Friday, May 29, 2009

Brontosaurus adrift and twittering

Check out New Hampshire illustrator Katie Vernon. There is a lot of understated humour in her layered and textured work. She can not resist illustrating puns and sayings. Here is her calendar for June ("if april showers bring may flowers, what to may flowers bring?")

and a flowered hedgehog

from her blog.

But this project is genius: she is illustrating 'tweets' (if you haven't fallen into the twitterverse blackhole, or steadfastly ignore the twee naming scheme, a 'tweet' is a maximum 140 character posting on one's twitter blog). These can be found on tweets illustrated.

This really appeals to my love of typography!

Some of her illustrations from her site:

Tree Destroyers - a veritable wunderkammer of hazards to trees.

Bye-Bye Brontosaurus

She also has an etsy shop called ChipmunkCheeks

{More or less via Blossem}

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I Like My Bike

Next week, we begin Bike Month. I rode my bike to work today. Good way to get some exercise. Get out any aggression making sarcastic comments to drivers who can not hear you. It's green and it's free (once you have the bike of course). Anyway, I noticed that bikes seem to be in the public consciousness.

Poppytalk blogged about the limited edition mini paintings by Christine Schmidt of Yellow Owl Workshop. This one (4.5"x3.25"):

is available here.

And this one:

Acrylic on wood panel, 4.5 x 3.25 inches
Copper hook for wall hanging
Signed + presented in gift box

is on the Yellow Owl Workshop site.

My love for you is a stampede of horses blogged about some new bicycle-themed prints by Brainstorm:

Go Ride A Bike
2 color silkscreen - 19" x 25"
Printed on French Construction
Limited Edition of 40

Celestial Tire
3 color silkscreen - 19" x 19"
Printed on French Poptone
Limited Edition of 29

I love this quilt by Linda Varekamp, one of the 2009 winners for the Toronto Annual Bike Winter Art Show:

Great use of the still mysteriously hip doily!

Matte Stephens (blogosphere favorite) has a fox on a bike in his etsy shop.

The printmakers on etsy seem to be all over the bike trend.

Strawberryluna has Going To See My Baby Blue, a whimsical 5-colour screenprint 15.5 x22 inches (39.4 cm x 55.9 cm) in her shop.

ScreamPrinting has Biking in the Desert (on sale today):

Check out this adorable copperplate etching by Dana Lo:

Bunny on a Bicycle
Image size w/o borders: 4.5" x 6"
Print w/ borders: 11" x 12"

redhydrant has a variety of skeletons-on-bikes in the day of the dead series, like this one:

Los bicicleteros
image dimensions: 9.75" x 6.25"
Paper dimensions: 12.5" x 9.75"

I love both prints by VROOOOOM called Why are those animals on a bike (offered as a set):

You know, a search on etsy of "bike art" got 66 pages of stuff... so there is a lot more out there if you would like to explore. There are tandem bikes, penny farthings & tricycles. There are monkeys on bikes, robots on bikes, dogs on bikes, fish on bicycles (of course) and even people on bikes. There is even a shop called bicyclepaintings.

Do check out screensnspokes: a stable of printmakers producing bicycle screenprints for a cause! All proceeds go end the devastating effects of Multiple Sclerosis. Here are some of my favorites (but there are many more):

6 Color Screenprint - 25 5/8x33 3/8 - Signed and Numbered by Jay Ryan, the founding member of Chicago printshop The Bird Machine

4 Color CMYK Screenprint - 18"x24" by The Half and Half (Sara Thomas and Nick Wilson).

2 Color Screenprint - 16x20 - Signed and Numbered Edition of 65
by Brian & Sara Turner (Cricket Press).

Also on the subject of bikes and art and charity, last week in Calgary, Right On Track auctioned off ten one of a kind, artist created track bicycle frames to support right to play, which is just awesome.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A Canadian is Someone Who Knows How to Make Love in a Canoe

A little CanCon for you, Gentle Reader - today is all about the oft neglected Canadian History. Sometimes Canucks look south and worry that patriotism is somehow unseemly, but in honour of the upcoming Victoria Day (commonly known as May 2-4, after the 24-pack of beer) long weekend, today I am celebrating artists who love Canadian history.

Last week I went to the OCAD grad show, here in Toronto, and I was tickled by the work of Andrew Hutchinson. His large scale 3.5' by 5.5' (or in good Canadian metric: 1.07 m by 1.68 m) encaustic (wax) paintings on pine and maple are iconic and ironic.

He writes, "Canadian history is a little like an attic. Sometimes it's forgotten, but when you enter it you quickly realize that it is filled with wild and fantastic stuff. [...] The work recontextualizes the subject matter into a museological play designed to promote discussion on the subject of the Canadian 'character'"

Unable to identify any of these characters? Well now is your chance to look them up! Though their portraits are black and white, their stories are anything but. Even such a simple-minded but nonetheless usually effective search as going to wikipedia will tell you about the pride of Victoria, B.C., artist and author (& apparently potter & dog breeder & boarding house landlady), Emily Carr, which will lead invariably to the Group of Seven and Tom Thomson (who last canoe trip lead mysteriously to his death).

The more you read about Métis leader Louis Riel the more fascinating it gets. The by-line Canada's 'Ché' Guevara is only somewhat tongue-in-cheek: participating in the formation of Manitoba (maps unto Pan-Americanism south of the equator), heading two rebellions (Ché had many), being elected to Parliament, being a fugitive, being executed, being controversial and yet a folk hero to some. Reading up on Riel will lead us to Canada´s first Prime Minister Sir John A. MacDonald; we have historically been proud of our first PM*, but every schoolkid knows he would´ve drunk Churchill under the table.

The biography of Josiah Henson who escaped slavery via the underground railway to Upper Canada, inspired Stowe´s Uncle Tom´s Cabin.

Local hero Sir Sandford Fleming was an engineer most famous for inventing time zones.** His work with the railways made it obvious to him, if no one else, that standard time was a necessity.

You have to love a country whose national animal is the beaver.

Of course, you could always learn your Canadian history from Canadian web-comic artist Kate Beaton. She just won the Doug Wright Award. I bought her book at last week´s Toronto Comic Arts Festival. (She write and draws about European, American and her personal history and other things too). I love the point she makes that as Canadians, it is not that we are not patriotic so much as the fact that we do not take ourselves too seriously. We laugh at ourselves and our leaders, and hence it is okay if they (even our first one) are human (a trait we could contrast with our neighbours who seem to prefer lionization to poking fun):
Kate Beaton
Kate Beaton
(in case you can not identify any Prime Ministers - check the list).

Sometimes Canadians forget their revolutionaries. If you want a good yarn, look up some of the journalists/politicians/reformers/erstwhile revolutionaries of nineteenth century Toronto, including our first mayor, William Lyon Mackenzie (grandfather of William Lyon Mackenzie King, who deserves a post of his own, in the category of COLOURFUL Canadian Politics) and reform newspaper founder George Brown (shown here with political nemesis Sir John A.):
Kate Beaton

I leave with this poem by Dennis Lee:

The Compact sat in parliament
To legalize their fun.
And now they're hanging Sammy Lount
And Captain Anderson
And if the catch Mackenzie
They will string him in the rain.
And England will erase us if
Mackenzie comes again.

The Bishop has a paper
That says he owns our land.
The Bishop has a Bible too
That says our souls are damned.
Mackenzie had a printing press.
It's soaking in the Bay.
And who will spike the Bishop till
Mackenzie comes again?

The British want the country
For the Empire and the view.
The Yankees want the country for
A yankee barbecue.
The Compact want the country
For their merrie green domain.
They'll all play finders-keepers till
Mackenzie comes again.

Mackenzie was a crazy man,
He wore his wig askew.
He donned three bulky overcoats
In case the bullets flew.
Mackenzie talked of fighting
While the fight went down the drain.
But who will speak for Canada?
Mackenzie, come again!

Nobody writes poetry about Canadian history which I would rather read, though I must say, it seems that Mackenzie did end up in the Yankee BBQ camp, so is yet another of the not-black-and-white, but all the more fascinating figures from our history.

The title of the post is a quotation from the well-respected intellectual, polymath, author, historian and broadcaster, Pierre Berton.

*Canadians are now slowing coming to terms with Sir John A MacDonald's role in suppressing Riel's rebellion, the creation of Residential Schools and treatment of indigeneous people in general. These things were not stressed in school curriculum, and those of us of settler heritage generally did not learn about things which we would now deem reprehensible. In the light of efforts at reconciliation with indigineous people, his name and likeness are begining to be removed.

**Did you know the Historica Minutes are on-line? What a hoot!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Photobooth magic

Ever noticed how photobooths are magic? I do not simply mean Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain sort of photobooth magic. I mean the way the pictures are also so good, so true and so real. Well, here is a special photobooth by Keetra Dean Dixon which takes things to the extreme:
The booth is presented in semi-public spaces as a typical photobooth holding no denotation of it's unique qualities. Users enter the booth, pose for 2 shots & exit as usual. During the developing process, the photos are "analyzed" & customized with forecasts consisting of patterns, symbols & messages.

See, it's magic:

There is a huge collection on the site; don't forget to check the key.
[via Oh Joy!]

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

otherworldly or innerworldly

Reno-based sculptor Rebekah Bogard's ceramics were featured recently on my love for you is a stampede of horses. Clearly her work exists in a world of its own, though I can see how it connects with the otherworldly work of the previously featured Renee Adams. Her work also features reinterpreted flora and fauna. She is playing with the innocence and yet complexity of animals. She is playing with stereotypes, of gender, cuteness, and colour, and yet there is this rawness and openness. Femininity with power. Check out her site.

Botany of Desite 26" x 19" x 10" (2007) Earthenware, underglaze, glaze

For Your General Bliss 18" x 16" x 10" (2006) Earthenware, underglaze, glaze, resin

On the left: Addiction 9" x 7" x 6" (2001) Earthenware, underglaze, glaze
On the right: Floridus Animalis 29" x 17" x 16" (2003) Earthenware, underglaze, glaze,terra sigillata, metal rods

Courtney 19.5" x 29" x 15.5" (2001) Earthenware, underglaze, glaze, metal rods

Another female ceramic artist subverting the traditional use and forms of china and ceramic sculpture is Canadian superstar Shary Boyle. Her surreal, yet exquisite sculptures also have something to say about sexuality, and gender. She also uses animals, flowers and things which could be cute, or feminine, in a different context. If you don't already know her work, check out her site, where you will also find drawings, paintings and projected art.

2006. Snowball. Porcelain, china paint. 24cm tall.

2006. Ouroboros. Porcelain, china paint, gilt. 16cm tall.

2004. Porcelain, china paint. 26cm tall.


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