Here's were I rant about the arts. Take it with a grain of salt, I'm a scientist.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

My art is getting exhibited!!!

If I had the time, I would devote more time to being an artist of some sort, mostly likely a writer of fantasy fiction.  I have a couple ideas that I think are good.  Maybe one day.  The challenges of being a tenure track Biology professor kind of prevent their execution.  So in all realms of art, I am an amateur.  I do dabble here and there.  Recently, however, I did submit some things to an exhibition because what the heck?  Now, it's not some exhibition of any importance, just one through my university called, Art in Science.  The exhibition called for people to submit artwork of any kind that demonstrates science at work.  I submitted five photographs I had taken during my field work and guess what?  They picked two!  It will be cool to see photos I took on a wall in frames.  Add that to my short list of accomplishments, haha.  I don't think it violates any rules for me to post the two that got picked here, so enjoy.

The first is called, "Flamingo's Tongue."  This flamingo tongue snail (Cyphoma gibbosum) grazing on a purple sea fan is different from other snails in that its fleshy tissue (known as mantle) sits on the outside of its shell rather than inside the shell.  The markings are actually on the mantle not the shell.

The second is called, " Monitoring dune invasion."  In order to assess the impacts of adding sand to our dune communities (beach nourishment), designated plots were monitored over time.  In this plot, it was observed that adding sand promoted the success of and invasive sedge species.

Friday, February 28, 2014

I love this poster

Who wants to buy me a present?!  I want it!  It's by the illustrator Exem (Emanuel Excoffier) whose posters were found all around Geneva, Switzerland.  The Swiss are in the top five for countries that produce the most famous or valuable posters.  Italy, France and Germany are obviously in that group too.  Perhaps, the US is in there too?  IDK.  This poster urges voters to not let a historic building get destroyed.  Man, it pops.  I know, I say that a lot, but that's what I like about poster art, the pop.  I like that this one mixes reality with fantasy.  It's not old either, done in 1990, but it is expensive (so far as I found in my searches).  This and the Africa poster I blogged about previously are the two leading candidates in my most wanted list.  There's lots on my want list and I'll eventually share them as well.

I keep track of all the posters I like or want in an excel file.  Is that nerdy?  I keep info about sizes, artists, best prices, dates, vendors etc.  Yeah, I guess that is nerdy.  It's like I formalized the Christmas wishlist that we would write to Santa as kids.  I have lots of websites I explore for new posters as well as all of its details. I also explore eBay too, which is tricky because you never really know what you're buying on there.  You gotta love it enough to not care if it's original or not to take a risk on an auction site.  Although, some of the biggest poster dealers have eBay accounts, which you can trust, but their prices are silly high.

Anyways, if any of you hit the lottery, let me know, I can help you invest (waste) your money.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


In case you haven't figured it out, me and B like big animals: elephants, giraffes, tigers, lions, zebras etc.  So a lot of our interior decorating involves these big animals.  It's like we want live in a zoo! 

Here's a vintage poster we picked up on eBay for that obvious reason, but for some other reasons too.  One thing that B always asks when I look at potentially obtaining art is, "where will you put it?"  Well, with this one and Babar-like elephant, that's also obvious, not that we're planning ahead or anything.  It's got great color and it pops.  Plus, I like Vespas.  I don't own one, but maybe one day I'll be that oddball teacher that shows up to work on an old Vespa and my sports coat with the elbow patches. 

The poster was produced by the Piaggio & C scooter company in 1959 and designed by Ditta Giuseppe Lang, S.P.A, which is a graphic arts studio in Genova, Italy.  I wish I could tell you more about it, but I can't read any of the Italian on any of the sites I googled.  If you can help, let me know!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Frozen: a quick review

Disney has proven that they need no longer need Pixar to produce a solid computer animated film with their delivery of "Frozen."  It is just another Disney take on an old folk tale (Hans Christian's Anderson's "The Snow Queen"), so what makes it so good?  The answer in three parts: 1) Great comical musical lyrics from the Avenue Q's Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez 2) Its modernism in that it abandons the concept the princesses needed to be rescued by a man 3) Most importantly, the vocal talents of Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel.  My wife and I enjoyed the flic and have been recommending to everyone.

I do have two minor complaints about it though.  First, from the first scene through the first half or so, there are plenty of musical numbers, but there are no musical numbers at the end or associated with the climax of the story.  Where's the consistency?  I'm sure they'll fix this when they take the movie to Broadway, which they will. 

The second is that well, isn't anyone else bothered by how strikingly similar Frozen is to the Broadway show, "Wicked"?  Both have the same major elements.  Both have two strong lead female characters, one is loved by everyone, the other an outcast because she's different.  In both, the outcasts are rejected by society, but the outcasts respond by embracing who they are.  This is shown in both, when the outcast sings what is the defining song of the story, "Defying Gravity" in Wicked and "Let It Go" in Frozen.  I don't think it's a coincidence that in both Wicked and Frozen that marquee piece is originally sung by the same gifted actress, Miss Menzel.  Few have the talent to deliver such an exclamation point like she can.  In both, the male characters are secondary to the main story. 

So what do you think?  

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Watercolor brilliance!

I have never commissioned art before.  I like to leave the ideas to the artists.  Today, I picked up the first piece I commissioned though.  Let me explain.  I was checking out my friend Todd's art blog back in 2012 and there were some pieces I really liked and thought would be great for the crib.  Todd's style reminds me of Quentin Blake, which of course I'm a fan of.  I discovered Blake after reading several of Roald Dahl's books.  I would like to write a children's book like Dahl some day. (The BFG is my fav).  Blake's work so perfectly compliments the whimsy Dahl. 

Anyways' Todd's work is fun.  I really like the watercolors he does of animals.  I sent an email out to Todd to see if any of those were for sale.  I wanted to support a friend and I like watercolors.  I appreciate them mainly because I've tried to watercolor and it is hard!  Nothing is ever permanent with watercolor until the painting is dry and done.  They are fragile in a way.  Only most skilled painters pull of a good watercolor.  Todd is one of those painters.  He replied with the suggestion that he would do a commission of anything I wanted.  I decided to have him do a scene from imagination, which I plan to use in a fantasy novel I have forever been working on.  I've been going through some writer's block, but this piece has me inspired to write again.  Thanks Todd!  Todd is also a kickass comic artist.  Check out his Web comic

Monday, January 20, 2014

Bahama Coffee Company

So in case you don't know, I have somehow miraculously engineered a research program (with the help of a colleague) that requires me to spend time in the Bahamas a few times a year.  Hard life, I know.  I'm currently doing research on mangrove ecology on the relatively undeveloped island of Eleuthera.  ps. I'm always looking for some interesting mangrove art, but haven't found any. Because I spend so much time there, I don't really bother with the knickknacks and cheesy souvenirs.  You would be surprised how much of that crap is made somewhere else!  So getting Bahamian art that suits my fancy and is truly Bahamian is a challenge.  I have plenty of more trips to find something though.

On this past trip, I did pick up an interesting poster at a good price, free!  It's for the Bahama Coffee Company, which doesn't exist anymore.  Once upon a time, there was restaurant with that name at the Cape Eleuthera Marina, but it has since been defunct.  The poster was made for advertising purposes and prints were sold at the marina store, but I guess since the place went out of business, the store couldn't justify charging for it anymore.  Yay for me.  I wasn't able to identify the artist, but the print is dated.  The artwork is quite Bahamian in the color usage.  They tend to use pastel colors, particularly in pinks and blues.  Something odd, which I hadn't noticed until my wifey pointed it out is how long the guy's tie is!  I'll let you decide the meaning behind that. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Catching Fire!

So I caught the newest volume of the Hunger Games series (Catching Fire) with my pops over Thanksgiving break.  This one did not disappoint.

First, let me say that this movie may be one of the most accurate adaptations of a book I've ever seen.  It was dead on and I was quite pleased.  There were extras of course because the books are told from Katniss Everdeen's (the protagonist played by the darling Jennifer Lawrence) perspective (it's all in first person) so whatever else that was going could not always been described in the book.  I thought the additions were fitting. 

The casting of new characters were also spot on, particularly with newcomers to the series Jena Malone and Sam Claflin (pictured above on the left and right) playing new tributes in the way I pictured they should, as well as, Jeffrey Wright playing a convincing brainiac and Philip Seymour Hoffman nailing the producer of the games.  Is he good?  Is he bad?  It's hard to tell.  Of course, readers of the books know.

Everything got better as a whole compared to the first Hunger games movie.  My only complaint is that I have wait to see the two part conclusion of the series.  Two parts?  From one book?  Ugh.  Greedy bastards. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

a little of both of us

My friend Mark suggested that if I wanted to get Bethany into poster art, I should consider approaching it from her perspective first by focusing on things she likes.  Well, she's into fashion.  She likes to read about it and look at all sorts of clothes and shoes.  She likes shoes.  One of her favorite designers is Betsey Johnson.  Betsey's style is, as Bethany describes it, "Girly Punk."  From my perspective, Betsey is fun and definitely eye catching, which is what I generally look for in a poster. 

So I looked up vintage fashion posters to see what came up.  A Frenchman named Berbard Villemot did a lot interesting stuff for the Bally shoe company.  One poster that caught my eye is called "Bally Kick," which was done near the end of Villemot's life in the 1980s.  Bethany likes it too.  What do you think?

Sunday, November 24, 2013

My current poster wishlist

This is subject to change!  This subject to grow! 

Africa by David Klein (1960s). Great colors that would totally go well in our living room.

Philadelphia by David Klein (1960s).  Because it's Philly, duh.

Cognac Monnet by Leonetto Cappiello (1927).  Great color, great value and it's beautiful. 

Wedding gifts to ourselves

So now that I'm a mature adult with a house and wife (do those things make you a mature adult?), I want to have real art around the house.  What do I mean by that?  We won't just put things around the house we like, but perhaps some with value.  I want to invest, but stocks and business crap bore me and my comic book collection is barely getting my money back, so original art is!  So far, I have convinced Bethany to go with it.  No more dorm room posters! We've transitioned from thumbtacks to nails.  That's how you know something is real art, if it requires nails. 

Speaking of dorm room posters, if you are into the history of posters or follow the poster market at all, which I recently am, it seems that posters that may have been on a dorm room wall decades ago seem to have value now.  Well, as long as they are original printings, no reproductions.  People are paying hundreds of dollars for original printings of the Star Wars movies and Farrah Fawcett.  It's funny, but nostalgia pays.

Anyways, I though I would share some of the new pieces we have in our house.  The first is a sculpture that I bought for Bethany as a wedding present.  In our first year of dating, I was living in Texas and she was home in Delaware.  Since we had to fly to see each other, we would at times meet in other cities.  She saw this piece in Santa Fe years ago and I took a mental picture of it.  Bethany loves Giraffes and family, which I think is part of what drew her to the piece.  It's called "Daddy Long Legs" by Todd Warner.  It's part of series all featuring animals sitting on furniture that has the same print as they do.  If you check out Todd's Website, you'll see how he gives a dreamy humanistic quality to his animals.  We like animals.  Most of our art features animals.  She was stunned when she got this gift.  She couldn't believe that I remembered.  Given that it was five years ago, I'm glad she remembered too!

The next two were wedding gifts we bought for ourselves on our honeymoon in Hawaii.  I convinced Bethany that rather than using our gift money just to pay off our wedding, why not buy some things for ourselves.

The first is a Normal Rockwell print you may have seen before.  I have always been into poster art.  When I saw that the old fishing town of Lahaina had a vintage European poster store, I was hoping to pick up a cool European throwback.  As you can see that's not what we got.  Let's just say that me and Bethany have different tastes!  We looked at dozens of posters and this piece was the only one she seemed really responsive to, obviously because of the faith thing.  It's cool, though because I have always like Rockwell's realism and I don't mind reminders for her to stay faithful.  This one is War World II propaganda piece (1943).  It was part of series of four prints that promote buying war bonds in order to preserve our freedoms.  Maybe I'll convince her to let us get a European piece eventually!

The last is a numbered giclee by Robert Bissell.  It is part of a series called, "Hero."  All of Robert's works feature animals in whimsical manners.  We also got this in Lahaina.  I never get bored at looking at it and it makes a great statement piece in our house.  It's currently above our fireplace.