Issa Pineapple

I am never one to tell someone to stop short of their dreams. Look at these students, who without even thinking had their artwork featured in a museum. As reported on Mashable and other sources, Ruari Gray, a student at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen,Scotland left a pineapple in the museum as a joke. The pineapple ended up on display in a case.

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Photo from Dailymail.co.uk

Someone will point to how much this devalues the art world, but what we should focus on here is everyone’s inner artist. Besides, pineapples are welcoming and experiencing a real fashion world moment now (more on that later).

And here’s a Boy Meets World clip where Eric shows off his inner art critic. If you didn’t see a monkey and a coconut, maybe you won’t appreciate the pineapple either.

Space Matters- I love you in a place….

Between the John Boyega and Star Wars awards discussions,  Star Trek reboots, and the casting of Hidden Figures- a movie about African American female mathematicians at NASA from the 1950s through 1980s- it is clear that our cultural fascination with space is not subsiding anytime soon. Space matters. In every intersection from science fiction franchises to STEM careers, the importance of diverse images stands just as it does for television shows or college campuses.

Of course, art is culturally in tune.  Afro-Futurism is becoming more of a household phrase, not one simply used by art world insiders. But of course,  this is not new. Because if the renewed interest depicts anything, it is that people have been about this life.

Example 1:  the illustrations in Blast Off.  This book, published in 1973, beautifully tells the story of a black girl who wants to be an astronaut.

More about these images and details about the work can be found here . Can you imagine how boss this was in the 1970s? It’s still super boss now.

These illustrations were created by the husband and wife team, Leo and Diane Dillon,  whose oeuvre of work is impressive and vast. They broke boundaries as African-American illustrators, wining awards including the prestigious Caldecott Award, the Hugo Award, and the Balrog Award for their commitment to science fiction and fantasy.

Giving credit where credit is due, this amazing work was spotted in Google Cultural Institute, Black History and Culture which they linked to on their homepage earlier this week. Using their pieces, I’ve started my own gallery. While I figure out more pieces to add, think about what gallery you want to create and share it!

Guess Like The Jeans. Flavor Like Pralines.

Of course something like denim has more than permeated pop culture and fashion brand’s influence on the landscape has been well noted. Few brands in the 90s were as noted as Guess. But at this exhibit at the Fashion Institute of Technology, brands from  several eras  are featured.

Denim is perennial style, and this is a complete timeline of #denimhistory . From original work styles to 70s glam, the exhibit eventually ends with modern styles. I didn’t see JNCO represented, but these Moschinos below gave all the joy a visitor could want.

 

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Moschino Jeans? Dancehall Vibes Anyone? FIT, February 2016

 

I Walk a Lonely Road….

It’s the most wonderful time of the year: The New Fall TV Season. And surprise, surprise visual art once again has its place in the pantheon. Last season, a lot of talk was dedicated to the abundance of Kehinde Wiley and Basquiat work showcased on Empire. But the Lyons family isn’t the only hip hop obsessed family with an eye for art. It turns out Fresh Off the Boat has also been making it’s own statements. Both season one and season two features American art classics reimagined with the Asian American cast for the promos.

The first season channeled American Gothic.

Fresh of the Boat Season 1 Poster. Source: Angry Asian Man

Fresh of the Boat Season 1 Poster. Source: Angry Asian Man

Season 2’s art work is a bit more modern and takes on Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks, painted in 1942.

Fresh off the Boat Season 2 Art, Source: Angry Asian Man

Fresh off the Boat Season 2 Poster Source: Angry Asian Man

Because Nighthawks is so accessible it has been used in pop culture often, in everything from The Simpsons to The Tick. Fresh off the Boat’s take is unique because of the explicitness and details of the characters:  a multigenerational Asian American family. While I love this take on the painting, I have to admit my favorite version has always been Gottfried Helnwein’s Boulevard of Broken Dreams. Perhaps it was being able to easily identify characters that I did not identify with that allowed me to connect with this pop culture infusion of the work.

Boulevard of Broken Dreams Helnwein, 1984

Boulevard of Broken Dreams
Helnwein, 1984 Source: Pinterest

Thanks Hopper for the gift of art that keeps on giving.

The First Starbuck!

So, lots of people admire Starbucks’ wonderfully artsy and inspired siren branding, but where else does the everywhere coffee brand and public bathroom pop up in connection to art? The Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) has the answer.

The Wild Bunch , Prepoduction Illustration,  Tyrus Wong

Tyrus Wong is celebrated for his artwork, namely his contribution to movies. While it’s his drawings for Disney’s Bambi that brought him fame, he also did a lot of preproduction sketches for live action movies. This early Starbuck saloon appears in a preproduction sketch for Warner Brother’s The Wild Bunch, released in 1969.

Tyrus has an interesting story which is explained in the exhibit, Water to Paint, Paint to Sky: The Art of Tyrus Wong, which is currently on display at MOCA through September 13th.  If you check it out, also be sure to look at some of the historical information on Chinese-Americans as well as the kites. Because when isn’t it a perfect time to go fly a kite?

Hold Me Closer Tiny Dancer

The New Whitney Museum is open, and amaaaaaaaazing (Oprah voice emphasis) ! I swore I wouldn’t visit for the first month, because- crowds, ugggh. But, I broke that promise to myself and took a bit out of an afternoon to wander through the exhibit America is Hard to See. The premise of viewing America through the Whitney’s permanent collection seemed daunting and migraine inducing at first. I entered all like “Error: CANNOT COMPUTE.”  But as I strolled through the floors, the myriad of connections that make up the nation began to seem natural.

Of course it didn’t take me long to find the first piece I wanted to pose with. Richmond Barthes’ “African Dancer” was near the start of the exhibit and was poise and grace and all that jazz in plaster sculpture form.  According to the didactic this piece was most likely inspired by this bomb Langston Hughes poem, “Danse Africaine.”

The low beating of the tom-toms,  The slow beating of the tom-toms,  Low…slow  Slow…low—  Stirs your blood.  Dance!  A night-veiled girl  Whirls softly into a  Circle of light.  Whirls softly…slowly,  Like a wisp of smoke around the fire—  And the tom-toms beat,  And the tom-toms beat,  And the low beating of the tom-toms  Stirs your blood.

The low beating of the tom-toms,
The slow beating of the tom-toms,
Low…slow
Slow…low—
Stirs your blood.
Dance!
A night-veiled girl
Whirls softly into a
Circle of light.
Whirls softly…slowly,
Like a wisp of smoke around the fire—
And the tom-toms beat,
And the tom-toms beat,
And the low beating of the tom-toms
Stirs your blood.

All of this got me to thinking about other images of dance that have stuck with me through the years.

In sculpture there’s another famous tiny dancer by Degas. He’s also known for his paintings of dancers by color.

Edgar Degas Little Dancer

In contemporary art we can recall the Ernie Barnes of Good Times fame. Those Keith Haring figures seem to get down as well.

And for those of you surviving and thriving in Philly, I came across this entire exhibit dedicated to dance from the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s archives.
Boogieeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!

*Arty Like a Rock Star

Back in  the day when I resided in London, I treasured the British Musuem and frequently took a detour through the first floor on my way to my wonderful classes. And while I did find the Rosetta Stone randomly on my last walk through the doors, I never really saw rocks. Thankfully,  there is the internet.

The British Museum has an African Rock Art Image project that features images of rock art from the continent. Currently, there are 8558 images out of a total 25,000 that have been digitized.   The museum is pretty hype about it becuase of the  progress it shows in being a functioning 21st century insitution with a digital footprint, and also the ability to save the art.  But beyond that this rock art collection is a treasure trove of stories waiting to be told.

Museum number 2013,2034.25 Description Full: Front Digital photograph (colour); detail of painted rock art (pastoral period?) from the bottom left of [2013.2034.23], showing five human and four cattle figures, painted and infilled. The human figures are either a dark or light brown colour

Museum number
2013,2034.25
Description
Full: Front
Digital photograph (colour); detail of painted rock art (pastoral period?) from the bottom left of [2013.2034.23], showing five human and four cattle figures, painted and infilled. The human figures are either a dark or light brown colour

What tale could you tell with this one?

This art isn’t primitive or  lacking any iota of the beauty seen in more traditional arts. It’s precious.

Don’t be a hard rock when you really are a gem.

Hotels, The Next Frontier

If you look, you will encounter some pretty cool art wherever you go. But it’s likely you will have to experience some awful uninventive dentist office art as well.  You know, the dead uninspired water color prints you encounter in your dentist office, municipal building lobby, and until now hotels? Well travelers, your weary eyes will no longer have to embrace the dreary.

The Wall Street Journal reported last week that you can now sleep with Jeff Koons, (and not end up in a Italian adult “art” film.)  They list a few hotels that have upped their collections and documented the trend. The best is obviously the Dolder Grand in Zurich where you can do the running man or stanky leg with a Keith Haring sculpture.

Keith Haring,  Untitled.

Keith Haring, Untitled. PHOTO: DOLDER HOTEL AG

 

Fodors Travel obviously picked up on this article and re-sent their October 2013 piece “13 Hotels with Stunning Art Collections” to their email subscribers (note, I never subscribed but I started getting these last month). So if the Wall Street Journal makes Zurich look like fun, Fodors put the spotlight on The Four Seasons in Toronto where you can dine with Bob Marley over Campbell’s Soup. Honestly, all 13 hotels look pretty amazing.

Photo Credit: Christian Horan/Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts

Photo Credit: Christian Horan/Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts

 

So before you book your next trip, make sure to practice your stanky leg routine. It will come in handy for posing in the courtyard of your luxury hotel!

Off With Their Heads…

Kehinde Wiley is known for his contemporary urban takes on classic art. Particularly popular has been his World Series where he visited countries including Israel, China, Jamaica, and Haiti and painted subjects he met on the street. If you somehow haven’t seen his work yet, you must get going to the Brooklyn Museum where a collection of Wiley’s work is currently on display. The exhibit includes old favorites as well as some newer pieces ranging from paintings to stained glass to sculptures, and even some video.

Judith and Holofernes from the series, An Economy of Grace

Judith and Holofernes from the series, An Economy of Grace

Judith and Holofernes is a piece that takes on several classical works that depict a beheading as described in the book of Judith (one of the books that isn’t part of the traditional Bible). Wikipedia has the story for you. Read it, or just dance till you’re dead.

Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic is currently on display at the Brooklyn Museum until May 24th, 2015.

Mr. Tilley If You’re NASTY

Original  Eustace Tilley 1925 Cover

Original Eustace Tilley 1925 Cover

The New Yorker is known for its covers. Without resorting to a rotating list of celebrities, the magazine has become iconic for it’s brilliant drawings, often with tongue-in-cheek references to current events. The one recurring figure (besides New York) is Eustace Tilley. The dandyish character (kind of yesteryear’s metrosexual) first appeared in 1925 and is featured every year on the magazine’s anniversary cover. Over time, the New Yorker has allowed for several interpretations of Eustace Tilley to be depicted on the cover. And it fits, because New Yorkers are anything but a monolith. They may be cultured or self absorbed or snobby or downright NASTY.

This year, for the 90th anniversary, Mr. Tilley is showing up in multiple personalities like only a New Yorker could. Nine artists were chosen to present their interpreation of Eustace Tilley. The artists given the honor of altering everyone’s favorite dandy are: Kadir Nelson, Carter Goodrich, Anita Kunz, Roz Chast, Barry Blitt, Istvan Banyai, Lorenzo Mattotti, Peter Mendelsund, and Christoph Niemann. And it only fits.

Check the gallery below for the covers. All images taken from the New Yorker website.