05 March 2015

Elle Ellsmere at LEA5

A few days ago, my friend Dividni Shostakovich suggested that I pay a visit to LEA5 (the LEA Self-Curated Gallery or sandbox) to see some works-in-progress by Elle Ellsmere, of whom I had never heard. "They're pretty wild, a taste of Francis Bacon," encouraged Dividni. And indeed, they are quite striking, as Whiskey Monday and I discovered last night as we visited. The largest piece is a tall enclosure, a surreal and disturbing environment, in which a pair of figures attempt to kiss while one is being pulled away by two other figures, one with the head of a pig and one with the head of a stag, while an assemblage of other strange characters observe from on high (first two images).

Another piece features a long row of tall windows, each of which looks into a padded room (third image — although none of these artworks can really be captured very well in single images, and the latter work includes movement). Stacked nearby are a few smaller, loose pieces (none of the works are named) on which Elle was focused today. He tells me that he generally works in MakeHuman, Sculptris and Blender, and hasn't exhibited his works anywhere before. I hope we see more of this artist in the future, and in a more permanent location.

04 March 2015

Pirate Bay

Now open at MetaLES, curated by Ux Hax, Lanjran Choche and Romy Nayar, is Pirate Bay, a modest installation by Igor Ballyhoo — modest not only in scope but also in time, having opened yesterday and being scheduled to close on Friday, March 6. Visitors arrive at an ocean platform in the darkened sim, facing a pirate ship illuminated by spotlights ... and ... that's it. The ship is a reference to The Pirate Bay (TPB) (in fact, it replicates The Pirate Bay's logo), an infamous torrent-related website that has had a history of legal issues, particularly with the Swedish government. Click on the red button at the landing point to learn more.

03 March 2015

Small Worlds

Opening today, Tuesday, March 3, at 12:00 pm slt, is Small Worlds by Cica Ghost, a delightful collection of miniatures she has created, based in part on some of her recent sim-wide installations. Framed in cases on small pedestals, each of the small worlds — Little Lake, House on the Hill, Little Village, and then one for each of the four seasons, Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn — depicts in exquisite detail a little scene: curious landscapes, some with Dr. Suess-like houses and some without, and with animated elements ranging from balloons to cats to snow to ducks in water. (In the lowest image here, I'm standing next to a couple to provide a sense of scale.)

"Sometimes I so want to have land to make something," Cica explains, "but I don't have it. So I thought I could make small lands — I tried to shrink things, and I liked it." And so the small worlds were born. If you zoom in, as I've done in the two middle images here, you can almost imagine the scenes as places into which you could walk. There's an additional world, Our House, that's only on display at Cica's shop, which you can visit here. After this exhibition, the small worlds, each of which is available for L$400 (unfortunately minus the backdrops), might not be available again for some time, as Cica doesn't have the prim space in her store for all of them.

The gallery itself, The Living Room, is new, and is curated by Daallee and Owl (Owl Dragonash), with space contributed by Hippie Bowman, who owns the sim (Lagrange Point Spaceport) on which the gallery resides. All three shared with me their desire to provide a vibrant space for the arts community, and Hippie has some art of his own also on display in another section of the gallery. Small Worlds will remain on display through most of the month of March. And ... I'm also pleased to say that I've had lots of time to watch Cica create a new sim-wide build, and it should open within a matter of days — stay tuned for more on that!

02 March 2015

Hills Gallery

Yesterday, photographer Hills (Hillany Scofield) opened Hills Gallery to showcase her photography, and the initial exhibition is devoted to the male nude, a form seen often enough in SL galleries but perhaps not frequently from the female perspective. Her images, often black and white, delineate the form with eloquence and a great command of light and shadow — they're among her most impressive works. While she had had the thought to focus exclusively on mesh male bodies — most of the images are of her partner, Aran M. June (Aranfell) — two are of Xander Torkelsonn wearing a default system body.

The magnificent gallery is a build by William Weaver, and is probably seen best through its intended environmental setting, Breakwave Building Light (top and bottom images). Part of William's concept with the build was to create an environment around which one would not need to cam to observe the art, but to simply walk through, mirroring a real life experience. So give it a try — you'll find that the artworks are all easily perused by venturing around the space on foot. Hills plans to change exhibitions about once every two months.

01 March 2015

Spring in Frisland

Frisland, that photogenic and popular location about which I've written a couple times (read here (March 2014) and here (November 2014)), has just reopened after a brief hiatus, now decorated for spring. With the return of warmer weather, green leaves and grasses have sprouted everywhere, and the sim has taken on much of its original appearance from a year ago.

Traveling through the sim by bicycle is one of the most pleasant ways of exploring, and one can rez a bike along the inland path. Those who wish to rez their own items may join the Frisland group (L$150, which of course helps to support the sim, and further contributions are welcome via the tip piggy bank at the landing point).

28 February 2015

Recently

"An art gallery was the very first thing I created in SL back in 2006," shared Max Butoh, well known as the owner of The Chamber, "and I always wanted to have one somewhere." That somewhere is now the sim Floris, home to The Chamber, and the gallery is dathúil — meaning, in Irish, colorful or beautiful. It's an old distillery, with great copper whiskey stills and barrels at the ready, and lots of room for artwork. And, given that it's a distillery, it's launching appropriately and in grand style with an exhibition — Recently — of new artworks by Whiskey Monday, none of which have been displayed before inworld. The show opens tomorrow, Sunday, March 1, at 9 am slt, with an opening reception at 4 pm slt.

Always personal, always fascinating, often humorous, and often disturbing, Whiskey's artworks are composed images that place her avatar in various situations, often fraught with struggle, and we can't help but sense her fragility or dilemma. "It's absolutely self therapy," she explained as we chatted about the show and her creations. The images are "a way of telling bits of my story, but kinda twice removed, so it's easier. I stopped sharing my writing, as it started to feel so strange — too intimate, and people 'knew' me, even when I didn't know them. And that became intimidating. But I still had this urge to tell my story, trite as that sounds, so the photos are another way to do that."

It was only years after Whiskey's arrival in Second Life that she began to experiment with photography — "not until I got a good computer, and started messing around with creating my tweets as photos. It was Botgirl Questi who inspired me. She has inspired me so much. Our constant talks about identity and creativity. She really pushed me to express myself in new ways." All of the works in the exhibition are for sale (with a couple of fun freebies at the entrance). Recently will remain on display through the month of March, and will then make way for dathúil's second exhibition, featuring works by Yannick Whoa (lottomann) for the month of April.

25 February 2015

Purple Crayons

If you've never visited Purple Crayons, designed by Rwah, don't delay: the sim, along with her other region, Square pegs in round holes (read here), will close on March 5. It's a place with multiple personalities: we enter on a gritty urban street, with litter blowing in the wind — but as we walk the length of it, reach the end and turn the corner, we suddenly step out onto a pristine beach, protected by a lighthouse encircled by swooping birds. And inland is a richly forested area.

Purple Crayons is home to a collection of art galleries — some located on a second city street overlooking the first — featuring works by Rwah (including many not on her flickr stream), Thorn Arisen, Peep Sideshow and Yann Whoa. You'll also discover, tucked away in the woods, several homes and buildings, fully furnished. Rezzing is permitted for thirty minutes. And, although the sim is closing, contributions are welcome and may be left at the landing point.

23 February 2015

Tillicum Islands

Now open for your exploratory enjoyment is Tillicum Islands (Fanatico South), beautifully designed by Tinker Drew (Leyna) and owned by her partner, Scott Yedmore. It's a full sim, providing extensive opportunities for landscaping, and features a rocky, forested inland area, beaches toward the west, an aging lighthouse, and a deep ravine dividing the two islands. If you're observant, you'll discover a cave system that winds through the bedrock toward the north. Houses and buildings peppered throughout the landscape feature gracefully composed interiors.

"We love seeing things through other's eyes," Tinker told me as we discussed how the sim would become a haven for photographers. "That was the whole reason for the sim redesign. We love landscaping and photography, and feel such huge appreciation for those who share their spaces with others, so Scott and and I decided we could do that here as well. That...and beauty for beauty's sake." Tinker is still fine-tuning the sim, but it's essentially complete. You're welcome to roam about the entire area with the exception of a private home located in the southeast corner.

22 February 2015

Heart Reef Park Revisited

About a year ago, I wrote about a short-lived sim created by kenny Humby, and I'm delighted to report that as of today it has been rebuilt: Heart Reef Park, a playful interpretation of Santorini and Mykonos. It's a colorful island filled with whimsy and delight, with rows of little shops and houses, and occupants in various poses or pastimes. You won't spot any mesh here: kenny even uses two dimensional photographs throughout, and to fun effect, such as the snoozing grocer in the image below (click to zoom in). Experimenting with windlight will provide lots of options for photography.

One of the most enjoyable ways to explore is to take advantage of the many automated tours that are offered, mostly for couples (but possible for solo use as well): a donkey ride, a balloon ride, a piggyback tour (which Cica Ghost and I are trying out as I type this), a swimming tour and so on — for most you'll need to join the land group, which is free. You might also encounter a couple of robotic residents of the sim, Zenigata Gearhead and James Bond, who are sometimes around, roaming about. Don't forget to leave a contribution if you're so inclined.

21 February 2015

Box...3D Art

Now on display at Lisa Expò, curated by Rubin Mayo, is an exhibition of recent works by Duna Gant entitled Box...3D Art. Each of the seven works on display is something like a diorama, presented in a box, an assemblage of materials that might appear to be two-dimensional when viewed head on. But the image above, Collage 3D, is about 1.5 meters deep, with the potted plant in the foreground, the wine glass in the middle, and the textured flat planes at various angles. And, with one exception — the blue and white Constructivisme 2, seen below — all the works share a similar color palette of earth tones.

Duna states in the exhibition notes that for her boxes "are synonyms of travel souvenirs, dear persons, special places...I have always been attracted by their beauty, the right place to store my memorabilia: photos, postcards, jewels, sea shells, coins, keys..." As we spoke in French, Duna explained to me that she worked on the boxes for three weeks, but had had been considering the idea for some time. Box...3D Art, which is cleverly presented in its own "box" space, will remain on display through March, and each of the works is available for purchase.