Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Jaume Plensa: people of letters

Jaume Plensa, Spanish
“I, you, she or he...” (2006)
© Jaume Plensa
Frederick Meijer Sculpture Park, Grand Rapids, Michigan
photograph by versluis, 2011

Jaume Plensas sculpture includes three figures and the photographs above indicate a front view, a back view of another figure along with a close-up.

The quintessential collage artist of the twentieth century, Kurt Schwitters once wrote, “Not the word but the letter is the original material of poetry.” [1] In addition, perhaps Plensa’s sculptural content suggests “we are hollow men” (T.S. Eliot).

In this sense Plensa’s figurative sculptures are poetic soliloquies. His classic figural forms seem paradoxical as partially transparent yet solid. This piece suggests a community or “family” comprised of a group of three individual figures. Each figure is formed by an open mesh of metallic uppercase sans serif letters that are tack-welded together. The figures are seated on flat limestone boulders and seem to balance on the stone.

Technically, there's a smoothness and polish to the edge of the metal letters, which possibly suggests that they may have been cut by water-jetting or Wire EDM.

Plensa is best known for the “Crown Fountain” in Chicago's Millennium Park, which was installed in 2004.

  1. Schwitters, Kurt. “Consistent Poetry,” 1924. Modernism: An Anthology of Sources and Documents. Ed. Vassiliki Kolocotroni, Jane Goldman, and Olga Taxidou. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1998. 284. Print.

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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Risk: Street Art Chic

The “RISK” tag from his installation wall piece for the Art in the Streets exhibition at the MOCA’s Geffen Contemporary in Los Angeles. The show completed its run at the museum on August 8. photograph by versluis, 2011.

From illegal graffiti to the merger of a commercial art brand and gallery art — Risk’s personal and compelling lettering style is from the heart. And his paintings express an energy that achieves high visual impact. Earlier this year the Los Angeles Times did an interview with Risk:

Risk helped to import Wild Style graffiti, with hard-to-decipher, [bubbly forms and] interlocking letters, from the New York subways to the L.A. freeways. At the Geffen, the artist takes over part of a wall inside and has parked a salvaged bus, painted in fiery colors, outside.…

At 43, Risk represents another generation, but these artists share something in common. They have all witnessed their rebellious, adolescent gestures become a popular activity — and big business. They’ve seen their own art and their colleagues’ migrate into fine art galleries on the one hand and onto clothing, advertising and entertainment on the other.… [1]
  1. Finkel, Jori. “Risk, more of L.A.’s street art pioneers paint a colorful history.” Los Angeles Times 10 Apr. 2011. Web. 27 Aug. 2011.

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Monday, August 22, 2011

Pae White and the convergence of technology, art and design

Pae White
Der Wërks, 2010
Mixed media
© Pae White
(MOCA) The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
photograph by versluis, 2011

This site–specific installation piece is a quirky and playful response that describes the surface planes, which comprises this transitional space. In this case the space is an enigmatic tunnel-like corridor connecting two galleries at the MOCA. Apparently the viewer’s vantage point is like a hotdog with ketchup, mustard and pickle on top (the works).

Interestingly, White uses points and lines to construct the word “pickle” along with the other condiments in an emphatic, physical, and expressive way.

The MOCA documentation tag gives a brief artist statement:

Der Wërks deals with transitions; it marks the passage between spaces and textures, generations and approaches — all loosely processed through the matrix of an abstracted hot dog, Each space is a puzzle; it’s the contingencies of the puzzle that interest me.

The Artist’s Museum logotype designed by Pae White — here’s a link to the color version.

Ms. White is a highly versatile artist and seems to ignore the traditional borders between the applied and fine arts. As a graphic designer she developed the graphic identity for MOCA’s large artists group exhibition The Artist’s Museum in 2010-11.

White, who lives and works in Los Angeles, was born in Pasadena, California, in 1963. She earned her M.F.A. degree at the Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, in 1991.

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Dordt Alumni in Design: Taylor Van Kley

Portfolio: 2011 Catalog Cover

ICS (Iowa Cutter Supply) Logo Ideas

Truck Trailer Graphics

We recently asked Taylor Van Kley to be featured as a Dordt alumni working in design. Taylor kindly submitted the following:

I graduated in May of 2005 with a B.A. in Art: Graphic Design. I worked at KSOU Radio before landing my current job at Kooima Company® in February of 2007. Kooima Company is a manufacturing plant located in Rock Valley, Iowa. About 120 people are employed there. One side of their business deals with laser cutting and metal fabricating, and the other side makes agricultural replacement parts. I am the only graphic designer at Kooima Company, so I do designs for both sides of the company even though I am considered a member of the Ag Department.

I use a variety of programs, including the Adobe Creative Suite 5, QuarkXPress, iMovie, and more to make flyers, catalogs, brochures, business cards, signs, semi trailer graphics, and anything else they need designed. The Ag catalog is probably the most time consuming project that I work on. I also do photography and videography for the company. Kooima has two websites, one of which I designed from scratch with HTML. Here’s a link to the website for the laser cutting/job shop side. The Ag Department has their own website and I keep the Ag site updated using a built-in content editor.

Last year, Kooima Company helped another ag business get started. The new business is known as Iowa Cutter Supply, a supplier of used forage harvester parts. I was able to make some designs for them, including a logo (shown above).

Outside of work, I recently finished a new website for my home church (Central Reformed Church in Sioux Center, Iowa). The pastor told me to keep it simple, so that is what I did. You can see it here: www.centralreformed.org. If you would like to see more of my work, please see my portfolio. The site contains a few additional and interesting side projects.

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Monday, August 15, 2011

architectural block type: Newkirk, Iowa

photograph by versluis © 2011

Here’s an interesting example of a local 70 years old architectural block type style with nice letter spacing. The name is found on a dilapidated, obsolete public school building located in the very small crossroads (Dutch Reformed) settlement of Newkirk, Iowa (organized in 1882 as North Orange; Sioux County, Holland Township). The auditorium was added to the older classroom building in 1941. The addition was a community project constructed by the WPA (Works Projects Administration). And the building suggests very conservative Art Deco styling with streamlines as indicated by the photograph above.

In this case individual sans serif block style letters made of wood or hard rubber are cleverly adhered in reverse, on the inside surface of the wall formwork, as molds for the reinforced concrete. Once the poured concrete has hardened and the forms removed — the result is a “cast-in-place” sign, which produces the appearance of incised letters chiseled in stone. With this process there’s more than meets the eye. For example, the width of the letter stroke determines the depth of the letter as well as the angle of the bevel. This slight bevel helps to pull the letter molds out of the concrete and makes the edges stronger and helps prevent spalling.

“Architectural type has to compromise between materials and legibility.” [1]
  1. Spiekermann, Erik, and E. M. Ginger. Stop Stealing Sheep & find out how type really works. 2nd ed. Berkeley: Adobe Press, 2003. 73. Print.

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

sliced, uppercase typography = a noisy rebelliousness—a hint of disrespect

photograph by versluis, 2011

This framed piece was photographed at the recent Art in the Streets exhibition in Los Angeles and indicates the upper portion of a Polish poster for “Beautiful Losers: Sztuka współczesna i kultura ulicy.” This poster was a promotional piece when the “Beautiful Losers” exhibition was displayed at the Muzeum Sztuki, Lodz, Poland during May–August 2007.

As an identity “Beautiful Losers” uses a striking logotype, which was initially developed by Iconoclast Editions in 2004 for a multimedia project about “skateboarder/gang/graffiti art.” The design of the logotype fittingly utilizes sliced, uppercase typography that connotes a noisy rebelliousness with a hint of disrespect. The project, “Beautiful Losers: Contemporary Art and Street Culture” became a global touring exhibition along with an art book catalog and seems to have been the prototype for MOCA’s Art in the Streets show this year. An acclaimed documentary film, titled Beautiful Losers was produced in 2008, which featured many of the participating artists. Here’s The New York Times review of the movie (the comments are interesting too). And another movie review from the Guardian UK.

Here is a description about “Beautiful Losers” from Iconoclast, which collaborated with the artists to produce the traveling exhibition and catalog:

Beautiful Losers is an exhibition of multi-media art and design that explores the recent work of a diverse group of visual artists that have emerged from the subcultures of skateboarding, graffiti, punk, and hip hop in U.S. urban centers. The core of the project involves painting, sculpture, and photography, as well as film, video, performance, and product design by more than thirty individuals who have emerged in the last decade—some now established figures in the art world, but many receiving their first broad exposure here. [1]
  1. Beautiful Losers: “Press Release.” Iconoclast Editions. Iconoclast, 2004. Web. 11 Aug. 2011.

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Monday, August 8, 2011

Steve Frykholm: Herman Miller Summer Picnic Posters (1970-1989)—Dordt College Campus Center Art Gallery

above: Steve Frykholm, courtesy of Herman Miller, used with permission
below: Show installation photograph by versluis, 2011

The Dordt College Campus Center Art Gallery (the department of art and design) proudly presents the exhibition:

Steve Frykholm, serigraphs
Herman Miller Summer Picnic Posters, 1970–1989
August 1 – October 2

On display are 20 posters from the Roger and Jeanne Knop collection, Muskegon, Michigan.

Herman Miller (located in Zeeland, Michigan) is known for their innovative furniture designs. Each year a poster is designed to promote the Herman Miller annual company picnic. This exhibition features, chronologically, the first twenty posters, which were designed by Steve Frykholm. The first poster, designed in 1970, started this wonderful series of serigraphs (silkscreen prints) and graphic design. The posters feature super-sized items like ice cream cones, cake, and fruit to illustrate the summer picnic theme. Several of Frykholm’s Summer Picnic posters are in the permanent collections of New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and the Smithsonian, Washington DC.

Steve Frykholm has worked for Herman Miller for over 40 years. He is the creative director and vice president of design for the National Design Award-winning furniture company. In an illustrious career he has worn many hats: designer, art director, artist and client. His work has been widely published and has been included in exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum and Danish Museum of Decorative Art. In 2010 he was awarded the AIGA Medal, which is the AIGA’s highest award.

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Friday, August 5, 2011

Chaz Bojórquez: calligraphic graffiti and art

Chaz Bojórquez, (b. 1949, Los Angeles; lives and works in Los Angeles)
Tres Placas (Three Tags), 2011
Acrylic paint on wall (Courtesy of the artist)
photograph by versluis, 2011

Art in the Streets exhibition at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA.
Closes August 8, 2011.

This is copy from the show documentation tag for this piece:

Tres Placas (Three Tags) is a three-layered tag that represents an evolution of my letter styles. The first layer, in light grey, is my name written in an early style representing the past. The second layer, in dark gray, marks the streets in my neighborhood where I first tagged. The top layer tag, in black, is written in my current letter style, stating “Los Locos de Cali” (“West coast crazies”) because we are crazy for living the life. —Chaz Bojórquez
This is an excerpt from the exhibition brochure:
The graffiti styles that emerged fro the American housing projects, subway yards, and bleak suburban parking lots during the 1970s form the foundation for what is possibly the most influential art moment since Pop—one that continues to thrive forty years after it began.
Interestingly, I’ve seen examples from “artists” in this show (Barry McGee for instance) on railcars passing through Sioux Center, Iowa.

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Monday, August 1, 2011

Ellsworth Kelly and Richard Meier: The Getty Center Los Angeles

left: Ellsworth Kelly, American
Untitled, 1988
© Ellsworth Kelly
Gift of Fran and Ray Stark
Photograph by versluis, © 2011

right: Statue of a kouros (youth), Rear view
Stone sculpture, Naxian marble
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Fletcher Fund, 1932
© http://www.metmuseum.org/

Heading north from downtown Los Angeles, on the 405, and approaching the J. Paul Getty Museum one is struck by how the architecture stands out like a bright shining city on a hilltop in the Santa Monica Mountains. This monumental complex is the visualization of architect Richard Meier and his Renaissance realization of an ideal city of the twenty-first century.

Once inside the Museum complex at the south end of the Courtyard, one encounters Ellsworth Kelly’s striking sculptural piece called “Untitled,” which looks out to a panorama of the city of Los Angeles. The precise geometric contour is indicative of Kelly’s very fine drawing ability and hypersensitivity to classical form. The piece is fitting for the space and certainly complements Meier’s building that was built with blocks of Italian Travertine stone. Apparently, Kelly studied examples of ancient Greek sculpture as a basis for his piece. As the Getty Center’s website states:

In the early 1970s, Ellsworth Kelly began creating totem-like [obelisk] sculptures in a variety of materials including wood, aluminum, and weathering steel. This work is one of a handful of “totems” Kelly executed in bronze. The artist used a source from antiquity — the rigid, upright statues of young men known as kouroi.
Thus it seems appropriate to juxtapose and compare a photograph of Kelly’s sculpture to a picture of an archaic kouros statue from the collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. This Greek sculpture, a grave marker, was chiseled from marble. The MMA website describes the statue this way:
The [contrapposto] pose provided a clear, simple formula that was used by Greek sculptors throughout the sixth century B.C. In this early figure, geometric, almost abstract forms predominate, and anatomical details are rendered in beautiful analogous patterns. The statue marked the grave of a young Athenian aristocrat.

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