If you’ve ever loosed a balloon into the sky, by accident or on purpose, you have probably had that uncanny feeling that you’ve done something simple but irreversible; no matter how high you jump, the balloon will forever be out of your grasp. Now multiply that sensation by 1.5 million; twenty-eight years ago, in a misguided attempt to break the record for most launched balloons in history, the United Way of Cleveland released one and a half million balloons into the sky for a fundraiser known as Balloonfest ’86. As the weather grew grim, the hasty event administrators freed the eager helium-filled balls of color into the sky, and it was all caught on film by the photographer Thom Sheridan.
The images are pretty remarkable; when shot at close range, the balloons look to be raining from above, coloring the skyline and bridges like jimmies over an ice cream sundae. Pink, red, blue, and yellow litter the frame like large-scale confetti. But viewed from further away, the balloons form something resembling an angry plague of locusts that ominously mushroom above the city. They puff up and away, and their colors blur, forming a bloody wound across the sky.
Given the historical context, these photographs are even more theatrical, grim and tragic. Two people died as a result of the event, and a horse was badly spooked and injured. The winds that day caused the balloons to flood together, forming a substantial cloud that obscured the view of aircrafts; helicopters were unable to rescue the victims of a boating accident. In one terrible anecdote, a coast guard member explained searching for the heads of the drowning people and being totally unable to differentiate them from balloons. The entire city remained littered for weeks.
This strange, tragic story reads like a bizarre little fable where excess, pride and even the most well-intentioned aspirations breed disaster and ruin. These photographs, these astounding relics of a city’s hopes and traumas, say it all. (via Gizmodo and Viral Forest)
Imagine a world of fantasy where all your favorite icons are grouped together in old painting motifs and you have a pretty good idea of what French artist Amandine Urruty does. With knifelike precision she draws odd characters from popular culture and places them in dreamlike landscapes that recall Hieronymous Bosch and Leonardo DaVinci. Using satirical nuances Urruty comments on love, learning and family. Her method pokes fun at society and the different masks we wear each day to get through it. Her material of choice is graphite and with it she wields pictures which show great skill. It almost seems the artist could draw anything she wanted which is why it’s even more interesting to see the content which sparks her imagination.
From a formal standpoint hints of surrealism surface as we witness the subconscious mind take over in many of Urruty’s sections. But to draw at her skill level you need to be totally present and the two play off each other nicely. The dominant presence of kiddy characters definitely speaks to the inner child in all of us. Plus from an aesthetic point of view they’re just cute to look at.
Aside from drawings, Urruty has painted colorful murals all over France. The subject matter for those were mostly hybrid animals which recall Maurice Sendak. Her work is currently on view at the Jonathan Levine Gallery in New York as part of the group Exhibit, “Oh, The Places We’ve Been.” Urruty is based in Paris and holds a Master’s Degree in The Philosophy of Art. (via faithistorment)
For his breathtaking project “Atypical,” the Warsaw, Poland-based illustrator and graphic designer Pawel Nolbert creates a typeface unlike any other. Composed of globular, thick brushstrokes saturated with dense color, his letters take on a tangible and material form, becoming what he calls “half-realistic, half-illustrative figurative sculptures.” For the series, the artist, who is also an art director, photographed paint splatters, and he later enhanced them and added depth through digital manipulation.
What emerges from Nolbert’s compelling work is a refreshing and visceral take on the written word, which in our contemporary culture can seem stale and lifeless. Here, language becomes physical as the body, writhing and twisting with vivid pleasure. The two dimensions of the page become the three, with thick, textured lines overlapping and creating an unexpected depth of field. Displaying an impressive grasp on color theory, the artist uses cognitive and perceptual tricks to extend the letters and numbers into three dimensionality. Complimentary colors are layered atop one another, creating an engaging visual dynamic: orange is paired with blue, purple with yellow, and green with red.
In a cultural landscape in which we are constantly bombarded with images, language moves to the wayside, and yet Nolbert finds a way to reclaim our attentions and bring us back to the fundamentals of words, letters, and numerals. Dancing about and leaping from the page, spewing paint in unexpected directions, his “Atypical” posters remind us of the vitality and creative potential inherent in verbal expression. Take a look. (via Colossal)
John Kissick’s paintings are a colorful explosion of abstract patterns, forms, thick paint, and gooey textures. Kind of like a Piñata filled with paint.
Amy Mahnick takes garbage, things like empty plastic containers and packing tape, and makes paintings. The paintings are very realistic, which isn’t something that I normally get excited about, but this case is special, because the realistic technique serves the purpose of making us say “Hey, that garbage is beautiful.” It makes us think about living better. Maybe our stuff could be put to good use, maybe we could be more graceful, maybe our garbage could serve a higher purpose like Amy’s.
Designers and stylists Isla Bell Murray and Jessica Saia recently featured some bold and edgy San Francisco street fashion over at The Bold Italic. In an effort to correct “street style” blogs that have used streets and their permanent fixtures as mere background to “people style,” the duo have captured a variety of popular and stylish items found on the streets, complete with quotes from the fashionistas they encountered. This humorous series lightheartedly mocks street fashion photography, reminding us not to take ourselves too seriously.