Art in Three Dimensions

Sculptures are art on another level.

Sculptures take art to the next dimension. Unlike artists who create images on a flat surface, sculptors must consider how their work will look from every angle. They also have to think about the play of light and shadow, and be mindful of the negative space (in an artistic sense, not an emotional one) that their work will create. If the art is to be displayed outside, they also have to think about the weather and seasonal changes, and how this might change the work over time. Even pigeons play a part in the thought process.

I am always looking out for public art in my travels, but sculptures, in particular, invoke strong emotions within me, and always cause me to stop and think. I’m forever grateful for their impact on my life. Receiving pictures of sculptures from all over the world, mostly from my Pokemon Go app, helped inspire me to create a Facebook group called Public Art Lovers, which I invite you to join. I’d love to see pictures of the sculptures you’ve encountered! (But please answer the 4 membership questions, or your request to join the group will be denied. I’m getting sick of bots attempting to gain legitimacy through my group.)

Meanwhile, here are some Pokemon Go images for you to enjoy.

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That’s a Wrap!

Free public art galleries on many street corners!

More and more cities around the world are wrapping their unsightly utility boxes in public art, and I’m thrilled with this trend. Being able to print the art on a flat surface and then wrap the often far-from-flat box with it has greatly increased the quality of these artworks. Previously, people would hand paint the boxes, with or without municipal permission. That paint would then fade and flake and look shabby in no time. Instead of beautifying the box, those well-intentioned efforts just added to the overall shabbiness of the neighborhood.

But now we have crisp, clean images that withstand the wind and weather and, unless vandalized or crashed into, continue to look good for years. And if the images do start to fade, the wrap can be removed and replaced by another one. Don’t you just love an ideal that’s so brilliant that even bureaucracies can get on board with it?

What follows are some images that have been shared with me by friends around the globe who play Pokemon Go. These boxes go to show that there’s no end to the artistic creativity that can be unleashed upon them. Whenever you go someplace new, don’t forget to look for the utility boxes! Think of them as free public art galleries. Enjoy!

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Public Art Can Unite or Divide

People who wish to control the narrative tend to hate public art.

Public art is a subject near and dear to my heart. So much so that I administer a Public Art Lovers group on Facebook. If you join the group, you’ll be treated to the murals, statues, sculptures, fountains, and creative works that refuse to be pigeonholed, from around the world.

Public Art adds beauty to urban sprawl. It reminds us to take a moment out of our hectic and stressful routine to stop and look and think and smile. Art touches us emotionally. In fact, this study, conducted in Norway, suggests that viewing art actually makes you healthier. (Not that I ever needed an excuse.)

Make no mistake: Public art can be controversial. It is the most creative way to send a message to the masses. It is egalitarian. Anyone who happens to pass by it can enjoy it and perhaps be influenced by it. That’s pretty powerful. People who wish to control the narrative tend to hate public art.

Others take exception to the expense of public art. They feel that it is an unnecessary drain on the public coffers. But I tend to agree with this article, which states that “investments in public art can improve street safety, provide tourism and new jobs, and combat social isolation and anxiety.” That sounds like a wise investment to me.

Public art can unite us in that it makes us want to cross boundaries to look closer. It enriches culture and exposes that culture to a wider world. It reminds us that people can have a variety of perspectives, and that’s okay. In a polarized world, it gets people talking, and it serves as a point of reference. It brings us together.

But perhaps the thing I enjoy most about public art is that it comforts me. We are living in an overcrowded, polluted, corrupt world. It’s nice to see, in the midst of all that, that there are people who take the time to make things more beautiful. If you listen closely to any mural, you can hear it whisper, “You are not alone. I’m here because someone wanted to make this world a better place, just as you wish to do. Here’s a gift of beauty for you. Spread the word.”

What follows are images of public art from all over the globe that I’ve enjoyed receiving via my Pokemon Go app. Seeing these images every day makes me want to travel more to experience these things firsthand. Enjoy!

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Macon Love

“Do Not Attempt To Play Little Richard’s Piano. He Will Know.”

Recently Dear Husband and I took a trip that we are calling “Autumn Back East 2021”. Our goal was to visit friends and family, and I wanted to show DH what autumn leaves really look like in a region that isn’t primarily covered in evergreen trees, and introduce him to our nation’s capital.

We flew to Atlanta, picked up a rental car, then drove to Alabama, North Florida, Georgia, Eastern Tennessee, Western North Carolina, and then drove to Washington DC by way of Virginia. Then we flew back home.

It was an amazing trip which lasted 15 days, and since I’m now only blogging every other day, if I gave you a day to day account like I have on trips past, it would take a month, and you’d be heartily sick of the subject before we even left peach country. So I’ve decided to focus on highlights, which I’ll do my best to keep in order. You can find the first post in the series here, and a link to the next post in the series, when it becomes available, below.

I never thought I would wax nostalgic about anything related to the state of Georgia, but I have to say, Macon has really caught my eye. It could be love. There’s definitely chemistry going on. For a city with a population of only about 157,000, it sure has a big… art, music and historical community. (What did you think I was going to say?)

Not only does it have a gorgeous antebellum historic district, which I wrote about in my last post, but it also has a rich Native American heritage. We visited the Ocmulgee Mounds, which are on the Eastern edge of the city, and it was fascinating to learn that there has been about 17,000 years of continuous human history in the area.

From the Paleoindians to the Archaic, Woodland, and Early Mississippians, right on down to the Lamar Culture and today’s Muscogee (Creek) Nation, each one has left its mark upon this land. Today, you can visit Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park and see many remnants of the various cultures at the visitor center, and if you enjoy a good hike, you can visit a village site, a variety of trenches and mounds, a trading post site from the late 1600’s, and, best of all, an amazing earth lodge that’s right near the visitor center.

Approaching the earth lodge from the parking lot, it looks like a mound with no significant features other than the fact that it is unnaturally mound-like. But when you go around the side, you encounter a doorway. To say that the doorway and the subsequent tunnel are low is putting it mildly. I cracked my head a good one on the way out. But that’s probably because I was already stunned by what I had seen inside.

The clay floor has been carbon dated to the year 1015. It has a bird shaped platform that seats 3 people, and benches along the wall with indentations for 47 more. There is also a ceremonial fire pit.

While the above-mentioned things are the originals, the roof, walls, and tunnel are reconstructions by the Civilian Conservation Corp and the Work Project Administration in the late 1930’s. This earth lodge may have been originally used as a temple or a council house, and the reconstruction makes you feel like you are right there, waiting for the ceremony to begin. Truly, I kept thinking they’d be along any minute.

Also during our wanderings through Macon, we visited several little free libraries and deposited some books that we had mailed ahead of us to Dear Husband’s father’s house, which was one of our very first stops on this journey. I love the idea of the library stewards opening the books and seeing my little free library’s stamp inside. “How did these books make it all the way out here from Washington state?”

There seems to be public art everywhere you look in Macon. That, in my opinion, is the sign of a sophisticated city. Art can be controversial sometimes, but I believe that cities that try to suppress it point blank are hyper-conservative, paranoid, and at a bare minimum, lack a sense of humor. Here’s some of the art I saw around town.

We also checked out the Tubman Museum, which is right near the historic train station that I discussed in the last post. We were expecting it to be a museum about Harriet Tubman. They even use her image on some of their promotional materials. That’s confusing. But it turns out that Harriet Tubman never stepped foot in the state of Georgia. Go figure.

The museum does house a hallway dedicated to Ms. Tubman, with a statue, some letters, and some Tubman-inspired art, but that’s only a small portion of this interesting place. (Incidentally, if you’d like to read what the letter from Frederick Douglass shown below actually says, the text can be found here.) The actual mission of the Tubman Museum is more encompassing. It is to educate people about African American art, history, and culture. And I have to say that they do an excellent job of it.

Within its walls, you can see the works of contemporary African American artists, as well as an exhibit that shows the works of African American inventors. In particular, I enjoyed the art of “Mr. Imagination” who makes sculptures out of bottle caps. It was all fascinating.

In addition, there’s a large room that highlights Macon’s rich musical heritage. One of this city’s most famous native sons is Little Richard. One of the best things in the entire museum, in my opinion, is a sign on Little Richard’s piano that says, “Do Not Attempt To Play Little Richard’s Piano. He Will Know.” James Brown, Otis Redding and the Allman Brothers Band also have Macon roots and are represented in this room.

This next section, I should warn you, might be uncomfortable for those who wish to suppress the ugliest parts of our nation’s past. But I found this exhibit very eye-opening. It makes me sad that such things exist in this world, but here they are, and there’s just no denying them.

My overall impression of Macon is that it is a vibrant, creative city that is not afraid to confront its past. It’s a place of good food, better music, and a vibe that I won’t soon forget. It was a pleasure to visit, and I highly recommend that you do so as well.

And can I just say that this is one of my better post titles? Thanks to DH for inspiring it.

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More Murals

Art can and should be freedom.

For those who read my blog regularly, you know my love of public art. I even have a Public Art Lovers Facebook group that you’re very welcome to join. I’m endlessly fascinated by the variety of ways that artists express themselves. I genuinely believe that art increases one’s perspective on the world. Learning to see things through more than one lens is nothing but a positive. You can’t be narrow-minded if you look at things from a variety of angles.

The more fascist a society is, the more heavily regulated its art becomes. So I tend to look at the number of quirky murals in a city as a sign of how politically healthy the residents are. Art is a powerful thing. Art can and should be freedom.

I also happen to be addicted to Pokemon Go. The thing I enjoy most about it is that I get “postcards” from players all around the world. Often these postcards relate to the art in their area. So I get to enjoy art from places like Germany and Taiwan and Brazil and Australia from the comfort of my COVID-free home.

All this art gives me hope for our future. So, without further ado, here are some Pokemon Go postcards that I have received recently. Enjoy!

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California Murals, Part Two

Murals that jumped out at me and were gone in an instant.

While looking through our photos for part one of this California Murals series, I realized that the bulk of the mural photos were captured by me rather than by dear husband. That has a lot to do with the fact that he did all the driving. Of course he wasn’t slamming on the brakes to snap photos. The mere fact that we’re still alive is proof of that.

I have to say that many of the mural photos I took were unusable. Blurry. Obstructed. It’s hard to take good pictures in a moving car. I had to rely on stoplights and luck to get a halfway decent image.

But many fantastic murals would leap out at me as we turned a corner and would be gone before I could even raise my camera. That would have been heartbreaking, except that I remembered that many murals are pokestops on my Pokemon Go game, so I’d just open that app and take a screen shot from there. Voila!

So what follows are murals that I actually did see but could only share with you thanks to Pokemon Go. Enjoy!

And if you have any mural pictures to share, join my Public Art Lovers Facebook group and post them there! We’d love to see them!

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California Murals

The murals are what I love best about California.

As the bulk of our “West Coast Wander”, ten of the thirteen days, was spent in California, I can say with confidence that no two parts of this amazing state are exactly alike. Each town has its own character. Each bit of shoreline or mountain is slightly different. And since it takes up nearly 9 degrees of latitude, its climate varies dramatically. This is a very fun state to explore.

But if someone were to ask me what I love best about California, besides the Redwood and Jacaranda Trees, I’d have to say that it’s the murals. California is all but covered in colorful and unique murals. This is not a state that is conservative about its art, and as a public art lover, I appreciate that quite a bit.

What follows are some of the many murals I got to see. (There were so many that I’ll be doing a “Part 2” of this post!) If you have pictures of California Murals (or any other public art, for that matter), I invite you to join a Facebook group that I host called Public Art Lovers and post your pictures there. We’d surely love to see them!

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Inferences from Cave Paintings

A simple artistic message can cause you to draw so many conclusions.

I just read a fascinating article entitled, “World’s oldest known cave painting found in Indonesia”. It’s a life-sized depiction of a pig, and I have to say it’s really well done. I couldn’t do that well, even with the benefit of art classes. You can see the hair on it’s neck, the ears, and the warty horns. It’s really impressive.

Also impressive is the audacity of the scientists who claimed to have discovered it, when it was known to the locals all along. It’s funny how something doesn’t become authentic until a Westerner has planted his or her figurative flag on it.

So, the pig painting is in a cave on the island of Sulawesi in Indonesia. You can see that there were two other pigs depicted nearby, but sadly those paintings did not survive intact to the present day. A calcite deposit over the top of the intact one has been dated to 45,500 years ago. The painting itself might be much older. So one can infer that (surprise!!!!) humans are more than 4,000 years old after all. (I always kind of feel sorry for those who stubbornly hold on to that belief, because they are forced to discount so many amazing discoveries, and their world is much smaller as a result.)

The thing that interests me most about this work of art is the two human hand prints above the pig’s flank. As long as there has been art, people have been “signing” their work, it seems. We’ve always had pride. We’ve always liked to say, “I did this.” And even more exciting, since the artist would have had to have spat pigment over his hand to get this imprint, scientists are trying to obtain DNA from the sample.

I hope they succeed, and that we’re all linked as possible relatives on ancestry.com. I’m always pleased to have an artist in the family. Welcome!

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Murals and Graffiti

Turning a blank wall into something else is magical!

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that public art is near and dear to my heart. So much so, in fact, that I’ve started a Facebook group about it. Feel free to join!

I think my all-time favorite genre of public art is easily murals. (I feel the same way about graffiti that is well done and well thought out, but I doubt property owners would agree.) It has something to do with starting out with a blank wall, and then turning it into something else. It’s magical.

Each mural is unique to its creator and its location and its message. Many of them tell stories. Some brighten up shabby areas with vibrant color and powerful images. Murals can also have a sense of humor and/or a sense of history. They can evoke emotions or inspire pride.

If they use depth of field, they’re basically creating space that didn’t exist before. Think about that. They create a whole new world. It’s amazing.

I consider murals to be delightful miracles. I really don’t understand why anyone would leave a wall blank when there is such potential for beauty. Our walls cry out to be canvases for our imaginations.

What follows are some murals that either I’ve seen or they have been sent to me from all over the world via the Pokemon Go app. Enjoy!

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Public Transit Beautification

Public art makes a community infinitely more desirable.

It’s no fun taking the bus. These days, it could even be deadly. But what I love about King County Metro, here in the Seattle area, is that they’re trying to make it as pleasant as possible.

Many of the bus stops in this area are quite nice, as far as bus stops go. A lot of them are sheltered on three sides from the wind and weather, and they include a bench. The upper half of the shelter is Plexiglas with a mountain and ocean abstract design that makes these stops easily identifiable from a distance, and they are really symbolic of this area.

But my favorite part is that many of them have art on the bottom half that is unique to that stop. You never know what delightful design you’ll come across. Some are photographs. Others are paintings. Each is a delight. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Any community that promotes public art is infinitely more desirable than one that does not.

Sadly, some people can’t resist vandalizing these bus stops, so often I have to resort to looking at them through my Pokemon Go app to see what the art used to be. What follows are some of the bus stops I’ve come across in my wanderings throughout the county. Enjoy!

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