I’m a huge fan of process videos like the one above, featuring printmaker Bill Fick creating a linocut. For those not familiar, a linocut is “a design is cut into the linoleum surface with a sharp knife, V-shaped chisel or gouge, with the raised (uncarved) areas representing a reversal (mirror image) of the parts to show printed.” This sounds easier than it really is. I tried to make one of these when I was in high school and nearly sliced off my fingers with that little knife tool. Bill makes it look so easy in this video, it’s kind of absurd.
I don’t know what it is about these videos that I like so much. It’s the little things like listening to his pencil or his brush on the paper, or the sounds of the tiny pieces of linoleum being carved away. It’s also inspiring to watch someone so talented do something so technical with seemingly little effort. I promise that the seven and half minutes you spend watching this are worth every second.
Modernity can be a bitch. You have so much knowledge of the past, so much going on in the present, and so much hope for the future: it’s hard to really balance your thoughts and project something that is “you.” It’s a double consciousness that plagues us all in 2011, irony ruining (or bettering?) us.
For LGBT men and women, it is a constant battle to reconcile masculinity, femininity, culture, aesthetics, camp, kitsch, and intellect–while balancing modernity. In that, a conversation is being had in the art world through music, visual arts, writing, and even blogs to explore the intersect of modernity, homosexuality, and camp. We’ve seen musical acts like Xiu Xiu, YACHT, MEN, Beth Ditto, and Hercules & Love Affair talk about this, Blake Wright‘s drawings are talking about this, the Gayletter guys are highlighting art happenings for this, Raja on Ru Paul’s Drag Race is talking about it, and even young Tumblrs like “XXX1990” and “MoppingIsStealing,” which–of course–are both not safe for work, are in the talk as well. This conversation is a direct result of the 2000 era hipster and the uprising of what Robert Lanham called “Maxwells” and “Carpets” in his 2003 tongue-in-cheek observational novella, The Hipster Handbook. This talk is ongoing and, with gaiety being en vogue, it is not going anywhere.
Enter, Sam McKinnis, a Connecticut based artist whose paintings and other artwork are speaking loudly in this conversation. McKinnis’ work infuses the lifestyle of modern twentysomethings with a knowledge of pop culture and the gay male gaze, all portrayed through his oil paintings, graphite drawings, and mixed-media pieces. A lot of his pieces represent a lust for the subject (for example, the last image: “True love (Josh)”), while others are a fantasy created in a disco wonderland (for example, the first image: “ABBA picnic”). These paintings enter the aforementioned conversation with tall, gaunt figures in fashionable clothes. They all are being watched, beloved and exaggerated. They all have a sense of play to them, be it an ear bouquet on a self-portrait (second image) or a desire for Jil Sander (third image). McKinnis is a rising star in the art world, but also is a voice to listen to in the unique dialogue being had in the LGBT community.
If you too are falling for this work, you can also check out McKinniss’ fun blog, where he talks about art, what he’s into, and even the parties he has been attending lately. You can also check out an interview with McKinnis conducted by East Village Boys.
I’m really excited for today’s desktop wallpaper by the multi-talented Nate Utesch, an illustrator and designer living in Indiana. I mentioned multi-talented because he’s not only an awesome artist, but he’s also the publisher of Ferocious Quarterly, a small book of illustrators and short fiction which is beautifully designed. He’s also starting a new project called Made Handsome, an illustration and short fiction journal—jam packed with artists and writers from all over the world and curated by Ferocious Quarterly. But he needs your help funding this new endeavor so he’s started a Kickstarter project to get it off the ground. I’ve already contributed and you should too.
As for his wallpaper it’s kind of an insane explosion of bike wheels and street sparks (I don’t know what that means but it sounds cool). I love the colors and energy of this piece, though if you put this as your background at work it may make your co-workers have seizures, which Nate and I are not responsible for. A big thanks to Nate for the awesome art and be sure to help him out!
Interboro Partnership is the 12th winner of the MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program. What this means is that Interboro has won the competition to add some shade, water and seating to the PS1 courtyard this summer with their project Holding Pattern. As winners, Interboro joins folks who have previously won the title, including MOS, Ball-Nogues Studio, and SO-IL. Oddly enough, a 93-year-old Philip Johnson was selected for the title in 1999, which was almost 70 years after Philip Johnson founded MoMA’s Department of Architecture and Design in 1932, but that’s beside the point.
Initially, it’s hard to tell what’s going on with Holding Pattern. I’m a big fan of the “Schoolhouse Rock!” rendering, but along with the other representations of the project, there’s not immediate clarity about how visitors will interact with whatever it is that will be installed in the courtyard this summer. So what else will be installed there besides some big, swoopy shade structure? Answer: a whole host of things; for instance “benches, mirrors, ping-pong tables, and flood lights ” chosen by Interboro after interviewing PS1′s neighbors. According to Interboro’s website: “In addition to cab drivers, we met with senior and day care centers, high schools, settlement houses, and the local YMCA, library, and greenmarket (to name just a few). We simply asked each one: is there something you need that we could design, use in the courtyard during the [summer], then donate in the fall?” Connecting with and giving back to the local community is a great idea, who could argue with that?
It turns out that some folks feel left out; namely, persnickety architects. In the comments on architecture blogs announcing the winning design, there’s a range of responses from “Way to go, Interboro” to “Where’s the architecture?” or “How about vegetables donated to the community, or games, or innovative spaces?” In fact, vegetables and games have generated innovative spaces in designs by recent winners of YAP, and I suspect that nay-sayers are underestimating the ability of Interboro to do the same with community-centric odds and ends. You may want this space to look different, or may want the project to represent concerns larger and more abstract, but everyone’s wants don’t necessarily all fit into a small courtyard. And under Interboro’s canopy there is just enough room for what a community needs.
Unicorns, bakus, kirin, fawns and ninyo are just some of the mythical creatures that Japanese sculptor Yoshimasa Tsuchiya fashions out of wood. Largely inspired by traditional Japanese folklore, his chimeric sculptures come from the same imaginary universe as the strange characters in the films of Hayao Miyazaki. Elegant in their majesty, yet seemingly melancholy, Tsuchiya’s sculptures reach intimidatingly life-size proportions. I can only imagine what it would be like to view one of these in a gallery; although they appear quite delicate and fragile, they’re also slightly menacing. Perhaps this is because I only recently discovered – via a crash course in Japanese myths – that a baku feeds on dreams and nightmares and that ningyo bring storms and misfortune.
Anthropomorphism, dream-devouring spirits and bad omens: it all makes for a beautifully mysterious and unnerving art experience.