“Baptized by Beefcake: The Golden Age of Hand-Painted Movie Posters from Ghana”

Raw, imaginative, larger-than-life original art and an absolute treasure of a collection.

‘In 1957, Ghana became the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to gain independence from its colonial power, the United Kingdom. As the world’s leading exporter of cocoa and provider of one-tenth of the world’s gold, its economy was one of the strongest on the continent; however, the complex and unstable political climate that came after independence threw Ghana into decades of economic collapse. Government corruption and financial mismanagement caused established agricultural businesses to fail, and the currency was continuously devalued. Ghanaians needed new, creative ways to make money.

One surprising industry that emerged to meet this need during the 1980s and 1990s was an independent, unregulated network of video distribution that presented pop-up movie screenings in ad hoc movie halls around the country. Many of these spaces had also been used as open-air places of worship for decades. To introduce an audience to this new form of entertainment, posters were hand-painted by local artists on cotton flour sacks and traveled with the films across the countryside.

Baptized by Beefcake presents the work of 22 artists whose posters tell the story of how Western movies not only became symbols of modernity, but also vehicles for religious experience. Each artist’s signature style reflects Ghana’s rich tradition of painting, as well as the influence of Western commercial graphics portrayed on VHS and PAL box covers. The eye-catching, sometimes shocking graphics reference a hybrid of indigenous and Pentecostal symbology, where Rambo and the Terminator become messengers of moral ideologies in a larger-than-life mashup of pop culture and religion” [source]

Poster House

December 28th, 2019

Vera Paints a Scarf

”Vera Paints a Scarf was a selection of the work of artist Vera Neumann (1907-1993) and her contributions to the field of American design. Neumann was among the most successful female design entrepreneurs of the 20th century, and an originator of the American lifestyle brand. Over the course of her career, which spanned from her label’s debut in 1942 to her death in 1993, Neumann produced an iconic line of women’s scarves all signed with a cursive “Vera” and stamped with a ladybug, as well as thousands of textile patterns based on her drawings, paintings, and collages. This exhibition was the first to comprehensively examine her career—and highlights the keys to her success: her joyful and inventive aesthetic, democratic design ethos, fusion of craft and mass production, and clever marketing.”

Museum of Arts and Design (MAD)

December 26th, 2019

Prickly Pear Don’t Care

Artworks

Salvador Jiménez-Flores
Nopales híbridos: An Imaginary World of a Rascuache-Futurism, 2017
Terra cotta, porcelain, underglazes, gold luster, and terra cotta slip

When Jiménez-Flores moved to the United States he spoke limited English. Art became his primary method of communication and means of commemorating his heritage. His practice prioritizes the depiction of Latinx people to ensure their representation in art for future generations. The “Nopales” series (nopales is Spanish for “prickly-pear cacti”) uses humor to challenge existing Latinx stereotypes in the United States. Likenesses of the artist, wearing shiny sunglasses and sticking out his tongue, are portrayed on cactus pads made of terra cotta and porcelain. This irreverent aesthetic references the work of Robert Arneson, father of funk ceramics, and also draws on the rich history of portraiture in Latin American visual culture, from Frida Kahlo’s paintings to Peruvian Moche vessels. The nopal, notable for its resilience in extreme conditions, is an important icon in Mexican culture—so much so that it is emblazoned on the country’s flag. For the artist, the cactus’s endurance symbolizes hope for the future.

Amber Cowan
Dance of the Pacific Coast Highway at Sunset, 2019, Flameworked American pressed glass
Snail Passing Through the Garden of Inanna, 2019, Flameworked American pressed glass

Two of the finalists for the Burke Prize 2019, in recognition of an artist’s extraordinary achievement in craft.

Museum of Arts and Design (MAD)

December 26th, 2019


Art to lift the spirits

I think we can all use a booster

MoMA New York

December 8th, 2019

Sunday afternoon museum walk

The new MoMA had recently reopened after a four month closure, the last phase of a multimillion dollar expansion and renovation, and it was high time we explored all that extra space. These are a few of my favourite things:

MoMA New York

December 8th, 2019

Akhnaten || Philip Glass

“Practically from the moment [that I first learned about Akhnaten] … I knew I had found the subject for my third opera,” Glass recalls in his 1987 autobiography. After the genre-busting success of Einstein on the Beach (1976) and Satyagraha (1980), Akhnaten rounded out what would come to be known as the composer’s Portrait Trilogy, a triptych of operas focused on innovators from across disciplines. “Akhnaten completed the trilogy in many satisfying ways.”. “If Einstein epitomized the man of Science and Gandhi the man of Politics, then Akhnaten would be the man of Religion.”

– Philip Glass

After Einstein on the Beach, Glass’ epic five-hour masterpiece and the best excuse for a trip to Amsterdam back in 2013, it was such a privilege to watch the third part of the trilogy, at the Metropolitan Opera no less.

Now, if only we could catch Satyagraha sometime, someplace…

The Metropolitan Opera

December 7th, 2019