Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Halloween

I've gone from not partaking in any Halloween festivities last year, to two parties and two different costumes this year. I hope I'll be able to keep my characters straight! Anyway you celebrate, Halloween is a creative and artful day. Acting...transforming into a different person, or at times an inanimate object. Crafting...staples and a hot glue gun can work wonders for novice costume makers. Dance and sing...who doesn't 'boo'gey down on Halloween? Culinary Arts...I contribute to 25% of the world's consumption of candy corn.

I hope you all have an artfully fantastic Halloween. To kick off the weekend, I googled Best Costume Ever. And this is what I got. P.S. You HAVE to watch it until the end! Amazing.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Not Your Average Neckwear...




I have to admit, from what I recall seeing Michael Phelps donned with all of those Olympic Medals at the 2008 Beijing games, I wasn't paying too much attention to the medals if you know what I mean. But our neighbor Vancouver has caught my attention: they just unveiled the designs of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games medals. They're awesome.

The process took over two years, beginning in December 2007 with over 48 proposals from Canadian and internationally-run design firms. Before I go on to explain the awesomeness that is the design, I'd like to mention these are the heaviest medals ever made for the Olympic games, weighing in at a record 500-576 grams. And they're made from recycled electronics, so your old HP could be hanging on the neck of the next Michelle Kwan.

Hunt, a Vancouver-based artist of Komoyue and Tlingit heritage, chose the orca and the raven as motifs for the Olympic and Paralympic medals respectively, representing important attributes in Canadian Aboriginal history. The Paralympians symbol, the rave, is often associated with transformation and healing abilities and represents determination, creativity and wisdom. The Ocra is often associated with the attributes of strength, dignity and teamwork. The sleek and powerful black and white whales are common to travel in pods through the waters off Canada’s West Coast, but are also found in all the world’s oceans.

Each medal will be struck nine times (this is just one of 30 steps in the fabrication process) to achieve a distinctive look. The medals are undulating and wavy (representing Canada's mountains, sea and snow) rather than flat, a first in the Games history.

The Royal Canadian Mint has been charged with making all 1014 medals for the games. Their web-site offers an interactive tour and video, so you can see how they're made.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Usual Mona Lisa Suspects


There's been some talk recently about whether or not Ms. Lisa is actually smiling in DaVinci's Mona Lisa portrait. And according to the Institute of Neuroscience in Alicante, Spain, it's in our heads to decide. But anyways, onto a more important topic....what if the Mona Lisa wasn't acutally "gasp!" Mona Lisa? The horror!


According to Roberto Zapperi, the painting (which is actually referred to as La Giocondo) does not depict Lisa del Giocondo, the wide of the welathy Florentine merchant for whom the painting was reportedly commissioned. Roberto says the woman in the painting is Pacifica (awesome name, right?) Brandani, on of Julien de Medicis' many lovers.


What gives Roberto the idea that Pacifica is the woman in the portrait? He discovered written minutes from a meeting between da Vinci and Cardinal Louis d'Aragon. daVinci presented the Cardinal with three paintings; including the Mona Lisa, which was allegedly a portrait of Brandani commissioned by de Medicis. This leads me to wonder, if Julien de Medicis commissioned the portrait, then why didn't he own it? Well, Brandani died shortly after she had an illegitimate child with her lover. There's your explanation.


Roberto thinks its unfortunate that experts have known for many years about Brandani's identity, but choose to ignore it and favor Vasari's 1550 version of the events, which posits that the image is of Lisa del Giocondo, who “did not even know Julien de M├ędicis,” according to Zapperi.


This obviously hasn't stopped the crowds from coming in droves to the Louvre to see the woman every single day. Speaking of daVinci, the Biggs staff is having a video web conference with some of the staff members of the Leonardo daVinci Museum today to begin working on a new project. I think some very exciting times are ahead for us. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Non-Profit (or Doing) of the Week: Uniformed Fashion




Twelve school years of my life was spent in plaid. Plaid jumpers then plaid skirts. Polo shirts in the fall and spring were traded for pressed (thank you mother) white button downs with sweater vests and at times a ridiculous cross-over button Girl Scout-like navy tie. Other than tag days (you could wear whatever you please) once a month, the biggest school clothing shopping decision of the year were the shoes on your feet. How was one to express their individuality? The girls found ways around it of course...makeup, jewelery, accessories, the latest LL Bean backpack pattern. I always remember being fond of a head band Mom made for me in 3rd grade. She had hot glued pieces of candy corn on a black headband for me. I was the talk of the home room the entire month of October.


These days, I'm embarrassed to say I hate to wear anything twice. But there's a girl, Sheena Matheiken, who has gone the opposite route. As the Founder of the Uniform Project, Sheena is wearing one dress every day of one year all in the name of charity and sustainable fashion. This gal has seven identical black dresses, one for every day of the week, and is seeing just how far she can push the creative envelope with diversification of the outfit.

Each day she posts a picture of herself. And each day, she looks quite different. She works the outfit with different accessories and layers which she claims to purchase from eBay and Etsy.com . You can view all of the photos which includes shopping information on where to buy all of her add-on wardrobe items.

Charity is her first motive for the project. Sheena is asking for donations for the duration of the year that will benefit Akanksha Foundation, a grassroots charity based in Mumbai, whose contributions go to fund uniforms and other school expenses for children in the slums of India. Sustainability is her second motive, which is to stop consuming and reusing. The dress was designed with the help of Eliza Starbuck, and is wearable year-round. This short-sleeve, button-down dress can be worn backwards and also as a long cardigan.

Sheena has raised over $14,000 since she began this project in May 2009. I'm looking forward to watching her remix the dress for the next six month. Who knew the power of a dress?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Would You Like Fries With Your Mona Lisa Value Meal?


This tickles me. To death almost.


The Louvre is opening a McDonalds. The golden arches restaurant will open next month in the underground shopping plaza beneath I.M. Pei's glass pyramid in the museum courtyard, making it the 1,142nd McDonald's location in France. Louvre is opening up a brand new ticket area, and the new McDonald's will be the first site to visitors.

Why open up a McDonalds in the Louvre? The only official commentary was from a Louvre spokesperson who said, "The outlet would be the 'American' representative in a 'rich and varied' food court, said a spokesman for the Louvre."

I'm not surprised to hear that Louvre staffers are completely outraged at the thought of smelling a Big Mac in the galleries. "This is the last straw," an anonymous art historian at the museum told the paper. "This is the pinnacle of exhausting consumerism, deficient gastronomy and very unpleasant odours in the context of a museum." (Daily Telegraph)

Take what you will from this news bit. I'm a museum staffer, and I'm thrilled at the fact Chick-Fil-A is donating food for the next four First Friday programs at the Arts ConnectED first look pARTies! However, the French cannot deny the stats...France is the second leading country (behind US of course) in number of McDonald's location...they don't call fries French for nothing.