Putt Around the Playable Artworks of 'Par Excellence Redux: The Back 9,' Now Open at Elmhurst Art Museum
The Back 9 of Par Excellence Redux, an artist-designed miniature golf course, is now open at the Elmhurst Art Museum. Curated by Colossal’s founder and editor-in-chief Christopher Jobson as part of an open call, the exhibition of playable artworks pays homage to the incredibly popular Par Excellence, which opened in 1988 at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
The Back 9, which runs through January 2, 2022, includes artists Wesley Baker, KT Duffy, Eve Fineman, Joshua Kirsch, Annalee Koehn, Vincent Lotesto, Joshua Lowe, Jim Merz, David Quednau, Donna Piacenza, and Liam Wilson & Anna Gershon. This round features a wide array of designs like a mirrored room in which the green spreads out into infinity, a community garden in waiting, and Koehn’s fortune-telling piece first shown 33 years ago in the initial exhibition.
Chicago sculptor Michael O’Brien conceived of the original Par Excellence, which opened to lines down the block and subsequently sold out daily. It was recognized nationally in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Chicago Tribune, among others, and went on tour throughout Illinois before returning to Chicago as a rebranded commercial project called ArtGolf, which was located at 1800 N. Clybourn in Lincoln Park on the site that’s now occupied by Goose Island Brewery.
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What begins with a calm morning filled with stunningly bright sunlight quickly morphs into a short film of existential crises and the life-altering implications of climate disasters. Directed by Frédéric Even and Louise Mercadier with production by Papy3D and JPL Films, “Sororal” is a profound stop-motion animation that follows three sisters as they react to warnings about the sea submerging the land. The trio has incredibly varied and relatable responses, with Madeleine instantly consumed by panic, Emilie forming a mystical bond to the water, and Anna approaching the situation with extreme apathy.
“Sororal” presents the siblings’ reactions to the impending flood as physical manifestations: Because Madeleine and Anna resist accepting the news, their bodies become hard and brittle and form crusty, salt-laden scabs (these scenes are slightly graphic and use nude figures). Emilie, on the other hand, remains flexible and unscathed.
In a conversation with the animation publication Skwigly, Even and Mercadier share that they first digitally rendered the puppets before 3D printing them in resin. The sisters’ faces are inspired by French Gothic and Asian art forms of the 12th Century, and their bodies leave the black annealed wire armature visible, a decision the filmmakers explain:
We didn’t want to hide that they were puppets, to be realistic and give them the appearance of flesh and blood characters. We found that seeing the mouth replacement lines and the joints in their hands help make them fragile and touching and although the distance is established with a being of flesh and bone it creates more empathy than with more realistic representation. We feel that they can break. We feel the precariousness of their construction. They appear all the more disarmed in the face of the immense wave which threatens them.
“Sororal” features dialogue entirely in French, so be sure to click the CC button to turn on English captions. The animation follows Even and Mercadier’s first project titled “Metamorphosis,” a 2015 retelling of Kafka’s short story, and they’re now working on a film about a foolish angel lost in space and time. (via Short of the Week)
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Coinciding with the rise of the vibrant book cover blob, Dave Eggers’ new novel takes a profoundly divergent approach. The Every was released this month by McSweeney’s—the author is also the founder of the San Francisco-based independent publishing house—and is a follow up to his hit dystopian work The Circle. Despite a similar focus on the rise of surveillance capitalism, The Every features 32 different cover illustrations and graphic renderings, casting each interpretation as a design object in its own right.
Eve Weinsheimer created sixteen of the jackets, which display the book’s swirling logo designed by Jessica Hische in a variety of color combinations. The remainder range in aesthetic and style and include Robyn O’Neil’s dark graphite drawings, minimal tableaus by Clare Rojas that position tiny figures among imposing environments, and the dizzying geometries of Kristin Farr.
McSweeney’s dispersed all 32 editions of the book at random to independent bookstores, notably skipping Amazon because “I don’t like bullies,” Eggers told The New York Times, and plans to print more in the future. Some of the designs are available in the publisher’s shop. (via It’s Nice That)
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Selfish, hungry, and more cunning than he appears, the zany seagull in Adnan Peer Mohamed’s “Dead Meat” sends feathers flying. The animated short opens with the creature scouring a boardwalk for food, and after mistaking a bolt for a snack, he snatches an entire hotdog only to find a fellow bird is after the same sausage. Mohamed is currently a student at Vancouver Film School, and you can find more of his animations on Vimeo and Instagram.
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Spanish street artist Pejac (previously) addresses the concept of “returning to normal” in a discerning new series that focuses on the urgency of the issues affecting the world today. Centered on the increasingly disastrous effects of the climate crisis and the social issues that dominate the news cycle, the artist speaks to the myriad global crises in his largest exhibition to date, which opens on October 30 in a former train factory in Berlin. Titled APNEA, the solo show features 45 of his newest works in myriad mediums and themes, including chaotic scenes in acrylic, oil, and spray paints, delicate honeycomb on cardboard, and large-scale sculptures and installations that occupy the industrial space.
Pejac created many of the pieces on view since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, an ongoing concern that also formed the basis for his 2020 trio of interventions paying tribute to health care workers. The new series includes a disquieting depiction of the White House overcome by a violent riot, with canisters releasing billowing smoke and an unaware figure golfing in the foreground, in addition to a cyclone-like drain on a paint palette. Other pieces depict a surreal earthen map of the U.S. with state lines cracked in the dirt and a rendering of Rodin’s “The Thinker” precariously balanced on scaffolding. “During a time of lockdown, painting within the four walls of my studio felt like a liberation and a lifeline. APNEA represents this contradiction,” the artist says.
To coincide with the show’s opening, Pejac is releasing “The Boss” (shown below) as limited-edition prints and postcards available through a lottery system, and proceeds will be donated to Sea-Watch, a German NGO that has helped thousands of migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea. The artist also teamed up with the organization for an installation depicting a child wearing a life jacket atop Neo-Gothic Holy Cross Church in Berlin, a heartwrenching visual that draws attention to the refugee crisis. You can find out more about the release and see additional works on Instagram.
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Movement, motion, and emotion permeate the joyful, pointillistic paintings by Ghanaian artist Betty Acquah. Rendering dancing children, costumed troupes, and their surroundings simultaneously, Acquah conveys celebratory moments by cloaking her scenes with countless dots of acrylic. “The background echoes the movement of figures and therefore create(s) a pulsating surface that brings the composition alive,” she tells Colossal. “By extending dabs of color in the subject matter into the background and vice-versa, an illusion of movement is created.”
Each richly layered piece blurs the figures’ defining features, casting them as anonymous, everyday people. “Women are the unsung heroines of the Ghanaian Republic,” says a statement from Kuaba Gallery, which represents the artist. “The images she depicts tell of ordinary women working courageously towards a greater Ghana.”
Born near the Atlantic Ocean, Acquah is currently exploring beachscapes, aerial, abstract compositions, and the connection between younger women and their socioeconomic statuses. You can find more of her recent works at Kuaba Gallery. (via Women’s Art)
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