BUDAPEST!

In our last days in Europe Orien and I decided to check out Budapest. We snagged an inexpensive ride from Vienna on Carpooling. It is the first time I’ve used this site and it is great. We found a ride the day of for just 14 Euro each (the cheapest bus ticket I found was around 30 Euro)
We made friends with our drivers, a woman from Hungary and one from Spain and had a nice chat about American politics vs Europe on the way.

We arranged a free stay on couchsurfing.org with a couple who looked friendly and interesting.

Our wonderful couch surfing hosts, Agi and Danijel. They are really special people. If you are traveling to Budapest, look them up on Couchsurfing.

We are staying on the Pest side and there are so many funky cool restaurants with courtyards and outdoor seatings. We grabbed a drink at this place, called Kerala Dosa our first night. A beer costs about 500 ft (about $2 US).

Walking home with our hosts

We met them late and made our way back to their apartment on the Pest side of Budapest and I learned something new. Budapest is one city with two different personalities. Buda, on the West side of the river and Pest, on the East. Buda is known for its hills and sweeping views of Pest and Pest is more populated, and has a lot of nightlife. Budapest is known for its bathhouses and some date back to the 1500’s. We can’t wait to take a dip.

More on Budapest soon~

Vienna loves Gold. Musings at the Art History Museum.

The Natural Art History Museum or the Kunsthitorisches Museum in Vienna is packed full of gaudy golden goodies. Really, so much of it. They love their gold and they are obsessed with ornamentation. AND CHERUBS. 

Golden eggs

A golden platter inlayed with mother of pearl

A golden Pasha on his golden horse (getting the idea?)

Gold Gold Gold. We passed through room after room of other treasures; drinking vessels carved out of amethyst, and other precious stones, most decorated with golden filigree. There were seemingly endless rooms full of little sculptures of bronze, stone, ivory and… gold. I could only imagine the countless man hours that went into the making of all of these trinkets and precious objects. I would chuckle whenever we entered YET ANOTHER room full of monotonous golden objects. It was kind of exhausting.

Automiton with arrow-shooting finale.

However I really enjoyed the room full of automata, which are self-operating machines, often clocks, depicting battle ships, and scenes where the eye balls and body parts of the figures move back and forth, a cannon is shot off, or a horse cart moves etc. at the turn of a key or the insertion of a metal ball. There are rooms of greek pottery, rooms of a million carved stone heads, room after room of giant oil paintings of nudes, warriors, and old-time oligarchy.

Egyptian pillar holding up the room

My favorite part of the exhibition was the Egyptian section. Actually, thank god for the Egyptian section, because my eyeballs were glazing over from looking at so much ornamented gold. In the rooms of ancient Egypt they had installed at least three giant carved-stone pillars from an Egyptian temple. the ceilings were beautifully painted with colorful patters and birds, wings spread. Even the doors were in the Egyptian style, giant, carved of stone and painted with bright colors. 

And now… I leave you with a painting of wrinkly bottomed cherubs, because Vienna is obsessed with those too. They are all over building, paintings and sculptures here and are often slaying some kind of poor beast or creature. Enjoy!

My work in the new Global Street Art book!

Check it out! I am so excited that the cable car I painted in Chile is featured in the new Global Street Art book: Concrete Canvas. It is filled with large colorful images of street works from Chile to Japan with over 300 artists including Shepard Fairey, Ron English, Olek and many others.image

Global Street Art says, ”To coincide with the launch, we’ve teamed up with the exceptionally gifted boffins at DeeThree to produce an Augmented Reality app that is triggered by the book’s front cover. You can download the app for Android on the Google Play store here. The iOS version is coming soon! “

Here’s the photo in the book of the cable cars I painted in Valparaiso.

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Photo via Global Street Art: Concrete Canvas

You can buy the book for an incredibly reasonable price on Amazon.

I am still in Vienna, working on the 4 Aces project, but am heading to Budapest soon for a few days and then back to New York City!

More Soon~

4 Aces Update

I wanted to write a little update about the “4 Aces,” the project I have been working on here in Vienna with fellow artists Pérola Bonfanti and Zel Nonnenberg. We just received word that the Hofburg (Center of Vienna’s former Holy Roman Empire) wants to expand the “4 Aces” and so we are working with them to build the piece into something that they will have on their property for potentially a long time to come. It’s very exciting to have our work in the center of Vienna and to be working with the Hofburg. Here is a sneak peak of one of the paintings.

Painting the Ace of Cups

The Destructor, Vienna

I finally made it over to the unusually funky tower that graces Vienna’s skyline. It turns out it is part of a larger building which is decked out in a crazy, humorously-ugly-but-I’m-still-glad-it’s-there, whimsical style. There are plenty of things to like and plenty of things to hate about the building.

In 1987 Vienna’s garbage destructor burned down and so the city needed to rebuild it. They decided to invite “nature-loving” artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser to design it to emphasize how environmentally friendly the new facility would be. The Destructor burns 17 tons of garbage per hour producing energy to heat the city of Vienna.

I like the cut outs for trees and the green roof.

I do love the tower. The shining metallic globe near the top shines in the sun and the base is made up of a funky abstract mosaic pattern, which really suits it. Tho much of Vienna hates the look of the destructor, calling it an “eye sore” or an “unhealthy building.” I am glad it’s there. 

Inspiration Blast at The House of Ernst Fuchs

I am so inspired today after going to Ernst Fuch’s house which is now a museum. Fuch’s, often referred to as the father of visionary art was born in 1930 in Vienna and coined the painting style “Fantastic Realism.” he’s been a prolific painter all his life and still lives in Vienna today. We took a train and a bus to the 14th District and as we walked up to his house a voluptuous goddess with a golden headdress greeted us.

I was silently freaking out (in the best kind of way), as I walked up the pale blue steps of his house, a beautiful art nouveau building from the late 1800’s, built by Otto Wagner. Fuch’s art is incredible, so vivid and full of life and there are many reasons why climbing these stairs was exciting for me. I have always wanted to make a home into an art piece, to create a world, like Niki de St. Phalle’s Tarot garden in Tuscany. Walking up those steps was like walking into the mind and world of Ernst Fuchs and I was so excited for what would be inside.

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I started in the living room. Rich, colorful light filtered in from the stained glass and Ernst Fuch’s epic painting “The Transfiguration of the Resurrected” graced the front of the room. 

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This wood inlayed piece of furniture impressed me so much. I wish you could see the impeccable detail of it. Everything, down to the lines of the face were so finely done that I had to sit on the floor and stare at it in wonder.

The house is filled with Ernst’s original paintings. As I passed from masterpiece to masterpiece I became increasingly in awe and more and more inspired. My view of my own painting was suddenly reduced to a meager seed.

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One of the things that inspires me about Fuch’s work is the fine-ness of his lines and the obvious time and labor his paintings clearly took. All of these hatch-marks are nearly hair thin and he painted layer after layer of them, building up rich, multi faceted colors for his figures and objects.

Next door was the Omega Pumphouse, which Fuch’s designed in the 80’s.

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This jewel box was one of my favorite parts of visiting the museum.

And then there was this statue.

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Go see it for yourself if you can. It’s 11 Euro for general admission and 6 for students. More info about the museum 

Bones under Vienna

Underneath St. Stephan’s Church is a catacombs bursting at the seams. It’s filled with more bones than I have ever seen before. Bones from the royal Hapsburg family, bones from the bishops, the clergy, embalmed organs from important people preserved in blackened copper pots, rooms full of coffins, rooms full of skulls, rooms piled up with bones over bones. There are “Bone rooms” where they would force laborers to clean the bones and stack them in neat piles, femurs on femurs, ribs on ribs. There are the mass graves, chambers full of bones from over 11,000 plague victims and there are also thirty other rooms with four hundred coffins in each, stacked high to the ceiling. 


I was beside myself as I passed by room after room piled hight with bones, each skull representing a person with a life full of stories and experiences.
I was told by a man at the church that there used to be a cemetery around St. Stephen’s Platz. But sometime after a law was passed prohibiting cemeteries inside of city limits. Finding a loophole, the church decided to bury the bodies underground. But the smells creeping in to the church became so dreadful that people were repelled from attending mass. I suppose this is when they forced slaves to come scrub and organize the bones. It pains me to imagine what these people had to go through. I think many of us know what it smells like when a mouse dies trapped inside a wall. Imagine over 11,000 rotting corpses.

The catacombs smell pretty much like a normal dank cellar by now. I love seeing the underground and hidden interiors of places. Now every time I pass by St Stephens church, I no longer only see whats above ground but have a mental map of the inner chambers… more puzzle pieces of Vienna. After almost three months the picture of Vienna is starting to come together.

Sensory Deprivation Art in Vienna

Interactive installations are one of my favorite forms of art. I love it when the artist shares an extended experience with the audience bringing them into, and making them a part of the art.

My boyfriend Orien and I visited Carsten Höller’s exhibition “Leben” at TBA21, a gallery uniquely positioned inside the Augarten in Vienna. I loved his sensory deprivation tank or “floatation bath.” It was constructed with polypropylene, and is equipped with a spiral staircase, shower and float chamber. The chamber is filled with highly salinated water which allows you to float buoyantly without effort similarly to a sensory deprivation tank (which is usually also dark and sound proof preventing all sense experience. 

Two people are allowed into the chamber at a time. We wanted to try it and so after stripping off our clothes and donning clean white robes, the attendant let us up the waxy spiral staircase with a spray of disinfectant on our feet. We dipped into the brassy colored water which was set at 35 degrees Celsius, the same temperature as our skin. 

Laying in the tank, we floated to opposite sides of each other, not touching anything but the water, which was close to imperceptible. I felt weightless, almost like I was floating in space. The muted yellow light on the inside of the tank warmed my eyelids and lit the inside of them with a rosy orange hue. Problems and cares fell away and were replaced with a sense of wellbeing and a deep feeling of peace. I felt the kind of peace that I remember feeling as a kid, with little sense of time or cares. The only exception was when enough water condensation accumulated on the ceiling and unintentional drops of saline water would fall randomly on some part of my body snapping me out of the state of bliss for a moment, before I could relax back into it. An hour crept by me silently without much notice and eventually a knock on the door rattled me from my blissful state. We slowly got up as if from a long sleep, feeling still very relaxed. I highly recommend this experience. Art that has the potential to bring you peace… pretty sweet.

You can see the installation until November 23rd.  

Inspiration in the Paleolithic Room at the Natural History Museum

Museums are a great way to get inspired and at the Museum of Natural History in Vienna there are many wonders…

A new view of the Venus of Willendorf

I adored these incredible relief sculptures with pterodactyl and prehistoric gators in the dinosaur room.

The subtle details worked into the architecture of the museum are astounding. Floating around the central dome are sculptures of cherubs in conflict with a variety of different creatures. The one on the right in the photo above has his arm being smashed by a lobster’s claw.

Orien and I were feeling inspired upon leaving the museum and impulsively bought a tube of marzipan on our way home…

Presenting: The Wienus of Villendorf 

The ARS ELECTRONICA Gala

Austria,

I was thrilled when our 4 Aces collaborators ARS Electronica invited us to their annual gala.
Last Friday my friends Zel, Bruno, Cosima and I hopped on a train to Linz to celebrate with them.

Cosima and Zel Sleeping on the train

The Gala started with a humorous Robot dance performance.


And then they presented the six Prix ARS Electronica winners selected out of 2,703 entries from 77 countries. 

I was inspired by Project Fumbaro (meaning “hang in there”), by Takeo Saijo. It is a crowd-sourced volunteer platform benefitting earthquake survivors in Japan. He created the network after the 2011 earthquake to bring funding and helping hands directly to the people in need. His work is such a great example of how creative technology can provide avenues of productive change. 

Aftermath of the 2011 earthquake in Japan

Then there was BlindMaps by Markus Schmeiduch, Ruben can der Veuten and Andrew Spitz. 

They designed a special, technologically-advanced walking stick for people who can’t see. The walking stick uses touch-sensitive technology and GPS and talks to the user, guiding them to their destination safely. 

And then from the group Universal Everything from the UK there was Walking City, a really beautiful animation and sound piece of a creature walking and continuously regenerating its surface from crumbling buildings to slick white shards of glass.

They honored Roy Ascott, a visionary thinker and the great pioneer of telematic art. 

Possibly my favorite project was the intervention at CERN by Julius von Bismarck.

Details from the ARS Electronica website:

INTERVENTION IN PERCEPTION - NUMBER 1 - DARK SPACE
"As part of his residency, Julius is making interventions at the CERN laboratory. The first intervention took place in one of the hidden spaces at CERN where no one ever goes: the underground tunnels which have housed the archives of the organisation since 1954.
22 physcists were led in complete darkness through the  winding tunnels to another small, enclosed space which they had never seen before. They were placed in different positions in the room, being warned that other people could be in there too – their only sense of the space  and who might be there being generated when they spoke. Unable to see, deprived of their visual sense, they were asked to describe what they saw in this dark-space, after they had listened to an old recording of Bertrand Russell discussing Plato and his cave of representation. 


Wow. It’s striking work. It’s a science/art intervention. Sounds like fun too.

After the awards they served drinks accompanied with an array of pastas and we sat outside on the stairs underneath the red and yellow lanterns, across from the Danube. 

I like Linz~