Cover-art mashup: Wu-Note

Visual artist Logan Walters, finding Wu-Tang Clan's album art too "horrible" to upload to iTunes, has set out to rework the cover art. He's completed 12 of the mashups, which echo classic jazz cover-art design. The name of the project, which will include all 21 Wu-Tang covers, is, fittingly, Wu Note.

Bits: 05.28.09

Martha Rosler, Invasion (2008)

• Tyler Green writes on the timing of the Hirshhorn's acquisition of Martha Rosler's photomontage series, The Gray Drape, about Americans' disengagement with the war in Iraq. It coincides with news that Dick Cheney ordered interrogators at Guantanamo to find links between al-Qaeda and Iraq "despite CIA reports that there were only sporadic, insignificant contacts between the militant Islamic group and the secular Iraqi dictatorship." Green writes, "Rosler's photomontage can be read as revealing how our blindness to and then our national disinterest in Bush-era torture led us into Iraq." Update: The Iraq photos Obama won't release allegedly show U.S. soldiers raping prisoners at Abu Ghraib.

The Artvertiser is "an urban, hand-held, augmented-reality project exploring on-site substitution of advertising content for the purposes of exhibiting art. [Its] software is trained to recognise individual advertisements, each of which become a virtual 'canvas' on which an artist can exhibit images or video when viewed through the hand-held device." [via]

• "Scream at the economy." In the spirit of Munch, call in and share your "desperate and instinctive expressions of survival, warnings of danger, cathartic affirmations of power, explosions of anger and despairing utterances of anxiety and hopelessness." The resulting recordings will be transformed by six composers into a work, "Screamer," which will be "performed in front of relevant financial institutions." [via]

• The deboulonneurs are back: French culturejammers (or "unscrewers") have published their manifesto -- dedicated to reducing the visual pollution of advertising -- in English and are planning an as-yet-unspecified action in Paris on May 29.

• Tri-cycle: Bicycle bulfighting [via], a lovely 1965 ciclo-cross poster, and a jailbirds' Tour de France.

Turning empty billboards into urban abstract art... with paintball guns.

Turning empty newspaper boxes into guerrilla flowerboxes. (An earlier version's here.)

Finalists have been announced in the Good50x70 socially conscious design contest. Click on "Gallery" items here.

• Your moment of Border Collie doing squats.


Bits: 05.26.09

Brian Ulrich, interviewed here last year, has a new show opening at Julie Saul in New York on Thursday. Photograph magazine, which features Ulrich's shot of a Wisconsin retail storeroom on its cover this month, quotes Saul on how he addresses consumer and post-consumer America: "Ulrich chronicles a profoundly seismic shift within society and implicitly asks the question, where do we go from here?" 

• Green Day refuses to sell its new album at Wal-Mart, because the retailer asked for a family-friendly version. "They want artists to censor their records in order to be carried in there," says frontman Billie Joe Armstrong. "We just said no. We've never done it before. You feel like you're in 1953 or something." 

Ten Philadelphia recycling trucks have been wrapped with graphics inspired by the textile collection at The Design Center at Philadelphia University to launch the city's new single-stream recycling program. 

David Lynch's Interview Project launches June 1: "A 20,000-mile road trip over 70 days across and back the United States. The team found people driving along the roads, going into bars... The people told their stories." 

Vessel for Safekeeping (Survivalism), by New York-based artist Susan Graham, includes "a hand-sculpted and hand-glazed porcelain lacy box containing miniature scissors and a credit card. The box is glazed a smoky white, and the scissors and credit card have pewter and blue glazes."

 • Pompeii graffiti: "Celadus, heartthrob of the girls." "Atimetus got me pregnant." • Photos that changed the world.

Heliotrope VI, May 28-30

Heliotrope VI poster by Josh Journey-Heinz

Heliotrope VI, May 28-30

Ritz Theater, Minneapolis
26 bands, 3 days, 20 bucks

Gay Witch Abortion
Vampire Hands
Knife World
Skoal Kodiak
White Map
Tender Meat
and others



How we eat now: Mark Menjivar's fridge photos

Mark Menjivar spent three years traveling America examining issues surrounding hunger, and after countless conversations he set out to photograph individual's refrigerators as an alternative form of portraiture. "My hope is that we will think deeply about how we care," he writes in his artist's statement. "How we care for our bodies. How we care for others. And how we care for the land." His work offers a glimpse at differing views of consumption, while giving surprisingly intimate glimpses of people who never find their way into the frame.

Above: The refrigerator of a midwife and middle-school science teacher from San Antonio, shot the week after deciding to eat locally grown produce. Below: the refrigerator of a San Antonio bartender.

From GOOD via Minneapolis chef Chris Olson's blog.

Conservative talker gets waterboarded trying to prove the technique isn't torture, but concludes it "absolutely" is

"Conservative libertarian" radio host Erich "Mancow" Muller of Chicago's WLS Radio set out to prove waterboarding isn't torture by undergoing the "enhanced interrogation" technique himself.

His verdict: "It is way worse than I thought it would be, and that's no joke... It is such an odd feeling to have water poured down your nose with your head back...It was instantaneous... and I don't want to say this: absolutely torture."

Politics of marriage

A beautiful moment of quiet activism in the program for yesterday's wedding between my friends Penelope Freeh and Jack Dant:

As we symbolize and affirm our commitment to each other through this marriage ceremony we wish to recognize our family and friends among us who, due to their love for another of the same gender, are not afforded this right. We feel that love is love and no law should dictate the terms. We stand for their right to join together as we are doing today.


Bits: 05.21.09

• Having just seen Zack Bent's scouting-inspired mixed-media exhibition in Seattle, I'm floored that Regina Hackett can't move past her fixation with the evils of the Boy Scouts to actually examine Bent's art; while her critiques of the Boy Scouts are fair (if over-emphasized), she ignores some of the most poetic pieces (I'll be interviewing Bent next week). A counterpoint: "How different is teaching children to learn the positive lessons embedded in the loaded framework of scouting from teaching them to function in American society (which is, well, fundamentally war-mongering, greedy, and all the rest)?" 

• San Francisco's Asian Art Museum has a new blog

• The Walker's been on a "photo-acquiring mini-spree," reports Tyler Green, picking up works by Andreas Gursky, Tetsumi Kudo, Ana Mendieta and others. 

• Oddly, a credit reform bill that passed the House and Senate includes a provision to allow concealed handguns in national parks, but it also includes a requirement for setting the fine print in credit communiques in 12 point or larger type

• EMI won't release Danger Mouse's new CD for fear of copyright litigation, so the artist is releasing 5,000 disks independently: each edition of Dark Night of the Soul is hand-numbered and includes a book featuring David Lynch's photos. "The kicker: The enclosed CD is blank. DM fans are encouraged to populate it with the missing tracks 'by whatever means.'" The album is streaming here

• Call for entries: Minneapolis' Soap Factory is looking for submissions for the annual 10-Second Film Festival. (I always wanted to do a 10-second film of me trying on a wallet: "Does this make my ass look big?") Check out past entries

Alphabeth, an animation of Dia's press releases, by Dorit Magreiter. Via FAD

• A birthday mashup of Malcolm X speeches, by Davey D

How the soldier in the pink boxers got on the front page of the New York Times

• "Heavy Metal Satan Fingers."

Video: Designing Obama

The Walker Art Center's May 12 panel "Designing Obama" -- featuring designers Sol Sender and Scott Thomas and moderated by me -- is now online at YouTube.


Bits: 05.20.09

Kate MccGwire's Sluice (2009) -- assembled from pigeon feathers, felt, glue and polystyrene -- will be on view at London's The Space Between, Jun. 5-21.

• Protest by Proxy: This project by Tony Mullin helps activists sidestep Britain's Serious Organized Crime and Police Act 2005 -- which "prohibits anyone staging spontaneous protests within a 1km radius of Westminster's Houses of Parliament" -- while rethinking protest. It "allows people to demonstrate remotely from outside this territory using Hollywood Green-screen technology."

• Culture Monster suggests the NEA turn the "imperial bit of provincial pomposity" that is its logo around: "A Great Nation Deserves Great Art" > "Great Art Makes a Great Nation."

Swings installed in Bay Area Rapid Transit trains.

• Sign on pole: "Have you seen this cat? Because it's awesome."

• From Eco-Art, five pieces of art about switching lights off and on.

• Applications for the Winterhouse Awards for Design Writing & Criticism, a project of the AIGA, are due June 1.

• A fake Homeland Security photography license for dealing with "overzealous law enforcement or security officials attempting to enforce fictitious laws," and a real legal guide for photographers. [via]

Google Will Eat Itself.


Broken Crow + Over Under mural: End of Day 4

With just a few finishing touches to go on Wednesday, the Shuga Records mural by Broken Crow and Over Under is nearly complete. See the entire process on Flickr. (Video and time-lapse to come.)

Broken Crow + Over Under mural: Day 4

After four days of work, the mural at Shuga Records in Northeast Minneapolis is just about done. Over Under's Erik Burke is back in Brooklyn, and Broken Crow's John Grider and Mike Fitzsimmons are taking a day off before doing some final touch-ups. It was an amazing experience seeing this team work and watching a community coalesce around them. I'll post a full shot of the mural -- and hopefully a time-lapse of the process, plus some video -- when it's complete. But for now, here's a few shots of the team (more here).

Mike Fitzsimmons

Erik Burke

John Grider


Portrait: John Grider

What John Grider of Broken Crow wakes up to each morning. See the progress he, Mike Fitzsimmons and Erik Burke are making on the Shuga Records mural in N.E. Minneapolis (as well as Grider's "Optimist" knuckle tattoos) here.

Update: See my video on the completed mural.


Let Eyeteeth curate your Art-a-Whirl weekend

Adding to Andy Sturdevant's list of must-sees this Art-a-Whirl (Gay Witch Abortion playing on a floating raft as part of S.S. Infinite Regress; Burlesque, Hardland/Heartland and others' 24-hour art marathon; Gastro Non Grata at the Ritz, which features a live Flak Radio broadcast), here's a few more standout events this weekend.

Illuminating Thorp: New media art outfit Northern Lights (led by curator Steve Dietz) offers a range of projects, including Friday-night projection performances by Minneapolis Art on Wheels members, plus a presentation by Andrea Steudel of her Mobile Shadow Projections on the exterior of the Thorp Building.

Who Made Who: The tiny Northeast design studio -- showing limited edition silkscreens, prints and original art by owner Amy Jo, Dale "TOOTH" Flattum, and Lonny Unitus -- is open all weekend, but get there before 7:00 tonight for their $5 poster sale.

Broken Crow/Overunder Mural: Just across the street, see Minneapolis-based Broken Crow and guest artist OverUnder (Erik Burke) as they install what might, unofficially at least, be the country's largest stencil-based mural on the exterior of Shuga Records (formerly MCP). The wall's primed and the stencils are going up (the porcupine is nearly done). They'll be taking a break to put in three hours at the Walker Art Center Teen Art Council's "Don't Sleep On It" 24-hour art marathon.

Lordy, Lordy: Maybe it was the flask of whisky we were passing, but in past years, biking between orthodox churches that are showing Byzantine icons was truly remarkable. Check out the iconography demonstrations at St. Mary's Orthodox Cathedral. To get your church on a bit more: Chillon Leach in the Casket Arts Building is having a sale on hand-painted liturgical stoles.

AAW@331: Live free music by Skoal Kodiak, Daughters of the Sun, The Roe Family Singers, Lookbook, All the Pretty Horses and others, Friday and Saturday night at 331, 13th and University. Via L'etoile.


Let Andy Sturdevant curate your Art-a-Whirl weekend

Minneapolis-based writer, artist and man about town Andy Sturdevant of South 12th graciously offers his expert picks for Art-a-Whirl 2009.

So the narrative goes like this: in the 1990s, after being forced out of Minneapolis’ Warehouse District by rising rents, sports bars and a lingering post-Morning in America hangover, most visual artists migrated across the river to Northeast. At the time, it was a quiet, blue-collar Eastern European enclave that was full of empty storefronts and warehouses, and about as trendy as Sunday afternoon dinner at your babcia’s house. The locus of the Minneapolis art scene has been located there since, and has in fact integrated very nicely into the overall neighborhood feeling of the area. Northeast is Orthodox churches, corner bars and some of the best galleries in town.

Every May, when the city is finally waking up from winter, the Northeast art community throws itself a weekend-long party up there, and the studio doors are flung wide open. It’s not just art; there are bands, dance parties, cross-disciplinary undertakings of all kinds, and plenty of drink specials. It can be overwhelming working your way through even a light itinerary – and, like with many events of this nature, you’ll have to wade through a lot of schlock – so I’ve narrowed it down to a few shows that look particularly interesting.

You can find a comprehensive guide here, or here. Or, actually, you can just ask the people you meet on the street or in the bar what’s good; people will have opinions. I’ve truly found word-of-mouth is still the best way to navigate through the morass of studios, galleries and more informal not-quite-either spaces that make up the Northeast.

S.S. Infinite Regress
Creative Electric was a beloved Northeast studio that brought in both talented locals (Chris Larson) and oddball national artists (Negativland) until it closed up shop a few years. However, its owners miraculously came into possession of some prime Mississippi riverfront and an honest-to-god houseboat last year, so they have made great use of both by retrofitting the vessel with wall-size mirrors and a bevy of film projectors, turning it into a floating cinematic funhouse for guests to interact with. White hazmat suits will apparently be provided. Oh, yeah – there’ll be bands playing on floating pontoons on the goddamned river, too. Anchors aweigh!

Sellout opening
Three artists (at least two of whom moonlight as arts writers) will be launching a new conceptual and small work-focused space they’re calling Sellout this weekend in the Northrup King Building. Ruben Nusz, Scott Stulen and John Fleischer will be showing new mixed-media work, and they also promises to have a well-stocked, carefully curated flat file of affordably-priced new work by your favorite local emerging and mid-career artists available for sale.

More is a Four Letter Word,
Fox Tax

Fox Tax is a uniquely Minneapolis institution that nicely reconciles our city’s bottomless love of the arts with our profound appreciation for order and responsibility: an accounting firm that deals solely with artists and creatives, with a gallery inside (full disclosure: yes, they do my taxes). For Art-A-Whirl, their house curator Emma Berg has brought together five artists who primarily work as painters, including Tynan Kerr, whose impromptu installations can often be found on telephone poles and empty buildings around town, and Alex Kuno, whose fantastical oil paintings of childhood narratives strikes the right notes of whimsy and dread.

Don’t Sleep On It

The teens at the Walker Arts Center’s Teen Arts Council have commandeered a section of the California Building, and with the help of some local luminaries like Hardland/Heartland, Burlesque Design, Andy Ducett and John Grider, turned it into a 24-hour interactive artmaking marathon, with each group of artists working in three-hour sections. This promises to be an exciting mashup of Warhol’s Factory, Village of the Damned, Glenn O’Brien’s TV Party and the films of John Hughes, which is almost the greatest thing I can think of.

Gastro Non Grata

Gastro Non Grata is an ongoing quarterly event that has collaboratively paired the two drunkest types of people you know -- musicians and professional cooks -- with exciting results. They’ll be camping out at the Modern Café on 13th Avenue, which is quickly becoming one of the most interesting stretches of road in the city. A pig will be roasted, baklava will be served, several bands will play all day on Sunday, and Minneapolis’ most beloved podcast, Flak Radio, will be kicking things off at 11am. Two Brothers Beer will provide the drinks.

Bits: 05.14.09

Tomás Saraceno testing Girasol, part of the Walker Art Center solo exhibition Lighter than Air, opening May 14.

• Swoon and Co. set sail on Tuesday from Slovenia, bound for the Venice Biennale, on a fleet of artist-manned (and womanned) handmade rafts. Safe journey to the entire Swimming Cities of Serenissima crew!

• Ohio University's School of Interdisciplinary Arts hosts "Art and Terror," a conference addressing heady questions like, "What is the nature of terror as it has found and continues to find expression in arts? How do experiences and representations of horror vary across cultural and historical boundaries?" May 15-17, 2009.

• Video: Artist Leonardo Drew discusses an incident that happened while "steaming canvas" for his large-scale installations. His mid-career survey Existed opens May 15 at Houston's Blaffer Gallery.

• To what depths will Judith Supine sink to install guerrilla art?

• A gallery of classic album covers reimagined as if designed as Pelican books.

• Continuing a recent theme, here are a few new Trek bikes with paintjobs designed by Barry McGee and KAWS.

• Utne pal Jeff Severns Guntzel reblogs Paddy Johnson's eight fallacies about contemporary art.


Broken Crow & OverUnder to collaborate on Shuga Records mural this weekend

Detail of a Broken Crow/Overunder mural in progress in Brooklyn last week

It's official: the Minneapolis art duo Broken Crow -- John Grider and Mike Fitzsimmons -- will be creating a gigantic stencil mural on the exterior of Shuga Records (formerly the Minnesota Center for Photography) in Northeast Minneapolis. While the store doesn't open 'til June 1, the pair will be transforming the massive west wall of the building during this weekend's Art-a-Whirl festival. Broken Crow's John Grider tells me that the imagery will include "porcupines, bears, houses, birds, and records, and who knows what else." Another bit of news: Broken Crow is flying in Erik Burke of Overunder to help with the piece. Here's a time-lapse of a work (featuring the aforementioned bears and porcupines) they collaborated on in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, last week:

All three artists will be ducking out for a few hours to take part in another Art-a-Whirl project: The Walker Art Center Teen Arts Council (WACTAC) is hosting "Don't Sleep On It," a 24-hour art marathon in which a slew of local artists are transforming a space in the California Building over the course of a day and night. More on that tomorrow.


Bits: 05.11.09

• Audio: Marcel Duchamp explains the readymade (via PS1's ArtonAir.org). 

 • Filmmaker Kim Longinotto on why she chooses the subjects for her films: "The people who have a lot of power and influence are usually not as interesting as the people that don't." 

• Former Walker curator, Laundromat Project backer and Creative Capitol grant guru Kemi Ilesanmi is guest-blogging this week at Art:21

 • Adrian Piper has been collecting and bottling her hair and fingernail clippings since 1985. The work will be complete when the ashes from her eventual cremation fill the final bottle. 

 • Architect David Burney says if Bush was the MBA president, Obama is the design president: Obama "possesses a genuine understanding of design and open source thinking. He is a gifted communicator who aligns perfectly the form/media of his messages with the content he’s delivering. His principles, words and actions are in sync." 

Eugenio Merino is back with PRETTY MURAKAMI, a sculptural caricature of the famed Japanese artist in a Julia Roberts Pretty Woman get-up. 

 • Mp3s of 1980s performances by artist Mike Kelley with Sonic Youth and others.  

• Found art: "Signaltheorist took a long exposure photo of a Roomba vacuuming his room in the dark." Via @plntprpgnda 

Spock Obama


Designing Obama: May 12 at the Walker (featuring yours truly)

Photo by Nicky Dieter, Flickr

For decades, political campaign advertising had more in common with Menard's than Milton Glaser: the graphic designer -- whose job was to sell candidates through an expected visual language of flag-toned stars and/or bars -- took the back seat, while the well-funded media buyer got the front. Then came Barack Obama. His campaign, lead by design director Scott Thomas, enlisted designer Sol Sender to both create a memorable, appealing identity and advance the lessons of Howard Dean's web-savvy "netroots" surge of 2004.

We all know what happened next. Obama's "O" logo became ubiquitous, embraced and modified by supporters so it appeared everywhere: carved into Halloween pumpkins, spray-painted on city concrete, plastered on cars, t-shirts and mugs, reprinted on one of American history's most recognized political posters, and interpreted by DIYers on murals, baked goods, light-up bike spokes and beyond.

Next Tuesday, May 12, Thomas and Sender will be speaking at Minneapolis' Walker Art Center on the development of the Obama campaign in a panel called, "Desiging Obama" -- and I'll be moderating the discussion. Got a question for Sender or Thomas? Leave 'em in comments.

Buy tickets here, or watch the live webcast at the Walker Channel.

Shepard Fairey, Kenny Scharf designs bikes for Lance Armstrong

In a world exclusive we’re happy to reveal the first full look at LANCE ARMSTRONG’s newly completed Supertouch-curated TREK art bikes designed for his run in the upcoming GIRO D’ITALIA by artists SHEPARD FAIREY and KENNY SCHARF.
Scharf's design above; Fairey's below (click to enlarge).

In other bike news, Ben points out a sweet line of British-made bikes built using vintage steel road frames.


Marketing Chinese board games to '60s swingers

With psychedelic type and day-glo graphics, this 1969 edition of the board game "Guru" -- recently unearthed in my basement (given to me by my friend Meredith when she moved away) -- promises "ACTION!" for "swingers of all ages." But upon opening the box, I found it's a rather unsexy, if creatively designed, version of the ancient Chinese game GO. (Oddly, the neon colors of the board and packaging clash with the plastic game pieces in primary colors.) Manufactured in Finland by E.S. Lowe Company, the game's instructions offer straight-ahead directions, with nary a mention of swingers. Perhaps the term had a different meaning then? Or maybe tossing about the word "swingers" was smart marketing back in '69?

Bits: 05.05.09

Kuechenmonument, an inflatable mobile sculpture/event space by Raumlabor Berlin.

• "Inflatable environments are undergoing something of a renaissance today." ROLU (Rosenlof/Lucas' blog) has the evidence. Plus, Life Without Buildings introduces us to Spacebuster, a mobile, inflatable structure designed to “transform public spaces of all kinds into points for community gathering.” Created by Raumlabor, which also came up with the inflatable balcony roof, Balkonbiennale.

• R.I.P.: Augusto Boal, political theater activist and founder of the Theatre of the Oppressed, has died at age 78.

Culture is encoded in the genome, according to new research on zebra finches.

• Sparky Campanella's "40 over 40": "Most women over forty are not happy with their bodies. The women in this series, who had the courage to be seen by a 4x5 camera, are no exception... Their discomfort at the scrutiny and judgment their bodies were likely to receive was offset by their determination to rise above it. Indeed the very act of showing up for a nude 4x5 portrait at any age over forty is itself a show of strength. "

Amazing shots of JR's exhibition
Women of Providencia, part of his 28 Millimetres project, at Casa Franca in Rio De Janeiro.

• Hamburg-based art historians Hans Kaufmann and Rita Wildegans argue that Vincent van Gogh didn't hack off his own ear; they think his friend Paul Gaugin lopped it off in a fight.

Digging up lemons for Claes Oldenburg.

• Listing three exhibitions of recycled/upcycled art, Rob Walker predicts art of re-use isn't a short-lived trend.

Vietnamese posters from the book,
“Vietnam Posters: the David Heather Collection”

• Following up last week's link about Warhol painting on an old Amiga, here's how David Hockney uses his iPhone in his painting practice.

• Photo: NASA's Terra satellite gets a shot of an ice bridge connecting part of Antarctica's Wilkins Ice Shelf breaking loose.


Chicago stencil: Run, Blago, Run

"Run, Blago, Run," via craynol (Flickr)

Since early April, guerrilla murals showing a jogging Rod Blagojevich have been popping up around Chicago. While the stencil works are unsigned, artist Ray Noland is selling identical "Run, Blago, Run!" posters for $75 apiece on his site. "I just make the graphics," he told the Chicago Tribune.

(Thanks, Chris!)