Tuesday, December 30, 2008

hanging art

Hanging art at home when you have limited wall space and a lot of art is a challenge. I did some web research and found a few helpful articles on arranging art on a wall. Here is the best of what I've found:

Also, I found different ways to support a changing art gallery without turning your walls into Swiss cheese. I am not sure what looks better though - hanging wires, or art on a shelf-ledge?

hanging wires: http://www.ashanging.com/?gclid=CLG7-5bj6JcCFQFvGgod6hQbDg

ledges: http://hollysview.blogspot.com/2008/07/art-ledges.html

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Monster Burghers

More monster sightings in our fair city of Pittsburgh...

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Shaun Tan

(One of Shaun Tan's illustrations for the book The Rabbits, above.)

Shaun Tan is an artist whose primary art form is picture books. He describes his books as "picture books for older readers, rather than young children." His themes are more mature than most picture books, including colonial imperialism, social apathy, depression and the nature of memory. Many of Shaun Tan's works have been adapted into performances, including a theatrical adaptation of my favorite of his books, The Red Tree. Here is a still shot from the play, matching the artistry of the book:

He has a new book coming out in February that I can't wait to get a hold of, called Tales From Outer Suburbia, an anthology of fifteen very short illustrated stories. Here is a peek into the upcoming book:

"We only have to wash and wax our missile on the first Sunday of every month."

This mural in a children's library in Australia is among Shaun Tan's other accomplishments:

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Romaine Brooks

(Her most celebrated self portrait, above. 1923.)

Romaine Brooks was a portraitist who painted women in androgynous and masculine attire. She used mainly a gray scale with just accents and highlights of color. She was inspired by Whistler and also the Symbolist painters while her contemporaries were cubist and fauve painters. I love how moody and expressive her paintings are with their limited palette and stylization, and the design of her compositions. Her subjects included close friends and famous people, such as this portrait of Jean Cocteau:

Here is another self portrait which is on the cover of a wonderful book about her art called Amazons in the Drawing Room:

Monday, December 1, 2008

George Barbier

It's December, and today I flipped to the last page of my wall calendar at work. The image is this illustration from 1924 by George Barbier:

George Barbier was a French illustrator whose theatre and costume designs, posters, textile and wallpaper designs, illustrations for books, and fashion illustrations embodied Art Deco style. Here are some other beautiful images by him:

Friday, November 21, 2008

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Edward Steichen: In High Fashion

There is a wonderful new book out to accompany a current traveling exhibition of Edward Steichen's fashion photography, Edward Steichen: In High Fashion (The Conde Nast Years 1923-1937). Steichen is the father of modern fashion photography. He was a student of Alfred Steiglitz, and became the chief photographer for Vogue and Vanity Fair during the 1920s and 30s. He was also curator of The Family of Man, a significant photography exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in 1955, the catalogue for which is still in print. The Family of Man is a wonderful collection of images and quotes that illustrate what humankind has in common across the world. 

Steichen's black and white fashion photographs in In High Fashion are striking images-- some are portraits of famous people, while others are beautiful examples of fashion and style in the 1920s and 30s. Here are just a few:

Friday, November 14, 2008

ARCH by Glenn Kaino

Pittsburgh is both the "City of Bridges" and the "Robot City", and artist Glenn Kaino combines both identities into ARCH, a transformer sculpture commissioned for Pittsburgh's 250th by the Andy Warhol Museum. The giant robot is located at the corner of a parking lot on Seventh St. and Fort Duquesne Blvd. in the Cultural District, right across from the big, yellow Warhol Bridge (which seems like a distant relative). I took this photo of ARCH on my lunch hour. I think that he is more Autobot than Decepticon... He has a friendly countenance!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Street With A View by Robin Hewlett & Ben Kinsley

Local Pittsburgh artists Robin Hewlett and Ben Kinsley staged surreal scenes along Sampsonia Way for the Google Inc. Street View car to capture.

The scenes have just been launched, so now when people check out the Google Street View on-line, they see a parade, someone about to escape out a window down a rope of bed sheets, a garage band, a sword fight, a marathon, a random giant chicken sculpture, and other odd things that make Sampsonia Way a bizarre little wonderland. The parade looks great, complete with confetti and a marching band. 

The community involvement is impressive, and the whole idea is just so fun!  Check out more about the project and explore the scenes through the project's web site, here: http://www.streetwithaview.com 

Friday, November 7, 2008

A look back

I'm going through some older paintings to give to my parents this weekend as gifts and for safe-keeping. Here is one I am delivering, that I haven't looked at in a long time. It's odd looking at the many different phases my painting has gone through as I've tried different styles over the years. I was inspired by different things, trying to achieve different things, and learning. This one is of Adam and Eve banished from the Garden of Eden. The silhouettes are drawn from a historical painting I can't find at the moment because I can't recall who it was by, while the forest was invented.

Monday, October 27, 2008


My dear husband told me about this wonderful website, 1000 Frames of Hitchcock, which reduces each of the 52 available major Hitchcock films down to 1000 still frames.

There are wonderful examples of cinemagraphic portraiture among the stills. Here are my ten favorites:

From Vertigo:

From The Birds:

From Rear Window:


To Catch A Thief

Mr. and Mrs. Smith:


Sunday, October 26, 2008

13 Most Beautiful...

13 Most Beautiful... Songs for Andy Warhol's Screen Tests, was an amazing show. Commissioned by the Andy Warhol Museum and Pittsburgh Cultural Trust for the Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts, 13 Most Beautiful featured 13 of Warhol's silent film portraits known as the Screen Tests - each just four minutes long - set to music by Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips (formerly of the band Luna) in a world premier at the Byham on Friday night. The band played beneath a large screen with the "portraits" projected, all silent films in black and white. The music seemed to become the thoughts of the individuals projected on the large screen.

The 13 were chosen from some 500 such "screen tests" that included famous folks, such as Lou Reed and Bob Dylan, as well as unknown people whom Warhol thought possessed star power. In 1964, Warhol put together a collection of these called 13 Most Beautiful Women, followed shortly thereafter by 13 Most Beautiful Men. Why 13? Reading about the Screen Tests, I learned that the number 13 came from a New York City Police brochure of the 13 Most Wanted, which was also the title of Warhol's mural for the World's Fair.

Some of the famous faces included Dennis Hopper, Lou Reed, and Nico. During Lou Reed's film portrait, they played "Not A Young Man Anymore" - a Reed/Cale/ Morrison/Tucker song. During Nico's film portrait, Britta sang Bob Dylan's "I'll Keep It With Mine". (Nico, a German singer Warhol discovered and made famous when he made her a lead singer of The Velvet Underground, has a popular cover version of this song.) The rest were Dean and Britta originals, composed specifically for these Screen Tests.

(still from Lou Reed's screen test)

The intimacy of the extreme close-ups made them mesmerizing. Movements were overall subtle. There was an occasional chew of gum, or the use of an occasional prop - a bottle of coke, a cigarette. The most active of the portraits was number 13, Jane Holzer, who brushed her teeth the whole time. Just as interesting, however, were the almost motionless ones, such as Ann Buchanan (pictured at the top of this entry) who stared out at us without blinking until tears fell down her cheeks like crystals. Her features softened while the music grew more dreamy and whistful.

Andy Warhol let a camera run and walked away. It was true to his "Factory" methods, and yet, like the rest of his work, the results are substantive. Even in portraits of others, he is able to be our mirror.

link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EzOtZg_Zrow

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Cindy Sherman

I've seen the work of Cindy Sherman, a feminist artist-photographer, at the Hirshhorn and other museums, but had never seen a collection of her photographs or a complete series until I discovered The Complete Untitled Film Stills collected in a book at the Strand. The book was put together by the MoMA, which collected all 69 photographs of the series. Sherman arranged the sequence of the photos for the book. 

The photos are all black and white, created between 1977 and 1980. Sherman photographs herself, being all three artist, model, and actress. The images are not self-portraits however, because they are not depictions of her own identity. The photos resemble movie stills, and viewed one to the next, her heroines of implied but mysterious narratives create an overall depiction of femininity - with the understanding that the femininity we are seeing is fictional. The roles she portrays are stereotypical, and the fact that we know the images are fictional draws awareness to the idea of gender roles being constructed. There are elements of fantasy about them (dress-up and theatre) that make the Stills intriguing. Seeing the photos together impacted me in a way that seeing her individual photographs had not, because so much of what she is doing is in the performance - the contrast of characters from one image to the next, creating a fantasy of women rather than a picture of one.   

Friday, October 10, 2008


Magdalena Bors photographs fairy tale scenes that she makes from ordinary household things. The trees in this one remind me of the board game, Enchanted Forest.  I love how playful and imaginative her images are!  You can see more on her web site: 

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Monster Burghers

A few months back, I was sifting through the shelves and boxes of comics that crowd a tiny Pittsburgh treasure trove: Copacetic Comics. Marvel comics aren't found there, but rather, indie comics and even hand-made comics, along with anthologies and beautiful hardback collections of comics and comic art.  There, I discovered a book of 30 postcard images of nightmares and doom by illustrator Jordan Crane called Uptight All Night.  I loved the design of each card, the look and feel of the book with it's offset printing, and the sequence of provocative images.  I also loved the format: postcards.

I decided to make postcards of my own, utilizing the many photographs I've taken of Pittsburgh, collaged with drawings.  Rooftops and fire escapes led me to the idea of action movies-- Ghostbusters' Stay Puff Marchmallow Man stomping through city streets, and King Kong climbing the Empire State building.  I imagined Pittsburgh being occupied by monsters, and came up with the idea for Monster Burghers, a book of 30 of my own original postcards. Burghers are citizens of a town or borough, and Pittsburgh dwellers are Pittsburghers.  So far, I have about 10 done.  Here is one:

This past weekend I was thrilled to discover another book of postcards by a comic artist: Adrian Tomine's Optic Nerve.  These 30 postcards are a collection of illustrations from the covers of the Optic Nerve series, as well as a few of his illustrations for the New Yorker, album covers, and movies including Sylvia, In the Mood for Love, and Mullholland Drive. 

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Obama posters

There are some powerful images gracing posters for the Obama campaign. The images are becoming very recognizable, particularly this one by Shepard Fairey:

There is a version of this same poster that says Hope, too. It is nice seeing positive imagery like this for a presidential campaign coming from artists. These artists are coming together in The Manifest Hope Gallery to "highlight themes of the progressive grass-roots movement surrounding the Obama Campaign - Hope, change, progress, unity and patriotism."

A show of these images opens on Sunday at The Manifest Hope Gallery, housed within Denver’s Andenken Gallery. The description of the show is as follows:

"Manifest hope will showcase some of the finest modern contemporary artists, acclaimed NY painters and sculptors, activated grass roots and street artists, and present the most widely recognized pieces seen throughout the 2008 presidential primary campaign, as well as newly commissioned works and previous works on loan from some of the United States top artists."


This is not the first recognizable image by Fairey. I hadn't linked the Obama poster with these other images at first, but looking at his portfolio on-line is like popping in a new CD and realizing you know some of the songs already. Like this one:

and this one:

And some that are political in nature, but with a positive message. This one seems to state his main theme:

Monday, August 18, 2008

Sharon Lockhart's photos

I've been thinking about a series of photos of children that is part of the 2008 Carnegie International.  The series is called "The Pine Flat Series", by well-known California artist Sharon Lockhart.  Below is one of the portrait photos, titled "Sierra".  All the portraits in the series are large scale, with no scenery, just the figures looking mostly unposed, all of children. They are very intriguing photographs, and this one is my favorite.  I have been asking myself a question while I look at photos and paintings of individuals.  When does a portrait become more than just an image of a specific person, but art?  

"Sierra", photograph by Sharon Lockhart from the "Pine Flat Series"

Saturday, August 16, 2008


Found a perfect frame today at Michael's, and it was 50% off on sale! Michael's always has great sales on picture frames, including custom framing. This was a ready-made frame, which worked because my painting was a regular frame size. (Having spent too much on custom frames in the past, now I make paintings within regular frame dimensions which saves a lot of money in the end.) It is an open-back frame, so I had to hammer and screw little braces on the back, and tie on framing wire. I am very happy with the way it completes the painting. It has black and a dark cherry wood color in it, and relates perfectly to the colors in the painting. Tomorrow I'll drop it off at the gallery, and it's out of my hands!

Friday, August 15, 2008


Since I'm getting very excited about creating a new studio space, I have been looking at famous artists' studios. Doing this, I came across something amazing.

This is NOT Chuck Close in his studio:

Nor is this Jackson Pollock in his studio:

These are miniature replicas of artists' studios by artist Joe Fig. And these are just zoom-ins of the interiors-- he has made the exteriors too. Check them out on his web site, here under "sculpture":

Thursday, August 14, 2008

I recently had a painting photographed for an upcoming gallery show. They are putting together a catalog for the show, featuring 250 Pittsburgh artists in celebration of the city's 250th anniversary. The show itself is at FE Gallery in Lawrenceville. The gallery is small, and the artwork will be hung "salon style" to fit it all in (like the paintings are hung at the Louvre all over the walls) but it will be fun to see 250 current local artists' work all at once like that. I expect to see a lot of variety.

They required professionally photographed art for the catalog, which is going to be sent to galleries nation-wide. I had the photography done by Alex Patho Sr. and Alex Patho Jr, and had several other paintings photographed as well. The results were far superior to the images I had previously taken on my digital camera (which recently broke in my purse). The digital photos that the Pathos took are such high quality, they could make actual-sized prints of my paintings if I ever wanted those, including prints on canvas. This is the painting being used for the catalog and show:

This weekend, I have to get my painting framed in order to drop it off at the gallery on Sunday. The painting is 3 ft. tall and 2 ft. wide. This falls within the show's size limitations (needed to exhibit 250 artworks in a small gallery). I have not decided what kind of frame I will use. I am also considering attempting to make a simple strip frame, but I could also imagine something more substantial around it. I'll have to look at what is available.
Meanwhile, Tom and I are in the process of moving from our tiny apartment to our first (also tiny) house. We want it to be a creative place, and once we are done painting walls and ceilings and pulling out some carpets, we are going to designate space where he can comfortably write and where I can comfortably paint. I am very excited to make it a home, and to have a nice studio space. We have some work to do yet though.