Friday, April 1, 2011

New interests and art sources....and a little update:
Thanks to my friend Andres - he has told me about some intriguing people that I want to post that intrigue me because of the nature of my artwork, creating a portal.  .  

The long awaited James Turrell Skyspace, Light Reign, was unveiled to the public in July of 2003. Since then, it has been the site of numerous meditation sessions, a Quaker silent meeting, a performance art piece, an audio installation by artist Steve Roden, and thousands of individual visits. Combining architecture, sculpture, and atmosphere, the work is not only a spectacular addition to the museum√¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s permanent collection, it is also now an important part of the building’s architecture.
Turrell’s work is meant to be taken in slowly, quietly, and over time. The Skyspace experience varies at different times of the year and different times of day. Visitors are encouraged to stop in again and again to sit back and absorb the effects of the Skyspace over the course of the seasons.
Visitors are also encouraged to swing by the Henry Art Gallery after dark to see the spectrum of intense colors that the exterior of the Skyspace emits when lit by thousands of computer controlled LED lights embedded in its glass panels.
James Turrell is an internationally acclaimed light and space artist whose work can be found in collections worldwide. Since childhood, Turrell has been fascinated with the qualities of light.
Turrell√¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s mother and grandmother were Quakers. When he was a child growing up in Pasadena, CA, he remembers his grandmother telling him what to do at a Quaker meeting: “Go inside and greet the light.” He majored in mathematics and perceptual psychology at Pomona College, Claremont, CA. He went on to study art at the University of California at Irvine. A recently re-lapsed Quaker, Turrell is also a long-time airplane pilot and rancher.
James Turrell uses light as his medium. Over more than three decades, he has created striking works that play with perception and the effect of light within a created space.
Turrell has said, “My work is about space and the light that inhabits it. It is about how you confront that space and plumb it. It is about your seeing.”
His large-scale, often architectural works incorporate the complex interplay of sky, light and atmosphere in motion across expanses of ocean, desert, and city. Loosely linked to the California light and space art movement, Turrell is best known for his monumental land art project at Roden Crater outside Flagstaff, AZ.
WHAT IS A Skyspace?
A James Turrell skyspace is a freestanding enclosed chamber large enough for about 15 people and designed and constructed with utmost precision to heighten our sense of sight and perception.
The Henry Art Gallery Skyspace is the very first to combine two aspects of James Turrell’s work: skyspace and exterior architectural illumination, making it accessible to viewers from both the inside and the outside. From the outside, the elliptical chamber becomes a luminous light work as the eighteen foot-high glass panels covering its exterior are softly illuminated from within with slowly changing color.
Inside the skyspace, visitors sit on a bench and view the sky and atmospheric changes through an opening in the roof. On rainy days a moveable dome covers the opening and a secondary light source creates a seemingly infinite visual space beyond the roof “aperture.”

Jeff Donaldson - the muralist
Jeff Donaldson is a muralist. He was the leader of the movement to create an African American art based on black cultural experience. His work deals Racial conscience and political commitment. He also adds the rhythm of jazz, struggle, color, and "shine" that he felt represented the vibrancy and resilency of the African American spirit.
The work of art that really caught my attention was The Wall of Respect. Jeff Richardson Donaldson was born and raised in Pine Bluffs, Arkansas. At the age of three, he loved to watch his older brother draw; soon he was drawing his own cartoons and comic books. As a studio art major at the University of Arkansas, he studied with John Howard, who had been a student of Harlem Renaissance painter Hale Woodruff. Howard helped to nurture Donaldson's growing interest in Afrocentric art, which Donaldson expanded through travel in Africa and study of African art history. Donaldson earned a master's degree from the Illinois Institute of Technology, and later earned a Ph.D. in African and African American art history from Northwestern University.
Donaldson came of age at a time of rapid social change, as African Americans demanded both civil rights and respect for a black culture that refused to compromise itself to mainstream white values. Soon after beginning his academic career, he became involved in the Organization of Black American Culture (OBAC). Through its visual art workshop, which Donaldson organized, its member artists created the "Wall of Respect" in Chicago. This mural, which 12 artists painted on an abandoned brick corner building in 1967, depicted more than 50 individuals who personified black pride, including Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker, Billie Holiday, Stokely Carmichael, H. Rap Brown, Malcolm X, and Muhammad Ali.Washington Post critic Paul Richard later described the wall as a "black-is-beautiful piece, a rough guerrilla mural, part hall of fame, part billboard, pridefully depicting black figures who took pride in being black." Pointedly omitting the image of Martin Luther King, Jr., whose integrationist message was at odds with OBAC's more militant approach, the mural emphasized art that, in Richard's words, "would be vigorous and colorful and African at root. And purposefully political. Dazzling and new, it would shine out like a flower on the African family tree." The Wall of Respect, which was destroyed after it was damaged by fire in 1971, became an icon of the black pride movement. It is credited with spawning an urban mural movement throughout the country in the 1970s which included Detroit's "Wall of Dignity".

Nelson Stevens

Nelson Steven's art is a reflection of elements both physical and spiritual which have their grounding in the African-American experience. His rhythmical, multi-layered reassemble of form and color can be likened to the quality of syncretism inherent is most aspects of our African-American culture. When we were brought over here, we were forced to give up our African culture and adopt a wholly different system of philosophy. But our captors were not entirely successful in destroying all that was African and much of what today is considered "American" is really African-American--religion, language, dance and music--a blend-of two opposing systems into one. For more information, please visit his website

When artist Nelson Stevens looks at a person he sees a broad palette of colors. That vision embues his portraits with a multi-hued, mosaic-like style.
"I look at people and see the image in them," said the professor emeritus of art and Afro-American studies at the University of Massachusetts. "My art is anthems in praise of people."
Stevens' visual hymns will be on view this month and next at Augusta Savage Gallery at UMass in a retrospective exhibition titled "Gems in the Valley: A Toast to Nelson Stevens."
The show commemorates the enormous influence he had on UMass as a teacher during his 30-year tenure, and on the Black Arts Movement in America. Stevens role in the movement has been chronicled in the 2008 book "Resistance, Insurgence and Identity: The Art of Mari Evans, Nelson Stevens and the Black Arts Movement (Africa World Press) by Robert L. Douglas.
"Gems" features works dating back to the 1970s in a range of styles and mediums, including works on paper, canvas, doors, board, album covers and prints in magazines and calendars. Unifying the wide-ranging collection is its grounding in the African-American experience and Stevens' exuberant celebration of color.
"I love to mix paints," he said. "I love to see what it does to other people. Art is communication; it is selfish to do it for yourself."
"Gems in the Valley" opens with a reception on Feb. 9, from 5 to 7 p.m., and will be on view at the gallery in New Africa House through March 13.
Stevens' career has spanned over five decades and a multitude of media and styles. But one thing hasn't changed: his commitment to use art to beautify communities. During his long teaching career at UMass Amherst, Stevens would bring his students to Springfield to paint murals around the city. He did it, he said, "to make an outdoor gallery for the community.
"It was a way to sanctify the community," he added, in the great tradition of the mural movement, dating back to the early 20th century in Mexico.
"The mural movement is like stained-glass windows for people," he said. "We built a lot of friendships in Springfield because of it. The people on the streets would bring us pie."
Now retired from teaching and living in Baltimore, Md., Stevens, 70, took time last week to reflect on his lifetime in art in a phone conversation. His earliest memory of wanting to be an artist goes back to drawing with hopscotch chalk on the sidewalks of his native Brooklyn.
"We lived in this five-story building," he said, "and after we drew on the sidewalks we would go to the roof and look down at what we had done."
Stevens' grandmother, a domestic worker for a sculptor on Central Park West, taught Stevens what she learned at her work about the ins and outs of an artist's career, and became a big inspiration to him, he said. "We would go to Central Park and talk about the color of the pigeons," Stevens recalled. Later his fourth-grade teacher recommended him to a class at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. That sealed the deal.
Once out of junior college, Stevens immediately added teaching to his practice of art. "I always enjoyed seeing that oh yeah' moment," he said, "to see [the students[']] eyes get big."
One of the highlights of his career as an artist was getting involved with the Black Art Movement in Chicago in the 1960s. Stevens had earned an M.F.A. at Kent State University in Ohio, and joined AFRICOBRA - African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists - an organization that plastered the walls of Chicago buildings with images of the black cultural revolution.
Stevens said that in graduate school, he'd had to convince his teachers and fellow classmates that black art exists as its own entity. He remembers his teachers saying things like, "What do you mean? Is there a specific way black people hold a brush?"
Previous to the movement, there was no literature to suggest that black art deserved its own category, but murals like "The Wall of Respect," painted in 1967 in Chicago by Stevens and other members of the Organization of Black American Culture helped change that.
"He's one of the leading figures in the visual arts wing of the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s," said John Bracey, who taught at Northern Illinois University with Stevens and came to UMass Amherst with him in 1972.
One piece in the show commemorative of that time is the vibrant and powerful 1972 "Sister Spirit," a piece that usually hangs on Stevens' wall. Though much of his work is figurative, the broad range of styles in the show will also include abstract work on hollow wooden doors and works from his Black Christian Fine Arts Calendar project, "Art in the Service of the Lord."
In sum, he said, "It'll be a cross-section of my life that I'm very proud of."

Now just waiting on my next 6 books I just ordered:
This fascinating study of mathematical thinking among sub-Saharan African peoples covers counting in words and in gestures; measuring time, distance, weight, and other quantities; manipulating money and keeping accounts; number systems; patterns in music, poetry, art, and architecture; and number magic and taboos. African games such as mankala and elaborate versions of tic-tac-toe show how complex this thinking can be. An invaluable resource for students, teachers, and others interested in African cultures and multiculturalism, this third edition is updated with an introduction covering two decades of new research in the ethnomathematics of Africa.

Spirit of African Design is as richly vibrant as the masks, nail fetishes, Senufo beds and portraiture that graces its pages.... The authors infuse the spirit of the continent into every area of the home... -- Quarterly Black Review, Judy Willis

Two design experts share their knowledge of and enthusiasm for African design and style, presenting African motifs as displayed in contemporary home settings. As most titles on African design focus on either museum holdings or native settings, this makes for a different approach to African design which teaches a new perspective, standing apart from the myriad of African art and contemporary design standards. -- Midwest Book Review

Fractals are characterized by the repetition of similar patterns at ever-diminishing scales. Fractal geometry has emerged as one of the most exciting frontiers on the border between mathematics and information technology and can be seen in many of the swirling patterns produced by computer graphics. It has become a new tool for modeling in biology, geology, and other natural sciences.
Anthropologists have observed that the patterns produced in different cultures can be characterized by specific design themes. In Europe and America, we often see cities laid out in a grid pattern of straight streets and right-angle corners. In contrast, traditional African settlements tend to use fractal structure--circles of circles of circular dwellings, rectangular walls enclosing ever-smaller rectangles, and streets in which broad avenues branch down to tiny footpaths with striking geometric repetition. These indigenous fractals are not limited to architecture; their recursive patterns echo throughout many disparate African designs and knowledge systems.
Drawing on interviews with African designers, artists, and scientists, Ron Eglash investigates fractals in African architecture, traditional hairstyling, textiles, sculpture, painting, carving, metalwork, religion, games, practical craft, quantitative technologies, and symbolic systems. He also examines the political and social implications of the existence of African fractal geometry. His book makes a unique contribution to the study of mathematics, African culture, anthropology, and computer simulations.

A Companion to Contemporary Art Since 1945 (Blackwell Companions to Art History)
Amelia Jones
"This Companion represents a move away from the more traditionally conceived broad surveys of contemporary art available to date, and is refreshing in its innovative approach to this complex subject ... essential reading for students and scholars of contemporary art history, visual culture, and visual theory, and general readers just wishing to develop their understanding of this complex subject." Reference Reviews
“Provocative, wide-ranging, and impressively inclusive…a welcome and important addition for the understanding of the art of our historical present and a boon companion for the general reader, the artist, the student, the art historian and the critic alike.” Abigail Solomon-Godeau, University of California, Santa Barbara

“By keeping its finger on the pulse of the present, while commenting on the recent past, this book reminds us why contemporary art, and contemporary art history, matters." Geoffrey Batchen, City University of New York

and more African Fabric Design books!!  

Whoo hoo I will let you know how this goes.