Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Top Ten Biggs'est Moments of 2008

Dick Clark's countdown has nothing on my Top Ten list of best Biggs moments of 2008. This past year has been nothing but fantastic, groundbreaking and inspiring for the Biggs Museum. I think the best way to put it is, "we're on the map!" Just this week, the Biggs Museum has been mentioned in Art Knowledge News and The Baltimore Sun, showing just how much the Biggs Museum is beginning to be noticed as a major and important museum in our country. We are looking forward to 2009, which I'm beginning to think will be The Year of You & Art. All three exhibitions on tap for next year, Biggs Shot, Award Winners and Biggs is for Kids, consist of the same major component: you and your art. We are encouraging our visitors not only to experience the Permanent Collection and its history but also to engage in creating art and enjoying work made by local artists, all the while connecting with the people in your community. So cheers to a great 2008, and onward and upward to an even Biggs'er year in 2009.

10. Our smashing new web-site and blog. Anyone in the world can now see why we're such a Biggs deal.

9. Our new clock! The Biggs Museum recently acquired a James Kinkead walnut clock for the Permanent Collection.

8. The Biggs nabs the back cover of the February Antiques Magazine, promoting the Delaware Silver Exhibition.

7. The Biggs opens Forgotten Dreams, the first ever comprehensive display of the works of Delaware painter, Edward Grant.

6. Biggs gives back to local artists of all abilities by hosting the Expressions of Time Photography exhibition and Young at Art, an exhibition featuring artwork made by children with disabilities supported by the Child HELP Foundation and VSA of Delaware.

5. Biggs shakes things up at the fall Margarita Tastings. Those mini-quesadillas were good enough to make it number one.

4. The Biggs' Delaware Silver collection served as the special loan exhibition for the DE Antiques Show in November 2008.

3. Over 400 guests attended the 2008 Biggs Museum Gala, held in May.

2. The Biggs' received an education grant for $5,000 from Kraft Foods Inc.

1. And by far the biggest endeavor ever taken on by the Museum, the Biggs opens the Delaware Silver Study Center in March 2009, accompanied by temporary exhibition, Masters in Our Midst, a 100+page publication, and a slew of programming, causing the largest growth spurt in the number of visitors ever.

Monday, December 29, 2008

"Oh Be Nice!"

I read an interesting article yesterday about the "Happiness Effect." Apparently, researchers are studying the effects our social network's (also known as our friends, family, coworkers) moods have on our moods the same way their behaviors might. For example, Joe Schmo in the next cubicle whom you eat lunch with every day has just started the South Beach Diet, and suddenly your #4 Double Cheeseburger Value meal isn't looking so healthy. Researchers believe that if your network is happy, then you are likely to be happy. I don't recall every meeting someone who didn't have the desire to be happy, so how to we give our so called "network" a little "smile injection"? You be nice of course. And that is exactly what Melissa Morris Ivone over at the Operation NICE blog is doing daily, giving us daily tips on how to be more courteous, fun, warm and make the world a much more lovely place to exist in.

From her Nice News bits and Nice Assignments to her Nice testimonials, there's such a warm feeling to her blog that you only get from a warm chocolate chip cookie out of the oven. After reading a few of the testimonials this morning, you realize, as she puts it, "a little nice goes a long way." So just in time for your New Year's resolution, think about how you can be nice in 2009. And if you're in need of some tips, Melissa is sure to help.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Time's A Tickin' For 2008

My daily morning routine includes a steaming cup of English Breakfast Tea with my Mother and the News Journal. Her comment, "There must really be nothing going on if the News Journal put Longwood Gardens wedding proposals on the front cover," justifies my enjoyment of news broadcasts and publications this time of year: it's complete recap (kind of like Sportscenter on steroids) with side servings of warm fuzzies. All the Best of 2008s remind of us of the bad (economy, gas prices, what else is news?), the good (gas prices right now and hello, Michael Phelps?) and the ugly (Hurrican Ike, bernard madoff).
My most recent countdown included Time Magazine's Person of the Year issue with who else on the cover, but Barack Obama. Included in the issue were Pictures of the Year. The photos document every breathtaking world story of the year, from the massive earthquake in China, Phelps taking a plunge in the Olympics, to the Democratic and Republican National Conventions and scenes of soldiers heading to Iraq. From there we go back to the Person of the Year, where president-elect Barack Obama has got himself a new photo album. Time Magazine stresses that being named Person of the Year is not an honor. In fact, their definition of the designation goes like this: “The person or persons who most affected the news and our lives, for good or for ill, and embodied what was important about the year, for better or for worse.” While the photos of his college years are interesting, Obama's Nation of Hope Collage definitely show that we as a country are anxious for more groundbreaking history to come, no matter how it comes or who it comes from.

While some of 2008's events may not leave you feeling with the urge to raise the champagne glass, there's always a reason to celebrate the future and the endless possibilities of what is to come. And if we didn't, what would we recap in December 2009?

P.S. Don't forget the Runner-Ups. It is my personal belief Tina Few should have made the cover, but that's just me.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Tired of just "untitled"?

I'm always frustrated looking at art work with "untitled" titles. I compare it to buying a puppy, naming the little dog is the best part! So I constantly fail to comprehend why artists, after all the blood, sweat, and tears put into their piece, don't even bother to throw a title line on their work. They certainly can't use the excuse, "I'm not really creative."

I'm not sure if Mark Kostabi has an inability to name his works, but he certainly has a fun way of doing it. You may not have heard of this American artist before but you may have seen his work on several commercialized products. He designed album covers for Rolling Stones and the Ramones and numerous products such as a Swatch watch, limited-edition vases, espresso cups, computer accessories and a Giro d'Italia pink jersey. He's been a leader of the Lower East Side art scene for many years and has just taken the leap into the TV Scene in his show, Title This.

Plain and simple, Title This, is a tv show hosted by Mark Kostabi in which he invited celebrity contestants to compete in creating titles for his works for cash rewards. Now before you think Hulk Hogan and Ryan Seacrest are dueling it out renaming Mona Lisa, this is not your typical reality tv contest. By celebrity, I mean well-known art critics, dealers, jounralists and such. Although us Delawareans are unable to watch Title This live every Wednesday, as it's only broadcasted in Manhattan, you can watch any episode on their web-site. (Thank you You-Tube). Depending on your humor personality, you may or may not appreciate Title This. It's intellectual sarcasm at its finest, but i see it as wit at its best. Who doesn't love a good tag line anyways?

Friday, December 19, 2008

Louvre Loves Lost DaVinci

If you've ever stumbled upon a long lost pair of socks you thought was gone in the laundry mix years ago, I'm sure you can imagine the degree of excitement of one of the Louvre Curators yesterday when they made a fascinating discovering of some unknown drawings on the back of a painting by Leonardo da Vinci. These drawings, found on the work, "The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne" (circa 1500)were accidentally discovered when the painting was unhooked for restoration as part of a program that was in the mix with the "Mona Lisa." The drawings found by the staff included a horse's head and half of a skull, and left the staff so surprised they almost wrote them off as stains.

This is an exceptional discovery because the Louvre had already conducted extensive testing on the back of the painting. After infrared camera photographs were taken, an additional drawing, portraying Child Jesus playing with a lamb was shown. Although these drawings are believed to be done by Da Vinci himself as they are of his style, drawings on the back of paintings are rare and Da Vinci did not partake in this prior. Further research will soon tell whether or not these drawings were done by Da Vinci.

Either about an early Christmas present at the Louvre. Maybe I should head over to the Schoonover Gallery and double check the backs of all the illustrations.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Hit Us With Your Best Shot

Here ye, Here ye, All Photographers living in the Mid-Atlantic, we need your works!

The Biggs just announced a "Call for Entries" for the Biggs Shot 2009 Competition. Biggs Shot 2009 is the second juried photography competition and exhibition hosted by the Museum. Stephen Perloff will serve as the juror this year. He comes with an impressive background as the editor of The Photo Review Magazine and The Photograph Collector Magazine. The theme for the competition is open and any medium will be accepted. The 2005 Biggs Shot exhibition featured 40 selected works and the 2009 exhibition will feature double the amount. In addition, Biggs Shot 2009 will be the first on-line exhibition hosted by the Biggs Museum.

You've got until January 31, 2009 to get your entries yet, but don't wait til the last minute. All of the details are on our web-site. You can even submit an application on-line this time around. So hop to it, chop chop, and hit us with your best shot.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Non-Profit (or Doing) of the Week: The Ultimate Soup Kitchen

Feeding America has just one up'd the McDonald's dollar menu, in a big way. Feeding America, formerly known as 2nd Harvest, is the nation's leading domestic hunger-relief charity, providing food assistance to more than 25 million low-income people facing hunger in the US each year. Feeding America distributes more than 2 billion pounds of food through their network of more than 200 food banks that serve all 50 states.

In this economic climate, the issue of hunger is apparent more than ever. The strong increase in unemployment has sent droves of people to local food banks, pantries and kitchens in search for a meal for themselves and their families. As hard as both our local and national food charities work, they are all equally having trouble keeping the shelves stocked. Hence to say, our help is needed. Even though we are all feeling the pinch, it is now more than ever we reach out to those who are in need.
The Fill a Bowl, Feed America is the perfect solution to those who wish to support hunger, but may not have the time to purchase those non-perishables and get them to the food bank. Simply make a donation on their web-site and the money will directly go to feeding the hungry. Just a donation of $1 provides 16 bowls of food for the hungry!, proving that donations in any amount can make a difference. $20 will provide 640 bowls of food! I'm thrilled to share that one of our greatest supporters of our educational programs, Kraft Foods, is taking our donations further, by matching every dollar donated up to $200,000. This gift is in addition to the 4.5 million dollar gift over three years to Feeding America to purchase and operate up to 25 mobile pantries. By making an average of three trips a week, each mobile pantry can distribute the equivalent of 1,143,042 meals annually to Americans who might otherwise go hungry.

I know you've got a few bucks to spare, so instead of your Starbucks latte this afternoon, fill up some bowls for hunger instead. Your donation will even be recognized on their interactive donor wall.... i dare you to be the top "bowler!"

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Cycle Your Way To A Beautiful Christmas Tree

When it comes to "going all out" for holidays, museums are right up there with Macy's. A combination of cold weather and hometown visits, leave many families searching for ways to entertain in much warmer indoor environments. Delaware historical and cultural museums are no exception...Yuletide at Winterthur, Longwood, Hagley, the Delaware Agriculture Museum...Warm up to the Biggs's no hard task to fill your December Saturdays with morning shopping and afternoon Museum visits.

But it wouldn't be the holidays without all of the decor. We Museum peole want to make sure we spruce the place up for all of our visitors. Wherever you may visit, the Christmas tree is always the center of attention. However, year after year, I feel like I'm seeing the same tree, same angel, same lights, same glass ornaments, yawn. So when I read about Tate Britain Museum's Christmas Tree in London, I almost wanted to hop a transatlantic to see it myself.

Each year, the Tate Britain selects an artist to create a Christmas tree for the gallery. This year's selected Multimedia artists Bob and Roberta Smith went all out and created ‘Make Your Own Xmas’ a tree you not only view but also interact with. The tree, made from timber, bicycles and lamps, will be brought to life by the visitors when they provide pedal power to illuminate the tree. Eight bicycles of various sizes to fit all have been fixed to stands around the trunk, each holding a generator that is connected to a set of light bulbs that decorate the tree. Make Your Own Xmas is a spirited, thought-provoking response to the season of contemplation, celebration and consumerism. The artist's aim was to introduce an energetic, hands-on approach to art by getting the public actively involved in his work.

So much comes to mind when thinking about this work....going green through self-power, interactive art with the public, .... art is moving in a direction that we never might have expected, and everyone is invited for the ride.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Mindless Monday Fun: Wordle Out

Mindless Monday Fun this week gets wordy when you visit Wordle, a new toy that generates "word clouds" from any sized combination of words you could think of. I think of it as boomeranging your favorite saying out into wordle space and it comes back as a beautiful and colorful jumple image.

Why make a wordle? Why not is the question. But from I see this is a great way to creat a visual using words. We may view the words differently in a wordle, than we would on a college ruled notebook. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes. The images you create with Wordle are yours to use however you like. You can print them out, or save them to the Wordle gallery to share with your friends.

A picture is worth a thousand words…

Friday, December 5, 2008

Non-Profit (or Doing) of the Week: Xerox Helps Us Give Thanks

Whenever I see a member of our Armed Forces, I almost always feel compelled to tell them "thank-you" for their dedication to serving our country. With millions overseas as we speak, there are plenty of troops that I (or you) will never get to thank. Xerox has decided to help us and increase community morale with their project, Let's Say Thanks. Originally started in local communities as campaign drives, Xerox hosts a free service that allows visitors to select from a range of postcard designs created by US children and add a personalized message to a soldier. The cards are then printed out and delivered to soldiers deployed in Iraq, Afghanistan and other locations.

There are no tricks up Xerox's sleeves, just good will. Let's Say Thanks is an easy way for anyone to send thanks and good wishes to deployed servicemen and women. their way to provide. All you have to do is pick a design (a nice stack of them picked from thousands of entries drawn by children in the U.S.) pick a standard message or write your own and send! Xerox then prints all the cards and mails them in care packages made by military support organization Give2TheTroops®.To date, more than 12,000 postcards have been mailed to soldiers. With the launch of Let's Say Thanks, more soldiers can expect to receive messages from home.

So take just a minute to write a warm message to travel far, someone is sure to love it. Now, I wonder if Xerox will send my Christmas Cards for me? Nah.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Dancing Makes Temporary Exhibition Double Club Interactive

This is definitely a first for me. I write on installation art frequently because it always intrigues me how we bring art literally into our living environments. German artist Carsten Höller’s seems to take his work a step further, stretching the definition of art, and literally create the environment. Holler, who currently has a revolving hotel room installation on display in the Guggenheim, has just opened up his newest installation: Double Club, a form of a fully operational bar, restaurant and nightclub. Double Club, commissioned by the Fondazione Prada, features two entertainment environments as the bar is divided between two cultural influences: the culture of the West and the culture of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. A line in the middle of the club divides the club from the Congo side, decorate with neon palm trees and the Western side filled with lush leather sofas, similar the neighboring urban night clubs.

Is the music? Of course, but how do you choose the type with two cultural influences? You don't play Carrie Underwood in a sushi restaurant do you? The rotating dj sits in the middle of the club and switches up the genre depending on which side he is facing? And if you're there for nourishment? You shouldn't have any problem finding something to eat on the two separate menus?

Still not enticed? Make your evening visiting this installation a good cause. A percentage of the profits from The Double Club will be donated to the City of Joy charity, which is a hospital for victims of violence and rape in Congo.

So why Congo, ArtInfo sat down with Carsten and asked. Carsten responded, I’ve been asked “why the Congo?” a lot, but why not? It is an interesting place. For many people the name “Congo” has some sort of trigger function — they just think of the political troubles and the wars. We’re trying to propose looking at it in a different way."

And why do this at all? In a sit down with Bloomberg, Carsten says, "Art — I mean its representational function — is in my opinion very exhausted. Art should be experience more than representation. You make your own representation of it. You don’t go through somebody else."

So what to make of this endeavor? Is it for self-promotion? Is it for a good cause? A good time? Is it really art? I'm all for fundraising, but is the distinction between art and entertainment becoming cloudy? Or is entertainment a form of art?