Eyecatchers: Matthias Brown

matthias-brownAs anyone who spends a fair amount of time surfing the interwebs knows, GIF animations are quite a thing.

And while, in my experience, the vast majority of GIFs out there range from the trivial to the annoying, many amounting to nothing more than a short, looped video clip stolen from some movie or TV show, thanks to the always reliable Colossal, this morning I’ve discovered the work of Matthias Brown.

Brown’s minimalist drawings are set in motion using rotoscoping technique, which dates back to 1915.

I’ve always loved the simplicity of drawing, how it serves as the foundation for so much visual art, from sketch studies that evolve into fully-realized paintings or sculptures, or even storyboarding for movies. I remember, years ago, a friend who, having loved the early Pixar films, was inspired to become a computer animator. He was quite proficient with computers, but in order to get into a college computer animation program he was surprised to learn that he first had to take a number of classes in drawing, because he had no experience in it whatsoever.

Matthias Brown’s GIFs have an ephemeral informality that, paradoxically, makes them at once enjoyable as playful, standalone pieces, while also suggesting that they could be preliminary ideas for bigger works.

For this installment in my Eyecatchers series, here are some of my favorites:

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Eyecatchers: 2015 National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

NationalGeo12-croppedIf, like me, your family had a subscription to National Geographic Magazine when you were a kid, before you learned to love reading, one of the reasons you LOVED the publication was because you didn’t have to read the articles to learn amazing things about the world beyond your neighborhood, town, city, etc.

Reason: The photography was mind-blowing — pictures are worth a thousand words, as is often said — and one could dwell on these pictures, could dwell IN these pictures, could get lost in these pictures.

One of the most popular posts I’ve ever published here at Fish & Bicycles, from July 2012 and titled Eyecatchers: Steve McCurry’s World of Bicycles, featured the photography of one of the magazine’s most acclaimed photographers, and the images I included in that post serve as fine examples of how photography can tell us so much about a place and its people, people in places we’ve never been or may never visit.

In addition to teaching us so much about the planet we inhabit, National Geographic has inspired millions of people to try their own hand at photography, and a fitting testament to how inspirational the magazine has been to so many is their annual Travel Photo Contest, where anyone, amateur or pro, can submit photos for prize consideration.

This Eyecatchers installment, was inspired by a selection of 2015 National Geographic Travel Photo Contest entries handpicked by The Atlantic, and features my favorites from this selection. (Please be sure, though, to visit The Atlantic in order to read the very informative captions to each photo.)

If you’re busy and have a lot on your plate, you might want to consider setting a timer with a loud alarm, as I will not be held responsible for readers getting lost in these photos and losing track of time. :)

Enjoy!

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Eyecatchers: Upcycling: Allied Arts Recycled Art Exhibit

Allied-5It’s been ages since my last Upcycling installment, but this weekend I visited an exhibit at a local art gallery that focused entirely on pieces made from recycled materials, and I just had to share.

Allied Arts of Whatcom County hosted their second annual Recycled Art & Resource Expo (RARE) this past weekend, an event that included exhibits, workshops, and presentations at various locations in town.

My favorites were on view at Allied Arts’ Cornwall Avenue gallery, where the majority of the works took the form of multimedia sculpture, like Graham Schodda’s Magneto, featured in the lede photo here, fashioned from: a vintage drill, piston, rods, fuel filter, insulator, and radio antenna.

I LOVE the imagination on display here, how the artist saw in these discarded scraps — once intended for much more utilitarian purposes — that they might be pieced together to form various subjects or some new functional item, like this clock by Karin Mueller, titled Time To Call Mom, made from a vintage cigar box, telephone, clock:

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The exhibit will be up through April 24th, so, if you are in Bellingham consider checking it out. And/or, check out my other Upcycling installments, or just Google ‘upcycling’ if this kind of thing strikes your fancy.

In the meantime, here are some of my other faves from the RARE show:

Graham Shodda: vintage thermos, jigsaw, window winders, spatulas, gas can spout, etc.
Graham Shodda, “Thermo” – vintage thermos, jigsaw, window winders, spatulas, gas can spout, etc.
Karen Mueller, "Chicken or the Egg" - mixed media
Karen Mueller, “Chicken or the Egg” – mixed media
Rafael Mithuna, "Bomb Fin Lantern" - WWII bomb fin, WWII military transport parts
Rafael Mithuna, “Bomb Fin Lantern” – WWII bomb fin, WWII military transport parts
Launi Lucas, "Gnarwall" - mixed media
Launi Lucas, “Gnarwall” – mixed media
Rafael Mithuna, "Budenberg Steam Lamp" - early 1900s steam test equipment, lamp parts, plumbing parts
Rafael Mithuna, “Budenberg Steam Lamp” – early 1900s steam test equipment, lamp parts, plumbing parts
Alana Coleman, "Lovers Tango" - mixed media
Alana Coleman, “Lovers Tango” – mixed media

Eyecatchers: Seth Globepainter

seth-3It’s been ages since I posted an Eyecatchers installment featuring a street artist (some past examples: BLU, Sam3, JR), but, thanks to Colossal, my eyes were decidedly caught this morning by the work of Seth Globepainter (aka Julien “Seth” Malland).

Seth has traveled extensively, meeting other street artists, observing their work, and cultivating his own style. The pieces seen here are from a stunning series of murals with a theme running through them, depicting children (and in one case a mother of an infant child) either gazing at or plunging their faces into rainbows or rainbow like concentric circles of color.

Seth’s human subjects are rendered so beautifully, and there’s a lovely, loving, gentle sensitivity about them. Their gazes seem to represent how the power of a child’s sense of curiosity, wonder, and imagination enables them to see beyond the mundanity of daily life.

The figures do not seem to be in any immediate danger or distress, which is something that, I think, distinguishes the works from those of other street artists. While it might seem a more fitting approach for urban art to depict children as products of a harsh environment, in soiled, ragged clothes, surrounded by signs of neglect or threat, it could also be considered obvious or redundant, since the urban setting surrounding the murals already provides that context. Or, it may be the case that Seth’s work isn’t intended as a statement about urban decay.

Anyway, you be the judge as you check out the following photos of his work.

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Eyecatchers: Little Plastic Army Men, Revisited

yoga-joes-2A week ago, I wrote about Yoga Joes, the brainchild of designer, entrepreneur, and Yoga enthusiast, Dan Abramson, who put his own spin on the classic little plastic army men of yesteryear, placing them in a variety of Yoga poses, evoking a wonderful tension between images of war and peace.

I shared my own childhood experience, having been raised on war movies on television, having played with these little plastic army men, until, that is, I became a pacifist and embraced the concept of Ahimsa that is central to the Buddhism and Yoga practices I came to dabble in.

Amazing timing, then, that yesterday, when my wife and I stopped in at the Smith & Vallee Gallery in nearby Edison, Washington, we should see this piece by Pieter VanZanden, a woodworker in Smith & Vallee’s Woodworks shop, working here not with wood but with little plastic army men, riffing on Auguste Rodin‘s most famous sculpture, The Thinker, and conveying what could be interpreted as an anti-war sentiment similar to that of the Yoga Joes:

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If you can’t quite tell what’s going on here, click on these images to enlarge them.

I think this is fantastic and a powerful statement. Titled Think About It, clearly the suggestion here is that, perhaps, if we would think more about the consequences of war, the horrific loss of life, symbolized by this pile of bodies, then maybe we might be less inclined to rush into military conflict.

In a related work by VanZanden, the centerpiece of his exhibit, standing a good six feet high, he uses this same material on a huge scale, recreating one of the classic little plastic army men poses:

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Here’s a closeup of the soldier’s head, which you can click on to enlarge for more fine detail:

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Subversive and oh so cool!

More Chandeliers From Recycled Bicycle Parts

light-1Similar to a post I did back in October 2012, this could easily belong in my Tweet of the Day, Eyecatchers, or Upcycling series…

…AND, both posts involve chandeliers made from recycled bicycle parts…

…AND, both posts were sourced from tweets by Christopher Jobson at Colossal.

…AND, since Fish & Bicycles LOVES all things bicycle, this was a no-brainer.

The amazing bike part lighting here, titled Ballroom Luminoso, the work of Joe O’Connell and Blessing Hancock, is installed in a highway underpass in San Antonio, Texas, taking street art to a whole other level.

Via Colossal:

Ballroom Luminoso references the area’s past, present, and future in the design of its intricately detailed medallions. The images in the medallions draw on the community’s agricultural history, strong Hispanic heritage, and burgeoning environmental movement. The medallions are a play on the iconography of La Loteria, which has become a touchstone of Hispanic culture. Utilizing traditional tropes like La Escalera (the Ladder), La Rosa (the Rose), and La Sandía (the Watermelon), the piece alludes to the neighborhood’s farming roots and horticultural achievements. Each character playfully rides a bike acting as a metaphor for the neighborhood’s environmental progress, its concurrent eco-restoration projects, and its developing cycling culture.

Anyway, here are some more photos of this amazing work:

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Eyecatchers: Fish & Bicycles’s New Look, Via Hans d’Hollosy

basscycle2My favorite memory from when I first started Fish & Bicycles, back in October 2009, was the outcome of my search for a photo or other image for the header of the blog.

All it took was typing “Fish & Bicycles” into Google Image Search and one of the results on the very first page is the lede image you see here in this post, a print titled Basscycle, by artist Holly Berry. It could not have been more perfect, and so I emailed Holly, asked her for her permission to use the image, and she graciously agreed.

Alas, several years later, I was starting to feel like it was time for a change of scenery here, so I started looking around, but nothing really grabbed me. My friend Tom was recently in Dublin, Ireland, on the tour of the Guiness Brewing facility, when he came across this awesomeness:

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Unfortunately, due to my limited Photoshop skills, I was not able to edit it into anything useful. The space for the header in my blog’s theme is 1000×288 pixels, the Guiness fish on a bicycle is much closer to a square, and when I tried to stretch it, crop it, adjust the levels, apply filters and effects, sadly, nothing worked.

But, it seems there’s something about my friend Tom, because he was on the epic road trip I just returned from, and on our drive home we stopped for lunch in Eugene, Oregon and discovered this awesomeness:

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The mural, located on the east wall of 164 West Broadway, is the work of Hans d’Hollosy, a Eugene artist, and it is outrageous in all the best ways. More importantly, if you look close enough, you’ll see some fish and a bicycle just left of the center of the photo, and as I stood in that alley looking it over it became clear that this was exactly what I was looking for. I wasn’t sure whether or not I’d be able to edit it into a good 1000×288 pixel header, but I took some photos and couldn’t wait to try.

The result? The new Fish & Bicycles header!

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Now, I’d like to point out that Hans d’Hollosy’s mural was not commissioned, and so he’s got a Kickstarter campaign set up to raise money for his work, which he reports is about 80% complete. I hope folks who come across this blog post will consider making a pledge to support this gift to the Eugene community and to all who pass through as I did. (You can learn more about the project and make a pledge here.)

In the meantime, I just can’t bear to do away with Holly Berry’s Basscycle, and so I’ve decided to leave it on my About page, and a snippet of it will continue to be visible in the site’s favicon and in the avatar I use, visible whenever I comment on a WordPress blog.

I hope you enjoy Fish & Bicycles new look!