Hey, Art!

Not really. :D This is one of the T-shirts I was using when doing Submerged, then the rats did their part. I’m sure if I was enough of a pretentious twit, framed it, stuck it in a gallery, and made up a buncha twaddle about its significance, I could make good change off it. That won’t happen though. It’s gone back to the rats. Click for full size.

© C. Ford.

Revitalizing Detroit.

Charles McGee, Unity. Photo by Sal Rodriguez. All images courtesy of Library Street Collective.

In 2014, when the City of Detroit threatened to sell many of the Detroit Institute of Art’s prized artworks to help the Motor City exit bankruptcy, the question of art’s role in the city’s future came front and center. Ultimately, the museum raised nearly a billion dollars to preserve the city’s cultural heritage—and its Picassos. Two years before, in what has become known as a “grand bargain,” local residents, husband and wife duo Anthony and JJ Curis, decided to open the Library Street Collective on a once-barren stretch of land. The Collective is a gallery with a traditional artist roster and a mission to revitalize the city by commissioning artists from the city and around the world to make public art in the streets of Detroit.

“Me or JJ don’t have an art background,” says Anthony Curis to Creators. “At the time, I was redeveloping a building in downtown Detroit that was meant to be a restaurant.” Back then, downtown Detroit’s state of near-total abandonment led him to open a gallery instead, at the suggestion of his wife. “The model wasn’t focused as much on the brick and mortar as it was on what kind of change we can make in the city.” He explains, “When we opened the gallery, we were really focused on public art and how could we change the landscape, making the community a little bit more vibrant and interesting. We are very interested in and keen on our mission to engage the public and reach people. That’s where the gallery was born.”

You can read much more, and see more about this project at The Creators Project.

Chess As A Comic Book Trope.

Charlton Comics, Vol. 1, No. 36. Strange Suspense Stories (March 1958) (courtesy World Chess Hall of Fame).

Hyperallergic has a great article about The World Chess Hall of Fame in St. Louis, and chess as a comic book trope. Chess was a very common trope in much of pulp fiction, also. There are so many awesome images, I would have agonized over which to include here, so just the one. Click on over to see them all, and do some reading, too.

ST. LOUIS — “Chess and comics are a natural pair,” Shannon Bailey, chief curator of the World Chess Hall of Fame (WCHOF), told Hyperallergic. “The concepts of battle, the struggle of good versus evil, strategy, and speed, have always played a central role in both chess and comic book themes.”

Bailey organized POW! Capturing Superheroes, Chess & Comics now at WCHOF, a nonprofit institution that explores the connections between art and chess in its programming. Founded in 1986 by the United States Chess Federation, WCHCOF opened in St. Louis’s Central West End neighborhood in 2011, following the closure of its Miami museum in 2009. Recent exhibitions range from Designing Chessmen on the imagery of chess, to chess during World War II and the games designs of Michael Graves. WCHCOF is active as a collecting institution, and since POW! opened in March, collectors Floyd and Bernice Sarisohn — whose memorabilia and ephemera form the foundation of the exhibition — have decided to donate their comic books and related sets.


POW! Capturing Superheroes, Chess & Comics continues through September 17 at the World Chess Hall of Fame (4652 Maryland Avenue, St. Louis, Missouri).

You can read and see everything at Hyperallergic.

Hieronymus Bosch Piñatas.

You do not want to miss the work of Roberto Benavidez, not one single bit of it! This artist is well worth a healthy little detour in your day. All of his work is stunning, imaginative, and very beautiful. There’s a distinct sense of humour suffused throughout, a noticing of the irony in small details. Hyperallergic has an excellent article, lots of images, and Benavidez’s website is full of delights.

Hieronymus Bosch piñata by Roberto Benavidez.

…How appropriate, then, that Los Angeles-based artist Roberto Benavidez has made wild, larger-than-life representations from the Hieronymus Bosch painting, “The Garden of Earthly Delights,” in piñata form.

“Sin is inherent in both the Bosch painting and the piñata, so to me it was a perfect pairing,” said Benavidez, in an email interview with Hyperallergic. “I like that my work is a blend of both Mexican and European art forms, which in a way represents who I am. Plus, I have always admired and gravitated towards old painting techniques. The oddness of the creatures and people, the odd perspective — they were captivating. As a sculptor, the challenge of taking these odd 2D forms and recreating [them] into 3D is the most fulfilling challenge for me right now.”

Benavidez has an interdisciplinary practice that includes sculpture, photography, and print work, but has experimented extensively with piñatas as a medium, including a collection of “Sugar Skull Piñatas” and a set of “Painting Piñatas,” in which he renders landscapes out of his own handcrafted version of the cheap paper fringe found on piñatas.


One of Roberto Benavidez’s “Painting Pinatas”.

“The painting piñatas are predominately vessels as well,” said Benavidez. “These were inspired by the layering of the crêpe paper when fringing the 3-D forms and realizing how similar it was to blending and layering colors with paint, although a bit more limiting … I love the absurdity of taking the cheapest and most unimaginative form of the piñata and putting hours of such meticulous fringe work into it.”

Have a bit of a wander this day, and delight in the work of Roberto Benavidez. The full article is at Hyperallergic.

Trump White Hood & Rubber Sheets.

I maybe ruined this, but for a brief moment there were KKK hoods & piss proof sheets in the trump tower gift shop.

Hee. Some artists had fun in the Trump Tower gift shop.

Shoppers looking for MAGA hats at Trump Tower this week may have encountered a Ku Klux Klan hood or a photo of President Putin, and asked themselves whether what they were seeing was real merchandise.

On Monday afternoon, two NYC-based artists secretly slipped some items inside the merchandising outpost of the Trump Tower’s lower lobby. Among them: A Trump-emblazoned KKK hood “for fine people,” sealed packages of pee-proof rubber sheets, and a Russian flag. In the front of the store, a postcard display featured the 45th President of the United States, Vladimir Putin, along with cards paying tribute to First Lady Ivanka Trump, and the flap of flesh near the president’s throat area, known as a Wattle.

Artists are the best! And a massive Well Done! in this case.

“We thought the tourists coming in to buy some stuff, especially people from other countries, should get the whole story of who the president is, because the items in the Trump store don’t accurately reflect the person,” one of the two artists, who asked that we not reveal his name, told Gothamist.

Those actual items in the restroom-adjacent newsstand include an oddly-muscular bobblehead of the president ($40), a “Melania Trump First Lady License” ($4), and a mousepad featuring all 45 presidents.

Next door, a kiosk sells Official merchandise, including the Trump Signature Collection cufflinks ($45), a painted gold coin bank ($20), and Trump golf towels and putter covers ($30).


Asked if he was concerned that the current administration might be too absurd to satirize, our underground source admitted that was a possibility. “My partner was in the back putting in some of the items and he said to someone, ‘Oh did you see this?’ and they didn’t even bat an eye.”

Neither did the people who work in the store, at least for a little while. As of Tuesday morning, the Putin/Ivanka/Wattle postcards were still on display—though the shopkeeper did notice when we attempted to buy one of the cards, and quickly ordered us out of the store while calling security. Upon returning an hour later, all of the items appeared to be gone.

“Every time you think you’re going to get Trump on something, he outdoes the parody,” explained the tipster. “He hasn’t started selling white hoods yet, but after that batshit speech he gave two floors up—well if there’s enough money to be made, he’d probably start.”

The Gothamist has the full story.

Guess The Artist.

Chris Ford: NN &emdash;

Guess the Artist: The Art Quiz Game by Craig Redman and Karl Maier (photo by the author for Hyperallergic).

Guess the Artist: The Art Quiz Game is a new trivia challenge that asks players to identify an artist represented by three objects. For example, a Wall Street sign + a vacuum cleaner + a balloon = Jeff Koons. Some might be immediately obvious to art aficionados, others are a bit trickier, such as: playing cards + geometric forms + a palette knife = Paul Cézanne.

The game is out September 19 from Laurence King Publishing, and is illustrated with colorful graphics by Craig and Karl (the collaborative duo of Craig Redman and Karl Maier). Hyperallergic tested out Guess the Artist, and while it’s no stand-in for an art history slide test, it’s certainly fun, and the detailed facts about the artists on the back of the cards are as enjoyable as the game itself. For instance, did you know an extinct archosaur is named for Georgia O’Keeffe (Effigia okeeffeae), after its fossilized bones were found near Ghost Ranch? And some of J. M. W. Turner’s last words were “The Sun is God”? Or that Yves Klein studied judo (and even published a book on the martial art)?

There are 60 artists to name in Guess the Artist, and Laurence King Publishing shared 10 examples below. Make your best guesses, then find the answers at the bottom of the page!

Fun! Go test yourself and see how you do. I did okay, but I missed a couple.