Polar Vortex 2014: Photos of a Chicago Deep Freeze 

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Brian Clay

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Brian Clay

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Pilot Hank Cain courtesy Shawn Reynolds

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Aaron Firestein

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Brian Clay

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Nick Ulivieri

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Angie McMonigal

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Ken Ilio

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Tommy Moore

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Kevin Roche

A quick local news segue, the wintry assault here in Chicago as a result of the Polar Vortex has been bitterly cold and dangerous as temperatures plunged to historic lows over the last 48 hours. Despite the life threatening temperatures, it’s also been strangely beautiful. The landscape, especially along the Lake Michigan shore, has been transformed into an Arctic wonderland the locals are calling CHIBERIA. Here’s a collection of some of the best photos I’ve seen from Chicago’s most intrepid photogs who braved the absurd weather to snap a few amazing photographs. Am I missing any great shots? Get in touch. A huge thanks to all of the photographers for providing images for this post.

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Elaborate New Portraits Drawn on Vintage Maps by Ed Fairburn 

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Peak District, 2013. Pencil on a contoured map of the Peak District. 47 x 35in (120 x 90cm)

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Colorado Geological, 2013. Pencil on a geological map of Colorado, the first of a series of works exclusive to the Mike Wright Gallery in Denver, Colorado.

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Bristol Envelope, 2013. A small portrait, produced in ink on an original street map of Bristol (UK) – this was later cut and folded to form an envelope, combining the current map works produced by Fairburn and a previous project—postal art.

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Yr Ods EP Cover, 2013. Pencil on contoured maps showing parts of Wales, produced for Welsh Band Yr Ods.

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Shrewsbury, 2013. Progress shot, ink on a street map of Shrewsbury.

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Innsbruck, 2013. Ink on a contoured map of Innsbruck/surrounding area, 20 x 20in (52 x 52cm) approx. Lines of elevation have been followed with a pen, the width of each line has been altered accordingly to build the different tones.

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Pontypridd, 2013. Pencil on a contoured map of Pontypridd, South Wales (UK).

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Solihull, 2013. Progress shot of a past experiment in inks.

Using a wide variety of canvases including railroad blueprints, star charts, geological and street maps, Welsh artist Ed Fairburn (previously here and here) uses additive and subtractive techniques to create portraits that seem pefectly integrated with the topography of streets, mountains and rivers. It’s been almost a year since we last checked in with Fairburn whose process and approach to creating these stunning portraits continues to evolve. One of his most striking methods is to carefully follow map contours with a pen creating rows of lines that vary by width to create individual forms and shadows. The final portraits are so entwined with the map, it becomes hard to imagine one existing without the other.

You can see Fairburn’s work for yourself at Mike Wright Gallery in Denver, Colorado and he also has prints available here.

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Toon Bombing: A Toronto Artist Turns Outdoor Objects into Googly-Eyed Faces 

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Animator and artist Aiden Glenn of Pizza and Pixels takes his love for character design to the streets of Liberty Village, Toronto where he turns outdoor objects into weird, googly-eyed faces. Glenn refers to the act as “toon bombing” and you can see plenty more of it over on his Tumblr. If you liked this, also check out the work of Tom Schneider. (via Laughing Squid)

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A Reflective Palace of Rainbows by Kimsooja 

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Created in 2006 by multidisciplinary artist Kimsooja, To Breathe – A Mirror Woman was an elaborate installation at the Palacio de Cristal, Parque del Retiro, in Madrid. Originally built in the late 1880s to house a collection of flora and fauna from the Philippines, Kimsooja transformed the Palacio de Cristal into a multisensory sound and light experience. A special translucent diffraction film was used to cover the windows to create an array of naturally occurring rainbows which were in turn reflected by a mirrored surface that covered the entire floor. Additionally, an audio recording of the artist breathing was played throughout the space to further enhance the experience. The installation was on view through the end of the summer and you can read much more about it here.

Kimsooja most recently wrapped the Korean Pavilion with a similar film treatment at the 2013 Venice Art Biennale. (via My Amp Goes to 11)

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Vintage Porcelain Dishes Covered in Hordes of Hand-Painted Ants 

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While the standard response to insects crawling across your food or dinner plate is usually nothing less than repulsion, that didn’t stop German artist Evelyn Bracklow of La Philie from creating these one-of-a-kind vintage porcelain dishes covered in hordes of hand-painted ants. Bracklow says of the pieces:

The idea for this work resulted from pure chance, when the sight of a carelessly placed plate—by then wandered by ants—fascinated me so much that I felt the urge to simply conserve this image. Fear, disgust, fascination and admiration: this very interplay of feelings constitutes the charm of the work. Furthermore, to me, the ants symbolize all the stories that any formerly discarded piece of porcelain carries with it. Where one once dined and drank, today ants bustle in ever new formations, every single one applied with a great love for detail.

It’s not hard to see that each piece is incredibly detailed and well-executed, making it strangely beautiful despite what it portrays. This balance of superb execution versus creepy subject matter may be the reason she’s had no problem selling the objects over on Etsy, where a number of them are currently available. (via Whimsebox)

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Surreal Murals by ‘Etam Cru’ Turn Drab Facades into Eye-Popping Imagery 

etam-1Moonshine, 2013. Richmond Mural Project. By Etam Cru.

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By Sainer in Gdynia, Poland. 2013. Photo by FOT. ALKA MURAT.

etam-3The Healer, 2013. By Bezt (Etam) and Pener (Spectrum).

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Meeting the God, 2013. By Bezt. See it animated.

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High Hopes, 2013. By Sainer. Photo by Benjamin Rataud.

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The Change, 2013. By Bezt.

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Madame Chicken, 2013. By Etam Cru.

Polish artists Sainer and Bezt, collectively known as Etam Cru, paint large scale murals of surreal and frequently humorous subjects in locations mostly around Eastern Europe. The duo traveled to the U.S. this year to paint a wildly popular mural titled Moonshine at the Richmond Mural Project depicting a girl sitting inside a jar of strawberries. The piece is now available as a print over on Art Whino. Above is a collection of their most recent work from 2013, much more of which you can see on Facebook, the Etam Cru blog, and on Behance. (via Arrested Motion)

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