Tag Archives: art

Never Mind Subway, David LaFerriere is the Real ‘Sandwich Artist’

THOUGHTS: I’d imagined that I’d be more like this guy…

by hipstomp / Rain Noe


RISD grad and graphic designer dad David LaFerriere has a creative outlet that starts before he hits the office: Each morning he draws a new illustration on his kids’ sandwich bags before they head out for school. “Each drawing is done just after I make the sandwich,” LaFerriere writes. “The challenges are coming up with an idea and then drawing quickly and directly on the bag, every line counts.”




Having been at it since 2008, LaFerriere has produced thousands of daily drawings, which he began uploading to Flickr. After being profiled by that website’s video series last month, word of his exploits exploded across the blogosphere. Here’s the original vid:

Our natural question, to you ID dads: Do you think you could keep up the same pace with fresh ID sketches? Spencer Nugent and John Muhlenkamp, you guys reading this?

The View from Dubai: Censorship and Resistance in the Emirates

THOUGHTS: Interesting read…

by Mostafa Heddaya

In my screed from a few weeks ago, “When Artspeak Masks Oppression,” I cited the Guggenheim-Emirates partnership as an instance of contemporary art’s institutional culture operating in service of authoritarianism. One of the examples I mentioned of the propagandistic character of this relationship, facilitated by a language termed “International Art English,” was the Dubai-based artist UBIK’s description of an installation of his called “Tahrir Square” (2011).

I selected the passage from his website because it was illustrative of how International Art English can neuter even the most plainly subversive event, in this case recasting Tahrir Square, the site of bloody protests against a murderous regime, as a vacant thought experiment. Though the example was never meant as a generalized indictment of the artist — my comment was on language and institutions, not the art itself — I am glad to have been recently able to catch up with UBIK and hear his frank and often biting perspective on the climate for contemporary art production in the United Arab Emirates.

* * *

Mostafa Heddaya: Tell us a little about your background as an artist in the UAE — how long have you been working in the Emirates, and where else have you worked?

UBIK: I started out as a fashion school student, but dropped out of fashion school at 17, started working in advertising at 18, then did a lot of design until I was 21. I was in Delhi up until this point in time, and I moved back to Dubai at around 21. I set up a design studio with my brother and did that for a year or two. I then happened upon someone once asking me if I wanted to do a mural and I was like “sure,” and that ended up becoming a thing for me. Eventually, about three years ago, I decided not to draw any more and kind of got over it — I guess for now — and started going more and more into text-based works. So you could say I’ve been active in the Dubai scene for about five years total.

UBIK, "A Firm Grip Will Improve Your Trajectory" (2011)

MH: How would you describe the climate for creative expression in the Emirates, both in terms of what the kind of art produced and how it’s received by galleries and museums?

U: Well, about four to five years ago was not much happening. When I was doing murals there was me and two or three other people; now it’s kind of exploded. … [Dubai] is kind of interesting in the sense, for example, that there’s a whole subculture of skateboarding that popped up four years ago.

In terms of contemporary art the Dubai art scene is quite young, only about nine or ten years. The galleries are also young … It’s only going to get better. There’s always that whole hesitation about having to deal with political issues that matter or social issues that matter. In a sense it’s easier to address issues that happen elsewhere in the Arab world or anywhere else in the world as opposed to directly addressing issues in the UAE, politically or socially, as such. There’s also a lot of, well, not bad art, but for me, personally, boring art … It’s only getting better. The quality of art is slowly getting better.

UBIK, "Portrait of an Artist through His Statements" (2012)

MH: How has the Arab Spring affected curatorial attitudes in the Emirates, both in museums and galleries?

U: Museums haven’t really started. I’m very curious what museums are going to showcase when they are fully functional, as far as political stuff. It’s mostly just the Arab Spring at the galleries. Surprisingly enough it sells very well, and galleries need to pay bills so I understand that aspect. Many of these [Arab Spring] works have a shelf life; they’re a bit boring.

Anything [exhibition-wise] to do with the government out here is censored — the government really wouldn’t touch anything to do with the Arab Spring. They try to stay as far away as possible from it.

I’m really not inspired nowadays when I walk into a gallery in Dubai. It’s a bit strange actually. There are a few galleries that try to do interesting stuff, like Carbon12, Traffic/THE STATE, they do shows where it’s actually [Traffic gallery owner and THE STATE publisher] Rami Farook’s curated collection. Most of the works he has in his collection are quite political in nature. He curated four or five shows where he dealt with the Arab Spring in a very clever manner.

MH: To what extent is the market for art in the UAE influenced by independent actors vs. state or government-aligned capital? Who are the biggest buyers?

U: I’d say the collectors are quite important here; they pay the bills for a lot of the galleries and the aritsts. In terms of government money coming in, there’s really only the Sharjah Biennale. Collectors play quite an important role in the art market.

Collectors are slowly starting to get smarter, but there’s still a dearth of interesting collectors, collectors who would buy site-specific installations, video or sound installation art. Most of it is still stuff you can hang on your wall. And it’s a 50-50 mix of international and Arab collectors.

UBIK, "Quote" (2011)

MH: To broaden the previous question, who goes to galleries? How has the Emirati citizenship involved itself in contemporary art?

U: In terms of footfalls in galleries and events that happen, some patrons turn up for the alcohol, some come for the art. It’s a very social affair, at least during the openings. The Emirati participation has increased, and the biggest example of that is the Sharjah Biennial. I would say the Emiratis are slowly picking up.

There are a lot of new Emirati artists as well — I’m not going to comment on the quality of their art, but it’s nice to see that. I must say also that most of the art scene is 75–80% dominated by women, gallery owners, art fair management, art fair staff. The majority of the staff at Sharjah is women. That’s a very interesting aspect that I find in this country. Women are very proactive out here. Maybe it has to do with social stigma, an Emirati man not doing art as a career, among the Arabs. But it’s great to see women be super actively involved. A lot of the Sheikhas [female aristocrats] from the royal family are quite heavily invested in patronage.

MH: To follow up on the Emirati artists, to what extent are emerging artists radical or activist?

U: Well the Emiratis don’t tackle governmental issues, at least amongst the young generation I haven’t seen any political artists coming out. Amongst the older generations, Mohammed Kazem is probably an example — and the Flying House crew — they did a lot of experimental political work. Today, it’s expat artists [doing critical work].

UBIK, "Presentense" (2011)

MH: Is the criticism ever direct?

U: No names are obviously named; we try not to do that. There’s always an idea of humor involved. In my work I try to be subtle, only because it’s a bit boring to be too direct.

MH: Is a politically repressive climate good or bad for artists?

U: It’s a bit of both. I haven’t gotten into trouble yet for any of my work, and I’m a bit surprised. I guess at some point every artist self-censors. I personally have done it. It would be nice to be able to say what you want to say, and some people try to voice opinions on social media. Some of the stuff I see on Facebook and Twitter, I’m surprised they’re not arrested; same goes for some of the stuff I say.

MH: Would you say the dominant language of contemporary art in the Emirates is English or Arabic?

U: English. Local criticism is overwhelmingly in the English-language press. As far as what I’ve heard from friends, the Arabic writing on art is like a press release.

MH: Does expression in what Triple Canopy called “International Art English” figure into the English-language equation?

U: Oh yeah, definitely. All the galleries do it … Sometimes I wish I could write conversationally, but as an artist you’re sometimes forced to relate to IAE in a lot of ways. More generally, for me it’s very interesting as a text artist because to be able to come up with the small phrases I use in my work, I have to edit a lot.

I also obviously want the international press to pick up my releases, so IAE becomes a sort of middle ground to use. I also do try to use it to mask my work [politically] depending on who I’m pitching it to.

The Emirates uses IAE as a proper diplomatic tool … The DCAA [Dubai Culture and Arts Authority] core team is mostly Emiratis. So that probably informs how they draft their press releases — though I’m sure they have an agency, I don’t think they do that in house, pretty much everyone here has a PR agent. But in terms of government, the Emiratis  — again, mostly women, except of course all the leading positions [at government agencies] are men — that work on these projects are very well educated. They’ve gone out and they’ve studied, and they come back and they’re quite proud of the fatherland, that kind of thing. I wish they’d be more critical, but they’re getting paid shitloads of money because it’s the government. I guess it’s one of those job things.

UBIK, detail of "Dissident" (2012)

MH: Do you worry that state institutions are using art to further entrench themselves, to create an illusion of criticality?

U: I mean, it’s a super careful dance — they’ll let you say just the right things just enough, but not too much. Same goes to the media out here. If you read any of the news that comes out of here, there are a few interesting social commentators. Have you heard of Sultan Al-Qassemi? He’s one of those people who’s very critical, though you could say he gets away with it because he’s a member of the royal family. It’s interesting having someone like Sultan out here, as he’s an arts patron with a great collection of modern Arab masters and also contemporary art. And to top it off, his collection is quite political.

So you’ve got individuals who are open-minded and who don’t really mind pushing the boundaries … But do I see it changing in the future? I hope so, just for the sake of art out here, because otherwise it’s just going be that same group — Dubai just as some super-commercial area that’s never going to develop into something critical, and the art scene won’t develop.

They can always bring in political art from outside, but I still think it’s better when it’s homegrown.

Canoodling With Culture: The High Art of the Museum Date

by Rosalie Murphy for Good.is

The museum date. If you haven’t done it, you should—what’s more romantic than all those passionate Impressionists? It was Russian painter Marc Chagall who said “art must be an expression of love, or it is nothing.” And almost every famous artist, from Michelangelo to Warhol, is a storied romantic.
You can’t look at Renaissance portraiture forever, though, so try using every facet of modern museums to woo your love interest. Add these ideas to your repertoire and modify them for your city—then let us know what’s good where you come from.

1. Find a unique collection. You can only look at so many Impressionist landscapes in a year. Surprise someone with a nontraditional museum—a place they might not ordinarily pick is great, but a place they might never find is even better.

How it’s done:
If you’re in Boston and want a laugh, try the Museum of Bad Art. Just read through a few exhibit descriptions—I’m already snickering. Laughter is a foundation of solid relationships, so look for a place to practice.

In central Japan, try the small-but-mighty Ninja Museum. Consider this more a cultural study than one-time visit: guests are heartily encouraged to study a glossary of terms before attending. Learn it together.

Get lost in this wacky architect’s clutter-turned-collection in London. It’s packed and a little overwhelming, but might have the perfect eerie/quaint balance to be a bit off-the-wall-romantic.

2. Stay out late. Most museums stay open after work at least once a week. Pros: No gaggles of schoolchildren, coincides with happy hour, could coincide with sunset. Cons: None.

How it’s done:
Local: New York’s Rubin Museum of Art has hosted two annual Dream-overs—nights on which adults can sleep in the shadows of their favorite paintings and wake up to dream analysis and Tibetan breakfast. Couples and singles tickets available.
National: In 2010, Italy instituted “Martedi in Arte,” a national program encouraging museums to a) stay open late and b) offer free admission on the last Tuesday a month. The goal? To help Italians weather economic crisis without sacrificing high culture. See if your city has something similar (or push for a program!)
Continental: UNESCO and the Council of Europe have internationalized an old French program, the Night of Museums. This year it’s on May 13, and museums in more than 40 countries will open their doors, again for free, from sunset until 1 a.m.

3. Choose a good restaurant. Why leave the museum to eat and drink? If the night’s going well and you don’t want to catch a bus, look at the museum’s restaurant menu before you choose your site.

How it’s done:
Traditional: The Hermitage Restaurant at its namesake museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, provides a ten-room tour of Russia’s opulent Tsarist days. The food shouldn’t disappoint, either: There’s a caviar bar and a room dedicated to aperitifs.
Modern: In San Francisco? Spend a post-MOMA afternoon at the Blue Bottle Coffee Bar, where you can find cakes inspired by Mondrain and and ice cream by Craigg.
Ancient: The Museum-Atelier Canova Tadolini in Rome has taken over the former studio of a neoclassical sculptor—sculptures and all. Tables are tucked between marble bodies left by the artist and his students. Good luck getting any closer.

4. It’s not all about art. It’s pretty common for museums to do weekly film and music events, especially outdoors on warm summer nights. (You’re feeling the mood already, aren’t you?) If picnics are more your speed than are swanky restaurants, pack a bag and climb a cozy hillside, or put on your heels and dance the night away to some hip out-of-town DJ. Your call.

How it’s done:
Only LA would name one of these after a freeway, but here we are: Saturdays off the 405 at the Getty Center. Come early for a cash bar and gallery visits (which are free year-round), and stay for hip local and international acts alike.

Film buff? The St. Louis Art Museum is one of many that offers a weekly film—in its case, a black-and-white classic—bookended by food trucks, indie bands and free admission until 11 p.m.

Take a dance lesson. Really. The Virginia MOCA offers both private and group lessons in salsa, ballroom and swing. Impress (or embarrass) one another after you’re done exploring.

5. Make it a tradition. Ideally, a few months from now, your memories from that museum will make it one of your favorites. Give back by spreading the word or offering your time.

How it’s done:
If you haven’t done so yet, sign up for the newsletter! Find a cool event on an off-month anniversary, or at least help the museum out by taking a few customer experience surveys.
Become a volunteer. Most museums are nonprofits, remember, and they rely heavily on volunteers to create the events we recommend. Spend a few hours handing out programs or pointing folks in the right direction. You can usually score free admission, too.

Memberships make great gifts. Remember your out-of-this world series of dates with a year’s worth of reduced admission and special events—and support the events that, by this point, you’ve come to love.



Modern Sculpture Inspiration

Posted by Arseny Vesnin in Inspiration Sets, Modern Sculpture Sets for Designcollector

If we look back to the history of arts, we find that the state of a modern day sculpture shows a mental health of an epoch. Wherever it was tied with any theological concept, aesthetic meaning of life or any other practical needs. Lets take a look at the modern sculpture and think a bit how it inspires and what senses it calls out.

Cornelis Ketel, “The Mirror of Virtue” (c.1595)

Cornelis Ketel, "The Mirror of Virtue" (c.1595). Black chalk, pen in brown, brush in grey, on blue paper. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. (Image via Web Gallery of Art)

Cornelis Ketel, “The Mirror of Virtue” (c.1595). Black chalk, pen in brown, brush in grey, on blue paper. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. (click to enlarge) (image via Web Gallery of Art)

With fine art auctioneers taking bids from the chandeliers hanging overhead, Weekend Words holds aloft a lamp in search of honesty:

“For the merchant, even honesty is a financial speculation.”

—Charles Baudelaire

“Honesty is praised and left to shiver”


“We all know that Art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us realize truth.”

—Pablo Picasso

“It’s discouraging to think how many people are shocked by honesty and how few by deceit.”

—Noel Coward

A Vertiginous Mirrored Room That Multiplies Inhabitants Infinitely

by Kyle VanHemert for FastCo.Design

On the outside, the mirrored walls of this unadorned rectangular box help it blend into the space it occupies–a gallery at KUNSTEN, Museum of Modern Art, in Aalborg, Denmark, where it was installed last year. On the inside–well, that’s a different story.

When visitors enter the nearly hundred-square-foot room–an installation dubbed “The Phoenix Is Closer Than It Appears,” by Berlin-based artist Thilo Frank–the mirrored walls have the opposite effect. Where on the outside, they diverted your visual attention, on the inside, they direct it–very, very intensely. The occupier of Frank’s room sees himself multiplied infinitely on the walls, floor, and ceiling–like a carnival hall of mirrors with a more rigorous geometry. The piece recalls earlier works that experimented with immersive, mirrored experiences, like Lucas Samaras’s Room No. 2, from 1966. But what makes Frank’s slightly different is the unexpected form of seating it offers inside.

Instead of a chair or a bench, visitors are encouraged to park themselves on a simple plank swing, suspended from the room’s ceiling, which introduces a dizzying element of motion to their battery of illusory selves. The text accompanying the installation probably isn’t overstating the experience: “Once [the visitor] begins to swing,” it reads, “the disorientation is at full effect: walls, ceiling and floor disappear in a spatial centrifugal motion, which seems to suck the body in and out of the infinite space.”

Just reading about it is a little bit overwhelming–I imagine visitors would be wise to keep in mind where the door is located, lest they get stuck in there like Homer Simpson when he took his accidental voyage into the similarly hued third dimension. One upside to a trip into Frank’s mirrored world, though: You’ll definitely be able to tell how the back of your haircut looks.

See more of Frank’s work on his personal site.

Talk to your kids about art school

by Daryl Lang

A new ad campaign for the College for Creative Studies in Detroit lightheartedly gives its academic programs the D.A.R.E. treatment. Stay off the art, kids.

1 in 5 teenagers will experiment with art

I found this in your room. We need to talk

Doodling is a gateway to illustration

How long have you been Photoshopping?

Your son has been sculpting again

Know the warning signs of art

Your mother and I raised you better than this

I’m not sure if/where these ads are running, but I’ve seen them kicking around online for a few days and I think they’re terrific. (Update: Copywriter Joel Wescott tells me they’re running in the local metro paper and stills at the local movie theater. There’s also a radio spot.) I’m not even sure I want to critique this, since it’s a hell of a lot better than anything I’ve done lately.

Overall, this is a pitch-perfect satire of anti-drug PSAs, down to the over-dramatic, obviously posed photos of gravely serious family situations. It’s also done in a way that elevates and glorifies art school. By laughing at anyone who considers art education unwise, impractical or even reckless, the ads remind us of what a reasonable choice it really is. Of the seven ads in the series, the only one that falls flat to me is “Your mother and I raised you to do better than this.” It doesn’t fit because the dad isn’t expressing displeasure that his kid is doing art—he seems to be mad that the art isn’t good enough. This doesn’t match the rest of the ads, and could have been fixed by applying the same copy to an image where the son has actually created something impressive. Other than off note, this is really nice work. Go to art school and make ads like this.

* * * *

Who created this campaign?

Advertising Agency: Team Detroit, Dearborn, Mich.
Chief Creative Officer: Toby Barlow
Creative Director: Gary Pascoe
Art Director: Vic Quattrin
Junior Art Directors: Michael Eugene Burdick, Brandi Keeler
Copywriter: Joel Wescott
Account executives: Tim Galvin and Ashley Budchuck

Who signed off on it?

I’m guessing CCS president Richard L. Rogers. Update, via comment below: And closer to the campaign, probably Marcus Popiolek, the college’s director of marketing and communication. Update 2, via Wescott: Also, Kate Lees and Megan Mesack at CCS.

Credits and images via Scaryideas.com and Tek1Now.

The sculptures of Janet Echelman |

by Ivan

Janet Echelman builds living, breathing sculpture environments that
respond to the forces of nature — wind, water and light— and become
inviting focal points for civic life. Exploring the potential of
unlikely materials, from fishing net to atomized water particles,
Echelman combines ancient craft with cutting-edge technology to create
her permanent sculpture at the scale of buildings. Experiential in
nature, the result is sculpture that shifts from being an object you
look at, to something you can get lost in.