If you’re a regular reader of this blog, then you might recall that I recently attended an art event at the National Museum of Mathematics (aka MoMath). On the way out of the museum that evening, I decided to pop in to the gift shop, where I noticed something at first seems a bit incongruous: a tiny Pink Bathtub . . . that was in use as a bin to hold little soaps shaped like the Pi symbol. Oh, the cleverness.
Designs inspired by nature form the largest group of more than 10,000 wallpapers in the collection of the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum. Often, a wallpaper theme would tie-in with the room’s use: designs of food were popular for dining rooms and water motifs dominated in bathrooms. The modern bathroom. with a designated space indoors, running water and flush toilets, had been developed by the late nineteenth century. Given the concerns for hygiene and running water, ceramic tiles were the preferred wall-covering because of their durability and sanitary nature. For those on a budget, early wallpapers imitated this look with varnished tile patterns.
Around 1910, bathrooms shifted away from this sterile, hygienic look to become a more pleasant, decorative room that was harmonious with the home’s decor. Some moisture-resistant coverings were introduced in the early 1900‘s, but general-use wallpapers at this time were printed with water-soluble pigments and thus were unsuitable for use in bathrooms.
By 1934, the development of washable wallpapers coincided with a new array of decorative papers that had no hint of their sanitary past; rather, scenic designs featuring more panoramic views, as seen here, became popular, appealing to decorators and homeowners who wanted to bring the outdoors inside.
Sea Beauties Scenic Wallpaper (1920 – 35, Ideal Wall Decoration) seen here in this three-panel set, contains a lively underwater view of fish, shells, coral and plant life in their natural habitat. Multiple sets could be used to wrap around the bathroom, creating an immersive environment.
This early water-resistant design is printed in oil colors, so it could withstand the moisture and occasional splash from the tub, giving the wallpaper both a practical and decorative purpose.
Photographed in the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum in Upper Manhattan.
I have to thank my friend Andrew for turning me on to The Button Show; a super fun exhibit that’s up now at Rush Arts Gallery. Curated by Peter “Souleo” Wright, The Button Show features sculptures and other artworks created using regular clothing buttons, incorporated with other found objects, to create unique art that is delightful to behold.
On display are the works of 11 artists who each work with buttons either as the dominant medium or a featured element in their sculpture, photography and wearable artworks. Participating artists include veteran Button Artists Amalia K. Amaki, Beau McCall and Lisa Kokin.
Lisa Kolin uses buttons, chicken wire, thread and spray paint to create sculptures that obliterate the surface of otherwise easily recognizable objects.
I think this is my favorite piece by her. It’s easy to see some of the other tiny objects — 45 RPM records, doll parts, toys, belt buckles, tiny souvenir license plates, clock faces — that are part of these very fun artworks.
This one, called Piecework, actually takes on more shape when seen from a distance.
Curator Souleo offers, “I am proud to help highlight the medium of clothing buttons in visual art. Clothing buttons occupy a familiar but seemingly insignificant presence in our lives. Each artist forces us to reimagine this everyday object as a viable tool for communication and self-expression through visual art. In these works, buttons become signifiers of issues of class, politics, race, beauty and personal narratives in ways that are visually stimulating and highly engaging.”
These spider-like sculptures, covered with iridescent black buttons, remind me very much of the work of Louise Bourgeois.
When I look at this oversize Record Adapter, I wonder how many people under 20 even know what this is, or what it was used for. Nostalgia!
This gorgeous Red Bathtub is called Dark Musk Oil Egyptian Crystals & Florida Water/ Red Potion no.1 (but in all lower case letters, and no spaces between the words), and it is by Beau McCall. Created from Buttons, fabric, and thread over a cast iron tub, this is the show stopper.
Beau McCall also created this stunning representation of a Pitcher of Kool-Aid Dink Mix being poured into a glass.
I love how he uses clear buttons to represent the ice.
The Message: ABCDEFU. Yes.
The Button Show will be on Exhibit Through March 12th, 2016 at Rush Arts Gallery, Located at 526 West 26th Street, Suite 311, in the Chelsea Gallery District.
Porter Contemporary is currently hosting We’ll Be Happier Tomorrow, the gallery’s first solo exhibition of new paintings by Lori Larusso — which I stopped by over the weekend and found to be completely charming.
Through shaped, acrylic panels depicting realist images of mundane objects, Larusso embarks / comments on the American Dream — and the idea of happiness being tied to external consequences — revealing symbolically and metaphorically the twist to having such an unrealistic outlook.
I really loved the vibrant colors and playful presentation of this show, and how Larusso’s shaped paintings balance both painterly and sculptural effects. Dissections of reality and unreality sometimes are combined in multiple panels interacting with a central idea.
By including only the necessary information needed to complete the idea and composition, aspects of a specific situation or environment are isolated and brought to the forefront through Larusso’s unique presentation.
We’ll be Happier Tomorrow by Lori Larusso will be on Exhibit October 12th, 2013 at Porter Contemporary, Located at 548 West 28th Street in the Chelsea Gallery District. Gallery Hours Are Tuesday and Wednesday By Appointment, Thursday 11:00 AM – 8:00 PM and Friday – Saturday 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM.