Imagination was given to man to compensate him for what he is not, and a sense of humor was provided to console him for what he is. - Oscar Wilde
Animation, Art, and Other Shiny Things
I don’t recall where on the internets I came across the Lil’ Grim Reaper, but I recognized it immediately when I read an article on local Seattle artist Vikram Madan. I also recognized one of his Mini-Murals I’d seen on the back of a street sign here in Seattle.
To describe his work as whimsical is correct, however would be off by a magnitude or three. Mr Madan’s work makes you want to invite the monster under the bed and the skeletons in your closet out for a spot of tea and a heart to heart chat.
Granted, some of the character models do remind me a bit of the “Love is…” comics of the 1970s, but the situations and stylish rendering absolves all. And Mr Madan really pushes the limits of his style, including in materials and venues.
One of those venues is Public Art. Park murals, utility boxes, poles and pianos. Even the edge of the stairs to a dance studio. Mr Madan has brightened up a lot of things and places around the greater-Seattle area.
I have a love for street art. In planning for my upcoming trip to the UK this summer, I’ve got a full day in Bristol (home of Banksy) and a half-day scouting London’s street art. Mr Madan’s public art is a great addition to Seattle’s flourishing art culture.
Mr Madan’s public stuff is close enough to me that I can just stop by when I’m in the area and cover them all pretty easily after a fashion. I’m looking forward to it.
To learn more about Seattle artist Vikram Madan, check out the great article by Lisa Edge over at RealChange, or stop off at Mr Madan’s website. If you do that, I warn you, expect to spend some time. Trust me, it’s worth it.
Unlike the re-imaginings of Star Wars characters in old world Japan that I’ve posted, Terry Cook went the fine art route and painted them in watercolor. And I do mean ‘fine art’ as the artist has rendered these portraits skillfully enough to rate display on the best wall of any home or gallery.
You can find all 11 prints at Terry Cook’s website.
In a re-imagining akin to the Chris Felker art I posted a couple weeks ago, New York graphic artist Steve Bialik created a series of Ukiyo-e-style (浮世絵 “pictures of the floating world”) prints of Star Wars characters.
You can find more of Mr Bialik’s work at his blog STEVAPALOOZA!
More of this series under the fold. Read more of this post
The legends surrounding Maneki Neko are many and varied. The bones of the old narratives appear placeable in history, but much that wraps them have their roots in Japanese folklore and tradition. (as well as occasional, simple, voracity)
The legend I prefer takes place during a dark and stormy night at a monastery near Edo, Japan (now Tokyo) in the year 1615.
Gotoku-ji temple was very poor. The monk had barely enough food for himself and a cat he had taken in, Tama, but he made do, tending the monastery and following his path as best he could.
After splitting a particularly meager meal, the monk said to Tama, “Your companionship means much to me, but I can not assure you a good meal. You should not starve with me, but find yourself a home worthy of your company.” The cat, of course, did not reply, but went to sit in a window of the temple as cats are wont to do.
Outside in the rain, Ii Naotaka, second son of Ii Naomasa, hereditary owner of Hikone Castle, was returning from the Battle of Tennōji. With the storm worsening, Ii Naotaka and his men took refuge beneath a tree. Looking around he saw the cat in the monastery window. It’s paw raised, the cat seemed to be beckoning the Daimyo to take shelter in the small temple. As he approached the monastery, lightening stabbed down and split the tree that he had just been standing beside. He surely would have been killed had he remained by the tree.
Welcomed in, Ii Naotaka found the old priest to be wise and kind and devoted to his path and his companion Tama. To repay the cat and priest for saving his life he became Gotoku-ji temple’s patron. When Tama died, the cat was given a place of honor in the temple cemetery, where many important members of the Ii family are also buried, and the first Maneki Neko statue was created in his memory.
Today, Gotoku-ji temple is still open for worship and attracts visitors from all over the world.
But the story of Maneki Neko is far from over. Read more of this post
Birds on Paper is a series of drawings by Paula Swisher. While the title is technically correct, the ‘Paper’ part doesn’t fully describe the medium. The paper is the pages of textbooks, preferably ones with graphs.
We’ve all doodled in the margins, maybe even “enhanced” a picture, but Ms Swisher’s work takes it up a notch.
Reminiscent of natural history text illustrations, it feels appropriate, especially as the figure often takes cues from the page it’s drawn upon.
Paula Swisher is currently a professor of Communication Design at Kutztown University […] She enjoys straddling the two worlds of the creative and the technical. The hand-drawn mark, grid-based design, and info graphics are all things that keep her excited.
She has a few different collections and collaborations up at her website, but Birds is my favorite.
More of Paula Swisher’s work at paulaswisher.com
There are many a photographer’s nightmare and horrific pictorial evidence that describe the Family Portrait. It’s unfortunate that even the animals that share our life and home are not spared the indignity.
This ongoing project not only draws on my technical knowledge, but also on my childhood influences. Painters such as George Stubbs and John James Audubon impacted my work in a big way. These historic influences are offset by my modern day means of fabrication. These photographic portraits are mostly done on location with minimal post production work afterwards. I want to challenge beliefs of what we think of as historical or authentic, whether it was made yesterday or hundreds of years ago. To blur the lines of time and to engage the viewer in how we interpret history itself.
His portraits evoke the rich, dusty stillness found in old photographs and turn-of-the-last-century textbook illustrations. This isn’t simply antique tinting the picture, by any stretch.
While there is certainly some color work done to mimic film chromatics of a time and the aging since, Mr Pinkham also pays close attention to the setting, lighting, and focus we instinctively recognize as from another era.
Deep-scene painted backdrops, perhaps the subject is lit just a little too brightly, perspective is just a tad off kilter. The details perfect an image out of time.
What is particularly compelling is his choice of subject in this recent series of portraits; animals.
He has given human-subjected photographs the same treatment to nice effect, but they just don’t quite have the other-time-ness the animal series does to my eye.
(yes, that was a dog picture. an unusual occurrence, i know, but don’t let it throw you. here’s an extra cat, if that’ll help)
John Kenn is a Danish kid’s TV writer/director when he’s not parenting his own set of twins. In whatever spaces of time that are occasionally and accidentally left over he is also an artist of little panels of Gorey-esque macabre.
One of his latest:
If the art itself isn’t cool enough for the heathens among you then I should probably mention that his canvas’ are Post-It Notes. Yep, office supplies…
Mr Kenn shares about a handful of drawings per month and his website has sketches going back almost three years. Make sure you have a good hour or more when you visit for the first time, you’ll want to get through the whole gallery…