North America

The art of Burning Man: skeletons, temples and flaming Tetris

“The art of Burning Man: skeletons, temples and flaming Tetris”

by Steven W Thrasher via “The Guardian

Festivalgoers gather at the Totem of Confessions at Burning Man.

Burning Man is not the typical place people would go to view art in the “default world” (the term “Burners” have for the “muggle world” those of you who are not here in Black Rock City inhabit). It’s extremely hard to get here – far less accessible than most public municipal art – and upon arrival, it is more physically inhospitable than the most uptight New York art gallery.

It’s so filthy here that the least dusty place you visit each day is a port-a-potty, and the cleanest part of your body is the inside of your shoe – not exactly the way you feel when visiting the Museum of Modern Art.

But Burning Man is a launching site of the most interesting and fun large-scale public art, architecture and public planning projects on the face of the planet. Many pieces get major exposure here before being placed elsewhere. Long before the Big Rig Jig hovered in Banksy’s Dimsaland, the Raygun Gothic Rocket Shiplanded in San Francisco, or Cube-a-tron arrived in Zurich’s train station, I saw it years ago here on the playa.

Burning Man is also a beautiful locale for viewing the bigger picture, from the curvature of the earth to the stars and the moon. And, for all the tech-enabled festivalgoers (or “burners”) among the 70,000 people in attendance this year, cell service is so poor that it’s very rare to see people holding phones or even taking pictures. The experience of looking at art and nature without a screen – and actually talking to other people about it – makes the festival a great way to experience new works.

Here’s a guide to a few of this year’s most interesting art and architecture projects, large and small – not including the Burning Man himself, immolated on Saturday night. If you can’t imagine schlepping all the way into the desert to see them, it’s OK: some of the ones not burned to the ground may very well be coming to a public plaza near you.

The Man dominates the Playa.

Straightedge and 2πR by Ardent Heavy Industries
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One of the most ambitious project at this year’s burn – and at 2.6 miles long, the physically largest project ever built here – is the cerebral but playful Straightedge by Ardent Heavy Industries. Straightedge illustrates the curvature of the earth, and dispels our visual assumption that any stretch of the planet is as flat as it looks. The collective of artists achieves this by placing poles 50 feet apart for 2.6 miles, each adorned with two LED lights controlled by satellite to blink in unison. At one end of Straightedge, the lights are right next to each other. But one line of lights follows the surface of the actual earth: the other is actually straight. At first, the two lines start to drift apart incrementally by inches. By the end of the 2.6 miles, they lines are about five feet apart, and shattering the idea that the flat looking playa is so level after all.

Ardent Heavy Industries also returned to Burning Man this year with an updated version of 2πR, a delightful interactive piece where users dance on a circular stage and their movements create corresponding bursts of flames around them. It’s a slightly safer cousin of AHI’s infamous piece Dance Dance Immolation, in which participant would dance in a flame-retardant suit; when they put a foot wrong, they would be blasted by fire. (As Ardent member KC Crowell explained, Dance Dance Immolation won the Guinness Record for Hottest Video Game and the project was destroyed in a blaze of glory “by dropping a piano on it” a couple of years ago.) . . . .

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THIS ARTIST’S POP CULTURE OREO ART IS JUST TOO AWESOME TO EAT

“THIS ARTIST’S POP CULTURE OREO ART IS JUST TOO AWESOME TO EAT”

by Joe Berkowitz via “Fast Co Create

Some artists prefer acrylics. Others are into clay. For Tisha Cherry, however, Oreos are where she dunks her inspiration.

“Two years ago, I twisted open an Oreo and thought the cream looked like a Nike Dunk,” Cherry says. “I immediately became obsessed with trying to see how many different things I could create out of them. Now, I feel like I’m looking at the world through some sort of Oreo crème lens and it’s become my favorite medium to express my creativity through.”

Cherry’s Oreo art absorbs everything from pop culture to fine arts. She’s just as likely to recreate the poster from Jaws as she is the work of Mondrian. And she’s been documenting it all on her Instagram page.

So far, the biggest challenge she’s faced is recreating the famous “American Gothic” painting. (A piece of art with which Amy Schumer is intimately familiar.) Creating portraits on a small surface with Oreo crèmes is apparently even more difficult and complex than it looks—and it already looks like a cavalcade of tiny details.

But the amount of effort required to imprint such extraordinary detail on such a tiny canvass is a difficult task Cherry is more than willing to meet head-on.

“A lot of my art is trial and error and that’s what makes it fun,” she says. “So I usually try to pursue any idea and everything that inspires me regardless of how challenging it might be.” . . .

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Florida Sunken Treasure Discovery From 1715 Shipwreck Valued at Over $1 Million

“Florida Sunken Treasure Discovery From 1715 Shipwreck Valued at Over $1 Million”

by Kaylee Heck via “Yahoo News!

Florida treasure hunters hit the sunken treasure jackpot.

Brent Brisben — a co-founder of 1715 Fleet-Queens Jewels LLC, which has the rights to dive at the wreckage site where the gold was ultimately discovered — told ABC News that the 60 gold artifacts on the bottom of the ocean floor are valued at over $1 million.

The artifacts include 51 gold coins and 40 feet of gold chains with hand-crafted links, he said.

The centerpiece of the discovery is a single coin, given the nickname the “Tricentennial Royal,” which was destined to be delivered straight to Spanish King Phillip V, Brisben said.

This coin constitutes about half of the discovery’s expected value, with a price tag of more than $500,000, Brisben said.

The valuable find comes right before the 300-year anniversary of the 11-ship fleet sinking during a hurricane on July 31, 1715, off the Florida coast. The fleet had left from Havana, Cuba, on July 24, 1715.

Brisben said the discovery was made about a month ago, but he wanted to keep everything under wraps until the anniversary got closer.

“The work that goes on out there is not typical of what you see here today. I don’t want to call it an abrogation, but it’s what the dreams of every one of the people doing this are made of,” Brisben said at a news conference today. . . .

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Art News: The Americas (7/16)

Cultured Muse | The Americas | July 16, 2015

THE AMERICAS

Featured Art

Sharon Hubbard

“Sea Stars” by Canadian Artist Sharon Hubbard

Art & Culture Fascinators

“Letters Found in Cereal Box Show Rare Look at German POWs After WW2”

By Susanna Kim via “ABC News”

Photo of German POW Letters

“Letters found in a Corn Flakes cereal box reveal intimate relationships between German prisoners of war and the Tennessee locals who lived and worked among them. Curtis Peters of Tennessee said his sister-in-law in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, found some 400 letters in the home of her great-aunt when she passed away in the late 1980s. The letters, written by German men who lived in a prison camp near Tennessee’s southern border after World War II, are “social history, about their lives, their families, the hardships they suffered,” said historian Tim Johnson. . .”

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“ANIME EXPO 2015: COSPLAY BLOWOUT”

By Chris Carle via “IGN”

Photo of Cosplay Participant

“Each year, Anime Expo proves to be one of the marquee destinations for cosplay in the US, and 2015 is no exception. AX attendees showed once again that they are some of the most skilled and dedicated cosplayers around.

With diverse cosplay from anime, video games, movies and TV shows, AX 2015 had a little something for everyone. In addition to anime cosplay galore, we saw Sly Cooper, Solid Snake, a Big Sister, Harley Quinn, Yoshimitsu, Servbot, a handful of War Boys, groups of roaming Borderlands vault hunters… even a guy dressed as the wireframe Little Mac from the arcade Punchout. . . .”

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Artist’s Before-And-After Drawings

By Todd Van Luling via “Huffington Post”

Artist's Work

“Noah Bradley is a 26-year-old artist finally surpassing the 10,000 hours mark for working his craft to perfection. Over the weekend his collection of drawings showing his progress from a 14-year-old with a dream to a master artist went viral, which as Bradley told The Huffington Post, has led to many aspiring artists reaching out to him about their own paths to “pursuing art.”
“Learning that my story served as some amount of inspiration for people to pick up a pencil just warms my heart,” Bradley told HuffPost. “I couldn’t be happier.”
Bradley transitioned from someone who wanted to be an artist to someone who fulfilled his dream.. . .”

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 An Introduction to the Booming World of Latin American Digital Arts

By Thea Pitman via “The Conversation”

Artist's Work

“The idea of “digital arts” may not immediately call Latin America to mind. Silicon Valley maybe, Old Street roundabout maybe; probably not Buenos Aires. But this is exactly where the most recent E-Poetry Festival, “renowned biennial international artistic gathering”, took place earlier this month. I attended, and the gallery space on the opening night was positively buzzing with internet artists, digital performance artists and sound, video and code poets.
This is the first time the festival has been held in Latin America in its 14-year history – previous events have been held in. . .”

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Panmela Castro Exhibition Continues in Rio de Janeiro

By Chesney Hearst via “The Rio Times”

Artist's Work

““Eva – O corpo feminino como tabu e ponte para a transgressão” (Eva – The female body as taboo and bridge for transgression), an exhibition of the works of Rio de Janeiro street artist and women’s rights activist Panmela Castro opened on July 8th in Galeria Scenarium and will continue through August 19th. The free to the public exhibition features over seventy works by Castro that explore the archetype of Eve, gender, and the female body. Curated by Priscilla Duarte, the displayed works include twenty paintings, twenty-two drawings, fifteen watercolors, three sculptures, fifteen photos and a video installation, created through a collaboration with Krank of the well-known Rio de Janeiro graffiti collective, FleshBeckCrew. . . .”

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“Art for a cause: photo exhibit documents Chilean dictatorship”

By Jeremiah Rodriguez via “The Hamilton Spectator”

Photo of Cosplay Participant

“A powerful set of photos and artwork will serve as stark reminders of Chile’s 17 years of violence at the hands of a brutal dictatorship.
The Pearl Company is hosting an art exhibit July 3 to 5 that chronicles the human rights violations under Augusto Pinochet from 1973 to 1990.
The official opening with music Friday night will feature guest speaker and human rights activist Carmen Gloria Quintana, who survived the Chilean military’s attempt to burn her alive in 1986.
In an email, translated from Spanish, she wrote why she is speaking at this exhibit. . . .”

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Canada’s largest public art project documented in new book Art for War and Peace

By On the Coast via “CBC News”

Artist's Work

“Most Canadians would remember seeing them in schools, libraries, and banks — prints of paintings that featured Canadian landscapes and alpine lakes made famous by the likes of Emily Carr and members of the Group of Seven.
In fact, the public art installations were part of the Sampson-Matthews silkscreen project, one of the largest art programs in Canada’s history.
The project, which was spearheaded by Group of Seven painter A.Y. Jackson, began as wartime propaganda during the Second World War.The Toronto graphic-arts company Sampson-Matthews Ltd. produced tens of thousands of prints that got installed in barracks in Allied countries. Afterwards, the images were made popular in Canadian schools, libraries, public offices and banks. . . .”

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“Mexican designers emerge from the shadow of the US”

By Alex Gorton via “FT.Com”

Photo of Cosplay Participant

“With its proximity to the US, fragmented infrastructure and cultural insecurity, Mexico’s design industry has long been overshadowed by its dominant northern neighbour. And yet, with increased economic growth, an emerging pride in its own skills and talent and a desire to look as much to the east and west as it does to the north, Mexico is an increasingly interesting player in global design.
By tapping into the country’s rich cultural heritage, artistic traditions and craft-based skills, Mexican designers are carving out their own niche by taking elements of traditional culture and updating them with a contemporary, global aesthetic.
“We are in a process of defining what Mexican design really is,” says Héctor Esrawe, one of the country’s leading designers. “It is not a consolidated movement and we have a lot to work on.”. . . .”

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Some of World’s Best Art Is Made in Cuba

Some of World’s Best Art Is Made in Cuba”

by Miles Mogulescu via “Huffington Post

2015-07-08-1436377643-9188006-Cuba2015Canon099.JPG

Cuban artists are creating some of the most exciting and innovative contemporary art in the world. The best Cuban art can stack up against the best contemporary art being created in New York, Los Angeles, Paris, London or other world art centers, while still maintaining an essential Cuban spirit.

That’s my observation after returning from the 12th Havana Art Biennial in June and spending a week visiting with some of Cuba’s leading artists in their homes and studios.

The trip coincided with a tipping point in US-Cuban relations. A week after our return, the US and Cuban governments announced that after a 54-year schism, they are reopening embassies in each others’ Capitals on July 20th, even though the US embargo of trade with Cuba remains in place and may only be lifted by an act of Congress.

“Cuba probably has more artists per capita than any country in the world,” says Sandra Levinson, Executive Director of the Center for Cuban Studies and Curator of the Cuban Art Space, one of the few places where US citizens can purchase first-rate Cuban art without personally travelling to Cuba.

“I think Cubans are dreamers and poets from birth and put their dreams and their poetry into music and art,” adds Levinson, who has been leading people-to-people visits to Cuba for decades. (She accompanied Jack Nicholson on a 2-hour visit with Fidel Castro.)

And I think Cuba as a nation recognizes the importance of art because Cubans are artists from birth, in the way they live, in the way they produce, in the way they construct their lives. They are not the most practical people in the world — practical people don’t make revolutions — but they are super smart, and they relate to one another. That’s allowed them to build a real community, and if you live in a real community you can accomplish miracles.

In addition, the multiple dualities in Cuban reality engender a creative tension which can lead to unique forms of artistic expression, found in few other countries in the world.

Cuba has been somewhat isolated from its nearest neighbor due to the 54-year-old US economic blockade; but at the same time, Cuban artists are highly educated, sophisticated and aware of what’s going on the rest of the world in general and the art world in particular.

Cuban artists are still driven more by their own creative muses than by the dictates of the commercial art market. They often depict the creative tension between consumerism and Cuba’s shortage of consumer goods. And their work often slyly, and not so slyly, critiques social conditions in Cuba. A lot of Cuban art includes strikingly contemporary takes on gender identity, race and sexuality.

As Levinson told me, “the arts, including visual arts, music and poetry may be Cuba’s greatest exports.” . . . .

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