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Archives: September 2009

Sesame Street Debuts Mad Men Parody

As longtime fans of Monsterpiece Theater, we were eager to see how Sesame Street would follow through on its promise to create a Muppet parody of Mad Men, the AMC series that recently added three more Emmys to its growing awards cache. Our first question: casting. Prairie Dawn seems born to play mild-mannered striver Peggy Olson, and Grover (in drag) might just be able to pull off the buxom Joan Holloway, but what muppet could convincingly embody Don Draper? Our first thought was the soulful and enigmatic Mr. Snuffleupagus, but the requisite fedora and gray flannel suit would only make him mopy, and Don has no patience for whining. Sesame Street decided to go out on a limb and cast Guy Smiley—once the show’s go-to game show host type—in the smoldering lead, although he’s far from smiley here. In fact, he’s downright mad.

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Quote of Note | Ed Ruscha

Ruscha Annie 1965.jpg“This typeface, which also appears in my 1961 painting “Boss,” recalls everything that I responded to as a child in relation to the comic books I read. Comic books were a hot issue for me when I was growing up, and for a brief moment I thought I wanted to be a cartoonist, but I never really pursued it. I wanted the world to be oversized, and overwhelming, and to kind of knock you off your feet.”

-Ed Ruscha, in the October 2009 issue of Art+Auction

At right, Ruscha’s “Annie” (1962)

In Final Twist, Prada Transformer Overtaken by Design Students

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(Photos: Prada)

prada4a.bmpMulti-dimensional event spaces grow up so fast these days. It seems like only yesterday we were welcoming the Prada Transformer into the world, nestled beside a 16th-century palace in Seoul, and now it’s time to bid the Rem Koolhaas/Office of Metropolitan Architecture (OMA)-designed structure a fond farewell. Yesterday, the Transformer made its final flip, rotated by crains onto its circular base to host today’s “Student Takeover.” The program showcases and celebrates the transformation-themed design ideas and artwork of Korean students.

On the luxe leather heels of the fashion exhibition, film festival, and art installation hosted by the Transformer over the past five months, the student program is an effort to engage with the host city by making the structure “a place for debate and open-minded discussion; inviting innovative students to communicate ideas freely and contemplate the future of art, design, and the society in which it exists,” according to a Prada spokesperson. The work exhibited was created by 130 Korean art, design, and architecture students. They spent two weeks in a workshop-style environment led by OMA’s Alexander Reichert, design architect on the Transformer project, hatching the products of their takeover, from redesigned Prada Transformer flyers, pins, and t-shirts to plans for overhauling the architecture. By day’s end, the structure is expected to have been painted on, wallpapered, covered in graffiti, and torn apart—just enough “to create a new spatiality that engages with the students’ content” and serve as the venue for a final, blow-out party.

Previously on UnBeige:

  • Prada Transformer Successfully Transforms into Film Festival
  • Aaron Betsky on Prada Transformer: ‘This Is Event Architecture’
  • First Look: Rem Koolhaas-Designed Prada Transformer Lands in Seoul
  • Painter’s Art Pranks Seem Too Banksy-esque

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    We’re all for fun art pranks. Love them, even. We saw the first Yes Men documentary and we’ll likely see the new one, too. But if you’re going to pull one, make sure you’re not just copying someone else, okay? Otherwise, it just comes off as contrived, because that’s a word that artists don’t usually like to be associated with. Guilty party is the New York-based painter Mat Benote, who secretly hung his artwork on the walls of a variety of museums like the Saatchi Gallery and the Brooklyn Museum, some of which stayed up for a couple of days before officials noticed them and they were removed. If that sounds at all familiar, it should. Banksy did the exact same thing back in 2005, which by our count was the first big step in turning him into an internationally-recognized household name. Case in point: shortly thereafter he’d landed on NPR and was the subject of a feature story in the New Yorker. Benote has also tried to remain mysterious, not telling the Daily News what part of New York he lives in, nor how old he is. This also sound like some super famous street artist you’ve heard about? In fact, it sounds so similar that maybe it is Banksy and he’s just offering up a critique about the uniqueness of art or something? For a little more reading, here’s an interview with Benote who has apparently been doing this for a while and often gets this Banksy critique.

    Leaked E-Mail Describes Smithsonian’s Buyout Offer to Employees

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    At the very start of the year, the still fairly new head of the Smithsonian, Wayne Clough, put a lock down on spending at the famed institution, stopping almost all new hiring and ceasing all raises and bonuses. Just a couple of months later, he was back at it, extending hours at the more popular museums and offering up new ideas to keep the money from drying up (sadly, he can’t take credit for The Smithsonian Collection line of department store furniture). But as we’ve been constantly reading since about this time last year, things aren’t easy for museums at the moment and so another cost-cutting measure at the Smithsonian has come to light. Modern Art Notes was slipped an e-mail sent from Alison McNally, Under Secretary for Finance and Administration, to all the Institution’s employees explaining that they would be offering voluntary buyout packages for “an amount equal to an employee’s calculated severance pay entitlement or $25,000, whichever is less” and decided upon between this past Monday and November 30th. So it looks like some more trimming is in store. But as for how many employees decided to take the leap, we’ll have to wait and see.

    Donald Fisher’s Death Leaves SFMOMA Scrambling

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    In a strange bit of strange, on Monday we posted that GAP founder Donald Fisher had announced his decision to let the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art take his art collection for the next twenty-five years. Then, just five minutes later, Stephanie posted the news that Fisher had died late Sunday. Judging from the close proximity of those two posts, you can see that the latter news came as something of a shock. Though ours was just distant “a news-maker guy we know about” sort of shock, which is nothing compared to how the aforementioned SFMOMA has had to deal with the news. Apparently a lot of the details of Fisher’s donation hadn’t been worked out, including when it was going to happen and how the museum was going to go ahead in building a new wing to house it all. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the museum has formed an emergency committee to help try and figure out just what’s going to happen, largely all about said new wing and where it needs to go.

    “This all happened quickly,” says Libby Garrison, a museum spokeswoman. “We have a handshake, but not many details beyond that.”

    Shepard Fairey, Raymond Pettibon Catch Waves for Charity

    (Fairey).jpgSurf’s up for Shepard Fairey, Raymond Pettibon, Barry McGee, and 22 other artists who were invited to interpret the world’s most iconic waves for the Surfrider Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the world’s oceans. Thanks to a cherished (and yes, fluorescent) childhood t-shirt, we’ve heard of Mavericks and Pipeline but had to consult our surf-crazy left-coast colleagues for the scoop on the rest of the famed waves, which include the vividly named Superbank, Restaurants, G-Land, and Swami’s. Fairey (that’s his work, pictured above) used spray paint and stencils to take on Jaws, the monster swells off the north shore of Maui, while Andy Moses painted a cool abstract on concave canvas in homage to Peru’s Chicama. All 25 works go on the block next Friday evening in Los Angeles during the Surfrider Foundation’s Art for Oceans auction, part of the organization’s 25th anniversary gala. Can’t make it? Get in the spirit of things with the surftastic beach towel that Pettibon created for the Art Production Fund.

    An Era of Stefan Sagmeister Copies?

    Just a little while back, we’d noticed a copy of the July issue of Esquire, which featured model Bar Refaeli, nude, with handwritten type all over her. “Quickie Stefan Sagmeister rip-off,” we thought, as we usually do when we see this sort of copy of his two most famous handwriting-on-body pieces. It’s what we thought even more recently when we ran across this new campaign for the breast cancer awareness magazine Pink Ribbon. We would have moved passed it, as we usually do, but then we ran across this post over at Peachfuzz about TBWA/Chiat/Day‘s newish ad for Absolut:

    Totally “Things I Have Learned…” right? We might be a little late to have seen this spot, but given all the other places we’re seeing his work in, we think it’s worth asking if we are now in what would be considered a wider movement to rehash old Sagmeister ideas? If so, why now? What’s in our collective consciousness that’s making us do the things like those linked above or stuff like the clearly-referential, much passed around tattooed Swedish magazine? Has this always been going on and we just haven’t noticed? Or is this all just a case of laziness? As Peachfuzz puts it: “If you’re going to be a hack, at least cover your tracks by not picking the guy every clueless first semester design student lists as his favorite designer.”

    AIA’s Architect Suspension Due to Extramarital Affair Gets People Talking

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    An interesting piece of juicy talk concerning the American Institute of Architects lately, and this time completely unrelated to either Kermit Baker or the always sexy Billings Index. Story goes is that the AIA has decided to suspend Montana-based architect Donald Briggs after it was learned that he had been having an affair with one of his clients. If that weren’t enough. the husband of the affairing-woman was also upset at the cost overruns during the new house design/building they’d hired Briggs for, particularly because he’d largely only spoken about the details about the project to his wife. The AIA determined that Briggs’ conduct had violated the rules of their Code of Ethics, given that said affair might have “affected his professional judgment while rendering professional services” and thus, his membership has been suspended for two years. Although this doesn’t have any baring on Briggs’ license to practice architecture, who knows what the effect on his business will be without that AIA affiliation. The whole case has drummed up some interesting debate over at Archinect‘s forums, with readers offering opinions from both sides, all under the forum’s title “The Farnsworth Days Are Over.”

    Santiago Calatrava Runs Into More Bridge Building Trouble, This Time in Dallas

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    What is it with starchitect Santiago Calatrava and bridges? The guy can’t seem to design and build one without something happening crummy along the way. Last year there was his killer bridge in Venice that was inflicting damage on a score of clumsy tourist victims. Then just a couple of months back, his Peace Bridge in Calgary was catching all sorts of serious flack, with a good portion of the city calling it things like “a middle-aged man going through a mid-life crisis.” Now we have news from Dallas that Calatrava’s Trinity River Bridge, which had already been mired in controversies and miscellaneous slowdowns for the past decade, has run into yet another snag, this time with the Army Corp of Engineers who have said the bridge would be unsafe during a possible 100-year flood. While re-do plans are being scrambled together, this means that the bridge’s finish date will be pushed back at least another few years and possibly all the way out to 2016. For everyone’s sanity (and pocketbooks), we’re thinking a) Calatrava should be strictly land-based from here on out, or b) people should stop hiring him to build these things.

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