Exit Through the Gift Shop

Street punk and artist, Banksy's rise to fame continues with the superbly funny documentary, Exit Through the Gift Shop.

Debate continues concerning the authenticity of the documentary and many believe the movie and resulting fame of the artist Mr. Brainwash are an elaborate performance art piece, though by this point we are all wondering if life is anything other than a long performance art piece with an end we all avoid.

The most fascinating component of the film is the progressive transformation of the main character from film taker (not maker) to art star persona Mr. Brainwash. It is a wonderful and playful study on how we as people absorb and create identity; and why your mother warns you to not hang out with certain people.

Abstract Contemplation

An active participant in the Art and Shelter program since the beginning, Dan Callis has been the point of contact for many artists who have filled the empty walls of our housing programs. Professor of Art at Biola University, Dan is a prolific painter and curator.

In the last year, Dan has organized a series of exhibitions by local painters in multiple venues, building awareness in the community of an evolving group of artists. He recently mounted a solo exhibition at Bunny Gunner in Pomona. At the end of a sabbatical and recent residency in Barcelona Spain, Callis’s work is emerging from the studio with fresh energy and a complex layering of composition and meaning.

The work reflects an appreciation for the dynamics of the material, from the board the paintings is built on top of to the way layers interact across straight lines, curves, drips, and splats. The rawness of the work brings to mind the unconscious layering of abstraction that heavily gratified walls conjure over time.

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Tags | Art

Mud Struggle

“Kin”, an exhibition of photographs that explore the dynamics of home and family, opened at the Art and Shelter gallery in November. On view through January, the collection of photographs gives the viewer the meditative opportunity to explore the visual breadth of family life.

Mud Struggle, by Kurt Simonson, is an intimate and dirty peek into the unfettered lives of children in the North Woods of our country. A classic composition of children playing in the mud, all work and play as the children search the surface and below for lost treasures or some unknown object of interest. For a photographer, the amazing composition of figures represents the rare moment of opportunity. Beyond its beauty, the image also invites us to participate in the moment, leaving the viewer checking their shoes for traces of mud.

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Tags | Art

The Weather Project

Opened in 2000 and designed to accommodate up to 2 million visitors each year, the Tate Modern in London is now visited by over 5 million people a year.One of its most spectacular destinations is the Turbine Hall, the cavernous center of the former power plant.

A 2003 Turbine Hall installation was The Weather Project by Olaf Ureliasson. An artificial roof of mirrors cut the hall in half vertically and a semi-circle of light illuminates the hall with a hazy gold accentuated by a fine mist drifting through the hall.

The Weather Project is an incredible example of how an architectural space can be transformed by an awarness of how design and lighting interact. A similiar principle applies to many of the Europe's Cathedrals, and is a creative tool for worship often lacking in contemporary church design.

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Tools for the Conversation

The news and commentary swirling around the confrontation between Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates and a Cambridge police officer is a reminder that the election of Barack Obama is not a period at the end of America’s race conversation. Though the confrontation itself may not be a case of racial profiling, the ongoing reaction to the event demonstrates the need for continued discussion.

The discussion should continue and adapt overtime to the changing dynamics of our society. For example, in Los Angeles the discussion has to adapt to the new dynamic of Hispanics becoming the majority population in historically African-American neighborhoods like South Los Angeles, Watts, and Compton. In the same way that discussion around gender continues, our conversation about race doesn’t end just because glass ceilings are being shattered. I would also point out that the last place the conversation should end is within the Church, were segregation is still a chronic problem within every denomination.

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Persepolis 2.0

Last year saw the release of the animated film Persepolis, an adaption of the comics by Marjane Satrapi. In the movie, the story of Marjane unfolds through the Iranian Revolution, living abroad in Europe, and her return to an Iran changed by Islamic law. In response to the election protests, two Iranian cartoonists have created Persepolis 2.0 using the original images of Satrapi accompanying a new narrative based on the recent election experience. You can view Persepolis 2.0 online at spreadpersepolis.com.

The most striking parallel to the original Persepolis is the last frame were God is holding who is now Neda in his arms saying, "Don't cry Neda, your death will not be in vain...". It is fascinating to see the original images from the novel "recycled" to portray a contemporary event. It is a stark reminder of the repeating cycle of history.

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No Soul For Sale

X Initiative has brought together over 40 nonprofit arts organizations in the former Dia Art Foundation building for a un-art festival titled “No Soul for Sale”. The festival is filling a void between exhibitions, with the next exhibition by X opening July 9th.

Using taped lines in the building’s cavernous space, different organizations are organizing a series of creative experiences including solo shows, group exhibitions, screenings, and lectures/discussions. In these difficult economic times, the empty pause between is being filled with the creative potential of human experience.

No Soul for Sale is an excellent reminder of the accessibility hardwired into the arts. Despite a selective economy surrounding the fine arts, creativity can be embraced with little more than a stick and a patch of dirt, drum sticks and a plastic bucket, or pen and paper.

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Tags | Art

Art Needs the Church, 1956

I periodically search Google for evidence of growth in the relationship between the visual arts and the Church. On my most recent search of "Art in Church" I discovered an article published in Time Magazine called "Art Needs the Church". The article highlighted a decision by the National Council of Churches to establish a Department of Worship and the Arts. If I hadn't been paying attention I might of missed that the article was dated February 13, 1956. That's right, 1956. Take Google at face value and you would think not much has happened with "Art in Church" for over 50 years (other than the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship and an article by Alfred J. Freddoso at University of Notre Dame).

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Completed (In Progress) Julie Kocher

The current Art and Shelter exhibition at The Salvation Army Alegria is a collection of art by 2009 Biola University Graduates. The exhibition is a wildly diverse collection of style and content, ranging from pastel portraits, backlight photographs, to crochet story tales.

“Meditation VII” by Julie Kocher is mounted on the wall just outside our child care center. While most of our work is hung beyond the reach of a 4 year old's hungry grasp, this particular piece is tantalizingly within reach. The work is a small card file box with the image of a flower imbedded in layers of wax. The flower is drawn with thread; with each thread covered by wax creating a three dimensional effect. Inside the box is a series of cards. Each card is a line in a poem that unfolds as the reader flips through the index cards.

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I See the Promised Land

In the early eighties Tim Rollins began working in the Bronx as a school teacher, teaching emotionally handicapped and learning disabled students. Art-making provided a teaching strategy, and the collaborative process of Tim Rollins and KOS (Kids of Survival) grew out of this pedagogical model.

I See the Promised Land is a printed copy of the speech by Martin Luther King Jr. with a black triangle painted over the text.

Tim Rollins and K.O.S., "I see the promised land (after the Rev. Dr. M. L. King, Jr.) Triangle" (2008)  

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