Thursday, May 3, 2007

Egyptian Revival

So now that the entire month of April has evaporated into a puff of air, I am back to the blog and my continued pursit of artistic inspirations. These days, I am most fascinated by the Egyptian Revival movement. It is brought on by a looming project our art guild is undertaking this spring, where we will be painting tromp l'oeil onto the facade of a locally restored historic theater. This theater's architecture is in Egyptian Revival style, so I thought, "why not carry the facade over to match the architectural integrity?"My next though was, "what the heck is Egyptian Revival?"

...So the quest begins....

Squeezed in between the Art Nouveau and Art Deco movements, Egyptian Revival fared little success as a lasting style, but it had an impact nonetheless. Interestingly enough, this movement experienced three waves of popularity. The first was brought on by Napolean's "domination" of Egypt at the beginning of the 1800's and is seen most often in jewelry and interior furnishings. The third, and by far most successful wave, was brought on in the early 1920's by the discovery of King Tut's cursed tomb. Interestingly enough, the second wave in the mid 1800's seems to have occured almost randomly and without the influence of any singular event, and is seen most often in memorials, cemeteries and prisons. Perhaps the most recognized modern building of an Egyptian style is the Luxor Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, although it should be mentioned that this structure in no way reflects the subtlety or class of earlier movements.

In addition to cemeteries, prisons and mausoleums, this Egyptian style was very prevalent in American theaters. Perhaps the best known and most well preserved of such theaters is Grauman's Egyptian Theater in Hollywood, CA -from the same man responsible for the ever-famous tourist magnet Chinese Theater. Sadly enough, of the 66 Egyptian-styled theaters in the entire world, only 19 are still open today and only two are currently in the throes of renovation.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Shock Art

The most common question when looking at Natalia Edenmont's photography is 'hmm...I wonder how she did that?" The most frequent answer? She kills the animals for her art. I wonder if that's true...

Some call it art, most are outraged. Sounds like a fine example of shock art to me. She says she kills these animals, we believe her, we get upset. Mission accomplished. She is now becoming a celebrity. Whether she does or does not kill the animals for her photography, she has guaranteed her place in art history despite the fact that her images are empty and fluffy. I bet PETA will have a grand old time with her, should she venture to America, eh?

The question that comes up over and over again when in discussion with my friends , is 'what is art?' Here again, with Natalia's work, we are challenged to define the meaning and purpose of "art". There are always a fair amount of egotists with a bag full of charisma and tricks who manage to couch-surf their way to fame. There are the tortured souls constantly exorcising their demons. There are classically trained artists and color-by-number artists and people who should have just never picked up a pencil to begin with. And then, we have the shock artists. Nice play, Natalia!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Suehiro Maruo

muzan-e - a subset of Japanese ukiyo-e, depicting violence and other atrocities.

Mauro, a self-taught manga artist from Japan, has a fascination with deformities, 'circus freaks', birth defects and human oddities and his work has a cult following around the globe. Because many of his illustrations depict graphic sex and violence, his work is often deemed too graphic for many popular Japanese manga publications. Mauro is often considered one of the greatest retro-artists working in the manga field today.

Mauro's illustrations have been featured in the liner art of jazz legend John Zorn's 'Naked City' albums. His book, 'Mr. Arashi's Amazing Freak Show', has been adapted into an animated film, but has received little release. His work is often referred to as 'erotic-grotesque'.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

City Museum

"where the imagination runs wild."

'Housed in the 600,000 square-foot former International Shoe Company, the museum is an eclectic mixture of children's playground, funhouse, surrealistic pavilion, and architectural marvel made out of unique, found objects. The brainchild of internationally acclaimed artist Bob Cassilly, a classically trained sculptor and serial entrepreneur, the museum opened for visitors in 1997 to the riotous approval of young and old alike. Cassilly and his longtime crew of 20 artisans have constructed the museum from the very stuff of the city; and, as a result, it has urban roots deeper than any other institutions'. Reaching no farther than municipal borders for its reclaimed building materials, the CITY MUSEUM boasts features such as old chimneys, salvaged bridges, construction cranes, miles of tile, and even two abandoned planes! '

With 600,00 sqaure feet to create and play in, the options are limitless. When I went for the first time, I was crawling in tight tunnels underground, jumping on slides three stories tall and climbing airy ironwork four stories above the streets of Saint Louis. Every inch of this wonderland lit up my senses; sights, sounds, smells, and constant tactile exploration.

In one section I discovered Art City, a huge series of rooms filled with art supplies and children in spattered smocks. In one far corner of this room was an employee creating a six foot mosaic mermaid. Yet another room brought rough subterrenean caverns to explore - covered in sculptural suggestions of fantastical creatures. I caresses an eight foot gargoyle with wings slightly extended and climbed through carney trailers in the Museum of Mirth, Mystery and Mayhem. And then there were the six-story spiral slides, once used as a method of transporting shoes from the top to the bottom floor of this monolithic building.

If you are a creative soul, or just looking for a unique experience, be sure to stop by the City Museum in Saint Louis. Dress like you want to climb some playground equipment and be prepared to get lost in this wonderous place for several hours. You will not regret it in the least!