Heritage meets art: Saudi Tantora festival to take place at al-Ula UNESCO site

Winter is approaching and Saudi Arabia is preparing for its first winter festival.

The ‘Winter at Tantora’ festival is a fusion of art and culture: it will take place in the kingdom’s historical region of al-Ula.

Beginning on Dec. 21, there will be a series of eight weekend concerts from some of the world’s greatest musicians.

The music extravaganza marks a new era for Saudi Arabia which prepares to host an event which has already been compared to legendary festivals such as Lebanon’s Balbaek festival and Jordan’s Jarash.

Internationally acclaimed artists such as Omar Khairat, Mohammad Abdo, and Andrea Bocelli will take the stage at the Tantora festival.

Voiced report by Al Arabiya’s Shadaan Hammam.

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Last Update: Tuesday, 11 December 2018 KSA 23:41 – GMT 20:41

Heather LaRose: Portrait Of The Young Artist In 2018

L.A. and New York-based singer/songwriter Heather LaRose.Tom Dewh

The life of a young musician in 2018 is a radical departure from one even 20 years ago. I’m not talking about those signed to a label or with people backing them. Musicians today can make their own career until they find their team.

Heather LaRose, who splits time between New York and L.A., is a fascinating case study of the intense time and effort it takes to manage an active music career in 2018.

LaRose has opened for Rachel Platten and Drake Bell and performed at multiple speeches for Hillary Clinton on the 2016 campaign. She’s had a song featured on MTV’s Teen Wolf and has over a million plays on Spotify.

But talk to the personable and ambitious LaRose and you will find she spends as much of her time in meetings and on social media, where she has a hardcore dedicated following, as she does writing. Her work ethic is impressive to say the least.

She has teamed with Gibson, Guitar Center, Smashbox, Hollister, Winky Lux, Alice and Olivia, Revolve, Hairfinity, Make-A-Wish, Yumi Kim among other brands to be able to have artistic freedom and be a touring musician.

That’s much of what it takes to be your own artist in 2018. I met with LaRose, who just released her new song “Kerosene” in advance of an EP coming out in early 2019, and her mother at El Cholo in Downtown Los Angeles while LaRose was in L.A. for Fashion Week.

Steve Baltin: How does the fashion world inspire you creatively?

Heather LaRose: I really like being able to be a part of the fashion and beauty world because they both massively encourage self-expression. One is something you do outwardly that people see right away. And then when it comes to music it’s a layer down, people get to know you and it becomes something more intimate than just your appearance.

Baltin: Who are some of the people who navigate both worlds successfully that you admire?

LaRose: More so I look up to the musicians who have worked with brands and made brand partnerships one of their platforms rather than using the influencer world to gain momentum in the fashion industry. So I really like what Selena Gomez did with Coach and had that collaboration. It even comes across when different artists are only dressed by one person doing the red carpet.

Baltin: Take me through Fashion Week and your involvement.

LaRose: My first time doing Fashion Week was actually two years ago. And I was helping someone who works for AOL cover different aspects and have a musician’s take on it. And I was in the middle of interviewing this one girl named Meredith O’Connor, who I’m really good friends with now. And she’s like, “Oh, I’m actually one of the musicians who’s performing, you should look into it.” So she introduced me to a couple of people and they said, “We love your music.” Two days later her and I did a duet at New York Fashion Week. It was cool how it all came from this one little sparked conversation and making friends, just kind of networking and standing out by being in the fashion world as a musician rather than as a model. Whereas other just music festivals like Lollapalooza, South By Southwest, there are so many musicians, it’s hard to be the one that stands out. But when you’re the only one it kind of works in your favor. I got my start in  music at Lagond Music School in E lmsford. (They are a nonprofit music school that not only have me a huge scholarship to study with former Broadway stars, Grammy board members, etc) I was working there when I got invited by AOL and ADDY Media to help cover fashion week. 

Baltin: Do you model as well?

LaRose: I have worked with brands before, but I don’t like to consider myself a model because my heart is so involved with music. So it is cool when people are like, “Oh, what, that’s what you do?” And I remember just growing up being in chorus all the time, being in school plays, and going to music school, some of the music school kids would call me a showpony just because I was so oriented into putting on the live show and really crafting it rather than writing a 25-minute song with no chorus.

Baltin: How have brands helped you?

LaRose: My last tour was sponsored by Hollister, so definitely finding brands to cover certain areas of cost is huge. And it does help me be an artist who doesn’t have to answer to anybody else’s idea of musicality and just be 100 percent the artist I want to be.

Baltin: What brands would you like to work with?

LaRose: One thing I did see eye to eye on with Hollister was anti-bullying. With my song “Rumors,” which was my last release in May, it did tie together really well. Right now I am working with the brand Revolve, they put on their quasi-fashion and music festival in Santa Monica at the Pier every year. They do a lot with anti-bullying, body positivity, as well as one of their brands they work with inside of that is Alice + Olivia, which is really big on female entrepreneurs. And they are very heavily inspired by classic musicians. So they did a whole [David] Bowie collection as of recent. One of my favorite collections they did was the Beatles and they just celebrate different artists within fashion and the art of design as well and getting behind powerful and up and coming women. And they have tall pants cause I’m almost six feet tall and it’s very difficult to find a nice pair of pants. One of my favorite brands to work with was Hype Nails. They named a color “Heather L aRose” after me and they are cruelty free and plant-based. I only work with cosmetic companies that are Leaping Bunny Certified which means they don’t test on animals, or harm animals in the process of making their products. Hype was a sponsor of a show that I did in Miami for Miami Swim Week and Cosmopolitan Magazine. So the day after the show we ran around South Beach for an epic photo shoot.

Baltin: As you say how an artist dresses says so much about them. So what is the look and image you want to portray?

LaRose: I’ve always been the type of person who’s really loud. I’ve always been four heads taller than every boy in my class, so I’ve always had this way of sticking out. And because of that people used to always be, “Don’t do this, don’t do that, don’t wear heels, don’t wear colors that are too bright.” And so because of that I love leaning back into who I am, this loud, silly person and being able to wear super bright colors, big, fluffy jackets and being able to encourage people to be themselves, even if you are someone who likes to remain more low-key and down to earth.

Baltin: Talk about the relationship you have with your audience and why you believe so many young girls look to you as a role model?

LaRose: I think a lot of young kids, especially on Instagram, are drawn into authenticity because everybody is so photo-shopped. I’m not gonna say I don’t whiten my teeth before a picture (laughs). But I think people are so posed and manicured, whereas if you just hop on your story and you’re like, “This is what I’m doing today” and you are interacting with people, when they share your music especially.

Baltin: I am sure you, like everybody, have those days though where you don’t want to talk to anybody. How do you handle those on social media?

LaRose: Those are the days where I find a cool drawing of something I like on Pinterest and screenshot it, give credit to the artist and then don’t say anything else. So there are ways around it. And obviously you don’t want to be too vocal sometimes because then people are like, “Oh my gosh, shut up, Heather.” But it just comes to down to going with the mood. Some days I’ll get a thousand direct messages a day.

Baltin: I talk about this with musicians a lot and sometimes it can be difficult to find the time to actually work on your music with all of the other demands on your time.

LaRose: I’m always more of a late-night writer anyway, which unfortunately sometimes makes me stay up until five in the morning. But most of the time inspiration strikes when I’m driving earlier that day and I don’t have time to suss it out until later. I wait for a red light and then I do a voice memo. I’m not an advocate of texting and driving, but I am an advocate of stopping at red lights or pulling over and doing a voice memo. I’m pretty good with memory too. So I’ll just keep singing along or humming a certain part of a song and kind of developing it too while driving. That’s why I love L.A.

Baltin: What is your favorite song you’ve written while driving?

LaRose: There is a song called “Along For The Ride,” which I wrote while driving from New York to Virginia. I performed it live a couple of times, but I haven’t put it out yet. So that ideally will be on my EP coming out the beginning of 2019.

Paintings that Are Like Whispers and Secrets

Monique Mouton, “Green, blooming” (2017), watercolor, acrylic and soft pastel on paper, 63 × 66 3/4 in. (framed) (all photographs by Gregory Carideo, all images copyright Monique Mouton, courtesy of the artist and Bridget Donahue, NYC)

“The picture spoke its green,” reads the last line of a poem by Mark Doty dedicated to Joan Mitchell, a tender meditation on the immediacy of her canvases. I pondered Doty’s words as I strolled through Monique Mouton’s latest solo exhibition at Bridget Donahue, the artist’s second show at the esteemed gallery on Bowery, titled The Theme is Green.

Installation view of Monique Mouton: The Theme is Green at Bridget Donohue, New York

Approaching Mouton’s artwork from a purely formalist perspective would do it an injustice, while dwelling on the visual affinities between her work and that of the New York School artists seems redundant: from Helen Frankenthaler’s soak-stain method to the sweeping gestures of Robert Motherwell, the art historical relationship is palpable. More strikingly, what urges consideration is the inherently poetic sensibility that Mouton shares with Joan Mitchell.

“Visual poetry” is a phrase that gets thrown around quite a lot these days. Being an easy crowd-pleaser, it suggests — like instant coffee — that one can get the same experience in less time, for who wouldn’t choose looking at a picture over reading columns of obscure lines? More and more, I see those two words used as self-explanatory, and can’t help to feel a slight frustration at the implication that a comparison to poetry somehow makes an artwork more easily digestible. Poetry has its own complexities, visual or not.

Monique Mouton, “In Her Garden” (2017), watercolor, gesso, soft pastel, sanguine on paper 63 × 75 in. (framed)Monique Mouton, “Landscape” (2018), watercolor and pencil on paper, 53 × 63 in. (framed)

These complexities are exemplified by the poetic sensibility of Mouton’s aesthetic. Adorning the walls of the rectangular gallery space are large patterns of stains absorbed by an intricate paper surface, in various shades of purple, yellow, blue, and, of course, green. Some patterns appear to devour one another, while others gently bump into each other, only to part ways, like when our sleeves accidentally touch on the subway. Then there are those spaces that Mouton leaves blank, charging the surface with anticipation and evoking what is left unsaid. Once again I am reminded of Doty’s poem:

continuous field so charged

as to fill the room in which it hangs

with an inaudible humming,

as if to erase the gallery over which it triumphs

An inaudible humming, indeed. The works hover in the room like apparitions, and I catch myself suddenly feeling a rush, afraid that they might evaporate before my very eyes. In an attempt to document these apparitions, I take out my phone and snap a photograph. However, I find that all I captured is a reflection of myself absorbed by the glass frame in an expansive field of hazy colors.

Installation view of Monique Mouton: The Theme is Green at Bridget Donohue, New York

The works on view do not actually contain much green: only one work represents the color’s authority, with a bleak green shape brushed out over three quarters of its surface. Yet, as implied by the title, green is not merely a color — it’s a theme. Green is the combination of yellow and blue (both of which are amply found in the show). The color signals safety and permission, lack of experience, unripe fruit, jealousy. Mouton’s paintings embody all of this. They are not tube-fresh references to fields of grass; they do not aim to transport the viewer to sunlit places. Rather, the paintings reveal the coldness of the colors, their pallor.

Monique Mouton, “Night / Day” (2018), watercolor, soft pastel and pencil on paper, 63 × 69 3/4 in. (framed)

Soaked up by the large sheets of paper, the colors have a muted quality, reminiscent of a dimmed screen. Like whispers, the power of Mouton’s paintings lies in their subtleness; they project a sense of secrecy that makes one lean in closer to hear what they are saying. Perhaps that’s Mark Doty meant when he wrote that the picture spoke its green.

Monique Mouton: The Theme is Green continues at Bridget Donohue (99 Bowery, 2nd Floor, Manhattan) through January 13, 2019.

‘Every shot he took was an oil painting’: The best of Monument Valley

Columnist Jimmy Cricket writes about his coach trip through Arizona in the USA. Myself and Mrs Cricket were on a coach trip travelling through the great state of Arizona in the USA.
Our guide is encouraging everyone to sing, and the French people at the front go into a rousing chorus of their national anthem.
Then led by a cheerleader the Italian gang at the back, belt out Nessan Dorma.
We’re in the middle and there’s an Aussie couple just behind us, and after they give a boisterous rendition of Waltzing Matilda, all eyes are on us. I launch into Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. I can still hear the collective groans from fellow passengers. Just as I was about to slouch further down into the seat I saw Monument Valley. What a sight. It may not be one of the Seven Wonders of the World but it could definitely understudy for one of them if they ever got ill. Monument Valley is so vast it actually straddles two states; Arizona and Utah.
As I gazed upon it, it all came back to me. The countless times I sat in the cinema when I was growing up in Belfast watching the Cavalry ride across that landscape. It was the Hollywood director John Ford who seemed to get the best shots of Monument Valley, whether it is the Oscar winning black and white movie, Stagecoach, trundling through the Valley covered in snow, or the full Cinemascope colour of The Searchers, where John Wayne sets out to rescue his niece Debbie, who had been taken hostage by the Indians. As I got older I realised how awesome the scenery was. As my friend the late great comedy writer Eddie Braben said of John Ford: “Jimmy, every shot he took was an oil painting.”
It was never a happy ending for the Indians in those pictures, however, folks come closer, things have changed. Monument Valley, is now a National Park and is run by the Navajo Indians. They even have their own government.
As our coach drew up, they greeted us warmly and as we all got off, we climbed into Jeeps that drove us into the Valley. After a memorable journey we then shared lunch with them. Coffee and a taco with a salad and some warm beans thrown in for good measure. The Chief then introduced me to his wife. He said, “Meet Chief Four Horses”. I shook her hand warmly and then enquired, “Does that name have a special significance for you?” Then with impeccable timing he said, “Nag, nag, nag.” Then it was time to take some more photos and then say goodbye to this gorgeous landscape.
I couldn’t help but think, sitting in the Jeep on our way back to the coach. In those Western movies that were shot in Monument Valley in the forties and fifties, the native Americans were portrayed as the baddies, all the dads and grandads of the guys that were showing us around actually got paid to play themselves as actors in those films. So arguably they had the last laugh. That’s one on the napper for the politically correct brigade. After some final snapping with our digital cameras it was back on the coach. Our next stop was the Colorado River, where it does a U turn. It’s known to locals as the Horseshoe Bend. After that it was back on Route 66 and the final leg of the journey back to Las Vegas. There’s More… I recorded a Christmas CD two years ago called, Santa Bring My Wellies Back To Me. My goal was to sell 2,000 copies and make £10,000 for Francis House Children’s Hospice, in Didsbury, Manchester. I’m just 300 CDs short of my target. The CD has nine more original Christmas songs plus an eight-minute stand up with a seasonal flavour. They can be purchased from www.jimmycricket.co.uk for £6 including postage and packing.

Christmas Craft Show & Pancake Breakfast @ St Mary Nativity

This post was contributed by a community member.

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St. Mary Nativity Christmas Craft & Vendor Show will be Sunday December 9 from 8:30 am – 1:00 pm. Over 40 Vendors and Crafters, Bakery, & Raffles. Your one stop shop for Christmas. Free Admission . Come to Mass on Sunday and stay for breakfast & visit our craft show.

A Pancake Breakfast with St. Nick will be served in the Cafeteria, hosted by the 8th grade. Bring the Whole Family. 702 N. Broadway, Joliet.

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Christopher Clark Brings Fandom to Fine Art with The Incredible Art Gallery

A young woman gasps excitedly. “It’s a giant painting of Snape!”

Across the room, a boy pulls his mother in the direction of a Black Panther painting. Some people stroll around in Hogwarts robes. It was encouraged, after all. “We welcome all witches and wizards,” the advertisements proclaimed, “Muggles will be tolerated.”

Paintings featuring everyone from Jon Snow to Gandalf to Wonder Woman to Han Solo line the walls, canvas prints of various sizes stacked next to paper versions. Hopeful fans can pick up a painting of Daenerys on the Iron Throne—or Deadpool, because, you know, why not? Prices range everywhere from $5 greeting cards up to several thousand dollars for the original works.

For the weekend, the second-floor gallery space of the Hilton Hotel in Boston’s Back Bay has been taken over by The Incredible Art Gallery from Denver, Colorado. The gallery has recently started taking their show on the road with pop culture art events like this one, visiting a new city every month or so. Their last stop was Portland, Oregon. Up next is Phoenix, Arizona.

The show features a handful of different artists. Heather Theurer, a licensed Disney artist, has several pieces. So does Kat Tatz, whose Alice in Wonderland pieces could perhaps be described as Lewis Carroll by way of Salvador Dalí. There are a few works by Star Wars parody artist who works under the pseudonym “Bucket.”

The majority of the space, however, is filled by the work of Christopher Clark. A self-educated oil painter, he’s a licensed Marvel and Lucasfilm artist. In 2017, he was Lucasfilm’s featured artist at their annual Star Wars Celebration, and 2018 was his third year as Lucasfilm and Marvel’s featured artist at San Diego Comic Con. The artist himself is here, the main attraction, present to sign purchases and embellish prints with unique painted touches, a perk available for any canvas print bought at an event like this one (unlike the originals, embellishments are done with acrylics—oil paints would take too long to dry.) He paints, he signs, he thanks people for coming, poses for pictures. Conversations with customers range in subject from his artistic training and inspirations to the plot holes of The Crimes of Grindelwald. 

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Clark embellishes a print of “Diagon Alley”

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Hopeful fans can pick up a painting of Daenerys on the Iron Throne—or Deadpool, because, you know, why not?

His pop culture art depicts fantastical worlds, but Clark relies on classical techniques. He uses real-life references whenever he can—visiting Diagon Alley at the Universal Orlando “Wizarding World of Harry Potter” to take reference photos, hiring cosplayers to model for characters in costume. “That’s, I think, why my paintings have a level of authenticity,” he says, “because I paint from real life things.”

Clark is a proud Hufflepuff, a Hufflepuff badge pinned on the paint-covered smock he wears over a Hufflepuff shirt. When a customer approaches his table to get a print signed wearing Hufflepuff gear, Clark shows his house pride (“A Hufflepuff! Yeah, right on!”). His jacket has Boba Fett patches on it. He agrees with the consensus that The Empire Strikes Back is the best Star Wars film, and of the newer entries, he professes admiration for Rogue One. He’s watched the infamous Holiday Special—“as much of it as I could stand.”  Regarding Game of Thrones, he’s Team Daenerys and hopes that Jon Snow won’t get in the way too much.

As an artist, Clark would like one day to be known first and foremost for his original artwork, but he is genuinely a fan of the popular culture he paints. That’s why you won’t find any Doctor Who lying around—he has not gotten around to watching the show yet. In addition to a steady stream of painting work, events like these keep him busy. When someone from The Incredible Gallery runs out to get lunch, he requests something he can eat with one hand, as he usually does at these events. He’s skilled at the art of eating while painting, and he doesn’t want to keep the line waiting.

Red Dots

Clark’s pop culture art started with Lord of the Rings. He’s a fan of the books, but it was watching the Peter Jackson film trilogy that inspired him to feature Middle Earth in his art. “When you watch the movies, they’re so beautifully shot, and they have these beautiful landscapes and scenes in them. Sometimes when I’d watch them, I would just pause the movie and look at it and go, ‘oh, this is gorgeous,’” he says. “I’m like, ‘I should just paint that, that’s a beautiful scene.’” One of the first pop culture paintings he made was “Sam and Frodo’s Journey”—”it’s this beautiful landscape that just happens to have Sam and Frodo in it.” A fusion of the fine art he loves and popular culture he enjoys, he made a whole series of Lord of the Rings paintings.

Sam Frodo Journey

“Sam and Frodo’s Journey”

These paintings caught the attention of Jared Rosen, the Art Director of The Incredible Art Gallery. The gallery started as a traditional fine art gallery, but they realized that demands were shifting. “People weren’t gravitating any more towards these traditional cottage paintings or nice sunset paintings, and we had a high demand for pop culture artwork,” Rosen says, “so we shifted gears.” Included in “shifting gears” was bringing in Clark, whom they quickly got signed with Lucasfilm and Marvel. Rosen admits that pop culture art is not his personal favorite, but it gets people enthusiastic about fine art and supporting individual artists, which, as far as he’s concerned, is the most important thing.

Being a licensed artist comes with definite perks, but also restrictions. Clark has the freedom to come up with his ideas—so long as they stick to canon and get the publisher’s approval. The finished paintings also have to be approved, which can occasionally lead to something of a headache in the form of revisions. One of the more intense overhalls, for example, involved “Not a Jedi Yet,” a painting depicting the lightsaber battle between Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker at the end of Empire Strikes Back. Clark painted their stances like the ones seen in the movie, but Lucasfilm wanted to see more of Vader’s face and have his elbow raised higher. Clark had to reconfigure the pose “without making it too awkward or weird-looking,” which was tough.

Lucasfilm also had some concerns about Clark’s largest painting to date, “Confronting Vader,” an 8-foot-tall portrait of Darth Vader—namely, that in it Vader is around 7′ tall, several inches taller than his canon height of 6′ 8″. “So they shortened the limited edition print of that piece to a 7′ tall painting,” he laments. “I wanted him to be bigger than life.” Unfortunately, the powers that be did not.

Not A Jedi Yet

“Not a Jedi Yet”

Another interesting quirk of being a licensed Lucasfilm artist is that even though the company is now owned by Disney, George Lucas still has first rights of refusal on all Star Wars originals. In other words, Clark has to offer all his Star Wars paintings to Lucas and have Lucas turn them down before being allowed to sell them to anyone else. It’s written in the contract.

To date, Lucas has purchased two of Clark’s paintings—”Master Yoda,” a portrait of Yoda, and somewhat shockingly, “TIE Fighter Sunset,” a painting of the scene in The Force Awakens when the heroes look to the sky and see the First Order arriving, an homage to the famous helicopter sunset shot in Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now. “Apparently, [Lucas] never buys anything that’s not the original trilogy or the prequels,” Clark comments, his painting being the lone exception. “I thought that was kind of an honor.”

While paintings like “TIE Fighter Sunset,” “Not a Jedi Yet,” and “Sam and Frodo’s Journey” all have a relatively direct basis in particular shots from their respective films, he doesn’t always get that lucky. “Sometimes I have to compose the whole thing from scratch,” he says, bringing up the example of “Attack on Takodana,” which depicts the entirety of the 10-minute battle sequence at Maz Kanata’s castle in a single painting.

Attack On Takodana

“Attack on Takodana”

We’ve already discussed some of Clark’s preferences as a fan, so I ask him about his preferences as an artist. “Light is really my favorite thing to paint,” he says, speculating that this might contribute to his admiration for his favorite pop culture works. “So many of these things that I love, the light is so gorgeous in them.”

Metallic things are tricky to paint because “they reflect so many colors and there are so many color changes and subtle things that happen.” He brings up a recent painting he did of the scene from A New Hope where the heroes play holo-chess, “Let the Wookie Win.” “C-3PO was such a pain in the ass to paint,” he says. Beyond the reflective qualities of metal, the perfectly straight lines and tiny details of robots don’t exactly pair naturally with oil painting. “Anything really techy and shiny and metallic, it gets that much more tricky to paint authentically.” That the neurotic protocol droid would prove the most finicky character to paint somehow seems only fitting.

Pop culture portraits, Clark adds, also present a special challenge because there is no margin for error when dealing with actor likeness. “It has to be 100 percent correct or people don’t like it.”

Red Dots

Clark’s work runs the gamut from the Westeros to Wonderland, but what really sells? Judging from the steady presence of the checkout line, the answer seems to be “everything,” but the artist notes that there are definite trends. When I ask him what’s most popular right now, he doesn’t hesitate. “Harry Potter and Alice in Wonderland,” he says. “For sure.” Harry Potter, he notes, is consistently at the top of the list. “People love Harry Potter. The fandom is unreal.”

Alice also has “ravenous” fans. Among all fandoms, Clark notes, Alice is unique in that he doesn’t have to stick to a particular canon, which he appreciates as an artist, as it allows him space to truly make it his own. “This world exists, and this sort of mythos foundation exists, and you can kind of pull from that and make your own variations and people are cool with that,” he says. “It gives me a ton of freedom to really create and do whatever I want with the story and the characters and have a lot of fun with it. With all these other fandoms people get really sticky over the canon. But Alice, no one cares. Like, ‘this is Alice, I don’t care what it is, it’s just awesome.’”

Cheshire Woods

“Cheshire Woods”

I mention that I’m somewhat surprised he didn’t name Marvel or Star Wars as top sellers considering how Jedi and superheroes seem to be dominating practically every other facet of popular culture. Clark thinks that may just be the problem. “They’re kind of oversaturated. There’s a new Star Wars movie every six months, and people haven’t necessarily liked them as much.” Between the feedback loop of backlash and backlash-to-backlash that consumed the Star Wars fandom in the wake of The Last Jedi and the tepid responses to Solo earlier this year, the artist finds that Star Wars paintings haven’t been selling as well.

That said, Clark and all the representatives of The Incredible Art Gallery I speak with comment that trends not only change over time but, as they are discovering with these traveling events, vary by location.

“Portland was all about Alice in Wonderland,” says Jillian, who works logistics for the gallery and runs the checkout table. Everyone else I ask echoes this statement.

“Portland’s a very weird place in general,” adds Nick, an art consultant.

Red Dots

At his station in the middle of the room, Clark keeps two kinds of cards at hand. The first is a business card, with all the usual information. The second he reserves for any guest who should happen to mention artistic aspirations. “This is the stuff that I discovered worked well for me,” he says as he hands one over.

“SP3 – Study. Produce. Promote. Persist. How to be a successful artist, in four (not so) easy steps,” reads the front. Each step is further elaborated on the back. He started giving out these cards a few months ago, realizing that he was frequently being asked about pursuing artistic goals. In addition to serving a practical purpose, he liked the idea of being able to share his advice in concrete, physical form—something that people could literally take with them.

“You can be an artist if you want to. There is plenty of room in the world for you as an artist if you put the work in. It’s not easy. It’s a lot of work, but it’s a very fulfilling career. You don’t need anybody’s permission,” he says, particularly emphatic on the last point.

Though he has loved art since early childhood, when he would follow along to Bob Ross on PBS with his crayons, it took him a long time to take the plunge and pursue art as a career path. “I delayed my art career by fifteen, twenty years, just because of the world in general saying, ‘oh, you don’t want to be a starving artist. You should go get a real job,’ you know. ‘Why don’t you get a real career?’ Which I did.” Clark tried his hand at more or less everything imaginable. He dug swimming pulls and did floral arrangements. He worked as a bank teller—got robbed twice—and in the pizza kitchen of a Costo. He started a computer service company and worked in graphic design. Did stints in telemarketing and real estate.

“The world tells you not to be an artist,” he laments, “So I’m trying to help people out of that and say, ‘you can be an artist, so go do it.’” The “SP3” card he hands over leaves me with flashbacks of sp3 hybrid orbitals and the Chemistry courses I suffered through over the years, succumbing to the very same societal pressures he mentions and pursuing science even though I knew my real passion was for movies. It makes me wonder if I might have made different choices myself if I knew about more stories like Clark’s when I was younger.

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Clark signs a canvas print of “Khaleesi, Mother of Dragons.”

Clark became a self-educated artist by necessity, not by choice. “I would have loved to have gone to a great art school,” he says, “it didn’t really work out for me financially or timing wise.”  He had to find his own education. The internet was an invaluable tool—“an endless wealth of knowledge that I took advantage of.” He tracked down books, video lessons, local workshops—any form of instruction he could find. Teaching yourself takes a lot more discipline, he notes, and self-motivation. Sometimes you have to sift through bad content to find the good stuff, but it is there to be found.

When it comes to art, he believes education matters more in the development of skill than many people give it credit for. “There are things about being an artist that you just can’t learn on your own,” he tells me as he embellishes a field in the foreground of a “Cheshire Woods” canvas print with extra red flowers. “Everyone can have really great ideas naturally, but without the technical training those ideas will never realize themselves the way they really are in your head.”

To Clark, a truer conception of the word “talent” would describe it not as a superior baseline ability, but being driven, “a natural love for a craft.” “It helps push you through all the really difficult times when you have to study and you’re not very good and it’s a lot of hard work.”

He also feels there’s a common misconception that “self-taught” is relatively synonymous with not being taught at all, relying on that mythical concept of innate ability that he doesn’t believe in—a misconception that has no relationship to his actual experience. Which is why in discussing his background he always specifically says “self-educated,” emphasizing that in the place of a traditional art school, he built up an education and roster of educators independently through the means available to him.

In his art, he ended up focusing on oils because he finds them the most versatile medium to paint in. In addition to preferring oils for a variety of technical reasons, he appreciates how established it is. “People respect you as an oil painter the most.” He also loves the classical quality of oil painting and feels a particular affinity for 19th-century artists, listing the Impressionists among his favorites—Monet, Renoir, Degas, not so much Cézanne—though he also admires artists representing a number of other movements and styles.

He feels audiences have been drifting away from this classical quality for the past century or so. In addition to serving as the ultimate crossover between his love of fine art and fandom, Clark’s pop culture artwork can be seen as a strategy to restore a broader appreciation for these traditional techniques by applying them to artworks featuring some the most beloved characters and stories of our time.

Based on the ever-present check-out line and the consistent stream of people coming in through the door, it appears to be working.

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Newly signed prints left to dry

In the first few years of his artistic career, Clark lived by an “I will paint anything for anybody” mentality, enthusiastically snatching up whatever work he could find—couples’ portraits, pet portraits. But as his career has grown and his work has become more in demand, he has had increasing freedom to pick and choose his projects, particularly commissions. “I’m thankful to say I’m busy enough where I can be more picky,” he says.

In fact, Clark is busier than he’s ever been. In addition to four new Alice in Wonderland paintings, he has a commissioned series of musician portraits in the works. He’s due to return to the wizarding world soon because it will have been about a year since he released his last set of Harry Potter paintings. He expects Lucasfilm will be in touch sooner rather than later to inquire about a new Star Wars piece for an exhibit. Come April; he knows he’ll be revisiting Game of Thrones with the release of the hugely anticipated final season.”I’m always playing catch-up,” he admits.

And then, of course, there are events like this one, which take him away from his studio for the better part of a week. He enjoys interacting with other people “who love nerd art the way I do.” That said, he admits that between the travel involved and the nonstop flurry of activity, events like this can be quite exhausting. A day of recovery is usually required when he gets home.

Beyond the work he already has scheduled for the future, there are plenty of pop culture ideas stored away in his brain that he just hasn’t had a chance to make yet. He would like to do a series of ’80s movie posters—”not repainting the movie posters, but doing my own versions.” He’s done one Indiana Jones piece—from Raiders of the Lost Ark—and he would like to do more. He’d like to do a painting of the original Tron film. He also brings up Jim Henson’s Labyrinth and The Princess Bride. He knows if he gets around to making them, they would definitely have an audience—it’s just a matter of finding the time.

Red Dots

In addition to speaking with Clark and The Incredible Art Gallery, I want to hear from the people buying the art, so I start asking around.

I speak with a woman named Kelly. She has four prints in hand—three for her father, a big Game of Thrones fan, and one for herself, a painting of the Hogwarts Express arriving at Platform 9 ¾. She chose it because she works for a company that sells Hogwarts Express trains. She and her family are big-time pop culture art collectors. Art like Clark’s, she says, is appealing because “it’s a classy way to honor your fandom.”

Looking around, that print Kelly chose—“Platform 9 ¾”—appears to be a very popular one. Two college students, Ashley and Lindsey, sit next to a newly embellished canvas print of the same work as they wait for it to dry.  Ashley is a big Harry Potter fan. Though being asked to choose a favorite within the series clearly pains her, she ultimately says it’s a tie between Chamber of Secrets and The Goblet of Fire. She actually came to the event the night before but had been unable to make up her mind, ultimately deciding to sleep on it and return the next day.

She’s never purchased art like this before, but she’s going home with a canvas and two paper prints. “I just really appreciated the art. I thought it was amazing, and decided to buy something,” she says. Lindsey tagged along for moral support and encouragement.

Platform Nine Three Quarters

“Platform 9 3/4”

It only takes me a few seconds to find another customer, Chris, with “Platform 9 ¾” in hand. He’s purchasing it as a gift for his wife, a big Harry Potter fan. “When we went to Universal Studios in Florida a couple of years ago we went on the Hogwarts Express, and she was all excited about that, so when I saw this picture, it was like, oh, I think she’d like this,” he says. He also carries several cards featuring a variety of fandoms, “for birthdays”—except for the Batman card. That one he’s getting for himself. The best Batman, in his opinion? “Kevin Conroy,” he answers without a moment’s hesitation. I ask him why he finds pop culture art appealing. “It’s cool to see things expressed in different ways—to see this stuff expressed in different mediums, I think, is really interesting,” he tells me, “it’s a different way to experience it.”

Part of the genius of the art is that even should you manage to find one of the few people on the planet with no knowledge of Harry Potter, they would still look at “Platform 9 ¾” and see a beautiful painting of a train. The other part is that for people who are fans, the image doesn’t just represent a story they love but also frequently has much more specific personal connotations. Some people I ask say they picked a particular work because they thought it was cool and they happen to be a fan of the specific fandom represented, but more often than not their stories run much deeper than that.

Jason, age 11, a self-identified Slytherin, is also getting a print of “Platform 9 ¾”. “It reminded me of the first movie where he first gets on the train and he’s heading to Hogwarts,” he says of his selection. A fan of both the books and the movies, he thinks Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is the best installment either way.

I try to think if I have ever before seen an 11-year-old boy looking so happy to be buying artwork and come up empty-handed, but Jason is not the only example of the phenomenon in the room. I speak with Josh, also age 11, and also sorted into Slytherin by the Pottermore quiz, though he would rather be a Gryffindor. He’s here with his father, Chad. Three paper prints spanning Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and Star Wars, along with a large Harry Potter canvas, will be his Christmas and birthday presents. Like Jason, Josh says he picked paintings that reminded him of scenes he liked in the movies. “And I like the sunset in this one,” he says of a painting of Hogwarts castle. “It just feels like I’m there when I look at it.”

I end up walking around the event chatting with Clark and a number of visitors for around two hours, far longer than originally intended, for the simple reason that it’s a genuinely enjoyable environment. With all the stories of toxic fandom lately, whether it be angry fans putting together a petition to remove The Last Jedi from the Star Wars canon or harassing actress Kelly Marie Tran to the point that she shut down her Instagram, it’s easy to forget how the fundamental concept of fandom—of people bonding over a shared love of a fictional world and the stories taking place there—is really quite pleasant and wholesome when gatekeeping and other entitled nonsense doesn’t get thrown into the mix.

Fandom can be a beautiful thing. It’s nice to be reminded.

Locals create a buzz during Art Basel in Miami for works on climate change

Locals create a buzz during Art Basel in Miami for works on climate change

Concurrent exhibits by Miami-area artists include paintings made with melted Antarctic ice and public-art murals showing the elevation of local properties above sea level

December 08, 2018 03:00PM

(Credit: iStock)

Many artists use their work to convey messages about climate change, especially during Art Basel, the annual exhibition event in the Miami area that attracts art creators and collectors from around the world.

But this year, the most compelling climate-change works on display during Art Basel, a four-day event that ends Sunday, have come not from New Yorkers or foreign nationals but Miami-area artists.

South of the main venues of Art Basel in Miami and Miami Beach, for example, the Hibiscus Gallery in Pinecrest is exhibiting 100 blue-and-white watercolor paintings made with melted Antarctic ice. The artist, Xavier Cortada of Miami, will name 60 of the 100 paintings after coasts exposed to sea level rise.

Cortada also has created “Elevation Drive,” a public art project that comprises murals showing the elevation above sea level at four intersections on a segment of Killian Drive in Pinecrest. He invited home owners in the area to use his mural images as yard signs showing that their properties are above sea level.

(Credit: Xavier Cortada)Russian-born photographer and Miami Beach resident Anastasia Samoylova is displaying an exhibit called “Flood Zone,” more than 100 photos juxtaposing the Miami area’s self-promotion as a tourist destination with threats to the area from climate change. Samoylova is displaying “Flood Zone” at ArtCenter, her studio on Lincoln Road in Miami Beach, during Art Basel.

Local artist Linda Cheung has a mural in Wynwood that shows possible outcomes of Miami’s response to climate change when viewed with an augmented-reality (AR) software application. The mural shows construction cranes a Xanax pill, the drug for treating anxiety.

But when viewed through an AR app, Cheung’s mural turns into a three-dimensional image that prompts the viewer to choose “no change” or “be the change.” Choosing “be the change” will transform the image to a verdant and sustainable utopia and “no change” will produce a flooded dystopia.

Misrael Soto again is putting up Miami Beach street signs that he deployed during Art Basel last year. One sign with a single word, “stakes,” is positioned near a floodwater pump in Miami Beach and intended to draw attention to what is at risk as the city responds to climate change.

In November, Soto completed an exhibit called “Sand” in partnership with the government of Miami Beach. In the city’s Collins Park area, speakers ranging from poets and historians to city officials made public presentations on climate change in an arena that Soto built with sandbags. Soto told the Miami Herald he did not want the Sand project to coincide with Art Basel because it was aimed the local community, not the international art community. [Miami Herald] – Mike Seemuth

Oil painting by master bought for 112.7m yuan

image Wu Guanzhong’s painting Twin Swallows. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Chinese artist Wu Guanzhong’s oil painting of a serene Jiangnan landscape fetched 112.7 million yuan ($16 million) at Poly International Auction’s sale on Thursday night in Beijing.

The 1994 painting, titled Twin Swallows, was sold at the second highest price paid for an oil work by Wu, who died in 2010 in Beijing. The modern master’s output, especially landscapes, enjoy wide popularity for their color system and for conveying a sense of Chinese poetry.

Wu first created a colored ink painting, also titled Twin Swallows, in 1988. Based on that, he created the oil version with some variations in details. The ink version was auctioned in the same sale, selling for 54 million yuan.

The most expensive piece of Wu’s oil on canvas, and of his oeuvre, is Zhouzhuang a 3-meter-long landscape of the water town in Jiangsu province. It grossed HK$236 million ($30 million) in a Hong Kong auction in April 2016.

Throughout his career, Wu revisited the motif of Jiangnan-the lower reaches of the southern bank of the Yangtze River. A native of Jiangsu province in the heart of Jiangnan, Wu captured the region’s tranquil beauty, giving full play to his homesickness after decades of living in Beijing. His classic paintings of charming Jiangnan easily arouse viewers’ poetic sentiments.

Twin Swallows gathers these elements to form an iconic image of Jiangnan in general: the white walls and gray roof tiles of folk architecture; age-old trees laden with leaves; a clear, reflective river; and a couple of swallows flying in a damp, clean sky.

Wu combined the Chinese and Western styles in Twin Swallows to present a simple elegance. He adopted the classic Chinese painting techniques of baimiao, finely controlled outlining, and liubai, leaving blank areas.

The painting shows Wu’s effort to portray Jiangnan in oil over two decades. In the 1950s, when he was a teacher at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, he heard lectures by visitors from the former Soviet Union who said Jiangnan was gloomy all year, so its was not bright enough for a good oil painting.

Afterward, Wu traveled frequently in Jiangnan in the firm belief that he would find a way to show its beauty in oil on canvas.

“I love the gloomy spring days,” Wu said. “Black, white and gray are the main tones of Jiangnan. It thus became the base on which my works are grounded, and also the start of my career.”

Metro-area juvenile jail hosts third annual Art Show

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Friday, young inmates got to show off their work and talent.

YDDC, the juvenile jail in Albuquerque, held its third annual Art Show featuring everything from paintings to metal and woodwork that was up for sale.

Children, Youth, and Families Department Secretary Monique Jacobson says the kids incarcerated there will eventually go back into the community. She says they want to send them out with skills to get jobs and a sense of confidence, which this event helps accomplish. “A lot of the time spent here we’re working…talking about what brought them here, what some of those underlying issues are. So it’s really nice to just take a day to celebrate what’s good about them and what they can do well,” Jacobson said. They also held a talent show.

NIH balked at a child’s portrait in a rare disease exhibit because it may ‘evoke negative emotions.’ I’m appalled

My friend and fellow rare-disease warrior, Patty Weltin, recently reached out to me on social media.

“I’m so upset,” she said in a private message. “Beyond the Diagnosis isn’t going to the NIH.”

“Beyond the Diagnosis” is an exhibit of portraits of people — mostly children — with rare diseases that have been created by a small army of volunteer artists. More than that, it’s a presentation of the colorful souls within those seemingly imperfect bodies and a bright, uplifting, safe way to display them.

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I was shocked that the show’s organizers were withdrawing it from a planned two-month stay at the National Institutes of Health. The NIH is renowned for its efforts in advancing medicine and improving the treatment of disease, including rare diseases. And it has hosted the exhibit before, as have the FDA, the Mayo Clinic, Harvard Medical School, and others.

What could have prompted this? According to the NIH Clinical Center, “the hospital art curator expressed to the exhibit organizer that one of the portraits in the collection of rare disease portraits may evoke negative emotions in patients.” I’ve seen the portrait the NIH wanted removed, and all I saw was a happy, vibrant young man.

My shock turned to anger. It was a visceral response, one I have, unfortunately, felt many times before.

When I was growing up in Utah, my sister was my best friend and greatest champion. As a youngster, I didn’t know she had special needs — she was just my sister. Once I realized that her life in school was made difficult by some of the other kids, I became her defender.

One day I arrived home from school as the phone rang. A mother was calling to tell my mom that I had been throwing rocks at other kids. As I pulled off my boots and threw my winter coat in the closet, I told my mom I had been throwing snowballs, though they did have rocks in them for greater impact and distance. But I was throwing them only at the kids calling my sister stupid, and a dummy.

My parents understood, though they also tried to teach me to be diplomatic.

My son, Glenn, began having seizures when he was 3. I was better prepared than most people I know to adapt to my family’s new normal. We searched for the cause of the seizures for years. In 2015, when Glenn was 12, he was finally diagnosed with the ultra-rare KBG syndrome. We formed a foundation to help the other 60 patients we knew were out there, and through that I met Patty. Two years later, Glenn’s portrait became a part of the “Beyond the Diagnosis” exhibit, representing the now more than 300 individuals in the world with KBG syndrome.

My experiences with rare disease have shown me that old prejudices, like “if it’s not perfect, it’s not worthy,” remain to this day. That’s wrong. I believe that a person’s value is not measured by how she or he looks, or even acts, but how he or she makes you feel.

When Patty told me about the NIH asking to remove one portrait from “Beyond the Diagnosis” because it might distress patients at the NIH Clinical Center or “evoke negative emotions” in them, I mentally picked up the rock and began packing snow around it.

I’ve lived in this so-called distressing world my entire life. I see a family of variety, where differences are as common as freckles and accepted by most — not just those who revel in rising to the occasion. I see immense love and a deep appreciation for the more fundamental things in life. I see people who decorate their child’s hospital room for Christmas, not just the front room at home. These people take their joy with them.

I know how, when someone with a complex medical condition meets someone else who has personal familiarity with it, they share a depth of understanding that many others can’t comprehend. It’s sharing stories about the best way to keep a catheter or port open and swapping ketogenic recipes at midnight, because who sleeps in the world of rare diseases? It’s standing in front of legislators asking them to help your drooling child and putting your “distressing” world on display so you can make it a better place. Hiding it helps no one, except those who would rather not look.

The organizers of “Beyond the Diagnosis” did the right thing by withdrawing the show from the NIH. Its request to remove one portrait is the same as asking to remove them all.

Annette Maughan is CEO of the KBG Foundation.

The ABC’s of Art are in the Drawing Medium

This post was contributed by a community member.

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“It is only by drawing often, drawing everything, drawing incessantly, that one fine day you discover, to your surprise, that you have rendered something in its true character.”

– Camille Pissarro

For the Winter semester, I will be teaching a “Beginning Drawing” at Glen Echo Park’s Yellow Barn studio in Glen Echo, Maryland.The drawing class is designed for beginning and intermediate students where students will learn how to use many drawing mediums such as charcoal, pencils, pen and ink, and colored pencils to create dynamic drawings. Demos of all types of line-contour, gesture, variable and hatched lines will be presented. Art themes such as still life, landscape, studies and images from your own inspiration will be covered.

In a drawing class, not much tools are needed. One mainly needs a sketch book, pencil, eraser and pencil sharpener to en ter the wonderful drawing world. I make sure in my classes to emphasize on the importance of the study of proportion, shading, line making, perspective, contour + gesture line marks and most importantly on enhancing the student’s visual abilities through many visual and cognitive exercises that open up one’s eyes and brain to better drawing making. I teach the students step by step how to draw subject matters from still life: from a vase to a cone to an apple to a statue. Also, I introduce my students to art history references and works by master artists such as Van Gogh, Leonardo Da Vinci, Picasso and others who loved the art of drawing.

Making art is first and foremost fun. And, drawing which is the ABC of the fine art field allows you to enter a creative world that is not only creatively rewarding but also lots of fun.

My Winter classes start mid to end of January:Here is the online registration link for the Drawing class:”Beginning Drawing”From January 25, 2019 – March 22, 2019 On Fridays 9:30 AM – 12 PMhttp://www.ssreg.com/glenechop

I will also be teaching a morning Watercolor class.Watercolor is a wet medium which means one will be using water, brushes and paint/pigments. The Watercolor medium is a fun, fresh and translucent medium that is very versatile and convenient.

Online registration link and class info:”Beginning and Intermediate Watercolor”January 28, 2019 – March 18, 2019 On Mondays 9:30 AM – 12 PMhttp://www.ssreg.com/glenechop

For more about artist and art teacher Vian Borchert visit: www.vianborchert.com

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Oil painting by master bought for 112.7m yuan

imageWu Guanzhong’s painting Twin Swallows. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Chinese artist Wu Guanzhong’s oil painting of a serene Jiangnan landscape fetched 112.7 million yuan ($16 million) at Poly International Auction’s sale on Thursday night in Beijing.

The 1994 painting, titled Twin Swallows, was sold at the second highest price paid for an oil work by Wu, who died in 2010 in Beijing. The modern master’s output, especially landscapes, enjoy wide popularity for their color system and for conveying a sense of Chinese poetry.

Wu first created a colored ink painting, also titled Twin Swallows, in 1988. Based on that, he created the oil version with some variations in details. The ink version was auctioned in the same sale, selling for 54 million yuan.

The most expensive piece of Wu’s oil on canvas, and of his oeuvre, is Zhouzhuang a 3-meter-long landscape of the water town in Jiangsu province. It grossed HK$236 million ($30 million) in a Hong Kong auction in April 2016.

Throughout his career, Wu revisited the motif of Jiangnan-the lower reaches of the southern bank of the Yangtze River. A native of Jiangsu province in the heart of Jiangnan, Wu captured the region’s tranquil beauty, giving full play to his homesickness after decades of living in Beijing. His classic paintings of charming Jiangnan easily arouse viewers’ poetic sentiments.

Twin Swallows gathers these elements to form an iconic image of Jiangnan in general: the white walls and gray roof tiles of folk architecture; age-old trees laden with leaves; a clear, reflective river; and a couple of swallows flying in a damp, clean sky.

Wu combined the Chinese and Western styles in Twin Swallows to present a simple elegance. He adopted the classic Chinese painting techniques of baimiao, finely controlled outlining, and liubai, leaving blank areas.

The painting shows Wu’s effort to portray Jiangnan in oil over two decades. In the 1950s, when he was a teacher at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, he heard lectures by visitors from the former Soviet Union who said Jiangnan was gloomy all year, so its was not bright enough for a good oil painting.

Afterward, Wu traveled frequently in Jiangnan in the firm belief that he would find a way to show its beauty in oil on canvas.

“I love the gloomy spring days,” Wu said. “Black, white and gray are the main tones of Jiangnan. It thus became the base on which my works are grounded, and also the start of my career.”

7th Annual Sarasota Winter Fine Art Festival

This post was contributed by a community member.

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January 12-13, 2019 sees the return of the 7th annual Sarasota Winter Fine Art Festival. Each year the event is held downtown on Gulf Stream. The Humane Society of Sarasota County (HSSC) graciously hosts this spectacular art event, one of the finest art events in Florida.

Over 130 artisans from across America showcase their art, creating an outdoor gallery of spectacular painting, sculpture, jewelry, photography, glass and ceramics, interwoven with fiber and wearable art, mixed-media, metalwork, graphics, woodworking and more. Find a diversity of styles, techniques and materials in each medium guided by the unique visions of each artisan.

The Sarasota Winter Fine Art Festival is open 10am – 5pm both Saturday and Sunday and is ‘admission-free’. While at the event, please take a moment to stop by the HSSC’s “Big Mac” mobile adoption center to say “hi” to the dedicated staff. Meet their extended family of friends awaiting adoption and perhaps find a new, loving life companion while supporting a wonderful and compassionate organization.

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Cranbrook Art Museum exhibits highlight alumni and staff

Cranbrook Art Museum is hosting three separate but linked exhibitions that showcase work by alumni and an artist in residence Cranbrook Academy of Art who have made their mark in the art world.

The show, “Annabeth Rosen, Fired Broken Heaped”; “Binion/Saarinen, A McArthur and Binion Project”; and “Danielle Dean: A Portrait in True Red,” will be on display at the Cranbrook Museum until March. It is curated to draw attention to Cranbrook’s broad influence on contemporary art. The exhibits opened before Thanksgiving and run until March.

“Our hope with this series of exhibitions is to shine a light on the contributions of both the students that study at the academy and the notable artists who mentor them,” says Andrew Blauvelt, director of the Cranbrook Art Museum. “The work emanating out of the academy has in many ways shaped the world of art and design, and these exhibitions will show how relevant and contemporary that work continues to be.”

“Cranbrook Academy of Art’s legacy is known worldwide, but is often overlooked in the Metro Detroit area,” he says.

A Chinese collector paid $450,000 for a McArthur Binion that was displayed at Art Basel’s Unlimited sector this past summer, and his minimalist, gridlike work has become steadily more popular.

“He is probably our most successful alumnus,” said Laura Mott, the Cranbrook Museum’s curator of contemporary art and design, who added that Binion is the first African-American to obtain a MFA from Cranbrook Art Academy in 1973.

“McArthur admired Eliel Saarinen very much,” Mott says. “For him growing up in Detroit, Cranbrook was another world. He was very influenced by the architecture by walking the grounds.”

Also like Saarinen, who came to Michigan from his native Finland for work, Binion, whose work dwells on personal history, moved to Detroit with his family from a cotton farm in Mississippi, Mott says.

The exhibition includes a selection of objects created by Saarinen from Cranbrook’s permanent collection.

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Close up detail of painting in the “Binion-Saarninen” exhibition on display at Cranbrook Museum of Art.

Photo by Joseph Szczesny

Binion’s work appears as monochrome from far away, but as you get close it has the specific detail of an architect’s drawing or blueprints. After graduating from Cranbrook, Binion moved to Chicago for a teaching job, but he’s always been connected to Detroit and its artists, actively promoting their work

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“Annabeth Rosen: Fired, Broken, Gathered, Heaped” at Cranbrook Art Museum.

Courtesy Cranbrook

Annabeth Rosen, who received her MFA in ceramics from Cranbrook in 1981 and is now a professor at the University of California-Davis, is another successful graduate of the academy in Bloomfield Hills, Mott says.

Rosen’s work is widely collected, especially on the West Coast, she says.

“Each of her sculptures is an amalgamation of fragments, fired and then joined to the mass, the whole accumulating gradually,” Art In America magazine observed in 2017.

“We are honored and delighted to present Annabeth Rosen’s work at Cranbrook,” Blauvelt says. “It is a homecoming of sorts for one of the most important contemporary sculptors working in the medium of clay. Rosen’s monumental and expressive works are a testament to her formidable skills and expressive vision.”

The third artist with work on display is Danielle Dean, who in August was appointed Cranbrook’s artist in residence.

On display in the museum is work by Dean that features a “first-person narrative” — a fictional character who merges in a pair of Nike’s “True Red Vampire” sneakers. Dean’s story examines issues of race, gender, age and class while blending fiction with reality and blurring subject and object.

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Danielle Dean: A Portrait of True Red” runs Nov. 17-Jan. 6. 

Courtesy Cranbrook Art Museum

Dean also is head of the photography department at Cranbrook Academy. Her work has been displayed at various museums in the United States, including the Studio Museum in New York City, the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Museum of Contemporary Art.

“We think Danielle’s work develops dialogues to investigate and question social narratives, such as race and gender, that are thoughtful and topical conversations,” says Amy Green Deines, the dean of Cranbrook Academy of Art.

Week in Review: SpaceX Launches Art in Space, Banksy Raffles Sculpture for $2.50

Trevor Paglen, “Orbital Reflector” (2018). Digital rendering (copyright Trevor Paglen, courtesy the artist and Nevada Museum of Art)

Week in Review is a weekly collection of news, developments, and stirrings in the art world. Subscribe to receive these posts as a weekly newsletter.

On December 3, two artworks launched into the stratosphere on a SpaceX rocket. They will enter an orbit around the planet, along with 64 new satellites from 17 countries carried by the rocket. The artworks stored in the rocket include Trevor Paglen’s “Orbital Reflector,” which will appear as a beam of light in the sky once deployed, and Tavares Strachan’s bust of  Robert Henry Lawrence Jr., the first Black person selected for the US space program who was unfortunately unable to complete his mission as he died during pilot training. [TAN]

Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman to serve in Congress and the first woman to seek the Democratic presidential nomination, will be immortalized in a New York City-funded monument in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray, Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen, and the Department of Cultural Affairs announced the statue, commissioned by She Built NYC, an initiative to construct public monuments honoring the New York City women who have changed history. Chisholm was selected as the first She Built NYC honoree in the year of the 50th anniversary of her election to the House of Representatives. [via email announcement]

Screen shot from the Pussy Riot video of the controversial performance inside the cathedral in MoscowThe Pussy Riot video of their controversial performance inside the Moscow cathedral (screenshot via Pussy Riot’s YouTube)

Russia has been ordered to compensate members of Pussy Riot, the anti-Kremlin punk rock group who were jailed for two years on charges of hooliganism after their controversial performance in a Moscow church. Russia’s Justice Ministry says the country has agreed to the payment in compliance with a European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruling. The ECHR ruled in July that Russia had violated Pussy Riot’s rights, and should pay €37,000 (~$43,500) in damages. [Moscow Times]

The Satanic Temple has crafted its own holiday sculpture, Snaketivity, displayed in a state government building in Springfield, Illinois. The monument stands between a Christmas tree and menorah, depicting a snake wrapped around a forearm clutching an apple. It sits above a plaque reading “Knowledge is the greatest gift.” Illinois Secretary of State spokesman Dave Druker asserted that the Satanic Temple holds the same rights as other religious organizations to display in the rotunda, saying, “Under the Constitution, the First Amendment, people have a right to express their feelings, their thoughts. This recognizes that.” [Chicago Tribune]

Banksy is raffling a motorized sculpture for £2 (~$2.50) to anyone who can properly guess the weight of his remote-control work, “How Heavy It Weighs.” “I’m raffling one of the boats from Dismaland in aid of refugee support services. You can win it for 2 euros if you correctly guess how much it weighs,” the anonymous artist wrote on Instagram. The work will be displayed at a pop-up Help Refugees shop in London until December 22, the last day to enter. [Instagram]

Leon Golub, “Vietnam I” (1972) (via Casey And Sonja’s Flickrstream)

A mother and son duo have been ordered to pay art collector Andrew Hall $468,000, plus damages and attorney’s fees, after a court found them guilty of selling 24 fake Leon Golub paintings. Hall, a hedge-fund manager and art collector, bought the forgeries between 2009 and 2011 from Lorettan Gascard, an artist and art history professor who studied under Golub, and her son Nikolas Gascard. The pair has offered differing accounts of the paintings’ provenance, but Lorettan likely painted them with her own hand. Hall was not their only victim — the supposed Golub works were bought by other collectors, and two were consigned to Wright auction house in Chicago, under the condition that they also sell three works by Lorettan. Artnet reports that all three of the works sold, including one for $45,000, but depositions in the court case revealed that the buyer was Nikolas using pseudonyms. [Artnet]

Western sanctions on Russia have begun to strangle the British art market, as asset freezes and travel bans impede Russian oligarchs and billionaires from their lavish art-buying habits. A recent Russian art sale at Christie’s in London fell flat, selling only 65% of 1,180 lots, mainly to Russian-speaking telephone bidders. According to the New York Times, the British government is reviewing residency rights for more than 700 Russians.  [NYT]

Anish Kapoor’s “Cloud Gate,” colloquially known as “The Bean” (image via Shelby L. Bell’s Flickrstream)

Anish Kapoor has won his legal battle against the National Rifle Association (NRA) demanding they remove an image of his famous public sculpture in Chicago, “Cloud Gate,” in a video promoting their organization. In a statement, Kapoor requested the NRA donate $1 million to charities aiding victims of gun violence, such as “Every Town for Gun Safety, The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, Giffords, The Brady Campaign and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.” [via email announcement]

The Baltimore Museum of Art will launch the Robert E. Meyerhoff and Rheda Becker Biennial Commission to commission artists to create site-specific artwork from underrepresented populations in the museum lobby. It will also offer a fellowship to support a curatorial fellowship for a curator from underrepresented populations. Mickalene Thomas has been chosen for the inaugural commission, opening fall 2019. [via email announcement]

Bloomberg Philanthropies named Jackson, Mississippi the winner of its 2018 Public Art Challenge. Jackson will receive a $1 million grant to complete the project “Fertile Ground: Inspiring Dialogue About Food Access” and public art projects over the next two years. [Artnews]

Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) has received $3 million from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. $2 million will go towards building cross-departmental initiatives around digital experience. The additional $1 million will go towards the PAMM Fund for African American Art, a fund initiated for the purchase of contemporary art by African American artists for the museum’s permanent collection. [via email announcement]

Transactions: William "Bill" Traylor, "Untitled (Black Dog with Red Tongue)" (c. 1939–1940), opaque watercolor and pencil on cardboard, 16 x 13 3/4 inches (collection of Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson, gift of Ed McGowin and Claudia DeMonte)William “Bill” Traylor, “Untitled (Black Dog with Red Tongue)” (c. 1939–1940), opaque watercolor and pencil on cardboard, 16 x 13 3/4 inches (collection of Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson, gift of Ed McGowin and Claudia DeMonte)

Claudia DeMonte and Ed McGowin have donated over 100 works of art by self-taught artists to the Mississippi Museum of Art. The works come from their personal collection of sculptures, paintings, and assemblages, including works by Bill Traylor, Howard Finster, Lonnie Holley, James Harold Jennings, Mose Tolliver, and more. [via email announcement]

This and other notable sales and acquisitions are chronicled in our latest Transactions story.

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