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Jo Jo Zhu inspires students during art classes in her Charlottetown studio – The Guardian

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CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. —

Sunshine streams through the window of The Bookworm in Charlottetown, creating a relaxing atmosphere for young people who are working on their paintings.

Overseeing her Wednesday afternoon art class, Jo Jo Zhu is enthusiastic.

“I am very proud of my students and I’m so lucky to have the opportunity to teach and encourage them to chase their dreams,” says the Charlottetown art teacher, pointing out the young people around the room.

Jenny Wang holds her painting, Easter Bunny in the Moonlight. The seven-year-old lives in Stratford with her family. Sally Cole/The Guardian
Jenny Wang holds her painting, Easter Bunny in the Moonlight. The seven-year-old lives in Stratford with her family. Sally Cole/The Guardian

In one corner, April Deng is painting Sunset at Basin Head, mixing oils together on a palette to get the right shade of blue for the water.

She was inspired to create the painting after seeing a photo on the Internet.

“I’ve never been there before but, I thought it was very beautiful,” says the 14-year-old, who is looking forward to jumping into the water at the provincial park this summer.

On her break, she shows completed works – including New York’s Central Park and Nova Scotia’s Peggy’s Cove – inspired by her travels during summer vacation.

“Painting makes me feel relaxed. It’s one of my favourite things to do,” says the Queen Charlotte Intermediate student who, after picking up her first paintbrush when she was five, wants to become an artist/designer after high school.

“That’s why I’m working really hard.”


Artwork needed

  • Picture of the Day is a regular feature in the Guardian’s C section. It showcases the art of young people from across P.E.I.
  • Graphic artist Jo Ann Crawford coordinates the project, for the Guardian, contacting schools and Facebook pages for submissions.
  • When art teacher Jo Jo Zhu sent her some of her students’ artworks, Crawford was “blown away by the talent.” And, since then she has been happy to share her students’ talents with Guardian readers.
  • Crawford encourages other teachers or parents to submit drawings. They can drop the pictures off in person, at The Guardian office, 165 Prince St., marked picture of the day or send them, by email to newsroom@theguardian.pe.ca.

Ted Zhang works on a painting during Wednesday afternoon art classes. - Sally Cole
Ted Zhang works on a painting during Wednesday afternoon art classes. – Sally Cole

In another corner, Ted Zhang is painting a rabbit sitting on a cliff.

“I like the bunny. He’s really cute. To make my painting different, I’m doing a back view,” says the eight-year-old, creating an orange background before adding a furry centrepiece.

Jenny Wang has come up with her own take on the rabbit theme by painting Easter Bunny in the Moonlight.

“It’s fun,” says the Stratford resident.

On a wall nearby, April Li is busy working on Starry Night, a large mural inspired by Vincent Van Gough’s 1889 painting. She’s using oils and, to make it distinct, she’s adding extra elements – a little village as well as pine trees and some far-reaching mountains.

“As I was painting Starry Night, I imagined myself sitting on the grass, watching moon and the stars and the floating clouds,” says April, pointing out a mountain, which is shaped like an eagle and for good reason.

“I want to be like an eagle and soar through the sky,” says the Grade 9 student from Queen Charlotte Intermediate School, who has worked on the piece for three months.

April Li, 12, mixes oil paints for Starry Night, inspired by Vincent aan Gough’s famous work. She is one of Jo Jo Zhu’s art students who meet regularly at The Bookworm in Charlottetown to paint. - Sally Cole
April Li, 12, mixes oil paints for Starry Night, inspired by Vincent aan Gough’s famous work. She is one of Jo Jo Zhu’s art students who meet regularly at The Bookworm in Charlottetown to paint. – Sally Cole

 

In another room, Jake Zhang’s enthusiastic brush strokes have created Man on a Sofa. It’s inspired by a work by another artist that he saw in a book. Jake also shows a fox that he recently completed.

“I come to art classes because my teacher is very special. Her classes are very interesting,” says the 11-year-old who attends West Royalty Elementary School.

He’s one of the 12 students who attend Zhu’s art classes each week. A graduate of Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology, Zhu moved to P.E.I. four years ago.

“I am a designer. I had my own studio in China. So, when I came here I wanted to help kids like April learn about art. I want to see them realize their potential.”

Jake Zhang shows two paintings he’s just completed – Fox and Man on a Sofa. Jake is studying art with Jo Jo Zhu. - Sally Cole
Jake Zhang shows two paintings he’s just completed – Fox and Man on a Sofa. Jake is studying art with Jo Jo Zhu. – Sally Cole

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The LA Art Show Returns With an Environmental Focus – Surface Magazine

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Environmental issues have taken on a particular urgency in the past year. Climate scientists have warned that if nations fail to immediately pivot from fossil fuels, catastrophic consequences await. Artists frequently reckon with this grim reality, with many expressing skepticism—if not outright anger—at climate inaction, which has resulted in the destruction of coral reefs, intense wildfires, rising sea levels, and the extinction of beloved animal species. The issues surrounding climate change have become top of mind for The LA Art Show, which is kicking off the city’s eagerly anticipated 2022 art season with a newfound ecological lens thanks to the return of DIVERSEartLA.

This year’s edition, which kicks off today at the Los Angeles Convention Center, sheds light not only on how artists represent the environment in their work, but how humanity’s role factors into the equation. “DIVERSEartLA 2022 will encourage visitors to confront the complex challenges of our global climate crisis and imagine potential solutions,” says Marisa Caichiolo, the show’s curator, who encouraged participating art museums to partner with science and environmental institutions. “This topic is at the heart of a growing number of art narratives, including exhibitions built with high-tech innovations designed to inspire artistic appreciation and the desire to respond to environmental challenges, reinforcing the value of translating environmental advocacy into art.” 

Among the programming highlights is “Our turn to change,” a worry-inducing video installation by Andrea Juan and Gabriel Penedo Diego and presented by the Museum of Nature of Cantabria Spain that awakens viewers to melting polar ice caps that are causing sea levels to rise drop by drop. The Torrance Art Museum, meanwhile, presents “Memorial to the Future,” a collaborative piece curated by Max Presneill that centers Brutalist architecture as a failed model of idealism while highlighting the immediate need for environmental action. And in “The Earth’s Fruits” by Guillermo Anselmo Vezzosi, waste unexpectedly takes on a dignified second life. 

The LA Art Show opens at the Los Angeles Convention Center, South Hall, from Jan. 19–23. 

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300-pound local art heist took 4 minutes | News | pentictonherald.ca – pentictonherald.ca

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300-pound local art heist took 4 minutes | News | pentictonherald.ca  pentictonherald.ca



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At Art Basel, FLUF Haus Breaks Barrier Between Metaverse And Physical World – Forbes

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Last month, while the cultural elite wrapped up Art Basel with the usual lavish purchases of Keith Herring paintings and Daniel Arsham decayed sculptures, a different crowd had gathered just a couple blocks down the South Beach coastline. The world’s first “Metaverse star” was about to perform.

FLUF Haus, the first in-person gathering for a community of virtual 3D Rabbits (known as Flufs), was hosting a concert for the music star known as “Angelbaby”—a large tattooed pink rabbit whose identity, appearance, and music had been created entirely on the metaverse.

Despite Angelbaby’s entirely virtual existence, some 600 people—largely stakeholders in the NFT community, FLUF World—had flown from across the globe to witness the in-person debut. A projection screen overlooked the dance floor where guests including Trinidad James and Boyz Noise commingled amidst fire breathers and models. Screens scattered throughout the venue displayed various Fluf avatars, broken up by animated scenes from FLUF World.

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The event—which felt like a bit of a coming out party for newly created FLUF World—underscored a crucial, often overlooked detail of the booming NFT space: community.

“The most important thing to me with FLUF World was the Discord.” said Robert Hellauer, a 33-year old financial analyst who became a Fluf holder in September.  “I went to all the Discords, and all the metaverses have a different vibe…And you could just feel the energy with this one.”

Like the notorious Bored Apes or CryptoPunks, the value of a Fluf isn’t just as a piece of digital art, but as a digital identity. Much like how Supreme or Thrasher did for skaters, NFTs codify culture into appearance, branding one’s allegiance to virtual clans and online subcultures. Buying into a community, literally, helps carve out one’s metaverse identity. FLUF World recognized this early on, and decided to intentionally avoid the toxicity present in many virtual worlds, instead focusing on creating a dynamic and inclusive world to house their digital animal characters.

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This appeal of intentional community has seemingly paid off, as many at Fluf World expressed having previous interest in the metaverse, but hadn’t yet found a space that appealed to them.

“These guys think about things other guys don’t,” says Tom Soler, a software manager attending the event. “Decentraland launched way ahead but it feels very empty. These guys have thought through what is the most engaging way to create a community for people who want to hang together.”

This engagement is reflected in Fluf World’s 42,000 member Discord where “#new-fluffers are greeted with a reminder to “treat each other with respect”, and after searching through the Fluf Radio and sales channels can navigate to the “Above Ground” section, to find channels such as #health-and-wellness, and #time-to-talk.

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That’s not to overlook the draw of Fluf World’s impressive technology and artistic detail. Rather than use 8-bit images or 2D cartoons, Fluf World features fully 3D characters designed by animators who’ve worked on projects including Avatar and the Lord of The Rings trilogy.  Characters hover over customizable, multi-dimensional environments—which include both personalized character music and location based-backgrounds that range from a desert to futuristic city (collectively known as “scenes and sounds”). 

Along with the 10,000 original rabbit ‘Flufs’, FLUF World introduced their second line of characters —known as Party Bears— of which all 10,000 sold out in under 10 minutes. Beyond avatars, stakeholders can also purchase virtual real estate known as “burrows”, and even AI-brained spiders (known as “thingies”) which use pattern recognition to create and mint their own new virtual art. All of Fluf World’s characters constantly evolve, and often contain hidden attributes that develop and reveal themselves over time.  

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Together, this technology, art, and community channels weave together a digital world that shows promise of true depth; an online space with the potential to create a self-perpetuating cycle of growth based on bottom-up user participation. 

“When it comes to other [metaverse] platforms, it’s all about roadmaps,” says FLUF World superfan Nick Synodis, (who goes by the handle Knux). “Fluf is in a league of its own. Its competitor is Spotify. It’s Facebook.”

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A Record Label For The Metaverse

One of the most promising examples of FLUF World’s potential to be a truly dynamic multi-channel world is their partnership with NFT music collective, Hume. 

Described by co-founders Jay Stolar and David Beiner as the “Web3 version of a record label,” Hume is the NFT music minting service that allows Flufs to commercially own and display exclusive music snippets in their character environment. With a tagline of “we are hume. we are many,” Hume has the most active twitter following in the Fluf World community, acting as both differentiator and hype builder for the virtual world.  

“We’re creating music-driven Metastars,” says record producer Gino the Ghost, the event’s emcee and Hume evangelist. “The next Billie Eilish or Drake is gonna be in the metaverse.” 

Asked what made him interested in migrating his experience from the traditional music realm, Gino (who has composed music for the likes of rapper Saweetie) expressed both an ardent fascination with FLUF World, as well as sharing a commonly held frustration with the revenue structure of the music industry.

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​​”What I primarily do, I work with the pop side, the rap side, the dance side —and they all want to know,  ‘How do I get into NFTs?’ All these creatives are so tired of the labels and the royalties—and music NFTs are a way out that isn’t cash-grabby.”

With the creation of their metaverse star Angelbaby, Gino and the founders at Hume are optimistic that Web3 could create a paradigm shift not just in how artists generate revenue, but how fans can benefit from their artist loyalty. In this case for instance, by financially supporting Angelbaby’s origin story (which involved being lost in the desert after being transported 1000 years back in time), fans received some of Angelbaby’s original minted music. This music in turn grows in value as Angelbaby’s popularity rises. 

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“People who helped Angelbaby in the desert, now they all own a piece of their song that is worth $400-500. Over time this increases the value of their own NFT,” says Beiner.  

Gino explains the relationship a bit more simply: “It a way for fans to make fucking money supporting their favorite artists.”

World Competition, or Synergy?

As Gino’s introduction wraps up and Angelbaby’s giant character is projected onto a screen in front of a sea of cellphone recordings, one aspect of FLUF Haus becomes immediately clear: it’s surprisingly normal. 

For all the talk of Web3 and NFTs the metaverse, the event feels much like any other concert—with people dancing in close quarters, and having a good time with people they know. Save for the fact that the performing artist is a 13-foot tall pink rabbit with no known human identity, you’d be hard pressed to know this was an NFT event. 

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And in a way, that’s kind of the point. As virtual representations of ourselves continue to grow—and the metaverse becomes increasingly populated—so too inevitably will our online identities. But that doesn’t mean we will forgo our personalities in the physical world. Like gamertags, or bitmojis or animal crossing islands, spaces like FLUF World will add another layer onto our beings that enhance, not replace our existing lives. FLUF Haus was trying to demonstrate that connection to the world. 

“The meta verse is going to be this amazing digital space,” says Knux. “But the ultimate goal of it is to live in both worlds.”

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