Posts tagged #art

Space Oddities - August: Sweet Tooth Hotel

I decided that once a month in 2018, I’m going to take a quick trip to explore/see/do/hear something weird and unusual in the space around me. I’m calling these Space Oddities and this is August…

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Over the last few years, there’s been a pop-up art installation trend across the country. Heard of the Museum of Ice Cream? Or the Color Factory? These are full-on themed art experiences you’re encouraged to immerse yourself in… touch, smell, hear, see, sometimes even taste. Unfortunately, unless you want to fly out to California, New York, or Florida, there’s been no interactive fun in Dallas. Until this summer.

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The Sweet Tooth Hotel is a small storefront on Victory Park Lane in Dallas. It’s cute, but unassuming from the outside; once you check yourself in with a concierge, however, a sweet world awaits you.

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The hotel is a five-room art installation by Dallas artists Jeremy Biggers, Shamsy Roomiani, Jojo Chuang, Rob Wilson and Chelsea Delzell. There’s a Ring Pop cactus infinity room, a dreamy hallway with clouds that respond to sound, a donut diner bathroom (complete with furry tub - I do not recommend touching the fur after the thousands that have done so before), a candy crazy bedroom & kitchen, and a stuffed animal carnival fun house via a refrigerator portal (definitely my favorite room).

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My visit to the Sweet Tooth Hotel was only a few weeks after my visit to Meow Wolf, so it was hard not to compare the two experiences (I mean, they both have fridge portals!). Meow Wolf is vast and intricate compared to Sweet Tooth Hotel and there’s really no fair comparison, so I decided to enjoy my Sweet Tooth Hotel visit for what it was - a fun, 60-minute, selfie-indulgent escape from an otherwise stupidly hot Texas afternoon.  

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If you’d like to visit the hotel, I’m sad to report you’re out of luck. It’s sold out entirely through August and that’s the end of its run. But! I did hear from a nearby shop owner after we left that there are already plans to revamp the space into another pop-up, this time space-themed… yes! I’d definitely go back and pay another $20 for that art voyage.

Posted on August 12, 2018 and filed under Space Oddities.

Space Oddities - July: Meow Wolf House of Eternal Return

I decided that once a month in 2018, I’m going to take a quick trip to explore/see/do/hear something weird and unusual in the space around me. I’m calling these Space Oddities and this is July…

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Welp, this is the big one. The reason I started my Space Oddities odyssey back in January, the weirdo mecca in Santa Fe, New Mexico: Meow Wolf House of Eternal Return.

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What is Meow Wolf House of Eternal Return? Good question. It’s so hard to explain. It’s an immersive experience, an interactive art museum, a mystery, a portal to the multiverse, an overload on your senses (all of them) in the best possible way. This video does a good job explaining it, but as you’ll hear, there are so many different descriptions and yet it still can’t be conveyed with just words.

Meow Wolf is, first and foremost, an artist collective with over 200 artists from every discipline imaginable (and unimaginable). In 2016, the collective launched its first venture in Santa Fe: House of Eternal Return. Backed by George R.R. Martin (yep, that George R.R. Martin), Meow Wolf transformed an old bowling alley in the industrial district of Santa Fe into a choose-your-own-adventure experience with a dash of mystery. There are now plans to open new ventures in Denver and Las Vegas by 2020.

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Inside the bowling alley is a Victorian mansion with seemingly normal rooms, but upon closer inspection, you’ll find portals and secret entrances to things only Alice has seen through the looking glass. If you choose (and if it isn’t insanely crowded like it was at the start of my visit), you can track a mystery with clues sprinkled throughout the house, but just slipping through refrigerator doors and dryer shoots to surreal, interactive realms of story and imagination was more than memorable enough for me.

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From start to finish, my friends and I explored for almost three hours and I’m positive there were rooms and things I didn’t see or touch or hear. Each room is designed by a different artist and makes use of completely unique materials, some playing on technology (there’s a rad 80s-themed free play arcade) and others on sensory overload (or deprivation). It’s such a non-linear trek in wild surroundings, you tend to lose track of time and your sense of direction. And it’s fantastic!

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The already extraordinary visit was topped off with getting to see Wayne Coyne’s King’s Mouth on exhibit in the cafe lobby. You climb into the silicon mouth and just chill under a cascading LED light show synchronized to music composed by The Flaming Lips.

If you want to hop in your car to drive to Meow Wolf right meow (I had to), here are my suggestions:

1) Early is not necessarily better. House of Eternal Return is for all ages and those at the younger end of the age spectrum run rampant until about 4:30 when things clear out a bit. They’re open until at least 8 most nights, so you’ll have plenty of time to explore.

2) Buy your tickets in advance to avoid entry lines. We were lucky enough to get there when there wasn’t much of a line, but I’ve heard it can run outside the building.

3) Check Meow Wolf’s event & workshop calendar. You can catch bands playing in the crazy black light village, take a workshop on lantern making, or attend a puppet lab.

4) If you get there before 5-ish, have a drink at the Float Cafe & Bar in the lobby while the kids clear out. We got drinks at the end and then sat in the King’s Mouth, but drinks before House of Eternal Return would just add another wonderful layer of wacky to the whole thing. The cocktails are inventive (and strong!) -- don’t be afraid to try the absinthe.

5) Interact with the characters walking around! And boy are there some weird ones. They encourage dancing, question-asking, and jibberish conversation. Note that you can touch the art, but not the characters.

6) This is a duh, but go in with a fully charged phone or camera. I went with 100% battery power and came out with less than 20%. You’ll want to take a lot of pictures.

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My experience at Meow Wolf House of Eternal Return was worth every mile driven from Dallas to Santa Fe and back. The creativity that is cultivated and the weirdness that is celebrated is so inventive and inspiring. If you go to the bar, they’ll inevitably ask you what your favorite room was. I honestly had no answer at the time because I was still taking everything in, trying to remember all the colorful details and effects and affects, but I think the one thing that mesmerized me the longest was being able to play red lasers coming down from the ceiling like a harp. I hope you find your one thing at Meow Wolf.

 

Posted on July 22, 2018 and filed under Space Oddities.

Space Oddities - June: Takashi Murakami

I decided that once a month in 2018, I’m going to take a quick trip to explore/see/do/hear something weird and unusual in the space around me. I’m calling these Space Oddities and this is June…

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As soon as I saw the previews for Takashi Murakami’s exhibit at the Modern Art Museum of Ft. Worth, I knew it would be one of my Space Oddities for the year. Entitled The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg, the exhibit features 50 works that cover 3 decades of the artist’s life. To say the exhibit is varied in technique, style, subject matter, or scale would be an understatement. Each turn of the corner, each turn of the room even, revealed new and interesting works that were alternatively sweet and sinister, small and large, traditional and modern. It was very cool.

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Takashi Muramaki, born in Japan, is probably best known for his pop culture collaborations with Kanye West and Louis Vuitton (remember Graduation?). He is also credited with creating the postmodern art movement known as Superflat, which refers to the lack of depth in the composition, as well as the content, of works in that style. His art is often a visual juxtaposition of ancient Japan and the modern world - Buddhist monks in swirling, psychedelic colors and mythical beasts atop platforms reminiscent of retro gaming consoles.

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There’s no escaping the manga and anime references in this exhibit. From bubbly and cute to sexually suggestive, you’ll see everything… literally everything.

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My favorite aspect of the exhibit was getting lost in the sensory overload of cheerful, vibrant, all-consuming flowers, who appear to be the mascot of Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd., an art production and artist management company founded by Muramaki. Is it just me or do they remind you of the talking flowers from Pee-Wee’s Playhouse?

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If you’re looking for something fun to do on a hot Texas summer day, I can’t recommend this exhibit enough. It’s worth the time to watch the short film at the beginning of the exhibit (downstairs) as Takashi Muramaki talks about his inspiration in creating the works, as well as how the art (some of it quite large-scale) is produced by his team of artists. If you’re a planner, note that admission is free on Fridays and half-price on Sundays. And make sure to keep your eyes peeled for Mr. DOB, Muramaki’s alter ego, in the art!

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Stay tuned for July’s Space Oddities - it’s the sole reason I started this project!

Posted on July 8, 2018 and filed under Space Oddities.

Space Oddities - April: Webb Gallery

I decided that once a month in 2018, I’m going to take a quick trip to explore/see/do/hear something weird and unusual in the space around me. I’m calling these Space Oddities and this is April…

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At the beginning of the year when I decided to undertake this Space Oddities project, I spent a few hours on Atlas Obscura making a list of places that would fulfill my mission to see some weird stuff. It was there I came across the Webb Gallery in Waxahachie, Texas, and it immediately made my list: Purveyors of fun, culture, and creativity who collect the mysterious, the unusual, and the striking? Sold.

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I drove down this past Sunday (they’re only open Saturdays & Sundays from 1-5 pm) and it was such a nice day to get out and explore. The gallery is located just off the main historic square on W. Franklin. There was no sign, but I knew I had arrived from the colorful woodwork facade, the amazing toothpick structures on display in the front windows, and the mannequin-manned ticket booth near the entrance (but does it dispense fortunes like Zoltar?).

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The curators of the Webb Gallery, Bruce and Julie Webb, are a husband-and-wife team who have scoured the country over the past few decades in search of oddball art and “just plain kickass stuff.” Some of their speciality collections include carnival banners:

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Fraternal order objects and architecture:

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Folk art:

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And general oddities:

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The galley also hosts special exhibits. I happened to show up on the last day of the Drifting Door to Door exhibit, which showcased some pretty amazing vintage tattoo flash and the works of artist Max Kuhn.

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I browsed the collections for a good hour, soaking up the weirdo vibe and visual stimulation. If you’re in search of a quick day-trip in the DFW area, I highly recommend checking out the Webb Gallery. The owners are super knowledgeable, interesting, and have great stories.
And they have two Boston Terriers who greet you at the door.

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Or they stay asleep on the couch. Either way, dogs and weird stuff. It was a great visit.

Have any recommendations for future Space Oddities in the DFW area? Let me know!

Posted on April 26, 2018 and filed under Space Oddities.

Ready Player One Poster Reveal

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Warner Bros dropped another poster today for the upcoming release of Ready Player One. Just like the movie itself, it is full of 80’s nostalgia. It is clearly a Drew Struzan inspired poster, which is fitting since many of Steven Spielbergs previous films also received the Struzan treatment. If you would like to see more of Struzans work, check out the article we previously did on him.

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Ready Player One, with a release date of 3/29, is set in a dystopian future where things have gotten so bad, society chooses to live in a virtual world called OASIS. After the death of the creator of OASIS, played by Mark Rylance, it is revealed that a series of Easter Eggs have been hidden throughout the Virtual World and whoever find them will be the sole owner of his company and OASIS itself.

When a seemingly nobody by the name of Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) stumbles on the first Easter Egg, an all out frenzy ensues to find the remaining clues and thus becoming the owner of OASIS.

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RPO, based on a novel of the same name by Ernie Cline, by all appearances, is a nostalgia overload. If you grew up in the 70’s or 80’s, this film is sure to bring the Saturday morning memories flooding back.

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Posted on February 13, 2018 .

Presidential Portraits

Click The Portrait To See It In All It's Glory.

Today the official presidential portrait of President Barack Obama by painter Kehinde Wiley was unveiled and regardless of how you may feel about the man, the painting is absolutely stunning and unique. 
To honor such an occasion as this, I've rounded up some of my favorite presidential portraits both official and not. They are a glimpse past the politics and into the man who sat in the chair and a wonderful display of the American artist. (In no particular order.)

Aaron Shikler - JFK

Aaron Shikler - JFK

George Peter Alexander Healy -John Tyler

George Peter Alexander Healy -John Tyler

Gilbert Stuart - George Washington

Gilbert Stuart - George Washington

John Christen Johansen - Woodrow Wilson

John Christen Johansen - Woodrow Wilson

Peter Hurd - LBJ

Peter Hurd - LBJ

Robert A. Anderson - George W. Bush

Robert A. Anderson - George W. Bush

Norman Rockwell - Richard Nixon

Norman Rockwell - Richard Nixon

Nelson Shanks - Bill Clinton  *Controversial Portrait*  

Nelson Shanks - Bill Clinton *Controversial Portrait* 

Roland Emmerich - Thomas J. Whitmore 

Roland Emmerich - Thomas J. Whitmore 

Sure there are plenty of others and I know that you can see that, though I did not put them in any particular order, I did save the best for last. Now that I've mentioned it, if anyone knows who exactly did the painting of the late great Thomas J. Whitmore, please let me know so I can update this post accordingly! Also if I just ruined ID4: Resurgence for you; you're welcome.

This is the most political this blog will ever get and even then, it's just to admire art. Love each other, won't you.

 

Posted on February 12, 2018 .

Great Poster. Terrible Movie.

Drew Struzan is not only the best movie poster artist ever but also one of the finest artist living today. His work has been used on some of the most amazing movies of our time and also some of the absolute worst. Some movies are so abysmal they hardly even deserve a freshman graphic designers first attempt at photoshop but instead they get the wonderful work of a modern day Norman Rockwell. Here are some of the worst movies with some of the best art.

Ratings from Rotten Tomatoes' current standing as of January 20, 2017.

That's just twenty of the worst movies the wonderful Drew Struzan made masterpieces for and there are a few more but for the most part the films match the wonderfulness of the poster. You can check out more of Struzan's amazing work by clicking the signature below.

 
Posted on January 20, 2018 .

Masters Of The Box Art

Growing up many of us may have been fans of the art by Rudy Obrero, William Garland, and William George and never knew their names. These three were the men responsible for the amazing box art on the Masters Of The Universe toys. Mainly the larger items such as vehicles, creatures, and playsets.

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In a time when there was no internet and exposure to new figures and items was limited to the commercials played during Saturday Morning cartoons, getting your toy noticed was an uphill battle. Mattel had the amazing idea of making the box art for MOTU pop out and grab young faces by the cheeks and scream "THIS IS WHAT YOU'LL BE DOING!" and when we got home, that is what we did. Through mounds of potting soil and rocks in the back yard He-Man would ride Battle Cat and defend Castle Greyskull from Skeletor and his evil minions.

Below is a slideshow of some of my absolute favorite pieces of art. 

In the off chance that you don't already know, Netflix has an amazing series called The Toys The Made Us. The docu-series covers the history of some of the most influential, inspirational toy lines from years past including Masters Of The Universe. If you haven't already, watch it NOW. 
For more awesomness like these amazing box art pictures hit the link below: 

Just for a little more nostalgia goodness, checkout this amazing 1986 MOTU Toy Tour that visited malls across the country. Man, the 1980's were an amazing time.

Now, lift above your mighty sword and say... You know the rest...
 

 

I HAVE THE POWER!!!!!

Posted on January 11, 2018 .