Posts by tmajewski:
This is a personal essay to compliment my painting series: Ode to a Coffee Shop. The paintings were inspired by my daily trips to Dave’s Coffee, located in Charlestown, Rhode Island. Some of the paintings were featured in UCLA’s New Wight Gallery in a student exhibition.
The small ding of the jingle bell attached to the decaying wooden door is the most comforting sound in the world. The bell rests on the top of the door, connecting quiet coffee shop-goers to the outside world, and welcoming locals to get their caffeinated morning buzz. From the inside of dimly lit coffee bar, that ding reminds me of my oasis of mochas and cranberry muffins, which I return for every morning to prepare me for the summer day ahead.
I sit in Dave’s coffee shop reading the Providence Journal, watching as people shuffle in, clad in bathing suits, t-shirts and sandy feet. Families pick up raspberry smoothies, cookies and iced coffees for the beach.
I’m sitting in my favorite couch in the corner of the coffee shop, where an oil painting of a blonde woman wearing a red dress sits on the local Rhode Island sand, a sunhat draped over her curls. I look at her every morning. She must have come to Dave’s at some point, just like I do every day. The smell of candles and coffee beans overwhelm the room I’m reading in, which is enclosed by small paintings and endless shelves of books. More copies of the newspaper are scattered on the nearby tables, where tanned mothers and friendly fishermen sit, sipping their coffees. My name is called and I pick up my mocha from the wooden counter. I walk to another small table covered with an orange tablecloth: the milk and sugar table. It is always decorated with brightly colored jars and containers, painted by the teenage baristas. I pour the tiniest bit of milk into my coffee from the red mug. I pass through the creaky wooden door, the belling dinging as I walk out.
When I recommend that anyone traveling through Rhode Island stop and get a coffee at Dave’s, I know they won’t miss the landmark. The coffee shop rests inside a pink house, placed directly along the highway heading into Charlestown, Rhode Island. On sunny days, the front lawn of the shop is adorned with ornate picnic tables, protected by the shade of bright yellow umbrellas.
At the beginning of every summer, my family and I drive from Connecticut to Rhode Island, those yellow umbrellas signifying the end of our journey. The golden canopies have been the finish line of many voyages I’ve had during my summers in Charlestown. As we do each year on our first day at the shore, my two sisters and I wipe the rust off our beach-cruisers, venture towards the highway, and make the dangerous trek towards Dave’s on our purple and blue bikes. The ride inspires the adventures we will have for the rest of the summer.
As I’ve gotten older, the whizzing of cars passing me as I ride my bike to Dave’s has become less thrilling. The highway has begun to look less like an unknown and dangerous land and more like an ugly, congested freeway. But the yellow umbrellas are there every year, bringing me peace when I finally do step inside the small coffee shop. That same coffee-bean smell will always greet me as a pass through the white door, the same ding , welcoming me home. Even though I may change with the passing of summers, Dave’s remains the same, accepting of the old and new versions of myself.
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Creating environmentally conscious artwork is fast becoming a movement among twenty first century artists. Environmental art has the power to change the way in which we view our world; the associative power between art and nature lies in the hands of environmental artists, who constantly create new ways to redefine our relationship with nature. Environmental art can be evocative, provocative or sublime, and oftentimes communicates the urgent message that we need to protect our planet.
The Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena, California recently opened Roadside Attraction, an outdoor gallery that is easily visible to commuters and pedestrians in the busy Pasadena area, sending the environmentally friendly messages of the works to an audience larger than museum frequenters. The gallery is currently displaying Water & Power, a collection of works by Whitney Bedford, Katie Shapiro and Emilie Halpern.
Interestingly, the exhibit has a more layered message that goes beyond environmental concerns. All three artists link their work to current social, political and economic issues. Both Bedford and Shapiro explore the tensions between man and environment, while Halpern chooses to capture the ocean in its purest form, away from human contact. Throughout them all is an unmistakable sense of urgency for viewers to protect the environment and rethink their relationship to it.
Bedford’s Untitled Shipwreck (Seduction) is a depiction of a seascape, painted with harsh brush strokes and a dramatic black and red palette. Her work is reminiscent of the British Romantic landscape painter, J.M.W. Turner, conveying terror of the sublime and the uncertain; however, her work is also highly relevant to modern society since the tumultuous ocean water directly relates to the tumultuous state of economic and social structures.
In her photographic series, Malibu Sandbags, Shapiro explores the result of human invasion on the ocean shore, as beachside mansions have destroyed the purity of Malibu’s shore. Her photographs capture the complex relationship between humans and their environment, the sandbags acting to protect the expensive beachfront properties while simultaneously serving as status symbols for modern wealth.
Halpern’s Nocturne is a simple photograph of the Atlantic Ocean, capturing its simultaneous vastness and mystery. Within the waves of the water, Halpern subtly spells out the word “love,” affirming that we must protect our environment even if it is unfamiliar.
Water & Power is provocative because the artists not only draw attention to environmental issues, but also relate these issues to a failing economy and growing divide between social classes. Best of all, the exhibit is visible to a diverse audience, inviting the average passerby to pause, absorb and enhance their motivation to protect our natural environment and each other.
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When beginning work on their backyard, most people turn to large retailers to improve their outdoor living; however, when Mary Clark-Camargo remodeled her outdoor kitchen counter she didn’t run to the nearest IKEA. Instead, she made it herself, turning it into a colorful mosaic.
Since then, Clark-Camargo’s knack for working with glass to create innovative artworks has impressively developed. Though she is best known for her mosaics of the female form, Clark-Camargo’s work varies from chairs to decorative ornaments. Her innovation as a sculptor has been praised on television shows like HGTV and the DIY Network, and she now teaches mosaic classes for other artists in the Los Angeles area.
Currently, Clark-Camargo makes large-scale sculptural pieces from exotic glass, her work permanently exhibited in the Cactus Gallery in Eagle Rock, California, an urban neighborhood in Northeast Los Angeles that has embraced the city’s budding underground art scene. Her pieces are reminiscent of ancient times, when female sculptural forms were symbolic and highly valued. In her work, Clark-Camargo carefully combines pieces of glass, tile and semi-precious stones to create her vibrant figures.
Art Animal had the opportunity to talk with Clark-Camargo to find out more about her artistic pursuits.
Art Animal: Do you draw inspiration from life, photographs or imagination?
Mary Clark-Camargo: My large sculptural Day of the Dead skulls have a little of both, a certain percentage will be highly decorative using DOD motifs; and then there is usually an area with the theme subject of the piece which is sometimes taken from photographs. Some of my abstract pieces just start out with one object or interesting piece of glass and I build from there. At some point it will feel like something organic, such as a seascape.
AA: Do you have any special techniques that you use to create your works?
MCC: Most mosaic work is based in ancient techniques that have been used for thousands of years. We now have the benefit of modern materials. The convergence of these two things has lead to a lot of innovation in the mosaic art world but you must first start with a basic understanding of mosaic. Fortunately, the ancient techniques are still being taught. There is a renewed interest in learning mosaic since the advent of the internet.
AA: Which is more important to you: the subject of your work or the way it is executed?
MCC: Well, as an artistic spirit the subject is always important. Everything you put out there should mean something or you are just organizing and assembling. Execution has an important place in mosaic because there are rules that must be followed or it is just a sloppy mess. You must have a basic understanding of andemento, which is the direction in which your pieces move. One of the things I stress to my students is making your work with the right adhesives for the substrate and materials you are using.
AA: What do you think is the most important influence in your art?
MCC: First, I love religious icons and symbols. Second would be my love of color and texture.
AA:What is the most challenging aspect of working with glass and tile?
MCC: I have been known to spend weeks looking for certain colors in glass. You cannot just mix up a batch of glass to your exact specification. Sometimes you have to make do with what is out there but I will search until I am positive that it does not exist! The other thing is that your andemento is equivalent to your brushstrokes in representational pieces. It can be extremely labor intensive and time consuming to make the glass flow like paint.
AA: Do you have a favorite project that you’ve done? If so, why is it your favorite?
MCC: Yes, it is a piece that I am just finishing up. It is a table called Truth. As I said earlier I love symbols and icons but I have also made pieces based on a single word. I started with the word and decided to make it beautiful so I found an amazing font. The font was in need some sort of foundation to highlight it so I put a winged heart underneath it. At this point it had a tattooish vibe so I added roses underneath, I added some Masonic-like pyramids with eyes in the corners and that set the tone for the rest of the table. There is a lot of magic and mystery to this piece. The table has a drawer and with a name like Truth it was imperative that the inside of the drawer be profound. I ordered dozens of doll eyes and lined the sides of the drawer with them and crackled mirror. The bottom of the drawer has a flying carpet and the word Karma. I have been told that it feels like an alter. I cannot think of a higher compliment.
AA: Where do you place of your work in society?
MCC: Mosaic art is experiencing a new renaissance. Although it is one of the oldest and most enduring art forms, until recently, it was confined to craftsman who passed it down through their families or crafters. With materials becoming more available through the internet and modern methods of fabrication, it is an exciting and innovative time for mosaic artists. There has always been a place for mosaic in public art but I think we are starting to see some mosaic that is a little less traditional, a little more edgy. It is starting to sell in galleries and show up in museums. Every year I try push myself artistically by trying something I have never done before. I have not decided what that will be this year just yet.
Find out more about Mary Clark-Camargo by visiting her website at www.newstoneagemosaics.com.
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For almost a century, the cover of TIME magazine has featured iconic images of presidents, Wall Street moguls and modern day heroes. In her We Will Not Fail exhibit, artist Samira Yamin tackles one of TIME‘s most infamous cover page icons: Osama Bin Laden.
Yamin’s exhibit is tucked into the main gallery of the Santa Monica Museum of Art, allowing viewers to have a very secluded experience with the works. Each framed image is made up of meticulously hand-cut patterns that are pieced together into photographs of Arab insurgents, American soldiers or civilians. As an Iranian-American woman, Yamin’s use of Islamic shapes in the context of American media symbols lends a fresh look at the war on terror and its aftermath.
Yamin purposefully uses the Islamic shapes to make patterns that conceal the text of the articles, turning visual information into abstraction. The images inherently contain a double meaning; from a distance, viewers simply see a familiar photograph, but up close, the Islamic shapes disassemble the image. Yamin masterfully captures this idea of “seeing through” an image, symbolizing a viewer’s capacity to “see through” a media headline. Her imposition of ornate shapes on well-known media images challenges the legitimacy of news stories and the relationship between the United States and the Middle East.
The exhibit also showcases the original 2001 TIME issue with Bin Laden on the cover. The title of the exhibit comes from an article titled “We Will Not Fail,” published in the issue, which discusses President Bush’s preparations for war. However, the title works for Yamin’s exhibit in many other clever ways; the “we” in “We Will Not Fail” is ambiguous, contributing to Yamin’s interest in presenting diverse cultural perspectives. The title also perfectly captures the balance of irony, terror and beauty in Yamin’s exhibit, as her Islamic motifs evoke something incomprehensible or divine, existing beyond mundane human conflict.
Controversial and engrossing, Yamin’s exhibit at the Santa Monica Museum of Art is an intricate look at reading between the lines, forcing viewers to take a second look at nationalistic images and truly question their meaning. By the end, “We Will Not Fail” is no longer a declaration of war, but a pledge not to fail again in taking news media at face value.
See Samira Yamin’s exhibit at the Santa Monica Museum of Art through April 30. For more information, visit smmoa.org.
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The subway in New York City is a dirty, gloomy and crowded mode of transportation. But almost all New Yorkers and visitors must use the subway at some point to quickly and cheaply get around, whether it be for the daily commute, the late night ride home or a visit to Times Square. During a recent trip to New York City, I couldn’t help but notice an aspect of the subway that is defiant of its dismal nature. There is art down there. What used to be simply a set of tracks for fast moving trains is now a fortified underground museum. Each stop showcases a different artist, transforming daily travel into a series of exhibitions.
A number of female artists have contributed their talents to brightening the passageways. The sentiments in their works correspond to the locality of each particular subway stop, keeping in mind that their audience is mostly made up of locals who will see the art on a day-to-day basis. Collectively, the subway art of New York captures the essence of New York City as a whole: a melting pot of different people who all have the same goal of finding success in the big city.
The Harlem 125 Street station is characterized by its stonewalled and iron fences, serving the Harlem neighborhood for over a century. Alison Saar’s Hear the Lone Whistle Moan, a series of bronze grills and reliefs, decorates the platform. The title of the work was inspired by the spiritual belief that the train is a metaphor for the journey to heaven. Saar’s sculptures depict a narrative of two people; one is a young women coming into the city with aspirations to make it big, while the other is a successful businessman leaving for the night to return to his quiet suburb. Saar believes that these two characters exemplify how many people have utilized the transit in New York, especially the Harlem 125 station, which is the first stop connecting the New York and Connecticut suburbs.
One of the most popular subway stops in New York City is Grand Central station. Here, artist Jackie Ferrara’s Arches, Towers, and Pyramids uses basic geometric forms to reflect the many railways that connect to the terminal. The walls of Grand Central are adorned with sets of mosaic bands, which blend effortlessly with the bustle of the busy station. The design is simple and mathematical, balancing out the hectic nature that accompanies Grand Central visitors throughout the day.
Uptown from Grand Central, New Yorkers can take a quick subway ride to the most opulent neighborhoods in the city: the Upper East Side. In this neighborhood, artist Amy Bennett has decorated the 86th Street station with Heydays, a glass mosaic on a mezzanine wall. Similar to her other paintings of homes in the neighborhood, Heydays portrays a series of large estates and summer homes in Bay Ridge — a growing neighborhood in Brooklyn — before the area was made more urban, highlighting the neighborhood’s rural origin.
On the West End D Line, artist Amy Cheng’s Rediscovery portrays her perspective as an immigrant living in New York City. The work, which consists of vibrant, laminated glass in large platform window screens, echoes the large scale of the city and the hugely diverse population that inhabits it. Rediscovery is meant to reflect the human desire for discovery, exemplified by New Yorkers of all different backgrounds on their journey to the Big Apple.
Artist Susanna Starr’s A Continuous Thread accompanies transiters along their route from Manhattan to Brooklyn. The piece is composed of six laminated glass windows on train platforms. Susan Auld’s poem, In the Shadow Of The Design, accompanies Starr’s artwork, examining the connection between material items and people, and how these relationships frame our memories. The last two stanzas read, “Two loose threads dangled/from the doily’s edging/each going its own way/as generations will,/but still bound by the constancy/of kindred connections.” Just as relationships have a tendency to develop and transform, Starr’s design visually changes, representing the constant evolution of bonds between people. As the natural light of the city changes throughout the day, the dimensions of Starr’s images also change in the viewer’s eyes.
All of these works reflect the intimacy artists share with New York City. Cheng and Starr are highly conscious of the diverse makeup of one of the largest cities in the world: a feature that makes its urban environment so fruitful. Saar underscores the subtle truth about Harlem as a connecting point between the rest of the world and the big city. Bennett and Ferrara illustrate the classic symbol of New York as a thriving resource for people seeking diverse opportunities. The simple fact that these works are received daily by an equally diverse audience underlines the powerful effect of an exhibition that stretches across the city.
For a more in-depth tour of New York’s subway art, visit www.mta.info.
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In the initiative to increase access to sustainable energy, artists, like Stacy Levy, have joined the revolution. Though Levy works in many different mediums, she primarily considers herself a sculptor, interested in the relationship between both art and science. Levy works in sculptural media that portrays ecological patterns and processes. Her outdoor installations have been featured around the nation, each work environmentally-friendly and adaptable to its natural surroundings.
Her most recent installation, Straw Garden at the Space Needle in Seattle, will have a second life as a plant source for landscapes in need of rehabilitation. The garden is one of Levy’s many works that exemplifies her Baroque influences as an artist while serving a secondary function to facilitate the green movement.
Many of her works demonstrate a special interest in water patterns like tides, rainfall, water levels and drought. One of her older projects, River Eyelash, employs 3,000 painted buoys, which radiate from the bulkhead of Point State Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The “eyelashes” move in response to the currents and wind.
Levy’s installations also highlight natural processes and their relation to urban settings. Tide Flowers showcased the movements of the Hudson River’s tides using vibrantly colored flowers which bloomed at high tide and closed at low tide. Another piece, Kept Out, was a series of small enclosures meant to keep deer from grazing on saplings in certain areas of the forest. Where is the Moon utilized a laser beam, ring of stones and an empty room to pinpoint the position of the moon at any given moment.
Commissioned for dozens of other projects as well, Levy frequently works with scientists who are experts in a particular field. In Seeing the Path of Wind, 1,300 flags acted as a compass for wind direction and was used to detect incoming storms.
An innovative environmental artist, Levy lets nature tells its own ecological story, drawing attention to environments that are often ignored while capturing peaceful and natural occurrences. Levy took the time to chat with Art Animal about her challenges, inspiration, and how she manages to meld art and science.
Art Animal: What is the most challenging aspect of integrating science and artistic expression?
Stacy Levy: I am not patient enough to be a good scientist. I want to delve in all at once, not wait years to test and monitor. But I think science can use a little impetuosity — tempered by the facts, but taking a new course of exploration.
AA: What most inspires your work?
SL: Not knowing how things in nature work, and needing to explain these to myself (and to all the other people who did not get it).
AA: Do you have a favorite project that you’ve done?
SL: Bushkill Curtain in Easton, Pennsylvania because it changes dramatically with every rainstorm as the Bushkill Creek rises and falls.
AA: Why do you think it is important to create works that tell ecological stories?
SL: I do not think that science should be the sole storyteller for nature.
AA: What sparked your interest in art and science? What made you decide to pursue a career that combines the two?
SL: I ran out of things to say in a white cube of the gallery. I had to go outside, which lead me to see the dynamic of nature and then to realize that dynamism was in every space, indoors and out. Then I could go back to dealing with the white cube knowing that nature was acting upon it in some form.
AA: What necessary steps do you take before executing a project? What is your artistic process?
SL: I try to make my work be more like a verb and less like an adjective.
AA: What do you think is the place of your work in society?
SL: I hope that someone looks differently at rainwater coursing through a parking lot or learns the name of a cloud formation. I really like nature and I want other people to fall in love with nature, too.
To learn more about Stacy Levy and her installations, visit www.stacylevy.com.
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In an uncertain global economy in which salaried employment and benefits are hard to come by, millennials have had to get creative with their careers, turning to independent web-based projects and social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr to invent their own jobs. Writer Edith Zimmerman is no exception to that movement.
Along with other young artists like film director and actress Lena Dunham, Zimmerman has used her personal experiences as a twenty-something today to create her own career path; and it worked. Her writing is now a widely respected voice for the millennial generation. With such a recognizable voice that is both clever and truthful, her pieces hardly need a byline, making her a much sought-after writer.
At only 28, Zimmerman has been published in the New York Times Magazine, GQ, This American Life and Elle. However, Zimmerman is perhaps most famous as the founder of the popular general interest blog, The Hairpin, which led to her inclusion in Forbes‘s “30 under 30” list alongside many other cyber entrepreneurs. Sister site to The Awl, The Hairpin offers a refreshing glimpse at pop culture and current issues through the personal experiences of women.
Though sincere and heartbreaking at times, Edith Zimmerman’s articles never fail to solicit a chuckle. She writes as if she’s talking to you personally, like you’re her girlfriend, spot-on with her self-deprecating sarcasm. Her articles are typically brief anecdotes of awkward social encounters and vain experiments that happen to many young women. For example, her article, “My Quiet, Mostly Disgusting Adventures with Natural Deodorant”, is a pseudo-saga of the quest for the perfect deodorant conducted through relentless trial and error. Her tale is the type that would comfort your junior-high self in the war against pubescence.
Zimmerman captured the follies of the dating world in her GQ article about Chris Evans, known for his role as Captain America in 2012’s, The Avengers. The article recounts their informal interview at a bar, written in a style similar to a short post she might write for The Hairpin. She expertly humanizes a movie star (the most otherwordly of beings) by admitting that the interview felt like a “date,” that she was charmed by Evans and that they remained friends after the process.
Even though Edith Zimmerman tends to poke lighthearted fun at herself in her writing, I couldn’t help utter, “she’s so cool,” to myself as I read her articles. While many young women attempt to hide their insecurities, Zimmerman openly admits and publishes hers. An article she wrote for Into The Gloss, a beauty website, is an in-depth retelling of her struggles with eating habits and imperfect skin. The challenge to adapt healthy living habits for a better body image is prevalent among women of all ages, though not many care to talk about their internal struggles. While this article is more on the serious side, Edith mostly writes as if her life could be featured in a sitcom. Her comical how-to in the Huffington Post, “How to Make Your Husband a Nice Dinner”, shrewdly lists the process of preparing a nice meal, accentuating the importance of pre-dinner glasses of wine.
Equipped with a liberal arts degree and a sense of humor, Zimmerman is both a model for young people on how to succeed in the age of the internet and a modern feminist of sorts, inspiring women of all ages with her deeply personal, witty pieces.
Learn more about Edith Zimmerman on her website at www.edithzimmerman.com.
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As industrial sewing technology has advanced, the quilting process has become more and more accessible, leading to the rise in unusual quilting methods and design. Today, quilt artists are transforming the craft into an unusual art form that focuses more on aesthetics than the practicality of sewing together a warm winter blanket.
Indeed, the quilts made by quilt artist Judi Blaydon can hardly be compared to those your grandmother used to make. Blaydon’s quilts are vibrant and abstract, visceral and somehow familiar, as though sewn together from a dream.
In addition to being a quilt artist, Blaydon has judged quilt shows and developed workshops for quilt-makers in the U.S., Canada, Switzerland and Japan since 1981. Most recently, Blaydon’s quilts were featured at the ArtQuilt Gallery in New York City.
“Whether an abstract landscape inspired by a collage made from fragments of photographs, or simply an expression of the joy of color and pattern, my work is always about things I love,” stated Blaydon in her artist’s statement on ArtQuilt Gallery’s website. “My quilts record things I dream about, wish for and remember.”
In her book, Collage + Cloth = Quilt, Blaydon gives us insight into how to personalize a homemade quilt, encouraging her audience to explore personal themes in their quilt-making by incorporating photographs into the process.
Now you, too, can become a quilt artist and create a personalized quilt by following Blaydon’s simple steps:
Step 1: Find Inspiration
To create your collage, gather photographs from either film or digital cameras that inspire you.
“Your collage elements will come from photographs you have taken,” Blaydon suggests in her book, “selected because you love looking at them and because you love seeing them together.”
Step 2: Choose Photos
Spread your collection of photos on a table or wall. Pick three of your favorite images. Then choose three more images that complement and contrast with your first group. Use a color copier to make two or three copies of each.
Step 3: Create Collage
Generate different sizes of each photo to add visual interest and variety of scale to the collage. Blaydon suggests using copies of your photographs to “play, experiment, audition and propose” your quilt design with various sizes and formats.
Step 4: Glue Collage
If you are happy with your design, glue down your final collage on 8½” x 11″ white paper.
Step 5: Draw Design
To transform your collage into fabric, you will need to make a seamline diagram. Place your collage under a sheet of matte acetate. Using a see-through ruler, draw with a black pen on the dull side of the matte acetate, outline major shapes in the collage and draw the details you find within them.
Step 6: Enlarge
Enlarge your design. Refer to Blaydon’s chart for enlarging dimensions. The quickest and most accurate enlarging method is to take your diagram to a copy shop that can make large-format reproductions.
“You’ll need to have an idea of how large you want your quilt to be so you’ll know how to do the enlarging,” Blaydon recommends.
Step 7: Look for Fabric
Once your collage is finalized and you’ve enlarged the scale, start looking for fabrics that match your vision.
“Search for details in your collage that may go unnoticed,” Blaydon suggests. “For example, look for streaks of light, gradations of value, subtle changes in color and variations in design patterns that you want to express via your fabrics.”
Remember that working with fabric is an interpretation of your collage, not an identical replica.
“You may deviate from the character and personality of certain visual elements within a collage,” Blaydon reminds her readers, “while remaining respectful to the basic structure.”
Step 8: Sew!
When you’re happy with a fabric design that you feel best represents your collage, complete the quilt by sewing it together.
Find out more about quilt artist Judi Blaydon and how to order her book at www.judiwarrenblaydon.com.
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The Tirage Art Gallery, tucked into the historic art and antique district of Pasadena, California, is exhibiting their annual “Holiday Salon.” The exhibition features a variety of eclectic artwork, including four female artists whose works particularly illustrate the flavor of the holiday season.
Paulette Lee’s Snow Scene perfectly depicts the natural peace that often accompanies the winter season, to the point that I could practically hear the stillness in her white forest, tree branches drooping with the weight of snow. I was amazed by the duality of Lee’s work because she painted this tranquil scene with loose Impressionist brush strokes, reminiscent of Cezanne’s chunky and intentional technique. Lee makes it easy for us to imagine stepping into the calm wintery scene and trudging through white terrain. However, her employment of harsh brush strokes generates movement throughout the landscape, reflecting the unpredictable and sometimes chaotic nature of winter.
When I saw Susan Roden’s Festive Setting, I was reminded of my own carefully decorated home during the holidays, with everything from a Christmas tree to a table setting painted with acute awareness. Her mastery of pastels infuses the painting with a vibrant mood, seasonally merry with red and white tints of color. The table setting features a white linen tablecloth topped with empty crystal glasses, a snapshot of the aftermath of a holiday gathering.
I was struck by Bridget Duffy’s balanced and clear composition in Wintry Solitude, portraying how even winter’s harshest snows can be beautiful. Focusing on the ways in which light captures the fleeting beauty of nature, the landscape in Wintry Solitude stretches across a still pond, surrounded by evergreens and outlined by the sun. But while Duffy’s wintery scene conveys the peaceful nature of Lee’s Snow Scene, it lacks the movement of Lee’s work. Instead, the stillness in Duffy’s work harbors an almost ethereal aspect with snow and a tranquil pond reflecting the unmoving sky.
Renowned for her graceful, figurative paintings, artist C.M. Cooper considers herself to be a “contemporary traditionalist.” For her Tirage Art Gallery exhibit, Cooper beautifully depicts the spirit of children during the holiday season. One of her paintings featured in the gallery, Pink Petals, is a portrait of young ballerina, her painted dancer having a clear affinity to Degas’s genius; the child, clad in a tutu, sits deep in thought as if visions of sugarplums danced in her head. Cooper similarly depicts the spirit of children’s imaginative holiday wishes in Afternoon Catnap, featuring a young girl deep in sleep, her white nightgown and dreamy state reminiscent of The Nutcracker‘s Clara.
Though the art gallery exhibition features a myriad of other artists, these four women are the clear masters at capturing the spirit of the holidays with emotional clarity, bringing to mind dreamy visions of family, peace and celebration.
See the Tirage Art Gallery’s Holiday Salon until January 12. For more information, visit www.tirageart.com.
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In today’s world, American pop music and Top 40 hits have become the norm, gracing radio waves from Baltimore to Bankok. That’s probably why younger generations have become more and more enamored with independent labels and the do-it-yourself, homegrown vibe of indie rock bands. We, too, have fallen in love with indie rock, in all its melancholic, dreamy, low-budget glory. But our favorite aspect of the genre is the fact that women have long been leading its evolution.
This week, we bring you ten of our favorite women who rock, indie style. Some of the women listed below have been part of the scene for over a decade; others have hits playing on the radio today. Their contributions to the genre vary widely; each has a unique sound, spanning across blues, electronic, punk and R&B. But one thing all of them have in common is their incredible musical genius, personal flair and individual expression both on and off stage.
10. The Relaxed Belle: Jenny Lewis
Akin to Janis Joplin’s unmistakable sound, Rilo Kiley’s former lead vocalist can never quite seem to quell her voice’s tendency for country, causing many a die-hard fan to declare Jenny Lewis queen of modern rock.
9. The Powerhouse: Grace Potter
Onstage, the brazen lead singer for Grace Potter and the Nocturnals is a force to be reckoned with. Like most great singers in rock-n-roll history, crowds do not seem to faze her, proven through the energy her voice (and leg stompin’, bang shakin’ moves) gains as the show goes on.
8. The Altar-Ego: Natasha Khan (aka “Bat for Lashes”)
This English singer-songwriter chose the stage name “Bat for Lashes” to encompass her music’s darkly feminine sound. Listen to “Laura” on her third and recently released album, The Haunted Man, to get a heavy dose of Khan’s haunting voice, gently kissed by simple piano accompaniment.
7. The Electronic Force: Yukimi Nagano
The fiery lead vocalist for the indie/electronic group, Little Dragon, grew up listening to R&B. The music of her childhood shines through in her music, which frequently flirts with blues and intricate rhythms. Listen to “Constant Surprises” for a perfect example of the group’s moody rainbow rhythms.
6. The Romantic: Chan Marshall (aka “Cat Power”),
Romantic yet somehow tragic, Cat Power’s husky voice casts a spell over her listeners, drawing them completely into the music. Over the years, Marshall has matured into a confident performer and versatile musician, evolving through punk, folk and blues over the course of her career.
5. Digital Diva: Imogen Heap
Grammy winner and classically trained in piano, cello and clarinet, England’s singer-songwriter, Imogen Heap, is, without question, the master of electronic indie rock. By manipulating sounds electronically, her music generates melodies that can only be described as aurally delightful.
4. The Wild Child: Karen O
Known for her onstage antics and bold fashion statements, Karen Lee Orzolek’s performances with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs never disappoint. From animal noises to high-pitched wails, her musical versatility shines over the band’s signature synth-heavy alt-rock style.
3. The Quiet Soprano: Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir
Despite the fact that her band, Of Monsters and Men, has seen rapid success, Nanna remains quietly humble, closing her eyes when she performs; but her dreamy, almost angelic voice is enough to show the audience her inner rock spirit.
2. The Dynamic Duo: Tegan and Sara
Edgy yet irresistibly adorable, twins Tegan and Sara write music with a unique duality, bridging the gap between pop and indie rock. Their personal lyrics and relationship with their fans has developed a devout following, whose loyalty has only heightened with each new album release.
1. The Literary Genius: Regina Spektor
Perhaps among the most famous singer-songwriters in the indie rock world, Spektor grew up in Russia listening to classical music, its influence apparent in her talents as a pianist. Her lyrics often have an intellectual flavor, often alluding to literature and the Bible.
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In the earliest civilizations jewelry represented status, power and beauty. Today, jewelry is still often associated with wealth since the finest ornaments still boast diamonds and gold; however, jewelers are now redefining the meaning of what we wear. The recently opened exhibition, “Contemporary Visions of the Necklace” at the Mobilia Gallery in Cambridge, MA showcases a myriad of contemporary jewelers who are doing just that. Most are women, whose jewelry employs uncommon materials and innovative shapes that defy age-old status symbols.
Mobilia Gallery sits on a quiet street corner in Cambridge, MA. Through the windows of the small gallery, pedestrians get a glimpse of the unique and offbeat artwork inside, the main wall decorated with an array of necklaces. Each piece is aesthetically unique, reflecting the ability of the artists’ personal expressions to override the standard of what is considered to be beautiful jewelry.
Inspired by everyday materials, Yong Joo Kim, a jeweler from Seoul, Korea, uses Velcro brand fasteners to create her necklaces. She reconfigures the flexible material into necklaces of interconnected, undulating loops.
“I am not merely observing them, but also engaging in a dialogue with them, trying to understand what their physical properties are,” said Kim when describing her creative process.
While her work tests societal standards of “normal” jewelry, she also pushes her own limits as an artist.
“My creative process has been to push the limitation of one material to create hundreds of complex forms,” Kim said. “I find that working directly with materials is the best way to be surprised.”
A distinguishing aspect of wearable art is its mobility, allowing art to step outside the boundaries of gallery space.
“We are able to wear it and move around,” Kim said. “So even those who do not visit galleries or museums can see them on the street.”
Kim’s use of such a simple material, like Velcro, reflects her philosophy on beauty. She believes that “no matter how mundane or ordinary something seems, when we trust that they are remarkable, that they are special, that they are beautiful and work with them without giving up, you will eventually be surprised to discover that the material possesses qualities that you did not know existed.”
All the artists represented in this exhibition similarly demonstrate Kim’s personal opinion on the hidden qualities of beauty.
Though Yuri Tozuka employs traditional metalsmithing materials and techniques, her finished products are far from traditional. She used silver tubing and wiring to create her work in the Mobilia Gallery. The miniature pipes make an assortment of shapes in her necklaces, bracelets and earrings.
One of Yuri’s necklaces in the exhibition features a marionette pendant, where the string of the necklace controls the figure’s movements. Like Kim, Yuri’s work is also inspired by her observation of things.
“I try to create work which self-generates a character,” Tozuka said. “What is real and what is not are the major keys for me to make decisions towards my work.”
Tozuka’s culture and background have also always influenced her work.
The jewelry by these women featured at the Mobilia Gallery challenges social contexts as they discover unexpected value in atypical materials. The exhibition showcases mundane objects in form of wearable art, transforming them into personal statements of modern declarations of beauty.
See Contemporary Visions of the Necklace at the Mobilia Gallery until December 28. For more information, visit mobilia-gallery.com.
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