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"Life is like music, it must be composed by ear, feeling and instinct, not by rule.' - Samuel Butler

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Mini musicians by Tatsuya Tanaka

August 26th, 2015

I happened upon these photographs of miniature scenes by Tatsuya Tanaka, who is an art director and designer. He’s assembled countless scenes for his “Miniature Calendar,” which has a different mini-scene for each day of the month, dating back several years … check it out here.

Miniature musicians by Tatsuya Tanaka


The Museum Security Guard of New Britain

August 25th, 2015

When I entered the lobby of the New Britain Museum of American Art last Saturday, I instantly recognized an “old friend,” the security guard standing near the entrance to the exhibition hall. The first time I saw this guy, it was at the 2011 Armory Show, where I was quite impressed with the array of hyper realist sculpture (click here and scroll down to see him back in 2011).

Yes, that’s right – this security guard is a sculpture! He is the creation of Marc Sijan, a Serbian-born artist who now lives in Milwaukee. Sijan’s sculptures are tributes to real people and not idealized in any way. In order to achieve the ultra-realistic finish, Sijan initially works from a live model and produces a plaster mould. He then sculpts the interior of the mould with tools and a magnifying glass and then casts the figure in a polyester resin. To achieve realistic flesh tones, Sijan applies twenty-five coats of paint and varnish. You’d never guess there was any paint on this guy when you see him up close, as the appearance of his “skin” is extremely convincing.

I heard a great story that there’s another Sijan security guard sculpture at the Milwaukee Bucks’ practice facility, and it was so convincing as being “real” that a visiting Michael Jordan complained about the “rude” security guard who ignored his attempt at conversation.

hyper realist sculpture of a museum security guard by Marc Sijan


Competing Art Works at the New Britain Museum of American Art

August 23rd, 2015

I don’t know what I like better: the art on the wall, or the art on this guy’s shirt. Truth be told, I like them both. I’m just wondering if this is a typical fashion style for this guy, or if he put on his “artsy” shirt in advance of going to the museum. I saw this scene yesterday at the New Britain Museum of American Art in New Britain, CT.

Even when I zoom in at 300%, I still can’t tell you what exactly those things on his shirt are supposed to be, but I can tell you that the art on the wall is Fallen Mias, 2000, by Walton Ford. I really enjoyed this museum; my friend from CT who took me there called it a “hidden gem” that “most people in Connecticut don’t know.” They should – they have a nice collection and the curators do a great job in how they present the art, comparing different art works next to each other in a very informative and enlightening way – we’ll have more highlights from our visit to this museum soon.

Walton Ford art at the New Britain Museum of American Art


Unexpected dramatic imagery in a baseball coaching video

August 19th, 2015

I was reading an article about a minor league baseball team in my ESPN magazine, and came across the phrase “the last legal execution of the third-to-first pickoff move outlawed by major league baseball.” I thought to myself, “what the heck is that?” and did a Google search for “third to first pickoff move.” One of the top results was this video by John Madden from YouGoProBaseball.com. It seemed like a normal coaching video, with Madden on a small pitchers mound in his sweatshirt and shorts explaining this particular move, as you can see in the top picture below.

But suddenly, at the 45 second mark, the camera angle takes a drastic turn, showing Madden in silhouette against a dramatic sky, and he throws up his hands and says “let me know what you think, WHY did they take this away from us pitchers?” It’s like it suddenly became such an urgent question, that he had to turn to the heavens with his plea, and the camera man got the perfect angle to add to the drama. Scroll down for more …

YouGoProBaseball video starring John Madden

It made me wonder, are YouGoProBaseball videos always this dramatic? I watched a few other videos on this channel, and didn’t see anything that had the visual flair of this first video. That camera man hit us with some visual genius, that’s what I’d say. It also reminded me of dramatic religious paintings showing Jesus bursting through the clouds … now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying baseball is religion and I don’t want to be accused of blasphemy, but do you see my visual connection between the outstretched arms, the hands pointed up, and the dramatic clouds in the background of these three images? We’ve got John Singleton Copley’s “The Ascension” at left; the baseball video in the middle, and Raphael’s “Transfiguration” at right. Maybe the camera man has an art history degree and he’s showing off some stylistic influences. But it sure did take a simple, educational video about pickoff moves, and – in my book – gave it an artistic touch.

John Singleton Copley and Raphael


Dual-purpose QR code: art work and website link

August 14th, 2015

Check out this art work by Chuck von Schmidt … it’s made of Legos, and is in the form of a QR code. It’s a fun art work, but it doubles as a working QR code which links to von Schmidt’s website. If you have a QR scanner on your phone, give it a shot (I was able to have my QR scanner read it accurately from this jpeg, so it should work for you too).

QR code made of Legos with link to Von Schmidt's website


Egyptian eyes and Man Ray’s Tears

August 13th, 2015

Do you think the photographer who set up and took the picture of the woman with the Egyptian eyes (top image, below), may have had Man Ray in mind? Compare the top photo with Man Ray’s iconic Dadist image titled “Glass Tears” from 1932 (bottom image, below). Between the eyelashes and the cropping of the image right below the nose, it’s hard to imagine that this photographer didn’t know of Man Ray’s famous photograph.

Egyptian eyes mimic Man Ray's famous photograph Glass Tears from 1932


The art of Pinball machines

August 12th, 2015

One goes to the Silverball Museum in Asbury Park for access to over 100 vintage and newer pinball machines, but it’s also a revelation as to how the art of pinball machines could be its own category of art … for more coverage, check out our sister site, The Arts Adventurer.

art on pinball machines at the Silverball Museum in Asbury Park


Sam Trapchak: Land Grab

August 2nd, 2015

I recently picked up the new jazz album titled “Land Grab,” by bassist/composer Sam Trapchak, and it certainly grabbed my attention. The first track, “Pterofractal,” wastes no time in settling into a groove: Greg Ward, playing alto saxophone, opens it up with a few short Bird-like phrases, and the driving beat, lead by Trapchak on bass and Christian Coleman on drums, makes itself known by the 5 second mark. It really feels like a “land grab,” in that the ensemble reaches out and pulls in the listener with a sense of urgency. Tom Chang on guitar enters with a solo, then hands back the control to Ward on sax. During these two solo stretches, though, it’s Trapchak’s bass that pulses throughout. But what is a “Pterofractal?” A “pterodactyl” is the common term for what most people consider a winged dinosaur, but in fact it was a flying reptile that lived during the age of the dinosaurs, for whatever that’s worth. A “fractal” is a never-ending pattern that is created by repeating a simple process over and over in an ongoing feedback loop. Now this title is starting to make more sense, as Trapchak’s bass line would seem to fit this description.

I’m attracted to the 2nd song, “Lumpy’s Blues,” for two reasons: one, it’s simply a great song, and has a strong driving beat just like “Pterofractal.” But my second reason is a bit more unusual – the title – “Lumpy’s Blues” – how many people can actually say they have a friend nicknamed “Lumpy?” It would seem an odd coincidence that I would get this album around the same time that I saw my friend Lumpy for the first time in 20 years.

Sam Trapchak Land Grab

The track titled “Beautiful/Furious” starts off in a curious way, nearly a minute of quiet little notes, light tapping of the drums, a few base lines, and then slowly builds up to the three minute mark, where the “furious” part of the title kicks in. Tom Chang’s guitar solo adds the intensity, on top of which Greg Ward lets out some Ornette-Coleman-like wails and then settles into his own extended solo.

Sam Trapchak was born in Livonia, Michigan, and took up the double bass after being accepted into the jazz studies program at Wayne State University in Detroit. He won successive scholarships while enrolled there, and freelanced throughout the Metro-Detroit/Windsor area. In 2007, Sam was awarded a full scholarship to continue his jazz studies at William Paterson University in New Jersey. Sam now lives and works in NYC. If you’re in the NYC area in August, you can hear Trapchak play with a trio at Dominies Hoek in Astoria (see calendar dates here). For more information on Trapchak and his music, check out his website here.


Vintage ABA art for the Virginia Squires

July 29th, 2015

Back in the late 1960s, when the American Basketball Association (ABA) was formed (1967, to be more-specific), they wanted to differentiate their league from the NBA in multiple ways, starting first with the basketball, which was red, white and blue. It seems their visual flair extended beyond the basketball, as I happened upon these vintage art works for the Virginia Squires.

Clockwise, from top left: inaugural program guide for the Virginia Squires, autographed by Julius Erving; program cover illustration by Jack Hughes for a Squires/Nets game; promotional illustration for the Squires featuring Dr. J; program cover illustration by Jack Hughes for a Squires/Colonels game.

Virginia Squires program cover art


Mona Lisa is working a new look

July 29th, 2015

After our last post, in which we caught Mona Lisa napping, we decided to have a little more fun with the art history legend. She’s been trying out some funky new hairstyles (or lack-of-hair-style) for some of her new modeling gigs. What do you think of her new look?

Mona Lisa modeling high couture


Vincent Van Gogh at Artsology Artsology offers free online games about the arts, and delivers investigations into topics in the visual arts, music, and literature. Artsology is a good resource for fun learning about the arts for people of all ages and is enjoyed by students, homeschoolers, and adults. Follow us on Twitter or become a fan of our Facebook page. Pablo Picasso paintings at Artsology

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