Cool Stuff Friday.

The Postal Museum Opening July 2017 from The Postal Museum on Vimeo.

During the First World War, in order protect art treasures from German attack, English museum administrators worked with the country’s national postal service to store precious artworks in a network of subway tunnels 70′ below street level. Now, you can take a ride through the historic Mail Rail when you buy tickets to London’s Postal Museum opening July 28th.

Roughly 100 years ago, the Post Office in London started utilizing a secret labyrinth of narrow tunnels, 6.5 miles long, to safely transport letters, parcels, and postcards through the city. At its peak, the Mail Rail system operated 22 hours a day and employed 220 staff that moved more than four million letters daily. The network of tunnels criss-crossed tube lines and linked six sorting offices with mainline stations at Liverpool Street and Paddington. The underground Mail Rail operation was so covert that museums like the Tate, British Museum and National Portrait Gallery deemed it safe enough to store their most precious artworks. According to representatives for the Postal Museum, the British Museum once even used the tunnels to store the Rosetta Stone.

There’s more at The Creators Project and The Postal Museum.

The Virgin Artiste.

At The Bushwick Collective block party early in June, Ashleigh Alexandria, who goes by The Virgin Artiste, body painted a model live against a brick wall covered with a graffiti painting of a skull, the work of eight-year-old street artist Ethan Armen. As Ashleigh was photographing her work on top of Armen’s work, a cop walked by. “I found the imagery of a nude, Black model covered in paint close to a police officer to be ironic,” Alexandria tells Creators, “due to the recent police killings of Black men and women.”

Sometimes Alexandria’s subjects are painted to blend into their backgrounds, but more often than not, her subjects stand out from their environment while still remaining a part of it. A lifelong New Yorker, Alexandria is a portrait artist and a body painter whose work plays with the practice of body paint blending made famous by artists like Liu Bolin, in which subjects are made to disappear into their surroundings. While Bolin is an important influence, Alexandria’s practice is a reinterpretation of this concept. “My use of women of color as subjects shows how these women can be blended into the background of American society,” she explains.

You can see and read much more at The Creators Project.

Ghastly, ghostly, and gory, Neill Blomkamp’s new sci-fi short Firebase is set in a Vietnam War haunted by more than just post-traumatic stress disorder and political unrest. While the latter are resolutely present, soldiers on the front lines face a supernatural force so powerful and destructive they refer to it as “The Devil.” Obviously the CIA is involved, which is why the details of this faux documentary aren’t in our modern day history books.

“Volume 1” of the District 9 and Chappy director’s latest introduces us to the second cinematic universe by Oats Studio, his new independent venture invoking the power of fandom with a “pay-if-you-can” business model. The first in the series is Rakka, an allegory for military occupation in which a human resistance led by Sigourney Weaver fights a brutal alien race equipped with powerful weapons and mind control. Firebase turns inward, examining the destructive force of trauma through the lens of American troops invading Vietnam. Warning, this film is bloody.

If you want to find out what happens next, you can support Oats Studio by purchasing the film on Steam.

You can read more about this at The Creators Project.

Is the City of Chicago trolling the 45th president of the United States? A gleaming, six-foot-tall sculpture that appeared this week near the downtown Trump International Hotel and Tower certainly suggests so, spelling out just two words in thick, golden letters: “REAL FAKE.”

The quip appeared on Monday evening, installed by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) as part of a new installation of public art along the Chicago Riverwalk. Simply titled “Real Fake,” the 350-pound fiberglass work, coated in metallic paint, appears as a direct dig at President Trump and his endless dismissal of the media’s criticisms as “fake news” while leading a life of fraudulence himself. But the piece, created by local artist Scott Reeder, was actually first installed in 2013 as part of Art Basel Miami Beach, where it loomed on the grassy knoll of Collins Park. It’s on loan to the city now by Reeder’s gallery, Kavi Gupta.

Hyperallergic has the full story on Real Fake!

John Pfahl, “Bethlehem #25) (1988), color print. (courtesy Cantor Arts Center).

A fascinating look at the landscape photographers of the 1960s and 1970s, the refusal to romanticize the landscape, and the intertwining of art and environmentalists. Full story here.

Sketch of an iris from The Florist (1760).

The Florist, printed in 1760, was a colouring book for adults, and one for serious colourists with watercolour experience.

The Florist was intended, as its title page relays, “for the use and amusement of Gentlemen and Ladies.” But, unlike most contemporary coloring books, it wasn’t meant to soothe the mind or encourage limitless creativity; rather, it served more as a manual for those seeking to sharpen their artistic skills. The Florist was for serious adult colorists only, filled with detailed instructions on how to paint each flower strictly according to its natural colors. (Yes, paint — this was the pre-crayon and -colored pencil era, so aspiring artists would have used watercolors.) See the directions, for instance, for a gladiolus:

This flower is crimson, inclining to purple; begun with a string layer of carmine, and neatly shading with a mixture of carmine and prussian blue. The bottom of the flower is white, shaded with a greenish tinge, by a mixture of Indian ink and sap-green; neatly blending the carmine by it, by fine strokes of each color. The leaves and stalk, from the beginning of the flowers of the top, are a brown, made with sap-green and carmine.

You can read all about The Florist, and see more, at Hyperallergic.


  1. rq says

    That landscape photography is just fantastic, and also not just a little bit brutal at times.

    Then I watched the Blomkamp. Whew. They weren’t kidding when they said ‘bloody’.

  2. says


    Then I watched the Blomkamp. Whew. They weren’t kidding when they said ‘bloody’.

    Yeah. I didn’t get all the way through. Not in the right frame of mind for that stuff.

  3. rq says

    Also with The Florist, I approve of putting all the images online, but especially the instructions, too -- every colour has a delicious flavour. It’s wonderful.

  4. busterggi says

    I misread the title as Portal Museum. After that anything else was a disappointment.

  5. rq says

    I got all the way through Firebase and I think I’m going to attempt Rakka. It’s not my usual fare (I find I’m very sensitive to war movies, even the sanitized ones, and when it comes to the Viet Nam War, I just don’t get what the hell that was besides the ultimate slaughter but anyway) but it seems mood-appropriate right now. Just kind of fits with the mindset, but I hope it’s not a permanent fixture. I feel like I’m purposely desensitizing myself because you never know what will happen in the near future.

  6. rq says

    Portal Museum

    A museum featuring (the?) d(D)oors would be quite awesome.
    Also portals to other worlds, but unfortunately I think we’re stuck with this one. :(

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