Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

Andy Thomas’ portraits of the presidents

December 1, 2018

Andy Thomas is an artist noted for his popular group portraits of Republican and Democratic Presidents.   He makes interesting choices in how he portrays them, which I will discuss.  Read on only if you are interested in political and historical trivia.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge.

The light in the two paintings is from above, and falls on the faces of Donald Trump (white shirt, red tie) and Barack Obama (white shirt, blue tie).

Abraham Lincoln, the first and greatest of the Republican presidents, is shown with his back to the viewer.  Franklin D. Roosevelt, arguably the greatest of the Democratic presidents, is shown likewise.  But Andrew Jackson, the first Democratic president, is shown off to the upper left side and in shadow.

When I was younger, Democrats honored Jackson as one who stood up for the common man, or at least the common white man, against wealthy merchants and powerful bankers.  We overlooked his being a slave owner and respected him for being an Indian fighter.  That’s not how liberals and progressives think today.

Jackson, by the way, was the first President to be nominated at a party convention.  All the previous Presidents were nominated at congressional caucuses.

Notice that Obama is looking away from Jackson and also from Woodrow Wilson at the far right of the painting.  When I was younger, Democrats honored Wilson as a political reformer and overlooked the fact that he was a segregationist.  Not any more!

Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt and Andrew Jackson are dressed formally.  We can’t see, but I assume that Lincoln’s and FDR’s suit coats are buttoned and they are wearing neckties.  

Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson are shown in ties and vests, as they might do working in an office a century ago.  Donald Trump and Barack Obama also are dressed for office work.  So is Bill Clinton, although Clinton does not appear to have a tie.

Richard Nixon almost always wore a dark suit, but he is shown here with his suit jacket unbuttoned and I’m guessing he’s not wearing a necktie.  The older George H.W. Bush, standing, and the younger George W. Bush, seated, are shown wearing suits, but without neckties.

Harry Truman‘s white shirt and light-colored vest show him also dressed for work.  In one of Thomas’ older paintings, he is shown in the kind of flamboyant Hawaiian shirt he wore during vacations in Key West.

Dwight D. Eisenhower is dressed as if getting ready to play golf.  John F. Kennedy is dressed as if getting ready for a day on his yacht.  

Ronald Reagan and Lyndon Johnson are dressed as if getting ready for a day at their respective ranches.  Gerald Ford is dressed for leisure generically.

Jimmy Carter is dressed as if getting ready for a day’s work in the family peanut warehouse or on a Habitat for Humanity project.  In one of Thomas’ older paintings, he is shown in a cardigan sweater of the kind he wore when giving a TV address on energy conservation.

The choice of beverages for the Presidents also is interesting.  Donald Trump is a non-drinker and is shown with a Coke.  George W. Bush struggled with a drinking problem before he went into politics and has what looks like iced tea.  Abraham Lincoln has a glass of water.

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Good questions

October 26, 2018

Untitled Questions by Barbara Kruger was exhibited by the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles in 1990-1992 and is being reinstalled.  It will remain up until the 2020 elections.

Strandbeests still on the move

October 20, 2018

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A couple of years, I posted videos about a Dutch physicist turned artist named Theo Jansen, who created self-moving, wind-powered sculptures called Strandbeests, which he called a new form of life.  As these new videos show, he is still at work.  Click on Strandbeest for his web site.

Fun with street art

June 30, 2018

Time for something a little lighter.

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A street artist who calls himself Tom Bob has fun with everyday objects.

Click on the links below for more of Tom Bob’s art.

There’s a Genius Street Artist Running Loose in New York City and Let’s Hope Nobody Catches Him by Monika for Bored Panda.

There’s a Genius Street Artist Running Loose in the Streets and Let’s Hope Nobody Catches Him (30+ New Pics) by Ilona for Bored Panda.

Optical illusions up against the wall

May 19, 2018


Manuel de Rita, an Italian artist known as peeta, likes to draw optical illusions on wall murals.  I took these images off a Colossal web page.

I am sure the artist had a good time painting these.  I enjoyed looking at them.  If I spent all my time thinking about government and politics, I’d be depressed.

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The beauty of Isfahan’s ‘Pink Mosque’

May 12, 2018

Click on Huffington Post for still photos and background information.

Jeff Spevak’s farewell

September 25, 2017

Last week the Rochester, N.Y., Democrat and Chronicle, which is my local newspaper and former employer, laid off Jeff Spevak, its arts and entertainment reporter.  Here’s what he had to say about it.

MY OBITUARY MOMENT

by Jeff Spevak

Last week I had caught my bus for the usual ride downtown and found a seat next to another fellow. He looked at me.  “Hey,” he said. “You’re the guy. The newspaper guy.”

“Yeah,” I said.

A few days ago I was watching Paterson, a beautifully subtle film about a bus driver who writes poetry. After a conversation about William Carlos Williams, a Japanese tourist who was sharing a park bench with the bus-driving poet asked him if he wrote poetry.

“No,” the bus driver said.

Twelve hours later, the connection between these two scenes, one from a movie, one from my life, fell into place.  In Paterson, the bus-driving poet’s dog had shredded his notebook filled with poems.  How can you be a poet when you have no poems?  So no, he answered honestly, he was not a poet.

It was the same thing when I got called into the Democrat and Chronicle Human Resources office on Tuesday.  “We’re eliminating your position,” the editor said.

So now my answer to the guy on the bus will be, “No, I’m not the newspaper guy.”

Two characters, a New Jersey bus driver and a newspaper arts and entertainment writer, who no longer knew who they were.

It’s a dangerous thing to tie your identity to your job. I’m not sure where the tipping point came, but somewhere during my 27 years at the Democrat and Chronicle I could no longer tell the difference between my personal life and my professional life.  Maybe it was the day at the jazz festival when a guy asked me for my autograph.  I looked at him and said, “Are you joking?”

The editor was wrong when she told me they were eliminating my position.  Someone else will have to write the long Sunday feature stories about the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra trumpet player whose wife didn’t get proper treatment for breast cancer and died, because the cult-like church they belonged to believed God heals all.  Someone else will have to interview Brian Wilson, carefully navigating his drug-ravaged brain to discover the genius within.  Another writer will have to find the words to describe the giant spermatozoa floating over the heads of 10,000 people last weekend at the KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival.

The newspaper wasn’t eliminating my position. It was eliminating me. That’s just the language corporations use so they don’t have to deal with the humanity in the situation.

I believe I said, “I’ll go get my shit and leave.”  My language might not have been quite that coarse, I can’t remember now.  But that’s what I was thinking.

As my fellow newsroom employees gathered around my desk for the uncomfortable condolences and hugs, I couldn’t find the words to explain how I felt.  Which was… I felt like nothing. I’ve always taken my job so seriously.  Now that I didn’t have the job any longer, it was like I didn’t care.  I hear 27 years of being rode hard and put away wet does that to a horse.

If they live that long.

I wonder what parts of me have gone missing, and which ones will return. A few months ago, I was told I couldn’t use social media for political comment, and I was not allowed to appear at public rallies; not as a speaker or anything official, I just couldn’t be there to see for myself what was going on.

As a condition of employment, I had to be someone other than who I am.

Big companies guard their images closely, and I can’t blame them for that. There are millions in CEO salaries to protect, shareholders must be rewarded for their investment. Yet news organizations use social media for political comment, and they are often observed at public rallies, if only to report what’s going on.

They aggressively protect their First Amendment right to do so. As Mitt Romney famously said, “Corporations are people too, my friend.”

More so, I think.

My final act before walking out the offices of the Democrat and Chronicle for the last time was to go on Facebook.  I typed:

Myself and two of my newsroom colleagues just got laid off at the Democrat and Chronicle. After 27 years here, I feel… relief.

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The genius of Hayao Miyazaki

June 17, 2017

I love the movies of Hayao Miyazaki and his Studio Ghibli.   These videos give an idea of his genius as an animator.  But you would have to see the movies to appreciate his genius as a storyteller.

I read that he is coming out of retirement—or that his previous “retirement” announcement was misunderstood.  This is good news.

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The art of balance

May 6, 2017

Korean performance artist Nam Seok Byun, also known as Rocky Byun, uses common objects, the force of gravity and his sense of balance to create amazing works of art.

He says anybody can balance a single object on a single point because everything has a center of gravity.  But to balance multiple objects—that takes skill, practice and concentration.  Hat tip to Great Big Story.

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The friendly giants of the Copenhagen woods

April 29, 2017

Teddy Friendship

A Danish sculptor named Thomas Dambo made six sculptures of giants out of recycled wood—600 old pallets, a wooden shed, a fence and whatever else he could scavenge and hid them in the woods around his home town of Copenhagen.

The sculptures were made with the help of local volunteers, and each sculpture is named for one of the volunteers.  I found the pictures of the sculptures on the Bored Panda website.

Little Tilde

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A giant statue of Chinese warrior hero Guan Yu

September 24, 2016

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This 190-foot tall, 1,450-ton [*] statue represents Guan Yu, a heroic general and warrior who lived during China’s Three Kingdoms period (220-280 AD).   His famous Green Crescent Dragon Blade weighs 150 tons [*].  For comparison, the Statue of Liberty is 111 feet tall and weighs 225 tons.

Guan Yu was so fierce and righteous that he is worshiped as a god.  This statue, one of many in China, was erected last summer in the Chinese city of Jingzhou in Hubei province.  There is an even larger statue, 292 feet high, in his home town of Changping in Shanxi province.

He was a character in the famous Chinese historical novel, The Romance of the Three Kingdoms, which became the basis of many a Chinese movie and video game and is said to be one of the favorite reading of Mao Zedong.

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Theo Jansen and his Strandbeests

June 18, 2016

Theo Jansen, a Dutch physicist turned artist, creates self-propelled kinetic sculptures he calls Strandbeests (Dutch for “beach animals”) out of yellow plastic tubing and other materials that can be bought at a hardware store.

They are powered by the wind.  His more advanced creations store up compressed air for when the wind dies down.  They automatically turn away from water.  And they automatically anchor themselves in the sand when the wind gets too fierce.

He said he thinks of them as a new form of life.  He envisions herds of his creations, roaming the Dutch seashore years after he is gone.  I think it is fair to call them at least a new form of artificial intelligence.

The video above shows Strandbeests in action.  The two below show something of how they work.

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Sculptures that look impossible

March 12, 2016

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These photographs, which I got from my high school classmate Joyce Mummert Ireland, remind me there are other things in life besides politics.

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Click on 25 Mind-Boggling Sculptures That Defy The Laws of Physics (not really) for details and more sculptures.

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What to do with an old tree stump

January 15, 2016

Hat tip to Joyce Mummert Ireland and Elizabeth Mummert.

Norman Rockwell’s images of Christmas

December 23, 2015

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Is there any artist today who is as well-beloved as Norman Rockwell?

Is there any mass-circulation publication that would showcase an artist’s works as the Saturday Evening Post did Rockwell’s?

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Asian illustrations of European fairy tales

November 24, 2015

Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast

When you think of classic Western fairy tales, such as Alice in Wonderland or Snow White, Disney’s depiction of the princesses are probably the ones to come into your head first. Korean illustrator Na Young Wu, however, decided to bring a fresh and new perspective into our visualization of the fairy tales by re-drawing them in a traditional Korean style called manhwa.

The artist, who also goes by the name of Obsidian on Twitter, left the iconic features of the princesses and other fairy tale characters, such as the dominating colors and the surroundings, but changed their appearances and clothes so that they reflect the traditional Korean costumes, hairstyles, and nature.

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Norman Rockwell on the right to know

October 26, 2015

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This Norman Rockwell painting appeared in Look magazine in 1968.

Here is the caption:

We are the governed, but we govern too.  Assume our love of country, for it is only the simplest of self-love.  Worry little about our strength, for we have our history to show for it.

And because we are strong, there are others who have hope.  But watch closely from now on, for those of us who stand here mean to watch those we put in the seats of power.

And listen to us, you who lead, for we are listening harder for the truth that you have not always offered us.

Your voice must be ours, and ours speaks of cities that are not safe, and of wars we do not want, of poor in a land of plenty, and of a world that will not take the shape our arms would give it.

We are not fierce, and the truth will not frighten us.  Trust us, for we have given you our trust.  We are the governed, remember, but we govern too.

Source: artdaily.org.

Statues in Berlin honor famous whistle-blowers

August 23, 2015

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Life-size heroic bronze statues of Edward Snowden, Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning were unveiled in May in Berlin’s Alexanderplatz Square.

“They have lost their freedom for the truth, said Italian sculptor Davide Domino, creator of the artwork.  “They mind us how important it is to know the truth.’

Domino depicted the three whistle-blowers standing on chairs and he added an empty fourth chair for anybody who wants to take a stand and speak (as shown above).

We Americans like to see the world as a battle between the good guys and the bad guys.  It is hard to accept that so much of the world sees us as the bad guys.

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New Statue in Germany Illustrates Just How Much the Rest of the World Opposes the U.S. Police State by Jay Syrmopoulos for The Free Thought Project.  Hat tip to Avedon’s Sideshow.

Speaking of remarkable sculptures

July 11, 2015

Statue of Franz Kafka, Prague, Czech Republic

Statue of Franz Kafka, Prague, Czech Republic

Source: When On Earth

Hat tip to my expatriate e-mail pen pal Jack

Remarkable sculptures from around the world

July 11, 2015

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Salmon Street, Portland, Oregon

 

DeVarrtkapeon, Brussels, Belgium

De Varrtkapeon, Brussels, Belgium

 

Rundle Mall, Adelaide, Australia

Rundle Mall, Adelaide, Australia

Click on 25 of the Most Creative Sculptures and Statues From Around the World for more like the ones above.

The amazing colors of China’s Buddhist temples

June 13, 2015

Monks in Kandze monastery in Ganzi, China

Monks in Kandze monastery in Ganzi, China

chengduWhen a photographer named Colin Miller visited Chengdu, China, he was struck by the colorful beauty of the nearby Buddhist temples and monasteries.  He spent two and a half weeks traveling through small towns in Sichuan province, taking pictures.

My expatriate e-mail pen pal Jack, who called my attention to these photographs, said many of these temples are Tibetan, or at least are dedicated to the school of Buddhism found in Tibet.

The lavish beauty shown in these photos is a contrast to the austere beauty of Zen temples and gardens in Japan.   Any religion that can inspire such beauty must have something good about it.

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Beautiful mosques of Shiraz, Iran

May 10, 2015

Interior of Shah Cheragh mosque in Shiraz, Iran

Interior of Shah Cheragh mosque in Shiraz, Iran

More photographs can be seen on this Slate web site.

Courtyard of Nasir al Mulk mosque in Shiraz, Iran

Courtyard of Nasir al Mulk mosque in Shiraz, Iran

When I look at these, I think about the devotion and care that went into creating so much beauty.

Prayer hall of Vaki mosques in Shiraz, Iran

Prayer hall of Vaki mosque in Shiraz, Iran

Source: Atlas Obscura via Slate.

The magnificence of baroque churches

April 5, 2015

Cathedral of Saint Francis, Quito, Ecuador

Cathedral of Saint Francis, Quito, Ecuador

These photographs of Baroque churches in Europe and Latin America were taken by Cyril Porchet as part of a book entitled Seduction.

You don’t have to be a Catholic or even a Christian to appreciate the love, talent and hard work that went into creating such beauty.

Asam Church in Munich, Germany

Asam’s Church in Munich, Germany

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Norman Rockwell illustrates the Golden Rule

April 5, 2015

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‘Autumn … … where every leaf is a flower’

October 19, 2014

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Drawing by Melissa Felder, creator of simonandfinn

Quotation by Albert Camus

My street and most of my neighborhood in Rochester, N.Y., is lined with trees.  They are a pleasure to look at, whatever the season, although my favorite is fall.  In the spring, they bud and blossom.  In the summer, they make a green canopy over the streets.  In the fall, they change color.  In the winter, they form a sparkling crystal lattice, or a stark black fractal pattern against the sky.

These trees did not appear all by themselves.  They did not plant themselves.  Somebody years ago took the trouble to plant the trees and create the beauty I now enjoy.   So many of the good things in my life are due to the foresight and work of other people whose names I do not know.