Good weekend, everyone. Wherever you may be.

:moma, take your time: olafur eliasson


zena vision

This sweet, resilient parrot tulip is the last of the hangers-on from the wild bunch of flowers I received for Mother's Day. Its feathered, ripple-edged petals remind me of a fiery flamenco dancer's costume - they also bring to mind the flow and movement of Zena Holloway's underwater spectacles.

Holloway's images are striking, instinctive, driven by a deep (pun acknowledged) understanding of her medium. Holloway has been diving since she was a child. Completely self taught, she delivers the remarkable: combining the highly technical aspects of underwater photography with superb creative direction. Treat yourself to more of Holloway's glorious visions here.

Zena, we - the humble tulip and I - bow to your prowess.

:d:m; underwater images © zena holloway 2007


Good weekend, everyone. Wherever you may be.



a man's castle is his home

Several years ago, Kohle Yohannan was riding his motorcycle through Yonkers and passed what appeared to be a castle. He circled around, found his way to the property, and began trying to get in. For months, he knocked on the door and left notes. Yohannan told New York Magazine in a recent interview, "Finally, one day, the creaky door opened and the cats were flying and a little old lady came out. I told her some of the history I knew [about the castle], but it still took me a long time to get in.” He ended up offering the owner slightly under half a million dollars. “She told me that she sold it to me because I was stupid enough to think I could fix it!” says Yohannan.

Yohannan moved in seven years ago; since then, it’s been one long, painstaking restoration project, but the delight of unearthing treasures far exceeds the tedium of scraping paint. Example: The castle has a seventeenth-century carved-oak ceiling and Tiffany-glass windows. Ballet Russes choreographer Michel Fokine and his wife gave classes there when they owned the castle in the late thirties—and they left behind trunks of Diaghilev-era costumes that Yohannan stumbled on in the attic.

Yohannan now rents the house for films and photo shoots. "You never own a house like this," he says. "It owns you."

:new york magazine; images new york times


oh, the places you've gone!

Aren't these swell? I was happy to come upon them. So, what do you think is going on with the itty bitty printed stamps from Kenya? Are they a gift from Kenyan Customs? Maybe they're consolation for the traveler who must inevitably return to her/his residence in [ not-Kenya ] where the closest she/he will come to seeing that kind of natural magnificence is on the itty bitty photo stamps in her/his passport. Or maybe they're just stamps. As in postage.

Off the top, what are the shapes, sizes and ink colors of the stamps in your current and expired passports? Do you have a favorite?

:images global hopkins - click each image to enlarge


composite wizard

The force behind Paper Tiger is Dianna Potter, a self-described artist and craftster. Based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Potter has an extensive background in visual and performing arts. The projects featured on her website include journals, posters, illustration and the whimsical composites you see here. I was pulled in by the decorative walls on her model homes - as well as the interesting little frame-within-a-frame vignettes in each piece.

:paper tiger



A new thing here at the place. I'm kicking it off with these images from Tom Scheerer. In future, I'll post some of my own zoom (and reverse zoom) efforts. I chickened out for this first go.

:tom scheerer


Great artwork for a Mother's Day card. No? Aw, come on. Take it as a compliment - and an inevitability.

:mike monteiro at the beholder


Good weekend, everyone. Wherever you may be.

:stuck in customs


oliver sacks on the beauty of science

Some people are blessed with the ability to meld art and science. Oliver Sacks is one of those people.

As he told Scott Simon on "Weekend Edition Saturday" in a 2001 interview, "a lot of science is stories." Sacks has told his share of stories, through such renowned works as The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat and Awakenings.

Sacks learned early that he wasn't cut out for cold, experimental science alone. His memoir, Uncle Tungsten, tells the story of a young man surrounded by family members who were scientists and doctors -- every one of them intensely passionate about their work. His mother, a surgeon and professor of anatomy, hoped her son would follow in her footsteps. When Sacks was 14, she took him to the Royal Free Hospital in London to watch -- and take part in -- the dissection of a human corpse.

"I was very shocked and frightened," he told Simon. "I had never seen a corpse before. It was suggested that I dissect a leg, and the professor said, 'here's a nice leg for you'."

Although Sacks had dissected plenty of worms and frogs before, this business of cutting up a human body was altogether different. And more disturbing for him, the body was that of a girl his own age. "I wanted to ask, what happened? How did she die? How did she find her way here?"

Still, beneath the horror, there was fascination. "Sometimes, when I looked at the anatomy of the knee and so forth, I could enjoy the beauty of it -- the way my mother did," he says. He carried that fascination into adulthood, and made it the cornerstone of a career of making neuroscience interesting and accessible to a general audience. "I think I'm intrigued by the tissues of the mind, and social tissues," he says.

Only someone with a true emotional investment in science could wax so poetically about, of all things, the periodic table of the elements. "I never tire of looking at the periodic table," he says. From it, he gets "a sort of ecstasy." When he first saw one as a child, it was a revelation that gave him "a tremendous sense of neatness and of order in the universe. "And I could hardly see the periodic table as a human construct. I thought it was sort of inscribed in the heavens. For me, it's always been the exemplar of science, and of scientific beauty."

Sacks's latest book is Musicophilia, an exploration of the musical mind. As in his previous works, Sacks describes a series of ordinary people transformed by their extraordinary neurological conditions.

Sacks has always been enthralled by music. One of his earliest childhood memories is the sound of his mother singing Schubert Lieder in the drawing room. As a teenager, he spent endless hours "trembling" to Mozart symphonies, transfixed by feelings he couldn't comprehend.

Music has also played a crucial role in Sacks's work as a neurologist. In his writings, he uses music as a metaphor for his unusual approach to medicine. He cites a Novalis aphorism -- "Every disease is a musical problem; every cure is a musical solution" -- in several books, usually when discussing the therapeutic powers of music. But it's clear that Sacks also believes in a deeper, less literal connection between medicine and music. Music encapsulates two of the most essential aspects of his work: listening and feeling. The art form is the model for his method.

As a doctor, Sacks is exquisitely attentive, not just to the symptoms, but also to the person. He treats each patient like a piece of music, a complex creation that must be felt to be understood. Sacks listens intensely so that he can feel what it's like, so that he can develop an "intuitive sympathy" with the individual. It is this basic connection, a connection that defies explanation, that allows Sacks to heal his patients, letting them recover what has been lost: their sense of self.

I've just learned that Dr. Sacks will lecture on the ways in which art and science intersect -- next Thursday, May 15, at Fisher Landau Center for Art in Long Island City. And (wahoo and yippee) on Friday, May 30, Dr. Sacks will speak at the Met. In a wide-ranging conversation, Oliver Sacks and NPR Science Desk correspondent Robert Krulwich will "shed light on the interplay between what the eye sees and how the mind perceives it," touching on topics including stereo vision, how blind people can be paradoxically hyper visual -- and the mechanisms of visual hallucinations. See you there. I'll be the rapt (read nutball) audience member seated with my stack of Sacks-authored books (nine in all) for signing. Buy tickets to the Met event here.

:the mind's eye, new yorker abstract; musicophilia: tales of music and the brain, times of london; the abyss: music and amnesia, new yorker.


mia moleskine

:d:m watercolor moleskine

a modern master lithographer

Judith Solodkin is a Master Lithographer. In 1975, she founded NYC's SOLO Impression, her lithography studio that's housed in the Starrett-Lehigh building in Chelsea. Solodkin works closely with artists such as Louise Bourgeois and Donald Sultan, creating multiples of their images - a creative process that she likens to a cook getting a new recipe.

Lithography is defined as a printing process in which the image to be printed is rendered on a flat surface and treated to retain ink while the non-image areas are treated to repel ink. Lithography was invented by Alois Senefelder over 200 years ago as a way to print sheet music quickly and cheaply. Senefelder preferred to call lithography "chemical printing," since the process depends on the chemical interaction of grease, nitric acid, gum arabic and water - rather than the stone from which the name lithography is derived.

In the process of lithography, artists draw on a chemically-treated piece of limestone or a metal plate made of either aluminum or zinc. The artist then uses a greasy drawing ink and creates a reverse image on the plate just as if he or she were drawing on paper. Print paper is placed on top of the inked plate or stone and cranked by hand through a press transferring the image to the paper.

Lithographs differ from etchings, engravings, serigraphs and woodcuts in materials and process. As opposed to many other print processes which depend upon incised or carved lines, lithography is a planographic process that depends upon the mutual repulsion of grease and water.

For example, etchings and engravings are printed from a metal plate with incised lines while a lithograph is made from a chemically treated, flat surface. A serigraph is a silkscreen print, and woodcuts are printed from blocks of wood carved in relief.

Ms. Solodkin was recently interviewed about her trade and craft by the New York Social Diary. Following are excerpts from that online interview:

NYSD: ‘Master Lithographer’ sounds like something from the 19th century or from the era of guilds. Do you think this kind of printing might die away?

JS: Not as long as there are young people who are artists who want to collaborate and work with people who are accomplished in fine art printing. The reason I’m called a Master Printer is that I trained at a place called Tamarind Institute in New Mexico. After two years they actually give you a certificate which says ‘Tamarind Master Lithographer.' It's based on the old guild system.

NYSD: You work not only with letterpress and woodcut but also with embroidery [as in the case of Louise Bourgeois]. How do you take a piece of fabric and make that into a print?

JS: Well we’re not making it into a print exactly. The way I go about making the multiple is very much in line with the way I make a print - layers and runs, sequentially.

NYSD: What for you is creative about the process?

JS: Oh, it’s extremely creative! Think about it. If you have a rubber stamp you can ink about the various areas. Any kind of impression that you make, you can have variations in the way you make that impression. At every stage there are variables. The challenge when you are working with another artist is to present them with the variables that reference their ideas and their work.

NYSD: Can you tell us why you love machinery?

JS: Why do I love machinery? It’s a thing you grow up with. My father liked to tinker. He was a lawyer but he tinkered anyway. So I’d go down to the basement and watch him fix a clock or do some other things. I always loved learning about how things work, knowing the inside of things.

View the Tamarind Institute's current releases here. The following monoprints are from Tanja Softic's Apotropaion series:

:new york social diary


current findings: michael wells

LA-based photographer Michael Wells's portfolio is a visual smorgasbord of layered, luxe interiors, direct light and harsh landscapes. I'd love to know more about this guy, but info on him is scarce. If you have something to share, please do. We'd all be grateful.

:michael wells