I had the great (I could say huge, gargantuan, titanic) pleasure of visiting a collective studio on Treasure Island for a sneak peak at a few of the LARGE SCALE works of art underway for this year's Burning Man art extravaganza in the desert of Nevada. These works are conceived by individual artists, but created by an army of workers and volunteers, all lending their own vision and talents to create collaborative works on a GRAND scale (ok, that's just an understatement).  The results are breath-taking (ditto).
click here for more on Burning Man events & art.
Bliss Project's "Truth is Beauty" 2013; image from
Artist Marco Cochrane and his wife Julia Whitelaw showed me around his Bliss Project. Bliss includes 2 (3rd is underway for next year) COLOSSAL sculptures of women--gorgeous, elegant, powerful, and empowering.  Marco understands at a profound level that the world would be a better place with more art in it. He has, in fact, very specific ideas of HOW the world can be better through art, & he and his fabulous wife Julia--general manager and key driver of massive logistics (in addition to her day job as an attorney)--are working them.
Detail of Truth is Beauty segment. See her metal armature "skeleton" through her silver screen "skin."

Pantograph on white tripod. Look carefully in the dotted red circles: see the 2 Pantograph arms; one follows the path carefully taped out on the smaller sculpture segment at center; the other arm determines precisely where the next larger/upscaled weld should be on the metal armature to the left--thus "growing" the scale of the arm segment shown here, in exact proportion.
The process of making the 3 Bliss sculptures is as fascinating as the result is stunning. Marco creates a "small" sculpture of a live model initially. Through repeated castings and using a Pantograph machine (totally cool, developed in 1603!), he GROWS the scale of his sculpture by welding a metal armature, in perfect ratio, from small to GINORMOUS. The armatures look like computer 3-D models come to life, yet are done entirely by HAND, with this machine based on 400+ year old technology. For the final armature, at 55-70 feet tall (!), Marco & team insert over 1000 specially designed LED lights. Finally he covers her in a silver mesh skin, which is hand tied and screwed on by an army of helpers. The detail of her shape is astounding. She is no simple model made large: she has the topography of a living person.

Segment of Truth is Beauty, looking down her spine, into her lacy armature, while she lies down across the studio
I was especially struck by how gorgeous both the uncovered armatures are--so mathematically precise yet fluid--and the SEGMENTS of the final work, even unassembled. The silver-skinned segments are like the massive statues of antiquity, now lying in pieces in the Roman Forum and on the Capitoline Hill. Yet when you look INSIDE, there is an intricate, lacy structure, aglow with colors. Marco's pieces shine with silver light, and radiate glowing color like they are ALIVE--this melding of the ancient and the totally modern is spectacular.
Artist Marco Cochrane with 3rd Bliss sculpture, under development. This lady will GROW during this year to over 70ft.
Marco also works on a "domestic" scale, beautifully suited for a house in need of sculpture. He is happy to make art for life-size--even table top--work.  Something to consider!
click here to learn more about his work or to contact Marco
click here for a really good interview with Marco about his background and inspiration
Bliss Dance, the first Bliss sculpture, now dances in perpetuity on Treasure Island for the public to enjoy--and you should! She is a marvel, day or night.
Thank you Affinity!

That Mrs. Gardner!

Travel tip if you are headed to BOSTON: Be sure to visit the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

Here's why: Mrs. Gardner was an absolutely AWESOME art collector.

She continued to learn about art her whole adult life.
She collected what she loved & loved what she collected.
She acquired a huge variety of both old and contemporary works, in all mediums.
She collected "decorative" work (furniture, textiles, housewares) to mix with the "fine" art.
She was pals with many contemporary artists (who in fact turned out to be damn good); she bought their art even though she saw herself as a classicist.
She hung & placed every work precisely as she wanted it to be seen (I just love that CONTROLLING hand).
She designed the whole museum to look like a HOUSE, to give the experience of viewing a personal collection in a home.
After nearly 100 years Mrs. Gardner still permeates every corner of every room.

She did all this not to demonstrate her prowess as a discerning collector; nor as a monument to herself.

She collected art to SHARE what she LOVED with EVERYBODY.

That's what makes a truly great collector.
Courtyard of the Gardner Museum
What a juxtaposition! The viewer can sit to contemplate an intimate Christ carrying the cross on the the left... or look up at Titian's monumental rape of Europa for a change of pace... Mrs. Gardner REALLY liked her Titian, even hung the fabric from her own ball gown below it. She was a lady who knew how to have a good time.

Children above study John Singer Sargent's "El Jaleo."  Hard not to get up & dance with this lady. Mrs. Gardner was particular friends with Sargent.
On the far left, one of my favorites, by Anders Zorn, "Omnibus."
Click here to learn more about the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum