Posts Tagged ‘trompe l’oeil’

Photo: John Tlumacki/Globe Staff.
Artist and muralist Alex Cook painted two illusion paintings that he placed in Boston’s Franklin Park. The challenge is to keep them from being stolen.

It takes a brave artist to leave work in the woods. Where I live, Umbrella Arts members create art for an annual theme, trusting dog walkers, nature lovers, and connoisseurs to leave the paintings and sculptures in place over a period of months.

In Boston, trompe-l’œil art is appearing in woodland. Steve Annear has the story at the Boston Globe.

“When Jeffrey Jacobs went for a stroll along the trails in Boston’s Franklin Park last month, on a day when winter briefly gave way to spring, he expected to see the usual brown and beige leaves blanketing the ground, bare trees towering overhead, and a smattering of wildlife. But something else caught his attention that day: a clever piece of camouflaged artwork, just off the beaten path.

“The large painting perfectly matched its surroundings, but made it appear as if the trunks of the two trees it leaned against had been partially removed, replaced by a stack of gray stones and a twig wedged between the missing parts as if holding them up.

“ ‘I appreciated the illusion; I thought it was just wonderful,’ said Jacobs, who posted about his discovery on a Facebook page for Jamaica Plain residents. …

“The mysterious mural was one of two paintings recently hidden in a section of the sprawling park known as The Wilderness as part of a project by local artist Alex Cook. …

“ ‘There’s something so magical about coming across something wonderful in the woods,’ said Cook, a muralist by trade whose work is featured prominently on buildings around Boston and beyond. …

“The idea for the project, which he describes as a bit of a ‘treasure hunt,’ came at the beginning of the pandemic, when Cook was temporarily living in New Jersey with his wife’s family.

“After stumbling across a pair of boards from an old ping-pong table in the basement, he was inspired to bring them outside and use them as canvases. …

“ ‘All my projects had evaporated,’ he said. ‘I started making paintings on this thing.’

“Each Monday for several months, Cook would whip up a different mural on the boards, which he leaned against a pair of trees. …

“Some of the last murals he painted in the series were ‘illusion paintings’ that blended in with the natural surroundings and the trees that supported them. They had elements of trickery. …

“The memory of the playful paintings and the joy they brought people recently came back to him. He grabbed a wood panel, packed his art supplies into a bag, and headed out to the trail near his home in Jamaica Plain.

“The result was the first of two, 4-foot-by-4-foot paintings for people to discover on their way through Franklin Park. In a description of the process, which he posted online, Cook said the biggest challenge was reproducing and depicting the natural colors of the backdrop as accurately as possible, so everything lined up.

“ ‘And it’s crazily hard as the light is changing all through the day,’ he wrote. ‘But wicked fun when it works.’ …

“His work has ‘been received so warmly’ by the community, especially on Facebook, where people have marveled at its ingenuity.

“ ‘I appreciate this so much!’ one person wrote beneath a post of his artwork. ‘I walk here every day and finding surprise art is a delight and a treasure.’

“In the category of ‘this is why we can’t have nice things,’ [a painting with] missing trunks was stolen from its spot sometime in the past few days. But Cook is hoping the ‘art bandit’ will return it. …

“ ‘If you find yourself at a party and this painting is on the wall, do us all a favor and bring it right back to Franklin Park.’

“As for the remaining mural, once spring arrives and it no longer matches the landscape, Cook may swap it out for one that fits the season. Later, he’d like to feature his work in a more neutral environment, like an indoor art gallery. For now, he hopes his art continues to bring joy to unsuspecting viewers.

“ ‘I just want people to get a feeling of beauty, of wonder, of mystery,’ he said.”

Cook makes me think of Orson, the youngest of the Easter Egg Artists, who can’t help painting everything he sees. More at the Globe, here.

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Photo: Ralf Trylla / Town of Ísafjörður, Iceland
Ísafjörður, Iceland, recently installed a 3-D crosswalk on a centrally located street.

Optical-illusion speed bumps are getting to be a thing. Matt Rocheleau writes about the concept at the Boston Globe.

“A handful of cities around the world have painted optical illusions on roadways — think raised beams and even images of children — that appear, at first glance, to be blocking motorists’ paths.

“The idea is to get lead-footed drivers to put on the brakes. After all, if you think you’re going to hit a steel beam or a little girl chasing her ball, you’re going to slow down.

“Popular from New Delhi to a tiny town in Iceland, the most prevalent of these illusions are the striped lines made to look like [3-D] blocks floating in the middle of the road. …

“Officials in the other countries say the markings have contributed to better driving. And while they can add an element of surprise, officials in other locations said they haven’t seen any reports of drivers stopping so quickly that they’ve caused an accident.

“Initial measurements by the city’s traffic police found speeds dropped by 15 percent in the areas where 3-D crosswalks were installed last year, according to Yogesh Saini, founder of Delhi Street Art, which painted the crosswalks on the municipal council’s behalf.

” ‘As people got accustomed to seeing them, the speeds appear to have crept up some,’ Saini added in an e-mail. …

“In Western Canada, officials took the optical illusion even further when a nonprofit called The Community Against Preventable Injuries installed a 3-D decal on a road near a school to raise awareness about speeding in school zones.

“The decal, called ‘Pavement Patty,’ looked like a girl was in the street chasing a ball. It was installed temporarily.”

Thank goodness for “temporarily.” I’m all for any trompe-l’œil speed bumps that slow drivers down in areas with pedestrians, but please, no pictures of people! Once drivers get used to the images, do they then get used to charging fast at people? I hope communities will stick with floating blocks and steel beams.

More at the Boston Globe.

Photo: The Community Against Preventable Injuries
In West Vancouver Canada, a nonprofit installed a 3-D decal on a road near a school. I sure would worry about leaving this one out long enough for drivers to get used to it.

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Art: David Zinn

Here’s something fun from the reliably intriguing website This Is Colossal: playful chalk drawings on Ann Arbor, Michigan, sidewalks.

Kind of makes a person want to try it.

Christopher Jobson writes, “Michigan illustrator David Zinn (previously) has brightened the streets of Ann Arbor with his off-the-wall (or technically on-the-wall) chalk drawings since 1987. The artist works with chalk or charcoal to create site-specific artworks that usually incorporate surrounding features like cracks, street infrastructure, or found objects. Over the years he’s developed a regular cast of recurring characters, including a bright green monster named Sluggo and a ‘phlegmatic flying pig’ named Philomena.”

More about Zinn here. Lots more drawings.

Update 10/10/17: John sent me another link to this artist. Check it out for more great pictures. And the coolest part is that he learned about it from his son’s Highlights for Children magazine, which my husband has beeb sending.

Art: David Zinn

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I’m starting off here with four Providence photos: the railing at the Arcade, a message promoting the city as the “creative capital,” trompe l’oeil windows on a brick wall (note the page turning in the lower right corner), and a frieze near the Dean Hotel harking back to a club called Ginger’s.

Next we have three views of Minuteman National Park in Concord on a springlike February day. Seated on the river bank close by was a solitary figure sending wistful melodies from his wooden recorder out over the flood. I hesitated to disturb him and didn’t take a picture.

Buckets for maple sugaring are appearing all over town. It isn’t really spring yet, though: the daffodils came from the supermarket.





















































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Here’s an imaginative trompe l’oeil, art that gives the illusion of a welcome at the border.

Jude Joffe-Block writes at Fronteras, “Artist Ana Teresa Fernandez is attempting to paint a stretch of the border fence in Nogales, Sonora, so it looks like it is no longer there. … The project is an expansion of an earlier installation Fernandez did on the Tijuana border fence.

“Fernandez was born in Mexico, moved to San Diego as a child, and grew up going back and forth between the two countries. She heard story after story of migrants who lost their lives trying to cross the border, and of families divided by it. …

“In 2011, Fernandez went to Tijuana from her home in San Francisco with a plan to paint the fence.

“ ‘I just had this epiphany, of like, you know I can bring the sky down and erase it, just using paint and painting it sky blue,’ Fernandez said.

“She picked a stretch of the fence on the beach on the Mexican side, climbed up a ladder, and began to paint. …

“Fernandez carefully chose a shade of blue that would make it look like the fence disappeared into the sky and the Pacific Ocean behind it.

“The illusion worked. As she was finishing up a jogger came running up excitedly.

“ ‘And this runner was all sweaty,’ Fernandez remembered. ‘He was like, “I get it! I get it!” I looked down from the ladder, and I was like,”Excuse me sir, what do you get?” And he was like, “It looks like it is gone from far away!” ‘…

“Fernandez says her goal is to inspire people to imagine what if the fence really did come down.”

More here at WBUR, where you also can listen to the story.

Photo: Ana Teresa Fernandez
Ana Teresa Fernandez’s art installation on the border fence in Tijuana.

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If you like trompe l’oeil painting — that sleight of hand that makes you think you are seeing one thing when it’s really another — you will love “invisible” architecture.

Writes Mallika Rao at the Huffington Post, ” ‘Invisible’ architecture isn’t a novel concept … But it’s an evolving one. Given the pace of technological change, an architect is never done finding fresh ways to make a building disappear.”

Consider the picture below.

“The revelation is the technology the architects chose not to use,” says Rao. “No fancy LEDs or futuristic materials are needed to build “Invisible Barn,” as the parallelogram-shaped structure pictured in Socrates Sculpture Park is known. The brainchild of the New York-based architecture firm stpmj, it’s designed to be made of wood and sheeted with mirror film, at a cost of $5,000.

“The idea is to ‘blur the perceptual boundary’ between object and setting, according to a statement sent by the architects to The Huffington Post. Niches built into the structure mean the experience changes the closer you get — up close, you can see where true birch trees turn into reflected ones. …

“If it seems whimsical, that’s because the idea was hatched for the Folly contest, an annual event held by the Architectural League of New York. The name references the age-old concept of the ‘architectural folly,’ a fanciful, small building typically set in a garden as a conversation starter.” More here.

Photo: stpmj, an architecture firm

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