who is ai wei wei?

I have seen this name on the news. I know he is Chinese and has recently been released from “detention”.  But who is this activist?  In my search for something to bring you in this blog every day, I am crawling all over the web for interesting art.  Time and time again in the last week I come across Ai Wei Wei as big political news (read more about it), and I think it’s time to feature this innovative artist. If you scroll down to my June 22 post on “Nesting”, you will see the nest-like Beijing Olympic stadium, which Ai helped to design.

  The studio space you see surrounding “Fountain of Light” was demolished by the Chinese government, arriving one morning without warning to completely flatten the building.

This exhibit consisted of hand-fired, hand-painted porcelain sunflower seeds, created by artisans from Jingdezhen, the ‘porcelain capital’ of his native China.

These windows and doors came from all over China, places where entire townships and villages had been destroyed.  Ai explains, ‘the materials I use comes from objects destroyed in the name of development, or would be used by antique dealers to make copies of antique future. (Colonnello, 2007)’  Unfortunately, this entire structure collapsed under heavy weather conditions, not long after its installation.

Ai Wei Wei was due to board a flight to Hong Kong in April, but was stopped by officials.  After that, his whereabouts were unknown, sparking international condemnation, and internet posts baldly stating: WHERE IS WEI WEI? He was later charged with economic crimes. After 81 days in “detention”, he was released. The state news agency, Xinhua, said police had released him “because of his good attitude in confessing his crimes” and a chronic illness.



What is art, right?  Installations, gallery shows, awards . . . and what about everyday art that affects every part of your life?  The time and talent and technology it took to create the image on your cereal box? What about art created for the purpose of selling to the masses – like Blik’s wall graphics? They are a company that creates removable wall decals.  Maybe today’s post isn’t so much about art as it is about letting go and having fun.  Imagine being given a big box of markers and a WALL to draw on!  Does that take you back to your childhood and getting in trouble for crayoning the paint? Blik held a contest for those who doodle, and the winners had their doodles made into removable wall art decals. These were the three winners:

Not so sure I would put them on my walls . . . kind of like this one:

Contributed by Angela Babbit

Before you dismiss this form of art, take a look at some doodles created by some world-famous artists:

If you are a doodler, you might want to check out Doodlers Anonymous, a website for the sketcher at heart. From intricately beautiful to intricately creepy, you can find it here.  And next time you are bored, grab a pencil and decorate your margins – who knows where your graphite ramblings can take you?

dimensional art

I am so drawn to sculpture, but I would like to post more about flat art as well.  So I searched to see what I could find, and STILL ended up drawn to something dimensional.  Oh well, I promise to get to more flat art in the future.  Today I would like to feature the incredible pieces by Gregory Euclide.  His repertoire does include flat paintings, but I find his relief paintings intricately beautiful:

My bare foot adds the soft bridge to sky’s repeating
acrylic, canvas, euro cast, fruticose, moss, mylar, pencil, paper, sedum, sponge, vellum

29 x 23 x 6

Take a look at the materials he utilizes in his work.  Fruticose is term which means “shrubby”, and I believe what he is using is a fruticose lichen, a type of fungus that grows on another plant.  Spanish moss is an example. I have to digress here a bit, but here is lichen growing on a tree, an intricate work of art in itself:

Lichen-covered tree: Grey, leafy Parmotrema perlatum on upper half of trunk; yellowy-green Flavoparmelia caperata on middle and lower half and running up the extreme right side; and the fruticose Ramalina farinacea. Tresco, Isles of Scilly, UK

Gregory lives in Minnesota, and his works are inspired by walking through the land and being highly aware of the things that he sees in the environment.  You can find out more about him by visiting this page on his website and scrolling down to the “interviews” section.  There are several links to blog posts and also a magazine article.  This is the largest installation he has done:

Otherworldly: optical delusions and small realities
Museum of arts and design – new york, ny
The room-sized installation on the fifth floor of the museum overlooking Central park will consist of several dioramas, cast boulders and a 7 ft by 5 ft landscape painting in a guilded frame.

Here are some of his paintings.  I love the use of the swirly, script-like brushstrokes.

Emptied our seeing in the difficulty of our enjoyment
Acrylic and fabric on Canvas, 36 x 48

Something similar to waves inside but lower than breaking
acrylic, paper, pencil
,24 x 36



starline gallery grand opening

What an event experience at the Starline Factory Gallery on Friday! This Grand Opening Event was held in the large space on the ground level. People started trickling in around 6 pm.

Volunteers served the most delicious appetizers – hand-created gourmet tidbits were readily available all evening.  By 7 PM, the huge event space was fairly full.  The wine bar was stocked and glasses of wine and chilled green tea served all night long. Parking lots outside overflowed and art lovers poured through the door. Live guitar music accompanied talented singers and set the tone for a fun atmosphere. I noticed quite a few younger people, maybe high school age, in the crowd, which I thought was unusual.  All the mysteries were solved when recorded music began to play, and the wandering young ones coalesced into an organized flash mob of accomplished dancers.

Artist studios were open, so attendees wandered through the immense factory building, meeting the artists who work in this unique place, and seeing first hand what an active art studio looks like. The patio off the main event area was open, softly lit with fairy lights and comfortably furnished with patio seating.

My Osprey vase looked great on its pedestal, against the warm brick walls.

At 9:45 PM, we were sitting on the patio, sipping the last glass of wine in the cool night air.  No one hurried to leave this magical space.

Photographers Nancy Merkling and Theresa Baber are the organizers behind the Starline Factory Gallery.  Click on their names to view some of their work.  They are professional and talented, creating an oasis of art that is well worth the ride out to Harvard, Illinois.

starline tonight

Tonight is the Grand Launch at the Starline Factory Gallery in Harvard.  If you are attending, be there before 7 pm to find out about the big surprise event. I’m sure I will post on Monday to talk about the details, and hopefully get some pictures.  I have been trying to get photos from online to post here, but the coolest ones are in slide shows and won’t let me copy and paste.  If you want to see this amazing space, you have to go to the link.  Or, of course, come out to 4th Fridays! They have also gone live with the website, and it is beautiful. Go the The Starline Factory.com

art of the land

I just received word that I have been accepted into the fall show for Art of the Land. This show features artists from the McHenry County area who find their inspiration in the natural beauty of the land.  It is a fundraiser for the Land Conservancy of McHenry County. My talented sister, Margie, had one of her photographs featured in this event last year, and raved about this event at the Starline Gallery in Harvard.

My best pieces are inspired by the landscape that surrounds me.  Incorporating natural materials seems to bring it closer, infusing my work with the feeling of the outdoors, bringing it into your everyday life.

Driftwood is something I can’t resist bringing home from my kayak trips. In fact, sometimes I look pretty strange out on the lake, with my kayak festooned with bits of wood tucked under every available bungee strap.  Scroll down to my June 15 post to see my latest sculpture with glass and wood.  Here is one of my first projects:

Sunflowers with Bug

The Art of the Land show is being held September 23 – 24, 2011.  I’ll be sure to post more about it as it gets closer.


This year we have two robin nests in the yard.  They were a little smarter, building them high in the upper branches, which does not make for a good photograph because they are well hidden behind the leaves.  A few years ago, a robin built low enough for me to get this photo:

The nest form is intricate and beautiful.  There are so many artists, myself included, fascinated with this form.  Several years ago I was on a camping trip in Wisconsin, hiking an interpretive trail.  We came across several huge natural material installations along the trail, one of which was an enormous nest built on the ground, so large we clambered in and sat inside.  Unfortunately, I don’t have pictures, but here is a similar creation from artist Nils-Udo.  He is a Bavarian artist who works on site using natural materials.

“The Nest”, Earth, stones, birch trees, birch branches, grass, Lineburg Heath, Germany, 1978

I was going to continue this post with beautiful images of nests – painting, jewelry, etc.  Well, that might come another day.  After I found this image, I had to go with some of the most artistically bizarre or unusual nests that are out there.  Hope you enjoy!

“Extreme Nesting with Benjamin Verdonck”

Tan Khanh:  Paper Nest Art

Beijing’s Olympic Stadium

Nest Station“Nest Station” fractal art, Craig Williamson