

Richard Phillips, "Most Wanted," oil on canvas, 2011.

Marilyn Monroe. Leonardo DiCaprio. Paris Hilton. Unfortunately...or fortunately (depending on your taste) we all know their names, whether we want to or not. It is safe to say that although media and entertainment is readily available to us, we also seek it out. I will say that E! News can be a little ridiculous, polling who wore what dress better and reporting what “astonishing” statements were tweeted by our beloved celebrities. I will also say that I admit to being sucked into the nonsense. It’s almost a knee-jerk reaction, this guilty pleasure. We watch celebrities in television and movies, listen to them in music or radio, keep tabs on their whereabouts and their drama, why not incorporate them into the art world?

PROFILE | Tommy Fitzpatrick

Tommy Fitzpatrick is a contemporary artist that works in acrylic paint.  He presents realistic architectural structures, sometimes in a cropped or skewed view, to bestow a personal feeling or to question pre-conceived notions of specific locations.  These paintings are usually large, “70 x 70 Pennzoil #2” and every inch of the painting is composed to the same level.  The photo realistic qualities are formidable and the compositions he creates with them are very interesting.  The attention to even minute details is seen and the color palettes chosen always seem to work in a very cohesive manner.

Tommy Fitzpatrick, Pennzoil #2, acrylic on canvas, 2005

TREND | Alternative Materials | Organic and Recycled

Basant Soni, Temples on Hills, 2010

Growing up, recycling seemed to be a new concept that had not yet dawned on many people.  My family did not even have a separate can for recyclables or access to a recycling facility.  Nowadays it is almost second nature to throw paper, plastic and soda cans into the blue bin.  As we try to take care of the environment, many people are also trying to improve their health by going organic.  We constantly hear about the dangers of pesticides, genetically modified foods, and chemical food additives, and this has motivated many people to change.  The movement to live naturalistically and use and reuse materials of the earth is reflected in the work of numerous artists today.

TREND | Nudity | Is mom showing naked baby pictures again?!

Betsy Schneider, The Tub, 2003, from the series "Scenes". Archival inkjet print 16 x 20 in.
One trend in contemporary art that isn’t spoken of often is the depiction of nude children commonly seen in photography. Portrayals of children being anything other that innocent has always stirred up controversy but a few artists have been known to take the taboo subject matter to the next level. So what do Gary Gross, Sally Mann, Richard Prince, and Betsy Schneider all have in common? Their work has been consistently, and heavily scrutinized for portraying nude children. Taking a minute to compare and contrast the following photographers an important question that I kept coming across was “when does art become child pornography?”

TREND | Polystyrene | One man's trash is another man's treasure.

Game Over, 2008
Dimension Variable

I have always been fascinated with large scale sculptures and one artist in particular that I admire is Michelangelo, so when I first saw this piece I was speechless. Why? you might probably ask, well becuase it is made from styrofoam. Who would have thought that this sculpture was made from a large block of styrofoam? I certainly would have not. Even though it is obviously not as intricate as Michelangelo's Pieta it still has a very clean feel to it and appears to be very smooth. In the search to find this artist's motives as to why choose styrofoam over marble or wood or any other classic sculpture material, I found that this artist among many other's whom I will briefly go over, have found their own small way of helping our environment by choosing to work with this material called polystyrene, better known as styrofoam.


Mummified Barbies, 1991-present, Barbies and various other mediums

June Cleaver would not approve of this post.

E.V. Day was born in New York in 1967. There was a lot going on in New York in 1967. PBS was created, Andy Warhol was working in “The Factory”, and Rolling Stone magazine had just been created. Things were happening. Possibly more significant than Rolling Stone, feminism was happening. Women had already gained some legal ground, and were starting to work on gaining social ground. E.V. Day grew up in a time when women were trying to be more than just “things”.

Oct 11, 2011

REVIEW | Tony Cragg: Seeing Things | Nasher Sculpture Center | Dallas, Texas

In the heart of the ever-growing Dallas Arts District is the Nasher Sculpture Center. Their current exhibit, running now until January 8th, is titled Seeing Things and features sculptures from the artist Tony Cragg. The exhibit houses nearly 30, rather large, sculptures and surveys the scope of Cragg’s work from the last 20 years. He creates a fantastical space full of innovative and varied organic forms that tower over, and completely encompass you as you explore the rooms.

REVIEW | The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil | George Saunders | Riverhead Trade | 2005

The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil, Book Cover
The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil is a novella written by George Saunders. It is concise at just 130 pages but the story Saunders gives the reader is rich and engaging. The novella is designed with an eye-catching orange cover with graphic illustrations by Ben Gibson scattered throughout. It has garnered enough of a following to even have its own website.

TREND| The Creepy Contemporary

Marc Quinn, "Self", 1991

Marc Quinn creates a self portrait bust using by freezing pints of his own blood into a cast.

Whether it's "creepy cute" or just plain frightening, contemporary artists are experimenting with new ways invoking feelings of unease.  It's nothing new for artists to seek to set their audience up to be uncomfortable, just look to Hieronymus Bosch or Ed Keinholz, but the practice of creating eerie art remains relevant in today's tumultuous society. 

TREND | Cymatics in Art

Ray Pierotti, Gateway tO the Divine, 2007, Mixed Media, 36X36"

My interest in art over the years has always been paired with an equal curiosity in science. So when I spotted a recent trend of cymatics in art, my left and right brain were equally intrigued. Cymatics is the study of making sound visible through the vibrations of sound waves. This discovery is capable of taking any sound, from the sway of a violin bow to the human voice, and imprinting the vibrations of the frequencies upon a given surface. The art world has recently incorporated cymatics in painting, performance art and papermaking. 

PROFILE | Takashi Murakami

Takashi Murakami, Tan Tan Bo, Acrylic, 2001
Takashi Murakami is a current Japanese contemporary artist. Born in Tokyo at 1962 Takashi grew up with a passion for Otaku (those with an obsession for anime/manga/gaming). This growing obsession transformed Takashi's art by including vibrant colors and cartoon-like drawings; Takashi was also a sculpture towards this regard by how exaggerated his forms of cartoon abstractions came across, like his sculpture Oval Buddha. After developing his art style across the medium of paint/graphic/scuplture he created his status and popularity in Western art, this was partly due to his father's military travels which exposed Takashi to Western environments, eventually influencing Takashi's strategy to plant his artistic identity from the West.

Oct 10, 2011

TREND | Invention of Error | Hyper Realistic Optical Illusions

Impossible Columns, 2009

A fairly recognizable image that continuous to beg the audience to ask themselves, how many columns do you see vs how many truly exist. This prankish architecture is a well used optical illusion also sometimes referred to as a "blivet" an impossible shape consisting of three prongs but with only two connecting segments.  Modern artist such as M. C. Escher and Salvador Dali have played with this "bilvet" fallacy in few of their own works playfully asking the audience to question what they know as reality and the physically impossible.

The trompe-l'œil effect has been fooling our eyes since ancient Greek and Roman times in murals suggesting windows and doors leading to a vast false space.  Now in days contemporary artist are recreating the invention of visual error.

TREND | Vandalism vs. Art

Houston based artist Ack!

The struggle between artists and those who seek to tear down or prevent graffiti has been an issue in the art world for years. You might ask "How could critics deny this art form when the earliest examples of "art" are essentially graffiti?" Despite the fact that in most places it is considered vandalism and is outlawed many artists choose this public art form as their preferred way of expression.

PROFILE | Carnovsky

Carnovsky, RGB - Le metamorfosi, wallpaper,  2010

At first glance, Carnovsky’s work seems like pure chaos. Walls and ceilings are covered in a mixture of colors and shapes, making it unclear as to what’s really going on. It’s almost to the point where it’s too much to handle. Is that an elephant I see? No, it’s a snake. No , wait. That’s an…tree branch? Then, the lights in the room begin change color, and everything starts to come together.

TREND| Cows Are Everywhere

Unknown, Remember The Alamo, Fiberglass, 2011

          The Austin, Texas downtown area is loaded with cows! Livestock show? No. Art? Yes! Locally, these painted cows are scattered out in the open placed among the side walks for everyone to see. Most of the cows are the same size and yet each one demands attention and depicts interesting, abstract scenes. A visitor to this area might suppose that being in the south there might be a certain obsession with these simplistic farm creatures, but Austin is not the only place these cows are found. Chicago hosted Cows on Parade in the summer of 1999 and other areas around the globe have seemed to catch the "mad cow disease."

TREND| Embroidery| Not Your Granny's Favorite Pastime

Daniel Kornrumpf, Austin Texas (Detail), Hand Embroidered on Canvas, 2009.
 Embroidery has always been thought of as something Grandmothers do to pass time while chatting away in their rocking chairs.  Usually you would associate stitching with lame flowers or a framed sampler saying, “Home Sweet Home.”  Fiber art alone has been forever associated with crafts of the olden days, things that couldn’t possibly have a place in this technologically modern age.  When in reality, Fiber art, especially embroidery is much bigger than that.  There are some artists that could knock those darned socks right off your dear old Granny’s feet.

TREND | SALONS | My, What a Beautiful Home You Have!

Living Room, Marine Art Salon, Santa Monica, California

Imagine walking through the doors of someone’s home that you may or more likely, may not know. Your heart is beating, afraid of what they may think of you inside. Imagine walls of the host’s home lined with works of art that take your breath away. Imagine works in the round, in bronze and perhaps even cardboard. Imagine taking in these works with people who are like-minded as you. The intimacy of the occasion can bring the art to a new light. The conversation can spark ideas and thoughts never before had. Imagine relaxing on the couch or in the bedroom of the host, drinking champagne and eating delicious bites.

Salons are back with force! And no, not a salon where you get your hair cut, styled, colored, teased and treated.  More like gatherings which were originally a 16th century Chinese invention that rose to prominence in 17th and 18th century France. A salon was essentially a place for the exchange of ideas in literature and art, or in other words, an intellectual gathering overseen by a "salonnière" or hostess in her home.

Oct 9, 2011

AWARDS | Round One

The coveted pink/green ribbon of blog goodness

There are blog entries and then there are damn good blog entries. Four times during the semester our class will honor the "Best in ..." with the awarding of above ribbon (in jpeg form, naturally!), five points added onto the final grade (listen, I'm not beyond grade bribery!), and a little something special from Toy Joy - a place where I spent my early grad school years hocking all manner of toy, from HABA wooden blocks to Lunch Lady Action Figures. There was tough competition in some categories, for example the profile which was by far the most popular type of post, and in others, such as the book review there were only a couple of entries. All in all, though, the over 150 (!!!) students of the current class are putting in some good effort and beginning to get at what it means to carefully consider an artist's practice, an exhibition or book, and how to identify a trend. For all the awards, plus a link to the entries, read on... read on!