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New Kickstarter Campaign for “Arts and Minds” Promotes Liberty Through Art

A new liberty-oriented project in Portland, OR recently launched a campaign on Kickstarter to raise money for a summer project that will use “creative energy to spotlight Oregon’s criminal justice system and activate change.”

Arts and Minds (a project of the non-profit Spark Freedom) plans to host a block party where members of the community come together for a day to paint a collaborative mural that tells the story of the criminal justice system in Oregon. United by a passion for freedom and criminal justice reform, attendees will engage in a city-wide “experiment in grassroots artistic activism.”

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American Illustrators, The Movies, and Drew Struzan

PhantomMenaceMuch like the word “genius,” the label “artist” gets bandied about quite a bit. When I was taking fine art classes in college, one of the more colorful and exuberant life drawing and painting instructors — let’s call him Charlie — a very hyperactive and passionate painter, talked to us about what it meant to be an artist.

“So you all want to be artists, huh?” He shouted as he strutted in and around our rows of easels as we worked. “I’m just here to teach you how to paint and hopefully paint well. I can’t teach you to be an artist. An artist is a way of life, man. Are you willing to starve for your art? Are you in it for the money? Van Gogh sold one painting in his life. He went mad and then committed suicide. He was an artist. Are you willing to let it consume you? Let’s just concentrate on painting for now.”

Now, I’ve always been fascinated by illustrators who were adept at rendering the human form, faces, and textures were able to put their subjects into fascinating settings and conjure up just the right mood. I had a knack — still do, though not so practiced of late — of being able to capture likenesses fairly well when I drew. The best illustrators and painters are very talented at drawing and their pen and pencil work alone is worthy of collecting. Without a foundation in accurate lifelike drawing a lot of paintings and illustrations meant to be realistic tend to look less real, less lifelike and dull.

ArchersIn America, there have been several periods where talented illustrators emerged. In the 1910s, 20s and 30s, the works of Maxfield Parrish, J.C. Leyendecker, Norman Rockwell, N.C. Wyeth, and Howard Pyle (to name just a few), adorned the covers of Collier’s, the Saturday Evening Post, or in Wyeth’s case numerous works of literature: The White Company, Robin Hood, Treasure Island, Robinson Crusoe, and The Last of the Mohicans.

Sometimes, these talented men worked on a grand scale – many of them, like Wyeth and Parrish were commissioned to do large murals — and much of their work for magazine covers, stories, and book covers were originally painted much larger and reproduced much smaller for print. When I worked at Stanford, helping to put out the Stanford Daily back in the early 1980s, I happened upon an exhibit of N.C. Wyeth’s work at a small gallery in Palo Alto and was awestruck by one of the paintings he had done to illustrate Robin Hood, depicting the outlaw’s band of merry men crouched behind the base of a massive oak tree with their bows pulled back waiting to let their arrows fly. The texture and color of the grass and the men’s costumes looked as rich and fresh as if it had all been painted yesterday. My recollection was that the work was enormous but time has a tendency to romanticize and embellish the truth. In fact the work is an oil on canvas about 40 inches tall and 32 inches wide; i.e., about the size of a standard movie poster (though five inches wider). And the painting was actually for sale at the time for about $25,000 and I dreamed of owning it one day.  I still dream.

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Death Cat

Shady Grove Rest Home promises residents tranquility in their final years.  Instead, it delivers terror in the form of Bingo, a palliative care cat that snuggles up to whichever resident is next to die.  Is Bingo’s power supernatural, or is something more ominous at play?

Death Cat  is written by SCC contributors James C. Harberson III & Frazer C. Rice with the script by Harberson III.  Artist is Stephen Baskerville, a brilliantly-talented comic book, video game, and advertising artist.  He has worked for, inter alia, Marvel Comics, DC Comics, Egmont Fleetway, Curve Studios, Asylum Entertainment, and KUJU Entertainment.  He resides in the UK and you can learn more about him here.

Click top right arrows for full screen.

[The NSFW version is available after the page break.]

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Donuts and Bizarrely Unintentional Pop Art

DVHwoodImageIt is 8:20 am, with a pile of messy hair on top of my head I lurch to the most glorious of all square electrical devices, the refrigerator. With just a brief look inside, it becomes quite clear that a half bottle of sriracha and a bag of carrots will not be sufficient for the breakfast of a champion. Donning on my usual Tupac t-shirt, I head outside to the streets. Since I live in LA, you must immediately be thinking “And now she gets into her car and drives to…” but you are missing one, fairly crucial, point—I live on Hollywood Blvd, essentially the Times Square of Los Angeles. It may very well be the only place in LA where it is more efficient to walk than drive. As I step out onto the pavement a car door slams to my left with Darth Vader exiting a Toyota Corolla.

“Good Morning” he says, breathing loudly, as he sweeps past me.

“Good Morning, how are you doing today?” I reply.

“Just heading to work, pretty good thanks.” He answers, already large steps ahead of me.

My sunglasses fall to the bridge of my nose as I duck out of the camera eye line taking a photo of a wax Marilyn Monroe (she is everything here-by the way). I zig zag through the crowd to the Dolby Theatre and down the piano staircase that always sounds out of tune. I finally step inside the corner market and grab my miscellaneous array of items including the Queen Mother of all victuals–the old-fashioned donut–and exit. It is a well-known fact that the minute-to-minute movements on Hollywood blvd are more complex and intricate than those of a Rube Goldberg contraption that routinely does the unexpected. So, I am not surprised when I am suddenly faced with a wall of Ohio state fans arguing with a large group of Halo Space Fighters. Normally, I could have slipped in through the piano staircase again but 15 toddlers and Shrek are having story time so you could very well say I’m in quicksand—the more I try to move the more stuck I become. So I do something that those of us in Generation Y have only done maybe once or twice, I stand still. And I look around. And I shut up.

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The Best Offer: Art, Life and Deception

The Best Offer PosterA few days ago I finally caught up with Giuseppe Tornatore‘s last film, The Best Offer (La Migliore Offerta, 2013). I believe the film did not get much attention when it came out but I it is, in my opinion, a sophisticated and entertaining piece that deserves a watch.

Tornatore, best known for his Academy Award winning film Cinema Paradiso, tackles in this occasion the intersection between life and art through the perspective of the eccentric and mysterious auctioneer, Virgil Oldman, masterfully played by the talented Geoffrey Rush. Mr. Oldman is a loner whose entire existence is dedicated to the acquisition and auctioning of precious works of art in detriment of every other aspect of his private life. This includes contact, proximity or intimacy with other human beings. He seeks a pristine, calculated perfection in his surroundings that can only be achieved by excluding most people from his sphere of trust.

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