Urban Design Elegance & Science of Light

The Washington DC Design Center’s new Design House has just opened with the theme, Urban Elegance, on view. I hope to get by and see it (April 24 – June 25). It’s usually inspirational and tends to validate decorative ideas that I have been following and or have used.

The DC Design House is another interior design exhibition of sorts. A client of mine tells me it is very worthwhile attending (April 18 – May 10) and proceeds benefit the Children’s Medical Center.

Another exhibition I hope to see before it closes May 3rd, is the Pride of Place, Duch Cityscapes of the Golden Age. I’ve been so busy with managing my work that I just haven’t had the time, so I hope to get on it today. While I’m at the NGA, there is an interesting lecture that I found quite fascinating to read about recently. David Stork will discuss the actual light source in Velasquez, Vermeer and Caravaggio’s paintings by using math and science to reconstruct 3-D models to reveal the light source, and in doing show demystify what the artist may have been trying to depict. I personally like the mysterious elements to these master paintings and feel that is the artist’s prerogative and vehicle for depicting the age old mystery that life’s events cannot be fully explained. Here are the two I particularly like.

Girl with Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer (1655)

The Calling of St. Matthew by Caravaggio (1599-1600)

It’s Friday and while I don’t have a musical video to post * (seems to be something to try on a regular basis to kick start the weekend), I do have a link to a charitable group called Roots of Music, located in New Orleans. Its primary purpose is to have a free musical program for kids to teach them to play an instrument, boost their self esteem and keep them off the streets. New Orleans needs this type of program. I’m sending them money today. Sounds like my home town’s version of Three Cups of Tea. Changing the cultural dynamic starts with education in youth and what a better way than through music and the arts. Fantastic mission and great way to continue where Jazz Festival week is ending on May 3rd.

* What am I thinking, of course I do have this one — of my favorites, Complicated Life by Preservation Hall Jazz Band and vocals of Clint Maegden of the New Orleans Bingo Show. And, catch them playing in New Orleans this weekend. Perfect! Now the weekend can begin.

Model Snowflakes and Hints of Spring

Last week we had a snow dumping, mild in comparison to other areas of the country but the biggest 9″ – 12″ inches we’ve seen in many winters. Had it been sledable it would have been very fun. However, I was working. Coincidentally, a story ran in the Post about how snowflakes can be originated by mathematically designed computer models at The Universities of Wisconsin at Madison and California. Here are the details in Science Daily.  Beautiful but Nature is not meant to be perfect or controlled for that matter.

aMathematically models snowflake. Photo credit University of Wisconsin at Madison

Winter Snow in March 2009. Photo by C. Ashley Spencer

And one week later, a mild May, early spring-like day with temperatures in the 70’s. Nature is fickle and mysterious in its ever changing moods.

Early Spring Following March 2009. Photo by C. Ashley Spencer

Lenten Rose, March 2009. Photo by C. Ashley Spencer

Garden Crocus in March 2009. Photo by C. Ashley Spencer

Garden Crocus Radiate Spring 2009. Photo by C. Ashley Spencer

Origami

What did you do for Valentine’s Day? If you didn’t have a card for your loved one or if you didn’t receive one, maybe you can make up for it with some origami. I think there is a real art to paper folding. These videos prove that what may appear to be simple, is in fact quiet complicated and mathematically oriented as well.

The science of origami with Dr. Robert Lang. Interview by Jacqueline London. Learn what airbags and origami have in common.

Here’s some incredible paper art by Robert Sweeney as found on Shauna Lee Lang’s Art Advisory blog:

Paper art by Richard Sweeney from Shauna Lee Lang blog

Finally, this is an a cool trailer for the movie, Between the Folds — all about origami and what paper folding can do — quite beyond the ordinary.

Spring Arts Preview

The Washington Post just published their Spring Arts Preview Guide. There is so much to see and enjoy but  here are the ones I think are most interesting:

Pride of Place: Dutch Citycsapes of the Golden Age, National Gallery of Art, through May 3.

Dutch Landscapes from the Golden Age. National Gallery of Art

Bookends: Book as Art, Torpedo Factory, through Feb 22.

Bookends: Book as Art at the Torpedo Factory

Detour: Architecture and Design Along 18 National Tourist Routes in Norway, National Building Museum, through Oct 10.

Photo by Vegar Moen. National Tourist Routes Project. Norway, National Building Museum

On the Origin of Species (After Darwin) — celebrating the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin, National Academy of Sciences, through April 23. As a postscript, this is a fascinating article about happenstance, a purchase of a cabinet (of curiosities) by Robert Heggestad that led to Alfred Russell Wallace, contemporary of Darwin and may have been on the forefront of his theory. Well, I can’t help be reminded of our casart coverings logo…What a find this was.

Specimens belonging to Alfred Russell Wallace. Photo by Lois Raimondo

Space Unlimited. Work by artists whose photography, painting, video and sculptural installation incorporate space as the central component. Art Museum of the Americas, February 20 – April 12.

1934: A New Deal for Artists — fifty-six paintings from the federal Public Works of Art Program. Smithsonian American Art Museum, February 27 – Jan 3, 2010.

New Deal Artists. Smithsonian American Art Museum

Treasures from the Gallery’s Attic — vintage 19th century – 20th century photographs from Paris, Rome, Pompeii, Venice, Scotland, and New Orleans and more, at the Kathleen Ewing Gallery. March 6 – April 30th.

Maya Lin: Systematic Landscapes. New works by the artist and architect of the Vietnam Memorial, Corcoran Gallery of Art, March 14 –  July 12

landscape by Maya Lin. Corcoran Gallery of Art

Finally, here are two exhibits/events, not on the preview list, that I thought might be worthwhile:

1) S-Curve by Anish Kapoor in entrance of the Sackler Museum, Perspectives exhibit on view through March 1. I really like the reflective quality of this piece. It’s happy like the hall of mirrors in a fair as one’s image is warped in the reflection and it also reminds me of sophisticated jewelry.

S-Curve by Anish Kapoor in Perspectives Exhibit @ Sackler Museum

2) Engineering Family Day, February 21 at the National Building Museum. Although I have much older kids, I am intrigued by the engineering aspect of this event, because I think my 20 year old college student owes his engineering studies to legos. The Building Museum is one of my favorite spaces, so the two in combination really seems appealing for young families — especially the chance do the Atlas rope ascender in the Great Hall, as featured in the Bouncing off Walls article in the Washington Post.

Engineering Family Day. Photo by Dayna Smith/Washington Post

Magnetic Movie

This is a follow up to a previous post that I wrote about the Magnetic Movie in September on exhibits regarding the “faux” documentary about magnetic fields and how they relate to real scientists’ discoveries regarding the Semiconductor. It can be seen in the “Black Box” at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden through December 14th.

Magnetic Movie by Ruth Jarman and Joseph Gherhardt

I’ll have to not only check out this movie before it leaves but also the After Hours at the Hirshhorn, which I had on my list but completely missed this year. The last one was November 7th.

after-hours-hirshhorn-museum. Photo by Colin S. Johnson

I can’t mention this without adding that After Hours, the movie is hilarious and still ranks as one of my favorites. I first saw it in Paris, when I was studying at Parsons and my American friends and I got the jokes but for some reason the French did not — making it all the more funny at the time — even though it was a very “French-like” movie, kinda artsy and very quirky.

Crystal Ball

There was a lot of valuable and artistic information in the health section of today’s Washington Post, go figure. This photo of Susana Soares, a Portuguese artist, blowing into a glass bubble/device that she designed with bees was a bit bizarre but a valuable thing. Her scientific experiment helps track diseases and monitor fertility cycles through pheromones. Who didn’t think artists were scientific and smart?

Susana Soares uses a Crystal \

Now coincidentally, this photo reminded me of this one….Don’t blow too hard!

Marepe. Courtesy Gallery Luisa Strina. Photo in Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo

A little mid-week humor for a another stir crazy week…

The other article of interest to me was, Being Difficult — For Some Patients, It’s a Coping Mechanism, by Sandra G. Boodman. I can relate to this because I was a difficult patient just as I try to be a thorough artist. But being difficult or “assertive,” as the author explains, is a way to maintain some sense of control when there seems to be none — by being your own advocate — and asking a lot of questions. Many doctors don’t like this and don’t even have the time to answer, but it is the doctors who respect this assertiveness who, as the author puts it, are “the most supportive” and give the most compassionate care. I know from experience that it’s these type of assertive patients who tend to live longer than expected because they are not complacent. However, I have also learned that acceptance of the inevitable brings tremendous peace — even when you are healthy. Both acceptance and assertiveness can occur simultaneously. What is hard on the caregiver is when the patient denies this process. It’s hard on everyone.

Speaking of crystal balls, which started this post, there was another article regarding the everyday jitters and voter anxiety that Americans are feeling regarding the election. How nice it would be to have a crystal ball to peer into the future on election day, but then again, I might not want to know ahead of time. I’ll just be happy when the anxiety ends.

Surgery

I notice art in a lot of places, but I also recognize when something is so innovative that it is art in the mere doing. This is the case with this new type of surgery called natural orifice — using the body’s natural openings as entry and exit areas for conducting surgery, which minimizes scarring and potential risk. This is a no brainer but at the same time so out of the box that it wasn’t thought of until now.

Warning: this video at this article link contains some graphic visuals of the actual gallbladder removal and surgery, so it may be disturbing to some viewers, but I grew up with this stuff.

At one time, I thought I’d go into premed — that was before I realized how I’d have to sacrifice my sleep, sanity and health and my predominant creative side would be neglected. I’ve always been fascinated by medicine, however, probably due to the fact that my father was a neurosurgeon and comes from a long family line of doctors. It was not unusual for us to review some of his taped surgeries, even at the dinner table. Heck, when I even had some subclavicular surgery done, I asked to watch. It would only have been natural for me or one of my siblings to go into medicine. We did not and were the first ones to break the chain in generations. Instead, we each took different, multi-faceted, creative paths. I think my father would have been proud because it was always more important to him that we be our own people and “do what we love.”

Speaking of surgery, I feel like I’ve been through brain surgery this week — on many levels. So, I think it’s important to end the week with a laugh. He’s funny story about Cholla, the horse that paints.

horse-topper by Scott Sady/AP Photo

Murals to Teach

I love how this science teacher used murals to teach his students science. Although he’s retiring after 37 years of teaching at San Luis Obispo High School in California, the murals he painted will still line the hallways for his students to continually view.

Here’s another example of artistic teaching methods. Dr. Andrew Yang teaches science at The Art Institute of Chicago and incorporates aspect of biology and art in his teaching.

This is an interesting type of art called “bioartography” or cell art. These are mouse stem-cell neurons and a section of a mouse’s stomach by scientific artist, Deb Gumico, from the Michigan Center for Organogenesis. She and her art are profiled by Erin Chang Ding on the Detroit Free Press.


And certainly science can help us learn about art. Infared technology reveals the preparatory drawings of the Renaissance painter, Fernando Gallego’ Christ and Samaritan Woman to show the original concept and how subtle changes were made to the composition.

Maps & Cosmos

Continuing with the art in science theme there are some artistic and “far-out” pictures to view at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore. Maps: Finding our Place in the World has already passed, however the pictures can be viewed at this link and Mapping the Cosmos is ongoing through July 27th (seen below).

[There are two other exhibits here that look very appealing — Artwork of Sonya Clark, especially her bead work (7/1 – 9/7) and The Special Dead, A Medieval Reliquary Revealed (8/2 – 1/18).]

What’s even more cool, however, is that Hubble has it’s own wall mural site, where their images can be downloaded as wall art. Since I’m interested in how to bring art into interior design, I find this pretty fascinating.

Scientific “flow”

Advances in science can help art, as discussed in the last post, and art can be seen in science, as viewed in these pictures of microscopic movement of fluid studied by Melissa Green of Princeton’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.

The first set of pictures show turbulence. The first image shows movement looking down a channel and the second image shows movement looking from the side of a channel.

This final picture shows an example of vortex — in trying to determine where it starts and ends by following particle trajectories in a contour parameter plot.

These pictures would make cool wall art in and of themselves.

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