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Today is the last day of the art month! Thanks for watching.

The photographer of this piece said that she makes this style of photograph by working in a dark room with a slow shutter speed and using some sort of flashlight-type device to illuminate the object over the course of the shutter closing. At least, that's how I remember her explanation from an art fair years ago. Looking at it now, I'm not sure how she gets the perfectly black background, but I like the way the object looks, her choice of vintage kitchen implements and tools, and the fact that it is a manually-created effect.
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Tom Torluemke is a really interesting guy who paints really provocative paintings. I remember once stumbling upon an exhibit of his that was thinking about race and exploitation of resources that consisted of an entire room lined with panels and then also creepy cut-out wood forms painted black that looked like humanesque oil-demons. He's scary sometimes, but he's usually right.

A website (not Tom's own) says this about him, and it's a pretty good summary:

Chicago-area artist Tom Torluemke creates color-saturated, surreal images loaded with grotesque, sexual and scatological themes without being completely repulsive.

Artist's website:
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Today's art comes from Etsy. I wanted a bee painting to go along with my beekeeping post, and I like this one a lot. I am always a fan of non-centered compositions. This one even has part of the subject's body cut off (wing), but it's more in keeping with how bees are experienced. They're always doing something and going off to somewhere. Probably the truest stereotype ever is "busy bee".

Beekeeping is also the sweatiest thing I've ever done.
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I met this artist at a gallery opening in Chicago, back when I used to accompany Jeriah on his Friday-night-gallery-crawl whenever his wife, Stephanie, was busy. Actually, I think she was there at this opening, too. I also had Anna Todaro along, and it was one of the last times I saw her before we went our separate ways, socially. I remember Stephanie was wearing one of her dead-animal-barrettes (some sort of bat, if I recall correctly).

Renee's work appeals to me because it is abstract, yet familiar. The pieces look like scenes you would see under a microscope or deep in the ocean. They don't radiate a chaotic energy, but look like a micro-environment, where there is life but still order. I would have bought a piece, but she was already out of my price range. (Nothing against that; I just didn't find her soon enough.)
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Sometimes landscape works look too still or idyllic for me. This one does not.
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Today's art is a tattoo. I really like this tattooist's style and coloring. He uses a lot of animals in his work, and regularly portrays women, like in this piece. I don't know if I would ever want to have such a brightly colored tattoo, but, if I did, he's the one I would want to design it. He is local here in Chicago.
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This guy is one of my favorites ever. He lives somewhere in the southern U.S. I'm thinking Alabama for some reason. I saw him a couple times at the Gold Coast Art Fair and bought a small original from him entitled Tipping Point. It hangs in the hallway off my kitchen, where I pass by it dozens of times a day. Tipping Point exemplifies one of his major subjects, portraits of women dressed theatrically, while this work shows a good example of the other favorite subject, contraption-style vehicles.

The people in his paintings are not all explicitly dressed as mimes, jesters, clowns, or circus people, but something about them always suggests that type of aesthetic to me. There are lots of masks, I suppose, and headdresses, and balancing/juggling involved in driving the contraptions. There is, inexplicably, often a bird. I love the expressions and the way he layers paint. It almost looks, up close, like he might do a bunch of layers, tape off the human figure, and slowly peel parts of it away as he continues to make layers. The body parts seem more "dug out" of the paint than placed on top.

Anyway, he's cool.
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This guy! I saw this artist's work at a "bike art show", where all the art was bicycle themed, or created out of bicycles, or what-have-you. My friend Adam submitted some pieces he'd welded out of bike parts, and I was there to support him. Much of this art show was kind of boring to me, perhaps because it was not a juried show and the art wasn't all that great sometimes, or maybe because I didn't understand the significance of the photographs in some of the submissions. It was heavy on the bike and lighter on the art, we'll say.

This painting, though, blew me away. I really wanted to buy something from him, but he's already out of my price range. It didn't help that this piece is huge.

I like how he leaves most of the plywood base unpainted and incorporates it into the picture. The blush on the woman's cheek, for instance, is just a dark part of wood he left blank. Cool.

Artist's website:
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I saw this artist's work at an art fair, most likely the Gold Coast Art Fair. I like the medieval look of the faces in her work. She doesn't quite operate in realistic perspective.
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I couldn't find the title of this work, even with a reverse image search. I'm just going to assume it's surrealism's answer to "put a bird on it".

I like that the birds are made from bare branches or roots, and it looks like they are tending a small bush or tree-ball in their nest. The cloudy, stormy sky is a nice color contrast to the subjects.
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I really like this piece. It's two works of Dalí's that I really enjoy more than the others (although, he is one of my favorite painters in general).

The woman figure is alone in the foreground, which is typical of art I like. Although this is a surrealist work, the is a realistic figure (not like Cubism, which takes away the figure-part). The drawers can have symbolism any which way you like it: her thoughts, her inner spaces, how compartmentalized she is, that they're open to the world, that they're empty...could be anything.

There is a city in the background full of normal figures, as well as another drawer-person and disembodied drawers, indicating another class of people or some accoutrement that, when applied to people, transforms them into a different sort. Of course, that's only if you think that's it is reasonable to apply any sort of meaning or analysis to surrealist art.

I must say, though, nice knobs.
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My senior year of college, I took a painting class for beginners. That was also the year that Raphael Salas moved back from New York City to teach in Wisconsin, at my college. Having been a professional artist and taken a lot more art classes than the average human, I think he got a little caught up with the mental part of art. In any case, I did not learn how to paint in his class, because he was low on technique and high on the psychology of choosing a subject that year, but we did become friends. He still lives and works in rural Wisconsin, exhibits frequently in Milwaukee, and reviews other art openings in a print publication.

It's interesting to see people's work change over time. This kind of still life is part of his earlier works, where he does portraiture, still life, and animals. After that, he got into this optical illusion thing where he would paint a serious landscape or scene, and then obliterate part of it with bubbles. Now, he's working on something that he feels is "really" what he likes to do, which is to create little sculptures of surrealist landscapes created from found objects, and then draw those landscapes as the final product. His new work is weird (good), but totally different from his paintings.

The last summer before I left college (after graduation), I was working on campus at the advancement office digitizing old records about rich people they could ask for money, and he and another adjunct, Lee Shippey, paid me to model for them as an oil portraiture practice. Later, I went back to Wisconsin and bought both of their paintings for my portrait project. The weekend I took them home was the Class of '75 reunion, so there was food and stuff, and we spent some time eating and chatting. The best part was being mistaken for a member of the Class of '75.....REALLY NOW.
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I met this artist, Angie, when she shared a work space with a band I played with. We had a practice space at the front of a large warehouse/garage, and she had an artist's studio at the back. She later moved out of that space, but into the same space where my friend Dan (featured earlier) has his space, so I met her again. We're friendly and once I even attended a house warming for her. About a year ago, she was about to move to Seattle when she met a man and decided to stay in Chicago. I haven't seen much of her lately.

Angie does works in series. They all have the same feel and color palette (that copper-oxidized green background never goes away), but there will be subtle variations. When I met her, she was doing weeds and bugs - under-appreciated parts of our landscape. She had a lot of thistle flowers and bees. She also had a series of industrial landscapes and paintings of one or two birds on power lines. After that, she started doing ships for a little bit, and then, most recently, I've seen plants with roots (as in, torn out of the ground), and abstracted shapes, kind of like ice cubes floating.

I used to go to all the art openings and open studio shows. Not all, I guess, but a lot. Once, I was lucky enough to get my hands on a painting by Angie, because she said, "Eh, if I don't sell this one, I'm going to just sand it down." Legit, but no. I bought it and hung it in my bedroom. It's probably 9x9 inches square. So, even though Angie has work in galleries all over the country and I can't afford anything she makes anymore, I have one of her "Weeds" series paintings. The one pictured here isn't it, but it's similar. I really want a "Bees" painting now that I have bees.

Artist's website:
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I'm not quite sure of the medium for this work. I do know that I saw this artist's work at a local art fair, so, although I'm pretty sure it's mostly a painting, I'm not ruling out some of it being collage.

I like to go to art fairs and walk around collecting business cards from artists I like. Sometimes I buy art too.
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Possible translations of the title -
Straight: What kind of bird are you?
With inflection: What the hell kind of bird are you supposed to be?
Slang: How dumb are you?? (as in, "How dumb you are!", not a genuine question).
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I Saw the Figure 5 in Gold was inspired by the poem, “The Great Figure,” written by Demuth’s friend, William Carlos Williams:

Among the rain
and lights
I saw the figure 5
in gold
on a red
to gong clangs
siren howls
and wheels rumbling
through the dark city.

Read more about the interpretation of the painting as it relates to the poem:
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Ok, time to cut it out with the cute little illustrations.

Here's the scariest motherfukin' painting I've ever seen.

Please note, THE EYES.
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Here's another kind of "mystery" drawing, in that I don't know where I found it, and even more mysteriously, a reverse Google image search turns up exactly no results.

In any case, I used this for a desktop quite a bit during college.
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