Monday, July 31, 2006

Namibia: Perfecting the Art of Hunting

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Chrispin Inambao

Some 45 kilometres outside Windhoek is located the Omitara Eagle Rock Hunting Academy on Etango Ranch, a neat family-owned farm that offers a series of short courses on how to successfully mount professional hunts.

The courses are conducted by Volker Grellmann, one of Namibia's most famed hunters whose exploits in the bush are as legendary as this bear of a man.

His tale remains untold though his real-life expeditions could make some beastly adventures dreamed in Hollywood look tame by comparison.

But anyway the energetic Grellmann and his wife Anke have been offering hunting courses since 1974 mainly to Namibians though his students include various German and Austrian nationals. Other students were from America, Hungary, Kenya and Tanzania. Those trained were residence permit holders.

The school initially started with daylong and two-day seminars with various presenters and as time went by these were lengthened to several days at various game reserves. Towards the end of the 80s the first 10-day course took root at Omitara Eagle Rock though the school itself was founded in 1978.

Grellmann was quick to point out that since there are many farms that parroted the name of his institution, Omitara Eagle Rock "should not be confused with similar names established at later dates".

"After Independence we bought a farm to also establish a professional school for hunting and environmental matters," he told New Era.

When asked why he established the school, he said: "Well, because I think there was a need for it and the successes proved us right. There are very few hunting professionals that did not go through one of our courses."

Grellmann who has been in the local hunting industry for several decades says matter-of-fact that as far as he knows the school is the only institution that educates and hones the skill of professional hunters.

Students who went through his hands are in the age group 17 to 68.

He developed the curriculum used and in 2000 he adapted it for the Namibian Professional Hunting Association (NAPHA) so that the association could accommodate the first intake of Previously Disadvantaged Namibians (PDNs).

"For most game hunting and legislation related subjects I am the principal lecturer, for botanical excursions we do bring in specialists from NAPHA, the Botanical Institute or from the Ministry of Agriculture," he said.

His son Robert offers theoretical shooting lessons and practice.

Courses at the institution run for 10 consecutive days of a duration of eight to ten hours daily non-stop. PDN courses stretch over 12 days plus two days of oral examination.

"We probably have had over 1000 hunting guides and professional hunters on our courses since 1974. PDNs that have successfully passed the examination now stand at 92."

All students counted together have a passing rate of between 75 - 80 % and students allowed to do the oral examination are said to generally fare better.

The medium of instruction is mainly English, except some PDN courses that have been offered in Afrikaans, having been the lingua franca for most students coming from a farm-workers' background.

"Courses are offered in twelve to sixteen students per class - maximum, to be able to give enough attention to the individual learner during theoretical and practical exercises. There is enough equipment for all - a donated beamer will assist with the next courses to include more illustrations in the power point formats," says the man fondly known as "the Beard of the Elephant."

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Practical training during the theoretical course is limited to group activities such as valuating and measuring trophies, professional capping and skinning of a trophy animal, safe handling of fire-arms, learning to shoot and sight-in rifles, judging distances, etc. Practical shooting starts with a smaller calibre "to build confidence and ends up with heavy calibre rifle shots."

"Students are even exposed to setting a safari table and serving properly.

During the practical course there will be a complete full stalk of an animal plus all the other components for the practical examination. Most students do some practical exercises after the course under the mentorship of their employer or an experienced professional hunter," Grellmann explained.

Once they passed their theoretical the students are normally tested in a gruelling two-day practical test by competent Environment and Tourism officials within four to six months after they have passed their theoretical exams.

After this scrutiny they are requested to acquire a first aid certificate, obtain a drivers licence, list up a personal liability insurance of up to N$500 000 - only then they can start to guide clients possessing a valid trophy hunting licence.

"We get feedback from employers and also students and stay in touch with most of them. Some of them have become real 'stars' in the meantime. Very few, if any have disappointed us."

Grellmann has devoted his life to the industry and had the privilege to assist Namibia in setting up "a well managed and controlled trophy hunting industry".

"The recent CITES allocation of black rhinos to the list of Namibian trophy animals for me is the pinnacle of achievements for Namibia and all the role players in this industry," stresses a man who initially cut his teeth in this important sector by starting as a hunting consultant in 1968 because the legislation at the time prevented him from becoming a game capturer.

Since all training institutions are required by law to be accredited with NQA of NTA or to become part of a registered institution such as the Polytechnic of Namibia, he is currently negotiating as he has received offers to register with international organisations.

Courses offered by the school are already endorsed by NAPHA for which it has run most of the courses and it has also offered lectures on introduction to trophy hunting to members of the Namibia Tourism Board, WWF and IRDNC.

On funding? "Originally we had anticipated rather optimistically receiving funding from outside sources, for example in SA the state provided R2 million for the initial setting up of a course for previously disadvantaged hunters.

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"At the end we had to finance everything ourselves as far as all fixed assets, buildings, fitting, furniture and equipment were concerned. We are however very grateful for donations from some international organisations - Shikar Safari Club (school rifles), Sariari Club Namibian Chapter for computer equipment, SCI Touscon for record books and measuring equipment, Dallas Safari Club for hunters safety instructions and Houston Safari Club."

There were also various individuals with smaller contributions from much needed earplugs to stationery and a much-appreciated major donation by Oasis in the form of juices and soft drinks. There is presently also a drive to obtain some scholarships from the larger international hunting associations.

The last course for PDNs was held from 10th to 23rd February of this year and another one will probably materialize in the first half of November. A dedicated big game safari assistants course for participants from the northern communal areas is planned for the last week of November and first week in December of 2006.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Artists love Art on the Rocks

Karin Coron of downstate Ypsilanti will be showing her landscapes in oil pastels at Art on the Rocks this weekend. The show runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. today and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. (Journal photo by Stephen Stacy)

By STEPHEN STACY, Journal Staff Writer

MARQUETTE — An array of artists from across the country are in Marquette this weekend for the Lake Superior Art Association’s 48th annual Art on the Rocks show.

“We’ve got over 70 new artists this year,” said Mary Earle, co-chairwoman of the annual art fair. “It’s nice because we get to see art that we might not normally see here.”

April Bates of St. Petersburg, Fla., makes wearable art out of recycled materials such as shirts, jackets and jeans that she purchases from thrift stores. “I like to play with stuff that doesn’t seem to change what is already there, “Bates said of the inspiration for her art.

She said that she loves to travel and show her art because she gets to meet so many new people.

Husband and wife artists Steven and Karin Coron of downstate Ypsilanti both have booths set up to showcase their art at this year’s show. Steven’s art focuses on Lake Superior while Karin paints landscapes in oil pastels.

“This is our passion and it’s what we like to do,” said Steven, who teaches high school photography. Being a teacher, I want to keep my hand in the craft because it makes it easier to teach.”

Karin said she will have shown her art at nine shows this summer by the time she’s able to take a break in August.

“You don’t get in to these shows automatically,” Karin said. “When I get done in August, I have to get my booth ready for next year and start applying for next year’s shows.”

Steven, who is originally from the area, said the trip doubles as both an art showing and family reunion as most of his family is still living here.

“This a big tradition for the area,” Earle said. “We’ve got so many new artists, it’s like a new show every year.”

Friday, July 28, 2006

Art, surf come together

Museum to host block party for exhibition

Now's the time. All you who have been wanting to learn more about the surfing culture, and all you surfers who have wondered what goes on in a fine art museum, get to Highland Avenue for a blow-out, fun-filled party and exhibition all about surf culture.

The Brevard Museum of Art and Science and the East Coast Surfing Hall of Fame and Museum are joining to present "Surf! Art! Party!" The family-friendly block party will be in front of the museum from 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday.

While there, you can view the art exhibition, "Eternal Summer: The Art of Surf Culture," co-curated by professional artist and surfer Bruce Reynolds.

"It's going to be awesome," said Tony Sasso, the surfing executive director of the East Coast Surfing Hall of Fame and Museum.

"I'm just so excited because I think this is going to be way beyond what anybody expects."

Activities include music by Danny Morris Band, known for their surf music and Morris' cover of Dick Dale surf guitar.

"Danny can rip a lick just as good as anybody," Sasso said. "That's going to be a real neat experience for a lot of people."

If you're looking for more acoustic sounds, the Tribal Drums group will perform in the intimate al fresco space known as Link's Garden. Activities include a giant sand pile for children to play in and a puppet show of "Turtles' Way: Loggy, Greeny & Leather."

Skateboarders will do a demonstration by Graffiti Skate Zone.

"They set up portable ramps and it's pretty cool," Sasso said. "I'm not sure most folks realize how far skating has advanced."

Food will be provided by Mel Broom's Delicious Meats, Natures Table and Da Kine Diego's Insane Burritos.

Scott Brasington, co-owner of Da Kine's, thinks a cross-cultural event and exhibition like this will promote interest in the "good vibes of surf" and in the museum.

"I know it will be my first time going in (to the museum) and I've lived around here forever," he said. "I never thought of it, so (the event) has put it on my radar."

Saturday's event also will include a live auction for artwork by Reynolds, prints by John Severson, a T-shirt signed by surfing champs C.J. and Damien Hobgood and a travel package to Costa Rica.

This unusual event came about after months of collaboration between Sasso and Dane Pollei, executive director for the Brevard Museum of Art and Science.

"We got talking one day and he said, 'I'd really like to do something fun, kinda like a surf art exhibit,' " Sasso said. "And I had always wanted to do a surf art exhibit at our museum and didn't have the room."

Knowing he would need help, Sasso went to Reynolds.

Reynolds has work in the permanent collection of the Walt Disney Corp. His work also has shown in the Philadelphia Museum of Art and at art shows in Laguna Beach, Calif., Baltimore, Md., Kansas City, Mo., and New York City.

In Florida, he has shown at the Gasparilla Festival of the Arts and those in Winter Park. He frequently comes away with awards in the Melbourne and Space Coast art festivals.

This will be his first time to show at the Brevard museum.

Other artists with works on view at the museum's surf exhibition include Robert Brennan, David Burton, Wayne Coombs, Steve Forstall, Jim Hannan, Reggie Holladay, Mark Longeneker, Henry Lund, Pat Madden, Eric Maurus, Michael "Nemo" Nemnich, Rick Piper, Larry Pope, Gary Propper, John Severson and Damian Share.

As described by Reynolds, who lives in Cocoa Beach, the exhibition includes: classic type surf art, wave and scene oriented to avant garde type of artwork, collage, mixed media, assemblage, enhanced photography, art surfboards, art made of discarded surfboard parts, printmaking, memorabilia and more.

Pollei said the exhibition shows the extent of the surfing culture into mainstream society.

"Certainly part of it is to recognize and celebrate an important part of our local culture, but it's also to make people realize that the influence that surf culture has on contemporary art with this, we want people to come in and say, 'oh yeah, that is art.' "

Contact Harbaugh at 242-3717 or

MFA agrees to return disputed art to Italy

New joint effort on stolen works

At left, a marble statue of Sabina sold to the Museum of Fine Arts by a Swiss dealer in 1979. Above, a vase from the Apulian region.
At left, a marble statue of Sabina sold to the Museum of Fine Arts by a Swiss dealer in 1979. Above, a vase from the Apulian region.

After years of denying its collection included any looted art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston has agreed to return an unspecified number of works to the Italian government.

In exchange, Italy will loan the MFA objects from the country's vast antiquities holdings, and both sides have pledged to work together to ensure the museum doesn't acquire stolen works in the future.

On Tuesday, MFA director Malcolm Rogers and other museum representatives met in Rome with Italian government officials about the artifacts and yesterday issued a joint two-paragraph statement offering sketchy details of the agreement. According to the statement, the MFA and Italian officials made ``significant progress toward a final agreement" that will include ``the transfer of certain objects of Italian origin in the Museum's collection to Italy."

The statement referred to the impending deal as a ``cultural partnership." But neither side would comment on which objects were included, or when the deal will be finalized. Yet the arrangement appears to mirror one signed by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York earlier this year, in which the Met agreed to return a 2,500-year-old Greek bowl called the Euphronios krater, among 20 other objects. In exchange, the Italian government will loan the Met works of ``equivalent beauty and artistic or historical significance."

The MFA's agreement would mark the end of a lengthy drama that began in October, when Italian authorities, pursuing the J. Paul Getty Museum, announced that they also had evidence proving that the MFA had purchased looted works. That led to a series of exchanges between Italian officials and the museum, an initial meeting in May and a second trip to Rome this week.

Maurizio Fiorilli, the attorney representing the Italian government in its negotiations, confirmed yesterday that he had provided the MFA with a list of 42 suspicious works earlier this year, including 16 connected with accused art smuggler Robert E. Hecht Jr. Though he would offer no more specifics on how many works might be headed to Italy, Fiorilli said he expected the final agreement to be signed Sept. 30, and for works to be sent by the MFA before the end of the year.

He also praised the museum for its cooperation.

``The MFA took our dossier seriously and, motivated by the best of intentions, they want to collaborate with the Italian authorities," he said.

Included in Fiorilli's files, which a Globe correspondent in Rome was allowed to view briefly yesterday, were details on three objects long thought to have been looted. They are a 6-foot marble statue of Sabina, sold to the MFA by a Swiss dealer in 1979, and currently on display in the museum's Roman court gallery; a 2,300-year-old jar purchased by New York collectors Shelby White and Leon Levy for the MFA in 1991, and no longer on view; and a vase from the Apulian region of Italy that the MFA purchased from the Royal-Athena Galleries in New York in 1988, and that has been on loan to the Fitchburg Art Museum since 2005.

Hecht is currently on trial in Rome, accused along with former J. Paul Getty Museum curator Marion True of taking part in a smuggling ring. Hecht, once a premier art dealer, has sold or given the MFA about 116 objects over the years, not including coins.

Some archeologists, long critical of the MFA for refusing to return suspicious objects, said the Italian government should have held the museum responsible for keeping looted artifacts.

``The Italian government is letting these museums down without [losing] face which, in my view, they certainly deserve [to do]," said Colin Renfrew, director of the McDonald Institute for Archeological Research in England. ``The MFA, in some ways, has been one of the leaders of acquiring looted antiquities."

The three named pieces in Fiorilli's files were acquired while Cornelius Vermeule was the museum's curator of classical antiquities. Vermeule, who worked closely with Hecht before retiring in 1996, declined comment yesterday, referring calls to the MFA.

Ricardo J. Elia, a Boston University archeology professor and author of a 2001 study showing that more than 94.5 percent of the Apulian vases in the world had inadequate documentation, called on the MFA to revamp its acquisitions policy.

``I'm not going to congratulate the museum for being forced to make this agreement in order to avoid a lawsuit," Elia said yesterday. ``This has to lead to a fundamental change in the way they're acquiring antiquities."

The MFA's current acquisitions policy calls for the museum to conduct ``rigorous research" on an object before it is acquired. But if a piece's ownership history cannot be determined, ``the professional staff of the Museum must use their judgment in determining whether to proceed with the acquisition."

``Obviously, it's a huge loophole," says DePaul University law professor Patty Gerstenblith, an expert on cultural property issues. ``It basically says do your research and then do what you want to do."

The MFA has long contended it did not know of any stolen objects in its collection. But a 1998 examination of MFA records by the Globe showed that 61 of 71 classical objects acquired from 1985 to 1987 had no documentation. Scholars say that's a giveaway that the artifacts were dug out of the ground by looters, and smuggled out of the country by shady dealers.

Attempts by the Italian government to recover antiquities have been rebuffed by various museums over the years. But raids of now-convicted art smuggler Giacomo Medici's Swiss warehouse and Hecht's Paris home, in 1995 and 2000 respectively, uncovered documents and photographs that dramatically strengthened the Italian case.

In February, after being confronted with some of that evidence, the Met in New York agreed to return 21 looted artifacts to Italy, including the Euphronios krater. In June, the Getty and Italian officials released a joint statement similar to that issued by the MFA yesterday, stating that a number of objects would be returned without revealing how many or which ones.

Thomas Hoving, director of the Met when it purchased the Euphronios krater in 1972, said yesterday that the MFA deal benefits both sides.

``They've done the lovely thing they should have done, and that's good for them," he said.

Mature art

By REBECCA STEFFAN, Enterprise Staff Writer

LAKE PLACID — The impressionistic painting of wildflowers by Alice Sheehan elicited gasps of wonderment from several observers, not just at her skill but also at the dexterity with which her 98-year-old fingers painted the small canvas.

“It’s just incredible,” said Bernadette Staofan, a staff member at Mercy Healthcare Center in Tupper Lake.

The 16th annual New York Association of Homes & Services for the Aging’s Art Competition and Exhibit features the work of 70 artists and is open to the public every afternoon at the Uihlein Mercy Center in Lake Placid Monday through Friday from 1 to 3 p.m. until Aug. 2.

Sheehan, who resides at St. John’s Home in Rochester, is the oldest person to have her work displayed in the exhibit.

Ranging from photographs to abstract paintings and watercolor landscapes, the diversity of the exhibit reflects the different areas and viewpoints of the artists.

“Best in Show” was awarded to Lamberto Hechanova, a 66-year-old resident at the Margaret Tietz Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Jamaica, N.Y. A painter and a sculptor for more than 60 years, Hechanova drew his award-winning abstract piece, “Intriborough,” with Bic pens.

Marian Walker’s painting, “A Long Time Ago,” earned the 89-year-old resident of the Guild Home for the Aged Blind in Yonkers a Merit Award in the exhibit.

In Walker’s biographical sketch, she calls herself “Grandma Moses” because she has been painting for so long.

The New York Association of Homes and Services for the Aging and NYAHSA Services Inc. jointly sponsor the exhibit every year, as well as the exhibit tour, which includes only 10 stops.

The exhibit will travel throughout New York until October, but Donna Beal, director of development at the Mercy-Uihlein Health Foundation, said it’s great for the residents to see the exhibit, especially because it is only shown at 10 locations.

After the Uihlein Mercy Center, the exhibit will travel to the Albany County Nursing Home.

Bryan Hutchins, a Mercy Healthcare Center resident in Tupper Lake, attended the exhibit with fellow residents and staff, including Staofan.

Hutchins said he enjoyed the exhibit, “very, very much.”

The exhibit is part of Uihlein’s effort to provide residents with enjoyable activities. One resident was so inspired by the exhibit that she asked if she could participate in next year’s competition.

“It’s so nice for residents to experience this; we have a large focus on providing enjoyable services to residents,” Beal said.

Along with art exhibits and Lake Placid Sinfonietta performances, residents at Uihlein participate in a horticultural program, financed by the Garden Club of Lake Placid. Residents can plant and tend flower and vegetable gardens at the center; for residents who are unable to venture outside, armchair gardening is available in the center, according to Beal.

A large canvas titled “Tracks to Success,” featured the paint trails of seven wheelchairs in different colors. According to the plaque accompanying the piece, wheelchair art can be therapeutic to children and those who are “physically limited and wheelchair-dependent.”

Each artist chose a color of paint and directed their wheelchairs over the canvas.

“Their wheels are an extension of themselves,” reads the plaque. The artists, Jessie, Willie, Jerome, Kadiedra, Luis, Ali and Adrian, are identified only by their first names.

A booklet detailing the winners’ artistic backgrounds, ages and places of residence is available at the exhibit.

The NYAHSA selected the 70 pieces from nearly 300 submissions and presented awards in two separate categories: Resident/Registrant and Staff/ Volunteer. The Best of Show award is presented only to the former category, and Merit and Honorable Mention awards are presented to both.

The tour began in April and will travel across New York until October.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Vancouver gallery opens drive-thru art exhibit

Last Updated Thu, 27 Jul 2006 17:01:15 EDT

A new program from the Contemporary Art Gallery in Vancouver allows viewers to access art via a drive-thru window.

Motorists can now access an art exhibit at a drive-thru window at the Contemporary Art Gallery in Vancouver. (CBC) Motorists can now access an art exhibit at a drive-thru window at the Contemporary Art Gallery in Vancouver. (CBC)

"It's innovative," says Ian Grais of Rethink Advertising. "It uses the gallery space and it's an accessible way to see art."

Drivers can pull up to the kiosk and select from one of six short videos from Vancouver artist Brady Cranfield. Each piece from the series, called Day Tripper, is modelled after a hypothetical day in the life of a Vancouverite.

Gallery director Christina Richie says the program blurs the distinction between art and marketing.

"I prefer to think of it as outreach," she told CBC Vancouver.

The gallery opened the drive-thru window Wednesday night and offered $5 gift certificates from Starbucks to the first 50 patrons.

Exhibit visitor Chris Raedcher enjoyed the convenience of the exhibit but was confused by its message.

Chris Raedcher makes his selection from Day Tripper, a series of six videos by Vancouver artist Brady Cranfield. (CBC) Chris Raedcher makes his selection from Day Tripper, a series of six videos by Vancouver artist Brady Cranfield. (CBC)

"I think its kind of so deep I don't get it," he said.

Ironically, the Day Tripper segments feature a man walking — and not driving — through Vancouver.

Making art more accessible to motorists is not new in Canada. The Norfolk Arts Centre in Simcoe, Ont., has run the Simcoe Drive Thru Art Gallery for the past seven years. But the Simcoe initiative is decidedly low-tech. Murals and paintings are placed along town streets and not in a dedicated drive-thru window.

The exhibit, which runs until the end of August, is open from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Mt. Clemens' Art Center gets outdoor wing

Grant adds park for sculptures to inside renovations


A $100,000 Cool Cities grant will allow the Art Center in Mt. Clemens to complete an expansion of its building and open an outdoor sculpture gallery.

The Bath City Art Park will be located on the grounds of the Art Center, at the southeast corner of Macomb Place and southbound Gratiot. The outdoor gallery will feature sculptures from local artists and should open in late September.

"This is validation of everything we've been talking about," said Michael Gielniak, Art Center executive director.

The grant was announced last Thursday as part of the latest disbursement of Cool Cities money. Twenty-two other Michigan cities received grants the same day.

Gov. Jennifer Granholm started the Cool Cities initiative in June 2003, with the goal of keeping young adults in Michigan by enhancing communities.

The Art Park exhibit will connect with a trail that guides visitors through downtown Mt. Clemens. They will see other sculptures as part of the city's Art in Public Places program.

The outside will not be the only vibrant part of the center, however. Renovations of the interior of the building -- a 100-year-old former Carnegie library -- have been going on since September 2005.

Plans for the center call for four levels, with galleries for pottery, community artists and historically themed works, as well as a kitchen for culinary arts.

The center will have air-conditioning and humidity control, meaning it won't have to close on hot days.

It also will have an elevator, making it accessible for people with disabilities.

Even though the Art Center has received $300,000 from the state to help with the renovation and expansion of the building, most of the financial backing for the center has come from private donations.

When renovations are done, the center will be known as the Anton Art Center -- in honor of Mt. Clemens businessman Gabe Anton and his donations.

"I think every community should have a cultural base," Anton said. "We've been very fortunate to have the Andrew Carnegie building."

During the renovations, the Art Center's offices have moved two blocks east on Macomb Place.

"Hopefully the grant will put a spotlight on downtown," Gielniak said.

Contact DEONTAY MORRIS at 586-469-4902 or

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Travel the country for the best in Latin-American art

By Helen Eckinger

McClatchy Newspapers


For all its Latin influence, one advantage Miami doesn't have is a major museum devoted to Latin American art. To immerse yourself in the work of Jesus Soto, Lorenzo Homar, Carlos Cruz-Diez or dozens of other Latin American artists, check out these museums around the United States.


Located in Spanish Harlem, El Museo del Barrio is devoted to Caribbean and Latin American art. El Museo's permanent collection contains 8,000 objects, ranging from Pre-Columbian ceramics to Pepon Osorio's furniture installations, with a special emphasis on contemporary printmaking and Puerto Rican art.

This summer, El Museo is featuring two special exhibitions. "Between the Lines: Text as Image, An Homage to Lorenzo Homar and the Reverend Pedro Pietri" focuses on the link between the visual arts and language, evidenced both in Homar's prints and Pietri's Spanglish poetic performances. "Hector Mendez Caratini, The Eye of Memory: Three Decades, 1974-2003" documents changes in Latin American culture using photography and video. Both exhibits run through Sept. 10.

During the summer, the museum is also hosting Thursday Nights at El Museo, a series of concerts in its Fifth Avenue courtyard.

El Museo Del Barrio, 1230 Fifth Ave., New York; 212-831-7272; Open Wednesday-Sunday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission: Adults $6, students and seniors $4, members and children under 12 free.


The Art Museum of the Americas began as an art gallery in the Organization of American States' headquarters and expanded into a museum in 1976. Early pieces by Carlos Cruz-Diez, Alejandro Obregon and other Latin American and Caribbean artists form the core of its permanent collection.

The museum will be closed from July 24 to Aug. 4, then will feature an exhibit of Jamaican artwork in collaboration with the Embassy of Jamaica.

Art Museum of the Americas, 201 18th St., NW, Washington, D.C.; 202-458-6016; Open Tuesday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission is free.


The Museum of Latin American Art is devoted to work by artists who have lived and worked in Latin American countries since World War II. The museum is home to one of the United States' largest Latin American art collections, as well as to the country's only sculpture garden containing pieces exclusively by Latin American artists.

Through Aug. 6, the museum is hosting a retrospective devoted to the life and work of Jesus Soto, the late Venezuelan kinetic artist.

This fall, the museum will celebrate its 10th anniversary with the grand opening of its expanded facilities, the country's largest-yet auction of Latin American art, the arrival of Miami artist Glexis Novoa as the museum's guest artist, and an exhibition of Latin American masterworks from 1950 through the present.

Museum of Latin American Art. 628 Alamitos Ave., Long Beach; 562-437-1689; Open Tuesday-Friday, 11:30 a.m -7 p.m.; Saturday 11 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Admission: adults $5, students and seniors $3, children under 12 free. Fridays are free for all


Museo de las Americas has two permanent collections: The Ancient Art of the Americas and Art of the People, which explores Latin American folk art. The museum is currently hosting "Heaven and Earth," which explores the Old World and New World aesthetics that are interwoven in Mexican art from 1521 to 1850. The exhibit, which runs through Oct. 8, features religious paintings, family portraits, and a selection of silver pieces.

Museo de las Americas, 861 Santa Fe Dr., Denver; 303-571-4401; Open Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, noon-5 p.m. Admission: adults $4, students and seniors $3, children under 12 and members free.


In addition to housing a permanent art collection and a rotating series of special exhibits, the National Hispanic Cultural Center also hosts dance, theater and music events and promotes academic research in its rare books library.

"The FEMSA Collection, A Continental Vision," running through Aug. 13, features 59 modern and contemporary pieces, ranging from paintings by Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera to works by young, contemporary artists including Paula Santiago and Marco Arce.

National Hispanic Cultural Center. 1701 Fourth St., SW, Albuquerque; 505-246-2261; Open Tuesday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission: $3 adults, $2 seniors, children under 16 free.


The Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum's permanent collection contains objects ranging from pre-Columbian artifacts to contemporary artwork. Especially notable are the museum's records - photographs and drawings - of Mayan monuments, as many of the originals were subsequently destroyed by the elements.

The museum's current feature exhibit, "The African Presence in Mexico: From Yanga to the Present," chronicles African involvement in Mexico's history, from the establishment of Yanga, the first free African township in the Americas in 1609, through modern times. The exhibit also features work by both Mexican and Afro-Mexican artists and will run through Sept. 3.

Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum, 1852 West 19th St., Chicago; 312-738-1503; Open Tuesday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission is free.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

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Restroom art gallery opens in Ohio village
San Jose Mercury News - CA, USA
... bubbles. "I have had one or two people who I asked to put art in the bathroom and they go, 'Eeeehttp://wwww,'" Bayraktaroglu said. ...

Art world braced for Tate-extra
Guardian Unlimited - UK
... The investigation was prompted after the Stuckists, a self-styled 'art movement' opposed to conceptual work, used the freedom of information act to discover ...

Museum keeps abreast of art
Seattle Times - United States
... Odd as it might sound, Wall and his manssiere probably won't look especially out of place tonight, when he attends the American Visionary Art Museum's first ...

Friday, July 21, 2006

Fine art gleams after a scrub and touchup

It's a dirty job, but a River Forest man is happy to restore museum paintings for free

By Joseph Ruzich
Special to the Tribune
Published July 21, 2006

Sometimes when Barry Bauman is done with his high-tech cleaning of paintings, he revels in their original splendor.

Take the cleaning he is doing of an early 1920s landscape painted by Oak Park artist Louis Hovey Sharp.

For years, the painting, hung on a wall at the Historical Society of Oak Park and River Forest, portrayed the ocean scene as dark and somber because of the accumulation of dirt and grime.

Now the painting's original bright and colorful image of land meeting water is being uncovered.

Without the expertise of painting conservators like Bauman, many paintings would eventually become unrecognizable because of dirt, oil and wax.

Bauman of River Forest is offering his service free to the historical society, much as he does to museums and other not-for-profit institutions. The institutions are only required to pay for the supplies.

"Museums can't afford to keep the lights and heat running," said Bauman. "Conservation is very expensive. So I thought I would service their needs. My reward is being able to work on magnificent works of art."

Since starting Barry Bauman Conservation in 2004, he has worked without charge at more than 70 institutions, including the Phoenix Art Museum, Indiana State Museum, Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa, Okla., and the State Historical Society of Wisconsin.

He has restored 300 historical paintings by such artists as John Singer Sargent, Anthony van Dyck, Alessandro Magnasco, Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot, Sanford Robinson Gifford and Henry Tanner.

Bauman, who has a master's degree in art history from the University of Chicago, studied painting restoration while working for the Art Institute of Chicago.

He also was a visiting conservator with the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. In 1983 he created the Chicago Conservation Center, which he said was thelargest private restoration facility in the United States. In January 2004, he sold his business and began volunteering full time.

"I was very successful with my business, but my company was running me instead of me running the company," said Bauman. "I wanted to work on the paintings from start to finish, which I couldn't always do while running a business."

Bauman, 58, said there are three steps to restoring a painting. The first layer of dirt and film is removed by using a microscope and cotton swabs dipped in solvents.

Organic solvents are used to take off discolored varnishes, oils and waxes. Next, the painting is examined to make sure it is structurally secure; this may include repairing tears on the canvas.

The last step is to retouch any missed or chipped areas with paint.

Diane Hansen, research center director at the Historical Society of Oak Park and River Forest, said the historical society decided to have the piece restored because it hangs in a place where visitors often congregate.

"You can already see in the cleaned area that the painting is much brighter and the colors jump out," she said. "I even notice more details."

Bauman said he has no plans to stop working. "How many people love their job so much that they would work for free?," said Bauman.

"Conservators come and go. In the end, no one knows who did the restoration. But to have a historical work of art in pristine condition is my reward."

Art as investment, cautionary tales

Stocks or bonds are almost certain to make investors a profit over five years, but art has a high chance of declining in value, the brokerage company said. The probability of losses on small-cap stocks, corporate bonds and long-term treasury bonds is 3% or less if they're held for five years. Art investors have a 17% chance of losing money over five years, Merrill Lynch said.

Soaring prices for art stirred interest from banks and dealers in 2004, when about 12 art funds seeking to raise as much as $150 million were planned. Only one or two, including London's Fine Art Fund, ever got off the ground. Merrill Lynch's investment strategy report, dated July 17, helps to explain why.

"Art, gold and commodities offered the least attractive risk-reward potential, providing inferior returns while generating substantially more risk," Merrill said. The three asset classes "may be more appropriate investments for those who have truly long-term horizons," it said.

The study uses data on returns dating to 1969 for most assets and to 1976 for art, provided by index-maker Art Market Research, which tracks auction prices. Merrill aims to show that most investors do better if they hang on for three years or more, while many day traders and short-term investors lose money.

Modern art prices have more than doubled since 1998, and some contemporary art price indexes have trebled in 10 years, according to Art Market Research. Broader measures of the art market haven't fared as well, and modern and contemporary art prices are being buoyed by a narrowing group of the most expensive paintings, the indexes show.

Art has done worse in some decades than in others.

In the 1970s, art had the lowest 12-month return of eight asset classes and the highest chance of losses, Merrill calculated. Gold was the best investment in that decade, outperforming stocks and bonds with less risk. Art swapped places with gold in the 1980s, doing better than stocks, bonds and real estate. In the 1990s, art was again a loser, only a little ahead of commodities and gold, which racked up 12-month losses more than 50% of the time. Standard & Poor's 500 shares were the best investment.

Real estate and small U.S. stocks are faring best in the current decade. Art, foreign stocks and S&P's 500 shares are the worst performers, Merrill's charts showed.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

The art of quilting

By Tanya Foubert
Wednesday July 19, 2006

Barbara West stands in front of her quilt called Myths of our Time: Intelligent Design, which won the National Award of Excellence for innovative quilts from the Canadian Quilters Association.
Tanya Foubert
Canmore Leader — The story goes that a well-known scientist was giving a public lecture on astronomy. The talk went through the planets and how they orbit the sun and in turn the sun orbits our galaxy.

When the scientist, who some say was Bertrand Russell, finished, a little old lady says to him: “What you have told us is rubbish. The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant tortoise.”

The professor surprised by such a remark wittily retorts: “What is the tortoise standing on?”

“You’re very clever, young man, very clever,” says the lady. “But it’s turtles all the way down!”

Looking at a work of art created by Barbara West one sees this story, told in the beginning chapter of Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time, brought to life.

Eight colourful giant Galapagos island tortoises sit one on top of the other balanced by a cane on either side.

At the top the earth sits precariously balanced on the back of an orange-shelled turtle.

At almost seven feet tall the piece is not done in a traditional artistic medium; it is a quilt.

Called Myths of our Time: Intelligent Design, the quilt recently won West the National Award of Excellence for Innovative Quilts from the Canadian Quilters Association.

“I thought it would be kind of interesting to poke some fun at it,” West says of the intelligent design debate.

West’s creations are works of art that come out of her love for quilting. She says she thinks through what she is trying to say with each one and that part of her goes into them.

“When I put my art out there I have to let it speak for itself,” West says. “I feel that in some ways I am exposing some personal heart of myself through my art and it’s available in a way I usually wouldn’t speak about.”
The artistic quilt also won an award here in Canmore at the annual juried exhibition for the Canmore Artists and Artisans Guild.

It won second prize for the people’s choice award this spring.

“There were a lot of different media in that particular show,” says Terry Southwood with the guild. “I just thought it was very well done, very imaginative.

“The quilting group in Canmore does some very imaginative stuff. Not what you would traditionally think of as quilts.”

The Mountain Cabin Quilters Guild in the valley promotes the original aspects of quilt making West is so good at. This includes the annual Vision show, which is an exhibit of art quilts in Canmore. West was one of the founding members after she began quilting in the early ‘90s.

Needlework was something she says her mother taught her when she was young. She gave it up to pursue a career and thought that she could never be an artist. Then when she moved to the valley in 1989 she began searching for things to do.

A conference looking at women’s definitions of their roles in society today brought quilting to her attention.

She says that a woman had brought a healing quilt friends had made while she had breast cancer.

“I started thinking about the whole process of quilting. From there I never looked back,” West says.

After a short while traditional block quilting started to get boring for West who wanted to try something different and more creative.

What makes a quilt non-traditional, says West, can be how its put together or its colour or it can be something that is not quilting at all.

In 2003 West won the same award for innovative quilting for another quilt one would not expect to be a quilt.

“The first time I thought it was a fluke,” she modestly says. “They probably made a mistake or something but (the second) time I felt good.”

The first quilt to win is called Mandalas of Science: Thalassicolla Pelagica. It shows a form of plankton drawn by Ernst Haeckel in Radiolarien during 1862.

That quilt also went to the World Quilt Conference in Japan in 2004.

In the same year West won the prize for innovative small quilt for a piece she made for her daughter Robin before she was to move away to go to school.

During a family trip to France during her last year in high school Robin fell in love with the art of Picasso. The quilt became, after much thought and work, a cozy Picasso rendition.

West’s passion pushes her to continue to try different things all the time and to learn new techniques.
Right now she is taking a course from a textile art school in London England.

She says quilting is her passion and although the administration side of her success is a bit time consuming she has no plans to stop creating her art.

'The Art Don't Stop'
Works reflect not just artist's vision but also thoughts of the community

Reyhan Harmanci

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Todd Berman wouldn't say this of himself, but he's certainly a man of action. Without waiting for grants or outside funding, he's taken his online gallery, the Art Don't Stop, to the notorious (but increasingly vital) Sixth Street.

Using a gallery space run by Randy Shaw, "journo-activist" and founder of the Tenderloin Housing Project, the Art Don't Stop takes a collaborative approach to its art. Berman has spent the past month roaming a two- to three-block radius around the corner of Sixth and Minna. (The gallery space itself is a little strange; because it shares a door with a hotel, you can't actually enter the gallery, you can only look at the windows.) He goes into local businesses and sketches them, then invites the business owners to the party for the show, which will be taking place today.

Berman's larger pieces, though, are group efforts.

"I'm trying to find ways to build community," Berman says. He sketches a scene of the street with markers, leaving blank spaces for windows, and asks people on the street to draw self-portraits that get collaged into the work. The effect is interesting; from a distance the drawing looks as if it were done by one hand, but a closer look reveals the variety of styles.

In other instances, even the paintings done by Berman are the work of many minds. In "A More Green Market Street," for instance, Berman asked people to tell him what they thought a "more green" Market Street would look like. He incorporated their ideas -- a canal instead of a paved thoroughfare, palm trees dotting the sidewalks, a rope swing. It looks sort of like the Russian River meets Hawaii.

Berman is committed to making art that doesn't just reflect the vision of the artist -- it reflects the thoughts of the community. If people buy his drawings, he gives a portion of the price to a relevant charity.

And the community appears to appreciate his efforts. When he finished sketching the inside of Donut World at Sixth and Market, he took a piece of paper out of his bag and brought it to the woman behind the glass counter. It was a letter explaining the work, giving the address of the gallery and inviting the owners to the party on today .

There was a moment of confusion as the woman took the piece of paper, but Berman persevered, showing her his drawing. She smiled, gesturing to the woman to her right. "It looks just like my doughnut shop!" Berman smiled back. It was a small, nice moment, in a string of small, nice moments in Berman's interactions with neighborhood folks.

Party at 5:30 p.m. today with live music, art making and pizza. D.A. Arts Gallery, 135 Sixth St., S.F.

State of the art in teambuilding

Playing in an orchestra: a valuable bonding exercise, or noisy embarrassment?

Alex Benady
Tuesday July 18, 2006
The Guardian

My last brush with collaborative music ended in ignominy when I was drummed out of the Chatsworth Road primary school triangle collective on the grounds of incompetence. Nothing in the intervening years has caused me to question the wisdom of the school triangle tsar's decision.

But as they say in showbiz, the only thing to do after a failure is to dust yourself down and stride those boards once more. So here I am, some decades later, playing 13th viola for a 90-strong orchestra full of non-musicians who had never met until an hour before and who quite frankly make the old triangle collective sound like the London Symphony Orchestra by comparison.

We are participating in what is being billed as a "world first" in corporate training. You've heard of teambuilding exercises that involve raft building, making your own tactical nuclear warheads, butchering your own cow and so on. Well this is "Orchestrate", an exercise that uses the symphony orchestra as a metaphor for the workplace and allows musical buffoons such as myself access to real instruments, a conductor and a specially composed piece of music. Our "challenge" (as we say in the corporate world) is to learn and perform this piece. From scratch. In 90 minutes.

If this sounds a little optimistic, that's because it is meant to be. It is supposed to reflect the business idea of "stretch targets", which are objectives deliberately set to be unreasonable, explains John Bird of Catalyst, the organisers. "The main idea is to show that what seems impossible at first can be done. We wanted something that is not threatening but is daunting." Even he is daunted because, he admits, there is a real possibility it might not work.

So the first hour of the evening is spent drinking and networking. Meera Medana, human resources consultant at Walt Disney UK, says she is there to test-drive the event for her company. "I want to see if this could work with different groups and personality types - particularly introverted thinkers, whose biggest fear is embarrassing themselves."

After a couple of drinks, we are deemed relaxed enough. A curtain is pulled back to reveal a large auditorium resplendent with 90 chairs and around 30 grand's-worth of classical instruments. I opt for a violin, on the grounds that there are loads of them, so there is less potential for humiliation.

We are marched off section by section to rehearsal rooms. Our first lesson is that we are not the violin section as we had all supposed, but the viola section - the same but a bit bigger. With just an hour to learn our piece, we go straight into plucking lessons. Even this seems nightmarishly complicated. "We'll be playing mostly on our G string," says our tutor in an attempt to reassure us. Twelfth viola Jackie, a graphic designer, and 14th viola Chris, a barrister, find this hilarious and spend the next 10 minutes sniggering.

But by this time we are on to learning how to hold our bow, how to change notes and how to use the bow.

The piece we are learning is a repetitious thing written by Bill Lovelady. It has a strong rhythm and not much in the way of note changes. It lends itself perfectly to being broken down into monkey see, monkey do-type chunks, which of course is all we are capable of. In a way it feels like a con. "This isn't music, it's a simulacrum for musical cretins," I complain to John.

"Of course it's superficial. You can only learn so much in an hour and a half. But don't judge just yet. You may be surprised," he replies.

Although there are no figures available for the size of the team-building industry, it is huge. Even John admits a lot of such training is poorly thought out and purposeless. So isn't it all a bit of a con?

"No," says Eileen Arney, adviser on learning and development to the Institute of Personnel and Development. "Although some types of activity are cliched, these courses can be incredibly powerful if they help people to have insights into the dynamics of what's happening when they are working in a team."

After an hour we have the insight that we can just about do our bit, so we file off to join the rest of the orchestra. We reunite with the other strings as well as the glamour boys of the brass section and the hard men from percussion. Our conductor takes us through bit by bit so we have just 10 minutes' rehearsal as a full orchestra.

And then we play it in its full 90 seconds of glory. Blimey. We're elated. We may not be the world's greatest, but we make the unmistakable sound of an orchestra playing what is unmistakably music.

"That was fantastic," says Medana. "It needs a bit of feedback at the end to make it a useful metaphor for leadership, but I loved it. It was great being united by a piece of music, it shows you where your strengths are and how you relate to a team. I'd have no hesitation in having a lot more of our people do this."

Her reaction sums up the feelings of everybody else in the room. So, in your face, triangle tsar. I guess your stretch targets just weren't elastic enough.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

New York complaints become art form

By Daniel Trotta

NEW YORK (Reuters) - What are you complaining about? If you're a New Yorker, it's often about noise and trash and occasionally about politics or morals.

Those are some of the concerns expressed over the past 300 years by citizens writing to their mayor, as unearthed by an artist who mined the city's archives to create The New York City Museum of Complaint.

The museum is actually a tabloid newspaper reproducing 31 letters from 1751 to 1973, currently being distributed in city parks. Some letters are elegantly handwritten, others typed, and all of them complain about something.

"Some of them are on the verge of paranoia, others are on the verge of genius," said Matthew Bakkom, the artist who created the project.

"I tried to find letters that had a genuine voice of their own somehow. It's a bit like being a DJ, I suppose."

The city has preserved complaints as far back as 1700, when the American colonies were under British rule. Bakkom discovered the archive while doing historical research and decided these disaffected voices from the past needed to be heard.

"It just seemed to me something very vital and very original and very striking."

The first in the collection, from 1751, seeks compensation for a series of ills. "The report of the small pox being in this city hinders the country people from coming to market," Andrew Ramsey wrote, noting that he "lost two Negroes last winter."

A 1900 letter on corruption from the president of the Citizens' Progressive League decries avarice: "The only thing purely 'American' that I can find in New York City, after many years' search, is the abnormally developed spirit of money getting."

The 1930s are represented by five letters, including one from 1935 that seeks a change in the law so "that girls in the burlesque shows in New York would be allowed to display their charms without more interference of the police."

Bakkom has a few favourites, such as one from the London woman Mary Elizabeth Cook who, calling herself an attractive brunette of 29, wrote in 1949: "Could you possibly help me find an American husband."

"I can send photographs," she added.

It was leaked to the press and produced a spate of letters from lonely people looking for mates, Bakkom said.

Technology for art's sake

Brad Howarth
July 18, 2006

John Young, artist, paints on canvas from computer generated images.

John Young is wrestling with a question that has perplexed artists since the dawn of the computer age: does better technology improve art?

The process of creating art with a brush, paints and canvas has remained unchanged for the best part of a millennium. The same cannot be said of the digital realm, where leaps in processor power, graphics capabilities and software manipulation techniques are opening possibilities for artists that would have been difficult to imagine just 20 years ago.

Mr Young is a Chinese-born Australian artist whose digitally created work has won acclaim around the world. Working in his studio in the inner-Melbourne suburb of Hawthorn, Mr Young uses technology as a means of making his art contemporaneous to the times.

"I certainly see the difference between people working with digital media five years ago, where they were really just illustrating some sort of anxious future, as opposed to a more sophisticated form of really dealing with technology," Mr Young says.

His work is created on an Apple GF5 dual-core computer by using Adobe Photoshop to filter and recompose still images until he has achieved a desired look and feel. They are then printed in colour and a team of artists work in collaboration with Mr Young to translate his vision via brush and oil paint on to canvas. He sees himself as a composer, much in the same vein as the US-based minimalist music composer Philip Glass.

"The era of that human expressive gesture - of the mark on the canvas, or the authentic mark - has gone from authenticity to kitsch to a decretive commodity now," Mr Young says. The public has responded well to his approach, with Mr Young commanding sales of between $20,000 and $70,000 for his work.

He believes the role of software in art is only going to grow in importance, as almost any image we view today, be it in print or on television, is mediated and filtered through software in some form. This turns our vision into what he describes as the "fortress eyeball".

"And in a way, it's very comfortable, which is very different from the coarseness of corporeal vision, or experience that is not in the virtual realm," Mr Young says. "It is turning our expectations about what we see very radically. These sentiments are automatically embodied (in my art) because they have gone through software.

"The whole concept of post-modernism was really about the impact of information technology on the world. The framework has always been there, but the intervention of technology into our lives in the most physical way didn't really start until we had the home computer and we could feel that everyone could use this as a drawing tool.

"I wouldn't have used it (technology) beforehand because I really feel that my art is there to describe the times, it's not there to run ahead of the times."

Mr Young started in the art world in the 1980s, working in the field of appropriation art, taking images from art book plates and using them in his own work. It was the advent of digital imaging and photography in the mid-1990s that revolutionised his creative realm.

"All of a sudden my library of images went from several hundred to tens of thousands, which I could capture on my own digital camera, CD ROMs or the internet," Mr Young says. "The actual notion of choice in imagery went exponential in the 1990s."

Changing technology has also increased the possibilities for what Mr Young can do on the computer. Processor power now means he can take hundreds of individual frames from video footage and process them through Photoshop filters in batches, giving him hundreds of images to work with.

He will exhibit at Sydney's Sherman Gallery from late July.

Does its function make the form art?

The Gazette

It's quilted. But is it art?

It's a debate that has surfaced as more quilters call themselves "artists" instead of "crafters."

"Some quilt makers like to be called quilters; others, artists," says Carolyn Ducey, curator of collections at the International Quilt Study Center at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.

What makes a quilted piece art is how it captures the viewer's imagination and whether it elicits a reaction, good or bad, Ducey says.

Bonnie Browning, a quilt judge and executive show director of the American Quilter's Society, says quilters typically begin sewing with traditional patterns and styles then develop individual designs and styles that elevate what they do to art.

The seminal artists of these new creations have called their works "sewn construction" or "stitched collage," says Arturo Lorenzo Sandoval, art professor at University of Kentucky at Lexington.

Quilts can be both art and craft; it depends on the intent, says Sandoval, whose work is in the collection of the New York Museum of Modern Art.

If it follows traditional design and is functional - you throw it on the bed - it's craft. If it's hung on the wall and viewed aesthetically in relation to the idea of the artist, it's art.

Quilters in earlier eras sometimes created quilts that had political and social messages in the patterns. Today's quilters sometimes explore controversial and emotional subjects in their work - breast cancer, AIDS, domestic violence - much like artists in other mediums have done, Browning says.

But a quilted piece doesn't have to have a message to be art, Sandoval says. At one time, his works conveyed antiwar messages and other strong sentiments.

Now the message is subtler. He makes beauty out of trash, using recycled materials such as mylar and old 35 millimeter microfilm woven and stitched into "fabric" that is pieced and quilted in various ways. (His art can be seen at http://arturo

Whatever the results, Browning sees it this way: "The craft is the doing, and the art is the viewing."

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Art challenge gets popping

A 17-foot popcorn Mickey Mouse -- sound yummy?

Well, don't think of nibbling on these mouse ears.

For 12 hours on Saturday, seven students and teachers from the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale gathered in their school's garage to design the larger-than-life mouse for an episode of Food Network Challenge, a weekly show that showcases everything from small town cook-offs to the World Pastry Team Championship.

But the work area had more of the makings of a wild experiment than a culinary challenge, with power saws, barrels of fiberglass resin, shovels and a cement mixer. To add to the undertaking, the group members were draped head-to-toe in protective white suits, tightened vapor masks, green gloves and goggles.

That's because for hours they manually mixed the resin and popcorn to create 12 blocks of the hardened movie theater favorite that were 22 inches long, 17 inches wide and 18 inches high. Eventually, they will stack these blocks, sketch a Mickey mold on them and use several heavy-duty power tools to carve out a 5,000-pound mouse.

"It's a crazy idea, but … we're going to prove we can make anything out of anything," said culinary student Cynthia Jimenez of Fort Lauderdale. "I'm also excited I'm going to be on the Food Network."

The group, led by pastry chef and part-time culinary instructor Rob Sobkowski, also is vying for the title of world's largest popcorn sculpture, which belongs to a 16.5-foot Godzilla created in Stirling, United Kingdom, in 2003. If they pull it off, the group will win $10,000.

The Food Network Challenge will ship the giant Mickey Mouse sculpture to Disneyland on July 31. The group members will then fly to California and have 10 hours to complete the final assembly and add decorations to the sculpture using food coloring and sugar sculptures, according to Sobkowski.

"We're going to have to attack it like they did on Mount Rushmore," Sobkowski said about carving the giant Mickey. "[We're] just going to have to start chipping away."

For Zahala Yanofsky, an assistant pastry chef, the challenge is worth the effort.

"The scale of it alone is humongous," Yanofsky said. The final segment of the Food Network Challenge will be taped on Aug. 5 in Disneyland and aired in October.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Vatican Museums Scouting for Art

What do you do when you have a Michelangelo on the ceiling? Dream of owning a Picasso.

The director of the Vatican Museums, whose treasures include Michelangelo's frescoed ceiling in the Sistine Chapel, said the museums also wanted to acquire some modern artworks. He spoke in an interview published Sunday in the Turin daily La Stampa.

Asked if new acquisitions were being planned, Francesco Buranelli was quoted as saying: "Yes, above all in sectors like contemporary art."

With the museums already possessing works by Raphael and other artists besides Renaissance master Michelangelo, Buranelli was asked if he would like to acquire some other masterpieces.

"I would like very much to have a Picasso," Buranelli replied.

The Vatican Museums, one of the biggest tourist attractions in Italy, are celebrating their 500th anniversary this year.

GOLD ART !!!!!!!!!!!!
Linguist Staff (Oykeame), 19th–20th centuryGhana; Akan, AsanteGold foil, wood, nails; H. 61 5/8 in. (156.53 cm)Gift of the Richard J. Faletti Family, 1986 (1986.475a-c)
Magnificent gold-covered staffs like this one are carried by high-ranking officials within the courts of Akan chiefs in an area of West Africa once known as the Gold Coast. Because they are a society that originally had no written tradition, the Akan peoples place an enormous emphasis on speech. The spoken word, in the form of axioms and stories, is the repository of Akan custom and values, and a complete mastery of proverbial lore, combined with an eloquent and insightful way of conveying it, is considered the mark of intellect of highly esteemed individuals. Those who possess this knowledge and an articulate command of language may be appointed as court linguists, the most important nonroyal court officials.
Court linguists play an invaluable role in Akan circles of leadership. Their vast knowledge and superior diplomacy make them essential as counselors, ambassadors, legal experts, and historians, and most Akan rulers keep several in their employ. The linguists' staffs of office, carved of wood and covered in gold foil, are said to be modeled after the cane used by the first court linguist, a woman who carried a cane because of her great age.
The finials of these staffs commonly illustrate proverbs that assert the ruler's legitimacy and capabilities or praise the linguist's experience and sagacity. This staff is surmounted by two human figures flanking a large web, with a spider positioned at its center. The finial refers to the saying, "No one goes to the house of the spider Ananse to teach him wisdom." Ananse the spider, who brought wisdom and taught weaving to the Akan, is the originator of folk tales and proverbs and is thus linked to linguists. Here, Ananse is the ultimate repository of erudition, as is the linguist at an Akan court, neither of whom should be challenged in that domain.
Although this artwork appears on the 20th-century segment of the Timeline, it is ascribed a date of 19th–20th century.