It’s a cool glow-in-the-dark playground. No, it’s an art installation. Well, actually, husband-and-wife team Eric Höweler + Meejin Yoon of the Boston-based Höweler + Yoon Architecture were striving for both. The temporary installation titled Swing Time, located in a public park space next to the Boston Convention Center in South Boston, consists of 20 glowing oval swings that encase LED lights which activate with the swings’ movement. When forces are static and the swings are not in use, they emit a soft, white light that illuminates the area. When the swings are in motion, the micro-controller switches the light from white to purple, creating a more colorful glowing effect. Swing Time is part of an initiative to create the first interactive public space in the city, with the goal to entice people of all ages to play. If you’re in Boston, you might want to check it out.
Category Archives: Stuff We Like
Jen & Paul’s Souvenir City & Chelsea Bus Tours
Strolling through the gallery openings in Chelsea the other evening I came upon Jen and Paul’s One Stop Shopping Souvenir City & Chelsea Bus Tours. Definitely hard to miss, the glitzed up light blue parked bus (on 26th Street the night I was there, but apparently more often located on 24th Street) beckons to passers-by, welcoming them in and offering an array of humorous art souvenirs for purchase. The mobile shop — created, designed, run, and driven by performance artists Jen Catron and Paul Outlaw — displays and sells an impressive selection of clever mock DIY-style art kits, games, and supplies that poke fun at the big-name contemporary artists whose work is often found within the galleries that surround it. Make your own Jeff Koons balloon animals with a set of branded balloons. A glasses and nose disguise is repositioned as a Cindy Sherman Disguise Kit. There’s Chuck Close Graph Paper, Paul McCarthy Ketchup bottles, Mini Damien Hirst Shark, William Wegman Dog Treats and much more. Definitely chuckle-inducing throughout. And if that weren’t enough, Jen and Paul offer free Chelsea tours led by the two of them as well as a few semi-celebrity guests such as Paddy Johnson and comedian Sean J Patrick with others to follow. Make sure to keep an eye out for the bus if you’re headed to Chelsea this fall, or sign up for a tour over here.
You can learn more about Jen and Paul in the video below:
You wouldn’t necessarily associate Moishe’s Moving with art and architecture, but you would be wrong not to. Moishe Mana, founder of the moving company, and his right-hand man Eugene Lemay have converted 150,000 square feet of the 1.5 million industrial space they own in Jersey City into the impressive Mana Contemporary, a center that houses over 250 artists’ studios, numerous art galleries, Richard Meier’s Model Museum, Gary Lichtenstein’s Editions printing studio and shop, in addition to dance studios, an art book shop, a bistro, designer studios, a recently completed spectacular column-free 50,000-square-foot separate glass gallery, and who knows what else? I visited last spring during an open studios event and was blown away by the facilities as well as the quality of the art (there are some impressive names on the doors such as Michal Rovner and others.) The Richard Meier Model Museum is a must-see, and there are special exhibits in many of the art galleries. The trip from NYC is relatively quick on the Path train but, as was the case when I visited in May, this Sunday, September 14th there will be free shuttle buses running from the Meatpacking District every half hour, making the excursion irresistible.
Photos: collabcubed and mana
Nick Georgiou: Hermès Windows NYC
I’m not sure if it’s because it’s Fashion Week here in NYC, or because the fall season has begun bringing with it a new crop of looks, or maybe I just hadn’t strolled down Madison Avenue in a while but, when I did yesterday afternoon I was really struck by all the store windows, both in their content and their display design. Barney’s had a series of rotating photos by Bruce Weber titled L.A. Stories; another store whose name escapes me was setting up neon signage along with what seemed to be an outdoor runway, but the windows that stopped me in my tracks were those of Hermès. The mannequin heads were these spectacular sculptures which at first glance looked like blocks of painted wood, but as I got closer I realized that they were actually books. Books! Rolled, fanned, stacked, bent, not only were the mannequin heads stunning (possibly the most fabulous part of the general fabulosity), but the backdrops as well were intricate tableaus created using the edges of books, painted in colors and stripes, in some cases just as multicolor striped motif backdrop while in others 2-dimensional mythical gods. I went in to ask who the artist was and should have recognized the name right away, having posted NYC-born and based artist Nick Georgiou’s work before. Seeing them in person, however, is even more impressive. Kudos to whoever thought to give the job to Georgiou, and of course kudos to the artist himself for making an impressive splash on Upper Mad, specifically at the corner of 62nd Street.
Photos collabcubed and Nick Georgiou
Richard Wright: Aird’s Lane Installation
Glasgow-based artist Richard Wright creates impermanent site-specific interventions that engage in temporality and the built environment. His latest, closing this Saturday for The Modern Institute in Glasgow, consists of four leaded glass skylights in the ceiling at Aird’s Lane. Wright incorporated handmade, blown glass and leading in an intricate design placed within four existing rectangular skylights resulting in a dramatic—almost three dimensional—effect within the room. The textured glass interferes with the natural light reflecting it and causing a shift in the viewer’s perspective. Much in the way Wright’s paintings are of a transient nature, so are the patterns on the walls and floors created by the light through these complex glass pieces.
The exhibit will be up through 9/6/14. Catch it if you can.
Marco Bottin: Tormented Objects
It’s not really surprising that Italian artist Marco Bottin of Padua wrote his graduate thesis in Philosophy on Economic Sociology, specifically the theme of gift and reciprocity. He has carried the theme, and related ones, into his art using everyday objects and filling them with symbolism and contradictions or tensions. His sculptures in particular are at once humorous and troubling, and if the visuals don’t pack enough of a punch on their own, the titles finish the job for sure. From top to bottom: A Middle Class Portrait (top two); Growing Up is not for Adults; In Loving Memory; and Statements, Injuries, Predictions.
Big Maze: Bjarke Ingels Group
This looks fun and since we’ll be attending festivities in Maryland this weekend, maybe we’ll be able to squeeze in a quick jaunt to the National Building Museum in Washington D.C. before the maze comes tumbling (well, maybe not tumbling) down on Monday, September 1, 2014. Danish architecture firm Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) (previously here and here) has created a concave wooden labyrinth in the middle of the museum’s main hall. Constructed with maple plywood, the structure rewards your efforts by revealing a 360-degree view of the maze once you reach the center, the point where the 18 ft tall walls are clearly a lot shorter. Of course, there’s always the option to get a different—and more complete— perspective/view from the second and third floor balconies without doing all the work, but then, what fun would that be?
Pizza in the Wild: Jonpaul Douglass
Daniela shared this Instagram photo series with me last week and it’s right up our alley, both because they’re absurd—starting with the title—and because they’re pizza-related, two things we really enjoy. Pizza in the Wild series I and II by Los Angeles-based photographer Jonpaul Douglass were inspired by pizza graffiti which led him to photograph a bunch of Little Caesar’s pizza pies in unusual locations and situations throughout LA. Some hang off ledges, others are thrown/placed on animals, cars, street signs and the like, and still others become one with nature. If you’re feeling badly for the pizzas that appear in the shots, don’t; none were harmed in the making of the series and apparently some were even eaten! A very wise man, for sure.
21st Precinct: Street Art & Graffiti Art Show
I stopped by the opening of Outlaw Arts’ graffiti and street art show 21st Precinct last Saturday evening. The 1863 NYPD building will be demolished in the coming months and a condominium will take its place, so, as has become recently popular in NYC and abroad, the four-story space was handed over to street artists who covered every wall, door, floor, ceiling, bathroom, and other nooks and crannies throughout with their art. The irony of graffiti in a police station was not lost on many of the artists who themed their work accordingly: there were excerpts from the Miranda Rights sprayed in beautiful type graffiti; there was a bathroom that looked like a murder scene with a blood-filled sink; a machine gun vending machine; Pacino’s Scarface above writing in white powder simulating cocaine on the floor, and much more. Each artist was apparently given a room or hallway or stairway to go to town on, and go to town they did. Some of my personal favorites included Rae-BK, Alice Mizrachi, Yok and Sheryo, Mr. Toll, and of course others who I was not able to identify, such as the bottom photo. (Update: it’s Erasmo.)
It’s interesting to see how street art is increasingly making its way indoors and with that so is the sense of a downtown gallery scene. There were even iPads displaying additional works in some of the rooms and business cards abound. And why not? Just as with any art, there are some truly exceptional artists among many of the more mundane, and I, for one, would be thrilled to have any one of a number of these artists’ works on my walls.
Many of the featured artists were wandering around the opening, blending in with everyone else, except for the rare case of red spandex pants that far from blended, but that seemed to be the point. If you missed the event last weekend, don’t despair, the 21st Precinct at 327 East 22nd St. will be open to the public again this coming weekend 8/23 and 8/24 from 1 to 6pm. If you can’t make it live, you can see many more (and better) photos here and here.
Land of the Giants: Choi+Shine
Can’t say that any electrical pylons I’ve seen are particularly attractive with all those cables protruding from their metallic structures, but at least this design by Jin Choi and Thomas Shine of Choi+Shine Architects in Boston injects a little humor and personality into these massive forms. Known for their innovative and creative designs and experimentation, Choi+Shine submitted a proposal for a High-Voltage Pylon competition in Iceland—put forth by Landsnet, a national power transmission company requesting that careful consideration be given to the appearance of the towers—converting the existing steel-framed tower designs into iconic pylon-figures with minor alterations. The result would transform the Icelandic landscape, adding expression and fun, varying the forms and styles while keeping the cost low through repetition in production and simple assembly. These 150 foot tall giants across the land would silently transport electricity 24/7. Might be a little creepy coming across them on the road at night, but a fun alternative to the norm, nonetheless.
The Water Tank Project: Word Above the Street
Look up New York! The Water Tank Project has started to roll out…or maybe “wrap around” would be more accurate. I first learned of Word Above the Street’s project roughly one year ago, but was happy to hear yesterday, via an interview on wnyc, that this is actually taking place right now. Filmmaker Mary Jordan, the creative and driving force behind the project, was working on a documentary in Ethiopia in 2007 when she fell gravely ill due to contaminated water. It was the women in the village she was in who nursed her back to health. In return, they asked that she let people know of the global water crisis when she returned to the U.S. Jordan founded Word Above the Street and set out to fulfill her promise through a citywide exhibit on the very icons that proudly contain our own fortunate and excellent water supply. Over 100 water tanks will be wrapped with art by acclaimed artists (such as John Baldessari, Jeff Koons, Maya Lin, Andy Goldsworthy), street artists (including Icy & Sot, Barry McGee, and Fab 5 Freddy), emerging artists, and even NYC public school students. The first one, by Laurie Simmons (top photo), went up two weeks ago on 29th Street near the High Line, and another one (I couldn’t find the artist, but third photo down) on West 25th Street.
Tanks in all five boroughs will be included and, in addition to the art above, action will be taken on the ground through educational programs, tours, and a symposium dedicated to global water issues. So, keep your head up and eyes peeled for the next 3 months if in NYC. Or, if not, you can always follow them on twitter or instagram for the latest updates. Water above all!
Photos & images courtesy of The Water Tank Project
Jello Brick Wall: Hein & Seng
Artists Bob Seng and Lisa Hein have created their Jello Brick Wall sculptures on more than one occasion. Their most recent was at the Seattle Center in, well, Seattle. The jiggly installation consisted of 500 lbs. of Jell-O made into loaf-size bricks of varying flavors (raspberry, orange, cherry, lime, and more) and colors held in place with gypsum mortar. The artists cook the Jell-O on a hot plate and cool it in molds in a fridge. The final wall measured roughly 5 feet in height and 12 feet in length. And then there’s the melting/deteriorating aspect. Hein and Seng like the temporary nature of the work. Each brick apparently has the approximate lifespan of cut flowers, eventually melting or crumbling leaving just the mortar. The work is part performance, part installation. You can see more in the video below:
Ryan McGinness: Signs
I noticed a few of these in Nolita the other day and then again yesterday right around Astor Place. I wondered what they were about and have since learned that it’s a public art project titled Signs by artist/designer Ryan McGinness fabricated and installed by NYC Department of Transportation (DOT). Apparently there are fifty in all of these vinyl on aluminum signs and, so far, they seem to mostly be downtown. McGinness has sketches of all fifty on his website accompanied by brief, somewhat whimsical/enigmatic descriptions. I couldn’t find more information, such as how the DOT went along with this, but I’m a fan of anything that makes you stop on the busy streets of NYC and ponder. If you’re in the city, keep your eyes open for more of these. They’re scheduled to be up through August.
Top photo: Ryan McGinness; 2nd photo down: Animal; following three photos: DustyRebel.
Flederhaus: House of Hammocks
The Flederhaus—a pun off the word fledermaus which means ‘bat’ in German—is a fun structure in Vienna designed by architects Heri & Salli explicitly for hanging around and relaxing. The open building, situated in the Museum Quarter of the city, houses 28 hammocks on 5 floors that offer great views to one and all at no cost. The inviting hammocks are arranged to allow for meeting and interacting with neighbors. A fun public space for sure.
Photos by Mischa Erben courtesy of the architects.
Apex Predator Shoes: Fantich & Young
East London artist duo Mariana Fantich and Dominic Young who make up the studio Fantich & Young, create conceptual sculptures addressing “parallels between social evolution and evolution in the natural world.” The original Apex Predator—described as predators with no predators of their own, residing at the top of the food chain—tooth-soled shoe sculptures started with the Barker Oxford shoes inlaid with 1050 false teeth in their soles in 2010. These were used to accompany the Apex Predator Suit made of human hair and glass eyes for buttons. The Empire (Jimmy Choo heels) followed and, most recently, this year in fact, the Red Shoes Mary Janes are the latest addition to the series. Now the whole family can grip the ground, chomping their way around town. Creepy? Yes. But come on…pretty cool, too.
You can see the rest of Fantich & Young’s work here.
Form Scratch: Kolkoz
Swiss accessories luxury brand Bally has launched a year-long initiative expanding their commitment to art and design with their project titled Form Scratch presented during Art Basel last month. The project has three parts to it: the restoration of one of architect Jean Prouvé’s signature prefab nomadic structures; a collection of furniture by Swiss architect Pierre Jeanneret; and, lastly, a commission by French artists Benjamin Moreau and Samuel Boutruche of Kolkoz. That last part mentioned is the one this post is about. Drawing from their background working in video games and 3D digital imaging, the Kolkoz duo recreated the house’s elements as a flat wooden panel, much in the style of the model kits from my youth (and likely still today… it’s been a while since I’ve put together a toy model.) Being that the Jean Prouvé house is meant to be built by two people in a day, the artists flattened it out and playfully made it an oversized toy object. The installation is both fun as well as a document of the structure’s elements. Suspending it over the river Rhine makes it all the more humorous and eye-catching.
Here’s the event in all its fabulousness:
Matt Reilly of Japanther: Skateboard Painting
A couple of months back I made the trip out to Mana Contemporary (a surprising cultural hub in Jersey City) and witnessed Matt Reilly of Japanther—a band established by Reilly and Ian Vanek while students at Pratt and described by art reviewers as “art-rock installation paratroopers” —skateboard paint. Somewhere between Jackson Pollock’s drips and Aaron Young’s multi-motorcycle performance art piece Greeting Card, lies Reilly’s skate-painting. By adding paint to the wheels of his board with sponges and then showing off his skating skills, Reilly is able to create large, abstract paintings while putting on a mesmerizing show. The results are nicer than I would have imagined, and the process was fun to watch. You can see him in action below:
Top two photos: collabcubed. All the rest: Japanther
Stik: Stick Figure Street Art
When it comes to street art, it doesn’t get much cuter than Stik. The British graffiti artist based in London paints mouthless and noseless stick figure characters on walls, doors, water towers, and more, that despite their minimalistic quality exude warmth and charm. Sometimes in groups holding hands (see the two water towers we’re acquainted with in the East Village and Bushwick), and other times alone, these not-so-little guys are usually painted in black and white against solid bright colored backgrounds. In addition to his unauthorized work, the somewhat private Stik, who has been homeless at times, works with many charitable and human rights organizations. See? That good heartedness shines through in his art. Stik’s work can be seen in Europe, NYC, and even the Middle East and Japan. We are fortunate to have two of his works right in our neighborhood.
You can see more of his work here and an interview below: