Tuesday Double Feature: Delicacy and Ink Flow

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Hi, and welcome back for another Tuesday double feature! This week we'll take a look at work from indie artists you can find on Etsy: Carol Bruno and the dynamic duo, Michael Ayers and Lani Mathis.
Carol Bruno is a New Jersey artist whose work came into focus after the loss of her only brother. Her watercolor depiction of hydrangeas has an undeniable fragility, and the delicate colors transport one to one of those rain washed days in late spring or early summer. This is a perfect piece for contemplative viewing.
The collaborative ink creations of Ayers and Mathis, lifelong creative people, bring a different sort of energy to the table. Their many inkblot collabs, such as Seamore (above) have a wonderful sense of play that will surely brighten your day.
Both Bruno and the Ayers-Mathis team created these pieces with surrealist techniques. Bruno used a crumpling method of composition reminiscent of frotage. Ayers and Mathis created their ink blot with a method similar to the 'exquisite corpse' method in which each participant takes turns adding elements to the composition. In both cases we see how fortuitous these 'accidental' methods can be.
Next week we'll look at another indie artist, Tiffany Teske.
To find out more about Ayers & Mathis, follow the link to their blog, Green Space goods, on the right. See more of Carol Bruno's work by following the link to her shop above.

Everything you wanted to know about Guernica but were afraid to ask in less than 5 paragraphs!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Picasso's Guernica is like the fabled 'great American novel', oft talked of but rarely seen. It is one of those pieces of art that is so important, everyone in-the-know automatically assumes you know all about it. I hate to break it to all those art historians and critics, but Dali is actually more popular ^^ So I am going to give you all the rundown on what this Guernica stuff is all about and why it's so important.
First of all, before Guernica was a painting, it was a town - a town in Spain where a terrible atrocity took place. During the Spanish Civil War, Spanish nationalists, lead by the famous Gen. Franco, arranged to allow German Nazis the chance to test their new bombs - on Spanish civilians. As many as 1500 people were killed and many more injured, and all of this many months before the official start of WWII.
Within weeks of this event, Picasso was already working on the huge 11'x23' canvas in black and white paint only....for war drained life and color from the world. The style was neither cubist nor surreal, but Picasso's personal style with cartoon-ish, primitive, stylized figures. The scene seem to take place in something like a cellar, a place where people are fleeing from the horrors of war, horrors seen in every twisted human figure in the painting. To me, one of the most telling bit of symbolism is the electric in the upper center left. The electric eye is a symbol of progress yet it's light is impotent and the scene must be lit by an old fashioned flame just to the right.
Even today the strong symbolism of Guernica is something feared by those who would engage in war. In 2003, a copy of Guernica hanging in the United Nations was covered up and hidden so that Gen. Colin Powell and John Negroponte could speak about why war with Iraq was necessary without any pesky reminders of the cost.
Well, I hope you enjoyed learning about Picasso's Guernica, and please let me know if you have any more questions about the piece. Next week will be another Double Feature.

Tuesday Double Feature! Mystery and Whimsy

Monday, April 14, 2008

Madelaine and Lance Perry bring a lot of creativity to the table when they get to work. (Above left 'how i got my stutter' Madelaine; above right 'Ladybug with a Flower' Lance Perry.) Madelaine brings us the insecurities and dilemmas of growing up while Perry takes us back to the childhood we never knew.

Madelaine, a Canadian born artist living in West Virginia, is a precocious 17 already in college and supporting herself through her art (you go, girl!) 'How i got my stutter' is a piece of digital art laden with imagery culled from childhood vulnerability, tea lore, and criminal psychology.

Using her own features, Madelaine created a waif of a girl, thin beyond belief. Holding a butterfly suspended like a tea bag, we are reminded of some of the more dreadful childhood passtimes: pulling the wings off flies, burning ants with magnifying glasses. The way the young woman holds the butterfly, however, tells us that the movement has been arrested. Whatever personal pain might have prompted her to think of making butterfly tea, that pause shows that she can regain her purity, if not innocence, but we are not allowed to see the final outcome. Will she make it to a better place or enjoy a nice cup of butterfly tea?

Madelaine herself says of the piece, "As for the part of my personality it reflects... that would be my extreme desire to be what she is (the girl in the image). It reflects my desire to be a pure (I don't mean sexless, I mean free of anger and lies), honest, and good person. I wouldn't ever wish to rid myself of sadness or any other negative emotion, as without sadness, I would never be happy, but there are things in my life or around me that I do wish to be rid of."

In "Ladybug with Flower" Perry, a Texas artist, takes us back to childhood, one populated with nursery rhyme characters and figures from the American subconscious.

Perry says of his work, "There's a part of me inside that never grew up. This part of me has and will always be fascinated by the colorful characters of nursery rhymes, children's stories and movies. I guess this is because there are no boundaries in the world of folklore, and I would like to be a part of that in what way I can. In this piece, how cool would it be if little bugs and critters could carry on such lives as this. In the world of folk art, it is possible. This little guy is stemmed with artistic influence from Tim Burton and other artists from children's stories. The part of my personality that this piece reflects is the joyful, curious child inside. When creating this piece it put a smile on my face, and I hope that it can do the same for my audience.

These two artists take us back to childhood themes, not with nostalgia, but with curiosity and an explorer's ethic. Please take a look at their work on Etsy and join me again next week when I take a look at Picasso's Guernica.

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