Two nice things: witches like saints & harvesting the moon.

Screen Shot 2015-12-29 at 7.00.22 PM1. Isabel Allende is one of my all-time favorite authors. House of Spirits has always felt like a more feminine version of my favorite book, One Hundred Years of Solitude. I know my love for magical realism has always made me seem a little immature—espeically compared with the “serious” literature majors I knew in college, who preferred texts that felt impenetrable to me, walls of text made by dead white men with axes to grind and bones to pick. But goddamn it, I like what I like, and what I like is crazy, New Agey, magical shit. Stories where cats walk on two legs and newts have sexy, sophisticated romances and snowy sculptures come to life.

But enough with my dumb, pretentious, self-critical rambling. Allende is wonderful and everyone should read her. She makes femininity feel like such a powerful thing—witchy and earthy and crude and delightful and free. I love how she writes women. Her female characters are round, and I mean that both in the literary sense and the curvy sense. I’m currently reading her memoir Paula, and it really makes me appreciate the power of female companions, friends, lovers, daughters, etc. Here’s one of the best quotes:

Witches, like saints, are solitary stars that shine with a light of their own; they depend on nothing and no one, which is why they have no fear and plunge blindly into the abyss with the assurance that instead of crashing to earth, they will fly back out. They can change into birds and see the world from above, or worms to see it from within, they can inhabit other dimensions and travel to other galaxies, they are navigators on an infinite ocean of consciousness and cognition.

Damn, girl. That makes me want to be a witch, like, yesterday.

Screen Shot 2015-12-29 at 7.21.42 PM.png2. The second person I’m vibing on today is Bruce Monroe. He is a Pennsylvania-based artist who makes striking installations. The top image is “Moon Harvest,” a visual pun that projects images of the moon onto bales of hay. “Shower of Light” is the second image (directly above). He also uses CDs frequently in his installations, which, when placed together, turn into giant reflective surfaces that look like oversized sequins, glittery and fractured. Check out his other work (and find out where you can see one of his luminous pieces in person!) by clicking here. 

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I mean, yeah, it’s a bad idea. But it’s pretty.

crimes-art-marco-evaristtiA Copenhagen-based Chilean artist was just sentenced to 15 days in jail for creating the above work, which involved pouring a bunch of pink food dye into the Strokkur Geysir. On one hand, it’s kind of a dick move (and his “defense” makes him sound like a pretentious jerk—totally unheard of for artists, I know). On the other hand, damn. I kinda dig it.

Things that make me happy: Japanese string gardens, Dylan Thomas & a song for Spring.

hanging string gardens japan1. In Tokyo, the “experience designers” at teamLab have created a beautiful, kinetic hanging garden made with a form of bonsai called Kokedama. Tied with string and bound with moss, the plants are able to grow mid-air, roots burrowing into little contained bundles of dirt. And because art and science are just natural bedfellows: This floating field is also mechanized to move with your body, parting the way for views to walk amongst the blossoms unhindered. What a lovely, happy thing to create. It reminds me of another untranslatable word I’ve been digging: Shinrin-yokuTranslated literally it means forest-bathing, but it’s often used to refer to a short, rejuvenating walk in the woods. Nice, right?

2. One of my all-time favorite poems is “Fern Hill” by Dylan Thomas. Just go read it to see why. This is one of those poems where all the parts are the best part, but here is a sample:

Now as I was young and easy under the apple boughs
About the lilting house and happy as the grass was green,
     The night above the dingle starry,
          Time let me hail and climb
     Golden in the heydays of his eyes,
And honoured among wagons I was prince of the apple towns
And once below a time I lordly had the trees and leaves
          Trail with daisies and barley
     Down the rivers of the windfall light.

3. A perfect song for warmer weather!

Today I’m inspired by… Yayoi Kusama’s entire career.

yayoiI’ve professed my love for Yayoi Kusama before, but this playful, colorful art installation in Aix-en-Provence just takes it to the next level. It’s like a scene from a utopian fantasy novel, or an adult Dr. Seuss. A quick google search revealed that this Japanese artist was active in the New York art scene at the same time as Andy Warhol—which makes perfect sense, because nothing quite says POP art to me like colorful dots and infinitely repeating patterns (these trees are kind of like a deconstructed Lichtenstein). Her work has been labeled feminist and minimalist, with strong (and pretty awesome) psychedelic undertones. But what really surprised me is that she’s also the author of multiple novels. She’s 84-years-old and a totally badass lady with more talent in her little finger than most people have in their entire bodies. And just look at her:

Yayoi_Kusama_3018813bI get so wrapped up in stories of young people creating amazing things, but often these “prodigy” narratives make me feel unaccomplished. Reading about established artists with long, varied, and interesting careers is the perfect antidote to that ugly, envious tendency. At 84, she’s still creating wonderful things. Life is (hopefully) long and full of wonder. I still have time.

P.S. Dig this artist? You can check out more of her work at Artsy.net.

Aakash Nihalani’s neon New York.

RainboroughPortland has some great street art, but I would really like to see Aakash come to town and decorate some of our old, gray, grandiose buildings with his colorful shapes. Instead of using spray paint or wheatpaste (the two most common materials to use in graffiti art) he relies on neon-hued tape to create his bold geometric patterns. The piece above is named Rainborough, which is a delightful play on words if I ever heard one.

But, like many things, you’ll only see Aakash’s work in NYC. As he explains on his website, he wants viewers to experience New York in a new way, through new eyes brightened by vivid pinks, yellows, and reds. These glowing tones highlight the solid shapes of New York architecture, emphasizing both the past and the city’s brilliant future.

For more of his work, check out aakashnihalani.com. Or you could go to his Flickr stream. And if you’re feeling inspired, you can always order some washi tape and create a little Nihalani-style mural on your own wall (and that’s what I’m going to do, as soon as I have a hot minute to myself).

I love public art, especially Filippo Minelli’s man-made clouds.

filippo-minelli-shape01I think artists who create in the public sphere are so goddamn brave and so freaking important. Art doesn’t just belong in museums—it belongs everywhere. In fantastic design, in beautiful typography, in the books we read and in the things we eat. Yes, I’m getting carried away. But I really, fundamentally believe that art is and should be everywhere, and the people who say “but I could do that” should probably be taken away and put in a boring gray cubicle where they can live out the rest of their lives without any aesthetic stimulation or provocative sights.

Whew. Today is apparently a day for rants (it’s also a day for taxes, but I’ll save that rant for my freelance friends). It’s also a good day to look at Filippo Minelli’s gorgeous photographs. The artist has been creating public art works since the early 90’s. A lot of his pieces play with borders and boundaries, liminal spaces and weird half-places. He has plenty of cool work, but I’m particularly drawn to the Silence/Shapes series. It’s an ongoing project of colorful clouds in natural spaces—or, as he describes it:

Decontextualization of a violent tool changing quickly the surroundings, creating chaos, blinding the eyes, used in natural landscapes. The result proves that beauty can be found in clashing visions with an approach and aesthetic similar to romanticism. Showing the power of nature with the implication of religious aspects. Juxtaposing violence and beauty as a political statement. Giving silence a physical shape to be aware of its presence in the age of information and communication technology.

PUBARTI know you’re interested in silence, but please, Filippo, keep talking. I like the things you say.

More here.

Let’s replace the street lamps with chandeliers.

freeparkingIf someone were to ask me right now what do you want to be when you grow up? I would say: “an artist.” I love art. Love it in forms—from oil paintings to earth works—and all places—on the outside of the building and the inside of a gallery. But you know what? I have no talent. None! So instead, I write about the awesome things other people do.

And damn, this is awesome. Austrian artist Werner Reiterer has been creating these beautiful street chandeliers since 2006. By installing these symbols of opulent, interior life onto decrepit outdoor spaces, he creates a fascinating juxtaposition. These outdoor pieces are playful, yet a little tense, especially in how they draw immediate attention to divisions between public and private, haves and havenots. Now, more than ever, it’s fascinating to see how these old symbols of wealth translate, especially when taken out of context.

Cool, right? Plus, I love that it’s accessible to every passerby. Art for the masses! Occupy museums! Or just, you know, enjoy this cool picture.