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Best of 2011: Jo Hamilton’s Crochet Heads

It’s not everyday that we post an artist who works with yarn but Jo Hamilton’s crochet portraits are really interesting. I’m really happy that Jo decided to not over finish these and left them without a background and with the yarn hanging down. Sort of looks like paint drips and adds another dimension to the work that you don’t see often in crochet.

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Nicholas Kashian

Nicholas Kashian’s abstractions.

“I feel it is not important, can be even detrimental, to conceive of, or predict outcomes in the studio: accidents, chance occurrences and reaction will direct the coarse of the work. What is important is to be present, to be a sensitive, sincere, focused, open and as powerful as possible. The work is thus finished when either it says it’s done or I abandon it and take to working on something new.

In my recent work, I am moving away from image based painting and drawing towards more ambiguous, blatantly abstract and open-ended works that seem to want to define painting as a pure, visual language.”

 

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Tom Sanford Brings Charlie Sheen to Europe

As New York’s unofficial artistic ambassador to Copenhagen this September, Tom Sanford is presenting a possessed Charlie Sheen grinning while staring fixedly forward, blue flame lighter in hand, delicately pinching a glass pipe.  Sheen is entwined with a bemused, half-dressed woman about to slur out something not worth hearing, or maybe she’ll recite Macbeth: “Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player.  That struts and frets his hour upon the stage.  And then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”  She’s palming a cocktail tray piled with white powder and and balancing a can of Four Loko.  Four Loko is the drink that famously mixed alcohol with stimulants (Wikipedia says it’s just alcohol now), confusingly allowing us to do more and experience less at the same time. This painting is funny, but it also digs in the human condition in ways that we can all relate too.  Sheen’s grimacing face might as well be the anamorphic skull in Holbein’s The Ambassadors, because it carries the same warning.  Tom Sanford is one of those guys, who if you’ve been around New York, you sort of know already.  He speaks with the charisma and articulate precision of an evening news anchor, but instead of scaring you like the news anchor does, he creates strangely healing images.  Tom Sanford’s newest show is “The Decline of Western Civilization (Part III),” and it opens at Gallery Poulsen in Copenhagen on September 2nd.

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Jonathan Callan’s Cyclone Book Sculptures

London based Sculptor and installation artist Jonathan Callan takes everyday books and transforms them into cyclones that mimic weather patterns swarming in an infinite cycle. Callan addresses books as objects rather than sacred cultural artifacts and prompts viewers to explore ideas of materiality: what is a book and what is its purpose? Within a cultural context of hyper texts, virtual communication, the Internet and the commodification of books,Callan’s work encourages viewers to consider how we now address traditional modes of relaying knowledge such as through the use of textbooks, encyclopedias and atlases. In his artist statement, Callan describes his work as addressing, “the relationship of disembodied knowledge to embodied experience and materiality.” (via)

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Gorgeous Objects You’d Never Guess Were Made Of Human Hair

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Studio Swine‘s Azusa Murkakmi and Alexander Groves specialize in creating exquisite designs out of discarded objects (aka trash). For the pair’s latest project, they turned to an alternative unwanted material: discarded locks of human hair. With it, the designers at Studio Swine created Hair Highway, a series of beautiful functional and decorative objects that mimic the look and texture of hardwood but are in fact made of human hair. Mixed with resins and dye, the hair turns to a hard material, one that becomes a potential functional and decorative piece of art work. Each of the objects in the series looks as if it is carved from tropical wood, horn, and tortoise shell yet they were produced at a fraction of the cost with the human hair. According to the duo, hair is in many ways a perfect sustainable resource. It grows up to 16 times faster than many tropical hardwoods, and it’s incredibly strong as well.

You can find out more information about the project here. (via Fast Company)

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Teri Haven’s Intimate Photographs Expose The Lives Of The Squatter Community In Slab City

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Texas born artist, Teri Haven, documents a collective of outsiders in her series, The Last Free Place. Her photographs seem to capture moments from another era, or perhaps, where time in of itself has ceased to exist. Haven spent three years, 2006 – 2008, living part-time in a squatters community in southern California known as Slab City. Beautifully cinematic, her images draw parallels to Harmony Korine’s Gummo, acting as the aesthetic truth behind his fiction. The carnival-reminiscent, dream land of Slab City is a barren landscape located in between the Salton Sea (a man-made lake accidentally created in 1905) and an active bombing site. Beginning shortly after World War II, Slab City became a safe haven for “drifters, dropouts, artists, outlaws and other cultural dissidents who settle alongside the addicted and the elderly.” During her time spent amongst the Slab City dwellers, Haven set out to document the struggle that exists between the boundaries of freedom and isolation. Each portrait reflects its own unique identity, as the inhabitants of Slab City seem to have created personal selfhood through means alien to societal norms. She states:

“Slab City is a collection of fiercely independent, utterly original individuals. Cast out of, or just drifting away from, the “American Dream,” they come here seeking freedom from rules, rent, and the assaults of a society often unsympathetic to the underclass. Some are victims of poverty, of bad choices and bad luck. Others have renounced the “material world,” refusing to trade their time for money; many simply yearn for the sense of freedom that comes from vast open spaces. And though desert life can be extremely harsh, and in truth there is little freedom in poverty, here they find love and strength within a community that accepts and nurtures the individuality of its members.”

 

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Erwin Olaf

Erwin Olaf‘s high gloss photography has a dark twist that I just love.  His Royal Blood and Grief series were my favorite, though all of his sets have quirky themes to them.

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Dead Zone At Nudashank

Baltimore Gallery Nudashank has just wrapped a new exhibition entitled Dead Zone. The exhibition was presented as a “new film” about the future by Alex Da Corte. The materials used in the various installations are so vital to the exploration of the show that they are listed in the press release as characters in the “film” (along with additional artists): “Starring (in order of appearance) Paint roller extension pole, package of dish sponges, enamel paint, gold chain, Coca-Cola can, electrical tape, pink giraffe patterned dust broom,clamp, wire, John Roebas‘ AMONG THE MAXIMS,vertical blinds, Alex Perweiler‘s Chameleon (Juicy Fruit), miniature hand chair, Thigh Masters, metal gridwalls, display brackets, Janet Jackson’s The Velvet Rope cds, Kyle Thurman‘s Untitled (501 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014), John Roebas’ UNTITLED (THE ONLY ONE I CAN’T), IKEA frames, digitally printed hamburger ottoman cover, Borna Sammak‘s Borna Print Burton Jacket, gold foil, carpet, mattress foam, cheese head, shampoo, mirror, Jamie Felton‘s Fog II,ratchet straps, Christmas ball, Andrew Gbur‘s Untitled, Sean Fitzgerald‘s 16 Colors, fringe, leggings, foam, rubber glove, cardboard tube, metal stand, zip tie.”

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