Street Art for a Cause

Gaia-street-art-audubon-mural-project Endangered Harlem by Gaia, photo by Tara Murray[/caption]

This weekend in NYC my friend AQ and I took a slow bus through Harlem. We got to see some of the endangered bird murals sponsored by the Audubon Society. I’d read about the Audubon Mural Project, but it was fun to search for them out the window of the M4.

Pinyon Jay by Mary Lacy (Audubon street murals)
Pinyon Jay by Mary Lacy (Audubon street murals)

Here’s a story about the project from the New York Times. For a great set of photos by Tara Murray and Lois Stavsky, check out the Street Art NYC blog. The art is done by well-known grafitti artists such as ATM, Gaia, Hitness, and Iena Cruz. The Audubon Mural Project now depicts over 300 species of birds that are identified as either endangered or climate-threatened by the Audubon Society. On their site you can find a map of some of the murals in Upper Manhattan.

Begin to See: Photographers of Black Mountain College

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Photo by Harry Callahan

Although Black Mountain College no longer exists, the Black Mountain College Museum + Art Center continues to celebrate that unique community of artists in Asheville, NC. A current exhibit, Begin to See, features photography by artists who are best known in other media. The list includes: Josef Albers, Hazel Larsen Archer, Josef Breitenbach, Harry Callahan, Trude Guermonprez, Robert Haas, Clemens Kalischer, Barbara Morgan, Beaumont Newhall, Nancy Newhall, Andy Oates, Robert Rauschenberg, Aaron Siskind, Cy Twombly, Stan VanDerBeek, Susan Weil, and Jonathan Williams. If you’re in Asheville this spring, perhaps check out these related events, as well as the exhibition.

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Look Up, Seattle

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Chromatic Crystalization, Westlake Park, Seattle

The bold colors of artist ELIZABETH GAHAN may take spectators by surprise. Chromatic Crystalization is an installation done in 2013 in Westlake Park, Seattle.

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Starting in August 2017, a new exhibit of Gahan’s work will be completed in Auburn, Washington. It will be part of a new public art series called Art on Main.

Gahan has a flare for building with vivid color. Perhaps one could describe her work as the meeting of origami, sculpture, and gigantic hibiscus. For more about the art of Elizabeth Gahan, click here.

Maureen Drennan

Photographer Maureen Drennan was featured in a recent Huffington Post piece on artists repositioning themselves for the upcoming Trump presidency. I was moved by her strength and faith in the power of the artist.

“I believe the role of an artist is more important than ever and ideally should compel and challenge us to think in different ways. Artists can be powerful dissenters and transgressive to political and societal conventions.

Good art often comes from an uncomfortable place. While it can be painful to explore, the creation and consumption of such art can be very therapeutic. In such a divisive time that we live in, the hardest thing we can do is to show compassion to those in opposition to our beliefs.”

Although Drennan’s art does not read as perhaps obviously political, there is an immediacy and an unapologetic honesty that graces her portraits. She explains,

”I feel enormously privileged to be an artist and to have met and photographed such inspiring people. My goal is to deepen my understanding of other people’s experiences and share those stories with a wide audience. Stories and narrative foster empathy and compassion, something that is sorely needed during this contentious time of anti-immigrant rhetoric. My advice to fellow artists is to not be afraid to explore things that are uncomfortable.”

This year Conveyor Arts published a book of Drennan’s work, the sea that surrounds us, and it is currently in its second printing. Find out more about Maureen Drennan on her website. 

Nina Chanel Abney

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A recent article in the Huffington Post asks 21 contemporary artists what it will be like to be practicing during the Trump presidency. Nina Chanel Abney, whose work already boldly addresses issues concerning human rights, police brutality, and Black Lives Matter, sees the upcoming era as demanding more. Much more. In the interview, Abney asserts:

“Artists should not be safe. We are in the unique positions, through our respective mediums, to elicit a response without using violence or direct action. Why not push the boundaries?”

Abney is know for her courageous confrontations of social injustice. She was refered to as one of the “Next Irascibles” by Paper Magazine. Abney’s first solo show, Royal Flush, opens on Feb. 16, 2017, at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University.

NYC Recast as a City of Women

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From The New Yorker magazine: What if the New York City subway map paid homage to some of the city’s great women? 

 

I love this map from Rebecca Solnit’s new book, Nonstop Metropolis: A New York City Atlas (University of California Press, 2016) which was co-edited by Joshua Jelly-Schapiro. Like so many of life’s most wonderful things, I was made aware of this map by Maria Popova in her blog, Brainpickings. Having read several of Solnit’s books in the past, I’m really looking forward to reading this one, especially since I’ve lived in New York and love it. And of course there’s my love of trains!

If I were still a college professor, I can imagine creating a whole course around this one map. I think it would be the best class ever.

Entering the Kusama Universe

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This is the last week for Houstonians to go spelunking in the Yayoi Kusama exhibit at the MFAH. The show features two of her famous Infinity Rooms, Aftermath of Obliteration of Eternity and Love Is Calling. If there’s any doubt about Kusama’s rock star status in the art world, take note of the myriad postings of her social media hashtag, as well as the 24 hour visitation on Saturday. O brave new world!  For more on the Houston exhibit, check out Houston Arts & Culture and the MFAH website.

 

Re-envisioning Cash

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I love this Huffington Post story about graphic designer Travis Purrington, who wondered: what would our money look like if we dropped the dead white guy theme? Here’s a summary of the project:

As part of a master’s thesis design project at the Basel School of Design in Switzerland, Purrington developed new versions of U.S. currency. He based his designs on his study of other world currencies and America’s currency history.

The resulting bills use imagery from the arts, nature, and science. Specifically Purrington samples the DNA helix, farmland, circuit boards, and the art of Alexander Calder. Beautiful!

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The Walkscapes of Benjamin Lowy

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Using an iPhone and an app, Benjamin Lowy has created “Walkscapes” —single images that are compiled from 30-100 frames taken on a walk. Lowy says this about this new work: “We live in this time where we’re given these tools, and we all follow instructions to a tee. The digital world is so precise that there is no chance left to the photo gods. So I’m always trying to create space for that moment.” See more examples of his amazing work at National Geographic or on his website BenLowy.com.

 

NaPoWriMo 2014 Begins Today

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If you are planning to writing a poem a day in April, there are sources of inspiration all around. Starting in the most obvious place, check out the NaPoWriMo site. You will find everything you need to get started. Add your blog to the list of participants and join the community of writers.

There are also poetry prompts being published on blogs across the Internet. Check out:

1sojournal

The Bell Jar

Chris Jarmick

Kundiman

Oulipost

ReadWriteThink

Writer’s Digest

When stuck (which will be soon enough) I plan to use The Daily Poet: Day-By-Day Prompts For Your Writing Practice by Kelly Agodon and Martha Silano (Two Sylvias Press). Feel free to share your fave NaPo links here.

Take a Walk in the Garden at Rice Gallery

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The current exhibit at Rice Gallery is “Garden Object,” an installation by Rosario Hurtado and Roberto Feo, who run a design studio called El Ultimo Grito. The garden they’ve created at Rice is rather otherworldly, as gardens go. Here’s a link to the “making of” video, definitely worth 2 minutes of your day. For more information, including the artistic statement, visit the Rice Gallery site.