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From top, clockwise: Modigliani's Dedie. Picasso's Femme au Chapeau, and Francoise.
See women famous as portrait subjects throughout centuries. First they were framed. Now they've been morphed by the gifted video artist Philip Scott Johnson.

go to Morphed Women in Great Paintings

If you enjoyed the morphed masterworks you may enjoy seeing a superb morphing of contemporary women.

go to Morphed Women of the Silver Screen

go to Morphed Women Stars of Television

Men get morphed too!

go to Filmdom's Leading Men-- a favorite project of Philip Scott Johnson


We're obsessed with movie trailers. Who knew?
Wired magazine reports that fans have already watched more than a billion trailers on You Tube so far this year. Many go viral. Movie studios are focusing their ad dollars online. Webs "freak out" when the latest movie teasers go live.
Sites like IGN and Vulture post shot-by-shot deconstructions. Slate even has a movie trailer critic. And there's an "oscar" for trailer-making called the Key Art Awards. Competition is fierce.
Top film conglomerates and producers compete for the elite 'gurus' of trailer-making. Mark Woollen is considered a star for capturing the spirit  and tone of a movie-- and getting lots of talk and Twitter buzz.
The new 'genre' is now the wild card in a cut-throat , high-stakes business. With so many block-busters pouring out of the movie mills, trailers are now counted on to give a film release an edge.

Go to Wired for the 'Art of the Trailer'


Fireball streams over Siberian skies.

Unusual Cosmic Event
On February 16, 2013, a meteorite of about ten tons of metal and the size of an SUV entered the earth's atmosphere and exploded about 15 miles overhead of Helyabinsk, Russia. Although it only grazed our planet countless phone cameras caught the spectacle.
Such self-immolating fire-balls skim close every few years and usually land in the ocean. Coincidentally, this event occurred the same day that astronomers were studying an asteroid passing by about 17 thousand miles away.





more photography

Lautner house: Alan Weintraub. Click to enlarge.

Mystery is the extraordinary ingredient in a memorable photograph. The hook is a missing piece: the explanation.
The puzzlement: wonderful.
The painter David Hockney finds photography a hopeless medium for representing the visible world.  He often talks of its shortcomings.
"The camera can't see space. It sees surfaces. People see space, which is much more interesting."
- David Hockney 

"Wingbacks," Troy Paiva, 2005.

Troy Paiva, author of "Lost America," heads out with his camera after dark for some urban spelunking. He finds the strangest things. He came upon these wing chairs abandoned by a movie film crew. Also abaondoned-- the Oakland train station.

go to Paiva's night photography

more photography

Piano Music. Photographer: Chema Madoz.

more on Chema Madoz


Experience Music Project in Seattle.

Experience Music is dazzling eye candy. 
Paul Allen's Frank Gehry-designed museum  is a must-see for fans of rock 'n' roll-- and everyone else. If you've never seen an installation made from more than 700 instruments, you'll find it here. It's full of rare guitars, electronic gadgetry, media labs,  vintage recording equipment, a shrine to Jimi Hendrix, a science fiction museum and a plethora of memorabilia of Allen's heart's desire. So join a mogul at play.
Allen, who co-created Microsoft with Bill Gates, made a vast fortune when the company went public in 1986. He then used his stock holdings to start one of the world's largest collections of fine art.
His "Experience Music Museum" is billed as a leading edge, non-profit museum dedicated to the ideas and risk-taking that fuel contemporary culture.

more on Experience Music

go to the EMP Museum


The British Museum is awesome to visit and see the great treasures of the world. Best of all, admission is free.

go to the British Museum


These women were framed and morphed!


Mad Men is Back
It's been a long wait since the summer of 2010. But Don Draper and the gang are back and all is right (or maybe not) with their world.


"In Thought," oil painting. Ronald Freeman 2009


How's your timing?
Perfectly-timed motion shots are often happy accidents-- or the result of endless staged rehearsals. Even with ubiquitous camera phones, point-on timing is random luck-- but a chance worth taking.


go to "perfectly timed photos to see a wild array of random happenings in the moment


Enter the mind
of David Levine:


The caricature artistry of David Levine is nuanced, erudite, and decidedly unexpected. The kicker is his surreal imagination and deep psychological insight.

He illustrated "The New York Review of Books"  for 45 years, and leaves a treasure of images that found life in his magic pen and incisive brain. In memoriam, 1926-2009.

go to gallery of 2,500 Levine creations and search by subject or year.


 Above: From Carles Santos' fanciful exhibit "Visca el Piano!" at the Juan Miro Foundation in Barcelona.
Click to enlarge.



Coffe cup Mona Lisa.
If you said cofee cups, you're right. The portrait was created with 3,604 cups of variegated amounts of black, creamed, and mocha coffee at an Aroma Festival in Sydney, Australia.

The inherent fun of people being people together in great public places can transform space into spontaneous theater.
The group Improv Everywhere has the slogan "We Make Scenes."  Their 'scenes' range from ingenious to imaginative to goofy. Many entertain. It's a new wave video throw-back to"Candid Camera," since the fun is watching bystander reactions to surprising, inexplicable behavior.

Time Lapse at Grand Central Station

Art gallery opening at 23d Street subway platform in NYC.


Have an eye for color?
Do you know your color I.Q.?

go take the color test


Play in Tag Galaxy
Write in a key word (tag) and create a mesmerizing galaxy of visual connotations. Enjoyment guaranteed.

go to Tag Galaxy


TROMPE-L'OIL beguiles senses, especially when it surprises us on a busy street.

Chalk drawings of Julian Beever. Click to enlarge.
These are illusions. The sidewalks are flat.

What you see is not always what you get.
Julian Beever has bedazzled pedestrians with his pavement chalk art throughout Great Britain, Europe, the U.S., and Australia. To see it is not to believe it. People walk around his "pot-holes" and swerve away from his "roadwork" for fear of falling.
He'll put a sailboat in a little pond in the middle of a street-- all to wash away in the next rain. He drew cats and dogs and dragons "running" around the streets of Birmingham's Chinatown.
Of his illusionary optics, he says, "Once I realized you could make things appear to go down, I realized you could make them appear to go up."
His "projections" are distorted to appear natural. Called anamorphoses, they seem to defy the laws of perspective. The full experience is seen from a particular spot-- the place where he sets up his lens on a tripod. He runs between the camera and the drawing to be sure he's getting the effect he wants. Then he watches passers-by laugh at their own bewilderment.

Julian Beever at work.

go to Julian Beever

go to the Sidewalk Picasso on YouTube

Feeding a "chalk seal" on a busy sidewalk.


Tale of the ‘crooked cross’

The hakenkreuz is an ancient emblem used for at least ten-thousand years. It was found in the ruins of Troy and of Egypt and China– and prevalent in Hindu and Buddist ritualistic relics in India.

Adolph Hitler added it to the colors of the Weimar Republic. "A symbol it really is," he wrote in Mein Kampf. "In red we see the social idea of the movement; in the black swastika the mission of the struggle for the victory of the Aryan man."

The emblem went on standards that were carried in massive parades and adorned the stages of mass meetings. Borrowed from classic Roman designs, they consisted of a black metal swastika on top with a silver wreath surmounted by an eagle. It was an emblematic design of propaganda of the highest order– a symbol that no other party could match.

Hitler knew that the hooked cross had a force of mystic power that possessed timeless human magnetism. The floundering middle classes soon flocked under his banner, and the advent of the "Fueher" went into full speed. Such is the emotional clout of the transcendental image.


"Movie Love in the Fifties:"
from author James Harvey.
Day and Hudson in "Pillow Talk."
Finding the Fantastic in Ourselves: 
review by Anthony Giardina...
"James Harvey's 'Movie Love in the 50's is the best movie book I've ever read. He's the Samuel Johnson of film writing and reveals not just what the movies were doing half a century ago, but what they were doing to us.
Just as Bonnie and Clyde and The Graduate touched the fantastic in ourselves,"so did the long stream of delicious melodramas that ran through the 50s: Imitation of Life, Rebel Without a Cause, East of Eden, A Place in the Sun... films that now make that supposedly conformist decade seem like a long pleasurable dream in which we were acting out new, darker, more sensitive versions of ourselves.
The pleasure of reading Harvey is to see how many of the images from that decade-- the bra Janet Leigh wore in the opening scenes of "Psycho," the way Doris Day sang "It All Depends on You" in "Love Me or Leave Me" — spoke to the way films were trying to push a new, more brazen sexuality, even into domestic roles.
It seems we're always somebody in the movies before we become that somebody in real life. We see a part of ourselves reflected in the boldest films. We seize on it and allow it to inhabit us. Even in a season of overstuffed blockbusters we hold out hope for the movie that will touch the fantastic in ourselves."

go to 'In Praise of Drive-Ins and Doris Day, on NPR


George Steinmetz for National Geographic
Steinmetz took this photo directly above the camels in the desert at sunset. The camels are the little white lines. The black silhouettes are their shadows.


Lost in shadows
Where are the zebras?
Click to enlarge.


Where it's fun to stumble...
To discover great websites in categories of your choice-- try  "Stumble Upon." There is a quick and free sign-up process- (250,000 avant-
garde types have done it).  Each time you use "Stumble Upon," site suggestions will be more precisely attuned to your liking and interests. On you own it could take thousands of hours to find such remarkable pages from the billions on the World Wide Web.
For example, here is a site we found on "Stumble Upon" that lets you "click" a flower garden in seconds-- no need for digging and weeding. Ingenious artists have created it for you. See for yourself. Dive in and enjoy the surf.

go to your own flower garden and start clicking

Stumble It!


Philadelphia has more murals than any city in the world. As for graffiti, the emphasis is on art.

Muraist David McShane in Philadelphia.

Prolific muralist David McShane has more than 25 to his credit.
With more than 2500 murals Philadelphia is the world's mural capital. Lush and imaginative visions surprise in unexpected places. The superior level of art is driving out graffiti gang wars and boosting property values.
Jane Golden is the founder and director of the program, which she spun off from the Anti-Graffiti Network-- inspired by Roosevelt's WPA. She holds neighborhood meetings to discuss and decide on each subject. Her  view of 'mural-as-peacemaker'  has proven its worth.
Says Golden, "Race, crime, violence-- it's our responsibility to help people grapple with these difficult issues."

go to Philadelphia's Mural Arts Program

Malcolm X mural in Philadelphia.

Mural text: "Education is our passport to the future-- for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today."
- Malcolm X
Self-propelled rock in Death Valley National Park-- Wouldn't this be a strange thing to witness?


The 1935 classic SHE is reborn in color.


Roger Ebert and ten thousand reviews.
For intelligent discourse about films, Roger Ebert set the bar. His educated opinions enriched our appreciation for the best in cinema and sharpened our own critical sensibilities.
He spent 46 of his 70 years as film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times. But he was more than a leading critic-- he was a journalist, screenwriter, film historian, and author.
About the movie experience, he said "Your intellect may be confused, but your emotions never lie to you." Here are his remarks reflecting on his love of movies:
"Movies take us inside the lives of other people. When a movie is really working we have an out-of-body experience and only care about what's going to happen next.
"When that happens, it gives us an empathy for other people-- who are there on the screen-- that is sharper and effectively more powerful than any other art form. And I'm speaking as someone who loves to read. But good/great movies touch us, I do believe, more than any other art form."
The loss of Roger Ebert touched many hearts. Shortly before his death he wrote "I will pass away before most people who read this, but that doesn't shake my sense of wonder and joy."
Ebert's last published books are: "Life Itself: A Memoir" and "The Great Movies III."

go to Roger Ebert on Wikipedia


Earth without art is just "eh."

Film critic Roger Ebert. 1942-2013

Willem deKooning

New York's Guggenheim tunnels back in time to survey avant-garde art of the 1950's. Enjoy.
"Art of Another Kind: International Abstraction, 1949-1960."

go to Art of Another Kind



In sculpture, we've traveled light years. Bernini has lost his edge. Now pertinence trumps permanence.
Michael Kalish's portrait sculpture of Mohammad Ali in Los Angeles  is a knock-out. If you walk around to the sides you'll see intriguing punching bags and steel cables. But step to center front and you'll get the full 'wow' effect of the 3-time heavyweight champion Ali's face.

Side view of the installation.

It's a fitting kinetic monument to 'the greatest.'  At the 'unveiling' at Nokia Plaza, Ali hung the final bag.
With all its interlocking legs and curving pipes the resulting image from the custom-made teardrop-shaped speed bags suspended in 'mid-air,' is, from one vantage point, aligned like pixels into the image of Ali. Isn't that the greatest?

go to Michael Kalish and visuALIze

Kalish had the big idea.
But it was so big that he engaged the architectual firm of Oyler Wu to design the structure from which he would hang 1300 punching bags, 6.5 miles of stainless steel cable, and 2500 pounds of aluminum pipe to construct the 22-foot high installation.


Greek Gallery, Photo: Sara Krulwich.

Check out the Met. Recent renovations poduced the popular new Greek and Roman galleries. Much was hauled out of storage to put on display. The idea is "show rather than hoard." The result is terrific.

go hear about the new galleries at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

go to the Metropolitan


Black Ceremony. Photo: Hiro Ihara.

This spectacular art explosion event, staged by artist Cai Guo-Qiang, was commisioned by Mathaf: the Arab Museum of Modern Art in Doha, Qatar.
Cai says "my art is a time-space tunnel through which the visible world communicates with the energy of the unseen world."

go to Cai Guo-Qiang


Computer game store in Paris. Floor is flat. Click to enlarge.


Amazing Paths

Traffic Between Walls of Snow. Click to enlarge.

more amazing paths


Art in the Streets

go to new murals at the West Hollywood Library

Another look at L.A.

"Movie Stars" at Russell and Vermont, Los Angeles

Monte Thrasher at Kingswell and Vermont in Hollywood

go to public art in Los Angeles


New York's Guggenheim.
New urbanism invites walking-- captivates the senses with personal paths in public spaces, intrigues, whims, faces, noise and stillness, new stops, old haunts, people, energy, eateries, parks, fountains, crowds, skylines, art, sights and delights. Walkability means multiple routes, diversions, scenery, benches, and good transit.


Yellow-Red-Blue,1923. Vasily Kandinsky
The Guggenheim in New York celebrated its 50th anniversary with an exhibit of paintings by Vasily Kandinsky-- aesthetic theorist and pioneer of abstract painting (his first was in 1910). It's a fitting choice because Kandinskys consituted the core of its collection when the museum, designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright, was completed in 1959.

go to Kandinsky at the Guggenheim

"I always decide in favor of feeling rather than calculation."
- Vasily Kandinsky


Neon exhilarates the urban landscape. Admit it. You'd miss the glow if someone pulled the plug.

Entry tunnel on John Street, New York City.

Discovered at the dawn of the 20th century, neon soon became the glitzy iconic imagery of urban America. The word comes from the Greek "neos" for new. How did millions of years of generations ever live without it? Vegas was born with it but doesn't have an 'exclusive.' In neon signage is written the excitement and zing of life throughout the history of all our cities.

NEON, atomic number 10, glows reddish orange in a vacuum discharge tube, In all its glory it can be glamorous, stimulating, dramatic, eerie, gorgeous, or garrish. From Times Square to the Vegas strip and beyond, it adds unmistakable vitality to our streetscenes and our experience of urban sophistication.

more on neon

Pilgrimage, Scott Gelo.









"Film is...
an offspring
not of literature,
but of painting."
- Federico Fellini

Blending our senses
From Samadhi, Jordan Belson, 1966
Sensory perception of one kind may manifest itself as sensory experience of another. Music can be visual-- like seeing colors along with sounds-- sounds along with colors. Unlike anesthesia, which renders us insensitive, it makes us acutely, deeply alive and awake.

Adventurous painters who explore this phenomenon make kinetic art as if it were "color music."  See it in Jordan Belson's painting above. You know it. You  feel it.

more on synaesthesia

Chinese Music, Arthur Dove, 1923. Click to enlarge.

George Gerswin with his paints

Permutations, John Whitney, 1968

Joshua Light Show at the Mineola, 1967

Joshua Light Show at the Fillmore, 1969


"Humility constitutes the best point of departure in the search for truth." 
- Michaelangelo Antonioni, film director.

Jatin Kampani, photographer

go to Jatin Kampani portfolio

go to the spiral gallery

Ceiling, Chapel of Thanksgiving, Dallas.




Make a face. Really. Make a face. It's fun and relaxing. You can choose from head shapes, hair, eyebrows, nose, lips, chin, and more. The best thing is that you can move the parts around until you find a face you like. Try it.

go to Flash Face


"Tiger in Tropical Storm," 1891
For a customs clerk who never left France, Henri Rousseau painted a slew of tropical jungle fantasies.

go to National Gallery of Art


Jackson Pollock, painting in 1950.
"It is only when I lose contact with the painting that the result is a mess."
- Jackson Pollock
Pollock worked with deep concentration. But you can "paint like Pollock" and just have fun. Try it.

go to Paint like Pollock. It's marvelous fun.


Imaginative images and playful camera work:


Open Zag VIII, Louise Nevelson, 1974.

"When you are doing a piece you are with it. You don't want to wait until next week, when experience will have given you something else."
- Louise Nevelson


"Beauty is truth, truth beauty... that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know." - from 'Ode on a Grecian Urn.'
- John Keats

Try National Geographic's new interactive website:

go to National Geographic


Make an image of mystery.

go get your wet paint


go to Museo Jumex images


"The Dinner Party" had a sensational debut in the press and seemed to cap off the many advances in the women’s movement of the 1970's.

It became a milestone of 20th-century art and an iconic celebration of women.

Hard to believe that after it made its world tour in 1978 it spent 25 years in storage. Happily it is now a permanent installation at the new Elizabeth Sackler Center For Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum,  and it remains a mesmerizing attraction.

The table is huge-- a massive ceremonial banquet with place settings for 39 women, 13 on each side of the triangle which is equilateral to represent equality. (The triangle has long been a symbol of the female).

On the floor there are names of another 999 women of great distinction inscribed in gold on the white tiles below the table, therefore honoring a total of 1,038.

Judy Chicago spent two years on the project and when it became so expansive (and expensive) she needed lots of help– which she got. During the next four years more than 400 people contributed to the creation– most of them volunteers. It cost 250 thousand dollars to complete.

About 125 artisans were called ‘members of the project,’ suggesting long-term efforts, and a small group was closely involved for the final three years, including ceramicists, needle-workers, and researchers. Chicago designed most aspects of the work and made the final decisions.

The settings consist of embroidered runners, gold chalices and utensils– spoons and forks– and china-painted plates with raised central motifs that are based on vulvar and butterfly forms and rendered in style appropriate to the individual women honored.

Plates are about 14 inches across in dimension. They start flat and begin to emerge in higher relief towards the very end of the chronology, meant to represent modern woman’s gradual independence and autonomy.

The best word to describe the results is ‘beautiful.’

Dinner plate for Sojourner Truth (1797-1883)

Judy Chicago created "The Dinner Party," which conjures up the wonder of getting significant women from throughout the ages to come together for a visit with amazing interactions and conversations at a dinner party. Such inventive imagery.

more plates at The Dinner Party"

go to Judy Chicago

go to the Brooklyn Museum of Art


Great silent movies are immediate and timeless. Kudos for "The Artist" prove that the lure remains.

With the Oscar-winning "The Artist" and Martin Scorces’s homage to Georges Méliès in "Hugo," movie lovers are re-discovering the art of silents.

Sadly, most reels have long been beyond repair and lost to the ages. But there is still plenty to enjoy– and the best have migrated to DVD and Blu-ray.

The art of George Melies in "A Trip to the Moon."

2012 was the centennial of the first full-length movie, the legendary "Quo Vadis." Though only a few stills have survived, they display a new standard: a heightened art form that dwarfs anything shot before.

Two years later D. W. Griffith’s "Birth of a Nation" was the benchmark for the spectacles that followed– and spurred seventeen years of robust film-making.

Here are some silent classics:

The first wizard of cinema, George Méliès, created hand-colored fantasies like psychedelic art imbued with humor and whimsy.

Most of his films didn’t survive, but snippets of his 17-minute film "A Trip to the Moon" (Flicker Alley) in 1902, "Kingdom of Fairies" in 1903, and "An Impossible Voyage" in 1904 were shown in Martin Scorsese’s movie "Hugo."

"The Man With a Movie Camera," (Image), written and directed by Dziga Vertov, is famous for defying standard camera work.  It runs at 24 frames per second, and has jump cuts, divided screens, frozen moments, and double exposures. It goes forwards and backwards– and practically sideways. It remains influential for its experimental camera techniques.

"Pandora’s Box," (Criterion), written and directed by G. W. Pabst, marked the end of the German experimental era. The film stars Louise Brooks as Lulu, the tempestuous hedonist-- and remains a cult favorite.

"Flesh and the Devil," introduced the incandescenct presence of Greta Garbo, who out-shown the star, John Gilbert, and sent her on the way to command lead roles.
Most movie buffs know the genius of actor-director Buster Keaton.  "The General," (Kino), in particular, is profoundly cinematic in its jaw-dropping stunts and sight gags– and remains the greatest of runaway train (or runaway anything) pictures yet.
"The Passion of Joan of Arc," by writer-director Carl Dreyer, is a favorite of many film critics. The script in drawn from the Latin text of the heresy trial. Joan is portrayed in her cell, at her trial, and going to the stake. Numerous close-ups capture strong emotions.
"Metropolis," (Kino), from writer-director Fritz Lang in 1926, is a fantasy of future technology, mass mentality, and mechanized society. An original print was found in Argentina in 2007 and was released as the complete version in 2010. The film’s towering architecture and cast of thousands depict a dehumanized world.  It’s still considered one of the hippest films in Sci-fi.
"The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari," (Image), directed by Robert Wiene, has a sinister hypnotist as the central character amid a series of murders, and is a nightmarish departure from a literal script. Its lighting foreshadows the dark world of 1940's crime drams. And the jagged imagery, chopped-up narrative, and multiple identities set the path for future directors like Alfred Hitchcock and Tim Burton.
"City Lights," (Warner), in 1931, was Charlie Chaplin’s last silent film. His keen balance between comedy and tragedy made it one of the most eloquent movies ever filmed. Along with "Modern Times" and "The Gold Rush" Chaplin became the first superstar and colossus of the silent era.
These silents are immediate and timeless. Academy Awared winner "The Artist" is the first silent prize winner since "Wings" in 1927. A revival is due. Silents, please.

more on Silent Films

go to The Silent Era


A view camera 'under construction.'


Art News has a digital edition and a website with a vast collection of resources: exhibits, collections, news, critics, and searches.

go to Art News Online


"Stillness," illustrator Vivienne Flesher.

Vivienne Flesher is a prodigious illustrator for books, fashion, newspapers, magazines, even U.S. stamps. Her constant travels to collaborate with clients demonstrates her interpretive versatility.

Vivienne Flesher's Love Stamp

go to Flesher's blog

go to Flesher interview


Chuck Close at work.

AOL is celebrating its 25th anniversary with "The Project on Creativity" to salute contemporary artists. Chuck Close is featured in the year-long show at the New Museum.
Chuck Close is best known for monumental heads painted in thousands of tiny airbrush bursts, thumbprints, or looping multi-color brushstrokes. (He says he needs 150 dots to make something recognizable.)
His methodical reconfiguration of the human face has radically changed the definition of modern portraiture.
The AOL project shows the full spectrum of his career with 90 paintings, drawings, and photographs.

Artists at show opening at the New Museum.

Avant-guarde artists possess innate creative sparks that can inspire and shape our vision.

go to AOL show artists

Chuck Close

"Painting is the most magical of mediums. The transcendence is truly amazing to me every time I go to a museum and I see how somebody figured another way to rub colored dirt on a flat surface and make space where there is no space or make you think of a life experience." 
"Part of the joy of looking at art is getting in sync in some ways with the decision-making process that the artist used and the record that's embedded in the work."
- Chuck Close


Theaters are upgrading to accommodate HiFi 3D film making. New TV's are available in 3D mode. Is it all worth the price?

Although our vision is binocular, movie screens are flat. But new 3-D film technology fools the brain into seeing images in their full dimensions-- as if the screen had disappeared.

We can hold James Cameron responsible for starting the 'new tech hoopla.'

For him, seeing "Star Wars' was a life-bending event. He spent the next thirty years planning his own space epic– one that would ‘out-Lucas' George Lucas. With the 75 million he earned from ‘Titanic,’ he had the time and money to work on it.  

He fiddled with hi-def video and developed  virtual cameras with a ‘brain bar,’ the ultimate control mechanism with multiple screens that register digital strings on the actors and set.

Cameron's team of animators worked from head-rig videos that supplied a complete visual record for mapping each character’s face. Twin lenses mimiced the vision of the human eye. The result was 'Avatar' in 2009. Since then, simulcam software is transmuting ever-growing data bases and the film industry has bet big on a steady stream of  pricey extravaganzas.


Going up?


Stairs are transportive and essential to the enjoyment of the urban experience.


Going up? Stairs await, invite, and challenge. Functional or fabulous, static or moving, they jar awareness -- and  rattle consciousness.


Not a level playing field.

Stairs are aptly described as flights. Trips are grueling or fanciful, difficult or smooth. We take-off and land. We wait and accelerate.

Scene and space modulate with configurations of treads, risers, and handrails. Speed ranges. Twists and turns induce guesswork.

Destinations are known or unpredicted. Climbs change physicality– hearts pound, legs, ache. We travel up and down as routine or adventure. Maiden voyages can intrigue.

What lies ahead? Artful construction can bring a rush of pleasure.

Stairs to Victor Hugo's apartment, Place des Vosges, Paris.

more terrific stairs


"Piece of an Infinite Whole." Jen Stark.
Sculptor Jen Stark is carving her niche-- to say the least.
Viewing her wide-ranging work you might suspect  she uses CAD software or trickd-out hand-held lasers. But no. She just sketches a design, grabs her X-Acto knife, and starts to slice.
She's intrigued by fractals, wormholes, and MRI scans-- and creates brilliant "paper work" that is mathematical yet exuberantly organic. Pictured above is a 4-foot-deep backlit recess based on her fascination with space.

go to Stark's paperwork


Gianfranco Ferre's shoe at the Milan fashion show won't make it far past the runway.


go to America's most walkable cities

go to Run the Planet


Top: Northern Summer on Mars. Bottom: Io, Moon of Jupiter. Images: Michael Benson.
"Beyond," large-format photos by Michael Benson, will be on exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History until April 2008. Benson uses the robotic camera archives from Galileo and Voyager explorations. You can see raw photos on NASA's website, but the rich detail doesn't really come through on a monitor or newspaper page.
Benson transforms the data into huge prints. He also has a collection in a book: "Beyond: Visions of Interplanetary Probes." View the hothouse Venus, the desertlike Mars, and the otherworldly moons of Jupiter.

go to "Beyond" at the American Museum of Natural History

go to NASA


"Have nothing in your house which you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful."
- William Morris


Along came a spider:
An American myth of primal power. You can be whatever you desire.


Stan Lee created Spider-Man for Marvel Comics in 1962, with the premise that a meek boy is bitten by a spider at a science fair, and, as a result, acquires spider-like strength, ESP, and the ability to scale skyscrapers.

Team Spiderman

Turn off the Dark.

Stan Lees’ arachnid is a fixture in our collective imaginations and owns a place in the pop-culture pantheon. Who cannot relate to a challenged teenager?

"It doesn’t matter who you are," says Lee. "Once that mask goes on it could be you inside that suit."

The red-suited savior has moved from the comic pages, drawn by Steve Ditko, to boffo success on the wide screen... and now to a rock musical "Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark"" on Broadway.

Spectabular visuals:

Production costs of past Broadway musicals pale when compared with Spider’s infamous $65-million investment in hallucinatory costumes, insane and genetically modified super-villains, eye-popping colors, tactile dreamscapes, eight-legged arachno-chorus girls, jolts in perspective, and 37 scenes with our vigilant Spiderman in aerial-rigging  to the balcony fighting evil-- and cast-members trips to the hospital.

It’s immersive 3D fantasy and danger pushed to the max. Original writer-director July Taymor, who pulled out all the stops and wouldn’t want it to be a $30-million show, said "If you don’t want to do something ambitious that’s never been seen before– then why do it?"

Reeve Carney as Peter; Jennifer Damiano as Mary Jane. Photo: Annie Leibovitz.

Bono and the Edge, who wrote the musical score and lyrics, share her attitude. Says Bono, "The difference between very good and great is huge. Getting to great requires putting yourself out of your depth."

That they have done. The project is a wildly imaginative leap without a safety net.

Julie Taymor. Photo: Aik Gilboa.

"Theater has it all over film because it's tactile, immersive... in the moment."
- Julie Taymor
Taymore likes to get into things when she doesn't know whether she'll be able to pull it off. She says "I hate the comfort zone. Nothing that's really creative can be done without danger and risk.
" If you don't have fear then you're not taking a chance. But if you have great collaborators who are as passionate as you and believe in the project, your fear is mitigated."

One of Spider-Man's incarnations.

Pit and proscenium removed to unite audience with action with web-like crawling theater constructs.

Caution: Art Pad may be just too much fun.
Go there anyway. Destroy stress. Just grab your brush and paint your heart out. Frame it and hang it in a gallery. Send it to friends.

go paint on Art Pad


Snowflakes, photo: Kenneth Libbrecht
Snowflakes can link up and fall from the sky in shapes  of ten inches or more. Kenneth Libbrecht  captures the wonderment in "The Snowflake," from Voyageur Press.
It's Illusional.

It's a mystery. Figure it out.


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Superb links

Top: Judy Chicago's 'The Dinner Party,' Brooklyn Museum photo.
Still fromGeorges Melies silent film.
Superman - Damsel in Distress, photo: Annie Leibovitz for Vogue Magazine 12/2010.
Chuck Close in his studio, photo: Myrna-Suarez-gusvansant.
"Maastunnel", the "Sleeper" escalator, Rotterdam, The Netherlands, 1998. Designer Stefanie Zoohe.
Top right: Floating staircase: glass treads are held between two glass walls which are suspended from the ceiling. Apartment in Paris, 1997, architct: Guillaume Saalburg.
Guggenheim Museum, New York City; Frank Lloyd Wright, architect.
Street-level entry tunnel at 127 John Street, New York City. Designers Rudy DeHarak and Howard Brandston lined an irrigation culvert with fluorescent blue neon tubing.

Remain curious.