Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Philip Lorca de Corcia

I'm not usually impressed with most modern photography. I find most photographers focus on dragging unimaginative, uncompelling compositions through a fancy filter and then expect everyone to care. This is especially moot considering the ease of deriving these effects with digital technology that even a I-phone camera can accomplish. That is why I love the work of this next artist, Philip Lorca de Corcia. He's been working in photography since the 1970's, mostly in the North east. His work focuses on people taking part in rather mundane activities: going to the bar, tripping over the sidewalk, going to the store, etc. I know, this has all been done before.  However, de Corcia's work lends such gravity and drama to each of these activities that each moment captured is heart-wrenching, isolating, and moving. While some of his pieces are assembled tableaus, a lot of his photos were taken of regular people on the street (some of which were not very happy about it: see below). I was especially impressed with a series of photos de Corcia took of pole dancers in baroque-esque lighting. I've included one below, but you should check out the others, since they are awesome.

 When de Corcia took this photo of an Orthodox Jew on the street of New York, he was sued by the man, who claimed the piece went against his religion, and shouldn't be used to make money. de Corcia won the suit based on the 1st Amendment protection of artistic freedom, even if the art is sold.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Miss Rockaway Armada

So I set out today searching for information on one of my favorite street artists, Swoon, whose wheatpaste work has tickled my whimsey for a while. In my net wanderings, however, I came across a project that she has been a part of that is, to be blunt, absolutely amazing: The Miss Rockaway Armada. The concept is fairly simple: a few dozen or so artists, sculptors, musicians, builders, and dreamers collect a mountain of junk and garbage and make a few rafts and, Huck Finn style, sail them down the Mississippi river from Minneapolis to New Orleans. "Well that's cute. But why should I care?" you ask. Because they're beautiful, functional, and fabulous, that's why. Each raft, while functional as a mobile river home with electricity and motors, also contains several different art installations by the builders themselves. True to the DIY spirit, all the motors are refabbed deisel car engines that run off of used veggie oil, and no one spends any money on any of the installations. While the pictures below provide a sampling of the type of work that comes out of the armada, their website, http://www.missrockawayarmada.com/, has more information if you have river raft fever. Particularly, check out some of their non-mobile installations, which their Flicker account wouldn't let me post. But I won't hold that against them.

 If stumbled onto this page looking for Swoon's work, check out the second door from the right.

Beginning this year's barge: you have to start somewhere.

Another new raft begins for this year

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Apocalyptic Hedonism: Kris Kuksi

”When falls the Coliseum, Rome shall fall; And when Rome falls – the world”.   This quote by Lord Byron begins the web biography of Kris Kuksi, sculptor, genius, and general madman. His sculptural pieces, self-described as post-industrial rococo, are as beautiful as they are unsettling. While death and destruction make up much of the subject matter in Kuksi's pieces, the soft touch of a Rococo aesthetic is as welcomed as it is well-placed.The assemblages of smaller, infinitely detailed figurines and mechanical wonders add a claustrophobic intensity to the subject matter surrounding the end of the world. Each piece teeters on the edge between subtle beauty and hopeless destruction, war and unfettered hedonism, tyranny, life, and death. I've tried to include some close-ups in order to fully realize the intricacy of these works, which really can only be fully enjoyed in person, but you can see what I mean:

Close up: 

Check out more work and different angles and close ups of these works at

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

John Williams Waterhouse

Depicting human drama in two dimensions is a challenge that artists have grappled with prettty much since the beginning of time. I mean, without sound, or movement, how can one really touch each of the senses in a single painting? Sure, methods have been developed to help, like using variable light intensity and colors that suggest a certain mood. But light can't always capture anguish, and there is no color of fear. This is why the work of John Williams Waterhouse has always appealed to me. Waterhouse lived and worked in London at the end of the 19th century, and unlike many of his contemporaries, enjoyed great success in his painting career. Each of the figures in his paintings is engaged in some high drama, and the pain, the fear, the wonder, is aparent in each of the faces he depicts. The mythological and biblical women of Waterhouse's work are beautiful, and perfectly rendered in their highly atmospheric realms. Beside having a real understanding of depicting human emotion, Waterhouse also really knew how to set the scene, creating places of wonder and mystery for his characters while still engaging the viewer with a myriad of textures and colors.

To see more work from J W Waterhouse, check out the website dedicated to his work:

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Jennifer Maestre

I'll admit it, I'm a biology nerd. All kinds of living things delight and fascinate me, which may be why I find the work of Sculptor Jennifer Meastre particularly amusing. Her undulating forms are reminiscent of overlooked deep sea creatures, like the lowly sponge or the understated sea urchin. Each piece has a unique personality and and creates a visual interest that sets each one apart from the next. Oh, and they're all made of colored pencils. Really. It's really hard to tie your entire body of work to a single medium in sculpture without coming off as kitchy or one-note, but I never get tired of the variety of shapes and color that Maestre can extract from pencil tips. As her work has been picked up by several notable galleries across the US, Meastre has recently moved away from her sculptural work to focus on jewelry-making out of...you guessed it...colored pencils. While completely different from her previous work, I would wear any one of her pieces, which she sells at her store on the online craft mall, www.Etsy.com/jenmeastre. Unfortunately, she is on hiatus, but may be taking personal orders if you're interested.

This final piece, entitled, "Persephone," is particularly neat because it is completley reversable due to several strategically-placed zippers that can change the entire feel of the piece. It's awesome.

For more beautiful creations from Jennifer Maestre, check out her website, http://www.jennifermaestre.com/