Astro Creates Massive Optical Illusion Mural

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If your stroll down the street suddenly feels like you’re portaling into another dimension, you may have stumbled into one of Astro’s massive illusions.  Parisian graffiti artist Astro creates optical illusion murals that draw viewers into unreachable realms.  His trademark curves and abstract calligraphy shapes recently turned up on a residential building in Loures, Portugal, just south of Lisbon for the urban art project Loures Art Publica.

Check out the sweet pics below.

 

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Astro: Website Instagram

via [MyModernMet]

All images via Astro.

That Time JR Made the Pyramid at the Louvre Disappear

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French street artist, JR, was invited by the Louvre museum to wrap their world-famous glass pyramid with one of his monumental anamorphic images.

The Louvre has an amazing history —  originally built as a fortress in 1190, it was reconstructed in the 16th century to serve as a royal palace; in 1793, Louis XIV and Marie Antoinette moved out and relocated their entire royal court to Versailles. And now, the Louvre is an art museum, exhibiting the royal collection and artifacts.

It’s equally famous pyramid was designed in 1985 by American architect, I.M.Pei.  The pyramid is a subterranean entrance into the Louvre, restructuring the old design, merging all of the museum’s wings with a common access point.  There’s nothing quite like witnessing the contrast of this contemporary wonder against the museum’s  baroque stateliness as you descend into what will seem like a endless abyss of art (it covers a whopping 652,300 square feet).

There’s was backlash against it’s construction, as art lovers around the world fought against what they were sure would destroy the very heart of Paris. Now this otherworldly 71-foot-high structure of glass and metal sitting in front of the main entrance is one of the most photographed landmarks in Paris.  Recent studies show that the Louvre draws nearly twice the number of visitors than it did before the Pyramid’s installation. That steamrolling commentary of fear that Pei’s design would violate the museum’s historical integrity found new air as the conversation retained relevancy with the course of JR’s Louvre project.

JR talked about the ongoing feud between traditional and modern tastes in art in an interview with curator and journalist, Hugo Vitrani.
“Making the Pyramid disappear is a way for me to distance myself from my subject…My work is about transmitting history to better understand the present, and find echoes with our own times. What happened in the past is part of a broader context that can still have relevance for today. By erasing the Louvre Pyramid, I am highlighting the way Pei made the Louvre relevant for his time, while bringing the Louvre back to its original state. The Pyramid is one of the most photographed French monuments. I am re-directing its energy, because people are going to have to move around it. They are going to look for the best angle to get the full impact of the anamorphic image, and really make the Pyramid disappear.”
It’s been more than 25 years since the pyramid was introduced to the world.  Some say, Pei achieved a kind of architectural sleight-of-hand with so much more there than meets the eye.  I’d say JR has joined those ranks.
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Photo credit: legeekcestchic.eu

Amberella’s Goth Hearts

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Goth Heart by Amberella. Photo - Conrad Benner/Streets Dept

Goth Heart by Amberella. Photo – Conrad Benner/Streets Dept

Amber Lynn (aka Amberella) is a Philadelphia-based mixed media and street artist who sees the world through candy-coated eyes. Most of her work is conceptual and often comments on popular culture, body image, or lady drama.  What we find intriguing is her honest draw on past and present personal life experiences and how she freely she lets it all bleed out into the street.

Her newest series, Goth Hearts is a culmination of feelings pulled from diaries, notes, sketchbooks, scribbles, memories, and every day feels.  It’s raw and vulnerable, seeking to touch on the viewer’s emotions and evoke feeling upon first glance.  Here, there are no candy-colored sappy sentiments packaged and disguised in an array of pretty lies.

“This work speaks to my own experiences and vulnerabilities. I’m revisiting, exploring, and releasing these emotions, whether past or present, back into the universe. The streets serve as a platform to create an unexpected raw reaction for the viewer. The streets are conceptually part of my process and I’m passionate about it enough that I push myself to places that are uncomfortable at times; literally putting my heart into the streets .

Besides the therapeutic nature of the work for myself, I hope that it will trigger emotion in others. In regards to the viewer, that’s all I’m after. The viewers experience is truly dependent on that persons’own thoughts, experience, perception, personality, and a plethora of other factors. I just want to provide a moment in time for people to connect with themselves and their emotions. Feelings, -all types- are so important. It means that you are alive and present.”

Truth.

Visit Amberella on Instagram and check out her past work on Streets Dept.

Amberella at Front Street Walls. Photo by @ronzanetich

Amberella at Front Street Walls. Photo by @ronzanetich

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Photo: Amber Lynn

Meet The Animation Studio, Juggling Wolf

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Animation Studios are steadily climbing the ranks of the film industry’s Most Influential Lists, challenging our perception of what innovative storytelling looks like. Memorable movies like Inside Out, ParaNorman and Coraline have made household names out of the most successful of them, Pixar and Laika.

Pixar’s successful touring exhibition, The Science Behind Pixar validates the growing public interest in the science and technology behind the magic and the creatives that bring our favorite animated movies to life.

Cinematic giants were bred somewhere, launched from small beginnings helmed by unknown creatives cloaked by these unassuming cool sounding company names.  So who are the new kids on the block? No pun intended.

I’d like to think I can predict the rise of young collectives churning out work with enough ingenuity to carry them to the main stage.  I’ve followed a local animation company whose handmade aesthetic is always captivating.  So I thought, why don’t I introduce you to them? You know – before they hit the pages of WIRED in a Cinderella-esque article that depresses me into wishing I didn’t miss the Van Gogh Boat.

Meet Juggling Wolf, a team of extraordinarily pioneering creative professionals who specialize in stop-motion.  This Philadelphia-based animation studio is the invention of Marina Gvozdeva (Video Editor), Ian Foster (Cinematographer) and Jason Chen (Color Grading Artist).

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Juggling Wolf: Jason Chen, Marina Gvozdeva, and Ian Foster

Out of their imaginations pool cleverly quirky meets cute videos that attract clients like Anthropologie and Popsicle; companies known for wooing the public with attractive doses of nostalgia and whimsy.

Now, this is where I ‘could’ have inserted a short reworked summary of their website’s ‘About Us’ page –most are planned to be the educational equivalent to a brief snooze in class. To our delight, Juggling Wolf’s is a classic old school dating profile – it reads better than anything we could have stated.  It pretty much speaks to why we’re obsessed with the company in the first place.

Name: Juggling Wolf

My Self Summary: I am an Animation Studio
Location: Philadelphia and New York
What am I doing with my life: Animating
I am really good at: Stop Motion Animation
The first things people usually notice about me: My handmade aesthetic
Favorite Books: The Animator’s Survival Kit
Favorite Movies: Click Here
Favorite Shows: Truly Detectives
Favorite Music: BBC1 Essential Mix
Favorite Food: Pho
The six things I can never do without: Lights, Cameras, Actions, After Effects, DragonFrame, Clients
I spend a lot of time thinking about: What’s for dinner?
On a typical Friday night I am: Animating
The most private thing I am willing to admit: I am not keen on writing bios
I am looking for: Clients who like animators – ages 0 – ∞ for long-term, short-term business relations.

Jim Bachor’s 2016 Pothole Art Installation ‘Pretty Trashed’

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Thanks to another successful Kickstarter campaign, Chicago artist, Jim Bachor has gotten started on his 2016 pothole art campaign.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, Bachor has been delighting art blogs since 2014 when he decided to put a beautiful spin on the excess of damaging potholes left from brutal Chicago winters.

We’ve been impatiently waiting for the next theme to his well-received pothole art installations – the new series is called Pretty Trashed.  This first mosaic dropped is ‘Beer Can’.  It’s located on Montrose, just east of California on the south side of the street. Go see it Chicago – you lucky ducks. The rest of us will just have to live vicariously through Bachor’s Instagram feed.

It’s not our first time covering Bachor’s cute mosaic potholes. You can check out his past mosaic themes here:

POTHOLE ART PROJECT LAUNCHES NEW SERIES – TREATS IN THE STREETS!

CHICAGO ARTIST FILLS POTHOLES WITH AMAZING MOSAICS

 

*photos courtesy of Jim Bachor

Kristen Liu-Wong: Dueling Banjos

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We love Kristen Liu-Wong’s work. It’s always fresh and provocative not to mention, morbidly funny. Which is why we took a break from work today to surf her website in search of some new material.

Just so happened to stumble across this video she made, Dueling Banjos, ft. Jed and Lucas.

Enjoy.

Check out our last interview with Kristen here.

Resides: Brooklyn, NY

Work: Contemporary & Fiber

Links: Website/Tumblr/Instagram

The Kids’ Eye: An Interview with Drew Leshko

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The Kids’ Eye is our new series where creative kids interview artists whose work they admire.

We prep — give them tips on proper interviewing etiquette, arm them with a camera and a recorder and then we let them loose.

We’re only there to observe.  The questions are theirs, the interviews haven’t been rewritten to sound like anything other than the probing  journalism of a tween.

Tatianna is 13.  Last summer she stumbled across Philadelphia artist, Drew Leshko’s miniatures at a gallery exhibition.  Her first thought, “Can this really be art?” We assured her it was; she marveled at the possibilities of new mediums she could explore.  Daily Googling marathons turn into allowance fueled trips to craft stores – all efforts to see if she could create her own miniature stories.  When that stopped being enough, we called up Leshko to see if he’d be up for a studio visit.

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Tatianna: So how long does a regular piece take you to do?
Drew Leshko: Well, if we’re talking about buildings, that’s a long process. They take me anywhere from 2 weeks to 3 months, depending on the size of them. If we’re talking about other works, like the dumpsters – those are hard to quantify. They’re my relief when I’m spending two months working on a building, and it’s getting to the point where I want to rip my hair out because I can’t stand looking at them anymore. I take some time off and pull out a little sculpture because I can finish that relatively quickly.

I’ve talked to a lot of different artists and they like to do two pieces at once.
Totally, you have to.

Yeah, it just drives you insane if you don’t.
It keeps you moving at a reasonable rate if you’re trying to be productive, and I am.

Are all your sculptures like…Because I heard you do them from real places. Are they all in Philadelphia?
All the buildings are based on actual buildings in Philadelphia. I start with a photograph that I take and I work to get the main structure of the building. So I’ll get the photograph out and use it to generate all the important parts; like where the beam is, where the awning is going to plug into, where the basement entrance is. After I get the main bones of the building, I put the photograph away. I work off of memory at that point.
A lot of the work has that human element of memory. I’m only trying to make buildings that don’t have that much longer to live because once they’re gone
… They’re gone.

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Did you want to do sculptures of buildings when you first started out as an artist?
No, I made sculptures of water towers — a lot of them. I was making sculptures to become the subjects of photographs I was taking. So, in a gallery setting, there would be both photographs and sculptures.

The idea was to ask the viewer what was going on, essentially — Which came first? Is it a photograph that he’s recreating, or is it a photograph of something that he’s built?

So how did that lead you into buildings?
I moved here (Philadelphia) in 2007 and the environment really informed my work. I think many artists would say that. If you live in the Hudson Valley in Upstate New York, you might be painting trees and fall scenes with the changing leaves.

Yeah… Philadelphia is just full of art. It’s everywhere you look, from graffiti on. Street art is just everywhere.
So, a lot of it came from my environment. A lot of it came from older artwork projects that I admire. Walker Evans, I always speak about him. He was commissioned by President Theodore Roosevelt to document life in the United States after the depression. He went around photographing all these down and out families in the South. He was photographing churches and creating essentially an archive of what was. It’s something real, you and I could go to the Library of Congress now and look at the slides and see portals into life. So, I can’t take photographs, I’m no good at that. I can’t paint…

I think I’m good at a little bit of everything. I can paint really well, I can draw really well, and I can take good photos.
(What you hear now is the ego of a 12-year-old, bearing the confidence that I wish I’d had at that age. Drew is being very patient. Wait, there’s more…)

I think I was born with an artistic side.
You could make a lot of money with those skills.

I think what I was saying; was in the same way that Walker Evans was trying to really capture a feeling and a time period in his project; I’m thinking about my work in the same kind of way.
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Well, if you had to do something different than building your sculptures and your dumpster and your RVs and your water towers, what would you think your options would be?
That’s a tough one.

I am tough – I like it. I want to know everything.
I don’t know if I can answer that. The campers are relatively new for me, I’ve only been working on them for about 2 months. I still have a lot to see through with this project. I plan on having 40 of them.

40? (Astonished)
Not to all be installed at the same place, at the same time.
I’m really interested in artists that pursue serious works, not like an artist that has four paintings and that’s his series – that’s not for me. I want to go over the top until people think it’s totally nuts.

The signs that you put on your buildings, do you copy them and just cut and paste them on?
Some of them I just Google. Most of the time I photograph them on the street, resize them in Photoshop and then I print them out.

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Have you ever thought about teaming up with another artist?
I thought about it, and a lot of people have approached me.

It would be cool if you got that girl who does the Urban Geodes, you know, to put miniature geodes in the bricks of your buildings.
Oh, you mean Paige.
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So what is your favorite piece to create? Is it the buildings, the water towers, the dumpsters or the campers?
I’m really in love with the RV’s right now.

Yeah, they’re neat, I really like them. Have you ever thought about making cars?
I’ve thought about doing some vehicles, but my work is mainly about the temporary relationships we have with things

Like things that aren’t going to be here in 10 or 20 years.
Right. So the buildings…It’s really obvious that they’re not going to be here after a while. For the campers’, maybe the thing that’s not going to be there is their natural environment – like the destinations that you’re traveling to. I think things are shifting in our culture, our ideas about leisure activities.

When I was growing up, my parents had a really crummy Motorhome, and my grandparents had one of these pull behind trailers. We would drive from Baltimore (where I was born) two hours away to the middle of nowhere in Maryland. And we would go to the campgrounds and spend the weekend there. It’s something that I really look back on fondly. It’s a feeling of nostalgia… I think that it’s something people aren’t doing anymore for whatever reason. There’s definitely a new resurgence of camping. There are designer camping shops popping up, but still as a culture, I think something has shifted. I don’t know if I’m right, but it’s something that I’ve been thinking about while doing this work.
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Is it hard working at home? You have a TV down here and the studio space is next to the kitchen – do you get distracted? Do you have any hobbies?
I like to ride bikes but haven’t been able to get around doing that lately.

Anything else? Like learning a new language? You should learn a new language because you’ll need it to open new doors.
You’re right. I should learn German – I’m showing a piece in Berlin soon.

I’m going to learn French. And then I’ll take a trip to Paris.

 

Leskho’s current exhibition Home Is Where Your Park It opens February 26, 2016

Opening Reception
Friday, February 26th • 5:30pm – 10:00pm

Closing Reception
Friday, March 25th • 5:30pm – 10:00pm

Exhibition Hours
Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays • 12:00pm – 6:00pm
And 7 days a week by appointment: info@paradigm-gallery.com / (267)266-0073

Location
Paradigm Gallery + Studio / 746 S. 4th Street, 1st Floor / Philadelphia, PA 19147

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E is for Eckman-Lawn — Alex Eckman-Lawn

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This is Alex Eckman-Lawn’s bio… “Alex Eckman-Lawn is a Philadelphia born illustrator who lives in the gutter and sleeps in the sewer. His work has appeared in comic books, on album covers, book covers, T-shirts, music videos, and posters. He is currently hard at work trying to burn his name into the ground and pull the sun out of the sky.”

Yup, he is that freaking cool.

No matter what medium he’s working with, it’s trademarked with complicated dark overtures layered in emotion. Our personal favorite — his contemporary framed cut paper collage pieces, each layer stacked upon another create a dense narrative that unveils a story slowly being released to the viewer.

At first glance, the narratives of his work seems peppered with themes of loneliness and fear — but the graceful shafts of light and placement of color betray a sense of hope and redemption.  It’s not hard to see the painstaking care and finesse layered in his pieces – so exacting in trying to maintain a compulsive control over chaotic worlds.

Check out the video below to see Eckman-Lawn discuss his process.

Alex Eckman-Lawn on Social Media
Website/Instagram / Tumblr

Alex’s work appears in the following comics:
Awakening Volumes 1 and 2, Popgun volume 4 (Rusted: Faded Signal), Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard (Leviathan), The Graphic Canon Vol.1 (Forgive Us Our Trespasses), and Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream. He is working on an all-ages adventure book called Thanatos Diver right now.

Matthew Grabelsky and his Concrete Jungles

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Call of the wild in a concrete jungle.  Or maybe, it’s the wild side of the urban dweller unleashed in these Matthew Grabelsky oil paintings that I can’t stop smiling at.

Maybe it’s the name of the paintings that grab me.  Most of his works are named after New York City Train Line destinations (Exit at Union Square, 1 to Penn Station).  His subway riders show off in contemporary settings, playfully executing everyday stances that make the paintings seem less fantasy and more realistic.  There’s no separation in the ease of the female subjects as they cozy up to their confident counter parts of a beastly nature. Mixing the physical world and it’s attributes to the beast within makes for an interesting look at your next commute.

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D is for Drew Leshko

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Artist, Drew Leshko’s take on capturing the commentary concerning neighborhood gentrification is to architecturally document the buildings in his Philadelphia neighborhood. His scaled-down, wall hanging, three-dimensional sculptures take weeks of carving, cutting, and layering varieties of paper and wood.

The painstaking attention to detail on these miniature replicas immerses the viewer in a storytelling that romanticizes the buildings flirting with decay or verging on redevelopment, presenting a feel of nostalgia – an unstated narrative where the art becomes a tangible form of a society’s appetite for change.

 

Link up with the artist – Instagram

Genre: sculpture artist

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C is for Conor Harrington

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UK based street artist, Conor Harrington envisions the historical with street art styling, producing hypermodern murals that toss you right into the fray. His over-sized dramatic figures, regally attired in tattered historical garb loom over the viewer, poised in the throes of epic fights fought out on the side of buildings and city walls. Each scene drips with a sense of visceral urgency, bringing life to these amazing oil painting mimics.

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Like most recorded history, it’s all mapped out and planned before its written down. Scenes are staged like large-scale compositions and photographed in the studio before they’re executed outside.  Oil paintings from the days of our forefathers never looked like this. But if there was some Colonial Fight Club action taking place, chances are, it went down like this.

Watch it evolve:

Link up: Conor Harrington Website / Instagram @conorsaysboom

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Genre: Street Art

Embroidered Vintage Rackets

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Well, our old tennis rackets are simply hanging out in boxes, pushed away into dark corners of our basement closets. Meanwhile, Cape Town-based designer and embroidery artist, Danielle Clough uses them to frame off vibrant embroidered flowers.   Her series, What a Racket features brightly colored wool flowers weaved between the delicate threading of old badminton and tennis rackets.

Rackets aren’t the only things she’s been embroidering, check out her website to see her other fiber art projects.

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