Archive for May 21, 2013

Artist of the moment….digital street artists Graffiti Research Labs

This group is a duo of very smart engineers that used to work with technology alongside NASA with a group called HoneyBee Robotics. When their work got them involved with the Iraq war, the tandem quit their jobs and would go onto start  and start  this cooperative. The group consists of Evan Roth and James Powderly as the main spokes, and many other additional contributors.

Graffiti Research Lab is best known for the  use of LED lights with what they call throwies. An LED throwie is a light attached to a coin battery and a magnet. People attach the LED’s to objects, then the objects are the canvas. The Graffiti Research Lab made these beginning in 2006. In the clip below we learn more about LED throwies.

The Graffiti Research Lab has “cells” which exist in Amsterdam, Netherlands  , Vienna, Austria, and in Mexico. The cells communicate with each other, but aren’t one single company. More like two arms of the body working in tandem.

James Powderly has even spent time in jail for his art in China. Around the time of the opening of the Olympic games in Beijing in 2008 the Graffiti Research Lab was to be part of an exhibition at the National Art Museum of China for their Laser Tag digital art or “laser graffit.” Well the Chinese officials found out about some contacts that Powderly had made and figured he would try to promote a message of Free Tibet. They feared he might project these words on the side of a building. He was arrested and detained for nearly one week!

The group is known for projecting their digital graffiti on the sides of public buildings. This work has been featured at the Tate Modern in London and the Sundance Film Festival.

In this clip by James Powderly we learn more about the group.

A link to the Graffiti Research Lab website. Very fun to see what is going on in this new medium of street art!

This cell is based out of New York. What a unique and amazing way to do street art. I had no idea. And for the Chinese government to lock him up when most foreigners are thrown out shoes how threatened they are by artists and people who think for themselves. Way to go street art!


Artist of the moment….Jessie Oonark

Jessie Oonark was an Inuit artist known not only for her printmaking skills, but also for her woven tapestry skills. Jessie Oonark was born in the Baker Lake, Nunavet Territory, in Canada.

Oonark didn’t become involved with art until she was in her fifties. Before that she enjoyed the role of the traditional Inuit woman. Making clothes from sealskin and caribou. In 1959 a biologist working in the area gave her some supplies and a creative genius was born.

When she first began her printmaking career the only printing press the Inuits had was in Cape Dorset. Jessie Oonark was the only artist outside of Cape Dorset to work with the Cape Dorset printing press. The one and only artist!

She was a janitor at a church before a sponsor bought her a small studio and she was able to produce art full time and issue many print series.

Price range information: The artist worked with prints and drawings ranging between $1,500 and $5,000. Embroidery works range $10,000 to $35,000.

In this clip we see an installation of one her very large tapestry works.

From our beloved friends at Waddington’s Auction house of Canada we see one of Jessie Oonark’s fabric works up for auction. It well exceeded the estimated price. Her works in fabric are sought after by collectors.

Jessie Oonark had 8 children that went on to become artists. They will follow in up coming posts!


Artist of the moment….Owusu Ankomah

Owusu Ankomah is a fantastic contemporary artist born in Sekondi, Ghana in 1956. From a design point, the works are incredible. Look closely and at first glance the work is hypnotic and put the viewer in a daze to try and decipher what the symbols could mean. Then look closer and in many cases there is at least one person, often times in motion, also hiding in the picture. In addition to his own culture the artist makes up his own symbols and borrows some signs and strokes from Chinese calligraphy.

In this clip we listen Ankomah talk about the art economy and if art can be used to help poverty stricken areas of the world.

It may take you some time but please try to find at least one the characters “hidden” in Owusu Ankomah’s work!

The artist’s work is very contemporary as it includes symbols and texts from cultures around the globe that you would not normally associate with each other, such as African and Chinese cultures.

In 1979 the artist left Africa for the first time travelling abroad to Europe making important art and business contacts over the years.

First show in the United States was in 1981, featuring artists from his native country of Ghana.

In 1986 Ankomah moved to Bremen, Germany. He is still based out of the city.

The symbols used by Owusu Ankomah come from the Andrika culture.

For his artistic education the artist attended Ghanatta College of Art in Accra, Ghana.

Part of shows in the United States, Europe, and Africa.

Another theme is crop circles.

Price range information: Many works priced $5,000 to $25,000. Works mainly with acrylics.


Artist of the moment……Andy Warhol and the Brillo Box…

Lets take a look at the artist who had the most work during 2012, Andy Warhol and his work with the Brillo Box.

A brief history of the box. The box was one of the first very large tasks accomplished by Andy Warhol and his assistant Gerard Malanga in the newly opened Silver Factory. Given this name as Warhol had most of the interior wrapped in aluminum foil by a lighting named Billy Lane.  The factory was a very large space with a total of nearly 5,000 square feet.

Warhol’s first well known series was the one with Soup Cans. The Brillo Box was his first attempt at moving into three dimensions.

Warhol loved to explore the idea of art where ever he looked. From works dealing with death and sometimes suicide, to flowers, to business Warhol enjoyed showing us how much art is involved in our daily lives.

Price range information:  Though the Brillo Box was a FAILURE at first with some collectors even cancelling their orders, the boxes had an outstanding return in the 2000s. From 2002 to 2012,  the average box went up slightly more than six times the price. Far better than a stock market return. The highest sale for a Brillo Box was $4.7 million dollars in 2008.

The boxes were made of plywood and then silkscreened  by Warhol and Malanga.

A very funny interview with Andy and a reporter who questions him about making the Brillo Box sculpture. How come you didn’t make something new? Are you just going to carry on Andy? Seriously….funny!

For a show at the Armory artist Charles Lutz was commissioned to make an appropriation of Warhol’s Brillo Boxes. The public was to take one home for free. I wonder if in 4o years this boxes might be worth 1 million dollars. Not bad!

Another artist who works mainly with Appropriations in his art. He uses reverse perspective to achieve some very unique results. The artist’s work is a wonderful mix of sculpture and painting.

I hope you enjoyed this look into one of Warhol’s most successful series!