Archive for October, 2011

Recently I was reminded of one of the most touching photography series (still on-going) I have ever seen. Brought to my attention by a photographer that was actually one of my wedding photographers assistants, it’s a stunning look into the everyday life of living with cancer. It is chillingly beautiful, heart-wrenchingly moving, and emotionally draining.


Angelo Merendino chronicles his wife’s, Jen, battle with breast cancer through the art of photography. Please view for yourself their loving story of strength told in black and white by checking the links below: first is the website of all his  photos of Jen,  second is his page for their documentary, and third is where I first experienced their struggle in One Life: an international photo competition.




I have never been so moved by photos before, bringing me to tears every time I view them, while making me grin from the obvious love that they share for each other, and the strength that gets them through each day. You will never see so much honesty, reality and humanity than you will in Angelo’s work of Jen. His journalistic, yet candidly personal style is captivating.


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I’ve decided to start an on going addition to my art blog with a segment entitled: ART? As we all know there are moments when we’re journeying through exhibitions, books/articles, or news that spark the question: is this really art? Obviously, art is very subjective when it comes to topic, technique or overall beauty/talent/originality, but when does art cross the line into ridiculous and over the top? I guess that is subjective too.

Looking back into my youth I remember certain art that made it in the headlines: Chris Ofili’s “The Holy Virgin Mary“, Daniel Edwards multiple celebrity sculptures (which continue to), the Barack Obama “Hope” poster by Shepard Fairey to name a few. All controversial for different reasons, but when do we suddenly go from hot topic to ridiculous excuse for “Art”? Those are the pieces/performances that make the art world such a joke to some people. People see/read about these things and their opinion that art enthusiasts or artist themselves are egocentric, arrogant jokes that do anything and call it art seem to be validated. Some are much easier to defend than others.

Today’s example is NYC performance artist Marni Kotak whose on-going and soon to reach climax performance piece at The Microscope Gallery. Entitled: The Birth of Baby X, Marni plans on giving birth to her first child in her exhibition space within the gallery that has been turned into a bedroom equipped with birthing pool, numerous photos from her three baby showers, as well as paintings from her painter husband… Personally, I’m not very supportive of this performance piece. I am definitely asking myself: Is this Art? Performance Art for me is a delicate balance of originality, importance in purpose/idea, and beauty in its execution. For me this piece is not on the same level as some of Chris Burden’s work (in shock value or subject matter), and not as brilliant, startling and insightfully disturbing a look into the human psyche as Marina Abramovic’s Rhythm 0.

Some people are calling it: “daring, challenging, and honest” or  “interesting, crazy, and intriguing”. I suppose all of which are true, but I see it more of a spectacle… especially when I read that she will explain her child’s birth to him/her slowly and organically ultimately culminating with the ending message that they were “born in an art gallery because, as artists, that is our sacred space, and in doing this we are telling the world and our child that his or her life is a precious work of art.” Frankly, I don’t think we need to give birth to our children in galleries to prove that, and I also don’t think child birth is such a taboo and mystery (just ask the numerous TV shows outlining the entire endeavor and it’s twists, turns, taboos, and stupidities), but I suppose she is the first to do it in a public space (intentionally) for all to see… I don’t know, you decide.


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100,000 Years of Art

Just stumbled across this article on the Discovery.News website entailing the discovery of an “ancient art studio” in a cave in South Africa. Inside the cave (Blombos Cave) were two abalone shells holding an ochre mixture (red pigment) with an array of tools around it.

Photo of one of the abalone shells from the article:


Though I find it interesting and quite fascinating, I do not find it all that surprising (cave art anyone?). I suppose the real intrigue behind it all is the sophisticated processes (chemistry involved) in the actually creation of the ochre pigment and such. What I find to be even more intriguing is the phrases used in this article in reference to creating art itself. Some of my favorite exerts were as follows:

~…”humans had the conceptual ability to source, combine and store substances that were then possibly used to enhance their social practices” – wrote the researchers in the journal Science‘s Friday edition.

~ Other findings “suggesting the emergence of abstract thinking and modern human behaviour much earlier than previously thought.”

~”The findings represents an important benchmark in the evolution of complex human mental processes.”

As I read the article I thought: wow, it is refreshing to read about the importance of art in human society as well as its history, and how it actually benchmarks advances in human evolution and intelligence.  Usually, articles are spelling out all the reasons why art needs to be put to the way-side, and have our children’s education focused on Math & Sciences, so it was quite pleasing to read on about arts place in advanced thought and processes. The article began stating that the findings of art supplies, materials, storage were a sure sign of our conceptual ability to use enhancements for our social practices, “it also demonstrates that humans had an elementary knowledge of chemistry and the ability for long-term planning 100,000 years ago,” which was the statement that concluded the article.

So with such statements praising art as an enhancement to social practices, abstract thinking, and part of the evolution of complex human mental processes… I once again find myself wondering why art is thought to be the lesser of skills to be taught to our future generations. We’re even completely tying chemistry into the equation! Can’t we all just get along? Abalones and ochre for everyone!!! I must say, that the “chemistry” (it seems more like it was just common sense to create a better pigment to me) used 100,000 years again to create the ochre paint is pretty advanced. Using marrow fat instead of plant resin which created more of a paint like substance seems much more logical than adding egg whites like those in the Renaissance.

Props to chemistry for being able to break down the ingredients of the ochre pigment and recreating it… that, like art, is pretty damn awesome.

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