27 December 2006

Urban beauty, urban decay

Art opportunities and inspiration are all around us, even in urban dust and decay.

For example, it's quite impermanent, but I was dazzled by the art drawn on dirty cars: Scott Wade's Dirty Car Art Gallery.

I like websites that help me look at my environment differently. That's why I like Street Stickers, Poster Art & Graphics. I may actually take out my camera and head into areas where graffiti and stickers are routine on buildings and other publicly displayed surfaces. I like the idea of contrasting modern stickers and art with decaying 19th century urban structures.

Okay... this next series of links started when I stumbled upon Dark Passages, which is definitely dark and eerie, and well (and perhaps only) suited to my friends who enjoy creepy, disturbing, haunted places.

From there, I found a link to Ars Subterranea--which is a little lighter and more clearly an organized (sort of) ongoing project--and wandered around their website.

From their projects page, I found several interesting links. I love the ideas sparked by The Riddle of the Buried Stream. It makes me wonder what else is hidden around cities and towns, and we don't know to look for it.

My interest was piqued by the mention of the Temple of the Sunfish Pond, so I started researching Sunfish Pond in NJ's Worthington State Forest. It sounds like a wonderful hiking spot if you can handle a steep, rocky climb. In fact, I'm intrigued by the sites--including Sunfish Pond--mentioned on a page about Old Mine Road.

Going back to Ars Subterranea, I checked their Resources page. I warmed immediately (no pun intended) to the photos at Mustard Gas Party. The b&w photos at their link labeled Woolworth... that makes me want to take my large format camera, load it with b&w film, and go exploring. Or, at least throw my digital camera into my purse and start taking photos.

Okay, I didn't warm to every link. For example, Handcranked Films features profoundly bleak views with some themes of suicide. Oh, the films are very artistic but several convey terrible,"why bother" attitudes that--for me--don't contribute to an inspired, creative state of mind. *shudder*

On the other hand, quirky concepts such as Ruins in ASCII delight me. I look at short, online films such as Rest Area (at MotelSign.com), and grin. (Can you imagine generating a career--or at least a book--by photographing motel signs..? Isn't that cool!)

Then there's the Museum of Lost Wonder, which is cool to tour but... It's like it doesn't go far enough; it's too restrained for me.

Then there are photo essays such as Shaun O'Boyle's Old Salem Jail which make me realize how many "ruins" I see every day and don't stop to photograph... or even appreciate. (Right now, I'm thinking about the derelict rice bins and storage facilities near me in Katy, Texas.)

...Speaking of sites worth visiting, maybe your community has a list of "endangered sites" similar to the ones at Historic Salem, Inc. Tip: At that site, be sure to check the list of endangered sites in each of their past newsletters. That's where you'll find even more ideas for derelict places to visit around Salem, MA.

Here are a few other, similar lists that I found: Rochester, NY. brettcody77's list led me to the World Monuments Fund, whose current Fieldwork Projects include New Orleans (you can also download their annual 100 list).

There's also an endangered architecture photo page at 43 Things.

Rock County, WI has an endangered list online. Chicago's 7 most endangered buildings are described at Chicago Preservation. You may be able to find similar lists about sites near you, searching on "endangered architecture" and the name of your town or city. (I didn't find much for Houston or even Texas, but I'm still looking.)

And, sooner or later--if you're interested in exploring (and photographing) abandoned urban sites--you're likely to land at a very cool anti-establishment zine, Infiltration, which encourages... well, there's no other way to say it: trespassing. I discovered this strange little zine several years ago, and its flippant attitudes intrigue me.

20 December 2006

Assorted links that seem to start and end with paper

I am so in love with the ideas at A4 Paper Cut, I can hardly stand it. I keep looking at that site, thinking, "Yes, but paper isn't exactly a durable medium," and then I think about how much that's offset by the inherent beauty of plain paper, and the accessibility of it as a medium.

Manholes of Japan... who knew?

I was looking for an example of how simple Cafe Press products can be, for my AJmarketing friends and to inspire me to make different stuff. In my search, I found the Calm Philosophy Mug, which I may shamelessly copy... in my own style, of course.

How utterly clever. You know those spinning lights that form words and stuff? Here's a variation, James N. Sears' globe in sneak preview.

Another clever twist on a relatively ordinary process: Verena Schreppel is casting rings and other metal objects from sewn/stitched fabric. The fabric is lost in the process, so each one is a one-off, and... well, this is ingenious and lovely.

If you like that idea, you may also warm to the birch castings at Twig and Heather.

It seems to me that there are a lot of things that could be created with cast metal and innovative approaches to materials, such as these. It's a good thing that I don't work with much metal, or I might be seriously tempted to spend the next year (or so) casting stuff.

And, another cool, global collaborative project, Window Zoo.

I keep feeling drawn back to scrimshaw. I can't explain it. It's something that I did right after I dropped out of college, and then tried again about five years later, and loved. I wouldn't use antique ivory as Jessica Kagan Cushman does, but... I don't know where I'm going with this. It's just something that I think about more & more often, lately.

Do you use tea candles? Check out this idea at Atelier V. In fact, browse the entire site and you may look at your stuff--especially disposables--in entirely new ways.

And finally, kirstoferstrom's Minilogue: Some of these figures in this video are already inspiring doodles that may someday become cloth dolls...

13 December 2006

Lots of illustration websites, and a few quirky ones

I think that I'm going to aim to update this weekly on Wednesdays. I'll see how that fits with my schedule.

Here's what I've found this week:

Sometimes, I'm easily amused. That's why I can play & play with the website, Antoine + Manuel (Run your cursor over the dots and see what happens. The board will automatically refresh in about 30 seconds so that you can play again.)

I'm not sure what's going on with The Project Museum, but the concept intrigues me. If you know more, please post a comment to let me know!

Remember Art-o-Mats? They're still thriving. Go find one near you!

The sense of style at Carlos Huante's site.02 inspires me. Oh, I'm not likely to make grotesque images like his--my figures are generally happy--but his use of color and texture in two-dimensional work makes me want to create cloth dolls & figures. In fact, I just bought some stretchy woven suede-type cloth that'd work very nicely for what I have in mind.

While I'm talking about two-dimensional work that triggers ideas for very three-dimensional works, I'm inspired (and sometimes creeped out) by the work of Jochem van Wettan. His sense of minimalism and altered proportions are the specific aspects that leave me thinking about quirky art.

I love the mystery and deceptive simplicity of the illustrations in Beatrice Billard's portfolio.

I'm less enthusiastic about the images by Sophie Jodoin, but I want a studio as large as hers. The concept of space--space in which to be messy--is inspiring! (My current studio has tan carpeting. Seriously. I should have a "Be careful!" neon sign flashing at the doorway. And, I should ban all cats while there are wet paintings laying around.)

There are days--lots of them--when I really, really miss the ocean. (Yes, the Gulf is about an hour from me. It's not the same thing.) So, the art--especially the ships--by John Taylor are inspiring me, big time. I've always liked the idea of using found materials to create houses, particularly bird houses. But, ships... ah, that sparks even greater longings, and greater inspiration!

The imagery at Brian Despain's Imp Head Studio is generally darker than I like, but there's also a whimsical element in them that reminds me of James Christensen's illustrations.

Why didn't I hear about this sooner? Thumbtack Press looks like a fun place to collect--and to sell--prints. (I just started a thread about it at AJmarketing.) I know less about PosterLounge.de, but it might be an alternative for European sales.

And, saving one of the best for last, I'm absolutely in love with the illustrations and other art by Daniel Merriam. It's not a surprise that he grew up in York Harbor, Maine. Local architecture is a clear influence. Lovely, dreamy, fantasy art!

03 December 2006

Linking again

This one's just plain quirky. You'd certainly do a double-take if you saw some of these installations on the street! Mark Jenkins: Street Installations

While you're there, check out his Tape Sculptures, too. What an innovative use for an everyday office supply! I'm wondering if, instead of further exploring building materials for our art, we should re-examine the everyday materials that we already own.

I've linked to his site many times before, but now there are many new additions to enjoy: The Art of Dave McKean (he's been a steady inspiration for my work). There are even more examples of his art at some sites linked from his, including ColonyMedia and Club Salsa Drama.