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Archives: February 2005

Excitement Contained


The containers are coming! The containers are coming! We’ve scarcely had a chance to collect ourselves after the glory of Christo & Jeanne Claude and yet another Important Art Experience is upon us. The Nomadic Museum has landed at Pier 54. Blogger Miss Representation has posted a lengthy, astute and slightly acerbic analysis of the whole shipping container meme. It’s a must read. Naturally, Lockhart has weighed in on Curbed, providing some excellent linkage. Those links are repeated below here, and I’ll raise Lock a link or three for some additional coverage:

· Wrenches in Hand, Critics in Hard Hats Take the Measure of Their Creation [NY Times]
· The New Aluminum Siding
· Ashes & Snow [Official exhibition site]
· we make money not art
· Hudson River Park Trust

colbert06.jpgAs far as the actual exhibition is concerned, here’s how the Hudson River Park site describes it:

A breathtaking and emotionally moving exhibit, Ashes and Snow features more than 200 large-scale photographic works and an accompanying 35mm film by artist Gregory Colbert that explore the capacity for wonder that all animals share. The images of elephants, whales, manatees, and falcons, among other species, reveal the artistic nature of animals as they interact with man. These stunning photographic artworks illuminate a timeless realm in which all living things communicate and coexist in a state of grace.

(They seem to think it’s pretty good, huh?)

Stay tuned to UnBeige for more Nomadic Museum reportage coming later this week.

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Chicago Dogs in Good Company

millenium13_lg.jpgA reader sent me a great rundown in response to my post last week about the new dog park scheduled to be built in Chicago’s Grant Park. The anonymous tipster writes:

* $150K for any public works project is peanuts in Chicago, I expected a bigger number, so I don’t think this has our usual political payoff undertones.
* The spot in Grant Park is just a few blocks South of Millenium Park which has tons of press recently with the Frank Gherry band shell, etc.
* With M. Park opening, many of the old office buildings in the neighborhood are quickly (and successfully) converting to high-end condos. Overlooking the M. Park/Grant Park grounds.
* The Mayor lives about 10 blocks South of the dog park spot.
* There is another dog park to the north in Lakeview/Lincoln Park neighborhood that is not nearly as nice, but perhaps more interesting…it is actually a Dog Beach, with a gated and secure area that you can let your dog roam and play in sand and surf.
* One other item… Grant Park has perpetual rabbit problems…they’re everywhere in the Spring! (The city pays someone to trap and release them outside the city!) Maybe more dogs is just what we need in Grant Park. Or maybe the fence is to protect the dogs from the hordes of rabbits.

Barbara Who?

kruger.gifMichael Bierut posted a great item over on Design Observer about a recent interview he had with a young designer:

The best piece in her portfolio was a packaging program for an imaginary cd release: packaging, advertising, posters. All of it was Futura Bold Italic, knocked out in white in bright red bands, set on top of black and white halftones. Naturally, it looked great. Naturally, I asked, “So, why were you going for a Barbara Kruger kind of thing here?”
And she said: “Who’s Barbara Kruger?”
Okay, let’s begin. My first response: “Um, Barbara Kruger is an artist who is…um, pretty well known for doing work that…well, looks exactly like this.”
“Really? I’ve never heard of her.”

The comments thread is sizzling hot too – kicked of with this salvo from a young indignant (but not terribly original) designer:

OMG. I’m a beginning design student myself and all I can say is you arrogant snob”. WTF Do you know how many million artists and designers exist in the world today? The population explosion has attained such unprecedented levels that there really is no longer any room for pretentious snobbery. You must be over 40 is all I can say.

Over 40! The horror.

Oscar Drama

image_page1-2.jpgIt’s Monday morning and my in box greets me with not one, not two, but three reader tips. My insomniac pre-coffee big meeting in a few hours self thanks you from the bottom of my heart, dear readers. (Keep ‘em coming – email tips to jen AT unbeige DOT com.

Let’s start with the most timely: Over the weekend David Flaherty, a NYC based illustrator, emailed me a link to the Apple True Hollywood Story of Brett Davidson, the little engine, err, designer who could, damnit!

It’s a modern version of All About Eve, except that so far as I can tell Brett is more of a Pollyanna than an Eve Harrington.

Davidson is an employee [ed note: interesting, no?] at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), which runs the Oscars. “I’ve been working here for ten years and hoping they would notice my designs,” [ed. note: Hoping they'd notice? I don't recommend this as a career tactic.] explains Davidson. This year, his perseverance paid off. His winning design for the Oscar poster is appearing in multiple forms, on venues ranging from websites to taxicabs, as part of a broad campaign to promote the show. It’s sweet success indeed, considering his lifelong passion for all things Oscar…

In a unanimous decision, Davidson’s poster won. “There were more than 100 entries from all these world-renowned designers,” he says, his voice still tinged with disbelief. “They were big guns that had put together whole campaigns to pitch their ideas. And the craziest thing was, because of my job, I was the one who had to set up their fancy presentations in the conference room. That was torture! They had their laptops and their eight-foot illustration boards, and I looked around the room and thought, I don’t stand a chance—I’m just going to kill myself now. It was very David and Goliath.

Let’s hear it for for Underdog! It’s a classic parable, it’s just too bad that the design isn’t terribly inspired. Davey, I mean Brett let’s a little of his Eve Harrington shine through towards the end of Apple Pro Design‘s gushy, fluffy profile:

I tried to get close to the simplicity of the work of Saul Bass,” says Davidson. “He did so many great movie posters and famous logos like AT&T, United, and Kleenex. I wanted it to be bold and fresh, to breathe some youthful energy into it. I wanted it to have the retro feel of the 1950s while being contemporary too. And I wanted an arresting image that stops you in your tracks.”

Saul Bass, you say? Hmm. Not exactly the comparison I’d jump to, Hollywood dreamer, but every one knows that it pays to think big in Tinseltown.

The New Math, Part the Second

bb040928_125.jpgSo after reading my post, Margaret IM’d me about the New Math cards, pointing me to a link (one that I could actually follow, pointing me to real information!) from New York Magazine‘s Best Bets column that provides a descrpition of the cards:

Craig Damrauer and Missy Wilson created these “New Math” cards, sold in a set for $16. They have different phrases, like my favorite: “Entrapment = You’re gonna do it anyway + Cops.” Another favorite is “dog = cat + loyalty.” And the one shown here is, frankly, priceless.

To be clear: the cards are amusing. Their placement on the Shop Compositon site is not.

The New Math, So Very Modern

takeout1.jpgMy friend Margaret IM’d me a link this morning to Shop Composition, who tout themselves as selling “Modern Goods for Modern Living”. Margaret and Communication Arts both think the design is great: elegant, smart, etc. (Comm Arts named them Site of the Week a few weeks back.)

I humbly beg to differ: this site sucks. It embodies everything I find extremely irritating about Flash based sites: it’s impossible to navigate with the back button, you can’t send a link to a friend, you can’t pull down a photo to use for your own reference. Aside from that, the navigation and information design to, you know, buy something is utterly clueless. I was perusing their dog collars, thinking of getting one for my dog (that link is special for you, Ms. M). Not only do they not explain their sizing conventions, but they give the striped collars solid color name assignments (brown, orange, pink). I’m a smart girl, and able to figure out what’s what, but you know, I want to be reasonably certain that I’m not going to have to return something that I buy online. This is too much of a crapshoot.

The final straw.

They categorize their items thusly: New, Her, Him, Living, Work, Play. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the Him section contains Martini glasses and “smart, fun” flash cards dubbed The New Math whereas the Her section seems to be soley focused on… jewelry. It make perfect sense – as Barbie once infamously stated – Math Is Hard if you’re a girl.

Modern? I think not.

UnBeige ♥ Ryan McGinness: Double Feature


My foray to midtown put me way off my blogging game yesterday, so I didn’t have a chance to make my UnBeige Ryan McGinness entry. I’ll do a little catch up by making two entries today.

This is my feed the rumor mill post: word on the street is that Ryan’s work has been included in the Greater New York exhibition that’s opening @ PS1 on March 13th. The show was a big hit back in 2000 – Being included in this exhibition is considered a high (and avidly sought after) honor for NYC-based emerging artists. The curatorial proceedings have been conducted with a secrecy one might normally associate with the Freemasons, only adding to the show’s allure.

Another tidbit circulating is that four of Ryan’s paintings have been acquired by the Norton collection, via Jeffrey Deitch in NYC. (The same gallery that will be hatching itself a new an Artstar via reality TV.)

The American Package Museum


Ian House, who has an online concern called The American Package Museum, seems to have done a slightly better job of channeling any obsessive-compulsive tendencies (when compared to the guy who was the subject of my previous entry).

The Package Museum has the mission to “preserve and display specimens of American package design from the early decades of the 20th Century.” Each photograph includes a quarter in the frame to establish a scale reference. He also has some 3-D views. Navigating through the exhibits link is somewhat tiresome. I recommend departing from the index page instead.

(via Cool Hunting.)

OCD Artistry

keyrings.jpgThis guy takes his collecting very seriously. His keychain collection is pictured here, follow the link for a stunning array that includes: butterflies, Disney characters, decanters and much much more. Tony is nothing if not thorough in keeping track of his various collections. And his home page is a fine example of the sort of site you might see when jumping into the Wayback Machine.

(via Core77.)

Oscar Nominated Shorts on Salon

cover.jpgIn anticipation of Sunday’s Academy awards on Sunday, Salon has all five nominated shorts on their site. Like the Designer Series interviews by Hillman Curtis that I posted about yesterday, these shorts are very well-suited to viewing on your monitor. (So long as you are on a broadband connection.)

My last job, pre-dotcom-bust, was as the Chief Creative Officer (those were the days) of a consumer-oriented streaming video company. This was in 2000, and it was way too soon for that kind of thing – broadband was just not available to a mass audience yet. It’s taken a while, but we’ve come a long way baby. I didn’t dig too hard, but I found this a Pew/Internet press release from April of last year:

68 million Americans – or 34% of all adult Americans- have access to high-speed Internet connections either at home or on the job.
48 million Americans – or 24% of all adult Americans – have high-speed access at home.
Home broadband adoption is up 60% since March 2003, with half of that growth since November 2003.

So, assuming you’re one of those 68 million people at work now, you should really check out these shorts. As they say on the Salon site:

These shorts showcase some of the most inventive storytelling and dazzling visuals of any of the films opening each year, they come in the perfect bite-size portions for the busy aesthete with a modern attention span… they spotlight innovations in technology and allow us fast, powerful looks into different worlds, but they usually offer the distinct voices of independent artists who are working outside (and sometimes continents away from) the Hollywood studio system.