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Photo of urns created by Sheri Mendelson. New York artists Barbara Lubliner, Bernard Klavickas, Shari Mendelson, Janet Nolan, Olivia Kaufman-Rovira, Ilene Sunshine and Tyrome Tripoli are upcyclers. They turn garbage into art. Upcycling, according to wikipedia, is “the process of converting waste materials…into new materials or products of better quality or a higher environmental value.” The term is on everyone’s lips these days—and why not? With increasing numbers of shopping bags flapping in trees and plastic six-pack yokes skittering down streets, it shouldn’t surprise us that environmental detritus would get funneled through the creative process as often as the recycling plant. (more…)

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Happy news! Artists and the people who love them meet at last, on mutual ground. No more stark, unfriendly gallery spaces where some intern behind the front desk refuses to acknowledge your arrival. No more standing around at openings with a plastic cup of lousy wine in one hand and a gussied-up Ritz cracker in the other, hoping for a chance to speak with the artist. No more stratospheric prices that make you feel like a dwarf star in the vast art world universe. Really? Really! (more…)

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Mouna Andraos e-quilt

Some time ago I posted my enthusiasm for the Gees Bend quilts and their makers. Working with their families’ old work clothes, and influenced by their faith and surroundings, the Gees Bend quilters created astonishingly beautiful designs that rival the New York School artists celebrated in our art history books.

Now comes 21st century quilting, where technology meets sewing! I should have seen this coming: electronic quilts made from e-textiles. E-textiles are conductive, meaning they can carry an electrical current. When configured with “soft circuitry“, the textiles can respond to environmental changes—such as the presence of people—as well as to changes in light, temperature and wind. Textile artist Mouna Andreos has combined traditional sewing/quilting techniques with a contemporary design sensibility to create electronic quilts that represent and interact with Canada’s chilly climate: (more…)

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sebastian-brajkovic1The digital world and the actual world can bleed into each other in mind-bending ways. A recent example: the furniture sculpture of Sebastian Brajkovic. His chairs are planted solidly in the physical world yet appear to morph, at light speed, into virtual objects. In some ways this blurring / merging / mashing of staticness with motion can be traced back to the Futurists. They attempted to capture the mechanical speed of modern life in paintings and sculptures. Futurist artists were galvanized not only by first-hand experiences of speedy 20th century living, but also by its representation in movies and photographs. As a child of the 21st century, Brajkovic references computer-generated imagery. Though anchored in “meat space” by needle-stitched embroidery, fine fabrics and ponderous bronze frames, his chairs are transformed by our shared experience of the ephemeral digital trace. As to the usefulness of a Brajkovic chair for the purposes of sitting, who cares?

Photograph from Sebastian Brajkovic’s site.

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jjustillPresident Obama brings out the best in everybody! (Well, almost everybody.) This is especially evident in the creative community. It’s no secret that visual artists have been particularly captivated by Obama’s message and visage. But they are not alone. It seems that writers, poets, composers and musicians have been inspired as well.

I was happy to hear “Praise Song for Day” read by poet Elizabeth Alexander during the inaugural ceremony yesterday. It wasn’t the strongest poem I’ve ever heard but she did take up the limitations of language itself — a worthy topic for any self-respecting poet. It certainly was stronger and more well-crafted than Maya Angelou’s poem for President Bill Clinton. (more…)

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Fall of the Rebel Angels (detail)I just finished Michael Frayn’s Headlong, a novel given to me by a friend. She and I saw “Top Girls” on Broadway last year, and we were both intrigued by Dulle Griet, one of the characters in the play, and the namesake of one of Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s more bizarre paintings.

Headlong is an art history “who done it”; in this case the mystery is whether or not a supposed sixth painting in Bruegel’s series of seasonal paintings (of which only five are extant), might be languishing unrecognized in the country estate of an unsuspecting, down-at-the-heels landowner who’s looking to cash in on items he’s stolen from his dying mother. A college professor who’s just arrived with his scholarly wife and their baby to spend “a month in the country” thinks he recognizes the painting as the missing Bruegel, but keeps the thought to himself so as not to tip off the landowner. Instead, he plots to spirit the painting away and into the hands of a grateful art world, who will presumably heap laurels upon him. But first he must prove to his wife that the painting is indeed what he believes it to be. (more…)

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Photograph by Shasti O'Leary SudantNot since Marie Antoinette uttered, “Let them eat cake!” (not!) have cake and politics been so closely related. Zilly Rosen, a cake maker and artist living in Buffalo, New York created a 1,240-pixel, er, cupcake portrait of Barack Obama to express her excitement and gratitude for the presidential election process. Interviewed by Cupcakes Take the Cake bloggers, Zilly explained the source of her genius idea:

“I knew I wanted to do something to be part of this moment in history. I wanted to send up my creative energy to the “ether” in the days preceding the election. I’m a member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Buffalo, and they always have a bake sale on Election Day for the people voting at their polls. I first thought about making this installation for their bake sale, but then realized I couldn’t have an image of Barack within 100 feet of the polling place!” (more…)

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