Flea market image of a Native American Indian part of a cottage industry

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Finding visual references, Found art, Kitsch Art, Photo of the day

I was in High Falls, NY a couple weekends ago, and my wife and I pulled over to the side of the road during our travels to check out a roadside flea market. I saw this painting on wood of a Native American Indian slouched over on his horse, looking sad or defeated, and it looked somewhat familiar in a way. I took a picture of it because it struck me as pretty cheesy, like it might be something that would work well on the wall next to a velvet painting of Elvis. But I was still curious as to why it looked familiar, and then I realized why – scroll down for more.

kitsch art version of The End of the Trail by James Earle Fraser

It’s familiar because it’s based on a famous sculpture by James Earle Fraser titled “The End of the Trail,” which I actually wrote about in a blog post a while back when I found a buffalo nickel (long story … but Fraser designed the buffalo nickel as well). But I think it’s also familiar because there seems to be a whole cottage industry of artists who have ripped off Fraser’s iconic image over the years! Here’s a nice little selection of some of these “imitations,” including a needlepoint and even a painting where the figure is surrounded by falling stars, a whole galaxy, and even a 2nd Earth …??? If you are interested in a discussion about kitsch art, check out our feature on Jeff Koons with a side discussion about Elvis, Poker-playing dogs, kittens, and little kids with big eyes near the bottom of this page.

imitations of James Earle Fraser's End of the Trail

Street art: The Future is in Wood

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Art That Makes You Go "Huh?", Photo of the day, Street Art

I saw this street art piece on the base of a lamp post on 11th Avenue near 22nd Street in NYC, with the message “The Future is in Wood.” What do you think it’s supposed to mean? (feel free to share your thoughts in the comments)

The handwriting style strikes me as being similar to that of the street artist Duke A. Barnstable, but he’s usually pretty consistent in putting his name on all of his art. A Google search did show other similar pieces attributed to him, but also without signatures. Duke, if this is yours, can you fill us in with some details on the message?

Street art message The Future is in Wood

The Abstract Expressionist truck and the tie-in to Philip Guston

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Finding visual references, Found art, Making an art history comparison, Photo of the day

I saw this truck when I was walking around Chelsea on Wednesday afternoon checking out art gallery shows. Upon seeing the beat-up exterior of the truck, my first thought was “that would make a beautiful abstract expressionist painting if it could get transferred to canvas!” Scroll down for more

truck whose exterior resembles an abstract expressionist painting

So which abstract expressionist does it remind you of? For me, the first thought to come to mind was early Philip Guston, before he got into making the cartoon figures. Below left we have Guston’s 1952 painting titled “Painting No. 9,” and below right we have a detail from the truck’s exterior. Granted, it’s not an exact match, but I see some similarities in the style of brushwork … although in the case of the truck, there’s no brushwork at all, since it’s all scrapes, dents, and other marks from accidents and rough use. But I think you know what I mean … what do you think?

Philip Guston Painting Number 9, 1952

Mystery about Army of One and Arbus image is revealed

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Art News, Graffiti, Photo of the day, Street Art

When I was walking around Chelsea on Wednesday, visiting art galleries and taking pictures of street art, I saw a familiar piece, below left: it’s the street art that utilizes Diane Arbus’ Child With a Toy Hand Grenade in Central Park, 1962 (pictured in inset). I’ve written about this mysterious street artist before: seeing a cutout attached to Heavenly Auto Works on West 22nd Street in NYC in 2013, and a wheat paste version in Paris in November of 2012. So, to be honest, I was surprised to see the theme still going 3 years later now in late 2016. Scroll down for more

Army of One street art and Diane Arbus boy with hand grenade

I couldn’t find anything out about who the artist was when I first saw the work several years ago, and never really pursued it, until I decided to post this picture today and see if I could find out anything new. There’s plenty of information available now, but unfortunately, it’s a sad story.

The artist is/was Jef Campion, who went by the street artist name of “Army of One” and “JC2.” He was a Yonkers Firefighter and a first responder to Ground Zero after the 9/11 attacks who spent more than a month working downtown NYC in that recovery effort. It was later learned that he suffered from PTSD and related issues, and his obituary reads: “He was restless to find peace for others, yet was too often dismissive of his own needs. He lived for others in order to distance himself from his own demons that infiltrated his benevolent soul during a month-and-a-half battle against the travesty that befell Ground Zero.”

Certainly those experiences inspired the anti-war message of his street art, using the Arbus image as the vehicle to state the pain and trauma that comes from war, in his case as a rescue worker engaged in the after-effects of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Towers. We’re sad to learn that Campion took his own life at home at the age of 52 in January of 2014 (which takes on an odd twist after knowing that Diane Arbus also took her own life, in her case at the age of 48). It’s hard to know whether this particular sticker art piece had been in that location for the past 2-3 years, or whether someone still posts these in memory of Campion … whatever the answer to that question is, we’re just sorry to hear the story behind this street artist whose troubles came from serving his country at a time of need.

The floor actually distracted me from the art exhibition

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Art gallery exhibitions, Photo of the day

And the winner for shiniest art gallery floor goes to … Mary Boone Gallery! I saw this exhibition by Tomoo Gokita yesterday, and while I enjoyed the paintings and the overall show, I was a bit distracted by the floor! The base of the floor is poured concrete, but it’s been buffed and polished and/or something laid down on top to give it this incredible glossy shine … the reflections are almost as strong a presence as the art! It almost made me want to wipe my shoes to make sure I wasn’t going to mess it up at all.

shiny floors at Mary Boone Gallery

Street art with Andy Warhol quote “I was once here” – or is it? I don’t think so …

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Art That Makes You Go "Huh?", Found art, Graffiti, Photo of the day, Street Art

I saw this painted on the sidewalk near the Comme des Garçons store on West 22nd Street in front of the Heavenly Body Works building. It says “I was once here. A Warhol” inside of the outline of a head, but I don’t think that was actually a quote that can be attributed to Andy Warhol. One could guess it relates to Warhol liking stylish clothes and coming to the Comme des Garçons store, but Warhol died in 1987 and this store didn’t open until 1999.

In my search to see if this is a Warhol quote, I couldn’t find it anywhere, but I did find some other good Warhol quotes:

“An artist is somebody who produces things that people don’t need to have.”

“I think everybody should be nice to everybody.”

“You have to do stuff that average people don’t understand because those are the only good things.”

“A picture means I know where I was every minute. That’s why I take pictures. It’s a visual diary.”

“I’m afraid that if you look at a thing long enough, it loses all of its meaning.” Maybe this last one is appropriate for this blog post, so let’s get to the picture and then move on.

street art I was once here A. Warhol on West 22nd Street

Big Ball, Little Ball: Lars Fisk at Marlborough Chelsea

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Art gallery exhibitions, Sculpture

There’s only a few more days left to see Lars Fisk’s show at Marlborough Chelsea at 545 West 25th Street … it’s up through this coming Saturday, October 15th.

I’ve written about Mr. Fisk before – I’m glad I had a chance to get there to see the show before it closed. It features his signature ball sculptures, ranging from pea-size to 15 feet in diameter, and includes mundane subjects like pencil stubs, garbage cans, subway signs, and parking lots, the last two of which you are seeing here.

ball sculptures by Lars Fisk at Marlborough Gallery

The Leaning Tower of Duct Tape

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Architecture, Art That Makes You Go "Huh?", Finding visual references, Photo of the day

I was in Harlem the other day to see Christian Scott in concert at Harlem Stage, and as I was walking west on 135th Street, I saw this odd assemblage on some scaffolding. The triangular shape made me think of the Eiffel Tower, but it was the angle and the “lean” that made me think of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, pictured below right. So I guess that makes this the Leaning Tower of Duct Tape …

The Leaning Tower of Pisa and a duct tape assemblage that looks like it in Harlem

Diving Bell in Zingst, Germany seems straight out of a Myst Game

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Architecture, Finding visual references, Video Games

Once again, my Windows 10 software on my laptop computer threw out a new lockscreen image that really grabbed my attention, and once again, it proves challenging to find both on my computer and on the internet … but persistence is one of my better traits, so here it is: (scroll down for more)

Zingst Germany Diving Bell Windows 10 Lockscreen

When I saw this, my first thought was: “this seems like something out of a Myst Game, like Myst Riven, or Myst Exile … it can’t be real. But it is – it’s a diving bell off a dock in Zingst, Germany. You can find a lot of different images of the same diving bell in Zingst on the internet, I just couldn’t find the Windows 10 lockscreen until I came across this tutorial on how to find them. As I mentioned on my last blog post about Windows lockscreens, I just don’t know why Microsoft makes these beautiful images so elusive.

At any rate, back to my thought that this was something out of a Myst video game … here’s a few comparison shots featuring both pictures of the diving bell in Zingst and the architecture in Myst games. See what I mean? It makes me want to dig out my old Myst PC games and explore those fantasy worlds again … the unusual architecture was always part of the allure for me.

Compare Zingst diving bell to Myst game architecture