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My First Installation Art Exhibit, "Passage" at Art Produce Gallery, San Diego

After commenting so much on other people's artwork, especially as the Fine Arts moderator, I figured that it was time that I shared some of my own processes and experiences with art, so you're all not just there wondering why I'm here. I grew up with a serious love for the arts. When I was in the third grade, I was given a standardized creativity assessment (Yeah, apparently those exist.) and was sent to a special state-funded arts program determined to hone whatever promise of art skill existed. I was involved in the gifted art program for five years before I moved to San Diego, and sort of stopped with art (aside from the obligatory math class doodling) until I was elected to be the art director of my school's newspaper. When I got older, I really had no aspiration to be an artist. Sure, I was good at art, but there were many people I knew who could draw pretty well too, and they weren't really looking at art as a career path either. I started attending college for journalism and spent a semester on the university's newspaper, the Telescope. I thought that I would be able to make it as a writer, but the moment my editors saw the strange little doodles in the margins of my notes, they insisted I work as an artist instead. That sort of feedback frustrated me. Why couldn't I be a writer? Why could people only see me as an artist? But then I realized that maybe that was an advantage. Maybe people only saw me as an artist because I really am an artist. Needless to say, I switched majors and went into studio arts. The studio arts are a lot more difficult than people give them credit for. Each homework assignment feels like a performance on American Idol or an outfit on Project Runway. You hang out work on the wall next to everyone else's work, everything gets critiqued, and you get a grade based on where your effort falls within the class. It truly is a competitive and stressful atmosphere, and I remember staying up until dawn working on projects I was going to be handing in only a couple hours later. I loved being an art student, but I had to take a break when my father got diagnosed with lung cancer. My mother was already disabled from a previous ailment, and as the only sibling still living at home, I took a majority of the responsibility. During the time I took care of both of them, I wondered if I would ever be able to go back to school, and spent whatever free time I had left learning how to use music editing software and creating DJ mixsets. (It's a creative process really similar to art actually! You fellow artists should try it sometime.) When my father died only two weeks before the next semester started, I made sure to enroll regardless of my grief. My education was so important to both of my parents, and I knew my father would be proud that I would not let my sadness discourage me from working hard. My first classes back included a sculpture class, and despite never having created a three-dimensional work in nearly a decade, I fell right into the process and found myself loving every minute of it. My passion was immediately recognized, and in that same semester, I was chosen by my instructor to help him with an installation for the Art Produce Gallery in downtown San Diego. We decided to name the project "Passage", conveying the impact of the opportunity. I was simply a student going into the experience, but leaving as a true artist. We sketched the design only two months out, and immediately got to work. Using long black wire, red zip-ties, and a pair of electric screwdrivers, we created these spherical shapes that looked almost exactly like our hand-drawn imagery. The circles were to represent cells gathered in a way to convey community. I still remember how tedious it was to work with that black wire, as the iron wire we were working with was somewhat oiled and ended up all over our hands and between our fingers the more and more time we spend on the project. Washing it off was a nightmare! After we had finished all the spheres at the studio, we created a new workstation at the actual gallery. Using ladders and a good deal of assistance, we were able to suspend the spheres at various heights, which worked perfectly to create the 'passage' shape we were hoping for, but left a whole lot of zip-ties. As the zip-ties crunched under our shoes, I suggested that leaving zip-ties scattered across the ground could add a sensory element to our exhibition. I said it as a joke, but my instructor totally loved it. By the end of the semester, in December 2010, "Passage" had been fully completed and made available to the public. Friends came, other students came, and many of San Diego's local art patrons stopped by to see our work. We even ended up in some local newspapers and art magazines. It was an exciting time, as it was the first time I was an exhibited artist AND the first time I was an installation artist. I never thought I would ever get to that point, but it truly is amazing where life puts you. The moral of the story is, if you're an artist, own being an artist. Being a creative person is a pretty wonderful thing to be!
@Spudsomma Hahaha THANK YOU. I'm glad you think so! :) I feel like I've hopped back and forth between art and writing so much that my resume looks like I've got a split personality.
@marshalledgar I haven't been approached to do permanent art installations, but basically this is probably my biggest show. The rest of the time I was asked to submit work was only for student exhibitions and things like that. :) It made me really appreciate installation art though. I never thought it could be 'my thing'!
awesome journey from 3rd grade to now. when and where is your next art exhibit? Have you been approached to do permanent art installations? Keep posting!
@danidee, thanks for sharing your art with us. I wish I had seen the installation in person. You're a damned good writer, too! It must be nice to have a number of talents to choose from!
@McDoogle Thank you! Maybe I will. ;) I just thought this was a good time to share some of my favorite works when everyone else in the community has been open enough to share theirs with me!
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The Works of Dale Chihuly The Atlantis Collection
ABOVE - A detail of "The Crystal Gate" installation in the Atlantis Resort, Nassau, The Bahamas. Dale Chihuly is a blown glass designer/sculptor whose works are considered unique to the field of blown glass, "moving it into the realm of large-scale sculpture". His works are legendary in the realm of art glass and he is considered a modern master through his mixing of traditional glass blowing techniques (learned in Venice Italy) and new techniques he’s developed to create works of mind-blowing intricacy and scale. Since a serious car accident in 1976 left him blinded in one eye and a body surfing accident in 1979 left him unable to hold the glass blowing pipe. He has since hired others to do the manual labor in bringing his designs to life. He calls himself “more of a choreographer than a dancer… more of a supervisor than a participant… more a director than an actor.” His large installations are on display in permanent collections all over the world, including in the United States, Canada, England, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Nassau, the Bahamas at the Atlantis Resort. ABOVE - A detail of "The Crystal Gate" installation in the Atlantis Resort, Nassau, The Bahamas. The challenges in shooting such amazing works of art are many: SCALE - These massive installations are so large and complex that to capture the truly amazing detail and unique beauty of each you really need to shoot close-up images. The scale is then lost. But to shoot wide to establish each work in the environment they were places (designed for), you loose the finer details that make these works so awe inspiring. I knew when I was booked to shoot a corporate event in the Atlantis that the four large Chihuly installations were top of my list for my own "must shoot" items for the trip. I'd seen wide photo after wide photo and once on site and standing in amazement at their complexity and detail I decided to shoot long and tight - opting to not focus on scale so much as detail but knowing that certain angles would convey the size of their settings and therefore express their monumental size. LOCATION - These works of art are the show pieces of the busiest part of the resort, the casino. There isn't a time day or night that these works of art are not surrounded by people. Having the time to set up a shot and take it would be difficult. LOCATION - Because photography in the casino proper is not allowed, I was limited to the angles I could select. This meant going for my 300mm f/2.8 lens - large, heavy, and in need of some sort of support (i.e. tripod or monopod). It wasn't going to be possible to stop in a busy walkway and set up a tripod - so I decided to experiment with hand-held shots. LOCATION - Again, because of the location I couldn't increase shutter speed with the use of a speedlight. Flash photography was strictly prohibited inside the resort. The areas these installations occupied were dimly lit, which worked to the advantage of their display (since they are all internally lit), but with large lenses you have the hand-held rule of photography - if you don't want blur from the lens shaking you must shoot the second equivalent of the total focal length of the lens. Meaning I had to shoot at 1/350 second or higher to keep from having shake/blur in the images from holding that massive lens hand-held. I adjusted ISO to compensate and I used anything I could to steady my body/arms as I hoisted 12lbs of camera and lens up to get my shots. ABOVE -At the main entrance of the Atlantis Casino, "The Crystal Gate" installation stands 18 feet tall. Made of individual crystal glass shafts (3,100 to be exact), it is an amazing work of beauty as well as being a feat of design and engineering. Weighing over 30,000 pounds, it simply is an astoundingly beautiful and complex sculpture. Chihuly Atlantis Exhibits – Dale Chihuly was commissioned by the owner and builder of The Atlantis to make four grand statement works for the casino. Each is insured for over a million US dollars, they are all uniquely individual yet collectively appropriate for the design and theme of the Atlantis's main casino. The Crystal Gate - The Crystal Gate is a glittering tower of crystal soaring nearly 20 feet into the air at the entrance to the Atlantis Casino weighing 30,000 pounds and is made of 3,100 hand-blown crystals. It is the grand statement piece as you enter the casino – a marvel of crystal shapes and forms. It was by far my favorite piece, the pure scale and ambition of it spoke to me. I took dozens of photos of it and each angle reveals a new character and symmetry. ABOVE - The Temple of the Moon rests atop a large elevated platform. It sits opposite the casino from The Temple of the Sun. Between the two in the center of the room, suspended from the ceiling, is the Seaform Chandelier. Temple of the Moon & The Temple of the Sun - The challenge was to bring beauty to paradise -- and the Sun and Moon. Chihuly was commissioned to make dazzling yet approachable sculpture for the new Atlantis Resort Hotel on Paradise Island in the Bahamas. SPECIAL NOTE - Having the ability to step OUTSIDE the casino and shoot a photo such as the one above is one of the many reasons why I will ALWAYS travel with a super-telephoto lens. Having a 300, 400, 500, or 600mm lens available makes shots like the one above a reality. ABOVE - The Temple of the Moon – Each of the surface "plates" of the Temple of the Moon in itself is an amazing work of art. Cobalt blue mixes with silverish white and translucent blues to create a soothing and symmetrical opposite to the Temple of the Sun across the casino. “I knew I could create the sun very successfully, but the moon would have to somehow be blown and constructed in an entirely original way. I knew it would be difficult and force me to make something new.” ~ Dale Chihuly Beautifully rendered relief paintings of the twelve signs of the zodiac circle the Sun and Moon installations. BELOW - The dynamic and explosive colors and design of the Temple of the Sun are indeed a striking contrast to the relaxing and calming coolness of the Temple of the Moon. Temple of the Sun – The Temple of the Sun is a giant ball of flame-like tentacles of yellow, orange, and red elements radiating from its globe. It resembles a fearsome underwater creature of beauty and mystery while at the same time it could also easily be said that it is a representation of the violence and danger that reaches out from the center of every star into space. The Temple of the Sun has more than 2,300 yellow, orange, and red elements radiating from a fiery globe atop a replica of a Mayan temple. AND THEN THERE WAS THE SEA - BELOW - In the center of the room, caught between the two extremes of the sun and moon rests the Seaform Chandelier. The Seaform Chandelier – Featuring 900 unique hand blown elements depicting a wide assortment of ocean life in abstract form; this stunning 12ft diameter glass sculpture is located in the center of the Bacarat Lounge within sight of the two massive “Temple” sculptures. It features a number of instantly recognizable ocean shapes such starfish and then flows into shapes reminiscent of dolphins and other aquatic life. It is also an interesting "buffer" between the two extremes of the Temples. There are hints of gold and reds found in the Temple of the Sun, and cooler whites and bluish grey found in the Temple of the Moon. BELOW - In and around the casino are numerous smaller Chihuly works known as Macchia Bowls. Macchia Bowls - Derived from the Latin macula, the Italian word “macchia” connotes simply a stain or a spot, but it has a much richer range of meaning. Since the Renaissance, macchia has been associated with a sketchy way of applying the initial color to a drawing or painting. Particularly appropriate for the late style of the Venetian painter Titian, the word characterizes his emphasis on brushwork and summary treatment of form. In the seventeenth century, macchia designated the special quality of improvisational sketches that appear to be nature’s miraculous creation rather than mere human work. When Chihuly appropriates the term “Macchia” for his series, he gives back to the word some of its traditional meanings, particularly the emphasis on spontaneity, on artistic collaboration with technique rather than mere control of it. There is an undeniable sense of continuity and purpose to the master works on display at the Atlantis. Each piece although completely unique in design, shape, and color, flows into the next as a collective series should. Each alone is breathtaking and awe inspiring; but together they are an experience. The Atlantis is a destination without question, but the entire island of Nassau offers a unique treasure of culture and history that should not be missed if you ever have the chance to visit. For me, the chance to experience these beautiful installations in person and then be challenged in attempting to capture their beautify in photographs was one of the many highlights of my trip. © Copyright 2011-2015, Jon Patrick Hyde, All Rights Reserved.
Art Field Trip: Japanese American National Museum's Hello Kitty Exhibit in LA
Yesterday, my friends and I were able to visit the Japanese American National Museum's Hello Kitty retrospective, "Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty", which opened in the LA-based museum last month. Running through April 26, the exhibit celebrates everything Hello Kitty to commemorate her 40th anniversary. From backpacks and notebooks to toasters and even motor oil, the variety of products that have featured Sanrio's most iconic character is seriously staggering. Here, you get to see some of the most impressive of these. You even get to see Hello Kitty outfits and accessories once worn by celebrity Kitty fans ranging from Cameron Diaz to Katy Perry. (You can even get up close and personal with a Lady Gaga performance dress made of nothing but Hello Kitty stuffed toys!) But perhaps my favorite part of the exhibit is a complete art gallery filled with paintings, sculptures, and interactive works all inspired by Hello Kitty. The artists featured represent both American and Japanese artists, and include such popular ones as Audrey Kawasaki, Gary Baseman, D*face, and Yoskay Yamamoto. Check them out in the attached pictures! Photo 1: The 'halfway point' of this two-story exhibit Photo 2: "Hi Kitty", Audrey Kawasaki Photo 3: "Much Loved Kitty", Mark Nixon Photo 4: "Uh Oh Kitty Ho", D*Face Photo 5: "Hello Kitty Kaiju", Mark Nagata Photo 6: "Space Kitty", Yoskay Yamamoto Photo 7: "Melty Kitty Dream", Buff Monster Photo 8: "Hello Kitty in Bloom", Michael Courville Photo 9: "Play Date", Gary Baseman Photo 10: "Hello Lincoln", Scott Scheidly