Saturday, April 17, 2010

Young artist Juan Travieso is someone to watch...

I went to The New World School of the Art's gallery, ArtSceen, in Wynwood to find the work from Juan Travieso to be absolutely stunning. He has all the elements of good and marketable design that I look for: vibrant color, pattern and the understanding of the power of white space which he uses to create a look all his own.

Usually I have to seek out the artist when I go to an event or during an opening. Lucklly, Juan saw me looking at his work and taking notes and he introduced himself to me! I love meeting artists and talking to them about their work because whenever I purchase art, the art is as important to me as the artist. I have to like the artist, their vision and their work equally in order to have their work in my home or to recommend them to someone else.

When I was talking to Juan, I thought just the gouache paintings were his. Then he started talking about his sculptures... Wow! I was so delighted to discover that this hugh sculpture featured below was his work as well.

This sculpture is made with cardboard, some of which are upcycled. There are 21 pieces that fit together (like a puzzle) that are attached to the wall. Juan told me that his inspiration for this piece came from his life as a boy. In Cuba, he had very little and he longed for toys that he saw on television, but could not have.

After meeting Juan, I got an email letter from him because he went to my website to check out my art. He told me he was inspired by my upcycled work and he plans to use even more upcyled materials in his future works! Here is a few excerpts from his letter "...basically what I plan on doing is start to paint on recycled and biodegradable materials so that there is no harm done on the environment. In addition the subject matter of my upcoming pieces will consist of environmental issues that will affect society in the near future. ...I have already started gathering wood from construction sites that will be thrown away and with it I will build the frames for my pieces."

I'm not sure where his next exhibit will be, but I do know that he his working on doing 20 outdoor sculptures to be installed in Japan. So, if you are like me and can't wait to see what Juan creates next... just follow his blog.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Meet local artist Natasha Duwin

I met Natasha Duwin at her current show Rapture at Artformz in Wynwood. I was immediately drawn to her work and I was so happy that I got a chance to talk to her. She was very open and eager to explain her work. She told me that the beautiful pieces feature above were about the construction of female identity. The base of these pieces are very structured, made of hard brittle wire symbolizing how culture and society dictate how women should behave. I loved how she used a vintage boa to represent a timeline for women. The feather portion speaks to us about the journey of women that insolently were made from an upcycled 1950's ostrich feather boa that was carefully dismantled and then painstakingly she split each feather to attach it to the pieces.

Natasha has a studio in the Artist-in-Residence at ArtCenter South Florida on Lincoln Road. There she uses weaving, embroidery, needlework, tapestry, quilting, lace, textiles and other traditional women’s work that are usually described as weak, ineffectual to produce representations of the essence of women that are strong, fragile, forceful, pliant, rigid, aggressive and inviting.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Tawnie Sliva: Upcycling Goes to the Circus

When I first walked into the Butter Gallery in Wynwood last night, I was delighted to see artist Tawnie Sliva using so many different materials, colors and techniques: felt for the graphic signage pieces, plastic bags for the sculptures and drawings on paper.

Of course, I was most excited to see the fabulous use of reclaimed plastic bags. All the sculptures had fans discretely placed to keep the sculptures inflated.

It was interesting to see the intricate sewing of the clothing on the sculptures as well as his successful use of of such a thin plastic material to make such powerful statements with so much emotion.

I had to search around to find Tawnie because somehow I thought he was a she. When Tawnie was pointed out to me in a group of very large muscular men, I was a bit intimated to go up an introduce myself. But to my delight, Tawnie was very kind and charming. He happily moved to another room so I could get a better photo in front of one of his pieces. I look forward to learning more about Tawnie. He's from Missouri and is a bit hard to find, however he is on facebook, hopefully he will set up a fan page soon...

Friday, April 9, 2010

Secrets to Success: Feed the Lion

Last night I was invited to the opening of the new Sushi Maki on Miami Avenue and 10th Street. I was very curious to see why, in our recession, this sushi restaurant could be so successful. While other business and restaurants in our community are closing, Abe Ng keeps opening and opening and opening...

You can find Sushi Maki partnering all over the community. They are in Whole Foods, in both Miami and Fort Lauderdale airports and they are not afraid to partner with unlikely restaurants from different cultures like this joint venture with Dolores Lolita, a Spanish restaurant (they even share the kitchen).

While I was at the opening, I realized Abe had all the key ingredients for success. His entire family was there, his minister was there to bless the restaurant and the food, community leaders were there to support him, his commitment to a healthy eating lifestyle was echoed by his outreach to Miami Children's Hosptial, and he stayed true to his roots and heritage by inviting traditional Chinese (yes, Abe is Chinese-American not Japenese) lion dancers and drummers to perform on the street for us.

Whenever I am photographing, I usually like to look at people who are behind the scenes. I saw this man beaming with excitement and pride behind a nearby palm. I thought he was one of their happy friendly chefs, but no, later I was introduced... Meet Abe's father, Alan Ng, proprietor of Canton Chinese Restaurants.

After the sushi roll cutting, the lions arrived! I learned from this little girl how to feed the lions (giving red envelopes filled with luck money to the dancers as a way to give back). Lions in the Chinese tradition bear little resemblance to actual lions. At first I thought they were dragons. But because lions are not native to china, ancient Chinese did not know what they actually looked like. They could only imagine what they looked like from travelers' descriptions. Chinese artists drew from their imaginations to form these beautiful creatures. In China, the lion signifies good luck, happiness, courage and strength.

All and all it was a fabulous Wednesday night downtown. So, the secrets to Sushi Maki's success are very simple and basic; just have fabulous food, great friendly service, don't be afraid to partner with people from other cultures, reach out to the community, make every one feel like family, have faith to see opportunity in a depressed economy and never forget to feed the lion.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Little Artists... Big Impact

Every year I go to the Youth Fair to see the children's art. I'm not too crazy about the rides and all the junk food and trash that they produce, but what they do for children's art is absolutely commendable.

It is so wonderful to see so such beautiful and interesting work done by Miami students from elementary to high school all in one place and to see so much of it. They have so many categories for the kids to enter and you don't have to wait for your school to enter. If your art teacher doesn't have the time or the desire, your kids can apply on their own.

With all the budget cuts for art education, this is a fabulous resource where you can get ideas to do art projects and a plethora of other competitions from building robots to making nature habitat models with full description of what is expected and the judging criteria. Plus, the kids not only win ribbons, they win money as well! They can win up to $5 for a purple ribbon. So, when summer comes and your kids are bored go the Youth Fair's website and see what inspires your kids.