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Archive for the ‘Art Shows’ Category

A Fundraiser with Dancing, Music, and Art

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

Flamenco Expresivo Dance Ensemble art show
Flamenco Expresivo Dance Ensemble Fundraiser Art Show

I spent last Saturday afternoon and evening working as a volunteer at a fundraising event for the non-profit Flamenco Expresivo Dance Ensemble. The Flamenco Expresivo Dance Ensemble describes its mission as educating the public about Spanish dance and related arts as well as promoting appreciation and participation in these arts. The fundraiser was held at the DanceXpress Dance Studio, a member of CNADM (Chicago National Association of Dance Masters), in Arlington Heights IL.

Flamenco Expresivo Dance Ensemble dancers
Flamenco Expresivo Dance Ensemble Dancers

The fundraising component consisted of an admission donation, a raffle, and an art sale – which was the principal reason for my involvement. Event attendees were treated to food, drink, musical entertainment, and dancing. The evening opened with a half hour Latin music concert by Dean Milano followed by several dance routines, followed by a solo cello performance by one of the dance studio’s students, followed by more dancing. Following a short break attendees were treated to a classical guitar performance by Peter Dziadzka, whose wife is one of the dancers in the ensemble. This was followed by more dancing. The evening closed out with the raffle drawing and an open drum circle.

Unfortunately I missed the musical performances and most of the dancing as my responsibility was to monitor the room hosting the art show and to answer patron’s questions about the art. Fortunately the entrance to that room was right next to the buffet table so it was very easy (perhaps too easy) for me to help myself to the various delectables that were present.

Flamenco Expresivo Dance Ensemble dancing
Flamenco Expresivo Dance Ensemble dancing

With respect to the art show and sale, the art in the show consisted of paintings and photography that featured dance as the subject. There were two works in the show that I found particularly appealing due to the style the artists used to create their artwork. As an artist I’m always interested in the techniques that other artists use in the creation of their art. As a rule, while I work to pursue my own creative path I do keep an eye open for styles that I find appealing and that I could possibly incorporate into my own work.

In Other News…

While posting to my blog has slowed due to being kept busy on other fronts, I have added new material to my Artsnova web site. First I’ve added two new presentations: Search Engine Optimization for Artists and Photographers and Social Media for Artists and Photographers. I created these two lectures in order to expand my portfolio of web-related presentations for artists and photographers.

I also added a PDF version of a short presentation I created that provides an overview of the various talks I give as an artist. The Presentations, Lectures, and Classes of Jim Plaxco is meant to serve as a handy reference for librarians, artist groups, and other organizations that may be interested in arranging for a presentation. I should point out that I also give very different sorts of presentations when wearing my other two hats – one as President of the Chicago Society for Space Studies and the other as a NASA JPL Solar System Ambassador. For more information about my art presentations, visit my art lectures and presentations web page.

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Duckon, Party Lines, Art Exhibit

Sunday, July 7th, 2013

Masters of Lightning Super Happy Fun Cage
Masters of Lightning zapping the bejesus out of Duckers in their Super Happy Fun Cage

Here it is – my week in review. The four noteworthy events for last week were:

  • my participation in the Duckon Science Fiction Convention
  • setting up a display of my art
  • modifying my Party Lines Processing.js program
  • writing a new image painting program

Duckon Science Fiction Convention

First there was the Duckon Science Fiction Convention last weekend. I did a total of 6 hours of programming – 3 panels and 3 presentations. I attended very little programming myself as most of the panels I wanted to see were scheduled at the same time as one of my talks or panels (I think I must be at the top of Murphy’s Who Do I Want to Annoy Today list). There was a good panel on self-publishing that I was able to attend. I also made sure to attend the Masters of Lightning event featuring their amazing singing tesla coils. I can think of no cooler way to make electronic music than with miniature bolts of lightning.

Masters of Lightning burning CDs at Duckcon Science Fiction Convention
The Masters of Lightning and their novel way of burning CDs.

In addition to making music, these masters also zapped willing con-goers (I myself am a past victim). And it wasn’t just con-goers who got zapped with their lightning – so did a selection of CDs. There was one difference though: the CDs did not survive the ordeal.

I had decided not to participate in the con’s art show this year. I did attend the artist’s reception which unfortunately was poorly attended. It seemed to me that this year’s art show was a fair bit smaller than past shows. Hopefully they’ll be able to turn that around in the future. I am also of the opinion that the decision to have the art programming track take place in the same room as the art show was a mistake. While it was a good idea to try and attract traffic to both the art show and the art programming by having them in the same room, it was a bad idea logistically due to the distractions of noise and traffic.

Although I had to miss the Duckon Masquerade (scheduling conflict), I was able to get several photos later that evening of the very lovely Ariela who was dressed in Steampunk fashion. My idea is to use one or more of these photos as the basis for a portrait.

To see what programming I participated in, see my post Duckon Science Fiction Convention Programming

Art Exhibited at Woodfield Chicago Northwest Convention Bureau

FortyTwo Million Pixel Shark exhibited42 Million Pixel Shark

On Monday I installed three of my artworks at the Woodfield Chicago Northwest Convention Bureau where they will be on display through October 7 2013.

This exhibit is a part of the Northwest Cultural Council Corporate Art Gallery program of which I am a participating artist.

The three works of art I am exhibiting are:

Party Lines Processing.js Program

Last Sunday night I published my Party Lines program – created as an assignment for the Creative Programming for Digital Media & Mobile Apps Coursera class. It subsequently dawned on me that my program had a problem for mobile users – the program required keyboard input. My remedy was to create a new version that used a GUI widget for input rather than the keyboard. It’s a pretty simple program that has the user interacting with a particle system to draw lines. The volume of the associated music is tied to the acceleration of the particles in the system. Note that I included sound as that was one of the requirements for this project.
Check it out: Party Lines Processing.js Sketch
Clever folks will know how to access the program’s source code if they want to see exactly what is going on under the covers.

Test Painter Program

Shark – a test of my painting program

Keeping with the shark theme, I wrote a new image painting program during the week and the shark you see above is one example of its painting possibilities. Just as Photoshop has multiple brushes for users to choose from, so does this program – although for the illustration I used only one of the brushes. I have yet to decide if I will continue to develop this program.

And there you have it. Another week behind me and an unknown but limited number to go.

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Northwest Cultural Council Artists’ Reception

Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

Artist Reception Arlington Green West Wing
Artist Reception Arlington Green – west wing

Yesterday I attended a Northwest Cultural Council Artists’ Reception at the Arlington Green Executive Center in Arlington Heights IL. The site is one of the locations that participates in the Northwest Cultural Council’s Corporate Gallery program. I should point out that I am one of the artists participating in this program and will have a new exhibition opening in a week at the Greater Woodfield Chicago Northwest Convention Bureau in Schaumburg IL.

Artist Reception Arlington Green
Artist Reception Arlington Green

This artist’s reception was hosted for the one artist and two photographers whose work is now on display at Arlington Green. The artist is Barbara Burt of Warrenville IL who is a paper artist. The two photographers are Jennifer Styrsky of La Grange Park IL and Gary Swiontek of Arlington Heights IL.

As I looked through the art and photographs exhibited I was looking for ideas. Something that would give me a creative "ah-ha". While I very much enjoyed many of the works being exhibited, I unfortunately did not have the "ah-ha" moment that I was looking for.

Artist Reception Arlington Green East Wing
Artist Reception Arlington Green – east wing

I spent some time indulging in the free food and drink and speaking with the three artists/photographers. I also spoke with Kathy Umlauf, the executive director of the Northwest Cultural Council. Sensing that my son was getting antsy (I had exercised parental power in making him come along with me), I cut my stay short and we headed off on the next leg of our journey – a visit to the local Barnes and Noble to catch up on news of the art world.

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The Artwork of John Lennon Show and Sale

Friday, June 1st, 2012

John Lennon Art Exhibit and Sale Poster
John Lennon Art Exhibit and Sale Poster – Cropped

Today I attended The Artwork of John Lennon exhibit and sale at the Doubletree Hilton Hotel in Oak Brook IL. This was day one of a three day show and sale of the art of John Lennon. The exhibit/sale features about 100 limited edition prints of John Lennon’s drawings and sketches – as well as song-lyric sheets. With respect to Lennon’s artistic output, he created about 1,700 pieces of original artwork with the complete set housed at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Taking my time I went three times around as I will most likely never see such a collection again. Spread throughout the art exhibit were quotes of Lennon’s – mostly lines from songs. One I particularly liked which I did not recognize as being from a song was this: Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted. And of course the soundtrack for the show was the music of John Lennon – both as a Beatle and as a solo artist.

View of John Lennon Art Exhibit and Sale
A view of the John Lennon Art Exhibit and Sale

The Art

The most expensive group of work in the show was the four Erotics from the Bag One series of 1969: Erotic 3, 5, 6, and 8. The four Erotics featured a nude Lennon and/or Yoko Ono. Along with the art were press clippings from past seizures of the art on grounds of it being pornographic.

The most expensive framed print in the show was Embrace which had a sale price of $8,000. Frankly, this was one of the pieces that I did not care for and wouldn’t want on my wall.

One of my favorite pieces was Sherlock Lennon primarily because I am such a fan of Sherlock Holmes. In this self-portrait we have a bearded Lennon in cape and deerstalker hat looking over his shoulder at us. This framed print was listed as selling for $4,000.00.

Other works I particularly liked were Morning Coffee and Free as a Bird – both being ink sketches. Perhaps my favorite sketch was Bag One – a sumi ink sketch which according to the placard was created from one continuous brush stroke with the brush being lifted to form breaks in the line. This is Lennon minimalism at its best – a very simple curved line drawing with just enough detail for the viewer to identify the subject: that being an embrace of Yoko Ono by Lennon.

The Artwork of John Lennon exhibit and sale details

I’m very glad I took the time to attend this showing of John Lennon’s art and would encourage others to do so as well.

When: Friday June 1 Noon – 8 pm / Saturday June 2 11am – 7pm / Sunday June 3 11am – 6pm
Where: DoubleTree by Hilton – Chicago-Oak Brook, 1909 Spring Road, Oak Brook IL
Admission: Free admission, but a $2 donation is requested to benefit Gilda’s Club Chicago. The organization assists men, women and children who are diagnosed with cancer with a variety of services.

Information: For show information, call (888) 278-1969.


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Schaumburg Prairie Arts Festival

Monday, May 28th, 2012

Glass Blower at the Prairie Arts Festival
A glass blower at work at the Prairie Arts Festival

On Saturday morning, with a sky that was as ominous as any I’ve ever seen, I headed off to the 25th annual Prairie Arts Festival held on the grounds of the Schaumburg Robert O. Atcher Municipal Center. Hosted by Schaumburg’s Prairie Center for the Arts, this fine arts exhibition and sale featured more than 140 artists, photographers, sculptors, jewelers, carvers, potters, glass blowers, and I’m sure I’ve left out some category of artisan.

I was sad to see that there were no digital artists exhibiting. However there was one traditional artist whose body of work was quite clearly inspired, both in terms of subject and in terms of painting style, by computer art. And while there were no digital artists, there were a number of photographers who had clearly used either Adobe Photoshop, Corel Painter, or other software to manipulate their digital photography in order to produce a body of work that was less photograph and more art.

Prairie Arts Festival
The setting for the Prairie Arts Festival

In terms of the range of themes for the art, the most popular theme by far was scenic. By scenic, I mean landscapes, cityscapes, and work with a strong architectural component – a barn for example. With respect to having a single subject for a painting or photograph: flowers were it – both for photographers and artists. There was little in the way of abstract or contemporary art. And, not surprisingly, no examples of space art or astronomical art. For my tastes a photograph of, for example, the Orion Nebula, is far more interesting than a painting of a barn.

In addition to the art, there were three musical acts performing simultaneously on the three stages spread from one end of the festival to the other. One stage had a harpist, another a steel drum band, and the last an acoustic group, making for a very nice blend of musical styles.

Prairie Arts Festival
A view of the Prairie Arts Festival from across the pond

With plenty of art and music in a park setting there was only one more element needed – food. There were about ten food vendors and I duly consumed my fair share of ‘junk’ food. The one food item that really tempted me was the chocolate coated bacon – a temptation I resisted.

In summary, I arrived at the festival certain that we were in for a very nasty storm but the winds swiftly carried the storm clouds east and it wasn’t very long before we were treated to blue skies. One objective I had in attending the festival was to look for new ideas for my own art with respect to compositional elements and subject portrayal. Unfortunately with the art and photography so heavily weighted towards traditional landscapes and flowers, I came home without experiencing any eureka moments.

Relevant Links

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From Capricon to Floral Photography

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

The Flyers of Fomalhaut b Digital Art Painting
The Flyers of Fomalhaut b Digital Painting

Part 1: The Capricon Science Fiction Convention

This year Capricon was a short affair for me. While the con ran Thursday thru Sunday, I only attended Friday and Saturday and then only until 6:30pm as I had made plans to attend the opening of a photo exhibition at the Prairie Arts Center in Schaumburg. And because I was not returning on Sunday I did not participate in the art show. On Saturday I did make sure to go through the art show and was happy to see work exhibited by a couple of my friends. What I found disturbing though was the fairly large number of empty display bays in the show. In my experience the Capricon Art Show generally has little, if any, unused space. Unfortunately I had to leave before the start of the art auction so have no idea how well that went.

With respect to programming, my only job Friday was as a panelist on Pluto Is Still a Planet in Illinois with Bill Higgins (Fermilab physicist) moderating and copanelists Brother Guy Consolmagno (Vatican Observatory) and Steven Silver (Capricon Fan Guest of Honor). This was a really good panel given that Brother Guy was a part of the IAU meeting at which the Pluto vote was made and Steven was a friend of Clyde Tombaugh, the man who discovered Pluto. If you were at Capricon and missed this panel – it was definitely your loss.

I arrived back at the con Saturday morning shortly before I was scheduled to give my presentation The Art of the Exploration of Space. I especially liked that I had 75 minutes to speak as this allowed me to go at a leisurely pace and engage in conversation with the audience as I went along. This was immediately followed by my moderating a panel at the opposite end of the convention on Goodbye, Space Shuttle. My copanelists were Henry Spencer, Chris Gerrib, and Kent Nebergall. Kent had the misfortune of being in the audience of my space art presentation whereupon I drafted him for the Space Shuttle panel as I knew that he would have valuable insights to contribute.

I next attended The Coming War on General Purpose Computation presentation by Cory Doctorow, the author guest of honor. It was a fascinating presentation. While I agreed with Doctorow on SOPA and other aspects of attempts to stamp out the theft of intellectual property, I came away dissatisfied that he offered no remedy for the authors, artists, and musicians who are having their work stolen. I was also somewhat surprised by his stance towards Facebook in that he seemed to believe that people should not be given the choice of sharing their information on social networks. I viewed this as being inconsistent with what I would characterize as a free and open internet perspective.

The last panel I attended was the most boring panel I have ever attended at any science fiction convention. Now with a title like Civil Disobedience: Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party Movement you would expect there to be an invigorating debate between the panelists and between the panelists and the audience. However, this panel was run by the brown shirts. No audience participation was allowed. There was a short period at the end where 5 people were identified and allowed to ask one question each with no follow up or commentary by the questioners permitted. In short, this panel was a total waste of time for the audience.

In summary, I’d say that the best things about Capricon were:

  • The accidental meetings
  • The conversations in the halls
  • The food in the green room
  • Prowling the Dealers Room
  • Checking out the art show
  • How well my The Art of the Exploration of Space presentation went and the ensuing conversations
  • Being on the Pluto panel with Brother Guy Consolmagno, Bill, and Steven
  • Friday lunch in the Green Room with Brother Guy, Bill Higgins, and Henry Spencer
  • Drafting Kent Nebergall to serve on the Space Shuttle panel.

Only one more year until Capricon 33!

Part 2: The Photography Exhibition at the Prairie Art Center, Schaumburg IL

Departing Capricon, I swung by home to grab a bite to eat and then headed over to the Prairie Art Center to take in a photography exhibition that was opening that night in the Herb Aigner Gallery. Titled Flowers in Our Soul, the show is devoted to artistic photographs of flowers and consists of 27 separate works. The photographers that I identified as having work on display in the show are Maria Aiello, Mary Angelini, Debbie Beller, Cindy Brumm, Susan Couch, Randee Lawrence, and Karie Strangeway. I had the opportunity to speak with several of them about their work. I was also curious to learn whether they printed their own work or used an outside service. If you would like to see the show, it runs through the end of February. See Prairie Center for the Arts, Schaumburg IL.

The Illustration

To illustrate this post I decided to use a piece of science fiction art that I just added to my web site. Titled The Flyers of Fomalhaut b, it is an imagining of what the life of exoplanet Fomalhaut b is like (note: not only is there no evidence of life on this planet, there is some question as to whether or not the planet even exists). Fomalhaut b appears to be a Jupiter-like planet that is about three times more massive than Jupiter and which orbits the star Fomalhaut once every 872 years. By comparison Pluto takes 248 years to complete an orbit of the Sun.

For more about this digital painting, see The Flyers of Fomalhaut b.

Until next time, Ad Astra, Jim

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