Greenwashed street art in NYC

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“Greenwashed?” you may ask … we’ve all heard of things getting “whitewashed,” whether it’s a fence or wall getting painted white to give it a fresh look or to cover up something. But in this case, some sort of poster or street art that was pasted to a wooden wall surrounding a construction site in NYC was “greenwashed” instead … I like the way the figures appear almost like ghosts peeking out from this green murky surface.

greenwashed instead of whitewashed

Printmaking by Mother Nature

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If you’re a regular reader of the Artsology blog, then you’ve probably seen one of our posts that show all of the interesting visual effects that we see on the slate sidewalks in our hometown of Glen Ridge, NJ. Well, we had another “exhibition” of sorts today on our dog walk, where we saw some interesting imprints from leaves that had temporarily stained the slate sidewalks. The individual leaf images were nice, but we really like the more-complex abstract images made from multiple leaves, that almost look like Rorschach tests (we’ve seen some of those on the sidewalks here in town too!).

imprint from wet leaf on a slate sidewalk in Glen Ridge NJ

abstract images from leaf imprints on slate sidewalks

Mass migration, in the news, and in art

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I read a news report recently that stated there are more displaced people and refugees in 2015 than there have been at any time in history, totaling around 60 million people! To give you a sense of perspective, that would be like asking every single person living in the states of New York and California to pack up their things and leave home for some other state. Can you imagine?

This photograph below, taken by Darko Bandic, shows a column of migrants making their way between farm fields in Slovenia last month. It made me curious to look for some other representations of mass migrations in art history. Scroll down to see a few examples of art that we found dealing with this theme of exodus.

migrants walking through Slovenia in 2015

One of the more-obvious artists who depicted migration was Jacob Lawrence, who painted a series of 60 small paintings about “The Great Migration,” the multi-decade mass movement of African Americans from the rural South to the urban North that started around 1915. Below is one of his paintings from this series.

Jacob Lawrence, The Great Migration

Cy Thao is an American artist born in Laos who created a similar series of paintings. In Thao’s case, his migration series of 50 paintings chronicles the migration of Southeast Asia’s Hmong people, who were allies of the U.S. during the Vietnam War, but became the target of Communist persecution when the American soldiers withdrew. Below are two paintings from Thao’s series.

paintings of the Hmong Migration by Cy Thao

The “Trail of Tears” came as a result of Andrew Jackson’s “Indian removal policy” in 1838 and 1839. The Cherokee nation was forced to give up its lands east of the Mississippi River and to migrate to an area in present-day Oklahoma. The Cherokee people called this journey the “Trail of Tears,” because of its devastating effects. Below is a painting depicting the Trail of Tears by Max D. Standley.

Painting showing the Trail of Tears by Max D. Standley

If you are an art teacher, you could use these examples of migration in art to teach your students a little about current events as well as some history lessons. Perhaps you can ask your students to create their own series of art works about current-day migrants, either based on images in news reports or as modern day versions of these art historical images.

Fall 2015 Paris Dispatch #2

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As I mentioned in the last post, my wife is in Paris on a business trip and is sending some pictures from her travels around town. She’s busy most of the day with her work responsibilities, but she gets a chance to explore briefly each morning before the work day begins. The first picture of street art below was found in “Le Marais,” which is a historic district spreading across parts of the 3rd and 4th arrondissements in Paris. My guess is that it’s by two different artists … if anyone has any info on this art or the artist(s), please let me know.

street art found in Le Marais in Paris

Unfortunately, I don’t have much information on the 2nd street art piece seen below, which appears to be a wooden fish tail (or, due to the size, perhaps representing a whale tail) under a bridge along the Seine. It reminds me stylistically of something that Martin Puryear might do, but there wasn’t any identification alongside this piece. I still like it, even though I don’t know much about it – it’s almost like a big fish jumped right out of the water of the Seine.

wood sculpture under bridge along the Seine in Paris

Fall 2015 Paris Dispatch #1

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My wife is in Paris for the Paris Photo Art Fair, which opens this Thursday, November 12th, and runs through Sunday the 15th. The gallery where she works is one of the many exhibitors at this art fair, so she’s there early to help with setup and to prepare for the fair. I was unable to join her this year (I was able to tag along in 2012, which was chronicled in our sister site, The Arts Adventurer), but she is sending us dispatches from her visit this week.

Here’s a view within the Grand Palais, where the art fair takes place. The Grand Palais is an exhibition hall and museum complex located at the Champs-Élysées in the 8th arrondissement of Paris, and was built starting in 1897 (and opened in 1900), constructed specifically as a location to showcase the great artistic events of the city of Paris.

Scroll down to see a pair of shots of other galleries in the process of setting up their booths for the Paris Photo art fair. Make sure to check back at the blog, as we’ll continue with more dispatches from Paris throughout the week.

Paris Photo 2015 at the Grand Palais in Paris

art galleries setting up their booths for Paris Photo art fair

Spiderman is our new crossing guard

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I was coming home from an errand and noticed that someone had “customized” this street sign cautioning cars to stop for pedestrians crossing. It would appear that Spiderman has become our “friendly neighborhood crossing guard.” I hope he shoots some webbing at any cars that try to pass while kids are crossing the street!

Speaking of Spiderman, check out our feature on artists using Spiderman as a subject for their art … it seems our favorite web-slinger is a popular subject for artists.

Spiderman is our new neighborhood crossing guard

Selective graffiti removal in Watsessing Park

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My son has been playing a number of his soccer games in Watsessing Park (in Bloomfield, NJ) this season, and when I approach the field to watch his games, I have to pass under a NJ Transit train bridge, below left. For as long as I can remember, it’s always had graffiti tagged across the bridge, as you can see below at top left. However, last week I went under the same bridge, and was surprised to see it painted clean (below, bottom left) for the first time that I can ever remember. But as soon as I passed under the bridge and came out the other side, the “cheshire cat” graffiti on the wall was still there … perhaps the NJ Transit graffiti removal team appreciates the artistic merits of the cat a bit more than the tags on the bridge?

Cheshire cat graffiti in Watsessing Park, Bloomfield NJ

When the bed cover could make a great painting

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I was flipping through the NY Times “T Magazine,” and saw this gorgeous bed cover (top image, below), which I learned was made from a 19th-century curtain from Rabat (in Morocco). I like the pattern and design a lot, and would gladly stretch it over a canvas stretcher and hang it on the wall like a painting! The purple color also reminded me of a series of paintings that Julian Schnabel has made over the years, so I found a couple of those (bottom images, below) to show you my point of reference.

bed coverlet from Rabat as inspiration for Julian Schnabel paintings

Egon Schiele sunflowers at summer’s end

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I think it’s a safe bet that most people, upon hearing the word “sunflowers” in the context of art, think of Van Gogh’s paintings of bright, colorful sunflowers. But as I was walking by the Montclair Public Library the other day, I saw several withered, drying sunflowers (below right), and they brought to mind the sunflowers as portrayed by Egon Schiele (below left). It makes sense that the sunflowers that I photographed would look like this, after the long summer has turned into the colder days of fall … which makes me wonder if Schiele painted his sunflowers in the fall as well?

withered and dried sunflower painted by Egon Schiele