The Small Stakes

Loving the concert poster art of Jason Munn, who works under the name The Small Stakes.









Also just discovered his work is in the collection at SFMoMA!

Gene Davis and Multicolored Stripes

I came across the above street painting by Gene Davis today on Black*Eiffel and totally fell in love. Seriously, how could you not just love this street painting? How fun is that? I would be so elated if I stumbled across something like this in real life without expecting it. Nothing like an unexpected bit of creativity in the world.

Typically, Davis just painted stripes on canvases, but he did the one above street painting in Philadelphia, in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and then in 1987 and again in 2007, a group got together to honor Davis (who had died in 1985) by painting a similar scheme on a street in D.C., where the artist had lived for most of his life.

But in addition to loving the street paintings, this sent me into a multicolored stripe-inspiration frenzy. Paul Smith has used multicolored stripes to great effect, as has Kate Spade on the stairs of the London store. I’m also a big fan of the multicolored stripes used in Rebecca Ward’s tape installations and even Ball-Nogues Studio’s thread installations. Now I’m wondering if they were all inspired by Gene Davis! Isn’t cool how your picture of the world keeps making more sense as you learn more and can piece together what/who inspired what/whom?

It makes me want to paint some bright stripes somewhere fun and unexpected. Maybe the inside of my medicine cabinet doors?

Jan Fabre at Art Basel Miami

At Art Basel Miami back in December, in addition to Seydou Keita, the other exhibit that majorly caught my eye was this series by Jan Fabre.

Each of these iridescent, irresistibly shiny pieces is about eight feet tall, so it is hard not to notice them, but then they become much more intriguing when you realize that their enticing appearances and glossy surfaces belie a controversial subject– the Belgian Congo.

THEN, you read the placard to see what that shiny green stuff is, as it is slightly dimensional and doesn’t seem to be paint (maybe a synthetic thread, woven into images?), and find out they are BEETLE SHELLS.

So now you realize you have a fraught subject represented not only in a rather eerily beautiful way, but also that the medium that underlies the intense shine of the facade is totally creepy (for a lack of a less-pun-ish, more erudite term), and the entire exhibit takes on a chilling effect that turns out to be perfectly appropriate for representing the colonial period unforgettably described by Heart of Darkness. You are literally looking at pieces that appear beautiful but have a heart of darkness. Pretty powerful. Oh, and in between the large canvases, in a rather Damien Hirst-esque move, are beetle-covered skulls with beautiful (taxidermied) birds in their mouths.

Interestingly, Fabre also once covered a ceiling (and chandelier) in the Belgian palace in over a million beetle carapaces:

For more on Jan Fabre, check out the gallery that presented this exhibit– Magazzino, out of Rome.


David Walker’s Graffiti Portraits

Graffiti’s place in society is an ever-evolving topic, one that totally fascinates me (as is probably no surprise if you’ve read this blog for a while), as the debate rolls on about public space (and its defacement), the use of public art to draw attention to an issue, art that cannot be collected, etc.

David Walker’s graffiti portraits add a new dimension to the street art debate.  Though I’m sure his work is not totally unprecedented, I, at least, have never seen a classical subject like portraiture (or landscape, etc) approached through the medium of spraypaint, in a public place, and executed in a traditional style (the faces are three-dimensional representations with shadows and lights and darks, not just abstract lines or cartoon-style flattened figures).  How wonderful to be walking down the street and see a huge, vibrant portrait?

It’s like Jackson Pollock’s removal of the brushstroke meets Warhol’s use of pop colors for representations of people meets de Kooning’s figurative expressionism meets public art!  Such an interesting intersection of art historical influences and the place of art in society it makes my little heart pound.  I love it.  Oh, and Walker’s only been painting for three years.

Zac Freeman

Found item collage portraits by Zac Freeman combine pointilism, impressionism, and mixed media by using film canisters, telephone parts, gears, and other odds and ends to create faces that are the sum of their parts.

I like… but… also kind of just feels like a mash-up of some of Chuck Close and Vik Muniz’s work:

Chuck Close, “Phillip Glass,” 1977, Watercolor and Acrylic on Paper

Chuck Close, “Big Self-Portrait,” 2000-2001, Acrylic on Canvas

So Chuck Close has got the pointilist portrait thing going on…

Vik Muniz, “Self-Portrait (Back) (Pictures of Magazines),” 2003, Chromogenic Print

Vik Muniz, “Toy Soldier,” 2003, Chromogenic Print (of toy soldiers)

…And then Vik Muniz takes the idea to the collage realm, using hole-punched bits of magazines and toy soldiers and everything in between to make portraits (as well as recreations of Old Master pieces).  So while Freeman’s work is impressive for its tedium and is interesting to look at, and he certainly has an eye for light and dark, I kind of feel like he’s ripping off two other great artists… do you?

Arts Visuels >> Claire Morgan

In the same way that people often describe experiencing the moments of a car wreck or calamitous accident as though it were in slow motion, so slow that they can recall every detail with supernatural clarity, Claire Morgan’s painstakingly precise installations composed of taxidermied animanls, manmade plastics, and natural elements seem to reconstruct a freeze-frame of the metaphorical factors that collided to cause the death of the animal on display.

[Claire Morgan]

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