Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Posts Tagged ‘Art

WPC: Collage (part two)

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Yesterday I posted a collage of Trastevere in Rome. I mentioned that we had found the Villa Farnesina closed – so we had to go back. These are some of the pictures I took of the famous frescoes in the villa. Warning to those who may be in a highly puritanical workplace – some of these images may not be safe for work.

Posted as a second response to the Weekly Photo Challenge

 

Written by Stephen Rees

July 13, 2017 at 10:39 am

Evil: A Matter of Intent

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The material below the line was sent to me by a pr firm working for a gallery in Florida. When I pointed out my location and the somewhat limited coverage of this blog they replied “Our experience over the years has guided us to cast a wider net due to the fact that South Beach and Miami attract so many millions of visitors from all over the world.”

So I have cut and pasted this material from the press release. It seems to me to be worthwhile in its own right, and worth drawing attention to even if it does not generate much tourist traffic.



Evil: A Matter of Intent features the work of over thirty contemporary and modern artists addressing the many faces of inhumanity. This pertinent group show features artists hailing from around the world with diverse backgrounds, including Helene Aylon, Judith Glickman Lauder, Grace Graupe-Pillard, William Sharp, Tamar Hirschl, John Lawson, Paul Margolis, Mark Podwal, Trix Rosen, and Arthur Szyk.

Presented in Miami Beach by the Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU, the exhibition is on view through October 1. The museum is located at 301 Washington Avenue in the heart of South Beach’s Art Deco District, and is part of Florida International University.

As the title reminds us during these precarious times, acts of evil are premeditated and intentional, motivated by selfishness and the desire to gain at the expense of others. On loan from the Hebrew Union College Jewish Institute of Religion in New York, this exhibition was curated by Laura Kruger and features more than seventy artworks that span from 1940 to the present, including mixed media paintings, works on paper, photography and sculptural works.

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Sin Street, 2013 by Trix Rosen (photograph of performance artist Fred Keonig).

This photo has its roots in the shadows and violence depicted on pulp fiction book covers and film noir movie posters. At the core of these stories is an edgy morality tale, with temptation dripping from the lurid images and titles. “Bad Girl” characters live in a place and time where good is not always rewarded – nor is evil inevitably punished.

Watch the new video about Evil: A Matter of Intent

 

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Thou Shalt Not Stand Idly By, by Ben Shahn, 1965 (lithograph).

Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel once asserted that the entire ethical teachings of the Hebrew Bible could be condensed into one sentence: an excerpt from Leviticus 19:16, “Thou shalt not stand idly by while your neighbor’s blood is shed.” Shahn illustrated this admonition by depicting a white hand reaching out to raise a black hand.
“Evil is not a cosmic accident, it does not just happen,” said the New York-based curator of the original version of this traveling exhibition, Laura Kruger. “Evil is a deliberate action or inaction. Evil is the violation of our common humanity.” The work of these artists shows how evil manifests in many forms including genocide, torture, slavery and fear of “the other.” The on-site design of the Miami version of this exhibition was created by Jacqueline Goldstein, the curator at the Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU.

The artists in Evil: A Matter of Intent demonstrate how evil is reinforced by indifference, bullying, cruelty and denial. Terrorist acts, murder, rape, destruction of culture and knowledge, pogroms, obliteration of cultural heritage, child abuse, poisoning of the earth and water, and murder are rampant and unceasing.

 

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KKK Rally, Florida (circa 1950s)

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Hiroshima, A Child’s Shirt, 2005, by Leonard Meiselman (oil on canvas).

A child’s shirt, intact but browned from the flames that engulfed Hiroshima when the atom bomb dropped, challenges us to reflect on the painful reminders resulting from war and its related necessary evils. Inspired by the Peace Museum in Japan’s display of such frayed, burned children’s shirts, this has become a life subject for Meiselman.

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Child’s Drawing of Darfur, 2009.

Bakhid was eight years old when he saw his village in Darfur being attacked and burned by Janjaweed forces on horseback and Sudanese forces in vehicles and tanks. In 2007, the organization Waging Peace traveled to refugee camps in Eastern Chad, where survivors from the “ethnic cleansing” of non-Arab, black Africans now live. The genocide of Darfur, a region in the west of Sudan, was perpetrated by the Sudanese government and Arab militias since 2003. They committed horrific crimes such as burning and bombing entire villages and gunning down families. The organization asked the children in the camps to draw memories of the vicious attacks. The International Criminal Court accepted these drawings as evidence of the crimes committed by the Sudanese government. One young artist named Aisha said: “It is very kind to send us food, but this is Africa and we are used to being hungry. What I ask is that you please take the guns away from the people who are killing us.” Courtesy of the BBC and Ryot

These are artists who refuse to remain silent despite forces of intimidation or popular beliefs

Their voices and visions are direct and distinct, forever asking the viewer what he or she would do if placed in similar situations depicted in these works of art.

Grace Graupe-Pillard’s work was featured in the recent exhibition at New York’s Cheim & Reid Gallery (The Female Gaze: Women Look at Men), and has also shown at the Aldrich Museum, the National Academy Museum and the Bass Museum.

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Boy with a Gun: Saturday Night Special, 1992, and Boy with a Gun: Homeless Man, 1987, by Grace Graupe-Pillard (pastel, cut-out canvas).

The artist’s powerful works call attention to the urgent need for gun control laws. In her series, Boy with a Gun (1987-1992), she suggests that a child’s game can become adult gun violence. What will it take to thwart the gun industry and stop the killing?

Their voices and visions are direct and distinct

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Installation image – Boy with a Gun: Homeless Man, 1992, by Grace Graupe-Pillard.

Mark Podwal is well known for his drawings in the New York Time’s op-ed page. His work has been engraved on a Congressional Gold Medal, and is also featured in a series of decorative plates at the Metropolitan Museum.

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There Arose a New King Who Knew Not Joseph, by David Wander, 2014 (mixed media).

Evoking the biblical passage from Exodus 1:8, Wander ponders the repetition of history. He contrasts the collapse of the 20th-century golden age of German-Jewish culture with the enslavement of the Israelites in antiquity. As governments and political powers shift, ranging from benign and supportive to deadly, they impact the entire status of the population.

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Suffer the Little Children, by William Sharp, 1940 (etching).

As a soldier during World War I, Sharp witnessed war’s devastating impact on young children. This etching depicts young children, with the weary faces of old men, who were orphaned, forced to grovel, beg, and live by their wits on the open streets.

Helene Aylon’s career includes her Process Art in the 1970’s, anti-nuclear Art in the 80’s and her later G-D Project that spanned two decades. Her work can be found in collections around the world including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) and Whitney Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. In the mid-sixties, she painted her iconic 16-foot mural for the synagogue library at JFK airport. View the exhibition catalogue at this link.

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First They Came for ….., by Linda Soberman, 2014 (lithoprint).

Soberman comments on the complicit indifference of those bystanders who witnessed evil during the Holocaust. The image of the “winking” woman whose face is covered by the quotation by Martin Niemoller, a prominent Protestant pastor and outspoken critic of Adolf Hitler, who spent seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps.

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Gallery image – installation of Exodus II, by Tamar Hirschl, 2005 (mixed media on vinyl).

This large work, with the map of France as the background, depicts the Nazis’ conquering of both land and people in their insidious march across Europe and North Africa. Hirschl builds on memories of her childhood during the Holocaust to highlight the misery and destruction that accompany imperialistic and genocidal ventures. Her work comments on the evil that continues to divide and destroy human connections.
“This exhibition is timely and powerful,” says Susan Gladstone, the Director of the Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU. “These artists tackle issues we are all confronting right now, at this juncture in history.They bring evil to light from a multitude of shadowy angles, capturing historical events and expressing outrage. They leave us, the viewers, to our own responses – and possibly to our own personal calls to action,” adds Susan Gladstone.

The artists in this exhibition are:
Andi Arnowitz · Helene Aylon · Debra Band · Riva Bell · · Rosalyn A. Engelman · Larry S. Frankel · Grace Graupe-Pillard · Barbara Green · Debbie Teicholz Guedalia · Carol Hamoy · Tamar Hirschl · Elizabeth Langer · Judith Glickman Lauder · John Lawson · Margalit Manor · Elizabeth Langer · Ruben Malayn · Paul Margolis · Richard McBee · Leonard Meiselman · David Newman ·Jacqueline Nicholls · Hedy Pagremanski · Mark Podwal · Faith Ringold · Trix Rosen · Marilyn R. Rosenberg · Ben Shahn · William Sharp · Linda Soberman · Arthur Szyk · David Wander · Grace Bakst Wapner · Paul Weissman.

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Detail – Yesterday’s Children, by Paul Weissman, 2015 (inked woodcut, lockets, photos and resin).

A tour de force of printmaking techniques underlays a collage of baby pictures. These seemingly innocent children, on closer inspection, turn out to be photos of Adolf Hitler, Mao Zedong, Kim Jong-il, Saddam Hussein, and Joseph Stalin. The backdrop woodcut depicts the chaos of destruction they caused. Are genocidal maniacs born or bred, is it nature or nurture that is to blame?

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Detail – Yesterday’s Children, by Paul Weissman.

Are genocidal maniacs born or bred, is it nature or nurture that is to blame?

Written by Stephen Rees

May 25, 2017 at 11:12 am

Public Furniture | Urban Trees

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There is a sculpture exhibit on Spanish Banks at present. It is the latest manifestation of Vancouver Biennale – and the title is theirs. And that is really what has inspired this opinion piece. I think it is misleading – the furniture is not public. The artist, Hugo França comes from Brazil. This is what the signage at the exhibit says

Hugo França reimagines fallen trees in poetic ways, transforming them into beautiful sculptress for public enjoyment. The sculpting process respects the natural features of the trees, promoting minimum waste and the beauty of the natural organic forms, lines, flaws and imperfections. Their memory remains alive with their uniqueness, offered back to the community in harmony with the natural environment. This is the first time the artist is creating public sculpture outside Brazil and using a variety of of local wood species.

The pictures are all in a set on flickr which includes a Google map showing the location.

Public Furniture | Urban Trees 1
Public Furniture | Urban Trees 2
Public Furniture | Urban Trees 3
Public Furniture | Urban Trees 4
Public Furniture | Urban Trees 5
Public Furniture | Urban Trees 6

The signage also includes the warning “Please do not cross the line” (in large friendly capital letters) but as you can see from some of my images this seems to be moot. The line – a bit like crime scene tape – has been supplemented by snow fence, which has also fallen – or been taken – down. One of my flickr contacts Tom Abrahamson remarked “Elaborate and nicely done bench at the beach. Just have to hope that the usual brain dead idiots are not trying to put it on fire or damage it.”

This is an issue for all art works outside of private houses. Put something on display in public and unless you guard it night and day it is at high risk of damage. Even if the damage is unintentional. There are, of course, raw logs that end up on all our beaches. It is a feature of the remarkably careless way logs are moved around – in log booms.

River Eagle North Arm Vancouver BC 2007_0530

But also the natural erosion of the banks of streams and inlets mean that trees – or what remains of them – get cast up on beaches. In Vancouver these are carefully marshalled to provide a certain amount of amenity to visitors, who thus bring much less in the way of furniture to the beach with them. In other places, chairs, tables, loungers, windbreaks – and umbrellas – all proliferate. On many beaches around the world the provision of such amenities is a source of income.

4 poster beach bed

Yucatan Beach

At the beach in Spanish Banks near where the sculptures are placed, the city allows people to cut up spare logs for fuel or other purposes

Trunk full of stepping "stones"

The sound of chainsaws is as common at this beach as dogs barking at others. There seems to be a clear understanding of which logs are for cutting – and that people will not take the work of others for themselves. But somehow we are not so trusting when it comes to art.

Rainblossom Project

Not long ago near this location another art installation appeared. Red umbrellas hung from some trees. They did not last long. I saw some being “adopted”. Just as some people will pick flowers in public places. Though they do seem to respect the floral tributes left on benches.

bench marker and flower

I have heard of flowers being stolen from graves, and I am afraid some of my family’s monuments in a cemetery in East London were destroyed by anti-semitic vandals.

The art work benches are not actually public furniture – because they have not been provided for people to enjoy through use but merely by looking at them. Even though their very nature invites touch – they have been lovingly smoothed – and relaxation. Unlike the unfinished logs on this and other Vancouver beaches

View from the Boat House pano

The art is also not going to last very long in this state as the cut surfaces have not been “finished”. Exposed to the elements, they will decay. Indeed in their natural state trees decay and return to the soil even before they fall

Detail of downed tree

It isn’t the tree we want to preserve, it’s the work of the artist we value. But the work has potential value that exceeds that of the visual amenity. We long ago recognized that lawns – the product of careful gardening, extensive and expensive maintenance – are vulnerable when used for human activities, but we stopped putting “Keep off the Grass” signs in most city parks many years ago, recognizing the value of lawns for games, recreation or even a quiet snooze.

early tanner

The introduction of tables and chairs onto city streets was also a risky undertaking, but in New York at least, theft – or other unintended uses – does not seem to have been a problem.

I think it would be a Good Idea if we could turn the guys with chainsaws loose on some of the raw logs on our beaches to see how they could be improved. Not for firewood. Well not initially anyway: for the failed experiments, possibly. But to increase their utility – and quite possibly their beauty too. And pubic art will get used as a sitting place or a climbing frame, and needs to be sufficiently robust and secure enough to withstand that.

Art climbing

Art reduced to a bench

Art as adventure playground

Art climber

Written by Stephen Rees

April 20, 2014 at 3:43 pm

More from Toronto

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Torontoist

The wraps finally came off the renovation of Museum subway station at a grand opening today. Amidst the coming and going of subway trains and riders, a large group of press and luminaries, penned in by watchful officials, gathered. Mayor David Miller praised the project as “a shining example of what our public spaces can be.” While there has certainly been criticism of the project and its funding, it’s hard to not find the finished columns quite irresistible and fun.

The five different columns represent First Nations, Ancient Egypt, Mexico’s Toltec Culture, Chinese, and Ancient Greek styles.

Do not expect anything like this on the Canada Line

Written by Stephen Rees

April 9, 2008 at 4:07 pm

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