Is this Street Art?

I spotted this sign at a road junction about a mile or so from my house quite some time ago. It made me chuckle and I vowed to get an image of it at some point. Today was that day, so I parked at the local church and walked along the edge of the road to get this shot. It has not been edited other than to sharpen it a little.

I cannot understand what on earth is going on at that junction. There are no sidewalks on any of the roads leading to the lights and it is a fairly busy and dangerous corner. Quite why the local authority would think it sensible to put up a pedestrian controlled light and then a no pedestrian sign is anyone’s guess.

Having “visited” the place I can only assume it is some type of Street Art, perhaps making some deep statement which I am yet to discover…

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~Richard

Amazing Glazing

I have been experimenting with some of the glazes at the Art Center, mixing two or three on a bowl in order to see how they come out. So far the results have been quite pleasing and have been able to create a distraction to the imperfections of the asymmetrical bowls that I seem to be producing of late when using the standing potter’s wheel.

I continue to practice and learn and, most importantly, enjoy myself with this pottering about.

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I particularly like this black and white bowl, and the way the Assad Black glaze formed various shades of green where it overlapped onto the white.

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~Richard

What you feel, or why a painting is like a pizza

This is the first time I have composed a book review for this blog (I have reviewed hundreds of items on Amazon, but that’s another story), however, I felt compelled to mention this particular book simply because of the effect it has had on me, which has been little short of transformational.

I have been a photographer for several years and I maintain that the simple act of using a camera viewfinder and considering the composition of a shot has literally and figuratively opened my eyes on how I see the world. As someone with little formal art background and a career in a scientific world this subjective area of my life has always played “second-fiddle,” so to speak, to the practicalities of successfully raising a family in an ever-changing world.  

Recently we visited MoMA in New York and I was amazed by much of the artwork and confused by much of the more abstract works too. I was fortunate to visit another gallery the following day (The Frick Collection) with an extremely knowledgeable friend and, importantly, I listened as he explained the nuances of many of the historical art pieces on display.

This outing spurred me on to visit my local library and the selection of the book, Why a painting is like a pizza, by Nancy Heller so that I may get to grips with contemporary art. I am so glad I did.

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Heller’s introduction and simple comparison to real-world examples at the start of this relatively compact book suddenly made everything click into place. Working through the concise chapters and the color and monochrome plates I was drawn into the world of contemporary art through abstractionism and abstract art forms. I now have a much clearer understanding of these highly complex pieces of art and appreciate the why monochrome works and minimalist pieces can evoke responses in critics which appeared often insane to me, but a few short weeks ago!

To be honest, reading this single book, timed as it was with my gallery visits and friendly guidance, has been like an epiphany to me. Needless to say, I have now ordered a copy and I am sure I will keep coming back to it again and again. Heller’s work is by no means comprehensive, nor does it profess to be. It does however extend from painting to sculpture and installation art forms, and has certainly whet my appetite to explore more. I cannot wait to get back to MoMA and other art museums…

To paraphrase what I have learned from this small book:

“art is not what you see, but what you feel

~Richard

 

52 Week Challenge: Week 51

WEEK 51: Artistic: Art – It is time to really challenge yourself. Your artistic interpretation should be art, about art. So meta.

 

Interpreting art can be difficult so how about looking at two pieces through another one… I shall not say what these are, although I have given a few clues for those who wish to play Sherlock Holmes…

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~Richard

52 Week Challenge: Week 40

WEEK 40: Portrait: Sitting in a Chair – Either a formal sitting portrait or a re-interpretation of this classic. Photography your subject sitting in a chair.

With the lack of willing models available to me I decided to get creative with this one. At a recent visit to MoMA in New York City I was looking through the blinds in the cafeteria and into the museum’s courtyard below. I took a couple of shots focusing on the blinds and then the courtyard and have merged them, having desaturated the main subjects, to emphasize that they are outside, yet still inside the museum confines.

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~Richard

Not Photographing Art

Not taking photographs may seem an odd subject to write about on a blog that was really set up to feed my photography website but it’s something I have been thinking about for quite a long time now. I am going to leave the philosophical discussion about living life in reality, rather than through a LCD screen, to which I eluded in the entry Missing the Point back in September, and instead blather on briefly (is that possible) about the rights and wrongs of photographing in Art Galleries.

I bring this up following a recent trip to New York City (or simply “NYC” as the trendies like to call it) where we visited the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and the Frick Collection.

As always, I carry a camera with me and in this case it was my trusty little Panasonic DMC-LX5. It’s a few models old, but does a great job with a decent wide-angle/zoom lens and is compact enough to slip in a jacket pocket. For those that may be interested in such things I usually have it set on aperture priority and have the lens stopped full open to gather as much light as possible – there being no flash built in.

Cameras 9 ©2016, Richard Reeve
Cameras 9 ©2016, Richard Reeve

MoMA was heaving with visitors, to the point in fact where it was quite difficult to appreciate the art, and the number of people clicking away, mainly with their phones, was quite surprising. This is not necessarily a problem as MoMA is quite liberal with their photography policy, even though there are many items on loan from private collections that should not be photographed as they do not belong to MoMA. As usual, I asked the staff before taking a few shots for reference and was told of ones which I could not photograph, but most visitors did not seem to be asking. It is assumed these days that we can all photograph anything, I guess.

This overuse of photography came to a head in front of Van Gogh’s Starry Night which was surrounded by a veritable scrum of viewers adopting paparazzi-like stances with overhead snapping as if the monaural artist may himself appear briefly in the village church window depicted in work and they may miss it! It seemed quite ridiculous and I was unable to actually get in front of the painting for even a brief uninterrupted close view, which was a shame.

The other behavior that seems to be odd to me and which I have not seen before was the art-selfie, as I shall call it. I was surprised to see just how many people were obsessed with getting a photograph next to a painting or sculpture, rather than actually examining the composition  or skill of the artist for a few minutes. The order of play for many guests seemed to be: stand in front of art, turn your back on it, smile (or pout), click, upload, move on.

On the other hand The Frick Collection takes the opposite approach to MoMA and only permits photographs in the garden room. No photographing in the 16 galleries is allowed. I respected their approach and, to be honest, it probably contributed in part for an improved ability to examine some of the works in much greater detail that MoMA afforded.

Now, to the point of this ramble: I was looking at reviews of The Frick Collection on TripAdvisor and I noticed that among the 400+ photographs uploaded by visitors are several images of the art pieces taken within the galleries themselves. This makes me ask a few questions such as, firstly, why are people so ignorant that they seem to think that rules don’t apply to them and, secondly, why doesn’t the Gallery or TripAdvisor police this clear breach of their policy and copyright?

As a member of a large online art community there never seems to be a day without one or more artist complaining about copyright infringement and the stealing of their images for unauthorized, uncredited and unpaid use by third parties on the web. Such conversations are usually met with vociferous defence from all quarters that “artist’s rights” or the “copyright holder’s rights” are sacrosanct and must be defended at all costs against all infringers. It can often get quite heated and complicated due to the nuances of interpreting copyright law and even the definition of “art.”

I realize that such a small sample size cannot really allow conclusions to be drawn but if the commercial outlets (and I use this term deliberately because they do make money from the display of the art) are inconsistent and fairly indifferent to enforcing their rules what are the rest of us to do?

Does this mean that, at least from the perspective of what could be regarded as “public art” the rules of copyright are no longer in play? In effect, has “mob rule,” or perhaps more appropriately, “phone rule” changed the game, and is it for good or bad? If the galleries do not pursue the infringers are they, in effect, condoning this behavior? I would be interested to hear any opinions on this below.

~Richard

Haiku: Zappa Solstice

Today is the Winter Solstice, the “shortest day” and therefore the start of many rebirth legends and fables that are liberally sprinkled throughout human history, give or take a few days. Rather than reflect on the meaning of Stonehenge or myriad superstitions associated with this time of year I prefer to pay homage to one of my favorite artists of all time who was born this day, in 1940 – the late, great Frank Zappa:

~ Frank Zappa ~

On Winter’s solstice

This Mother of Invention

Brings forth Jazz from Hell!

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(By Discreet Records (ebay front back) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

~Richard

Stock Market Skylines

If you have been observing the online art world over the last few years you may have noticed just how popular have become city skyline silhouettes, often in dark colors but also as watercolors.

As graphic artwork they have a certain appeal and the other day as i was looking at the stock market online I noticed that the daily trade volume of shares could also be viewed as a sort of “skyline.” I have therefore created a series of graphic art images based on the volumes of shares traded daily on the Dow Jones Index tracker over an entire year.

It would certainly make for a conversation piece on the wall of a stock trader. Here’s the one for 2009 – what do you think?

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If you click the image it will take you to my art website and show you more from the series.

~Richard

A stitchin’ time

We have an art show tomorrow so, as is usual, I spent some time this evening rushing around trying to get the entries framed, backed and wired. Of course this was after I had scanned the works so that we can keep copies and upload to our websites. This time around I am not entering anything but the “family studio” was represented through one of my daughter’s photographs and two of my wife’s acrylic paintings.

I still need to sort out my office, to make things easier, but my trusty Epson V600 scanner does a grand job, and for the larger paintings I take multiple scans and then stitch them together using the fabulously free Microsoft ICE (Image Composite Editor). This may involve 6 or more images on some of the larger works (like the chickens, below) as the scan bed is about 12” x  9” (30cm x 22.5cm).

Then I run the resulting image through GIMP to color correct as I still haven’t made the leap to Lightroom or Photoshop even though my daughter has these (I’m a creature of habit, I guess),  and we have the final saved images. It can be a bit of hard work for my old ASUS Pentium laptop, but it still manages it.

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So, after a few hours of preparation everything is framed up and ready to be submitted to the show tomorrow.

What do you think?

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~Richard

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