Arts and crafts


doodleDoodling: It’s good for you! At least according to Applied Cognitive Psychology. And everyone thought I was slacking off — hah! My buildings were helping me focus.

spaceball

Loved the story about “Irrational Geographic,” a project by a group in New Orleans documenting Mardi Gras. Portraiture + a riff on one of publishing’s most recognizable cover designs? Wonderful. National Geographic’s blog parses the images, but I say it’s best to just enjoy the set unmediated at Flickr.

scissor_budaI’m loving this scupture of Buddha made out of scissors — it’s at Emporio in Delhi. The rest of the store is decorated with monochromatic scissors — what a cool way to revise such a mundane instrument of the everyday.

gift-wrapping-for-cheapos File this under “tips for the new Depression”:

Make your own wrapping paper with grocery sacks and a bit of tempera paint!

Among the “meant to do but didn’ts”of this weekend: the Renegade Craft Fair at the McCarren Park Pool and the Affordable Art Fair (which featured, among lots of other stuff, presumably, Lieu Nguyen’s <i>Spring Blossom</i>, above).

Anyone score good deals? Artists to keep an eye out for? 

The Internets are alive with reverence for Zhan Wang’s stainless steel re-creation of San Francisco (above; he’s now exhibiting at the Asian Art Museum), but when I saw it, I immediately thought of Subodh Gupta’s work (below). I’ve always admired Gupta’s use of commonplace utensils in a way that transcends their everyday purpose; would love to see more of what Wang has to offer (it’s particularly interesting, to me at least, that Wang forges his own stainless steel, thus situating his works in a very real place and time; the work above ultimately can be traced back to the Sierra Nevadas).

Loved these sheep sculptures made out of reused parts from old phones; such an unexpected and imaginative creation! I can’t figure out who the artist is, but I’m enamored. (Via Craft.)

Two cool projects: a pixellated gush of water from an old downspout and a plastic-bag Loch Ness Monster constructed over a subway vent so it “comes alive” every time a train rushes by underground.

The first, Gawker reports, was NYU student Kelly Goeller’s assignment for Intro to Sculpture. The other, which I found via Wooster Collective, is a piece by Joshua Allen Harris (who also did the plastic-bag polar bear) best understood by watching a YouTube clip:

These are the things that make me love NY….

Really loved “Outdoor ‘Living Rooms’ Bring Touches of Cheer to Central Los Angeles” in Saturday’s Times.  I suspect that the story’s not so simple as they’ve presented it, but I’m all for easy, cost-effective solutions that make residents proud of the space they’re in.

(“Cozy Donkey,” Swati Kurana, 2007, via NY Arts.)

From NY Arts profile of Swati Kurana:

I see myself as very loose, disorganized, and cluttered with my artistic process. I’m a collector, so I have too much stuff, too much music, too many tear sheets, too many journals, too many plastic flowers, too many hard drives with too many images and movie files. But I keep it all, because I hold onto a piece of text, a source image, or song that I want to incorporate in a piece. It often gets shelved for a while, until another text or image or song comes up that complements the first one, and then I ferociously work to complete it.

Although I respect artists with a singular vision, artists that paint from life or doggedly pursue a discrete theme expressed in a wash of watercolors, variations on one idea, I’m much more an eclectic; I always love reading about other artists working across media, jumping from branch to branch as the wind blows through the trees …

(Image: Informal close-up photo of Blanche Stuart Scott circa 1960; Scott was a pioneer aviatrix of the 1910s and was the only woman taught to fly by Glenn Curtiss. She was also the first U.S. woman to fly solo. Photographer unknown; released on Flickr by the Smithsonian Institution.)

The Smithsonian just released 6,288 images that appear to be in the public domain; they’re now available on Flickr. And they’re pretty damn cool — there are images grouped in categories ranging from Muybridge cyanotypes to uniforms, mining to structures, and a whole lot more.

Gosh, these Internets: There’s really something to ’em. In addition to the dizzying array of historoporn, a letter from public.resource.org outlines three goals related to making the images available:

  1. The unwieldy archive of low-resolution images on the Smithsonian site makes it hard for people to ascertain the public domain status of the vast majority of these images. By placing the database on sites such as Flickr and in convenient-to-examine PDF and tarball formats, we hope that the Internet commnunity is able to form a better judgement.
  2. Some images are clearly in the public domain and of immense public importance. For these images, our nonprofit organization is attempting to systematically purchase these images and place them on the net for use without restriction.
  3. We would like to see the Smithsonian adopt a policy for on-line distribution that is much more closely aligned to their mission, focusing on vastly increasing the store of public domain materials available on the Internet.

Here here!

Resist! … by knitting? Indeed: Yarnbombing, it’s totally hip. Or something. And if you’ve got a great idea for “handcrafted textile street art” (see example above), you could even get published. Woot. Knitta Please has lots of great ideas to get you started.

Incidentally, I find these sorts of cultural interventions much more interesting than the increasingly obnoxious national conversation on feminism vis-a-vis Hillary. Am I dragging down the cause because I prefer the power of reimagining an activity traditionally associated with female isolation in the domestic sphere to campaigning for a candidate merely because we share the same type of genitals? Is my resistance too passive, and thus, in the most pejorative sense of the term, too feminine?

(Above: Picture I took of a Coney Island storefront.)

Cool new book out — Paul Lacy catalogs entrances and handpainted signs around New York in Brooklyn Storefronts. Read about it on the Times’ City Room blog, which noted, “In the foreword to the book, Mr. Lacy admits that his visual record of Brooklyn’s storefronts might seem “a bit odd,” and indeed, some store owners would pop outside to ask why he was taking snapshots. Mr. Lacy writes:

“Granted, “you can’t judge a book by its cover,” but a small, independently owned store is singular and so is a handpainted sign. When you see one, you have to wonder whether there will be something inside not found in the other stores, let alone the chains and franchises. Very often there is: a lovingly made dish made from a family recipe, a display of photographs or posters, a funny story, catchy tunes from another land: there are so many surprises.””

Supercool — and a real testament to the creativity and ingenuity of everyday people. What with the corporatization of public space, gems like those Lacy captured are already few and far between; thankfully, this old-fashioned art hasn’t disappeared completely.

Following the sex scandal currently dogging Max Mosley, the president of the FIA (“Few scandals in recent years have provoked as much anger and dismay across Europe as the saga of Max Mosley, the overseer of grand prix motor racing who made tabloid news last weekend in a front-page exposé and accompanying Web video showing him in a sadomasochistic orgy with five supposed prostitutes in a London sex “dungeon.”).

Description extracted from a Providence Journal profile of Jhumpa Lahiri, whose third book (Unaccustomed Earth, another tome of short stories) recently came out. Every profile of her seems to center on either her ethnicity (Bengali) or on her calm demeanor in the face of what some explain as a chaotic family life (how does she do it, kids chorusing in the background as she pens her prize-winning pieces?).

womens-mariachi-band.jpg

From the New York Times: “A Women’s Mariachi Band Sings Its Way Across Traditional Male Turf.

Interpreting the descriptions of men and women in the media; that is, using the descriptions proffered in stories from the New York Times, the New Yorker, and other mainstream media purveyors to concoct sketches of the sources they cite.

Today’s image: the left-shin mole woman.

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(Above: Surf ad in Chichi.)

In addition to some great painted advertisements, I discovered a bit of graffiti in Chichicastenango, the market town about an hour from Antigua. I didn’t ask anyone for details about it, what it means, who the artists are, but I’d be interested to know more about local visual culture and artistic resistance, etc.

…but it doesn’t stop me from dreaming about tea-themed goodies, like this print from RansomStone on Etsy:

 

So, in addition to drinking gallons of tea and reading so much my head might soon explode, I like to knit and sew, and I’ve recently gotten interested in learning to embroider. There are some great places to do so online (such as the Stitching Cow and Sublime Stitching), but I just came across a tutorial for shisha mirrorwork. The writer also suggest substituting tiny mirrored pieces with coins, shells, and what appear to be pieces of aluminum cans, which is totally cool and innovative!

Shisha seems to have originated in the subcontinent or Central Asia, and there are great illustrations of Pakistani and Indian embroidery at Quilter’s Muse. Of all the varieties, I’m most interested in phulkari (probably because my husband/extended family is Punjabi) — but for the life of me, I can’t find instructions or patterns for the craft. This is likely because it’s handed down through generations, a tradition woven into the life of the village, not something commodified and exported for indiscriminate consumption, and maybe it’s crass to think I could learn to do it without an apprenticeship of several years with a Punjabi granny. Nevertheless, it seems like the Internet could offer guidance toward online repositories of related info. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

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