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Art Craft

An Exhibition of 50 Piñatas Explores the Cultural Significance of the Festive Object

October 14, 2021

Grace Ebert

Installation view of Roberto Benavidez’s sculptures (front) and Isaias Rodriguez, “resilience” (2021) (back). Photo by Madison Metro, Craft in America. All images courtesy of Craft in America, shared with permission

A ubiquitous decoration at birthdays and family celebrations, piñatas are conventionally associated with fun, festivity, and of course, their potential to split open and release candy and other treats. Now on view at Craft in America, a group exhibition re-envisions the party staple by connecting it with contemporary practices that extend the playful artform’s capacity for social and political commentary.

Piñatas: The High Art of Celebration features approximately 50 works from Mexico- and U.S.-based artists and collectives, who explore the evolution of traditional construction techniques and the object’s broad cultural significance that reaches beyond its Mexican heritage. The fantastical creatures of Roberto Benavidez’s illuminated manuscript series, for example, encapsulate questions about race and sin, while Justin Favela (previously) translates the confrontation between American pop culture and Latinx experiences into fringed, abstract landscapes. Other works include a massive COVID-19 vaccine bottle by Lisbeth Palacios, Diana Benavidez’s motorized cars that speak to issues at the San Diego/Tijuana border, and a swarm of tiny suspended monarchs by Isaias Rodriguez.

If you’re in Los Angeles, stop by Craft in America before December 4 to see the exhibition in person or take a virtual tour on the nonprofit’s site.  (via Hyperallergic)

 

Roberto Benavidez, “Illuminated Hybrid No. 3” (2019). Photo by the artist

Detail of Isaias Rodriguez, “resilience” (2021). Photo by Matthew Hermosillo

Justin Favela, “Baño de los Pescaditos (after José María Velasco)” (2019). Photo courtesy of the artist

Left: Lorena Robletto (Amazing Piñatas), “Alebrije Installation” (2021). Photo by Madison Metro, Craft in America. Right: Lorena Robletto (Amazing Piñatas), “Seven Point Star Installation” (2021). Photo by Madison Metro, Craft in America

Roberto Benavidez, “Illuminated Hybrid No. 5” (2018). Photo by Madison Metro, Craft in America

Left: Giovanni Valderas, “No Hay Pedo (Canary)”  (2016). Photo by Giovanni Valderas. Right: Lisbeth Palacios (All Party Art), “COVID Vaccine” (2021). Photo by Madison Metro, Craft in America

Diana Benavidez, installation view of “Border Crosser” and “La Pinche Migra” (from Vehículos Transfronterizos series) (2021). Photo by Madison Metro, Craft in America

 

 



Art Photography

No Dogs Allowed: More than 70 Artists Present a Show of Cat Art in L.A.

October 7, 2021

Grace Ebert

Alexandra Dillon. All images courtesy of Cat Art Show, shared with permission

More than 70 artists feature cats as their muse for a feline-centric group exhibition that scratches well beyond the tropes associated with the frisky creatures. Now in its fourth iteration, the Cat Art Show includes sculptures, paintings, collages, and a variety of other works by artists from 16 countries—Ravi Zupa (previously), Lola Dupré (previously), and Aniela Sobieski (previously) are among them—that capture the feisty antics, adorable wide-eyed stares, and stealthy adventures of both domestic and wild breeds. The exhibition is the project of curator and journalist Susan Michals, who also wrote the 2019 book compiling hundreds of photos by cat-enthusiast and photographer Walter Chandoha.

If you’re in Los Angeles, stop by The Golden Pagoda between October 14 and 24 to see the quirky, spirited works in person, and check out the available pieces on Instagram. As with previous shows, 10 percent of all sales will be donated to cat care, with this year’s funds going to Kitt Crusaders, Faces of Castelar, and Milo’s Sanctuary.

 

Vanessa Stockard

Endre Penovac

Anna Sokolova

Lavar Munroe

Angela Lizon

Michael Caines

Lola Dupré

Holly Frean

 

 



Craft

An Origami Knight Equipped with a Sword and Shield Materializes from a Single Sheet of Paper

September 23, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images © Juho Könkkölä, shared with permission

Earlier this year, Finnish artist Juho Könkkölä folded an incredibly elaborate samurai from a single sheet of paper, and now he’s crafted another intricate warrior of his own design. Standing 18 centimeters tall, the sword- and shield-toting figure demanded 41 hours of work using wet and dry origami techniques.

Könkkölä started with a 68 x 68-centimeter sheet of Wenzhou rice paper that he scored and folded to capture the protective bands on the shoulders and hips and the exact placement of individual plates. “One of the greatest challenges in this figure was the stark contrast between the shield and the sword; the sword has over 50(!) layers inside the palm of the figure, whereas the shield has only one layer on a large surface,” he writes on Instagram.

Könkkölä also filmed his entire process, so you can watch the knight take shape in the timelapse video below.

 

 

 



Craft

Elaborately Constructed Figures by 'People Too' Create a Cast of Quintessential Characters in Paper

September 9, 2021

Grace Ebert

“Nitro.” All images © People Too, shared with permission

If you ran into Nitro, Lotto, Sully, or the rest of their troupe on the street, it’d be easy enough to imagine their respective personalities and lifestyles: Nitro is the lax skateboarder who’s always in some state of disarray, Lotto the eccentric and elusive creative, and Sully the file-toting employee who spends her days sitting in meetings, optimizing her schedule, and adding tasks to her to-do list. Easily recognizable and maybe even uncomfortably relatable, the archetypal characters are the creations of artists Alexey Lyapunov and Lena Erlich, who are known for their illustrations and elaborate constructions made from paper.

The Novosibirsk, Russia-based duo works as People Too (previously), and originally designed the figurative sculptures for a now-postponed commission that would turn the paper models into animated characters. Head to Behance to see more of the series and to Society6 to shop prints of their illustrated works.

 

“Bills”

“Bills”

“Sully”

“Lotto”

“Ninka”

“Ninka”

“Ninka”

Left: “Esc.” Right: “André”

 

 



Art

Sprawling Paper-Pulp Mobiles by Yuko Nishikawa Suspend Whimsically Colored Pods in the Air

August 31, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images © Yuko Nishikawa, shared with permission

Hanging from the ceiling like candy-colored droplets, the paper-pulp mobiles by Yuko Nishikawa turn a stark gallery into a whimsical dreamscape. The Brooklyn-based artist fashions wide, sloping vessels and punctured rings from recycled packages, old diaries, sketches, and other waste materials, forming individual pods that attach to sprawling metal armature. Ephemeral in material and design, each piece is created with the intention that it will be unassembled and reverted back to its muddled form for resculpting.

With a background in ceramics, Nishikawa switched to paper last year because it’s lightweight, doesn’t require firing in electricity-dependent kilns, and is more durable once dry. The pastels and subtle hues she gravitates toward are inspired by the natural pigments of wool yarn, although she likens her process to mixing paints, saying:

I blended blue paper pulp and red paper pulp, and a bit of yellow paper pulp to make a muted purple paper clay. I combined them at their different blended stages, too ,to make varying textures and color effects. Mushy pulps would make homogeneous colors, while crumbly pulps would have a stippled effect. Finely blended pulps would become a smoother surface when dry, while coarser pulps would become bumpier like oatmeal cookies.

Designed as an invitation to imagine new ways of finding joy, Nishikawa’s works all derive from the idea of piku piku, “a Japanese onomatopoeia that describes involuntary movements caused by unexpected contact,” she writes. “I want my work to make you feel piku piku, tickling something deep down inside you.”

This fall, Nishikawa will open a solo show at Kishka Gallery & Library in White River Junction, Vermont, and will also have work at Main Window Dumbo. Some of her mobiles are currently available through Room68, where she’ll present a new collection later this year. Until then, see more of her pieces and works-in-progress on Instagram.

 

 

 



Art Design Food Illustration

Lifelike Sculptures by Diana Beltrán Herrera Recreate Flora and Fauna in Intricately Cut Paper

August 12, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images © Diana Beltrán Herrera, shared with permission

Colombian artist Diana Beltrán Herrera (previously) adds to her growing collection of intricate paper sculptures with new plant and animal life. From her studio in Bristol, the artist and designer recreates lifelike reproductions of turacos, monarchs, and various species with nearly perfect precision. Innumerable fringed strips become feathers, faint scores mimic delicate creases in petals, and layers of bright paper form brilliantly colored plumes, creating a colorful and diverse ecosystem of wildlife from around the world.

Prints, jigsaw puzzles, and cards are available in Beltrán Herrera’s shop, and you can see more of her recent commissions and personal projects on Behance and Instagram.

 

 

 

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