Monday, August 30, 2010

Franconia Sculpture Park- MN

If you drive a bit outside of Minneapolis, down US Highway 8, you will come across the Franconia Sculpture Park.

I passed by this spectacle numerous times on my way to Taylor's Falls (another great hidden outdoor area in MN) but never made it a point to stop until our family trip this past month. This middle of nowhere plot of land has become host to some amazing outdoor sculpture and an active place to create. (For those of you who sculpt be sure to check out the call for artists on the website!)

Here are some images of a few of my favorite pieces:

"Evening" James Payne
I love this piece for its simplicity in construction but mostly for its dynamic use of natural light to create an ever changing experience for the viewer. I could have stayed for hours to watch the effects of the light and shadow as they altered the inner space- beautiful.

"Chaos, Telos; Order, Technomorphic"- Art Videen
This piece had a nice sound to it, it reminded me of being a kid in the summer months... it must have something to do with the water, wind, and clanking aluminum.

"Home Sweet Home" Glen Williams
mmmm.... particle board

"untitled" Rosalind Thomson
So this is where 80's sofas still look good...

(sorry I am not too sure who this is by)
Large cut out cowboys in a corn field... YES PLEASE.

"The Big Game" Kari Reardon
Clever, playful, and each time a sucker decides to interact, another quarter goes to the sculpture park! Sweet deal.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Expanding our notion of Public Art

I don't know how I came across this blog but I was happy to find it.
(Click back to the first entries back in 2009 to get a description of her challenge and piece)
The idea of documenting this via a blog is very interesting to me. I have been talking to my students in my public art class about how the internet has become (and more so everyday) a public space and that projects like this are as much public art as more traditional public art pieces like Anish Kapoors Cloud Gate.
What do you think?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Void leaping and why I love DC

Washington DC as a city is a mixed bag, but being a short train ride away to a lot of free museums is something I love. And so I headed down with some friends to see the Yves Klein retrospective at the Hirshorn.
In the end I walked away feeling Klein was a wonderfully hopeless romantic. I love this:

and I also love this:
The "Zone de Sensibilite Pictural Immaterielle" is a really glorious gesture..

Monday, August 23, 2010

23 August 2010

I just wrote about this show for something Baltimore specific and thought I would post it here as well...because you never know there might be some music lovers that want to hear either of these bands.

So last week I went to a venue called the Wind Up Space to see Noble Lake play their record release and sadly last show in Baltimore for a while, as James Sarsgaard ( Noble Lake singer / songwriter ) is making the move to Chicago in a few weeks. It will be sad to see this guy leave Baltimore and not being able to see him play all the time. For those of you in the Chicago area keep your eyes and ears open for a show. Noble Lake play folk inspired music and stay true to the idea of the narrative song. Sarsgaard’s songs are tales ( and sometimes sad) about drifting, drunks, and brokenhearted love. Noble Lake just released a new record called Parting Bead, grab it and hear these songs for yourself.

I got to The Wind Up Space early enough and saw the opening band, One Hundred Dollars. One Hundred Dollars are a band from Canada who pleasantly surprised me and then some. Knowing absolutely nothing about them I really really enjoyed their set, and saw them play country music to a T. They played a handful of sad, swaying, pain filled tunes that too come from the land of the narrative. Instead of singing about the mountains and the land, Simone Schmidt ( One Hundred Dollars singer ), is concerned with political issues and writes songs about the subway tracks and city stories. If you are a fan of beautiful, aching country tunes this is the band for you.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A new proposal from Cat Pena for the Tenessee Department of Transportation

One Person, One Choice, Our Planet

General Concept:

One Person, One Choice, Our Planet is a multifaceted temporary public art mural that challenges a commonly misunderstood notion about vehicular idling while asking people to make simple choices that positively affect our planet. To further connect this piece with TDOT’s air quality campaign and the other living installations in the state, a small link to the Clear the Air Tennessee website will accompany the piece to direct viewers to further information about improving air quality.

During the 2011 Memphis in May festival (April 29th — May 28th), One Person, One Choice, Our Planet will be installed within the Memphis Riverfront district on the west wall of the parking garage located at 35 Monroe Avenue. This festival showcases the Beale Street Music Festival, The World Barbeque Championship Cooking Contest, and the Sunset Symphony, and brings in more than 100,000 visitors and generates $40 million in economic impact to the area.

While most of the festival is held on the riverfront, just south of the parking garage at Tom Lee Park, the locations are connected by Riverside Drive, a main throughway connecting the parking garages located in the area and the festivities.

As festival attendees walk along Riverside Drive, their attention will be drawn to the back wall of the parking garage where a mural comprised of two, vertically suspended, 8ft by 12ft living grass trucks will hang. Each truck will consist of several vertical garden planters made by Bright Green USA fixed to plywood cut to the appropriate shape (please see attached imagery). Directly below the trucks, a 24ft by 100ft reverse graffiti mural will depict a huge plume of exhaust. The mural is important to not only visually unite the trucks but to conceptually connect how each vehicle’s exhaust is linked to a larger problem. To further address this issue, text within the plume will read:

Myth or Fact? Shutting off and restarting your vehicle uses more gas than if you leave it running. Myth

Additional text in the lower left and right corners of the plume will read:

One Person, One Choice, Our Planet

The text and the plume of smoke will be applied to the wall using a reverse graffiti method. This technique is a temporary application of imagery and text that will fade over several months. It is a method that was developed by green graffiti artists to selectively clean areas of a wall to yield a graphic design. With stencils, a cleaning agent, and a pressure washer, my imagery will speak to our message while being an environmentally conscious application in itself.

It is my intent that thousands of people attracted to the area will start to challenge their preconceived notions of idling and air quality to alter learned behaviors on behalf of the health of ourselves and the planet.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Guillermo Kuitca- Painting

Guillermo Kuitca: Everything—Paintings and Works on Paper, 1980-2008
Saw this amazing show at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, MN.
If you can see it in person.... do so.

On a side note:
Guillermo Kuitca kept painting even when painting wasn't considered cool or cutting edge... I think that old saying "painting is dead" still rings in the ears of students today, I can't even recall how many times I had to hear that cliche saying... what a bummer. This is another great painter that went on painting and as a result we are lucky enough to have his works to appreciate today.

Guillermo Kuitca, Trauerspiel, 2001, oil on canvas 77 x 133-1/4 in.

Poema pedagógico II, 1996, acrylic and graphite on canvas 74 x 75 in.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Miniatures in Chicago

I've always found miniatures and dioramas to be some of the most interesting things included in museum collections. By far the best collection I've seen are the Thorne Miniature Rooms at the Art Institute of Chicago. A lot of visitors miss them because they're tucked away in the lowest level. Sometimes, if you're lucky, you might catch a dying light bulb and the flickering turns the room into a horrorshow/thunderstorm.

Above: Art Deco Living Room
Below: English Library of the Queen Anne

We visited the Chicago Field Museum recently for the first time and found these dioramas w/ handmade figures and campy painted backdrops:

Above: Plains Indians hunting buffalo.
Below: A step in the Egyptian mummifying/burial ritual.
Lastly, there were several minis at the Museum of Science and Industry. There was an entire scale model of the cities of Chicago and Seattle connected by railroad, as well as Colleen Moore's fairy castle, circus exhibit, and parade scene.

Above: Bedroom in the castle with what looked like an albino squirrel rug.
Below: A clockwork sideshow.

Friday, August 13, 2010


There are dark shadows on the earth, but its lights are stronger in the contrast. -Dickens

Blood Lamp from miket on Vimeo.

The future projects light, the past only shadows. -Eileen Gray

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Art and War

At the American Friends Service Committee, we have been working on a mural project entitledWindows and Mirrors: The War in Afghanistan. As a peace and social justice organization, we are very concerned with civilian deaths as a by-product of war and, therefore, reached out to artists to respond to those civilian deaths in Afghanistan in their own artistic style on a piece of 4ft x 6.5ft piece of polytab fabric.

The response has been amazing with over 50 artists creating mural panels as well as college students and elementary school students collaborating on pieces. This soon-to-be travelling exhibit will open on October 7, 2010, the 9th anniversary of the war, in Philadelphia at the Quaker Meeting House at 4th and Arch. It will be on display for four weeks and a local committee is planning several events around it including participation in the First Friday gallery walk and ways for viewers to take action. It will then continue to tour the country with the next stop in New York at the Godwin-Ternbach Museum at Queens College.

Although I cannot yet reveal what the exhibit looks like in its entirety, I did want to share the work of one artist, Geoff Krawczyk. The entire office was abuzz when his mural piece arrived. Staff person after staff person walked into the conference room where it was unrolled and stared into its mesmerizing sky. The little girl in the foreground seemed to be asking the heavens, "Why?" and we all sat in silence hoping for an answer.

On his website (, there are more works that pull us into the mystery of death and its language that we can't quite grasp. I am entranced by the juxtaposition of this destruction and the peaceful sensation created by his work. We are all thrilled to have such powerful artistic creations to engage people on the topic of civilian casualties and are also happy that this exhibit will bring the work of exciting emerging artists like Krawczyk to new audiences.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Tranformatures of Desolation

Despite being a historic haven of crime, unemployment, poor city planning, visible segregation and haunting abandonment lurking beneath St Louis's crusted wounds exists pockets of genuine human expression and community that quietly junxtaposes the desolation.

Like an island, trends ripple here and at times never connect with sediment on other shores. Culture is raw and insular but is indicative of the environment. To exist as a self-invested artist in this city is career suicide but to connect with community is evolutionary.

Over the past four years I've been involved with an area known as Cherokee Street. I've watched creative projects literally transform this neighborhood. The roles of artist, activist, and organizer have blurred for many of us as we buy houses, have live/work spaces, start businesses and become civic leaders and teachers.

The business district is not owned by big business nor is anyone being pushed out. Up until the past 2 years St Louis has lost population for the past 40. As a result most chains and box stores exist in the suburbs not the city. In it's current state the city is affordable, self-sustaining and architecturally stunning. Its cultural element is composed of self starters and entrepreneurs as there is relatively no national/international scene to connect with.

Museums and art institutions network and show the work of local artists along with internationally recognized artists. The regional arts commission hosts a national model for community arts training, a free fellowship program for recipients.

My observations, networks and experience in this city is expansive. I could write pages on art as it exists in St Louis alone. Today I leave you with images from several projects that exemplify the spirit of what I'm discussing.

Since 2003, 29-yr-old historic preservationist Michael Allen has been documenting architecture in St Louis through his blog The Ecology of Absence. The project, now gaining national exposure started as an effort to record what was being lost using the Internet as a tool for community awareness.

The People's Joy Parade began two years ago through the efforts of St Louis artists Sarah Paulsen and Lyndsey Scott. A growing project, diverse people from throughout the neighborhood parade together in handmade costumes, floats and puppets during the Cinco de Mayo celebration on Cherokee Street. Sarah's experiential art blog Wanderlust voices personal art interactions as they exist in her reality.

- Emily Hemeyer aka Ghosts I Have Been

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Who Am I?

August 8th 2010 HOMEWARD BOUND is underway. I wish to explore the concept of reclamation as it connects to the human spirit, using cast away dolls to represent the misfortune of society's young who are placed into foster and/or adoption system. Not only is the body of work about the hope for belonging, but the reclaiming of the damaged spirit through the nuturing love of another human being.
I have been collecting these forgotten and abandoned forms of a child's life for many years without knowing exactly why. I suspect the thought of these figures, left disgarded, which once represented the modeling tool for love and nurturing, for connected role playing of the parent to child ideal, and the playmate to the child's imagination, sparked in me a desire save the essential original spirit that embodied these figures. Many of my dolls are worn, damaged and patched. however, though they may seem unattractive and some, even frightening,they all possess, for me, a strong presence and desire to be. They all need a new home and heart to dwell in.
I have partnered with THE CHILDRENS HOME of Cincinnati for this show. I will be offering my dolls for an adoption fee, with all proceeds going to the social agency. My goal is to find caring adoptive art minded people/families for my reclaimed dolls and a gallery or event space to support this agenda.
This show is planned for a November 2010 Showing. November is National Adoption Month.

Jan Thomas
Cincinnati, Ohio

Friday, August 6, 2010

Art Vulups: Public Art in Conjunction with City Planning

I just went to an amazing panel discussion last night regarding a new public art initiative being launched in Riverside County, California.

ArtVulups mission is to communicate land use planning and sustainability concepts through art and creative expression. This public art process involves a collaborative and interdisciplinary approach involving artists, urban planners, educators and the public.

I think they are heading in an exciting direction that could very well pave the way for the future of Public Art and art collaborations in general. Not to mention the intrinsic benefits that can begin to influence and shape community and the well-being of its people.

We are by nature, defined by where we live, where we have been or where we are from. Sometimes this is our personal own way of explaining to others who we are, and conversely it is a way that others may perceive us.

Unfortunately, the downside of "Geographic Identity" is the inherent "geographic undesirability", narrow-minded views of the intelligence level of certain geographic inhabitants and other assumptions.
I think we can all relate to this to some degree. Since moving to Riverside a year ago from Silver Lake (East LA), I find this to be a multi-fold challenge.

During the lecture, it became clear and comforting to me to hear Bob Johnson (previous planning director of Riverside, now assistant manager of Temecula) mention that Riverside is going through an identity crisis.
Hurray!! I can ride out my personal geographic storm while this rich community is going through a Renaissance and beginning to redefine itself. So timely for me, as I sink the feet further into the soil here and spread my proverbial wings across - what is for me - a new landscape.

Some of my peers and colleagues are involved in Arts Vulups.
Doug McCulloh and Ruth Nolan are teamed up with planners to address issues of Vision and Noise respectively. Doug is an amazing photographer focusing on the power of seeing things clearly.
Ruth's word-talk takes us through the symbolic shadows of the landscape.
I love both of their work.
Incidentally, but slightly relates, Doug, Ruth and I participated in a recent writing project in conjunction with the University of Riverside called Writing the Desert.

Certainly, as artists and city planners collide we can foresee our understandings of "Geographic Identity" evolving. Through their eyes and actions, new ideas of destination and habitation will occur to shape our perceptions and help redefine our place.
Both literally and metaphorically.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

donald judd

this piece made me want to be an artist
i saw it on the first day of sculpture I
and i knew that being an artist
is what i wanted to do

the day before
i was a history major
there is nothing too exciting about history
it never changes
unless of course
you are from texas
then you can rewrite it
i wasnt going to do that
the art school girls
looked better than the history school girls
and the art school boys
all smoked and drank
busch in a can
i just so happened
at that time
to smoke and drink busch in a can as well
now look at me
i have moved on to PBR

everything i do in the studio
digital video
is all because of this piece

-Dwayne Butcher

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

That's Nasty

Lynn Lim just graduated from SAIC with an MFA in Designed Objects. Her work makes me want to spend a lot of time in those fabrication studios where there are laser cutters, 3D scanners, and 3D rapid prototypers. There is also a digital loom in Fibers. That is, upload a photograph/scan an image and it weaves it autonomously. Word.

The designer's piece in the thesis show, "Leveraging Ick", is about the dualities of responding to the repugnant, in this case revulsion vs. giddiness.
Below: Tripe-inspired bath mats! Bacterial tiles! A tandem toilet! I am more giddy than revolted.

Monday, August 2, 2010

When Four Wheels Become Two

Folke Koebberling and Martin Kaltwasser: Cars into Bicycles, 2010, Bergamont Station, Santa Monica.

Posted August 2nd (read as August 1st).

New Piece for Le Bohneur Children's Hospital

This is the piece I just finished for Le Bonheur Children's Hospital called "Going Up". It will be permanently installed in August 2010.


The impetus for this project is inspired by the simple act of releasing balloons which happens annually at LeBonheur’s Children Hospital

GOING UP is a light box that illuminates transparent images of Le Bonheur children and their ethereal hopes, dreams, and potential. The imagery is a combination of photographs that includes children, drawings, letters, art making materials, balloons, cards, etc. All of these images are layered between 4 pieces of plexi-glass that protects and seals the imagery. Both the plexi-glass and the imagery are housed in an elaborate frame that creates a pattern of cross-contour lines in isometric perspective creating the illusion of balloons rising from the ground. Backlighting the imagery with compact LED lighting helps support the illusion of flight and provide illumination for the transparent images.

The video is an install shot from my studio...just to give an idea of scale the wall is 13' X 8.5' feet and the paper and tape behind the piece will be used as a template during the install at Le Bonheur.

Please click on the link below to watch the video.