Thursday, July 30, 2009

Oh the places you'll go....

My claim to fame is that my first spoken word was "book." Definitely an intellectual step up from "Mommy" and "Daddy", don't you think?

I loved books so much, that I asked for them all the time, to be read to of course (I wasn't THAT smart, ok?) Well, Dr. Seuss was always a favorite. I read (when I finally reached that age) One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish and Green Eggs and Ham over and over and over again until I had the whole book memorized. I eventually moved on to other Dr. Seuss books such as the Sneetches (I would have wanted a star on my belly if possible) and Oh! The Places You'll Go, but I was always drawn to The Lorax. The story of the big bad Onceler (who we never do see) and the Truffula Trees and the far end of town where the grickle grass grows is fascinating and still today serves as a wonderful introduction for youth to protecting the environment.

Well there's great news for Lorax and Seuss film fans everywhere. Yesterday, Variety reported that Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment will produce a 3-D CG animated feature of Dr. Seuss' The Lorax. The target release date for the film is March 2, 2012, the posthumous birthday of Theodor Seuss Geisel, who wrote under the Dr. Seuss pen name. I think the release is timely because of the "green" trend at the moment.

Dr. Seuss has hit the big screen a few times in recent years in The Grinch, Cat in the Hat and Horton Hears a Who, but along with the excitement are the critics. Seuss' widow, Audrey Geisel has even spoken of her displeasure and has refused any more live-action adaptations of Seuss books. Either way, I find it fascinating when popular culture works have lasting power through generations. The lessons in his books are endearing and can be carried through your life.

All I know is, when Lorax hits the theatres, I'll speak for the trees.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Just a lift of the finger....

is all you'll need for access to over 250 works in London's National Gallery. Last month, the Gallery launched a new iphone application, called Love Art, that allows iphone and iTouch users to explore 250 of the Gallery's best and well-known paintings right from their phone. In addition to zoom features to take an even closer look at the fine details, Love Art users can enjoy over three hours of video and audio commentary with stories behind all their masterpieces. Some of the works featured are by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Vincent van Gogh, Rembrandt, and Jan van Eyck. The application is designed to appeal to art enthusiasts and novices alike, giving peaks and hints into these works the eye might not have noticed on its own.

If you don't have an iPhone (like myself), you're not out of luck. The NG has also relaunched its website to offer a full-screen zoom function for the first time and allow users to browse the gallery room by room. The National Gallery is the first major art gallery in the world to offer a mini-tour using an iPhone application.

Love Art can be downloaded from Apple’s online iTunes Store, one of the world’s leading sites for downloading audio content. You can also read more about the app itself an Antennae Audio who was a partner in the project, here.

It's becoming more and more crucial for Museums to incorporate technology into their sphere to stay accessible, relevant and up to date with their audiences. (I finally got the Biggs on facebook about a month ago, so if you're perusing the site, be sure to become out fan!) Love Art is a huge step for Museums in general to expand their global audience. London's National Gallery is a free museum anyways, so why should we have to visit it physically to enjoy all the treasures.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Who's The Wackiest Of Them All??

Who doesn't love Ellen? Ever since she made her comeback in Finding Nemo a few years ago, she's been on a roll with her daily talk show dancing up a storm. The best thing about her show, it's fun...and there's no doubt about it. So it's fitting that our next partnership/contest/exhibition/shin dig is all about fun...because the winner is going to hang with Ellen on the Ellen Degeneres Show this September.
Drum roll please..... presenting Ellen's Wacky Chair Contest! Here's the low down,

Delaware State Fair loves kids, including the Boys and Girls Clubs of Delaware. WMDT loves the Delaware State Fair as can be seen in the constant coverage all ten days of the Fair in the Summer. Delaware State Fair and WMDT (an ABC Affiliate) decided to host Ellen's Wacky Chair Contest with the Boys and Girls Clubs of DE. DSF corralled 10 local artists to go to the ten B&G clubs to brainstorm ideas to create the wackiest chair for Ellen on her show. The Adirondack chairs were generously donated by Tyndall's Casual Furniture. The artists did their best to create the chairs for each club by incorporating all of the children's ideas.

So now we have ten ridiculously wacky chairs competing for a chance to be seen on the Ellen Degeneres Show this September. And let me tell you, they are wacky. Castles, mosquito nets, sneakers, Ferris wheels, roller coasters.... the list goes on and on. Who decides who is the wackiest? You and me and everyone! Voting has already begun and can be done here. The first vote is free, and all sub sequential votes are $1 a pop. All proceeds will go to Boys & Girls Clubs in DE (70%) and the Biggs Museum (30%). Even better, one voter will be the lucky winner of airfare, accommodations and two tickets to the Ellen Show in September...hello elay! (L.A.) The more you vote the more chances you have to win that trip, so get voting stat.

Want to see all of the chairs? Well you can click here, but the PDF doesn't do it justice. You can see all ten chairs on display at the Delaware State Fair FFA/4-H Building (aka, the Ice Centre) starting today through Saturday, August 1st. After that, all ten chairs are coming north to Dover and will be on display at the Biggs Museum through the end of August. Voting can be made at the Fair and the Museum. The winning chair will be drawn on August 28th.

May the wackiest chair win. I'm so excited! Can you tell I'm excited?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Dash Snow, American Artist: July 27, 1981 - July 13, 2009

Dash Snow, a downtown manhattan hipster artist, mostly known for his start in graffiti art died last week from a heroin overdose. And there you have it.

I'd never even heard of Dash until last week, when the art news medias went crazy with reports of his death. Dash is a member of the de Menils family, oil people from Houston who are known for their extensive collection of modern art. His great-grandmother was heiress to the Schlumberger oil fortune and his own mother is Uma Thurman's half-sister. (What's the song? Money, money money. Monay!) At only 13 he was sent away to Reform School for not so good behavior and at 15 he was released, never to return home. He ventured on to none other than the Lower East Side in Manhattan and started the Irak graffiti crew, tagging the walls of the city with his name 'Sace'. He journaled his life with Poloroid photographs and was encouraged to exhibit his photographs, which is where he got his start as a professional "artist."
There were tons of critics though, deeming him the poloroid picture taker with the drug habit. His art was definitely reflective of his lifestyle. Yet, none of the obits really talk about his "work." New York Times stated in Dash's obit, “Sexuality, violence and life’s fragility were frequent themes in Mr. Snow’s work, but there was also an air of exuberant misbehavior.” The UK Telegraph describes one of his exhibitions in which Dash experimented making a "hamster nest" installation by destroying 2000 phone books over five nights.

Stephen Marche from the Star took note that Dash had joined the 27 club, saying, "Twenty-seven is supposed to be the most glamorous age to die." Dash joins Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, all of whom died at age 27.

After perusing and googling Dash for a while this morning looking at his work, I have this strange feeling that I saw a slideshow of his polaroids at MOMA last winter. His artwork is shocking and left me with butterflies in my stomach, and they're not the same kind I get when I look at Johnny Depp. However, I don't think Dash seemed to care at the thought of social disapproval. I think he probably stopped caring when he decided not to go home after reform school. Is his way of shocking us with his work the same as a painter creating something beautiful just to have it be easy on the eyes? I'm not too sure.

Everyone seemed to think Dash was on the wagon as he was recently in rehab for drugs this past Spring. The news of his death is unfortunately cliche. All I know is this, the world we live in is a fascinating place to experience, enjoy or hate through all of our senses. Fascinating enough on its own that there's no need to indulge in substances to enhance that experience. As much as I'd like to think that Dash's death would "shock" his bohemian circle enough to wake them up out of their drugged haze as his own art shocked the rest of the world, I don't see it happening anytime soon.

Friday, July 17, 2009

People Do Really Live In A Box

I must be on a Modern performance art kick this week.

Chinese artist Xing Xin has locked himself in small iron box about the size of a refrigerator on Venice's Murano Island on Monday night and plans to camp out there for 49 days during the 53rd Venice Art Biennale. What?

Xing's reasoning for hibernation is a protest against China's 30 year old one-child policy to keep population under control. What is Xing going to be doing in the box? Not some Sudoku my friend.. he is counting the characters in the 150 books that constitute China's nine-year old education program. Supposedly he will not be freed until he completes his task. Wouldn't you hate to lose track?

I don't know if you would call it "enjoy", maybe "view" is a better term, but the public can view Xing inside the iron box on two waterproof, outdoor televisions. The public also need not worry about Xing's well-being as the box is equipped to allow the artist to be fed and relieve himself. He also has two assistants monitoring him throughout the "work."

The title of the project is fitting as"The Black Box." Spazio Berengo, a new glass museum opening later this year in Venice is funding the project. Xing plans to repeat the project in a glass box, ridding the necessity for LED tv's.
I think Xin's box project is leaning on the political protest side more than the art performance side. However, it's a clear expression of outcry through art. I'm anxious to see the outcome of this project. I highly doubt the Chinese will be able to add more kiddies to their crews in 49 days, but it will spark conversation and debate, bringing attention to the policy, which I'm sure is what Xing is trying to stir up.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Your grand total is 30,000 pounds, paper or plastic?

I'm going to have to take a trip to Londontown soon and visit the Tate because they are burning up the Art news circuits recently.....this time for one of their recent acquisitions for 30,000 pounds, which happens to be a 70 pound total grocery store receipt. I'm not joking. Welcome to the world of modern art.

The receipt, or should I say work of art, entitled Monochrome Till Receipt (White), is by artist Ceal Floyer. It consists of a receipt for 49 items purchased by the artist herself at Morrisons (a British grocery store) for a total of £70.32. All of the items on the receipt are white: including sugar, eggs and rice. Monochrome is on display at London's Tate Britain in a new exhibition, Tate's Classified: Contemporary Art exhibition, a collection of the museum's recent acquisitions.

Floyer describes the work as a modern still life where objects are imagined rather than shown and invites to try and conjure up what they will look like. Floyer now lives in Germany, but didn't leave the country without giving specific intructions, such as a list of instructions from the artist, stating that a new receipt must be used every time it is shown. Tate references Monochrome by saying the work is a reference "to the tradition and supposed purity of modernist monochromatic painting. A shopping receipt is a visually unimpressive record of a transaction. Displayed on a wall, we are invited to view it in different ways, beyond the act of shopping itself." The Tate will not disclose how much it paid for the work until the publication of its annual report in September, but three years ago the receipt was estimated to be worth £30,000.

I just really don't have much of a comment on this one. Art appreciation is a complex matter isn't it?

Monday, July 13, 2009

No Dress Rehearsal Required

I'm not much on plays, or musicals for that matter. The combination of a dark room with music playing puts me right to sleep, unless it's STOMP and I can't seem to find the Advil in my purse. But there is a whole other world of performance art out there that is extremely intriguing. Prior to this gig at the Biggs, my idea of performance art didn't extend much beyond the Season Six Sex and the City episode, when Carrie and Charlotte visit a gallery where a girl is sitting without food or water for as many days as she can. To me, it was just plain strange. What would possess this woman to do this? What message was she trying to convey?

We might never find out what that artist was doing on Sex and the City, but we do know what Paola Pivi was trying to convey in one of her most recent performances at the Tate Modern.....nothing. Pivi is an Italian artist living in Alaska who is know for her surreal art, taking us away from the everyday realities and boredoms. She most recently took her art to a new level in terms of participation in 1000 at the Tate. She choreographed a performance that brought together 1,000 Brits to scream in unison at the Tate. Pivi wanted everyone to scream for whatever reason they wish (stress, anxiety, fear, anger...) and however they wish to. People of all sorts showed up to scream, including an organization screaming for a Free Tibet.

The performance went down as simple as it sounds A cue of "one, two, three" and 1,000 people screamed, followed by a round of applause as if they had just gotten through Phantom of the Opera. Best of all though, anyone can see it thanks to YouTube.

Pivi states in an interview, “I liked the notion of all these different people coming together to perform something completely unrehearsed." Pivi says her performance is not intended “to startle anyone” and does not have any “specific meaning”. After hearing this, 1,000 makes complete sense. Everyone created their own reaction to it, their own experience. But take all those provoking emotions and put them together, and it creates just one noise, a scream that blends so perfectly is caused a roaring applause.

The Biggs is doing their own community art project in August called Wish for the World. Everyone is invited to First Friday in August to write down their wish for the world, which will be hung on wish trees throughout the Museum.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

When the boss is away, the music will play.

I think to best define my July's at work are called, post-Gala depression: a race from December to the 3rd Saturday in May for our annual fundraiser, followed by an annual June sabbatical of vacation. I'm officially back in the saddle, but with Linda (the boss) and Ryan (curator) gone this week, it's been way too quiet in the Biggs offices. One way to liven up the joint? Music, of course, but not in the sort of "this is giving me a headache, the music is too loud in Abercrombie" kind of way. I'm not up to date with technology and don't own one of those portable ipod speakers, so I turn to on-line streaming, as it's free and I'm always surprised as to what is coming up next.

As for my radio click, Pandora is an old faithful, just type in who you're into at the moment and bam, you've got yourself a customized play list of songs by that artist and by other artists similar in nature. This was created by the Music Genome Project, a group of musicians and music technologists that study and analyze the DNA of songs, which includes everything from melody, harmony and rhythm, to instrumentation, orchestration, arrangement, lyrics, and of course the rich world of singing and vocal harmony.

As much as I love Pandora, my Phil Collins playlist was getting kind of stale. So I was exhilarated to discover the blog, I Listen to Everything, in a magazine this morning. It's written by music lover Diana Miller, who is the talent executive at the Carson Daly Show. She has the awesome day job of booking the live performances for the show. This gal just plain loves music and is open to everything, rock to rap, unknown indie to the latest Britney. I Listen to Everything is for the people who might be sick of their current ipod tracks and are looking for something new, but need a littler steering in the right direction. Along the right side of her blog you can listen to her play list, which consists of all the music she's blogged about. The word mix doesn't even begin to describe the mixture of music in the play list. As for her blog entries she does artist profiles on bands she's booked and bands she is currently obsessed with. Her approach is not typical of most music blogs, as most tend to be theoretical..."you should listen to this because of his...blah blah blah." and leaving you with the feeling, "Am I even cool enough to listen to this?" In I Listen to Everything, Diana serves almost like a personal cheerleader saying "Come on, put in the ear plugs and rock out!" So if you might be a bit nervous or intimidated by high-end music critics, don't worry and take the plunge.

Music is fun, it sounds good and deserves to be enjoyed. Intern Kath and I have been jamming all morning. Maybe the boss will take off next week too.... on that note, I'm going to get back to work.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Oh What I Would Give....

To have a crowd like this in the Biggs one day....
Oh ya know, just another summer day at the Louvre. I'll give you one guess as to who all these touristas are looking at....Mona Lisa obviously. Who cares about the rest of the place? As must as I wish I was in Paris this week, sadly these are not my photographs.
They are however of another blogger's, Sebastian Puig, of, a fantastic art blog I just discovered. Based out of Brooklyn, NY, this blog covers anything and everything weird, exciting and interesting about art. Sebastion was asked to write for a companion guide to a famous novel by Dan Brown and was challenged to try and figure out which painting in the Grand Gallerie could have been yanked off the wall in a key murder scene. He clearly was not alone in the Museum. Check out his entry here.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

It Don't Matter If You're Black Or White: MJ Forever

I've been debating in my noggin that past few days on how to best "blog" about Michael Jackson...him, his death, his history, his remembrance, and most importantly his music, which is his art. It's been a long time since his Thriller days as we've most recently been associating the words "court" and "plastic surgery" with Michael Jackson, but between the 1.6 million fans vying for a ticket to his memorial today in Los Angeles and the fact that it feels like 1984 again on the radio ( I head Man in the Mirror three times yesterday), it is clear that most of the world is celebrating his accomplishments by dis aggregating them from portions of his life most likely ruined by his fame.

This disaggregation is an important topic of discussion when referring to Michael Jackson and many other artists today and in our history we may find morally objectionable. Liz Smith of the Washington Post wrote a great article on how Michael's talent triumphed his eccentricities. She questions whether or not the public is "selling out on our own ethics" by quoting retired music critic Dimitri Drobatschewsky, "Unfortunately, there are so many 'unsavory characters' in the world of art, science, literature and general culture that if you boycotted their given genius, there would be precious little art left to enjoy." She goes on to make comparisons to Amy Winehouse's souful and beautiful voice alongside her barefoot drunk antics in London and Woody Allen's films and weirdness and state that Michael Jackson's music isn't a reflection of his personal life.

I also enjoyed a discussion on theartblog started by Libby on the physical transformation of Michael Jackson over the years, suggesting that a performer or a performance artist is the art, not just a creator of the art. She discusses that Michael was not only the medium, but the message itself and question whether or not his many plastic surgeries could ever be considered art. I especially enjoy the comment, "Van Gogh cut off his ear....Michael cut off his nose."

Love him or leave him, MJ has made a lasting impact on our world. He's created a culture that has left us with the moonwalk, a white glove and a Thriller video. Artists of all time can admire the power of one person to use a medium such as performance art to change the way the world looks at certain things.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Crossing the line?

Chances are you've probably never heard of Michael Dickinson, Turkish artists, or even collage artists for that matter. But across the pond, this guy is stirring up alot of trouble and controversy, raising questions about how the public views and interprets art. The British artist has fled Turkey for the UK after learning that he could be jailed, again, for insulting the Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan in a collage he made in 2006 called "Good Dog". This collage depicts Turkish Prime Minister Erogan as a dog on a stars and strips lead chain. Good Dog wasn't the first piece to get him in trouble though. He also created "Best in Show", which shows President Bush awarding the Turkish Prime Minister with a ribbon at a dog show. "Best in Show" was confiscated by police and Dickinson was charged with "insulting the dignity of the Prime Minister" after he refused to take the work down. In response to these charges, Dickinson stated, "it was up to the viewer to make his own interpretation; a visual artist shouldn't need to explain in words. Pictures are for eyes. Words (spoken) are for ears."

Dickinson was acquitted for the charges last September for insulting the PM when the judge decided that though the artwork was insulting according to Turkish standards, it would not be according to standards in the European Union. Turkey was trying to join the EU at the time, and according to the EU, Dickinson was in the clear, not a criminal. Dickinson carried on since then but last week he overheard that the public prosecutor was overturning the acquittal and Dickinson was up to the plate again to fight for his works. So what did he do? As Jenny would say, "Run Forrest, Run!" He dropped everything and left the country, hoping the British gov't will not extradite him back for to Turkey for a trial.

Dickinson is a member of the Stuckist movement, an International art movement for contemporary figurative painting with ideas. You can visit his web-site to see more of his works, here. This story brings up alot of issues, most of which are coincidental as we recently celebrated our own freedom here in the United States. When it comes to art and politics in the U.S., the most recent news bit was the Obama Hope portrait by my mind goes to the Obama Hope painting, by Los Angeles street artist Shepard Fairey, depicting Obama with the word "Hope." This work was one of the most memorable images from the 2008 election and is now part of the Permanent Collection at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.

I'm not sure what to think of Dickinson, as I'm not too familiar with the Turkish prime minister or the government. Many people around the world send their messages and opinions of political leaders and government systems through violence and riots. Dickinson may very well just be taking his aggression out through art, which is a much safer medium, and just as powerful. Granted, I wouldn't be happy if I saw a mural of my head on a poodle's body, I wouldn't go so far as to put the person in jail.....or maybe? I'm torn....just another day in the controversial art world.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Happy Birthday America! Love, Liberty

Whoever said the greatest things in life cannot be seen or touched obviously has never paid a visit to see my favorite sculpture, the Statue of Liberty. A gift of friendship from good ole France, Miss Liberty is a universal symbol of freedom and democracy. Officially dedicated in October 1886, the Statue of Liberty stands at over 305 feet tall from foundation to top. Due to the September 11th terrorist attacks, the Statue of Liberty closed to the public in 2001. After eight years, Liberty is going to give America the best birthday gift by reopening tomorrow on July 4th.

On Saturday, 30 visitors will be chosen every hour by lottery to be allowed to climb the 168 step spiral staircase to the crown. Tickets quickly sold out quickly last week for the chance to have a private visit inside Liberty. If you were hoping to get to the crown soon, tickets can be reserved for as long as one year in advance, and as many as four tickets can be reserved per customer. Only one reservation per person is allowed within a six-month period. Be sure to see her soon, because after two years, Liberty will close for renovations again.

USA Today wrote an interesting article relating the reopening of the Statue of Liberty to the evolving attitudes towards post-9-11 terrorism security. Liberty is lighting the way for a new, confident and secure America.

Whatever your reactions are to this news, be it excitement, awe, timidness, take a moment to enjoy her, because she sure is pretty ain't she?

Happy Fourth of July

Thursday, July 2, 2009

America's Next Top "Artist"? or Project Art?

You may or may not actually admit to it, but we all indulge in a little Bravo TV from time to time. Whether it's fashion (Project Runway), teen bop drama (Prep NYC), or even adult drama (hello Real Housewives of NYC!), Bravo brings the heat to the small screen in both reality tv and competitions. I've seen weight loss, cooking, and even dating competitions on tv, but never in my life have I seen an art-themed reality show.

Well my thanks and kudos go to Sarah Jessica Parker and her production company, Pretty Matches to co-produce an hour long creative competition series among contemporary artists. The woman, more known as Carrie Bradshaw, is on a roll here. (Two SATC movies, perfume, and new twins mind you) The show will be called The Untitled Art Project and will bring together thirteen aspiring artists to compete for a gallery show, a cash prize and a sponsored national tour. I couldn't think of a better winning prize for an up and coming artist.

So what are these guys going to be partaking in on the show, other than hanging with SJP ( I really hope she takes a Heidi Klum role as in Project Runway). In each episode of the series, contestants will create unique pieces highlighting art’s role in everyday life, while they compete and create in a range of disciplines including sculpture, painting, photography and industrial design (to name a few). In working beyond their preferred mediums, artists will have to adapt quickly in order to succeed. Completed works of art will be appraised by a panel of top art world figures including fellow artists, gallerists, collectors, curators and critics. The finalists’ work will be showcased in a nation-wide museum tour. (Call us, please)

I'm all for the show. Anything that brings art awareness to a mass market is good press for anyone in the art world, be it a museum, gallery, art department, and artists themselves. I'm sure there will be plenty of drama (Who stole my paint brush!), but I'm interested to see what the challenges will be.

If you're an artist, or just want to be one, take a Greyhound or Amtrak up to NY this morning for the open casting call nearest to the 302. Here are the other dates in case you're over on the West Coast.

LOS ANGELES Saturday, July 11 & Sunday, July 12, 10 AM – 2 PM

MIAMI Tuesday, July 14, 10 AM – 2 PM Fredric Snitzer Gallery

CHICAGO Thursday, July 16, 10 AM – 2 PM School of the Art Institute of Chicago Sullivan Galleries, 33 State Street

NEW YORK Saturday, July 18 & Sunday, July 19, 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM White Columns

I won't be "trying out" for the show anytime soon, but I'll enjoy our own winners at the Biggs. The ninth Award Winners show opens up tomorrow at the First Look pARTy starting at 4:00 PM. Free to all, be there, or "you're fired!" (Had to throw in the Apprentice line)