Water is fascinating. Essential, indeed, yet compelling in how it moves and how we humans interact with it. Artists, therefore, can never conjure enough means to display water, but each attempt is mind-boggling.
Recently, Design You Trust, a digital media company, installed a massive anamorphic illusion entitled “Wave” above a South Korean urban area. Spanning 80.1 x 20.1 meters, the display appears to be an aquarium with water sloshing repeatedly against its “sides”.
Staring at it for any length of time may make some people queasy. But, in the midst of the current political and health crises rampaging across the globe, I feel it invokes a sense of calm and humility; akin to waves crash against a shoreline, rain falling gently in the night, or a river tumbling over rocks. You know – water.
Frank Lloyd Wright wasn’t just talented; he was extraordinarily gifted and ambitious. He understood that buildings weren’t merely inanimate objects; structures that served only one function and – aside from that – were essentially purposeless. Houses especially, he believed, could boast intimate connections with their owners; a curiously symbiotic relationship that developed over a certain period – one that ultimately would lead to the residents calling it “home”.
“It is precisely at this time, when so many are shut inside, that we need to experience beauty and inspiration,” says Barbara Gordon, executive director of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, in a statement. “Wright’s works bring people together in harmony with the natural world, reminding us that we are all connected, even when we’re apart.”
I suppose there’s no better way for the quarantined to experience structural beauty than a virtual tour of houses created by one of the most internationally recognized and renowned Frank Lloyd Wright.
In one of my many past lives, I was a famous home-builder. I always thought of how I could make a home beautiful and appealing. But I never considered the personal role such structures hold in the lives of people.
From illness and tragedy, art always seems to bloom to place ourselves and our world into a grand perspective. After the “Black Death” rampaged through Eurasia and North Africa in the 14th century, the “danse macabre”, or dance of death, became an artistic representation of how death is the ultimate equalizer. Beginning in Western Europe and gaining popularity in the Middle Ages, it was a literary or pictorial representation of both living and dead figures – from pope to hermit – leading their lives as normal, before entering a grave.
Recently some pallbearers in Ghana envisioned the dance for contemporary deaths and the ensuing funerals. As many Africans tend to do, they celebrate death as the next stage of life – mournful and often tragic, for certain. Singing and dancing, they honor the deceased for the life they led on Earth and the glorious new life they should have in the next realm.
It’s how I view death. My paternal grandfather said he respected death more than any other aspect of the world because it’s not prejudiced or bigoted. It simply spares no one. I felt some measure of glee when I watch the ending of the 1997 movie “Titanic”, as the ship sank and the plethora of furnishings and luxurious items shattered. Not because I love seeing things destroyed! But because all of the vainglorious possessions of the vessel’s wealthiest patrons could not save them. They may have been rescued because of their wealth, as many of them entered the smattering of lifeboats first. But, whether dead at that moment or dead later, they would never be able to take those items with them.
We all come into this world naked and screaming, clutching nothing but our souls in our hands. We leave with the same.
“The interior spaces that I experience in meditation are converted into the landscapes of my paintings; the restlessness of my mind transformed into landfills. When I paint, I experience meditative states; through meditation, I achieve a union with nature, and nature, in turn, leads me to meditation.”
– Tomás Sánchez
If one word can best describe the world we’re living in now, surrealism has no equal. Seeing the empty roads and highways of the Dallas /Fort Worth-area that I’ve known my entire life is one of the most uncanny experiences I’ve ever had. I’m still trying to comprehend this slow-motion cataclysm and all of the chaos around it.
Tomás Sánchez seems to understand the concept of a surrealistic existence. His paintings truly exhibit that sense of isolation; something we introverts love, but that even we realize is not always perfect. Yet, in those moments of solitude, titanic waterfalls and endless canopies of treetops often embrace (almost swallow) a tiny nondescript figure with its natural beauty. The latter aspect is reminiscent of dramatic sunsets and massive ocean waves I’ve encountered; elements of the world that should render the most egocentric among us as humble.
“Aislarse (Isolate)”, 2001
“Orilla y cielo gris (Shore and gray sky)”, 1995
“Autorretrato en tarde Rosa (Self-portrait in pink afternoon)”, 1994
“Llegada del caminante a la laguna (Arrival of the walker to the lagoon)”
“Meditación y sonido de aguas (Meditation and sound of waters)”, 1993
Some Italian citizens – as perhaps only Italians could – reacted to a recent COVID-19 quarantine with music and song. Until March 26, Italy had experienced the most confirmed coronavirus cases outside of China. Initially, Italian government shut down the northern half of the country – but eventually, the entire nation fell to lock-down commands. Isolated in their homes, several talented individuals retrieved musical instruments and their voices to sing to the quiet air. The results have been magical – and have been spreading faster than the virus.
Artist, writer, photographer and fellow blogger Art Browne has a unique – and sometimes twisted – view of our universe. Which is why I know, without a doubt, that he is my long-lost twin brother! When not tormenting spiders or ridiculing helpless cats on his blog, “Pouring My Art Out”, Brother Art captures some truly fascinating visions of the natural world. In a recent series of simple cell phone shots, he photographed the moon in various stages and from various angles over San Diego, California. A few of them are presented below.
I have to concede these lunar photos make me feel incredibly sentimental. Every time I look up at the sky and see that glorious moon, I – sniff – always get homesick.
Well, at long last, someone has found a good use for old phone booths*. Botanical designer Lewis Miller ambushed the streets of New York City recently to adorn an otherwise ordinary corner in swaths of floral color and energy. A few years ago Miller transformed the notoriously banal empty garbage cans into vases of sumptuous flowers. In this most recent endeavor to make a gritty urban area appear palatable – a project he dubs “Flower Flash” – Miller and his crew filled a Manhattan telephone booth with a plethora of flowers and greenery.
“What initially began as a Lewis Miller design experiment to reinvigorate and reconnect us to our craft, turned into a beautiful shared experience in a city of millions,” the group stated. The “reactions to our flower flashes emphasizes the basic goodness in all people and prioritizes compassion”.
The results are more than a little impressive, and I feel we
need more of Lewis Miller’s works in our increasingly crowded and convoluted
*To the under-30 crowd, phone booths are tall glass structures where people would have to make phone calls if they weren’t at home, at work or in jail. You’d put a quarter into a little slot towards the bottom of the actual phone; wipe the receiver as best you could so you wouldn’t catch germs like herpes or gingivitis; and press little buttons on said phone to make the call.
Hummingbirds occupy that rare place where tenacity, beauty, grace and mysticism collaborate to create something extraordinary. Australian photographer Christian Spencer has used his camera to capture all of that in a new manner. A longtime resident of Brazil’s Itatiaia National Park for nearly two decades, Spencer has photographed many of the region’s natural wonders, including hummingbirds. Recently, he discovered a unique way to combine his love for the birds with sunlight. In a series entitled ‘Winged Prism’, Spencer photographed light filtered through the wings and tail of a black and white Jacobi hummingbird. In a Photo Shoppe world, this is truly unique and breathtaking.
Donald Trump’s star on Hollywood’s legendary “Walk of Fame” has been vandalized too many times to count in the nearly two years since the cantankerous business tycoon was selected by the former Soviet Union to be our president. The City of Hollywood – trying to perform its civic duty – has been willing to consider any reasonable idea of how to protect “The Donald’s” star.
A street artist known as “Plastic Jesus” has devised an ingenious idea: put the star behind bars. Literally!
“There have been calls to jail Trump since the day he was elected, and today he was certainly put behind bars – or at least his now infamous star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame was caged,” PJ wrote in a recent email to Artnet News.
The London-born Los Angeles resident has become known for ambushing the public – and specifically, public figures – with graffiti-style street art combining humor and irony to express his criticism of current affairs. In other words, he’s a true artist who tackles weighty subjects in order to piss off people who believe everything is just fine with the world. In this case, the pissed off would be Trump supporters, as well as those who merely shrug at the sight of Trump’s star on the “Walk of Fame”. It’s obvious (to those of us not been enamored with celebrity) that Trump’s placement in the White House is the most blatant act of fraud since Bill Cosby was labeled “America’s Dad”.
“Artists are able to connect and convey opinion in a universal way,” PJ notes. “So I think it’s important for artists to speak out. I think art encourages dialogue and debate like no other media.”
My advice? Keep pissing people off, brother!
Just another typical day on the “Walk of Fame” in Hollywood, California.
Last week I posted a haiku writing from a close friend, Preston*, who I’ve known for more than 20 years. Haiku (or hokku) is a Japanese verse form of poetry that follows a very strict composition of three unrhymed lines of five, seven, and five syllables and is often a prelude to a longer poem or a story. The terse nature of haiku verbiage always challenges the writer to capture what is absolutely necessary for that particular moment. Such brevity is more difficult than most imagine, but just a few carefully chosen words can evoke extraordinary visions in the minds of an audience.