melissa mcgill


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Red Regatta is a non-profit independent public art project, presented in collaboration with Associazione Vela al Terzo, that unites Venetians and visitors to celebrate the cultural and maritime history of this iconic city to call attention to the forces of climate change and mass tourism that threaten its future.” YES! This is the latest breathtaking work of New York based artist Melissa McGill. This stunning project fills Venice’s lagoon and canals with large-scale regattas of traditional vela al terzo sailboats hoisted with hand-painted red sails. While the sight of those red sails against the aquamarine waters and deep blue skies of Venice is pure magic, the intention behind the project is even more fantastic. Melissa’s concern for the environment and her passion for art in public spaces is at the center of this project, along with a focus on how local actions can speak to international issues. Here is a little more information about this jaw-dropping project that launched – literally – during the opening week of the Venice Biennale:

“Red Regatta launched in May, 2019 and will unfold in multiple parts through November 2019. The project brings together members of the Venetian community and partners working closely with the artist, ranging from local sailors to artisans to art students, to present an unprecedented, site-specific performative work that celebrates local maritime culture and history and raises awareness about the balance between the city of Venice and the sea.

Venetians have been sailing the vela al terzo boats in the city’s waterways and lagoon for over a thousand years. Designed with a flat bottom and removable mast to navigate Venice’s terrain, vela al terzo boats traditionally hoist sails painted with identifying graphics in earthy colors, representing each sailor’s family. In Red Regatta, each boat will have sails hand-painted in distinct shades of red, developed by McGill. As the boats glide though the lagoon in unison set against the sky, sea, and cityscape, the reds reference forces of life and passion, alarm and urgency, and Venice itself—from its bricks and terra cotta rooftops, to its flag and history of trade in red pigment, to paintings by Titian, Tintoretto, and other Venetian masters.”

Amazing. I’m going to be in Venice for the last two weeks of July, and I’m crossing my fingers that a red regatta sails past! If you’d like to help Melissa and her team keep the wind in their sails {they still have production costs to cover}, check out their fundraising page… there are lots of red goodies over there!

njideka akunyili crosby

I absolutely love the mixed media work of Nigerian born, LA based artist Njideka Akunyili Crosby … and I really, really love where this 2016 piece is hanging right now. “Wedding Souvenirs” {acrylic, colored pencil, collage, and commemorative fabric on paper}, is currently part of a beautiful and important show at the Smithsonian…

“I Am… Contemporary Women Artists of Africa” [opened] at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art on June 20, 2019. Featuring works by 27 of Africa’s leading modern and contemporary artists, all of whom are women, this exhibition highlights the vital contributions of women to numerous issues, including the environment, identity, politics, race, sexuality, social activism, faith and more. Taking its name from the 1970s feminist anthem, “I Am Woman,” this exhibition updates and broadens perspectives on women making art. The exhibition continues through July 5, 2020.

*When the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art in Washington, D.C., conducted a collections assessment five years ago, it revealed that only 11% of named artists in the museum’s permanent collection were women. Since then the museum has doubled the number of women artists in its collection and is addressing this deficit head on by increasing the representation of women not only through acquisitions but exhibitions, publications, programs and professional advancement.

Amen. Let’s hope every institution – in every discipline all over the world – does the same. It is way past due.

scott duncan

#notcardboard #ceramics … um, what? Yep, those are the two hashtags that Australian artist Scott Duncan, aka @ol_slamzee on Instagram, has to include in all of his recent posts because, yeah, that cardboard ain’t cardboard… it’s ceramic earthenware that looks exactly like cardboard! Looooove.

delphine hennelly

Ah, the past and present beautifully brought together in these colorful, narrative, large-scale oil paintings are the work of Vancouver-born, New York based artist Delphine Hennelly. Earlier this year she did an interview with Two Coats of Paint, and talked about this body of work:

“For these paintings, I was looking at a lot of work from the French pre-revolution period. With the ubiquitous image of couple and dog I have been eager to pin down a certain feeling of unrest and sociopolitical anxiety. The costume would be a nod to the notion or warning, whichever way you want to look at it, “History here repeating itself” in a domestic scene in its most benign form.” 

And the stories – I have questions! Who are those people and, um, is that blue/yellow sheep okay?

“I’m not trying to tell a story about my life, and there’s no real person that this represents in my mind. But then they also become weirdly real because it does enter my thinking. It’s unavoidable. I feel you can’t get away from yourself or your histories. This might sound silly, but I saw all of a sudden the guy in Country Matters kind of looks like my son Leo. He has the look of a grown-up toddler. In a way, this was my son growing bigger than me, and that would be me, and I’m mourning the loss of his childhood. Also in the same painting, I didn’t realize the sheep appeared dead until the painting was up on the wall, out of the studio and everyone was talking about it being dead. Meanwhile, the dog in the other paintings is not the same as the sheep. It’s about fidelity, partnership, companionship. The sheep is something else, and I am OK with it appearing as though it’s on its way out, so to speak. I think Country Matters is ultimately about loss of innocence. There is a bit of a sadness in that painting. The sheep is the harbinger of that feeling. More importantly, the fact that the sheep’s “death” is ambiguous, lends a kind of farcical bend to the narrative. And that would be where my intentionality would lie.”

{Thanks to Rachel Faucett of ‘Handmade Charlotte’, for pointing me to Delphine’s work}

pnit by pneuhaus

Pneuhaus is a Rhode Island based design collective {Matt Muller, Augie Lehrecke, Levi Bedall} that focuses on “the mastery of all things inflatable”. Yep, clearly! Their most recent, totally breathtaking project is titled Pnit:

“Pnit magnifies the most basic knit stitch pattern so that this elegant and simple strength can be seen and the mechanics of it understood. Knit fabrics are a part of our daily lives, they cloth us and keep our beds warm; and yet as many of us lose track of the way the objects we interact with are made it can be easy to overlook the intrinsic structural beauty of fabrics.”

Pnit was created for PVDFest, Providence’s signature art festival, and will be illuminated in all its knitted glory throughout the summer of 2019. Happy Monday.

shannon goff

A cardboard car … CARdboard. Okay, sorry. This is the work of American artist Shannon Goff. She does fabulous things with clay as well, but this car – the 1979 Lincoln Continental Mark V, to be specific – stopped me in my tracks. That dashboard? The wheels? That trunk!? Detail and craftsmanship that would make her grandfather proud. You see when Shannon was little, her grandfather bought one of these American beauties (in metallic turquoise no less), and she remembers “the Mark V’s smooth ride conjuring up the sensation of floating on a cloud.” Here is a little more info about this project:

“‘Miles To Empty‘ (2015) explores the car as a metaphor for the complexities of American life in general, and for my own experiences as a native of the city of Detroit specifically.” … and an extract from the exhibition text … “In ‘Miles to Empty’, Goff reflects on how our increasing reliance on adaptive technologies has diminished the routines of human industry, and is changing our aesthetic sensibilities. Dauntingly laborious, challenging in concept and ambitious in scope, this monumental sculpture embodies Goff’s immense energy and her love of making. Goff demonstrates a high level of skill and ingenuity, which used to be present in all manufacturing before the production line eradicated first the hand, then the whole individual. Each part of the car is uniquely made, and in making it, she has imagined the many hands that collectively fabricated the vehicles on the Lincoln company assembly line.”

Gold! … or metallic turquoise.

potluck … a group show

Mmmmm, yummy! From ceramics to collages, dumplings to beer… these are just a few of the pieces included in “Potluck”, a totally stacked group show opening at Hashimoto Gallery in San Francisco {804 Sutter St} this Saturday, June 29th from 6 to 9pm. I’ll give you one guess to figure out the theme:

“Inspired by community and connections created around food, this dynamic group show brings together artists working in ceramics, drawing, painting and beyond for a delicious exploration in our relationships with food.

Featuring 28 artists from the San Francisco Bay Area, nationally and internationally, [Potluck] includes a diverse range of experiences culturally, emotionally and conceptually. Drawing inspiration from the community created around gathering for a meal and the preparation of food, each artist brings unique memories and histories embedded in what we eat. Each piece offers the viewer a personal perspective of food, ranging from favorite dishes and places, intimate domestic scenes, celebratory occasions and nostalgic recollections.”

Featuring new works by: Laura Berger | Sarah Carolan | Jeffrey Cheung | Lauren Corden | Brian de Graft (1st shown above) | Amanda Dunham | Nicole Dyer | Dan Gluibizzi | Casey Gray | Liz Hernandez | Celia Jacobs | Sam Keller (3rd shown above)| Katie Kimmel | Ness Lee | Quentin Monge | Rebecca Ness | Kellie Orr | Hilda Palafox | Pedro Pedro | Petites Luxures | Joel Daniel Phillips | Stephanie H. Shih (4th shown above) | Jessica So Ren Tang | Lorien Stern (2nd shown above) | Anna Valdez (5th shown above) | Chelsea Wong | Joey Yu

ps. “Potluck”, curated by Dasha Matsuura, runs until July 20th, 2019.

anna barlow

Oh. My. Word. This ceramic sculpture – yes, I said CERAMIC – is titled “C’est ne pas de la tarte”, and is the latest work of UK based artist Anna Barlow. I wrote about her drippy ceramic ice cream cones five years ago, but as you can see, things have gotten a little more decadent. Here are Anna’s words about this bowl full of indulgent goodness:

“This piece was made especially for the Bernaudaud Foundation in Limoges for an exhibition called “Miam!” It was a chance to look at 19th century Limoges porcelain and consider the change in the culture of eating dessert.

I feel that confections today are a testament to how international food culture has become, with takaki cones, matcha flavours and Pocky sticks from Japan; bubble cones and super- size portions from USA; macaroons from France and the English cupcakes and roses.

I believe there is a macho, relaxed “more is more” trend in eating at the moment – very different from the elaborate, formal dining of the 19th century where only the well-off could partake. By filling a Limoges style bowl with a collection of contemporary confections, I hope to create a conversation between the past and present, cracks appear in the elaborate bowl from the weight of the dominating contents, which is, although tempting; large, chaotic and grotesque.”

Chaotic and grotesque, yes, but I’m not gonna lie… I kinda want to lick it. Also, follow her on Instagram, because THIS:

Ceramic fish tail waffle cones. Mic drop.

lynda draper

Colorful, whimsical, with twists and turns that make my heart race … yes, all of these pieces make me want to ride imaginary rollercoasters while eating fruity candy. This is the most recent work of Australian artist Lynda Draper. I wrote about her way back in 2010. Her ceramic pieces were fabulous then, but the way she has pushed her work in the past nine years is even more fabulous … and others agree. This past Friday, June 21st, Lynda was awarded the very prestigious Sidney Myer Fund Australian Ceramic Award, which “celebrates and promotes contemporary Australian artists working in the ceramic medium, with $50,000 in prize money.” Amazing! Here is a description of her work found on Gallerysmith {Melbourne}:

[Lynda Draper’s] work explores psychological scenarios often representing a journey within the dualities of life and death, reality and fantasy, past and present. She is interested in the relationship between the mind and material world and the related phenomenon of the metaphysical. Creating art is her way of attempting to bridge the gap between these worlds.

{Thanks to Kylie Gusset of @noticingceramics for letting me know about this exciting news! Congratulations, Lynda!}

diana weymar {tiny pricks project}

I don’t know whether to laugh or to cry. This is an ongoing project created by Canadian {US based} artist Diana Weymar, titled “Tiny Pricks”. It began in January 2018 when Diana embroidered the “stable genius” piece at the top of the post… and then it spread like wild fire! Diana continued to document the tweets and quotes that tend to spill out of Trump on a daily basis, but she also started “Tiny Pricks”, inviting people from around the world to harness their frustration through a creative outlet. Here is a snippet from Diana’s site:

“desperate times, creative measures : Like so many others, I am trying to process this presidency in a way that doesn’t involve withdrawing from following politics. This project is about witnessing, recording, taking notes in thread, and paying attention. Paying attention to his words.

This series holds a creative space in a tumultuous political climate. Tiny Pricks Project counterbalances the impermanence of Twitter and other social media, and Trump’s statements by using textiles that embody warmth, craft, permanence, civility, and a shared history. The daintiness and strength of each piece stands in a stark contrast to his presidency. You can make a tiny prick (please do).”

Sadly, there are an insane number of ridiculous quotes to choose from, but the silver lining… zillions of these embroidered statements are currently covering the walls – from floor to ceiling – at Lingua Franca in New York from now until September 3rd! “Desperate times, creative measures”, indeed.

{Pieces above by: (1, 2, 3) Diana Weymar, (4) Justine Twina, (5) Mary Loria, (6) Diana again, (7) Betsy Nix}