Saturday, January 25, 2014

JeeYoung Lee: Dreamscapes and Wonderlands

JeeYoung Lee
Raw, JeeYoung Lee
By now, I am sure a lot of you have seen or at least heard of the work by JeeYoung Lee, a Korean artist (not to be confused with the golfer) that is making an impact in the art world from the confines of her 12 foot by 13 foot studio in Seoul. Lee combines photography with installation and performance art, creating surreal visions from her dreams, memories, and thoughts. Her work is very self-reflective, allowing the artist to not only express but picture herself interacting with the visions she creates.

As these installations reflect Lee's subconscience, dreams, and feelings, Lee includes herself in each unaltered photograph, making her at one with the worlds she creates. As noted by the Opiom Gallery who will have this particular series, Stage of Mind, on display from February 7th to March 7th, 2014:

"In the midst of each of these sets stands the artist : those self-portraits however are never frontal, since it is never her visual aspect she shows, but rather her quest for an identity, her desires and her frame of mind. Her imaginary is a catharsis which allows her to accept social repression and  frustrations. The moment required to set the stage gives her time to meditate about the causes of her interior conflicts and hence exorcise them; once experienced, they in turn become portents of hope."

For emphasis, these photographs are unaltered -- Everything you see in the photograph was built by Lee, whether out of styrofoam, cardboard, paint, or other cheap materials. Depending on the detail required, these installations can take weeks to months to perfect. Like the Buddhist monks creating mandalas out of sand, Lee then disassembles her work.

Broken Heart, JeeYoung Lee
Broken Heart, above, visualizes the Korean expression, "Like breaking a stone with an egg." This piece is meant to speak to the heartbreak and in inevitability of adversity. The more I look at this piece, and the scattered egg shells from the figure's attempt to overcome the given odds, I feel the emotion the artist is trying to convey.

Maiden Voyage, JeeYoung Lee
This was the first image of Lee's I came across and it took me a minute to take in the oversized, saffron ginkgo leaves and paper boat the artist had crafted. A web of laundry lines tangle over the artist, playing flute in the corner.

Nightscape, JeeYoung Lee
 This piece (in conjunction with the next one) blew my mind in particular. This is a 12 x 13 room, folks...and look what Lee was able to accomplish. Nightscape is thus far Lee's only collaborative effort, having worked with a master fan maker to, instead of create a landscape on the fans as is traditional practice, make the fans into a landscape themselves.

Resurrection, JeeYoung Lee 
Probably her most famous image, Resurrection is inspired by the Korean folktale, the Story of Shim Cheong, as well as by Shakespeare's Ophelia.

A quick search on Google/Wikipedia highlights Cheong's story as the devoted daughter of a blind father who is told by a monk that his eyesight could be restored by Buddha if he donates three hundred bags of rice to the temple. In return for three hundred bags of rice, Cheong offers herself to a group of sailors that need a virgin sacrifice to placate Yongwang (the Dragon of the Sea) and guarantee safe passage for merchant ships through the ocean. She finds herself in the palace of Yongwang after being tossed into the sea and moved by her filial piety, the dragon sends her back to earth wrapped in a lotus flower. She is born again from the lotus outside the palace of the emperor, who falls in love with her immediately and makes her his empress. Together they throw a banquet for all blind men in the kingdom, in hopes Cheong's father will appear. When he does, he is so surprised to hear his daughter's voice again and his eyesight is magically restored.

Sweet Appetite, JeeYoung Lee
To round things down, everyone should watch this 3 minute video on the making of Lee's My Chemical Romance, another installation. It's an amazing way to see how such incredible spaces come together, from start to finish.

MyModernMet did a great article on the artist also and Opiom Gallery has her biography in PDF.

Lee majored in visual design at Hongik University, only to discover she preferred building art with her own hands instead of sitting in front of a computer all day. She shoots with a large format 4x5 camera. She has been inspired by folklore, Hans Christian Anderson, daVinci's The Last Supper, and objects she encounters in her daily life. Her inspiration could be found anywhere, but mostly comes from within herself.

"The primary motifs in this series derive from my questions of who I am at the moment." 
- JeeYoung Lee

12 under 20: Dr Heidemanns Riesling QbA

Well readers, since my last 12 under 20 post on Cupcake Vineyards, I attended my very first "Wine 101: The Fundamentals of Wine Tasting" class at my local Total Wine. It was an awesome experience and I feel like I learned a lot in just 2 hours for only $20. Clearly, $20 and under is a theme for my overall life, not just my blog!

This class reviewed proper temperatures at which wine should be stored, the different classifications of white and red wines, the "rating" system for evaluating wines, and of course the tastings themselves, which we got to evaluate on our own. I still have a lot to learn (most specifically, I need to get a handle on discerning the flavor styles) but I am more enthusiastic than ever to keep learning.

#2. Dr Heidemanns Riesling QbA

This fantastic little Old World riesling is new to me as of the aforementioned class. It was enjoyed immensely by all in our party (ladies and gentlemen alike) and was only -$9.99-.

Dr Heidemanns is renowned as one of the finest estates in Mosel, Germany. The family-owned and operated winery dates back as far as 1156, so they have had extensive experience crafting a great wine.

This semi-dry (sweet) wine was fermented in stainless steel barrels and holds no characteristics of oak. Sweeter wines tend to be fuller in body, but lower in alcohol, making them easier to sip on rather than necessarily just pair with food. It's low in acidity and fruitful with notes of apple and pear (The description they gave said peach flavors, but I personally experienced more pear than peach). This would be a great wine to sip chilled on your back porch in summer while eating fresh fruit or enjoy on date night with a spicy thai dish.

As a note, this Riesling has a Stelvin (screw) cap instead of a cork. This method of capping a wine can actually prolong a wine's life better than a cork. Many finer wines are switching to screw caps for this reason, but the cork will not completely be done away with -- The machines required to fashion the Stelvin caps are incredibly expensive which can be a hard sell, especially if you are not sure how a screw cap vs. a cork will affect the bouquet and flavors of your particular wine.

Chill your white wines at a temperature between 48 and 53 degrees. Also, 80% of what you taste in wine is what you smell, so be sure to breathe in the bouquet (aromas) before you sip!

For $9.99 at Total Wine, you honestly cannot go wrong with this Riesling. It's sweet (but not in a 'hurts your tooth' kind of way), fruity, refreshing, and would pair well with many different aperitifs.

Welcome to my list of favorite "go-to" wines, Dr Heidemanns Riesling QbA!

Monday, January 13, 2014

12 under 20: Cupcake Vineyards

My 2014 New Years resolution is to become a novice level sommelier. At this time I am not doing this through an official school, but through monthly wine tasting classes at various locations to lay the foundation for my knowledge. Maybe in the future I will consider actually going to school to get certified! 

I know this is not art related, but I'd like to start a mini series called 12 under 20. Over the next year, I'd like to highlight 12 of my favorite "go-to" wines for under $20. When you are a wine enthusiast, people frequently ask "What wine is your favorite?" That's not always the same thing as "What is your go-to wine?" meaning that wine that you can count on on a Tuesday when you're in your pjs watching TV. My husband asked this question of Thomas Arvid and it inspired this series. 

So let's get started!

#1. Cupcake Vineyards

I can confidently say Cupcake Vineyards is one of my favorite, most consistent go-to brands. One of their distributors was having a promotion years ago at the Bloomington Kroger and easily made smitten with the idea of this creative brand, I went home with multiple bottles. They pulled me in with their decadent name and scrumptious descriptions on the back of the bottle. They kept me with the variety, comforting mouthfeel, and food friendliness.  

Cupcake has a wine for every occasion, every palette. From the "tangy and creamy...lemon chiffon cupcake," their Sauvignon Blanc, to the "chocolate mocha and blackberry cupcake," their Shiraz - You will not be disappointed. Other mouth watering varietals include:

- Reds - Red Velvet, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Petite Sirah, Shiraz, Pinot Noir
- Whites - Angel Food, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc
- Celebratory - Moscato d'Asti, Prosecco

*Bold indicates wines I have tried...thankfully I still have some yet to try!

And I had yet to mention, all for under $12! At Publix, I regularly find this brand on sale for $9.99. So stop reading, stop reading now and go buy yourself a bottle! (Please drink responsibly ;))

Cheers, readers!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Suspended in a beautiful cosmos

For the last round of 52 Weeks of Art, I focused primarily on art of ages past. It's been an exciting change to be compelled to be sharing so many contemporary artists with you all - Truly living legends in their respective  avenues. The following artist is no exception.

Yayoi Kusama - The Princess of Polka Dots 
(March 22, 1929 - Present)
Photo from
Yayoi Kusama is a Japanese avant-garde artist whose style and works oftentimes defy linear categorization. Kusama-san has produced paintings, sculptures, installations, performance art, and collages, in addition to her efforts in writing, film, and fashion. Her work has been described as abstract, minimalist, feminist, abstract expressionist, pop art, Art Brut, and surrealist. She is an artist of many talents and has influenced other names such as Andy Warhol and Claes Oldenberg.

When considering Kusama-san and her incredible breadth of work (across a career that easily exceeds 50 years in duration), I could probably dedicate an entire blog just to her. But for now, let's start small. I came across Kusama-san's work thanks to a Buzzfeed article on Dream Art Installations you want to live in. Specifically, this referred to a relatively recent artistic installation series by Kusama-san: Infinity Rooms.

Photo from The Creators Project 
The "Infinity Rooms" pictured in this post are specifically those created for the Whitney Museum of American Art in NYC, New York ("Fireflies on the Water," 2002 - Pictured above) and the Tate Modern in London, UK ("Filled with the Brilliance of Life," 2012 - Pictured below). David Zwirner Gallery in NYC hosted what I understand to be the latest Infinity Room installation, "I who have arrived in Heaven," which concluded December 21, 2013.

First time I saw these photographs, I couldn't believe it. It's like the viewer is suspended in an infinite alternate reality filed with nothing but stars. Gorgeous, glittering stars. My husband equated it to looking like the Matrix. Trebuchet Magazine described the Tate Modern Infinity Room as 'akin to being suspended in a beautiful cosmos gazing at infinite worlds, or like a tiny dot of fluorescent plankton in an ocean of glowing microscopic life.'

Photo from
Infinity Rooms are made from a series of strategically placed mirrors, colored, low light LEDs, and in the case of the Whitney's exhibition, water. The LEDs pulse and change color, contributing to a feeling of transience and spell-binding awe.

Go figure - Only a few ingredients can make an astronomical impact. On a typical day, over 2,500 people visited the Zwirner Gallery's installation.

Kusama-san is known as the "Princess of Polka Dots" for her frequent inclusion of the dots throughout her art work (and wardrobe, as pictured above). Known to have obsessive compulsive tendencies, it almost without saying that the repetition of strategically placed dots is therapeutic for the artist. 

In her words, "a polka-dot has the form of the sun, which is a symbol of the energy of the whole world and our living life, and also the form of the moon, which is calm. Round, soft, colorful, senseless and unknowing. Polka-dots become movement... Polka dots are a way to infinity."

What are these Infinity Room lights if not a reinvented version of polka dots, bringing a new sense of calm and infinity to the viewer? 

Photo from Isabelle OC
"Have you ever had a dream, Neo, that you were so sure was real? What if you were unable to wake from that dream? How would you know the difference between the dream world and the real world?
- Morpheus, The Matrix

Saturday, January 4, 2014

2013 - For your consideration

I polled people over Facebook and Twitter to find out some of their favorite artists and artworks were for the 2013 year. I am very excited to, at an introductory level, introduce you to those results today! I absolutely love the variety that came back and hope you can appreciate that as well. 

Nancy Everett Fine Art
Eiffel Tower Afternoon, Oil on Canvas, Sold
© Nancy Everett
This first artist is very special because as it turns out, I used to babysit her amazing kids (who aren't kids anymore)! Mrs. Everett is a Georgia-based fine artist with an BFA from UGA. She works primarily in oil and pastel and her style is loose and impressionistic, always emphasizing her love of color.

Her following has been growing steadily around Atlanta - My parents had the pleasure of visiting one of her exhibitions a little while ago and touted her loving use of color and dynamic brushwork. Visit the Westside Market on Ellsworth Industrial Boulevard in Atlanta to find her art on display!

Mrs. Everett has been juried into over 30 regional and national shows and was the first artist from Georgia selected to be an artist in residence in Breckinridge, Colorado’s Tin Shop Guest Artist Program. You can experience more of Mrs. Everett's work at her website and/or Facebook page.

Houston LLew Spiritiles
137 - Stargazer, copper, wood, glass
"These are the days of miracle and wonder." - Paul Simon
© Houston Llew
Another Atlanta-based artist for your consideration (Yay!). Houston Llew was educated at Auburn and has found his passion creating what he calls Spiritiles. These Spiritiles are of American-made copper, glass, and wood. The process requires that Llew paint finely ground colored glass onto copper, where its then fired in a kiln up to 1500 degrees. His compositions are small, but all come with a story.

“They’re about positivity,” Houston says. "The stories on Spiritiles golden sides are especially selected to capture the enlightened moment...Rarely will you find a 'no,' 'don’t' or other negative on a Spiritile."

The inspiration for this artistic style came from 6 gold rings unearthed from a 3,300+ year old tomb in Cyprus. The style as similarly inspired the artists that developed Faberge Eggs, Limoges boxes, and Art Nouveau jewelry.

Llew's work is exclusively sold through galleries nationwide, but his website gives a great sneak peek into is oeuvre!

Kritios Boy 
Kritios Boy. Marble, c. 480 BC
Acropolis Museum, Athens
A beautiful marble statue from the Late Archaic/Early Classical period in Greek Art, Kritios Boy is hailed as the first to bring us the contrapposto stance. Contrapposto in Italian means "counterpose" and refers to a figure whose weight is primarily situated on one foot so that the upper body twists off-axis from the hips and legs to create an "S" curve. This stance is relaxed and realistic - He casually stands as a normal boy would stand.

The lifelike accuracy sets Kritios Boy apart from Archaic kouroi statues of the late 7th and 6th centuries, heralding a new commitment to realism for Greek sculptures. Another departure from the kouroi includes his austere expression - No longer do we see the wry, hyper-curved smile known in the Archaic period, but now we see facial expressions composed with lifelike authenticity to them.

It is thought that Kritios Boy, like many known marble sculptures, may be a marble reproduction of what would have been originally a cast bronze statue. It is named for the Athenian sculptor Kritios, who worked approximately around 480 BC.

Karen Fitzgerald 
Sparrows Eye Peacock, 60", Oil on canvas
© Karen Fitzgerald 
A New-York based teaching artist, Karen Fitzgerald sites her upbringing on a dairy farm in Wisconsin as the core of her work. The gardening and the outdoors are a source of inspiration for her and her painted, unframed tondos. Her artistic process requires thinning her paint with turpentine to create a wash effect. Layering the thinned paint produces in her words, a "deep, rich, luminous surface." As the paint is thin, oftentimes the layers drip - An intentional effect that recalls the changing states of matter.

The piece pictured right is part of a 13 painting series developed in tandem with Carl MaultsBy's 35-minute score titled Eye of the Sparrow. This series debuted at St. Batholomew's Church in NYC in January 2006. I love that!

Find out more about Karen Fitzgerald and her gorgeous tondos at her website.

Anthony Benedetto (Tony Bennett)
Tuscan Landscape
© Anthony Benedetto
Did you know that renowned American singer Tony Bennett was also a fine artist? I didn't! My Dad clued me in to Mr. Bennett's versatile career after reading his autobiography, Life is a Gift: The Zen of Bennett. Aside from being Frank Sinatra's favorite singer...Mr. Bennett can really paint!

He signs his work with his family name, Benedetto, living out his passion for art as an alter ego of his famed stage presence. He paints every day, oftentimes focusing on landscapes. He doesn't limit himself, however - His portrait of Duke Ellington hangs in the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery. He was commissioned to be the official artist of the 2001 Kentucky Derby and by the United Nations on their 50th anniversary. An exceptional "side-line" career to the one he is most known for, I must say.

Much, much more at his website, including a bio and more examples of his work.

Katie Rodgers
© Katie Rodgers, Paper Fashion
Another New York-based artist, Katie Rodgers's website Paper Fashion (est. 2009) is her outlet and promotion for her fashion watercolors, a love that began with the gifting of her first watercolor set from her aunt when she was 7. She has been commissioned by the likes of Valentino, Swarovski, Kate Spade, Coach, Alicia Keys, Stuart Weitzman, Lacoste, and Glamour Magazine, among others.

As a fashion appreciator, I find Katie's watercolors absolutely exquisite. I want to BE one of her drawings. Not always complete compositions, the minimalist whimsy leaves some of the imagination to the viewer. Her printed illustrations can be ordered off of the website noted above, oftentimes in 8x10 or 11x14 sizes.

Sunflowerman Illustration
Watch 86 - Rolex, watercolor on paper
© Sunflowerman
Serendipitously, to follow Katie Rodgers we have Sunflowerman: an Atlanta-based design agency focusing on Men's Fashion Illustration for Business-to-Business work and consumer product design. Head illustrator, Matthew Miller, hails originally from Michigan and says that Sunflowerman "is a symbol for joy and a desire for community."

Oftentimes, Sunflowerman's work is painted directly on book or newspaper and always in watercolor. His 100 Watches Project endeavored to depict 100 watches (via submissions from followers) across 100 days for $100 commission per personalized painting, completed December 9, 2013. His Aesthetic Guide for the Dapper Man is an inspirational guide for the modern man that details the 2014 aesthetic and promote quality Mens fashion brands in the process. Gentlemen, pay attention!

Sunflowerman has grown to embrace clients like Q Custom Clothier, H.Stockton, and Trio Custom Clothier and can be fund in multiple online avenues, including and Instagram.

Monika Grzymala
Installation at Sumarria Lunn Gallery, London, 2011
© Monika Grzymala
Monika Grzymala is a Polish artist based out of Berlin who specializes in sculptures and installations made out of different kinds of tape. Yes, you read me correctly, tape. Duct tape, masking tape, scotch tape...Tape. Sometimes you will find her work in colored tape, but predominantly the bold contrast of black tape with the white gallery walls seems to be her choice.

She views her works as more of a complex drawing than an installation and as the works require intense physical effort to create, she stresses that her work has performative qualities. That effort extended strengthens the bond she feels to her work, noting that “Whenever I leave a work, I feel as if I leave a part of me, a part of my body behind." Her website is in both German and English, FYI is you're doing to check her out!

Ivan Aivazovsky
American Shipping off the Rock of Gibraltar, 1873
Ivan Aivazovsky
Ivan Aivazovsky (1817-1900) is a Russian painter (of Armenian descent) considered to be one of the most prominent Russian artists of all time (also one of the most forged). His specialty was seascapes, which constituted more than half of his oeuvre, also making him one of the most renowned marine artists of the 19th century. The emphasis on light and how it danced across the churning waters likened his skill to that of English artist J.M.W. Turner. They actually met in Rome in 1842 and it is said Aivazovsky's marine work inspired Turner to devote a poem to him.

Aivazovsky's ability to diffuse light, whether that be from the sun or moon, through clouds, fog, or night is incredible. He left over 6,000 works behind at the time of his death in 1900 and his renown has only continued to grow. The American Shipping off the Rock of Gibraltar, above, was sold at auction in 2007 for well over $5,000,000 (₤2,710,000) and many of his other works are following suit.

Well, that's it. Whew! A lot to digest for just one post, but I hope you walked away inspired by something or someone new. Cheers to you and the new art you find in 2014!

Thank you to Stephanie, Jade, Alice, Sarah, Dad, Kelly-Anne, Cassie, Ashley, and Grayson for your participation in this project!

"I get by with a little help from my friends." - John Lennon