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Michael C. McMillen: Train of Thought
Oakland Museum of California
1000 Oak Street, Oakland
Through August 16
The Oakland Museum of California’s new exhibit looks at four decades of work by Michael C. McMillen, a California-based mixed-media artist. Curated by Philip Linhares, who is also a long-time collaborator of McMillen’s, the retrospective includes sculptures, tableaus, paintings, drawings, films, and large-scale installations. Found objects have long played an important part in McMillen’s work since childhood, when he began crafting toys for himself out of old radios and other discarded items. The artist’s creations often call to mind the cinematic landscapes of a Hollywood picture, somewhat appropriate given that he once worked making miniatures, like the motel model above, and props for films, including such sci-fi classics as Blade Runner and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. McMillen often uses architectural references and clever visual cues to transport viewers into an altered reality. He wants viewers to “come away from the experience seeing the world in a slightly different way,” McMillen said in an artist’s statement.
Last week the New York chapter of the AIGA held its second annual “Fresh Blood” event, featuring top graduating students from design programs across the region. Ten students were given five minutes each to dazzle the crowd at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn with presentations related to their thesis research. Scott Stowell, the evening’s MC, kept things lively, peppering the students with questions about their work and cracking jokes that stoked school rivalries.
All the presentations were excellent, but here are a few that we just can’t stop talking about:
Art Institute of Chicago
111 South Michigan Avenue
June 11 through October 9, 2011
Soon after the turn of the last century, artists and designers from Central and Eastern Europe began producing radically innovative images and objects that remain remarkably fresh today. For the first time, the Art Institute has gathered over 300 objects from across departments to present a comprehensive view of works from the period. Bold graphics, such as John Heartfield’s cover and illustrations for Kurt Tucholsky, Deutschland, Deutschland über Alles from 1929 (above), and pared back design objects show some of the ways in which these artists sought to transform daily living, an experiment that historical events would quickly bring to an end.
Lori Bookstein Fine Art
138 Tenth Ave., New York
Through June 25
The architect Louis Kahn drew inspiration from his travels, both in foreign lands and closer to home. A new exhibition brings together drawings, watercolors, pastels, and oil paintings Kahn made between the late 1920s and the early 1950s during trips around the United States, Canada, Europe, and Egypt. From New England churches to Egyptian rock quarries, the collected works offer Kahn’s interpretation of diverse landscapes and cityscapes, like Coastal Village, No. 2, Isle Madame, Nova Scotia (1936), above. In the exhibition, Kahn’s artwork is contextualized with his postcards and other travel ephemera.
AOL’s New Offices Are Snazzy: Fast Company has a slideshow of interior shots of AOL’s new offices in Palo Alto. The space was designed to be bright and collaborative. “This being a tech company, naturally, it’s got a game room, too,” writes Suzanne LaBarre. The interiors are the work of Studio O+A, which has designed offices for other Internet companies like Yelp, Facebook and PayPal.
Philly Set For a Makeover: Sometimes it seems like Philly is the East Coast city people love to hate on for its small size, poor public transit and high crime rates. That may change soon with a new comprehensive plan for the city that could include: “more open space, bike lanes and preservation efforts, as well as specific goals including an extension of the Broad Street subway to the Navy Yard, an east Market Street that can really be Philly’s ‘Main Street’, a waterfront lined with parks.”
NYC’s Lesson for LA: New York Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan blogs on how Los Angeles can learn from New York City’s Plaza program. It’s the quintessential showdown of cities: New York, a dense metropolis where most native-born teens don’t even have their driver’s licenses, and LA, a sprawling auto-centric city. There’s even a book called “New York and Los Angeles” that says so. Sadik-Khan’s piece is part of Streetsblog’s new series on how the best transportation practices in other cities can be adapted for LA.
Brownwashing Republicans: Grist has a list of 10 Republican politicians who are backtracking on pro-environment statements they’ve made in the past. The #1 offender is presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, who called for climate action in a 2008 ad for Al Gore’s Alliance for Climate Protection. Earlier this year, he said, “”I would not adopt massively expensive plans over a theory.”
Otherworldly: Optical Delusions and Small Realities
Museum of Arts and Design
2 Columbus Circle
Opening June 7
Otherworldly: Optical Delusions and Small Realities showcases the construction of small hand-built artificial environments and alternative realities as sculpture and for film. It explores the increasing interest in creating things by hand, as digital technology becomes a bigger part of our lives. The exhibit, which features models, snow globes, photographs, and video, seeks to reflect a meaningful engagement with materials and attention to detail. Works include the Chadwicks’ diorama of a microbrewery and Alan Wolfson’s recreation of a tri-level cross-section of Canal Street, above.
We spotted this amazing cartoon by fueledbycoffee over at Core 77 this week and think it’s pretty amazing. Don’t miss the rest of the cartoon over at Core77 showing adaptations of Noguchi and Nelson. We’ll be out on Monday, but right back in the game come Tuesday morning. Have a great Memorial Day weekend!
The scene at Ingo Maurer was a tad more subdued than the rest of Green Street last Monday night. Could it be because Maurer’s work has a such tactile quality that the space feels more like an art gallery? Showroom hoppers didn’t make an immediate bee line to the bar. How could you when the first thing you see on entering is the arresting vision of “Spirits Flying High”. The undulating sheet of light looks a flying carpet about to blow out the door. On closer inspection the 87 inch by 50 inch hanging light fixture is composed of more than 100 LED strips wrapped in a warm milky colored silicon. Don’t ask, the special commission piece is not for sale.
One item that caught our eye at ICFF wasn’t furniture at all.
Every city has certain geographic quirks that people come to identify with a place–Manhattan’s rigid grid, the radial boulevards of Paris–even when viewing a two-dimensional version of it. You Are Here, a collection from Israeli jewelry designer Talia Wiener, was inspired by just such a concept.
Each pendant or brooch incorporates part of the urban fabric of Rome, Paris, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, New York City, San Francisco, Barcelona, or London. According to Wiener, her designs play with the notion that there is a certain location-oriented secret shared by a city’s residents while also proclaiming their membership in “a broader, ever-growing urban tribe.”
Genesy held court in its own VIP area at Artemide’s Monday evening cocktail party. Posed behind red velvet ropes, the floor lamp’s sensuous lines appeared anthropomorphic, with a waist as svelte as that of any Hollywood starlet. Designed by Zaha Hadid, the injection molded polyurethane lamp–featuring direct LED light and indirect (halogen or fluorescent) light–is newly available in the US in polished black or polished white.
It’s time for ICFF and the fair’s associated festivities, but our heads are still spinning from all the architecture and design goings-on in New York City over the last ten days. Among our stops were the Festival of Ideas, sponsored by the New Museum, including a lecture by Rem Koolhaas, a stop by UN Studio’s new pavilion at downtown’s Peter Minuit Plaza, and drink at Armani Casa’s new location in the D&D Building. It all started with Rem…