art + artists
Artists provide us a window into the soul
. Sometimes that vista peeks into the personal; at other times, it reflects back at the viewer insights into the world as it really is, not as it appears to be. What we see then is the soul of our collective being. This means that there are times when the imagery isn't comforting to look at. In some circumstance, the images rendered for can be vivid, awesome, inspiring or troubling. The intent is to make you think. Here, then, are some artists who have produced or are producing works that fit with this objective. The works are beautiful to look at as well.
To commemorate the 100th birthday of Frida Kahlo
the Philadelphia Museum of Art is
housing an exhibition of over 40 of her eccentric self-portraits as well as other works from the beginning of her career in 1926 until her death in 1954. Rendered in vivid colors and realistic detail, Kahlo's jewel-like paintings are filled with complex symbolism, often relating to specific incidents in her life. Known by many as the flamboyant wife of celebrated muralist Diego Rivera. Theirs' was a tumultuous relationship: Rivera declared himself to be "unfit for fidelity." As if to assuage her pain, Kahlo recorded the vicissitudes of her marriage in paint.
If you aren't able to see the exhibit, you can always buy the catalog
Chris Jordan's Running the Numbers
makes use of everyday objects in gigantic assemblages. Reduced down to coffee-table book size, they appear as curious abstracts, but they are not. The materials used to produce his images are also inextricably connected to the final image. Shown to the left Skull with cigarette
, is composed not of daubs of paint, but the tops of cigarette packages, chosen for the colors needed for those "daubs". A close-up of the work reveals this technique
. Other entries into the collection of current works employ Barbie dolls, cell phones, Dixie cups and prison issue orange jumpsuits as the "mediums" of use for the final image. I remain particularly impressed with his rendering of Georges Seurat's Afternoon on the island of La Grande Jatte
, which is 60" x 92" [1.5m x 2.4m] in size and composed of 106,000 beverage cans, the number typically discarded in the United States in a typical afternoon. Chris Jordan is based in Seattle, WA, has a current exhibition at the Allen Memorial Art Museum
in Oberlin, Ohio, and at the Festival Internazionale di Roma, Rome, Italy, April 4 -25.
Thomas Hawk's Flickr collection of Graffiti, Stencils and Public Murals
. Public art isn't always properly appreciated. Murals get short shrift in the United States, which is too bad since they are revered elsewhere. Graffiti and Stencils, often - but not always - done without consent from the "owners" of the backdrop, tend to get painted over and/or the artists who create them risk fines, arrest and imprisonment for "defacing public property
". Frankly, since some of what gets created as graffiti is often poorly crafted tags or just artless obscenities, it's not surprising that arrests and fines are a typical outcome. Many stencil and graffiti works are, however, more than just thoughtless acts of teenage vandalism
There is, in fact, an oddly compelling appeal to street art, if you take the time to study it, to reflect upon it, to watch the interplay of color and shape. Hawk's second site The Best Art is Public
, highlights both intentionally designed graffiti tags and drawings, as well as locations that take on a surreal beauty [see, for example, his photo Find Me
You can see more examples of graffiti art and learn more about Hawk's photographic efforts at Thomas Hawk's Digital Connection
Stencil art from Roadsworth
. I first saw Roadsworth's handiwork in Montreal. A series of chess boards
was being painted on the concrete surface of La Place Emilie Gamelin
, at the intersection of Rue St Denis and Rue Ste Cathrine, perhaps better known these days as "Berri-UQAM" a major Metro station hub, the center for University of Quebec at Montreal [UQAM] and the stop off point for the newly opened Grande Bibliothèque, Quebec's National Library collection.
Although he goes by "Roadsworth", the artist behind the
work is Peter Gibson, who once did his street stenciling efforts anonymously. That is, until he got arrested
and placed on trial. The trial was instructive in many ways including providing a gauge of public acceptance of the presence of street art [in Montreal, at least, it seems to be okay, within certain areas]. And even though he was facing a lengthy sentence [due to the number of "defacings" he had made, though not so in Orange County California
] ultimately, he was free to go, albeit paying community service and other such requirements of the courts.
Since that time , Peter has come aboveground and takes commissions, like the one at La Place Emilie Gamelin, to sprucing up the parking lot of Cirque du Soliel's corporate offices. He has also turned out a website, Roadsworth
, where you can see the work he has produced, read about the difficulties he faced after getting arrested and see picture of the chess boards [a number of which I was able to provide him, since he had no photos from above of that effort].
Incidentally, I wrote and posted some pictures, of both Peter Gibson's chessboards and of other graffiti art in Montreal
which you can view.
Labels: art, artists, exhibitions, frida kahlo, graffiti, murals, peter gibson, photography, Roadsworth, street art