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Woodstock Art Gallery announces juried show award winners – Woodstock Sentinel Review

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The Woodstock Art Gallery has awarded its people’s choice and juror’s choice awards in its annual juried exhibition, this year held virtually following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Woodstock artist Barbara Fenning Lowik is the winner of the People’s Choice Award for the Woodstock Art Gallery’s annual juried exhibition. Her stained glass artwork, The Canadian Seasons, was selected after more than 4,000 votes were cast in an online poll. (Courtesy of the Woodstock Art Gallery)

The Woodstock Art Gallery has awarded its People’s Choice and Juror’s Choice awards in its annual juried exhibition that was held online this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Woodstock artist Barbara Fenning Lowik won the Visual Elements 62 People’s Choice Award for her colourful stained glass work, The Canadian Seasons.

Fenning Lowik was chosen from 37 local and regional artists by the public, who cast votes online for her stained glass work depicting Canadian landscapes, framed in a custom oak frame made by her husband.

“One of the things that I love about our country is the changing of the seasons. There are always new textures and colours to see and this was the inspiration for my glass choices for this work,” she said in a statement issued by the art gallery.

Fenning Lowik said she’s thankful for the many friends, family and even people she hadn’t met for voting for her piece, and said she hopes to show more of her work in the future.

“We are absolutely blown away by the response Visual Elements 62 has received online,” said gallery curator Mary Reid. “This exhibition is a testament to the power or art and its ability to bring people together, even when we are physically apart.”

The annual juried exhibition is a longtime feature of the gallery’s programming, but moved online this year because of the pandemic. The People’s Choice Award garnered more than 4,000 votes during the six weeks voting was open to the public.

Also awarded this year was a Best in Show Award, presented to Collingwood artist Peter Adams for his painting, Weight Bearing Limbs, as well as three Juror’s Choice Awards. These juror awards were presented to Paris artist Jennifer Budd for her fibre art piece, Isle of Harris; Woodstock artist Brian Reynolds for his bronze sculpture, Power of 2; and Ingersoll artist Annette Martin for her mixed media piece, Muskoka Times.

“On behalf of the Woodstock Art Gallery’s board and staff, I want to congratulate all of our award winners for their impressive work,” Reid said. “Thank you as well to our esteemed jurors and to all the artists who helped make this year’s exhibition a success.”

Visual Elements 62, the annual juried exhibition, can be viewed online at woodstockartgallery.ca.

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Come to Vote, Stay for the Art – The New York Times

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While many California museums are still shuttered because of the coronavirus, and others are opening slowly at limited capacity, the Institute of Contemporary Art San José has come up with an ingenious solution to open the museum, legally, for four days.

Starting on Oct. 31 through Election Day, the museum will become a polling site. Alison Gass, its executive director, is hoping that civic-minded citizens will stream through the museum to vote and take time to appreciate the art inside (a local art exhibition called “Personal Alchemy”) and out.

It will be hard not to notice.

A 50-foot vinyl mural by the Iranian-born artist Amir H. Fallah will wrap around the museum’s facade, and two six-foot circular paintings of his will slowly rotate in two windows.

Credit…Amir H. Fallah and Shulamit Nazarian, Los Angeles; Alan Shaffer

In his mural, titled “Remember This,” messages in vibrant colors read: “REMEMBER MY CHILD NOWHERE IS SAFE”; “THEY WILL SMILE TO YOUR FACE”; and “A BORDERLESS WORLD,” along with other text. By “child,” Mr. Fallah means his younger self — by the age of 6, he had lived in four countries (Iran, Italy, Turkey and the United States) — and his 5-year-old son. “In America, people have a false sense of security,” he said in a recent interview.

In late July, Ms. Gass, who also is the museum’s chief curator, asked Mr. Fallah to paint a mural that addressed “the social and political conditions happening in this election and beyond.” He told her that was what he was thinking about, too. His paintings would appear outside of the institute, “because we wanted a safe way for people to see art,” Ms. Gass said.

A few days later, she met with her longtime collaborator, Florie Hutchinson, who was about to become the museum’s director of external relations. Ms. Hutchinson thought of a way for more people to see Mr. Fallah’s art: Make the institute a polling place.

“Many people in the past voted at their neighbor’s garage or in retirement homes,” said Alex Padilla, California’s secretary of state. That is no longer possible. California is promoting vote by mail “as a preferred option,” Mr. Padilla said. But for those wanting to vote in person, he said, counties have become “more creative.”

Santa Clara County, of which San Jose is the county seat, will be using libraries, empty schools, City Hall Council chambers, another museum and even a police department,said Paulo Chang, the county registrar of voters, election division coordinator.

As people enter the polling place, Mr. Fallah said, “I want them to think about what their vote means, how it affects everyone and everything around them.”

Credit…Maggie Shannon for The New York Times

Mr. Fallah said his paintings for the museum are self-portraits with imagery from disparate cultures that express injustices all over the world. “This is a pretty political mural, but it doesn’t say to vote one way or another,” he added.

(California does not allow anyone within 100 feet of a polling place to engage in electioneering, which refers to displays of a candidate’s name, likeness on buttons, hats or signs. It says nothing about art that addresses anxieties or calls for more empathy.)

An American citizen, Mr. Fallah, 41, who lives in Los Angeles, said he has experienced what he calls the abuse of government power firsthand. In January 2017, when President Trump closed the nation’s borders to refugees and suspended immigration from several predominantly Muslim countries, he was detained “in a basement room at Newark Airport with other brown people,” almost all of whom were citizens, he said. He said his passport was taken from him.

Mr. Fallah’s paintings reflect his fears that “the world is getting darker and darker,” he said. His concerns include but are not limited to “the environment, the treatment of children by ICE, racism, social injustice, an almost war with Iran for no reason,” he said.

Mr. Fallah is also designing a giveaway button that says: “Vote like your life depends on it.” That message will be on signs in city bus shelters and on streetlight poles.

“We were poised to be nimble, especially in a moment of unimaginable crisis for arts organizations,” Ms. Gass said.

The institute, which used to be called the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art but was recently renamed, occupies a red brick, one-story building in downtown San Jose, the third-largest city in California, which Sam Liccardo, its mayor, has called “a city of immigrants.” As of 2014, 38 percent of residents were immigrants, including an Iranian community.

The institute, which is celebrating its 40th year, usually sees 30,000 visitors annually and has a $1.5 million budget. It received some assistance from the Paycheck Protection Program and has kept all seven employees.

At the end of July, Ms. Gass, the former director of University of Chicago’s Smart Museum of Art, was sitting on a curb in Palo Alto, sipping ice coffee with Ms. Hutchinson. They wanted Mr. Fallah’s art to be seen by as many people as possible during “this most important election of our lifetime,” Ms. Hutchinson said.

The next day, in the shower, Ms. Hutchinson said, it came to her: “What if there’s a way we can open the building for the purposes of letting people vote?”

Ms. Hutchinson was familiar with the California Voter’s Choice Act, which is designed to make voting more convenient. It decouples voting from neighborhoods by offering “vote centers,” larger venues near parking and transit hubs. Voters can choose any center countywide.

Credit…Amir H. Fallah and Shulamit Nazarian, Los Angeles; Alan Shaffer
Credit…Amir H. Fallah and Shulamit Nazarian, Los Angeles; Alan Shaffer

“Throughout my career I’ve been drawn to art that is about politics,” such as Mr. Fallah’s work, Ms. Gass said, “in which you begin to find meaning for yourself.” She chose an artist from an underrepresented group: “artists from countries not given a big platform in American museums.” His work “is bound up in American identity and the immigrant experience,” she added, calling it “beautiful and disturbing.”

Mr. Fallah’s art has been exhibited worldwide in over 100 shows. He is best known for his veiled people — concealed behind gorgeously patterned fabrics. His work was featured in an online exhibition last spring called “How Can We Think of Art at a Time Like This?”

His painting is 16 feet by 3 feet. Through the use of high-resolution photography, it has been enlarged and printed on vinyl as a mural. It and the two circular paintings are mash-ups: Ancient script is set against skateboarders’ graffiti, Persian miniature horses against the Black Panthers logo. The circular paintings represent Earth and are edged with “the chaotic mesh of plant life,” he said. One is called “Cowboy,” the other “Cowgirl,” inspired by vintage Valentines. Mixed in are images of a Cambodian propaganda figure, mythical figures from old match boxes, “debris of life” that he finds online. When the paintings rotate, plants and cultures will tumble onto one another.

Explanatory text will appear in five languages, including Spanish, Mandarin, Vietnamese and Farsi.

Mr. Fallah said he hoped his art would make people “stop in their tracks and think about what their vote means.”

“The big thing missing in our society is empathy,” he said. Will his art make people care about others? “Will it? I don’t know,” he said. “That’s my desire.”

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The art of digitizing ancient calligraphy – CNN

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Written by Dan Tham, CNNHong Kong

From the moment we wake up and check the messages on our smartphones, we’re exposed to text design. Throughout our day, storefronts and websites announce themselves, first and foremost, through the typefaces they use — whether it’s the Helvetica used by New York City’s subway, the approachability of Cooper Black, or the proprietary CNN Sans that you’re reading on this page.

For Adonian Chan, a 33-year-old graphic designer based in Hong Kong and co-founder of design company Trilingua, the different texts we encounter in our daily lives amount to what he calls a “visual landscape.”

In his hometown, signs written in traditional Chinese characters can be found around every corner. In the hectic district of Mong Kok, neon signs advertise pay-by-the-hour hotels and foot massage parlors. In the quiet neighborhood of Tai Hang, hand-drawn signboards alert passersby to auto repair shops and Chinese medicine stalls.

But one calligraphy style, above all, has come to represent Hong Kong for Chan: Beiwei Kaishu, a dynamic way of writing that has its origins in 4th century China. But Beiwei Kaishu is endangered, Chan says. That’s why he’s on a mission to digitize it into a typeface — and save it.

A black and white sign — written in the Beiwei Kaishu style — draws attention to a chiropractor’s clinic in Hong Kong’s Yau Ma Tei district. Credit: Adonian Chan

Written in stone

According to Keith Tam, head of communication design at the Hong Kong Design Institute, Beiwei Kaishu originated in the Northern Wei Dynasty (386 — 534 AD), and was inscribed on stones to document historical events.

In the 19th century, Zhao Zhiqian, a renowned Qing dynasty calligrapher with an interest in epigraphy — the study of inscriptions — crafted his own rendition of Beiwei Kaishu and, using a brush instead of a carving knife, revived the ancient style.

The art of digitizing ancient calligraphy

Tam says although it’s not possible to pinpoint when Beiwei Kaishu made its way to Hong Kong, a well-known local calligrapher named Au Kin Kung, who was born in the 1880s, helped to spread its popularity in the city during the 20th century.

“[Au] was what we might call a ‘commercial calligrapher,’ who inscribed many shops and organizations throughout Hong Kong,” says Tam. “His commercial signage work almost always used Beiwei Kaishu.”

The Hong Kong incarnation of Beiwei Kaishu “evolved from Zhao Zhiqian’s rather softer style to become more exaggerated in the stroke beginnings, inflection points and endings,” says Tam, adding that the Hong Kong Beiwei Kaishu is “a lot more dynamic and powerful than Zhao’s hand.”

After World War II, Beiwei Kaishu was used prolifically in Hong Kong signage, partly because it is highly legible, even from far distances, says Tam. “Pragmatism is one of the characterizations of southern Chinese people, and Beiwei Kaishu seems to be a pragmatic choice.”

What sets Beiwei Kaishu apart from other Chinese writing styles is its asymmetric construction, bold lines and unexpected angles — something that makes it “energetic,” says Chan.

But with the advent of computer-generated fonts and LED signs, Chan says he observed that signs written in the style — work that depended on the skill of calligraphers — were disappearing from Hong Kong.

“It’s almost extinct,” says Chan, pointing to the rapid transformation of Hong Kong’s urban landscape. “They demolish old buildings and, of course, the shops, as well. So it’s really destruction to the visual culture.” As a consequence, few designers working today are aware of the Beiwei Kaishu style, he says.

hong kong calligraphy 3 spc intl

Beiwei Kaishu signs like this are disappearing from Hong Kong. This one belongs to Sweetheart Garden Restaurant, in Kowloon, which is famous for its steak. Credit: Adonian Chan

Creating ‘Beiwei Zansyu’

In 2016, Chan asked Wong Gok Loeng, a master of calligraphy in Hong Kong and apprentice of the famed Au Kin Kung, to teach him to write in the Beiwei Kaishu style.

Chan then started the process of digitizing the characters. He first writes the characters on paper with a brush and ink, which gives him a sense of proportion. Next, he makes a pencil sketch. Finally, he recreates the characters digitally, using a computer program called Glyphs.

One of the main challenges when digitizing the ancient calligraphy is striking a balance between the artistic expression of handwritten lettering and the need for consistency and coherence in font design, says Chan.

He can complete two characters a day, depending on their complexity, and is aiming to digitize 6,000 characters.

Chan says his project is geared at doing more than preserving a centuries-old writing style and that he sees himself as building on the work of previous generations.

“We are like co-creators of this design,” he says. He has named his typeface Beiwei Zansyu and hopes it will eventually be installed on phones and computers.

“I see Adonian’s (Chan’s) efforts in turning Beiwei Kaishu into a typeface as a form of historical preservation,” says Tam. “It’s more than waxing nostalgic to bygone eras — it’s reinterpreting and continuing its heritage in contemporary life.”

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The divide between art and sports can be vast, but sometimes art and sports have been friends – CBC.ca

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Hey guys! You know those movies from the ’80s, where the jock picks on the skinny kid with glasses — or the other way around, where the cool art kids treat the guy on the hockey team like a goon?

The divide between art and sports has been vast. So today, let’s talk about a few examples where art and sports have been friends.

Matthew Barney is an American artist who’s made epic, feature-length films with massive props. A lot of people might call his work dance, but here’s a good way of breaking it down. Barney used to be a jock — a football player, to be exact. And he made much of his early work, called Drawing Restraint, about the strong connection between the physical exertion needed for athleticism and the creative drive necessary to make an actual mark, whether it’s on a canvas or a bedroom wall.

Matthew Barney performing Drawing Restraint. (DrawingRestraint.net)

In all the different versions of this series, he attached himself to bungee cords or made his studio into a rigorous obstacle course, making it an incredible physical feat just to make a single short line on a surface.

Why do this? Barney was making a comparison between what it takes to be an artist and what it takes to be an athlete. We have this tendency to see athleticism as disciplined and ordered, where art is unrestrained and free. But Barney was making it clear that both are forms of expression that require control and letting yourself go.

That’s an example of where an athlete brought his physicality into the art studio, but what about art that simply celebrates sports and tries to close the divide between the two worlds?

Thierry Marceau, a performance artist from Montreal, takes on many famous people’s personas to try to give us a look into their world. And I’m not talking about an impersonation — he becomes them, performing critical moments from their lives and taking on critical elements of their personality.

Thierry Marceau performing as Wayne Gretzky in The Great Alberta Tour (2010). (Thierry Marceau)

When he did this recently with Wayne Gretzky, he called up not only what was mesmerizing about the young hockey hero, but how his physical genius invigorated everybody around him, particularly Edmonton, the town that grieved his loss to LA and still celebrates him today. This is art about sports, or at least about an athlete, and the symbolic meaning an athlete can have for a town.

For artist Esmaa Mohamoud, sports become a tool to tell stories of Black identity. They also become the core for her art — like in Glorious Bones, where she uses 46 repurposed football helmets covered in an African wax batik print, calling up both the history and sacrifice of Black athletes over generations of football and the beauty of the sport itself.

Glorious Bones (2018) by Esmaa Mohamoud. (Esmaa Mohamoud)

In Blood and Tears Instead of Milk and Honey, the footballs themselves are stained black and lie still on black astroturf — like a memorial, or a tribute, to the sport that’s meant so much to North Americans. 

And in One of the Boys, she incorporates basketball jerseys into epic swirling gowns, calling up the inextricable connection between fashion and basketball, while she points to some of the ideas around gender that are always part of the history of sport.

One of the Boys (2017-2018) by Esmaa Mohamoud. (Esmaa Mohamoud/Qendrim Hoti)

Why is there such a divide between the art studio and the football field? Here’s an idea: traditionally — and I’m talking ancient Greece here — sports were an arena to perform gender, to build notions of virility and strength. And maybe art has been more receptive to those whose ideas of both gender and physicality were a little more fluid. Maybe sports, which often requires team thinking, has been seen as a bit at odds with individual thinking.

Each of these disparate practices informs the other. Athleticism is creative. It requires intellect, lateral thinking and incredible mental patience — just watch tennis finals and you’ll see that everything from Serena Williams’s outfits to her serve involve a high level of intellect and creativity, not to mention an incredible performance. And art, on its side, requires a physicality, patience and drive that rivals anything that happens during practice.

Who’s someone you can think of that brings art and sport together? Send me a line here at CBC Arts and together, perhaps we can stop one kid from getting pushed into their locker at lunch or let another get through the day without being called a meathead.

See you next time for more Art 101. 

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