pichiavo painting mural

Artist Group: Pichiavo

Who said that classical art is dead? Who said that classical artwork would never be complemented by graffiti? If there any of you who never thought the classics and graffiti complemented each other, the Pichiavo pair will prove you wrong.

They are the ‘art cocktail masters’ infusing graffiti, classic art, while in-cooperating in sculptures, social text, and space. They are idealistic artists who believe in the complete freedom to express an idea.

These two street artists have a versatile style that is not common today. Whether on paper on canvas you will note the colour, detailed sculptures and texts that are meant to complement the piece being made. They are not like many modern artists who love to give direct messages on their artwork. Their approach gives you a lethargic almost surreal sneak peek into the past. It like the gods and goddesses come alive in their artwork.

Pichi and Avo met in the streets of Valencia Spain both of them engaging in graffiti activities. From the time they met, it was like they synchronized their lives and their artwork. They complement each other’s style like Ying and Yang.

From 2007 the pair has become like brothers. They spend so much time creating art that sometimes it is hard for their fans to tell them apart. They are inspired by the golden age of classical art and the dynamic nature of modern art.

At first, their initial focus was on graffiti based techniques. Later on, they made a decision to make art that reflected both their interest and personality. Since they were already enthralled by Greek mythology and classical art, it was easy to find a style that suited both of them.

pichi avo mural

Pichiavo has pure natural talent which is a big boost if you are trying to make notable art. The other thing that has supported their quest for unique art is the formal education that they have received. In combination, they have formal certification in fine arts and design.

Their work is not politically or religiously inspired and thus have gotten the opportunity to work in many countries. They are true to themselves and tend to shy away from artistic egocentrism. Artistic egocentrism is responsible for personal rows between artists among other qualms. Everyone wants to be the best and have ownership of the centerpiece.

Since they were not trying to go the traditional route, they came to the agreement to paint as equals. Whether they are working on a wall or a canvas they always try to have all the right settings.

pichi avo mural

During an interview with Bombing Science they stated “In terms of walls, we like to know where is the wall and see the environment, ones we have that we play a lot, normally with concepts related to mythology as part of the classical art in base on that, we do a lot of research our self-traveling searching for sculptures and we use that for our work, ones we have the idea of the character we do a sketch where we work more with colors, graffiti… but ones we go to the wall all that is just a reference as we normally freestyle all the background, so at the end, we have freestyle work and more planned work.”

With this kind of detailed work, they have traveled the world to share their art. From Germany, the UK, Belgium, Greece and many other countries. They are yet to work in the US but they have had successful gallery shows in the country.

pichi avo stadium mural

In the past, they have contributed their showmanship to creating notable murals. They were involved in creating the 2016 dolphin stadium mural and the Bowery wall in New York City. They are not done yet however, they have more shows and artwork coming your way.

They continue to evolve their style daily ensuring that they fully develop the concept of their ideas. They are not only an artist but normal people as will engaging in hobbies most of us like. They love to surf, engage in sports, music, and readings in between creating their art based empire.

The world is full of possibilities for this two Spanish artist as they continue to dive into the world of classical and modern art. We can only act as an audience at a great show waiting for the next unveiling.

Practice makes perfect, and at the level of skill that these two work, there is no telling what is next. Watch this space.

 

blek le rat xavier prou painting

Artist Spotlight: Blek le Rat

Xavier Prou or popularly known as Blek Le Rat, a French graffiti artist was born on the 15th of November 1952, in Boulogne-Billancourt, western suburbs of France. Dubbed “The father of stencil graffiti”, Blek Le Rat attended the École Des Beaux Arts in France before graduating in 1982. He is said to be an inspiration to many stencil artists for years such as Banksy and Invader. He is also nicknamed ‘Banquesy’, the French Banksy.

Le Rat gathered inspiration from Blek Le Roc, a French Comic about American trappers during the Revolutionary War and adopted part of the name for his own. Le Rat begun his art in the streets of Paris around 1981 painting rats.  He described his rats as, “only free animal in the city, one which spreads the plague everywhere, just like street art”. Eventually settling for the “rat” name as an anagram of “art”.

Before he graduated, Le Rat visited New York and fell in love with the city’s street art and graffiti in 1971. He returned to France determined to make a difference. And that he did. As he didn’t feel New York’s still would suite his hometown, he decided to go a different route and develop a unique style for Paris. At that time, no artist was using stencils for their work and here’s why Le Rat stood out of the pack. Most street art is deemed illegal and comes with hefty fines. Le Rat didn’t want to spend so much time on the streets due to the police, and hence the genius use of stencils to make it even faster.

example of blek le rat stencil art

The Rise of the Stencil Graffiti King

Canadian artist, Richard Hambleton brought his work to Paris from the US in the early 80s. At this time, Blek Le Rat was already doing his black rats stencils and was inspired by Richards’s larger pieces. So, he began making larger pieces of art and even self-portraits.

Blek creates all his stencils by hand to ensure a perfection and best use street art use. He is credited as the first person to create life-sized stencils and transforming stencils from the then basic imagery done by most artists.

The first meeting of the urban art movement and graffiti was held in Bondy, France in 1985. Blek Le Rat, Leonard Hilton McGurr was known as Futura, Sylvain Perier also known as SP 38, Miss.tick and Olivier Rizzo aka Speedy Graphito, were among those in attendance.

In 1991, Blek dedicated a replica of Madonna di Loreta, by Caravaggio an Italian Baroque master to his then future wife, Sybille. This image is Le Rat’s oldest known artwork. In the making of this replica, the French police identified and arrested Le Rat. This brought about his subsequent use of premade stencils, which made the use more efficient in speed and also avoiding the larger fines that came with being caught in the act.

blek le rat example of stencil art

Competition or Comparison?

Although the two have never met, much comparison has been done in the industry between Blek Le Rat and Banksy artworks. Prou has definitely had influence over Banksy. In the past, Banksy has been quoted saying, “Every time I think I’ve painted something slightly original, I find out that Blek le Rat has done it as well, only twenty years earlier”. Le Rat’s response to this sentiments was , “People say he copies me, but I don’t think so. I’m the old man, he’s the new kid, and if I’m an inspiration to an artist that good, I love it”. Their relationship has been mainly based on rivalry and admiration and increasingly unstable over the years.

blek le rat ballerina

Despite these sentiments, Le Rat has been quoted expressing his “anger” with Banksy in a Graffiti Wars documentary by Channel 4. He has publicly expressed his disappointment with Banksy making a man with a child or Banksy making rats. While some could argue Banksy made Le Rat famous by taking on most of his previous work intentionally or not, Le Rat was however displeased as Banksy was reproducing his technique and style in street art. He went ahead to suggest Banksy reveals his identity for everyone to know what kind of person he was. As fans and enthusiasts hope a pray for a collaboration between the two, it remains to be seen what comes out of the two artists’ differences.

Exhibitions

Blek Le Rat’s organized his first solo exhibition in October of 2006 at the Leonard Street Gallery in London. Most of his oeuvre has been included in many collections and galleries all around the world. He also took part in the Cans Festival in 2008 were famous street artists were also featured. Prou made his American debut in 2008 at an event held in Subliminal Projects Gallery in Los Angeles, Southern California. At this exhibition, he featured his wife’s photography and three-dimensional artworks. In December 2009, Le Rat had an exhibition titled, ‘Le Ciel Est Bleu, La Vie Est Belle’. Which translates to ‘The sky is blue, life is beautiful.’ This exhibition mainly covered his work from the early 80s to 2009. In a bid to bridge the divide, he went ahead to exhibit 25 unique lithography monotypes and large-scale artworks as well.

With a career spanning an impressive 30 years, this artist has no intentions of stopping anytime soon. As signaled from previous interviews, “I will never stop. Ever. Unless there was something wrong with my legs. But 30 years is a long time. It’s a lifetime. This is my life”. Prou still commands a great deal of influence in today’s guerrilla style art movement and street art. No doubt his name will be revered for many years to come.

Fredric Harwin – Ocularist

Heroes don’t have to be the typical character portrayed in movies. Heroes can come from every walk of society. Fredric Harwin, MSc, BCO, BADO, FAMI has changed the lives of many people. Through his world-class services, he has become a renowned ocularist. His work is so detailed and full of passion, ensuring that his patients get nothing but the best.

He is responsible for making cool almost real looking acrylic prosthetics that when worn could be mistaken for a functioning eye. Losing an eye has to be a very traumatic experience for anyone since it is the tool in which we use to look into the world.

For Fredric Harwin, he believes that everyone has the right to belong. People with eye impediments tend to be ignored by the society. For them to feel comfortable they have to find access to natural, nontoxic prosthetics that durable.

To begin with, he achieved a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Wayne State University. He then went over to Michigan University to collects a master’s degree in biological and medical illustration. He was lucky enough to have his first job at Wayne County General Hospital.

He didn’t know it at the time but his work as a medical illustrator was going to serve him when he plunged into ocular prosthetics. In his work, he got the chance to contribute to a two-volume atlas based on cardiac surgery.

He personally had to attend all these surgeries in order to get all the details. At times he even had to attend the same procedure twice. The meticulousness of his work as a medical illustrator can be seen in all of his work including the famous prosthetics.

During that time he got interested in the world of prosthetics. He came up with the idea of opening a clinic for facial prosthetics at the Oregon Health Sciences University. Like all smart people do, his research took him on a journey. He visited various clinics in the span of a year to make sure he understood all the ways to do these prosthetics.

In the midst of making different prosthetics, he came to the conclusion that he really enjoyed making the eyes. From there he has not stopped. He has various patients waiting for his services that are usually detailed.

Generally, he spends 8 hours, 4 sessions before the final product is complete. The client gets to see him working which creates a bond between them and ensures that the details are as close as can be. Making one prosthetic has twelve steps, at the end, the client gets a prosthetic that fits like a glove. The eye is very detailed that you could see layers and blood vessels just like a normal eye would have.

The combination of art and science can clearly be experienced from his work. He customizes each prosthetic with a symbol that means something for the client. It may be a rabbit or a sunflower, it doesn’t matter, Fredric Harwin will do it for his clients.

His talents don’t end there. When he discovered the world of oil paints and canvas, his possibilities became larger. Being that he is a firm believer that art and science can work together, he believes that nothing can stop him from making his clients feel good.

example of ocularist work

His artwork is dreamy and intricate with detail. He says that his favorite things to paint are trees. Since he has been illustrating blood vessels most of his life, he integrated them into his tree paintings. It’s not only trees he paints, you can see landscape, vibrant color and immaculate detail.

Just like he is a lover of art, he is a lover of science. He has accomplished a lot having the opportunity to work at a professor in several well-known universities. Currently, he still runs his clinic and he is an assistant professor at John Hopkins Medical School. He even finds time to the president of The Center of Ocular Prosthetics.

The look on his face when he sees a satisfied customer is priceless. For him, it’s not all about the money. It is just about helping his clients feel comfortable in their own skin and live normal lives.

ocularist example 2

For those who are looking for a customized prosthetic eye, there is hope. With technology evolving every day, there is a chance that more people like Fredric Harwin will be able to avail these services to the multitudes to need them. For more information, check out Frederic’s website www.fredharwin.com.

Artist Spotlight: C215

They say that practice makes perfect. That has proven true for the street artist Christian Guémy who has spent over 20years honing his craft. Known all over the world as C215. Known primarily first for graffiti then stencil work, the artist has a philosophical approach to life and art.

C215 was born in Paris back in 1973. From the time he was a child, c215 had an interesting life. His mother was also an artist, she spent her time creating drawings and frequently engaging in smoking cigarettes. When she committed suicide at 18 years old, C215 was left with his grandmother who fueled the artistic passion.

His grandmother took him to the space where his mother used to work and from there the art and Christian Guémy were one. He even joked that earlier he would steal girl’s notebooks and leaving drawings in them. The girls would open their books and gasp with surprise. As he grew up the passion grew even bigger but he had to make money and support himself.

Before becoming the renowned artist that he is now, C215 held regular jobs. He worked as an export manager for luxury furniture, worked in the financial markets and also conducted a market study for the furniture trade union.

All these varied experiences between working a regular 8-5 job, his studies and being a freelance artist has contributed to the man that you see now.  He has an interesting approach to his artwork and perception of life.

Unfortunately or fortunately, C215 has faced some prison time. The cell in which he was held was number 215. He decided to use his cell number as his art pseudonym, which to this day he is known by. If it were not for that prison time, we probably wouldn’t have the powerhouse logo that is C215.

His work

Before all the fame, Christian Guémy was versed in what he wanted to do. Considering that he got a master’s degree in art history he got a chance to work in an encyclopedia of crafts projects. His main focus being the history behind cabinets, plaster and stucco decorations.

c215 artwork on street

He went on further to study the 17th-century religious architecture and classic French architecture to give him a better understanding of the skillsets used in those days.

c215 madonna and child

C215 is well versed in the ways of street art. He has 20 years under his belt using spray cans to create works of art. He started using stencil in 2006 to make art when he was looking to make a portrait of his daughter and her mother. It proved successful and he started going at it seriously.

mural by c215 cat in tunisia

By 2007, he had galleries interested in his work and it became the main source of income for him. Seeing that he was dedicated to stenciling every day he compiled an enormous collection of art. In the beginning of this journey, he worked with the powerhouse Banksy which made his name be known by those who had not heard of it.

You can find his art in the walls of Paris and major cities in the world. He believes in creating street art that blends while sending the right message. Most stencil drawings tend to lack dimensions. His art has layers of vibrancy giving you that 3D feel. The colors draw you in, leaving you lost in wonderful detail.

c215 artwork near magazine rack

His work is focused on creating portraits of normal people that are overlooked by the society. He is not interested in the celebrities or people who hold big positions in the society. His interest is to capture the uniqueness of street children, beggars, the babysitter, the homeless man on the street corner or anyone who receives no recognition.

He wanted people to look at his paintings and ask who the subject was. That intrigue and recognition of the forgotten ones in the society are all he is after. He believes that every human is unique and deserves to be recognized.

c215 artwork

He is not only a stencil artist. He has other hidden talents that he is still discovering. He has dabbled in media arts and installations. This only goes to show us that there is more to expect from the artist.

When asked what his artwork stood for he stated “In the end, behind the portraits, the question is always freedom and dignity in the face of a capitalist daily life system. “ He strongly believes that artwork should be shared among people. Just because people can’t afford gallery-based art does not mean that they cat view it from the street. Strong words behind a strong man.

 

carolina falkholt standing infront of finger mural

Artist Spotlight: Carolina Falkholt

When looking for one word to describe her artwork, shy would not be among them. Carolina Falkholt is among the most versatile artists on the planet. She is known for grafitta which incorporates graffiti and the female reproductive organ representation into masterpieces.

Born in 1977 in Sweden, she lived a normal childhood in her hometown Dals Långed, Dalsland. She then pursued an education at the Waldorf school Kristofferskolan in Stockholm.

Her time in the Waldorf School opened doors for her to start graffiti work. At the time, she went by the assumed name blue. To seek better opportunities she moved to New-York and found herself working with other major artists.

To understand her work, one needs to understand the level of artists she worked with. She joined two famous groups; Hardcore Chickz and The fantastic partners. Her work was recognized and she ended up working for the Rawkus recording company. She collaborated with huge artists like Sento and Lady pink. All this work led to her being recognized among Sweden’s famous graffiti writers.

After 4 years working and living in New York city she had gotten enough experience and acknowledgment under her belt, she went back home to Gothenburg, Sweden.

Her Works

Globally she is known for drawing and graffiti but she has dabbled in other avenues of art. She sculpts, does installations, organizes performances, creates collages and finally film and photography.

carolina falkholt standing infront of finger mural full

If you look at her artwork, you will notice a lot of colors and unending circles. These circles create beautiful webs which are then filled out to make beautiful designs. She also has a thing for incorporating other features of the body besides the vagina. You will find some paintings with eyes, hands, ears, and mouth.

You can see how much work she puts in since most of her work is very intricate. Her hand paintings are especially notable for the detail and meaning since she utilizes the Swedish sign language.

Among her, most notable works include the 2010 collaboration with a number of other artists. The project was named Graffiti Mariestad. Thirty artists including musicians, dancers, and other famous graffiti artists worked to produce a large-scale artwork. It can actually be considered among the largest graffiti works to ever be produced.

Fortunately or unfortunately, the silo which housed the masterpiece was torn down.  For the sad part, the artwork was gone forever. For the better part, she got commissioned to create a public sculpture.

falkholt test sculpture

She did not disappoint. She created T.E.S.T, a 12 foot sculpture that was inaugurated in Mariestad back in 2011. The statue featured materials from the demolished silo making it a great way to remember art through art. You can read her book SILO to understand the whole process.

She has had her work displayed in many museums including the Gothenburg museum of art, Ystad art Museum, Eskilstuna museum, and other places like Steneby Konsthall. She has also found time to participate in TV shows and curated exhibitions such as the Mynningsladdare in Gothenburg. Her works are unending and so is her praise.

carolina falkholt mural Övermålning

In 2014, she was commissioned to do work which turned out to be controversial. The painting dubbed Övermålning featured derogatory words towards women painted over with a motif of a lady’s naked bottom half.

Since the painting was commissioned by a school in Nyköping, many did not approve of the message it sent. They even erected a wall in front of it. After a ray of heated arguments with politicians taking a standpoint on the matter, the painting won. The wall came down and all was free to see.

Another high school commissioned a painting by Carolina Falkholt. As it turns out, it also proved to be another controversial painting depicting a naked woman upside down in an uncomfortable position. This mural did not raise as many eyebrows comparing it to the 2014 painting.

falkholt penis mural in new york december 2017

The one that got the most attention is the mural she painted in 2017 in New York City. The 40inch erect penis made its debut on the side of a building at 303 Broome Street. Many were amused by the painting and some not so much.

Commissioned by the street Art Foundation, this painting got a lot of attention. The intention was that the painting was meant to accompany an earlier painting of a vagina on Pike Street. Unfortunately, due to the order of the landlord, the painting was painted over just hours after it was completed.

When asked what she thought of the matter she said: “Art is one of the only places left where we can truly be free and discuss whatever difficult topics there are, since art has the ability to translate and transform language in any direction possible.”

With those few philosophical words from her, the art world is sure to experience the brilliant antiques of Carolina Falkholt. Her art is vibrant, controversial and the world wants more and so do we!

Artist Profile: Keith Haring

He came from art and became one of the most famous artists of his time. He was born in 1958 in Reading, Pennsylvania but grew up in Kutztown, Pennsylvania. His father was an engineer and a cartoonist. His first art influences came from his spending time with his father. He was the first born of four siblings and the only boy. Walt Disney cartoons, Dr. Seuss, Looney tunes and Charles Schulz were also his influences.

He was brought up in a religious family, but he left all that behind when he was a teenager and decided to travel the country. He made a living from selling vintage t-shirts, and during that time, he tried drugs. He lost interest in commercial art which he was studying at Ivy School of Professional Art in Pittsburgh. His decision to leave was after he read The Art Spirit by Robert Henri which made him want to focus on his art.

He familiarized himself with the art of Jean Dubuffet, Jackson Pollock, and Mark Tobey while working at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts as a maintenance person. All the art influences around him kept giving him a push towards art. He came by Pierre Alechinsky work in 1977 that gave him the confidence to make large calligraphic images.

In 1978, Christo a sculptor gave a lecture that gave Haring the push he needed to show his work to the public. It was then that Haring got the courage to hold his first on man exhibition at the Center for the Arts in Pittsburgh. After the show, he moved to New York to study painting. Keith also ventured into video and performance art while there. He got behind on credits because his teachers did not award his social activism works any points.

The earliest recognition of Keith was through his art on subways. His had film of his exhibitions at Club 57 in 1980. He took part in the Times Square Exhibition where he drew human and animal faces in his art for the first time.

crack is wack keith haring mural

He became friends with Futura, Kenny and Jean-Michel in 1982 who were also upcoming artists. Between 1982 and 1989 he did over 50 public works of art in many cities around the world. His remarkable mural Crack is Wack is still visible through New York’s FDR Drive.

After his extensive works around the Cities, he met Andy Warhol who was one of his themes in his art. The beginning of their friendship cemented the success of Haring as an artist.

Keith Haring International Work

keith haring new south wales

He took part in some international art projects which gained him international recognition and grew his art even more. He went to Australia in 1984 and worked on murals in Melbourne. He also went to Sydney where the National Gallery of Victoria and the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art had him paint a mural replacing the water curtain that was in the national gallery.

keith haring mural sao paulo

Rio de Janeiro was also one of his stops where he did paintings. He also worked in the Musee d’Art Modern de la Ville de Paris, Manhattan and Minneapolis. He drew a poster of free South Africa which was crucial to his political activity in 1985.

Haring did a section of the Berlin wall in 1986. He got to work with children because he loved children at the City Kids Speak on Liberty project for the Statue of Liberty. It took the collaboration of 1000 children.

Haring described his work as trying to break the barrier between high and low art. It was not about making money. His works then took on a very socio-political theme. He worked on AIDs awareness works, Anti-Apartheid and the Crack Cocaine Epidemic. He also had other works of art of different things like Coca-Cola and Absolut Vodka.

He continued his tradition of solo exhibitions in 1987 at Helsinki and Antwerp. He was the artist and designer on the album A Very Special Christmas that featured Madonna. He worked with artists and joined artists groups that saw him become part of the label of Chateau Mouton Rothschild.

pile of crowns by heith haring

At Woodhull Medical and Mental Health Center, he worked on public murals in the lobby and the care department. He paid his respects to his friend Jean-Michel in 1988 who died of an overdose by painting A Pile of Crowns for Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Sexuality

Keith Haring was an openly gay artist who actively rallied for safe sex. He, however, got a positive diagnosis for AIDs in 1988. The following year, he began a Keith Haring foundation that gave funding to AIDs organizations and Children’s programs. The foundation was also to extend the reach of his artwork. He spoke about his ailment and created AIDs awareness every chance that he got.

 

tuttomondo keith haring

In 1989, the Lesbian and Gay Community Services Center gave Haring a platform to paint a mural on the 208 West 13th Street building. For the mural Once Upon a Time, he chose the second-floor men’s room of the building. June of the same year, on the wall of the Church of Sant’Antonio, he did his final public work of art, the mural Tuttomondo.

He also took part in the fashion industry where his artwork was in clothing. Some of these clothes the likes of Madonna would wear. He also ventured into jewelry design with David Spada. He made sculptural pieces for Jones.

Death

Keith Haring died on February 16, 1990. The cause of his death was related to his earlier AIDs diagnosis. He developed complications that caused his death. He had made an impact on the world through his art and Madonna held a benefit Concert in his honor. All the money made from the tour of her Blond Ambition album given to various charities for AIDs awareness.

The works of Haring and his efforts in creating awareness about AIDs got recognition by several organizations which drew inspiration from it and carried on his vision for Awareness and Funding. He is among the first famous people who had foundations dedicated to helping people affected by AIDs.

Much of Haring’s work is chronicled on The Keith Haring Foundation

portrait of thomas hart benton

Artist Profile: Thomas Hart Benton

Thomas was born into a political family. In a family of four children, he was the first born, two sisters, and a brother. His family was well off as his father was Colonel Maecenas Benton, a lawyer, and a US congressman four times. He was born in Missouri in 1889. The most of Thomas’s young life was spent traveling between Missouri and Washington DC because of his father’s political affiliations.

Colonel Maecenas had hope that his first born son would take after him and join politics. He, therefore sent Thomas to Western Military Academy in 1905 to receive military training. Thomas, however, took a different path. Having gotten his upbringing from two cultures that were both parts of him, he went against his father’s wishes and put all his focus into his art.

His mother was in support of this decision, and he was even able to get a job as a cartoonist for Joplin American newspaper in Missouri as a teenager. With his mother backing him, he was able to join art school in Chicago, The School of the Art Institute in 1907.

thomas benton mural with city activieis and dance hall

In 1909, he went to Paris to continue art education. He went to the Academie Julian during which his mother gave him financial and emotional support. He was under his mother’s care until his early 30s when he began a family of his own.

Thomas met artists like Rivera and Stanton while in Paris. He did not conform to Diego’s ideas like many others, but he instead got his influence from Stanton who was an advocate for synchromism. Thomas began his synchromist since that encounter.

His adventures and studies in Europe came to an end in 1912 when he moved to New York where he began painting. He was in the US Navy at the Norfolk station in World War I. His time in the war made an impact on his painting style. He made illustrations of the work and life in a ships yard which became part of the influencing factors of his later forms.

Thomas drew paintings of the camouflage ships that docked at the Norfolk harbor. His works were needed so that the US ship painters would make the drawings correctly, to help the US identify their camouflage ships and to have an advantage of recognizing other ships. He took pride in his work in the Navy that he said it was his most important work as an artist.

Married life

He got married in 1922 to an Italian immigrant Rita Piacenza. She was his student at his art classes for a neighborhood organization in New York. The couple was blessed with two children a boy and a girl in 1926 and 1939 respectively. Thomas was married to his wife for over 53 years. He was separated from his family by his death in 1975. After his death, his wife died eleven weeks later.

Thomas Benton Career

His career began with him denouncing modernism and focusing on his works that are now known as Regionalism. He only took part in leftist politics and his actions kept on growing. His America, Today murals at the New School for Social Research in 1930, was the epitome of his regionalist work. AXA Equitable bought the paintings in 1984, restored them and put them up in the AXA Equitable Tower lobby. The murals got sent to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2012 as donations.

In 1932, Thomas won a commission from the state to paint the murals of Indiana life for the Century of Progress Exhibition in 1933. These paintings were followed by controversies because, in the murals, there are depictions of the lives of the people and the events that take place. The people did not take too kindly to the publicizing of those events.

controversial thomas benton mural featuring history of state with KKK klu klux klan represented in background

The Ku Klux Klan was something he featured in the murals and critics were on his throat for it. Exposing the members of the KKK was a vice to the people. Most of the men in those times were members of the Klan, and in 1924, the governor elected was a member of KKK. Other members took other political offices in the same year. The murals are however still on display at the Indiana University.

The 1932 Arts of Life in America murals is also part of his works for the Whitney Museum of America Art. The work was a large five panels, and in 1953, the panels were bought by the New Britain Museum of American Art and are on display at the museum.

His color covers featured in the Times Magazine in 1934. The US Scene article was a story about him and two other artists who were the heroes of American art during the time. His disregard for politics did not sit well with artists; he went back to Missouri where he began work on the mural for the Missouri state capitol. The mural, A Social History of Missouri, was among his best works of his career.

thomas benton huge mural in a room

After moving around and his adventures, he finally put up camp in Kansas, and he began teaching at the Kansas City Art Institute. In his works, Benton always showed empathy for the working class and the peasants. He would demonstrate the beauty of living in a small town, desperation and the sadness of the oppressed in his paintings.

persephone mural by thomas benton

He made the Persephone in 1930. The painting arose controversy, and was taken to a night club. It is considered one of the best works of American Pornography. His autobiography, An Artist in America, came out in 1937. The autobiography gave an impression on Sinclair Lewis who praised Thomas for his expertise in painting and also writing.

Later works

Benton was among the nine artists who took part in documenting scenes in the production of The Long Voyage home in 1940. In 1942, his musical album, Saturday Night at Tom Benton’s came out. He was a great harmonica musician.

jefferson city thomas benton huge mural

He made a mural series, The Year of Peril, during the Second World War that showed the threats of fascism and Nazism. He did the Lincoln mural for the Lincoln University in 1953, Trading at Westport Landing for the river club in 1956, Father Hennepin at Niagara Falls for the Power Authority of the state of New York in 1972 and the Independence and the Opening of the West for the Harry Truman library. The work at the library led to his friendship with the president.

He was working on The Sources of Country Music for the Country music hall of fame in Nashville when he died. His residence in Missouri was made a historic site and remains unchanged since. His life and works have been the features of a documentary in 1988.

harry sternberg sitting infront of a self portrait

Artist Profile: Harry Sternberg

Harry Sternberg was born in 1904 to immigrant parents who had immigrated from Russia and Hungary. He was born in New York, and in 1910 moved to Brooklyn. He began Jewish religious Training when they moved to Brooklyn and at the age of nine, he began taking art classes at Brooklyn Museum of Art in 1915.

Sternberg had shown interest in art at an early age, and his parents supported him in his school work. He took up part time classes in 1922 to 1926 at the Art Students League of New York. After all the art study that Harry had done up to this point, he was ready to start his career in etching, printmaking, and painting. He got his first studio apartment in 1926, Greenwich Village.

Harry Sternberg career

His background education in art gave him the skills that he needed to lay down a successful career. He was good at his art, and he worked hard to grow his career. He had his first exhibition in 1931 at the Whitney Museum of American Art.

family industry and agriculture painted by harry sternberg

He went back to the school where he studied in New York as a teacher and also took a keen interest in social issues that affect art. He remained an art professor until 1968. His time as a teacher was very busy and involving. He landed a position in the Graphic Art Division of the Federal Art Project.

He then spent a year studying the working conditions of workers in coal mines and steel mills. He featured this experience in his first ever mural “Chicago: the epoch of a great city” at the Lakeview post office in Chicago. The mural was not funded by the WPA but by the Treasury of Fine Arts.

Harry Sternberg got to meet Diego and his wife Frida in 1934. After the meeting, he began thinking of taking a political stand. He, therefore, became more active regarding political matters. In 1936, he got the Guggenheim fellowship.

His first post office mural was in 1937; he called it “carrying the mail” in Pennsylvania. It had funding from the US department of the treasury of painting and sculpture. Harry then moved to Chicago to study the city. He picked up information on the architecture, history, and industry in Chicago which then he translated into his mural “Chicago: epoch of a great city.”

The mural had details on the early settlers in Chicago, the great fire in the steel mills and the life stock. His work was mostly him trying to capture the struggles of the fight of the workers. The mural’s renovation was in 2001 by Friends of the Lakeview Post Office, a non-profit organization.  The restoration was however seen through by Parma Conservation of Chicago in 2003.

Harry became part of the WPA and in his words said that being part of WPA made him feel important and in the context of a very significant cultural movement in America. One that gave priority to art and conservation of the American culture over the years.

harry sternberg self portrait from chicagos lakeview neighbourhood post office

In 1939, Harry got married to Mary Gosney; they had a daughter, and his family was in the Post office mural in Pennsylvania named “the family, industry, and agriculture.” He loved painting portraits of himself and on his wall for the Lakeview post office; he painted his image on it.

He also ensured to paint the Chicago skyline into the mural that gave the painting more life and beauty. He also included famous buildings like the Conrad Hilton hotel which was the largest hotel in the world at the time. He made sure that the mural incorporated Chicago as it is including the agriculture and stock yards that had cattle. It was all on the right side of the painting. In the steel plant on the left side, he included African American laborers. He was among the first painters to depict African American works into a painting.

The mural made his work more known as it presented a very accurate picture of the working conditions in America at the time and it gained him his place among the most famous painters in the world to date. His mural became a reference point for the great depression. It is the one fresco that is taken care of and the restoration done very thoughtfully and delicately.

The Federal Arts Project came by as a sector of the Work Progress Administration that mostly employed the unskilled. When FAP came about, the mural division was born, and it gave jobs to struggling artists who did not have the financial strength to carry forward their work.

The mural division built a name for itself and significantly developed more than the other visions within FAP. Many artists who went through this group were able to grow themselves and showcase their talents under FAP. Sternberg was among the artists in the mural division.

Retirement

1966 marked the end of Sternberg’s days in the Art Students League after which he and his family moved to California. In California, he did not stop his work; he carried on his art for 35 years more. He published a collection of prints. In one of the prints, there is his work on the mural at the Lakeview post office.

He was a celebrated painter. The Museum of California Center for the Arts held an exhibition to honor and celebrate his work and career in art. It was in 2001. The museum director did the research and writing of the catalog for the exhibition in his owner.

Harry Sternberg died in November 2001 in Escondido California where he had retired to. His work continues to be revered, and his legacy lives on. He died at 97 years old, a teacher, painter, and muralist.

His works are considered emotional but he was a strong artist who believed in achieving what he sets his mind to accomplish. In the 35 years after retirement that he continued his work, he painted the landscape of Borrego Valley in San Diego. He is remembered for his murals especially the one about Chicago city.

diego rivera

Artist Profile: Diego Rivera

His name is quite a mouthful, but he was known shortly as Diego Rivera, born on December 8, 1886, to a wealthy family in Guanajuato, Mexico. He had a twin brother named Carlos who did not live beyond two years. At the age of three years old, Diego was already drawing. His artistic talents showed themselves very early in his life.

He began painting on the walls in their house, and his parents put up chalkboards and canvas on the walls. They nurtured his talents by not punishing him but providing him a means to grow himself. He was said to be of a Judaism descent that was forced to convert into Catholic, but he said in 1935 that his Jewishness was the dominant element of his life.

Diego_Rivera,_c.1916,_Maternidad,_Angelina_y_el_niño_Diego,_oil_on_canvas,_134.5_x_88.5_cm,_Museo_de_Arte_Carrillo_GilWhen he grew up, he got married in 1911 to his wife, Angelina Beloff. She gave birth to a son Diego. Maria Stebelska gave birth to a daughter, Marika in 1918 when Diego was still married. In 1922, he married Guadalupe Marin and had two daughters, Ruth and Guadalupe. He met Frida Kahlo when he was still with his second wife.

They later got married in 1929; she was only a 22-year-old student while he was 42. They both stepped out on their marriage which led to a divorce in 1939. December of 1940, he remarried Frida in San Francisco. He married his agent, Emma Hurtado a year after the death of Frida.

Diego studied at the Academy of San Carlos since he was ten. He got sponsorship to study abroad by Teodoro Mendez, the then governor of Veracruz. Diego arrived in Europe, 1907 and went to study with Eduardo Chicharro in Madrid. He then went to Paris where he set up shop and worked with the artists of Montparnasse, mostly La Ruche where Amedeo Modigliani, his friend made a portrait of him in 1914. Marie Vorobieff’s painting honored him and his close friends, a very exclusive group in 1962, the homage to friends from Montparnasse.

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Paris was just starting to see cubism sprout in paintings with painters like Picasso, Braque, and Gris. Rivera studied art at his new school in 1913-1917. He drew inspiration from Paul Cezanne’s work and began focusing on post-impressionism which was pure art forms with bright colors. The bold step started getting him noticed. He was able to show several of them in various exhibitions.

Rivera died in 1957 November 24, still an atheist. He said that he found religion to be a form of collective neurosis. His atheist nature came into question when his Mural, Dreams of a Sunday in the Alameda had Ignacio Ramirez holding a sign that stated God does not exist. The sign became an issue, but Rivera stood his ground and refused to remove the sign. Diego’s painting was kept out of any exhibitions or public showings until he finally removed the sign which was nine years later.

Diego Rivera Career in Mexico

During the Mexican Revolution, when the government began calling back artists to work on Murals depicting Mexican culture, Diego was among the chosen artists. In 1920, he traveled from Paris to Mexico through Italy where he made a quick stop to learn their art. He arrived in Mexico in 1921 and became part of the mural movement together with the two other members of Los tres grande and other artists.

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In 1922, he experimented with encaustic, his first mural of significance in the Bolivar Auditorium in the National Preparatory School, Mexico. He was guarding himself with a pistol during the work from the right wing students. In the same year, he took part in starting the Revolutionary Union of Technical Workers, Painters, and Sculptors. He also joined the Communist party in 1922.

He did his murals using the fresco technique more and more, and he centered his works on the Mexican society and the revolution that had taken place. He grew his unique style complete with bold colors and Aztec influence. Murals in the secretariat of public education had the Aztec influence evident on them.

His art was on the walls of universities, schools and even public buildings. In 1923 and 1927, he was working on Tierra Fecundada, meaning fertile land in Chapingo Universty. The mural shows the struggles and pains of the lower class and the working class. The mural also had his then wife Guadalupe as a fertile, naked goddess together with their daughter Guadalupe as a cherub. An earthquake damaged the painting, but after renovation, it was better.

AMORC Membership

AMORC (Ancient Mystical Order Rosae Crucis) was a cult whose founder was Harvey Spencer Lewis. Diego joined the cult in 1926 and was among its founders. AMORC Mexico City Lodge, known as Quetzalcoatl began and he painted an image of the lodge for the local temple.

His support of Trotsky had seen him tossed out of the communist party. He tried to rejoin the party in 1954 where he had to explain his involvement with AMORC. The party turned him away, and he became a full member of the cult.

After Mexico

Diego worked in many regions of the world. He, in fact, traveled to Moscow in 1927 where he took part in the celebrations for the 10th anniversary of the October Revolution. Rivera met Alfred Barr Jr in Russia, and soon became his mentor and friend. He was also the director of the Museum of Modern Art.

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Diego received orders from the Russian government to paint a mural for the Red Army. It was because he had gotten entangled in anti-Soviet politics. He returned to Mexico in 1929. The same year, the first English language book in Mexico was about Diego was published in New York. It was titled the frescoes of Diego Rivera.

He accepted a job by the American ambassador to Mexico to paint murals in the Palace of Cortes in Cuernavaca. Shortly after, in 1930, he accepted an invitation from an architect Timothy L to paint in San Francisco. He arrived in the US with his then wife Kahlo, and he painted a mural for the City Club for $2500. He made a fresco for the California school of fine art that later became the Diego Rivera gallery.

In 1931 November, Diego and his wife were at the museum of modern art where Diego’s works were on display. In 1932-1933, he was able to complete his very famous series of 27 fresco panels that were called Detroit Industry.

He began working on Man at the crossroads in 1933 for the Rockefeller Center in New York. The painting brought controversy and saw to Diego’s return to Mexico the same year. He repainted the man at the crossroads. In 1940 June, Pflueger invited Diego back, and he came back to the US for the last time. He got the task of painting a ten-panel mural for the Golden Gate International Exposition in San Francisco.

hong yi chopstick art

Hong Yi

Hong Yi, also famously known as Red, was born in 1987.  She was born in Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah in Malaysia. Hong Yi is famously known for using unconventional material to create amazing art. She is an artist who does not comply to the paintbrush technique, and uses different material sourced locally to create portraits of people. These materials can be as common as tea bags. This stroke of genius was by accident when she realized that she had forgotten her materials back in Melbourne.

She was unable to work on her art skills while in school as multitasking was difficult at the time. Pressurized by the requirements of school, she put her skills to the back burner and focused on school. She had time however, to jot down some notes and scribble designs, but focusing mainly on her passion for architecture.

She moved from Malaysia and decided to settle in the busy city of Shanghai as she fell in love with the city’s chaotic nature. She is a graduate from the University of Melbourne, where she acquired a Bachelor’s degree in planning and design in 2007. She also went ahead in 2010 to acquire a MA in Architecture from the same university. After acquiring her certifications, she moved to Shanghai and worked for an Australian firm, HASSEL that deals with architecture.

Inspired by her shanghai surroundings, she decided to document her new adventure in Shanghai, uploading videos that soon were to go viral on YouTube.With encouragement from her bossto take a sabbatical, she explored art using local materials.

Her debut to the world was back in 2012 when she recorded a video painting Yao Ming a famous Chinese basketball prayer. The video got over 10,000 views the first week and shot up to 50,000 views after being featured on Gizmodo a tech site. News networks like ABC, picked up the story and Red became the sensation that she is.Since 2013 after quitting her office job, Red has stamped her art presence as one of the most dynamic artists there is. 

Her work and style

Red is known for her brilliance in using different material to attain different textures. Red says “Architecture school taught me that there are many directions, possibilities and techniques out there”. She used materials like sunflower seeds to paint artist like Ai Weiwei, and up to 2000 socks just to make Zhang Yimao’s portrait.

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She used chilli to paint Justin Bieber and chopsticks to make Jackie Chan a portrait that he, commissioned himself. She has used materials like coffee dregs, dyed carnations, and melted tea light candles. She says “I like to use ordinary, mundane objects and materials that may often be overlooked, and turn them into something unexpected and meaningful”. She has also used makeup, candy, food items, flower petals, and continues to explore new materials daily.

Red’s growth in mainstream art

Red has claimed success by her own right. Her first accolade was back when she was seven, attaining second place in an art competition. She got recognised in 2009 by SONA superstudio, an Australian competition. She has gotten recognition from international stars like Jackie Chan, who commissioned a portrait on his 60th birthday. She has presented her work of “Teh Tarik Man” during the World Economic Forum in Switzerland.

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She was named among the Brilliant Artist Award and named among the top brilliant Malaysians by Esquire magazine. She has rubbed shoulders with big names while speaking at the EG conference. She has been recognised by gig publications like TIME, Wall street journal, Huffington post and Fast company. Back in 2015, she gunnerd the ASEAN Outstanding Business Award

She has been part of international campaigns like Nespresso and other international brands like Ponds. She has been invited to speak at TEDxkl and APEC young entrepreneur conference. She was names by Australia Unlimited as one of one of the 19 “future chasers” Perspective 40 under 40 also names her, a shaper of the future design world.

She hopes to change the future landscape of art using her architectural skills that she has gained. Inspired by the quote “Move fast and break things and Keep on shippingshe hopes to push her boundaries even further and achieve bigger and better goals. She takes time to travel the world in conferences and temporary teaching assignments to show others how to encompass architecture and design in their art.

For a trend setter like Hong Yi, the sky is the limit. A strong believer in chasing one’s dreams, Hong Yi encourages upcoming artist to work hard at their craft, and to never stop running after their dreams. Her name has been put up with some of the greatest innovative artists of our time. To see her amazing work, visit her website and let your eyes behold the future.