In 2004, artist Kim Alsbrooks began painting regal portraits on discarded cans in a series titled My White Trash Family. The work, which features both male and female subjects dressed in elaborate wigs, stately ascots, and enormous hats, is a juxtaposition of literal trash and fine portraiture. It was as initially inspired by Alsbrooks’ friend, a women’s history professor, who pointed out the historical biases that are present in art. In response, Alsbrooks’ tiny paintings mimic those that you’d find in museum collections. The fact that these exquisite works are produced on trash rather than quality materials is both ironic and amusing.
My White Trash Family is prolific; Alsbrooks has produced over 600 paintings since it started. All beverage cans are pre-flattened, mostly by passing cars or trucks. She describes her technique, writing, “One cannot flatten the trash. It just doesn’t work. It must be found so that there are no wrinkles in the middle and the graphic should be well centered. Then the portraits are found that are complimentary to the particular trash. Generally I depict miniature portraits from the watercolor on ivory era (17th-18th century more or less). The trash is gessoed in the oval shape, image drawn in graphite, painted in oils and varnished.”
Part of the success of this series is found in the dedication to craft, and the fact that she paints miniature portraits really well. But, what ultimately makes these works appealing is not necessarily tangible. The reference to high society and its traditional paths challenged by cheap, “lower class” items is instantly recognizable and relatable at a time when the one percenters rule the world. (Via Booooooom!)
Amidst the overwhelming violence seen in Ukraine’s recent riots, Gizmodo’s Jesus Diaz (an outsider) decides to create visually stunning, but heartbreaking images that explore Ukraine’s reactions to the sudden cultural and political changes.
By taking some of the techniques applied by Sergey Larenkov on his famous series, The Ghosts of World War II, Diaz creates images that merge shots of Kiev from before and after the Ukraine riots using the same vantage points. Through this technique, a masterful trick made possible by the almighty Photoshop, the viewer is able to experience two polar opposites: a happy, peaceful Ukraine, and a chaotic Ukraine.
Looking at the dramatic contrast between happy people enjoying the sun and peace and the anger of people behind in barricades is disheartening.
Matthew Pillsbury‘s long exposure photography series, “Screen Lives,” largely documents domestic activity related to screens that glow from televisions, computers, or mobile phones. Eleven of those photographs, however, represent a specific time during Pillsbury’s life when he fell in love with a man, left his wife, and came out as a gay man to his friends and family. This event changed the direction of Pillsbury’s project. While initially focused on photographing screen scenes with subjects who didn’t move around as much, Pillsbury’s project evolved once he met Nate. “I think it took the freedom of my coming out to make a picture like the one of Nate in Vegas or Cell Phone on Venice Beach. I was breaking down the very rules I had set for my own artistic project,” Pillsbury said. Documenting movement, intimacy, and relationship dynamics, Pillsbury’s collection is at once haunting and lucid.
The eleven photographs representing this transition are titled “Nate and Me” and will be on view at the Sasha Wolf Gallery in NYC until April 20. (via slate)
Born in Switzerland, Mathias Schmied manipulates comic books and magazine images to create wall installations, collages and drawings. His works are pop images transformed. Cut-out graffiti and superheroes take on all new representation and meaning through Schmied’s cautious hand and razor blade. The easily recognizable content of Schmied’s found images becomes confused through his dissection. Pages where all real content has been removed feel empty and even somewhat sad. Depicting only what’s left behind from superhero stories feels like the newspaper without the news. We can only begin to guess at what’s going on.
Other works, such as the “landscapes,” are combinations of explosive imagery. A motif repeated becomes a humorous apocalypse of comic explosions. And Schmied’s “movie soundtracks” depict the “pows” and “kabooms” seen in comics, jumping off the wall and moving into a viewer’s space. Perhaps my favorite are Schmied’s Rorschach comics, which consist of a cut out the figure that Schmied situated in such as way so that he is mirroring his negative space.
Fun, but also thoughtful and engaging, Schmied’s work is both smart and nostalgic.
When the cold and snow are as harsh as this winter, the idea of an outdoor art fair sounds less than ideal to most. But, when cabin fever kicks in, anyone stuck indoors for too long understands the need to take drastic action to make the Hibernation Months bearable. Taking inspiration from the omnipresent winter ice fishing communities that spontaneously gather upon frozen lakes and ponds across the Midwest, the Art Shanties Project groups together to various themed ice shanties into a small winter attraction to give warm-blooded (and hot chocolate drinking) Minnesotans something to get through the cold months.
Proposals for these art-minded ice house are selected by committee, and run by volunteers for a few weeks in the dead of winter, creating an outdoor happening which explores the potential of new ideas in community-driven art. As the Shanties’ mission statement explains, “Art Shanty Projects is an artist driven temporary community exploring the ways in which relatively unregulated public spaces can be used as new and challenging artistic environments to expand notions of what art can be.”
Taking place in Minnesota since 2006, and operating every other year to protect the water quality and natural wildlife after the ice’s thaw, this year’s was the first on the ice of the Twin Cities suburb of White Bear Lake (hence the 25 foot, Bear-shaped bicycle-powered Pedal Bear). Each shanties’ theme range from winter-related like Ice Ice Maybe (which encases boutique items in ice) and the history museum/training course Curling Clubhouse Ice Shanty, to more participatory (such as the boogie-down Dance Shanty and the kite-making Wind Shanty) to the more conceptual (the Lost Found and Wanting Shanty, which collects actual lost belongings as well as existential yearnings). Citing artist-audience involvement to the spontaneous community which gathers on the ice as its main goal, the Art Shanties Project “…provides a unique opportunity for artists to interact with their audience, and vice versa, in an un-intimidating, non-gallery like environment.” (via l’étoile)
Ever wonder how your favorite celebrity/fictional characters would look like if they were covered in tattoos? Maybe your overly pretentious, inked hipster friends would be a little bit more accepting of your unhealthy obsession with the royal family…
In that case, thank your friends at Shopped Tattoos, a Tumblr based online gallery created by Cheyenne Randall that curates images of celebrities that were photoshopped to look like heavily tattooed, ordinary people.
ShoppedTattoos carefully selects/creates images that not only look timeless, but that feature celebrities that are relevant, and usually known for their refined, clean look. Some make more sense than others (for instance, Edward Norton in American History X, or Jonny Cash fit the tattoo profile), but for the most part, it is a bit shocking to see the royal family, or the Kennedys for that matter, covered in tattoos.
Although silly, I think that this project brings forth a series of questions that deal with the future of celebrity/fictional characters and their public appearance. Would our future celebrities be heavily tattooed? Are tattoos becoming mainstream, and plain ordinary (not part of a counter-culture)? Those are things we’ll have to observe in the distant and near future.
In the meantime, you can check up on more images on here.
The record starts simply enough with the opening track, “Unfucktheworld” where she sings about a broken heart and then lets loose with the next track, “Forgiven/Forgotten“. It’s truly a beautiful record from start to finish and quite different than both her debut, Strange Cacti and Half Way Home, but her voice is still the star of the show.
Angel is about to embark on a massive three month tour of the US and Europe so you have plenty of chances to see her live. You can catch her this coming Sunday, March 2nd at the Echoplex in Los Angeles, March 3rd at San Francisco’s Great American Music Hall, and Friday March 7th at Barboza in Seattle. She’ll also be playing at the SXSW Music Festival in Austin as well as at Primavera Sound in Barcelona, Spain. Check out all of her tour dates here and check out her new video for, “Hi-Five” directed by her frequent collaborator, Zia Anger.
When Sally Mann published a series of photographs of her children titled Immediate Family in 1992, she spotlighted childhood with a rich tonal backdrop of a Virginia riverside summer house, and she was met with accusations of child pornography. About twenty years later, caught in a starkly different contemporary artistic current, the photographer Alain LaBoile presents La Famillie, a series that for its distinctive silver gelatin aesthetic and subject matter seems to pick up where Mann left off.
LaBoile’s work, unlike Mann’s, lacks the suggestion of immediacy, binding viewers within the nostalgic frame of childhood play, entirely carefree and unabashed. Mann’s work is urgent: she reveals a haloed shot of her daughter, blonde hair dancing in pool of water like some inexperienced Ophelia, and she tragically subverts its innocence with image of the last nude swimming photo her son let her take. Childhood for Mann is something to be beautifully lost, but for LaBoile, it’s more of a constant realm, easily returned to with a flash and made blindingly undeniable by jarring accents of white.
The innovative power of this contemporary work relies upon oh-so-subtle symbols of purity and incorruptibility of youth; a boy digs himself from mud filled and grave-like abyss, resurrected in glowing white to a young girl who prances about the Edenic verdure. Similarly, another daughter remains preserved in a class case, safely nuzzled between fine china and a white cat. Bums innocently moon the camera like those of cherubs. A boy printed in a blinding sort of white appears to hang from a tree; yet upon closer inspection, he’s just climbing, playing the part of a-not-yet-fallen Adam for an onlooking sister. Take a look. (via Feature Shoot)