Public Domain Cultural Jukebox

Alan Lomax, in 1992. As computer technology progressed, Lomax envisioned a searchable database for music from around the world. Credit G. Paul Burne

Some say music is the earliest communal art form, and one that continues to connect us. The inclusiveness of Alan Lomax’s vision with the Association for Cultural Equity and the Global Jukebox carries that inspiration further, with interactive features that connect the dots between music, culture and geography, paying “tribute to the expressive styles of all peoples within the framework of cultural equity and the diversity which is crucial to our survival as a species.”

Alan Lomax Recordings Are Digitized in a New Online Collection

Alan Lomax made it his lifelong mission to archive and share traditional music from around the world. He spent decades in the field, recording heralded artists like Muddy Waters and Woody Guthrie, as well as far more obscure musicians, from the British Isles to Haiti. He also created systems to classify this music and explore the links between cultures.

Lomax died in 2002, but the organization he founded, the Association for Cultural Equity (ACE), is hoping to further his research with the Global Jukebox, a new online database. The project, an interactive website, allows users to listen to and learn about more than 6,000 songs from 1,000 cultures — including many from Lomax’s personal collection. Continue reading

Plant, Coffee Table Baiting

9780714871486-940-ahsPhotos by Penn, Steichen and other classic masters share the pages with some of today’s greatest photographers in this book. It brings our attention to flora in both natural and still-life settings, making this kind of debate irrelevant.

Floral arranging, an art form, can be seen as baiting, in a way. We are mindful of the fact that most of the world increasingly lives in urban settings. While our job is to provide access to the wonders of wild nature, there is a vital role for plants in the daily lives of urbanites to remind them to get back to nature from time to time. If this book provides coffee tables daily reminders of that imperative, we are all for baiting.

penn-poppy.jpg

Single Oriental Poppy (C), 1968 by Irving Penn. From Plant: Exploring the Botanical World

Plant wins American Horticultural Society Book Award!

Plant is ‘an art exhibit in book form’ says one of the judges – and who are we to disagree? Continue reading

Model Mad, Icon

 

petrusich-harrybelafonteandthesocialpowerofsong-800

A new anthology of the work of Harry Belafonte, pictured here in the nineteen-forties or fifties, reiterates his standing in American music. PHOTOGRAPH BY BETTMANN / GETTY

There was an editorial a few days ago that alerted us to the birthdays of two buddies, each on icon in his own right, who have 70 years of solidarity in the tough times, and best of times too. It also alerted us to the time since our last post with the model mad theme, so here is one more:

HARRY BELAFONTE AND THE SOCIAL POWER OF SONG

By Amanda Petrusich

Sixty-one years ago, in 1956, Harry Belafonte recorded a version of the Jamaican folk song “Day-O,” for his third studio album, “Calypso.” It opens with a distant and eager rumbling—as if something dark and hulking were approaching from a remote horizon. Belafonte—who was born in Harlem in 1927, but lived with his grandmother in a wooden house on stilts in Aboukir, a mountain village in Jamaica, for a good chunk of his childhood—bellows the title in a clipped island pitch. The instrumentation is spare and creeping. His voice bounces and echoes as it moves closer. It sounds like a call to prayer. Continue reading

Model Mad, Music

Ross-marking-art-in-time-of-rage-1200.jpg

In the face of Trump, many artists report feelings of paralysis. Should they carry on as before, nobly defying the ruination of public discourse? Or seize on a new mission, abandoning the illusion of aesthetic autonomy? PHOTOGRAPH BY ERICH AUERBACH/HULTON ARCHIVE/GETTY

Alex Ross asks the right question, in our view of the importance of finding a new model of behavior to reflect mad, with his opening question and the whole first paragraph prepares you for a worthy read:

MAKING ART IN A TIME OF RAGE

What is the point of making beautiful things, or of cherishing the beauty of the past, when ugliness runs rampant? Those who work in the realm of the arts have been asking themselves that question in recent weeks. Continue reading

Art as Public Domain

Young Woman with a Water Pitcher by Johannes Vermeer (Dutch, Delft 1632–1675 Delft)

Young Woman with a Water Pitcher
by Johannes Vermeer (Dutch, Delft 1632–1675 Delft)

In these current times when Art, Culture and Civility appear to be under constant attack, news that museums and galleries – both private and public – are opening their virtual archives of Public Domain artworks to be just that, public, is newsworthy.

For example, a click on the image to the left takes viewers to the Metropolitan Museum’s website that includes not only the full details of the painting (description, catalogue entry, provenance and exhibition history, etc.), but also a hyperlink to a map of the gallery where viewers can find the actual painting, and related objects within the museum’s vast collection.

We’re happy to know that museums, whether virtual or physical, still provide inclusive space to breathe deep.

Met Museum Makes 375,000 Images Free

Continue reading

Grrreat Print, Walton Ford

rs-12035-20130805-stones-624x420-1375716018

We  studiously avoid wading into the realm of popular music here, but today we make an exception. Not for the sake of the music itself (the greatest hits of a band celebrating 50 years of working together), but because we have just discovered that one of our favorite artists, featured here more than once, was the cover artist for the album above. Yes, we see we are a few years behind the times on this story, but better late than never when it comes to Walton Ford:

Rolling Stones Gorilla Logo Artist Slams Critics

Walton Ford offering limited-edition etching of widely seen gorilla logo Continue reading

Model Mad, Museum

04MOMATRAVEL3-master768.jpg

“K+L+32+H+4. Mon père et moi (My Father and I)” right, by Charles Hossein Zenderoudi, on display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Credit Sam Hodgson for The New York Times

When the two words model mad first occurred to us, it was simply to thank one of our favorite people for continuing to resist wrongness in new, clever manner, without losing his cool and thereby keeping it effective. Since then we have found a story almost every day that illustrates the fertile ground of protest created in recent times. And today, thanks to the New York Times, we see another one:

MoMA Takes a Stand: Art From Banned Countries Comes Center Stage

By

President Trump’s executive order banning travel and rescinding visas for citizens of seven majority-Muslim nations does not lack for opponents in New York — from Kennedy Airport, where striking taxi drivers joined thousands of demonstrators, to the United Nations, whose new secretary general, António Guterres, said the measures “violate our basic principles.

Now the Museum of Modern Art — which in past decades has cultivated a templelike detachment — is making its voice heard as well. In one of the strongest protests yet by a major cultural institution, the museum has reconfigured its fifth-floor permanent-collection galleries — interrupting its narrative of Western Modernism, from Cézanne through World War II — to showcase contemporary art from Iran, Iraq and Sudan, whose citizens are subject to the ban. A Picasso came down. Matisse, down. Ensor, Boccioni, Picabia, Burri: They made way for artists who, if they are alive and abroad, cannot see their work in the museum’s most august galleries. (A work from a Syrian artist has been added to the film program. The other affected countries are Somalia, Yemen and Libya.) Continue reading

Scientist, Illustrator, Forgotten Metamorphosist

24tb-merian08-superjumbo

In some of Merian’s drawings, butterflies and caterpillars didn’t match. CREDIT MARIA SIBYLLA MERIAN, METAMORPHOSIS INSECTORUM SURINAMENSIUM, AMSTERDAM 1705, THE HAGUE, NATIONAL LIBRARY OF THE NETHERLANDS

Any story with Metamorphosis in it is bound to get our attention, but a long-forgotten scientist getting her due is the intrigue that makes this story by JoAnna Klein–A Pioneering Woman of Science Re‑Emerges After 300 Years–coinciding with the republication of this book below, worthy of the read:metamorph

Maria Sibylla Merian, like many European women of the 17th century, stayed busy managing a household and rearing children. But on top of that, Merian, a German-born woman who lived in the Netherlands, also managed a successful career as an artist, botanist, naturalist and entomologist.:

“She was a scientist on the level with a lot of people we spend a lot of time talking about,” said Kay Etheridge, a biologist at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania who has been studying the scientific history of Merian’s work. “She didn’t do as much to change biology as Darwin, but she was significant.” Continue reading

If You Happen To Be In Williamstown

photogclark

Thanks to Louis Menand, whose post THE MAJESTY OF EARLY PHOTOGRAPHY brought to our attention this exhibit (his comment on the museum itself, shared at the end of this post, is worthy of a read to the end):

…Right next to “Photography and Discovery” is another small exhibit, also of works the Clark owns, of early-nineteenth-century British paintings, many by Turner and Constable. I looked in to try out Galassi’s thesis, and you really can see the continuity between what those painters were doing, exploring the effects of sunlight on everyday subjects, and what the photographers would start doing a few years later…

The museum’s description makes us think of the parallels between photography and travel in terms of opening up horizons to an ever-widening audience:

When photographs were first widely produced and distributed during the second half of the nineteenth century, they offered viewers new ways to discover unknown people, places, and things. This exhibition explores how photographers considered these subjects during the medium’s first seventy-five years. During this exciting period, images were captured for many different reasons—from documentation to curiosity—and they came in many forms, including deluxe book illustrations, portable portrait cards, and frame-worthy landscapes. Continue reading

Jane Alexander, Come Back To Belize

janealexander

Jane Alexander describes, about half way through the conversation above, being in Belize with Alan Rabinowitz several decades ago for birdwatching, and how it changed her life. 41imiogqjal-_sx336_bo1204203200_She has been a committed conservationist ever since, as she also describes in this 2012 interview in Audubon Magazine. Anyone who uses an extra 15 minutes of fame – – after a lifetime endowed with plenty of it, well earned for her professional accomplishments — for this purpose is a class act in our book. She has a book that looks worthy of her, according to the publisher’s description:

A moving, inspiring, personal look at the vastly changing world of wildlife on planet earth as a result of human incursion, and the crucial work of animal and bird preservation across the globe being done by scientists, field biologists, zoologists, environmentalists, and conservationists. From a longtime, much-admired activist, impassioned wildlife proponent and conservationist, former chairperson of the National Endowment for the Arts, four time Academy Award nominee, and Tony Award and two-time Emmy Award-winning actress. Continue reading

If You Happen To Be In London

John Lockwood Kipling with his son Rudyard Kipling, 1882. © National Trust/Charles Thomas

John Lockwood Kipling with his son Rudyard Kipling, 1882. © National Trust/Charles Thomas

Kipling is almost a household name for many in our group, but primarily in the context of Rudyard Kipling, the writer of the well-known stories and fables about India. When researching the author a few years back I was surprised to learn about his talented father, whose beautiful illustrations graced the early editions of several of his son’s books.

Rudyard Kipling’s bookplate ‘Ex Libris', Lockwood Kipling, 1909. © National Trust Images/John Hammond

Rudyard Kipling’s bookplate ‘Ex Libris’, Lockwood Kipling, 1909. © National Trust Images/John Hammond

Those lucky enough to be in London this month can visit the Victoria & Albert Museum for the exhibition Lockwood Kipling: Arts and Crafts in the Punjab and London.

More of note, not only was the senior Kipling an artist, writer, museum director, teacher, and influential figure in the Arts and Crafts movement – he was also a conservationist, distinguished for promoting the traditional textile crafts of India and what is now Pakistan.

The exhibit coincides with Conferences and Symposia related to the 3-year international research project on Kipling’s legacy.

The 19th century Arts and Crafts revival in British India is a fascinating chapter in the international history of art and design. However, John Lockwood Kipling’s career as designer and architectural sculptor, curator and educator, illustrator and journalist, has received little attention. Continue reading

Visit Katinka Matson

 

katinkamatson

Ranunculus 2009

We encountered Katinka Matson while reminding ourselves of the annual question presented at the start of 2016 over at Edge. So we went looking for more about her. We agree with all the sentiments expressed on this artist’s own website:

“Her floral pictures are so intense that looking at them, you almost get the feeling that you are able to peer around the flowers themselves.” — The New York Times Magazine Continue reading

Vatican’s Small Steps Toward Gender Equality

Barbara Jatta will oversee an institution that is one of the Holy See’s major sources of funds with about $311 million in gross revenues a year. PHOTO: VATICAN MUSEUMS

Barbara Jatta will oversee an institution that is one of the Holy See’s major sources of funds with about $311 million in gross revenues a year. PHOTO: VATICAN MUSEUMS

Without religious affiliation, we’ve applauded the current pope’s embrace of environmental protection and other progressive leaning policies. In a current political atmosphere where gender often overrides qualification, we appreciate this appointment all the more.

Pope Francis Names New Female Director of Vatican Museums

ROME—The Vatican Museums, one of the world’s pre-eminent art collections, announced Tuesday that Barbara Jatta, an Italian art historian and longtime Vatican official, will become its new director, making her the first woman to hold one of the most prestigious jobs in the art world.

The appointment by Pope Francis, which is effective Jan. 1, will also make Ms. Jatta the most prominent female administrator at the Vatican. The pope has spoken about expanding the roles of women in the Catholic Church, but most high Vatican offices are reserved for cardinals and bishops, who must be men. (Margaret Archer, a British sociologist, was named president of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, an advisory body to the pope, in 2014.)

The Museums, which include priceless masterpieces including the Sistine Chapel frescoes by Michelangelo, regularly appear among the world’s top 10 museum complexes by attendance, with over six million visitors in 2015. The collections include 70,000 objects, dating back from antiquity through the 20th century. Continue reading

Organic, If Not Natural, Beauty

harvest5

German artist Diane Scherer creates low-relief sculptures made from plant roots. DIANA SCHERER

Thanks to Wired for this bit of intrigue:

Artist Teaches Roots To Grow In Beautiful, Alien Patterns

by MARGARET RHODES

THE HUMAN RACE has a long history of bending nature to its will. The results of this relationship can be devastating—but they can also be strikingly beautiful, as German artist Diane Scherer skillfully proves with her low-relief sculptures made from plant roots.

Harvest2.jpg

Scherer grows these works of art by planting oat and wheat seeds in soil, and then carefully, meticulously, warping the growth pattern. DIANA SCHERER

Scherer grows these works of art by planting oat and wheat seeds in soil, and then carefully, meticulously, warping the growth pattern. She prefers to train her roots into geometric patterns found in nature, like honeycomb structures, or foliate designs reminiscent of Middle Eastern arabesques. Continue reading

New Directions In Art

shed1

flexn

Flexn artists, photo by Sodium for MIF 2015

We had not heard of Flexn until this week, when they were mentioned in a podcast with the phenomenal Peter Sellars (alluded to once previously in these pages, and linked to another time directly). Now we want to know more. And it looks like one way to learn more will happen at The Shed. Back in August, when we first heard about The Shed, it was a quick glance at the future. Now we have more detail, thanks to this early release of a profile in next week’s New Yorker:

ALEX POOTS, PERFORMANCE ART IMPRESARIO

How will the director of New York’s ambitious experimental cultural center change the city?

By Calvin Tomkins

Every so often, it seems, visual artists are stricken by the urge to perform. The “happenings” movement in the nineteen-sixties—young painters and sculptors doing nonverbal theatre—was explained as a response to Pollock, de Kooning, and other gestural Abstract Expressionists: it was the gesture without the painting. Continue reading

Living Walls

As Kochi is awash with participating artists putting finishing touches on their Kochi-Muziris Biennale works, it’s exciting to see art flourishing in other cities on a regular basis.

Atlanta’s Living Walls seeks to promote, educate and change perspectives about public space in local communities via street art.  Dozens of international artists participate in an annual conference on street art and urbanism that began in August 2010 in the city of Atlanta. Continue reading

If You Happen To Be In Tokyo

 

© SPL Lascaux international exhibition

© SPL Lascaux international exhibition

It’s the rare few who will have the opportunity to enter the original Lascaux Cave, but thanks to the foresight of the French government and the hard work of dedicated scientists and artists, an exact replica was opened in 1983 that gave visitors a chance to experience the amazing archaeological site. Nearly 20 years later additional replicas have begun to tour the world.

A few days ago we posted about Judith Thurman’s receiving a Medal of Chevalier in part for her inspiring writings about the Chauvet cave. It was a happy coincidence that the traveling exhibit had just opened in Toyko’s National Museum of Nature and Science.

The National Museum of Nature and Science, the Mainichi Newspapers, and Tokyo Broadcasting System Television, Inc. will hold a special exhibition, “Lascaux: The Cave Paintings of the Ice Age”, from Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016 to Friday, Feb. 19, 2017. About 20,000 years ago, dynamic pictures of animals were painted on the walls of caves found in southwestern France, the Lascaux Caves. Continue reading

The Best Use We Have Ever Heard Of For A Taco Bell

30dealers1-master768-1

From left, Emma Fernberger, associate director of the Bortolami Gallery; the dealer Stefania Bortolami; and the artist Tom Burr in the former Pirelli Tire Company building in New Haven, where Mr. Burr plans an installation as part of the gallery’s “Artist/City” initiative. Credit Christopher Gregory for The New York Times

We do not bother complaining about fast food on this platform, but we are happy to pass along this story about re-purposing a fast food site:

Art Dealers Move Out of the Gallery and Into a Taco Bell

By

Stefania Bortolami still recalls, with cathartic exultation, the moment she decided to display her art in a slower, smaller way. It was May 2015, and Ms. Bortolami, the owner of the Bortolami Gallery in Manhattan, was at the art fair Frieze New York — her sixth such gathering of the year. Continue reading

Public Art Pulling More Than Its Own Weight

Screen Shot 2016-10-22 at 12.00.43 PM.jpg

Thanks to Anthropocene:

Art That Delivers Clean Water & Power

An international competition challenges designers to show that clean energy production and dazzling public art can be one and the same

Since 2010, the Land Art Generator Initiative (LAGI) has sponsored site-specific design competitions, soliciting ideas for public art that generates clean power. Its 2016 contest was the most ambitious yet. It called on designers to conceive of art installations that generate both clean power and water for the city of Santa Monica, California. Continue reading