File this under nothing to do with anything, but I was reading into some stuff about the Marvelverse after hearing more about Joss Whedon’s upcoming S.H.I.E.L.D series, and things got a bit tangential (as they are want to do after Wikipedia enters things). Long story short, I was reminded of the character X-23 when I learned they’d paired Gambit with her for a while. And, I wasn’t sure how I felt about this.
For those of you even less up-to-date on Marvel than I am, X-23 is the ‘successful’ version of Wolverine, except with boobs instead of mutton chops. She’s a clone of him, with all his powers, except she was actually successfully programmed to be a weapon. The driving interest in her character is that once that program cracks, she sets out to redefine herself as a person. And that’s cool, it’s a neat, interesting idea. But, well, there’s that thing where she can really be most easily described as Wolverine with boobs. She’s not really her own person, she’s another, more popular character… but female. And she has no moral compass or personality, which leads to her always being told what she should or shouldn’t be by stronger male personalities (hence my indecision about how this would work with Gambit, Marvel’s greatest Lothario.) It’s a bit of a mixed message, for sure. They were clearly going for a commentary of some kind, but it gets lost under all the typical comic book cheescake. And boy is she guilty of that:
Seriously, I haven’t seen such a delicate balance of pleather and unabashed sexualization since Eliza Dushku was a regular on Buffy:
Unlike Faith, however, whose fashion changes as her character matures and becomes more comfortable with her own self, that is X-23′s post-revelation outfit. Save it’s not exactly her personality that’s getting revealed. So, I guess in the end, she comes across to me as Marvel’s equivalent of a Not Quite Feminist Phil meme. She’s got a lot going right, but then it all gets horribly subverted and Marvel’s left not getting why we’re giving them a funny look.
Ultimately, she seems sorta like the anti-Outlaw to me. I won’t lie, Outlaw is easily one of my favorite Marvel characters, despite being so minor. And part of that is because of her particular variety of cheesecake, I won’t deny that either. But here’s the thing: Outlaw clearly started out as just a good cheesecake-y character to put across from the very bro Deadpool. She’s not only got only the most generic of mutant powers (some poorly boundaried enhanced strength and durability stuff), but she looks like this:
And, not only does she dress like a stripper, but her character’s bio specifically includes stripping in her past occupations (before being a person who kills other people, much like X-23). But unlike X-23, who’s supposed to be serious but the sex keeps undermining it, Outlaw’s supposed to be sex, but they keep undercutting it with her actually being a person. The boobs she admits herself are fake, for her own confidence. The hair is a wig. She wears jeans and hoodies these days when not on the job. She has an apartment somewhere. She hates being called by her childhood nickname because she still has esteem issues from it. You know, relatable stuff. All around, she’s a person poking out from the cheesecake veneer. She’s Inez, and Outlaw is just a veneer and she’s bluntly honest about that.
Heck, let’s compare farther. Here’s a nice tender/quiet moment between X-23 and a male co:
Gambit: relaxed, at ease. X-23: stiff, vacant gaze, doing her best impersonation of a real doll. Now, one with Outlaw:
Note how despite there being actual sex involved with Outlaw, she still manages to come across as less of a sexual object than X-23. It’s that, it’s exactly that. X-23 is supposed to be some awesome commentary about finding identity in a world where she’s always been told what to be, which should have been some awesome feminist commentary. Except it gets totally undermined by the cheesecake and the patriarchal ‘guidance.’ Outlaw, in contrast, was supposed to just be a sexy blonde before something happened and they gave her humanity. X-23 makes me uncomfortable, but I root for Outlaw any time she shows back up these days. Funny how that goes, right?
Venom, by Dan LuVisi
So, it’s not every day I’m floored by something I find on Deviant Art. It’s not that the good stuff isn’t on there, it’s just the signal-to-noise ratio can be a bit… disheartening. But it’s all worth it when you stumble across a gem like Dan LuVisi. Dan seems to be a digital painter, with an emphasis on comic book cover illustration. His formal portfolio is full of an impressive amount of work, for a list of names like DC, Hasbro, Fox, Universal, Microsoft, and more. His series of the characters from Kickass is pretty damn awesome, as is his picture of Spidey getting drooled on by Venom (which is currently plastered on my phone, provided constant amusement every time I check it).
So, yeah. If you’re looking for a guy who knows his way around virtual paint, and you love well done texture and gloss, you need to check Dan out.
His Deviant Art is here: http://danluvisiart.deviantart.com/
And his portfolio is here: http://www.danluvisiart.com/
So, for new readers, part of what I do on a regular basis is donate my photographic time to my friends over at EclecticPond Theatre Company, a scrappy little theatre start-up whose end goal is to bring high-energy, low-cost plays to communities and schools that might not otherwise get to experience theatre live. I like both their goal and their people quite a lot, but sadly don’t have the time I wish I did to help them in a more regular capacity. So, I take their pictures about once every couple months. Not a bad gig, really. They’re all nice and lovely people, and the different plays are always giving me neat new things to shove a lens at, so, it works out.
This time their play isn’t Shakespeare, but rather a play by Michael Meeuwis called “Eloisa & Abelard: A Farce of Godly Proportions.” It’s roughly based off this story. It’s supposed to be a lot of fun. The pitch was to do a handful of scenes that aren’t actually in the play, but capture the spirit thereof, and to do them in a style that emulated the Vermeer school and the Caravaggisti. I don’t think the director quite realized this was right up my alley. I also don’t think she quite expected me to show up with two Quadra kits, a softbox, a stripbank, a silver PLM (affectionately dubbed “Moonraker”), an Elinchrom Octa, a bounce reflector, and some gridded barndoors, and to use every last one of them throughout the night. But I did. And the results, well, they speak for themselves.
But wait! The post-title says “Part 1,” Zed. What’s up with that?
Ah. Right. One of their actors was out for the shoot. So, I’m doing a follow-up to get the last headshot, and to get the fictional scenes which needed his character. That’s what. I’ve got more of this coming. You bet I do. But for now, pretty pretty pictures.
Oh. And if you’re enar Indianapolis, don’t forget to go see the play itself. June 8th & 9th, 15th & 16th, or 22nd & 23rd. Friday evenings @ 8.00, Saturday evenings @ 7.30 & 10.00. Regular tickets are $12, students are $8, and you can learn more at ETC’s page.
I had a professor once who insisted that drawing was a skill, not a talent. With the right instruction and enough practice, he could teach anyone in the world to draw, he said. And by and large, I believe him. But every now and then, you look at the ease and creativity someone puts into rendering an image onto paper, and you have to acknowledge there is some seriously impressive talent at work. Such is the case with Red Hong, who does her large-scale drawings without any traditional utensils. Instead, she uses things like paint and basketballs, or coffee rings. Seriously. If you haven’t checked out her work, you should do that now.
Image from Core77's Post
Ah. Another day, another of my photos in local rag The Eastside Voice (as well as a very favorable write-up of my friends at ETC‘s performance of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Link below, though, the modern world hasn’t called and told the Voice that interactive flash newspapers are no longer cool, so, grab a desktop and not a smartphone for this one.
Hey everyone. Remember when I did those cast photos for my friends, local theatre start-up EclecticPond Theatre Co (ETC)? Well, I’ve been up to those same tricks, this time doing a fair amount of photo work for their next performance, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Ironically put on in winter. oh well, warm thoughts, yeah?
Anyway, they were, as always, lovely people. Lots of new cast this time, but a few familiar faces in the mix. And, as always, I encourage everyone in the Indianapolis area to get out and support these guys and local theatre. This show will run Feb 10-11, 17-18, and 24-25. Hit the link below all the pretty pictures to learn more on their website.
The secret is that making Art, creating things, is a transformative process. The act of creation takes certain elements of our psyche, energy, if you will, and morphs it out of our heads and into the real world. Matter can neither be created nor destroyed, but it can be alchemized. The reason why Art works so well in therapy is that it allows for negative energy and/or trauma to be cleared out of our heads, and turned into something productive, without having to speak about things literally. Pictures can communicate energy without words, and in so doing, can tell stories that would be otherwise stuck in the murky world of the subconscious. The act of creation is akin to shining light on our shadows, (Jung again) and it enables the creator the opportunity to move on. Catharsis.
Seriously, fine art world, can we stop with the pictures of people sitting on beds and looking unhappy? They’re all starting to run together a little bit. I mean, sure, I know they’re all about Deep Issues, like you getting over your divorce, or child prostitution, adult prostitution, poverty, despair, poverty in foreign countries, sexual confusion, and so on. The problem is, I keep getting your child prostitution mixed up with your anger over your divorce, and, well… that means none of it’s working anymore. Let’s find a new shorthand for human connection and misery, k?
If you’re confused, please see here (or here), here, here, here, here, here, here, here, a whole series here, here, here, here, here, or here. Also, even Noah Kalina (who’s work we know I often enjoy), isn’t entirely innocent (see here or himself here).
Seriously people. Stop. Or my next project will just be people sitting around and looking ecstatic on beds, just to counteract all the bed misery.
Thanks to Mr. Colberg’s lovely blog Conscientious for making it so easy to find so many examples of this in a hurry.
Yesterday I talked about a half dozen people to see at Oranje 2011 this Saturday that I’d never talked about before. Today, I’d like to talk about another handful of people who I have.
1. Jonathan Foerster
by Jonathan Foerster
I’ve talked about Jonathan on here a couple times. And I’ll do it again because his work is just that good. Jonathan’s thing is digital work, made up of hundreds of layers in Photoshop and taking countless hours to produce. My poor laptop is shaking right now just contemplating having pieces like this produced on it. I know Jonathan through MEA, and he’s always been a reserved, soft-spoken, patient guy. You’d pretty much have to be to do what he does with pixels, I figure.
His website: http://www.atleastwedream.com/
He’s also on Twitter: @atleastwedream.
2. Kate Wagner
by Kate Wagner
The rest of these artists I’ll mention I actually know because of Oranje 2009, and it’s nice to see them coming back. Starting off, we have Kate Wagner, whose opening sentence to her artist statement makes me very happy in its bluntness:
I like to take the shitty and turn it into pretty. In art and in life.
Kate’s work impressed me the first time around, as does her work for Studio OTB running a progressive art studio for people with disabilites. I’m personally impressed most by her paintings, but she’s not a one-medium kinda gal and you’ll find her selling lampshades, jewelry, textiles, you name it.
Her website: http://www.artifolio.com/missionart/gallery
More about Outside the Box and Studio OTB here: http://www.otbonline.org/
3. Cameron Oehler
by Cameron Oehler
I first talked about Cameron back here. He’s a wood craftsman, making wood pendants as well as highly decorative but functional cutting boards. And, if you’re much of a geek at all, you’re probably already familiar with his Legend Of Zelda Triforce cutting board. And, from what I’ve seen, this year promises more of his high-quality work for your eyeballs and kitchens.
His site: http://1337motif.etsy.com/
4. Mike Altman
by Mike Altman
Mike was a favorite of mine back in 2009, but it took a while for his website to get up so I could talk about him. I’ve since seen him at various places around Indy, including Locals Only and Strange Brew. His work is always highly cartoony and whimsical, often featuring robot, ray guns, or robots with ray guns. It is bright, bold, colorful, and fun. More of it over at his website.
His website: http://mikealtman.com/
5. Stuart Sayger
by Stuart Sayger
Last up we have Stuart Sayger, who I wanted to talk about before but apparently forgot about. I’m not sure how, since my friends have two of his pieces in their living room. Stuart is a comic artist with a lot of chops. We’re talking the better end of comic art here, the sort that graces covers, cards, and limited run one-offs, not the daily grind kind of illustration work so often thought of by people. He’s also the creator of the comic Shiver In The Dark.
His website: http://www.stuartsayger.com/
So, you’re thinking about going to this Oranje thing. You’ve heard people yamemring about how cool it is. Probably me. You’ve heard it’s a massive festival of 45 artists and 30 musicians. And you have no idea what exactly any of that means, and what you should go to see.
“But, Zed!” you exclaim. “You’re an artist…of sorts…right? This stuff probably makes sense to you. Who would you go to see?”
Aww, shucks… I think….
Me? There’re several people I’d make sure to go see. Some of them I’ve talked about before, some are new to me. Today, let’s start with the new ones.
1. Joseph Crone
by Joseph Crone
Starting us off is a nice dude I met during set-up, name of Joseph Crone. Joseph’s thing is among them I admire most, as I’m least able to do it myself: photo-realistic illustration. This level of work requires a lot of time, a steady hand, and an astounding attention to the actual world around you. In short, it’s fucking tough to do, and he does it well. That’s a good place to start, if you ask me.
His site: http://josephcroneart.com/
2. Mike Graves
By Mike Graves
It’s somewhat surprising that I’ve been in Indy as long as I have and not put together who Mike Graves is before I saw him setting up in the booth next to mine. I mine, I’d seen his work around, like this sculpture in the Murph at a First Friday, and I’d certainly heard of his BRIDGE Collective, although I’ll have to talk with him some because their description is so vague and sterile I’m still not sure what they actually do. But, point is, I’d seen him around and been impressed, and I’m a bad person for not committing the name to memory sooner.
Mike works in two basic modes: rough, figural “junk” sculptures that all seem hewn and welded from scrap, and big paintings that draw obvious influence from various street and graffiti movements, often featuring notable pop culture icons. Especially from comic books. Both modes are very visually distinct and memorable, and I can’t even do describing them justice. Luckily, going to his website and looking at them can.
His website: http://bridgecollective.org/section/149643_Mike_Graves.html
3. Bruce Loewenthal
by Bruce Loewenthal
Next up is a bit different. Moving out of the “fine art” world and momentarily into the “functional art” or “design” world, we have Carmel-based Bruce Loewenthal, whose work is gorgeous, organic metal sculptures that function as hat racks, coat hangers, etc… He’s a trained architect and professor, and you can tell that he brings a lifetime of that experience to bear in these elegant, simple sculptures that mimic natural forms but with the clean balance and symmetry of European-flavored design.
His site: http://www.silverwoodbuilders.com/
4. Diana Childers
by Diana Childers
Diana is my other booth buddy, and a very friendly lady in my experiences. Patient, at least, because boy there was some fuss about getting our shared wall up so she could get going with her side, and she was very patient as me and mine slugged through the problems on our side.
Artist-wise, she’s a photographer. Her photos have a vaguely mysterious atmosphere, and are filled with distant and striking female models. Often, she employs a light high-key style (which she does in just the way that I’m a sucker for), which only increases the impression that you’re looking through some sort of haze, like a memory.
Her conceptual/fashion stuff is what I’ve seen the most, and I think what she’s hitting the heaviest for her show. But, her self-portraits are also gorgeous and atmospheric, and her commercial photography is also of a calibre I usually associate with my friend Jennifer Parker (formerly seen at Oranje).
Her website: http://dchildersphotography.com/
5. Jim Arnoldt
Jim Arnoldt at Oranje 2010
I’m going to try and not hold Jim’s artist statement against him, although it’s definitely of the stuffy, vague, say-nothing variety that I feel do more disservice to viewers than not. Luckily, despite the stumbling block of a statement, his work is visually engaging. His work is largely non-subjective/abstract, with occasional forays into stenciled pictures. His brand of abstract seems heavily influenced by textile pattern and design, frequently using the retro motif of overlaid circles lined up in grids as focal points. (Several of his pieces keep reminding me of the cover for Greenskeepers’ Pleetch) Had I made it to last year’s Oranje, I’m sure I’d have written on him sooner. As it is, better late than never.
His site: http://www.jimarnoldt.com/
6. JP Leiendecker
by JP Leiendecker
JP Leiendecker’s work falls into what I always consider to be “visually orgasmic.” The color, the texture, the tone. There seems to be a lot of Dave McKean influence to be had here, not that this ever hurts my feelings. Leiendecker works by layering photos, sometimes 100s of them, together in fragments and parts to create rich visual vistas that aren’t photographs and aren’t illustrations, but have a mystique and charm above and beyond either anyway.
His site: http://www.perfect-tree.net/