Tuesday, December 7, 2010

My Art Basel Favorites...

After breakfast at the Rubell Family Collection last Thursday, I went to the Convention Center to see Art Basel. I went early so I could meet Michelangelo Pistoletto and hear him talk about his new book, The Third Paradise. He talked about his version of the infinity symbol that has a large circle in the center with two smaller circles connected parallel to each side. Where the Third Paradise consists of artificial needs and comforts leading to over consumption and corrosion of the natural planet. When asked, "What advise would you give young artists?" He simply replied, "change the world."

Michelangelo Pistoletto

There is so much to see at Art Basel, but here are a few of my favorites...

Favorite use of space...

I only wish they would have painted the floor as well. I have seen it done, but you have to bring in your own flooring to paint.

Favorite interactive art...

This was a huge heart like shape that was constructed out of wood with bench like seating inside. In the center there was a drum with a drumstick hanging from the ceiling on a bungie cord. While we sat inside we pulled on the bungie cord so that the drumstick would bounce down and repeatedly hit the drum like a heartbeat.

Reproductor, by Rochelle Costi

The instructions:
1. choose and take an image from the wall.
2. fit it to one of the tables (on the left of the glass if you are right handed, on the right if you are left handed)
3. copy the image using a pencil or a pen.
4. hang it back on the wall where you found it.
5. hang your drawing on the allocated walls.

The red plexiglass provided a reflection from the photograph that made it easy to copy. It worked like a light box. My favorite part about this exhibit is that it enabled everyone who participated an opportunity to say their art was displayed at Art Basel!

Favorite piece that people question, "Is that art?"

Favorite use of material...

The clothing on these men are all made from buttons.

This piece by Mondongo center panel is made from stickers and the two side panels are carved.

Close up of the stickers used in the center panel above.

I hated seeing his use of a bird, but the skull covered with iridescent beetles is quite unique.

Birdseed sculpture


Favorite place to take a photo in front of...

Lastly, my favorite piece...
Al Anatui

Friday, December 3, 2010

Breakfast Basel Style at the Rubell Family Collection

Jennifer Rubell

Thursday was the second day of Jennifer Rubell's Goldilock's breakfast for which I arrived early hoping to meet Jennifer. As I predicted, most of the press had moved on to another Basel sighting so I got a chance to talk to Jennifer plus she had the time to pose for a photo for me... thanks Jennifer!

I really enjoyed Jennifer's work and love how she gets people to enjoy her art by seeing, touching and eating. The home that housed her exhibit will be torn down later this week, but Jennifer said she didn't know what they were going to do with the property yet. Fire rescue was standing looking very nervous because they had so many extension cords bringing electricity running from the Rubell Collection to heat the porridge and cool the refrigerators as well as for any injuries due to the arduous journey through the whole in the wall from the back wall of the Rubell Collection.

Judy Saylor, a local Miami artist, was on hand to help everyone through the hole in the wall, not so easy if you were wearing heals. I stood out here for a while watching the expressions of people as they carefully maneuvered through the hole. A discreetly placed video camera filming the crowd as they were entering the exhibit would have been a good idea.

First we walked in the gutted house and picked up a bowl.

Past the still standing bathroom there was a table full of spoons.

Turning right, were 36 bright white crockpots filled with porridge.

In the next room to the right were rasins.

And to the left, there was sugar.

In the back kitchen, they had two refrigerators filled with milk.

Lastly, we all gathered in the backyard to enjoy our porridge. Luckily, it was a cool morning for Miami: 55 degrees.

This is what I hope to see during Art Basel week. I love the unexpected and to be able to participate in the art. I only wish there were chairs outside of every shape and size to finish the concept of Golidlocks finding the right chair. It could have also been a reflection about finding the right art.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Art Basel: Wednesday 2010

"Harriet" by Matthew Day Jackson

Excitedly, I headed out this morning to see the Rubell Family Collection and the Margulies Collection. First on my list was the Rubell because I wanted to see Matthew Day Jackson's work. I was delighted to see that his work is very textured and detailed. He uses wood, shell and yarn.

The brown lines that you see on the face are done with a wood-burning tool and the white of the eyes are mother of pearl with green glass sphere irises all of which are hard to see in the photos.

"Another Man's Cloth" by El Anatsui (112" x 156")

The art above is my favorite piece at the Rubell Collection by El Anatsui. Anatsui is a West African artist who creates sculptures out of food tins, aluminum roofing, etc. who's work is a metaphorical commentary on modern consumerism. This piece is made from upcycled cans that are attached with copper wire.

After the Rubell Collection, I went over to see the Margulies Collection. At the door they were collecting donations for the Lotus House. The Lotus House is a resource center and residential facility serving homeless women and infants in Miami. The program seeks to improve the quality of life for women in need through programs like helping at art events.

From the front door, I immediately saw the exhibit featured above upstairs. I love the colors and the textures used by Dutch artist Folkert De Jong. However, I wish he would have chosen a different material to create the sculptures because they are made from styrofoam and polyurethane foam. The figures were inspired by the Harlequin characters from Picasso's Rose Period. When I was looking at the sculptures, I found myself taking to a curator from Rome standing next to me. I asked her if she liked the installation and I expected her to say something very profound and sophisticated, but all she said as she looked down her nose was, "they look creepy."

The next exhibit I loved so much and had so much fun looking at that somehow I didn't write down the artist's name nor the name of the installation. To see the Hulk shriveled up in a wheel chair with a green comb-over, Mr. Fantastic wrinkled and reading and a saggy Wonder Women checking in on an IV laid-out Captain America was enough to make my day! A must see...

Lastly, I met Hannes Kotch from London. Hannes was accompanied by Blair who insisted he take a photo of me under this fabulous light and Natalie, a curator from Canada. Hannes has an exhibit at Design Miami (in the tent located in the parking lot of the convention center) called "Swarm Light" that I hope to see later this week. He showed me a video on his phone of his lighting. The lights turn on in the same pattern that bees fly... so beautiful.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Guest Blogger: Alyson D'Amato

My name is Aly D'Amato and I am a junior at the University of Rhode Island studying English, Writing and Music Performance with the oboe. For one of my writing courses we were required to do a group project creating documents based on art. My group chose "Reduce Reuse Re-Invent" as the theme for our project, looking at art products that are less harmful, pieces with environmental themes and some artists who use them. During my research online I stumbled upon www.ecoartist.org where I found Nancy's web page and blog. I thought that her work was inspiring so I contacted her to see if she would be willing to participate in an interview so I could create an artist profile for my project. She was happy to oblige and I'm thrilled that I had the opportunity. I had been interested in recycled art but now I am more aware of what goes into these projects and I hope to bring this consciousness to other aspects of my life as well.

Nancy Martini: An Interview with an Eco Artist

-Aly D’Amato

Artists using environmentally safe materials and recycled materials are thriving. I had the opportunity to interview artist Nancy Martini of Miami, Florida through e-mail. Not only does she work with "upcycled" and natural art products but she creates pieces with themes that speak to environmentalists and citizens that care about the nature around them. In her work, Martini’s personal beliefs and love of nature come through.

Martini exhibits the emotions and motivations of an artist who is actively conscious about the negative effects of items thrown away as trash. Through this awareness, she knows she is one person in a collection of people who are making change. Not only does her artwork explore using "upcycled" materials, but Martini has also delved into the realm of "encaustic works" that feature working with beeswax and damar crystals. Using these and other recycled materials, Martini has been working on pieces with environmental themes.

Martini's focus in many of her "upcycled" pieces (including "Hope: An Ocean of Peace") is to use materials that would have otherwise been thrown away in an effort to eliminate trash while being aware of the health hazards that some materials will continue to create. Through experimentation, she created canvas out of plastic bags fused together. She was able to paint on her upcycled canvas and paired it with wire weavings.

Aly D: "Your website features a page on your "Upcylced Art." Could you explain "upcycled" and talk about some of the materials you used in these pieces?"

Nancy M: "Upcycling is the process of converting waste materials into new materials or products of better quality or higher environmental value. After being very frustrated by the amount of trash that Americans create, I realized that many of the materials in my recycle bin could be upcycled. I collected everyday food containers (soda bottles, plastic bags, plastic bottles, foil pie trays, etc.) and sorted them into jars of like objects. I didn't know what to do with them at first. I just stared at the huge piles collecting in my kitchen and thought a lot."

AD: "Another page on your website also briefly describes your exploration in working with beeswax and damar crystals. What got you interested in trying out "encaustic" works? What were the benefits of working with beeswax and damar crystals? Did they pose any issues?"

NM: "Fusing plastic bags and melting plastic is very hazardous, even with an approved respirator. In my search for natural mediums to create art, I found encaustics. Encaustics is a beautiful medium, but it is not without health hazards. When the wax is heated it can settle in your warm lungs. I work outside when I use encaustics and use a fan to blow the vapors away from me. The finished product is incredibly beautiful. The pigment is bright and the finish resembles pored resin only it smells wonderful!"

AD: Aside from the recycled objects you use, are your other art materials (sketch paper, paints, markers, etc) environmentally friendly?

NM: "It depends on the project. Most markers, paints, etc. are not environmentally friendly unless they are made for children. I use sketchbooks that have recycled paper. Mostly I try to upcycle cardboard from cereal boxes and food containers to use for projects and conceptual brainstorming."

AD: Why do you think it is important to use recycled/ upcylced materials in art?

NM: "In American we represent 5% of the world's population, however, we create 30% of the world's trash. If we were to fill a football stadium from the bottom to the top that is how much trash Americans create every day. I keep the image of 365 football stadiums in my mind all the time. I think upcycling is one of the ways that we can reduce our trash. Recycling should be considered as a last option before the trash bin. Recycling allows us to buy whatever we want and as much as we want because we can recycle it. Art is only one way to upcycle materials. All businesses could help the environment by rethinking the items in their recycle bin and seek opportunities to upcycle."

AD: "How do you think professional artists, students and the general public could be better informed about the potential harms of some manufactured art materials that contain chemicals?"

NM: "Artists have to be very proactive about their health by reading everything they can about the materials they use. Health Hazard Manual for Artists by Michael McCann is a good place to start. I would like to see more workshops to help artists realize the hazards as well."

AD: Are you active in encouraging other artists and students to be more conscious of the materials they use? How so?

NM: "Yes! That is what my body of work is all about... My collection is a vehicle to inspire upcycling in all businesses. Even though my collection is not finished, I am asked over and over to show what I have and speak at business venues... [including] talking about upcycling to the Miami Chapter of the USGBC (United States Green Business Council) at the University of Miami"

AD: What other kinds of projects do you hope to explore in the future?

NM: "I am very interested in art in public places. Today I am going to the unveiling of the Manatee Fest. In downtown south Miami, local artists will be matched with sponsors to paint five foot manatees that will be displayed much like the 1999 Chicago Cow Parade. Last year I participated in the Coconut Grove Peacock Tour where I painted a peacock for my sponsor The Fresh Market. I used upcycled pie trays to embellish the peacock and then painted it to look like a woman shopping in an outdoor European market. Art in public places gives me the opportunity to talk about upcycling to a different audience. Most people see my work and have no idea they are looking at trash. When they look again they are delighted and then want to learn more."

Her website features a sketchbook on the Gulf Oil Spill and her blog documents this work, explaining the thoughts and nightmares that she had during this time period. Like her other works, the sketchbook "The Real Price of Oil" is a piece that is simple and profoundly touching on many levels. "Day 72: Fire Set without Searching for Turtles" is just one of the sketches that portrays the devastation of the situation. Her sketchbook will visit California, New York, Maine, Illinois, Florida, Texas and Washington DC in 2011.

Overall, Martini hopes that her work inspires others to consider upcycling and avoid products with an excess of packaging. She believes that art, in general, is moving in the direction of focusing on being environmentally friendly/conscious and is setting this example herself every day.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Speaking in Public is Very Green!

Title: "Share the Journey" Buy online!
Medium: Encaustic (Beeswax and Damar Resin) 24" x 24"

On my journey to help the environment I have thought a lot about how to get my message out. Yes... my paintings using reclaimed materials speaks about our environment, but I needed to take the next step. I realized my paintings alone weren't enough and that I needed to talk about them as well.

I am the type of person that is perfectly happy in the background watching others in the spotlight. So the thought of standing in front of a microphone in front of a crowd was not on my list of fun things to do. However, if I wanted to reach large groups of people I decided I would have to jump in and find a way to make public speaking part of my life.

The more I thought about public speaking the more it made since to me. It doesn't take a lot of resources to speak in public and yes, I could go to a networking meeting and meet about ten different people who may or may not be interested in the environment. However, if I spent the same about of time and spoke at that same event, I would reach all of the people at the meeting plus, after the meeting people who would be interested in my work and the environment most likely would come up to me.

Last month, I joined a local Toastmasters group to learn more skills about speaking in public. I wasn't sure what to expect or what I would learn. To my surprise, every member in my group reached out to me to help! How refreshing to see so many people helping each other and sharing their stories. When Mitch McInnis, my speech mentor who was assigned to me, asked if I would donate some art for their upcoming Toastmaster's conference, I decided to create a piece inspired by all the people who have helped me.

Toastmasters will auction my original encaustic painting by selling raffle tickets to raise funds this weekend. After I finished the painting titled: "Share the Journey," I thought about how I could use the image further. I recently went to a workshop by Debra Cortese about licensing art, so I have been thinking a lot about how to sell my images to different markets. I found a print on demand website to try out the idea of selling prints, mugs, totes and cards to provide items for convention goers who wanted the painting, but didn't win the raffle as well as something they can purchase anytime after the conference.

Check out my new online store and let me know what you think! Thanks...

Friday, September 17, 2010

International Park(ing) Day 2010 in Coconut Grove

Park(ing) Day in Coconut day was a hugh success! Not so much with large crowds, but it was a launching pad for future Park(ing) Days in Miami. I had to explain Park(ing) Day to almost everyone I met. The only ones who really knew about it were there volunteering. For those of you who still don't know... Park(ing) Day is celebrated in many cities around the country to bring awareness to green spaces and environmental issues. Its where you take street parking spaces and turn them into parklike green spaces.

Biking is encouraged, especially on Park(ing) Day. We had a few people ride their bikes and used the green space to park them.

When I arrived there was much to do. We did have some help from the city parks department. They brought the sod to us and helped place it.

Pie studios brought their beautiful eco furniture for everyone to enjoy.

Here is our working crew, thankfully not afraid to get their hands dirty.

Students from FIU shared the space with me. They used reclaimed milk cartons to make seating.

I met these three very green young women who sketched with me and even made a sign to get people driving by to think about green space.

It was a fun day that I was proud to be a part of. I loved sitting in our green space sketching and talking about green ideas with green people all while connecting the environment to art.

To see more photos, check out the Coconut Grove Grapevine.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Fall for Arts Starts the Cultural Season!

Today I went to one the best ideas to promote the arts for the city of Miami that I have seen in a long time. The event was called Fall for the Arts Festival located in the Adrienne Arsht Center Parking lot and was sort of like a old time community town fair. Art from every discipline from visual art to live performances to children's art education was represented. I really enjoyed seeing so many arts groups all in one place easily accessible to the community side by side in white fair tents. Here are a few of the photos I took...

The Bahamas Junkanoo Revue were as enjoyable to watch as they were to listen to.

Jeanine Dronsick, managing editor of Around Town Magazine on the left shown above was there with Susan Glass. I happily snatched up a year's subscription at half the price... the deal of the day! Around Town Magazine is a fabulous full-color, beautifully printed magazine with interesting articles about culture in South Florida; art event listings with full descriptions; and even a dining guide so you can figure out were and what to eat once you are out and about.

Bands entertained the crowds...

Heather Bettner was there showing off her peacocks that are currently on display in Coconut Grove. Here is the map of all the peacocks.

I met these two adorable girls from Estampas de Colombia Folkloric Group. I love to see when people put in the extra effort to make their organization stand out.

The day was so hot people waited in line for free water. Something to think about for next year when you want someone to come to your booth!

Studio Art Miami had a hands on activity for the kids. They made a living tree where the kids made the leaves by coloring them with markers and got to hang them on the branches... very cute.

Of course, I was most impressed by the Bicycle Valet! Nice green initiative sponsored by Mack Cycle and Green Mobility Network.

All and all it was a great start to the season.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Day 104 of the Gulf Oil Spill...

The cement and mud are filled scheduled to start the "Static Kill" today. The Miami Herald has stopped documenting the days of the spill, but thankfully have add two of the promised four series of articles about the clean up.

My sketchbook about the Gulf oil spill is getting more attention now. Our local Miami PBS station Channel 2 just filmed me last week and posted the interview on their website. Thanks Jessy!

To view the film, click on the link below.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

July 4th - Day 75 of the disaster in the Gulf

Day 75: The Battle for Freedom From Oil

Today's sketch carries the flag for Independence Day. The flag flies backwards to pay tribute to our soldiers who's flag on their uniform is backwards as well. The backward flag represents bravery as soldiers go out to war with the flag flying behind them as it would be if they were holding the flag.

As I sketched, I thought about how much the oil spill is like a war for sea life and sea birds who have no way of defending themselves through oil filled water and boom collected oil burns. I thought about how scared the animals must be and how brave they are to continue to search for peace in a safe and healthy environment.

My kids tell me my current sketchbook is creepy. Yes, I tell them the oil spill is horrible, deadly and irresponsible and although we can't see it locally it right now in Miami, we will and it will change our lives forever. I want them to remember how fragile life is; how we need to support ways to use energy without oil; and how important it is to protect our environment.

Friday, July 2, 2010

More pages from my sketchbook...

My sketchbook and the oil in the Gulf has been giving nightmares. I dream about suffocating cries from turtles and dolphins. I reach out to help them, but my muscles and skin are all gone. There doesn't seem to be an end. Every day it just gets worse.

Day 72: BP ignites the boomed oil slicks without checking for sea life. Turtles die, ships are turned away that are searching to help find and capture turtles in harms way. With today's sketch, I stopped using the cutout date from the newspaper as in previous sketches because I no longer trust what the media says about the oil spill.

Day 71: Hurricane Alex hits the shoreline of Mexico missing the devastated oil spill area. However, the category 2 hurricane lead to two deaths and left hundreds injured and homeless.

Day 70: Scientists make a plan to collect 70,000 sea turtle eggs and make a home for them at Kenedy Space Center. Once hatched, the turtles will be released on the east coast of Florida.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Inside/Outside: A Look at Oil

"Day 64"

I have started sketching again. It is amazing how if you don't sketch everyday just how rusty you can get. So little time in one single day, but I am committed to sketching again. It helps that this sketchbook has a deadline will be exhibited with other artists that will travel the United States in 2011. I like to make my sketchbooks have a message. My last sketchbook was about the environment with the theme: "The End of the World". It is a tongue and cheek look at the earth's last day. It's on my website if you want to check it out.

Now my theme is Inside/Outside. I had a hard time starting, but with my frustration and anxiety over the oil spill, I decided to sketch about what was happening. So here is my sketch for today.

This is sketch called: "Day 66: They send in Hair." This was the day that grassroots organizations collected truckloads full of hair and put them in nets with pool noodles as floats with the theory that hair collects oil. I am still not sure how much it is helping, but I am still hopeful. It is the only attempt so far that is organic. I am not sure what the chemicals that BP is pouring into the Gulf is doing, but I am sure it is very damaging.

"Day 65: The Total Fatalities to Date... 13"

The real price of oil... When I sketched this I couldn't help think about all the lives that have been lost. I thought of the workmen, their families and their friends. I had this idea of work boots being the sunrise over water, but nothing can put sunlight on the Gulf just yet.

As I continue to work on the pages of my sketchbook, I hope to discover small pockets of hope. If you know of any, please let me know.