Sunday, August 30, 2009

Mahatma Gandhi Memorial in D.C. by Gautam Pal

Yesterday we drove to D.C. to see Paint Made Flesh at The Phillips Collection. (See previous post.) It did not disappoint! I particularly enjoyed the paintings by Jenny Saville, Lucian Freud, John Currin, and Cecily Brown. 

Nearby The Phillips Collection, we visited the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial... 

The bronze statue created by Gautam Pal is over 8 feet tall, and the following quotes are inscribed on its stone base:

Mahatma Gandhi said:
"An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind."
"I have nothing new to teach the world. Truth and Non-violence are as old as the hills."

Albert Einstein on Gandhi: "Generations to come, it may be, will scarce believe that such one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth."

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Gandhi: "……..If humanity is to progress, Gandhi is inescapable. He lived, thought, acted and inspired by the vision of humanity evolving toward a world of peace and harmony………….."

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Paint Made Flesh

Looking forward to seeing Paint Made Flesh at The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C.  

The exhibit features works from 34 post-WWII artists that convey the non-physical soul through depictions of the human body in paint.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

History of Beauty

I recently finished reading History of Beauty by Umberto Eco.  While the book doesn't cover everything (perhaps with the subject of beauty it is impossible to have a complete history), it does describe several aspects of beauty and historical cultural ideals.  The book also features many nice color reproductions of various artworks.  While the overarching statement seems to be the familiar truism that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and that the notion of ideal beauty is subject to many influences, beauty remains as indefinable and illusive as ever (which is a good thing for artists who enjoy the pursuit).  The book does explore interesting ideas though, such as "beauty cannot exist without its opposite." This idea that ugliness makes beauty apparent is analogous to other opposites, such as darkness defining light with examples in the paintings of Georges de La Tour that feature extremely dark scenes lit by candlelight, or the use of chiaroscuro in the paintings of Caravaggio, where the form-defining light often takes on religious meaning in contrast to its surrounding darkness.  Beauty may exist without ugliness, but perhaps our perception of it is sharpened when its opposite is present, as with good and evil, or hope and despair.  The book also discusses the alignment of beauty with virtue, and how dubious aesthetic beauty can be.  Overall, the book offers a nice collection of thoughts to ponder further.  

Mary Magdalene by Georges de La Tour (above) 

Friday, August 21, 2009

Shepard Fairey in Pittsburgh

To coincide with the G-20 coming to Pittsburgh next month, Shepard Fairey (of Obama Hope Poster fame) has plastered Pittsburgh’s city walls with his striking art. Also this fall, the Andy Warhol Museum will host a special exhibition of his work, Shepard Fairey: Supply and Demand. Here are some snapshots I took of three of his large posters in an alley downtown called Tito Way:

Thursday, August 13, 2009


oil on wood
(click to enlarge)

Katherine Talcott / Mattress Factory

A section of Word Salad, mural by Stephanie Armbruster at the Mattress Factory, part of the Gestures show   (above)

I am eager to see the current exhibit at the Mattress Factory, a museum devoted to installation art.  The exhibit is curated by Katherine Talcott, a woman with a very discerning eye and great vision, whom I had the honor of working alongside for several years as she curated numerous gallery shows and public art projects.  Her exhibits are always thought-provoking and elegantly presented.  

Gestures: An Exhibition of Small Site-Specific Works featuring Pittsburgh artists will be up through January 10, 2010.  I am excited to see Jeremy Boyle is among the artists whose work is included in the show.  I haven't seen him around for a while, but he is a wonderful media artist.

Can't wait!!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Alberto Almarza

Alberto Almarza creates worlds.  This past weekend, he created a world for visionary artists in Pittsburgh to put forth their work and ideas by starting a local Visionary Arts Festival.  

Of the artists I had not seen before, it was Alberto (the organizer), whose work excited me most.  He displayed his handmade view boxes with miniature dioramas inside.  He calls these "visionary chambers."  

Through viewfinder-like lenses, we peered into little boxes to discover tiny rooms.  The interiors, exaggerated by the lenses, became three dimensional with startling depth.  The interiors of the view boxes were all handmade by Alberto-- a figure working within a mysterious lab with insects, and miniature museums with tiny replicas of famous paintings including Starry Night and Guernica, each painted meticulously by hand with a 2-haired brush under a magnifying glass. Expertly crafted, fun and playful.  

Here is a link to a wonderful video where you can experience one of his "visionary chambers" called "The Insect Maker":   At the festival, he told us this one was the one we must see.  

Friday, August 7, 2009

David Downton

illustrations by David Downton (above)

I love the fashion illustrations and portraits by David Downton.  His art has graced covers of Criterion Collection DVDs as well as Vogue magazines.  On his web site, there is an interview where he describes his process, and how many sketches and steps go into making his art "appear spontaneous." A lot of work and thought goes into simplifying his images.  He draws on acetate, and the flat shapes are made using cut paper.  It's his inked and painted lines that I love the most-- they are wonderfully variant and dynamic!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Growing Buildings

Since I was a kid, I have daydreamed about living in an elaborate tree house, so I was excited to read about this... 3 German architects are making buildings out of living trees.  These go beyond tree houses-- the trees become the buildings.  Read all about it and see photos of their projects and process here: 

In somewhat related news, in Pittsburgh this September, One PNC Plaza is going to have a "living wall"-- a vertical garden growing on the side of the skyscraper.  That will be a nice addition to our cityscape!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Lotta Prints

The book Lotta Prints: How to Print with Anything, from Potatoes to Linoleum by Scandinavian designer Lotta Jansdotter makes me want to get crafty.  This book inspires you to put patterns on everything-- lamp shades, curtains, stationary, skirts...  It's crafty and resourceful-- substituting a printing press with a rolling pin, for example.  Fun stuff!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Gig Posters

We bought this awesome poster last night from the merchandise tent at the Neko Case concert:

Signed and numbered original screen print by Judge (above)

See more of Judge's work on Gig Posters here:

We will add this poster to our collection of screen print posters by a local Pittsburgh artist we admire and have been collecting sporadically for a few years now, Mike Budai. Budai makes gig posters as well as stand-alone art posters, and also has a presence on, as well as a couple pages in the web site creator's beautiful publication, Gig Posters. (Gig Posters was created and is maintained by Clay Hayes.)

Original silkscreen poster for Dashboard Confessional by artist Mike Budai (above)

Mike Budai has also collaborated with local artist Brian Holderman to create original art for pinball machines, a project of Unicorn Mountain and the Professional Amatuer Pinball Association, now on display at the Andy Warhol Museum. Fun Land: The Art of Pinball has extended its exhibit time and will be up the rest of this week.