These are Portraits!

Sometimes even the concept behind the art is irresistible.
"Portrait of a Glamazon", painting of a woman very sure of herself
 and not afraid to wear it.
I recently went to a show of works by Elizabeth Barlow, a wonderful artist working in the Bay Area. First, I love her photo realism style (as we called it in school) -- her paintings look like actual sculptures, popping right off the wall. The detail is meticulous. The light within each canvas sets a clear mood that is playful, seductive, dramatic, or thoughtful, sometimes all of these. 
The effect is kind of thrilling.

detail of "Glamazon"
But what is also exciting about these works: they are PORTRAITS of people, who own the items painted.  The artist has taken personal, meaningful, or favorite items and created these fantastic portraits that tell as powerful a story as any head shot of an individual. 
How cool is that?

"Embrace" depicts two men via their bluejeans.

I grew up in the South where there is a long established culture of painted portraits. My mother had 3, count 'em 3! painted of me & my sibs by age 18.  So admittedly I am partial to portraits.  Paintings that tell a story of a particular person are just intriguing.  They draw the viewer in, even if you have no idea who the person is.  You wonder about their history, what brought them to that moment captured in paint, what kind of life was lived behind those eyes.
Or, in this case, what kind of life was lived to make those wrinkles, frayed cuffs, loose buttons, or worn spots on a favorite pair of jeans.  How wild to evoke the intimacy of a couple through their entwined clothing!

"Yin/Yang" depicts a long-married man & woman.

"Unbuttoned" series of shirts.
Looking at any of these, you feel like you could take the shirt off the wall & put it on.

detail of "Unbuttoned, Scene 3"

"Portrait of a Man," shoes of a single father and his daughter.

 If you live in the Bay Area, hurry over to see this show of inventive, compelling portraits up through November 6, at a gem of a new gallery:
click here for link to Gallerie Citi
Gallerie Citi at 1115 Howard Ave, in Burlingame, CA.

Click here for more on Elizabeth Barlow.

Ooohhh, and I bet he won't miss those jeans, or she won't miss those shoes, while you sneak them out to Ms. Barlow for a commissioned holiday gift!

Burning Man 2015 Favorite Moments (Part 2)

MORE of my favorite moments, in random order:
1. Deciding which art was as interesting in the day as at night.

Deep Thought, a series of elaborate 3-D metal polygons by HYBYCOZO's, cast gorgeous lacey shadows
by day and night. 

The largest one had a little door to the inside.
I think a few marriages were conducted there.

Several pieces of art referenced the water & sea life that covered the Playa 12,000 years ago.
Playaqaurium by Bill Neely, included a school of ancient native fish that glimmered at night, 

but were camouflaged during the day.

2. Lying for 30 minutes one night under Firmament, by Christopher Schardt.

The LED canopy was activated by recorded classical music that played nearby. 
The color changes flowed across the canopy in waves to the tempo. 
It was completely mesmerizing.
(During the day, Firmament didn't look like like much.)

3. Attending the Playa Pops Symphony Wednesday at sunset, just as a major dust storm was dying.

Love the blue cello that coordinated with the blue bar.

4. Stumbling, after another dust storm, into a camp that offered delicious handmade tortillas.

5. Watching a massive dust storm from INSIDE my camper...

... and the amazing clouds that followed, like alien space ships about to land.

6. Craving to put one of the Mazu Temple guardians on my house.
I'd like one of these guys on my roof.

7. Risking a clumsy fall while traversing the art structure Inflection. (I made it.)

It only looked like a friendly kids climbing structure.
No surface was fixed, except the final steps--which were sloped.
In the middle was "a literal twist, which only exists to be overcome," per the artist, Trevor Schrock.
Those eligible for a Darwin Award, or before morning coffee, should not attempt Inflection.
Below Inflection, a Dick Garden sprouted, one of several varieties on the Playa.

A "trailing variety" also lit up at night.

8.  Appreciating Playa humor, both on a large scale...
What the Fork? by Rick Morales.

and on a small scale.

9.  Admiring Burners ready for Tutu-Tuesday.

Even under goggles, these lashes will be fab.
Of course, fashion is important on the Playa on any day.

10.  Playing on the Big Words.

You can't resist climbing on these pieces, by Laura Kimpton and Jeff Schomberg.

11. Checking out how Burners nest in their camps.
Camps have a theme.

Mansonian Camp (think Smithsonian of the Man) describes history of the Man,
and gives away cool stickers each year.

Usually camps have a living area that welcomes all Burners.
Most Burners stay in a tent of some form.

Some bring Campers of their own.

A few have RVs waiting for them on arrival.
No matter tent, yurt, trailer or RV, the dust WILL find you.
A Burner must pack a sense of humor.
Out of space again. Stay tuned for one more post on Burning Man 2015.

Burning Man 2015 Favorite Moments (Part 1)

I love so much about Burning Man. But as a designer involved in construction, I am deeply awed by the process: huge art projects and a working city for 70,000 people are built from nothing, in a few weeks. Then as quickly, they are gone without a trace.

For artists, the challenge of Burning Man is mind-boggling. They must design, transport, and construct art that can make an impact on the vast scale of the Playa.  The art must withstand extreme weather conditions, wind, dust, temperature. (This year the multiple dust storms were "epic" even by seasoned Burners' standards).  Teams must erect the piece on site in less than two weeks leading up to the festival start. On top of those physical constraints, these large artworks are only possible through significant fundraising effort by the artists and their team, in a very short time.  All over the world volunteer crews work offsite for months, then move to the desert -- for several weeks in some cases-- for final assembly, which happens 80 miles from nearly anywhere, down a two-lane, poorly paved road.

It is a kind of miracle.  Every year.

When I arrived a few days before opening this year, cranes were high in the air over the Playa. Large art crews worked under massive floodlights through the nights. Two days before gates opened, WHAM: a white-out dust storm blew mightily all day.  The Playa is a harsh environment for anyone setting up a tent, much less operating a crane a hundred feet in the air, welding joints at night during a dust storm, or keeping propane tanks filled to a critical level.

Even the toughest dust and logistics are no match for the Burner Spirit though. This profoundly creative power was on glorious display everywhere. For over a week, the Playa was alive with fire, lights, music, interactive art, art cars, and wonder.

The Temple of Promise, by Jazz Tigan & Dreamer's Guild, got my vote for "Most Photogenic." 
It could NOT take a bad picture, day, night, dust storm, clear skies, even unfinished...
3 Cranes and 2 scissor lifts work on final push to complete the Temple.
The copper cladding on Temple's front glowed day and night.

I loved the shadows inside, day and night.

Backside of the Temple looked like a calmly resting animal.

Burners leave poems, photos, artifacts of all kinds in the Temple, to release memories,
good and bad, when the Temple burns on Sunday.
I watched a man completely undress, hang his uniform, make notes on the collar, 

& walk away naked.

The Temple is a good place to get rid of emotional baggage, literally.

Both the sun and the moon were great accessories in any shot of the Temple.

Mike Garlington's Totem of Confessions was the most intricate piece on the Playa, the most astounding for its rich detail. Hundreds of evocative photo images in all sizes covered the exterior.  The entire structure alluded to numerous religious traditions and sacred architectures.  I could have spent a week pouring through it and still missed so many exquisite details.  I simply adored it.  A total rush for any student of art history.

Totem's crown glowed at night.

One of Totem doors on right; Think of Ghiberti's doors on the Baptistry in Florence.
Door details on Totem

Inside the Totem were numerous peepholes, a confessional, a mountain of relics, all topped by a colored glass skylight.

A scene through one of many peep-holes.
Totem's small mountain of relics. 
Think church crypts, catacombs, reliquaries.
Many of the Totem's sepia images reside in our collective, deep-seated fears.

The last days before opening were a big push for most art crews. Despite the dust storms, and with some changes, the works came together.

Own Way, by a Russian team, Sasha Mironov & Sema Payan.
A Burner relaxes in top of completed Brainchild, by Michael Christian.

It took several days but Medusa Madness came together, by Kevin Clark

Storied Haven was one of the most romantic pieces, by Bree Hylkema & Five Ton Crane
Inside cozy rooms someone read stories aloud to Burners lucky enough to get in.

Blunderwood Portable by Cat & Cockroach Collective. Participants jumped on keys to type on the screen. 
You were as likely to see gibberish as to see poetry.

Marco Cochrane's R-Evolution was ready early for her closeup. 
She is the 3rd and final piece in his series of colossal women
at Burning Man. This year she BREATHED, in & out.

Look for Part 2 of my Favorite Moments (I've reached my allowance of images for this post!)