21 April 2009

Flavor of the Week

I am sure it is normal that I obsess over singular artists, one at a time, methodically combing my way through a city's art scene. I can't seem to help myself, once I find something I like, I just can't get enough. Well my (and I think half of Chicago's) artist de jour is the hot new talent of Angel Otero. If you've picked up the art section of any paper in the last few weeks, you will instantly recognize this young man and his vibrant works.

Angel grew up modestly in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, without access to either books or art. I believe I read that his first art lesson as a young boy involved a friend sharing with him the ever popular works of Hello Kitty.

When he was offered a scholarship to SAIC, jumped at the opportunity and has since skyrocketed to 'hot new artist' acclaim. I find his art unique, inspirational, and indicitive of his past; but most importantly, fun. He combines whimsy and feeling with a unique three dimensional painting quality. He draws on inspiration from his home and family as well as other artists. He paints for fun, and loves what he does, and these facts most certainly shine through in his work. He stands out from the crowd in my mind through his use of texture and color in new and freespirited ways. He walks the fine line between harnessing his knowledge of shape and form and freeing himself from this rigidity to allow experimentation and growth.

Be sure to keep an eye out for more from Angel. He is about to finish his MFA at the School of the Art Institute, and although I can't say where this free spirit will continue from here, I am sure he will remain a strong staple in the art community, and my flavor of the week for quite some time.

Check out more at his website, www.angelotero.com

~above image, Pretty Crowded, oil on canvas, 60” x 72”, 2008~

20 April 2009

Eat Shit.....and Sustain?

Unfortunately, this is not a post venting my feelings about those who have scorned me in the past. I've always cringed at the phrase, 'eat shit and die', and besides, I am a lady. One must be truly fuming to throw out such a vulgar and drastic insult. Those are probably two of the last things I would want demanded of me. This, my friends, is a post in honor of the quickly approaching Earth Day, and a segue into my fascination with the numerous amount of inspirational people Chicago has to offer.

In my never ending quest for knowledge, I have stumbled across a true champion of mother nature's natural processes. On the off chance that someone out there reads this blog, I feel no need to name names, but I have recently come across the story of an urban ecologist with a mission to educate Chicagoans about their surroundings and reconnect city dwellers to the natural environment. I think to myself, this lady is fascinating, the other side to my coin, a lover of the paradoxical relationship between man and nature, a proponent of harmony. She has worked many fascinating jobs, followed her passions, and made great impacts in her field. One of her hobbies is leading two hour walks through city streets, educating city dwellers about edible plants growing all around us, which I will probably sign up for after finishing this post.

Then I get to the meat of why she has earned a full page rap in this paper...she has set out on a long and extensive project to collect 22 of her closest friends human waste, compost it, and return it to them for use in their vegetable gardens. Of course, such an endeavor takes a lot of knowledge, dedication, and hard work. I am truly fascinated by this project and its possible repercussions. I don't think its far fetched to believe that sometime far, far down the road, we will all learn to hold more respect for our bodies and their natural processes and the true cycle of life. As she says, one can take something almost all of us are uncomfortable with, make friends with it, transform it, and use it to grow flowers. Although I cringe at the idea of eating food grown in part by human excrement, I challenge us all to sit down and think about where the food we ingested today came from, I am willing to bet that most all Americans have eaten something with more foul origins than our own composted waste.

While this sad truth is sobering, I don't see large scale human waste composition in our immediate future. The article could not disclose the location of her composting collection, as it is illegal to contain such a large amount of human waste in an urban environment. I suppose we can hold on to the sophomoric and threatening demand I opened with for just a bit longer....perhaps I should vent some of those hostilities before it's too late...

17 April 2009

A Series of Pretentious Questions

I've decided that since I can never find a significant amount of time to make a worthwhile blog post, I have conceded to short spurts of thought at increasingly frequent intervals. Some of these may be bad, and that scares me a little, many will digress from topic, but hopefully more will be radical and worthwile.

Lately I have grown inexplicably obsessed with questions. Perhaps because I am stuck in a perpetual, year long, difficult, drastic turning point of life, perhaps because I spend too much time alone in my car, or maybe because I'm an architect and we are bred to question everything. Regardless, I find myself rapid firing questions in my head, or often aloud, with no desire for an answer or resolution, but for the sole purpose of wonderment. So here goes.....

Why are humans so drawn to beautiful, sunny days outdoors? Does everyone think this way? Are there people out there who wouldn't jump at the chance to spend time in nature? Why am I so drawn to dive bars, hole in the walls, derelict buildings, etc. but cringe at the thought of living in a cluttered environment? Do I thrive on a state of oxymoron? Why do people move away from dense urbanity to 'get away from the stress' when I find it so stressful to be forced to drive to a destination? What inspires creativity and human thought? Are people drawn to those inspired by similar muses or is this a case of do opposites attract? Can one thrive on the interaction of people while being herself/himself an incredibly introverted personality? Can the interaction of others be an inspiration to an outside observer? Can one achieve this outside observation if they themselves are in the midst of such interaction?

I tend to have love affairs of sorts with punctuations....perhaps this symbolizes my life track. There was a long period of obsession with the period. I refused to use other means of punctuation. The period was so simple, so easy, so bold. As I plan a next phase of life, my penchant has shifted to the precarious question mark... sensuous, non-conformative, and funky, it brings a new vision and a hint at the unknown.

Perhaps I ask too many questions, but when you stop wondering, what does your life become?