Hi. I'm Matt Maldre. Every weekday spudart.org shares a new idea. Be sure to stop by daily to see what's happening.

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Autograph Aesthetics
Rick Steves sell sheet
Illustration for newspaper article on how to say "no"
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Spudart photos reach pinnacle on Flickr

Every day Flickr ranks the top 500 photos posted to popular photo sharing service. 1.4 million photos are posted to the service every day, so to be ranked in the top 500 is quite an achievement.

In 2014 alone, I am honored to say that seven (now eight) of my photos have been featured in Flickr's top 500, also known as Explore. My most recent entry into Explore is a photo that my fiancee took! While shopping for paper at the Paper Source in Oak Park last weekend, I asked Sarah to snap a photo of me selecting paper. Instead of a close-up shot, she framed the wide shot to include the wide spectrum of paper. The resulting photo is quite impressive with all the colors behind my monochromatic outfit. I'm so happy that a photo she took reached Explore! It is currently ranked #346.

#346, September 14, 2014
Shopping for paper at Paper Source
Shopping for paper at Paper Source

#436, June 19, 2014
Bridges up at Clark Street
Bridges up at Clark Street

#422, July 1, 2014
Skin-texture cloud floats above Wrigley Building in Chicago
Skin-texture cloud floats above Wrigley Building in Chicago

#396 July 28, 2014
The inflatable 81 Lawrence bus
The inflatable 81 Lawrence bus

#137, July 30, 2014
Two origami butterflies on the Tribune Tower rock ledge
Sarah helped me make these origami butterflies! It's so cool to see the projects we do together resonating on Flickr.
Two origami butterflies on the Tribune Tower rock ledge

#458 August 21, 2014
Origami swan street art in Chicago flower bed
Origami swan street art in Chicago flower bed

#372, September 6, 2014
Storm clouds roll over Wrigley Field
Storm clouds roll over Wrigley Field

#237, September 18, 2014
McDonalds bag origami atop garbage can
McDonalds bag origami atop garbage can

0 archived comments | | Wednesday, September 17, 2014
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23 questions on a train ride

Encountering life's questions on a CTA train

You encounter what appears to be a wall of notes written by a crazy person. 23 sticky notes arranged on a grid by a seat on the train. Many reflective questions that question our perspective of life. Questions of self-awareness and human nature. Why would someone be rapid-firing all these questions onto sticky notes on the train?
  • What is your most important place?
  • Where do you look for significance?
  • Where are you going?
  • What are the thoughts of your head?
  • Will you sacrifice yourself for love of others?
  • Why do you work?
  • Why do you stay in your current place?
  • Whom do you love?
  • When you wake up at 3am, what are you thinking about?
  • How do we want ot be noticed?
  • The length of a train ride versus the length to express your concern to someone
  • Quietly thoughts float over guided tracks
  • How do you find expression?
  • Are you ruled by time?
  • Curiosity will find expression.
  • We bow down to time. Deadlines. Do you worship time?
  • If you do something enought times; does that make you crazy, or make you an expert?
  • Observe the textures.
  • Pause or play?
  • How do you want to be noticed?
  • Why am I only at Wellington when I need to be at Western?
  • Txt a friend. Snapchat a friend. Email a friend. Snail mail a friend. Your choice.
  • What do you like doing?
  • [And an empty sticky note, just because it's all symbolic for a blank note to be posted]
Actually, I can tell you, because the person who did these. I love leaving sticky notes in public spaces. The 3-inch square piece of paper is a perfect vehicle for communicating a thought to the unknown public. (or 2-inch by 1.5-inch for the smaller quicker note). Whether it's:

I like overly blue water caps
Pointing out some detail that I like.

If you take these speakers, you must play Bach on them once a week. These speakers enjoy Bach.
Or instructions on an alley giveaway.

Call to God: Shawn Pahnke of Shelbyville, Indiana
Or prayers for the family of someone who gave their life up for our country.

Or leaving love notes around your girlfriend (now fiancee's) condo. (Sorry, no public pics of those.)

I love communicating via sticky notes. The sticky note is my canvas. I'd love for the sticky note to be the canvas of others, so I encourage people to do the same.

One of the goals in my life is to encourage people live a more reflective life. Thus, questions are a great vehicle to promote thinking about purpose and perspective. What are the questions that strangers on the train think about? These 23 questions are ones that pop into my head through time alone, or through conversations with others. I wanted to be able to capture this rapid-fire brainstorm of questions, so they can be shared with others.

Granted, the large collection of them together is a bit crazy to encounter. But I see the train's walls as a mechanism, a canvas to which ideas can stick. Perhaps these ideas will stick in other people's heads as well.

0 archived comments | | Thursday, September 04, 2014
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Beach stone that looks like Da Vinci paintings

My Uncle Bill posted a few photos of a beach stone that looks like a heart. I ran his three images in Google Image search and came up with three other things his stone looks like:

Beach stone looks like Da Vinci paintings
This beach stone looks like Da Vinci paintings.
Google says this beach stone looks like Da Vinci paintings

beach stone looks like cave drawings
This beach stone looks like cave drawings.
Google says this beach stone looks like cave drawings

beach stone that looks like body tattoos
And this shot of the beach rock makes it look like body tattoos.
Google says this beach rock looks like body tattoos

0 archived comments | | Wednesday, August 27, 2014
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Words with "art" in the middle

"art" is at the core of "earth" so is:


Fun that art would be the core of farts, party, and warty.

Then for 7-letter words, art being exactly at the center:
dearths, hearted, hearten, hearths, pearter, peartly, quartan, quarter, quartes, quartet, quartic, quartos, smarted, smarten, smarter, smartie, smartly, swarths, swarthy,

Do we even dare try 9-letter words?
bipartite, copartner, departees, departing, departure, imparters, impartial, imparting, inearthed, nonartist, unearthed, unearthly, updarting, upstarted.

I didn't think 9-letter words would be possible, so maybe there are some 11-letter words. Indeed there are three!
compartment, nonpartisan, unchartered.

We have truly gone into unchartered territories! However, it bottoms out at 13-letter words. Or at least the Scrabble Word Finder bottoms out. Now, what shall we do with all these words?

0 archived comments | | Wednesday, August 06, 2014
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The truth of Seinfeld can be applied to comic strips

If you say Seinfeld is a show about nothing, then you know nothing about the Seinfeld sitcom.

Seinfield is about everything

It's not a show about nothing. It's a show about everything, says Nico Lang of the Daily Dot's great article, "Debunking the biggest myth about 'Seinfield' that everyone believes"

One could be forgiven for the misapprehension--as Seinfeld's entire fourth season is a meta-commentary on the idea--but it's simply not true. In a Reddit AMA earlier this year, Jerry Seinfeld clarified that he and co-creator Larry David pitched the idea to NBC as a "a show about how a comedian gets his material," and according to Seinfeld, he and David were initially surprised that the "show about nothing" tag took over the discourse the way it did. In fact, it would be more apt to say that it's a show about everything.

Comic strips today are much like Seinfeld's material of the every day. But how comic strips actually use it in a story line could be improved. See next two points.

Interwoven narrative

Prior to Seinfeld, most sitcoms broke down into an A-story and a B-story, and the supporting story could take the form of a so-called 'runner,' jokes that continued throughout the episode and told a very loose story but didn't do much more than that. Particularly in its best episodes, Seinfeld blew all of that up. Even in an episode like the famous 'The Contest' (the one with the competition to see which of the central foursome can go the longest without masturbating), each of the four characters is handed their own storyline, all four of which tie together in the final moments to create a whole larger than its parts.

Comic strips tend to be one-shot gags--partly because of the medium. We only sit down and read three panels in one day. Whereas Seinfeld has the opportunity of capturing a viewer's attention for 30 minutes. Take those 30 minutes in comic strip time, and you end up with 30 days--or about six weeks of comics. It would be wonderful to see comic strips have longer story arcs that bend around and come back together after six weeks. To have the final week of gags tie together gags from earlier in the month. Add some complexity to comic strips.


The show was famous for its "no learning, no hugging" rule, and what was then so unique about the show is how often the aforementioned final moments resist true narrative resolution, the nice bow on the action that Friends or Everybody Loves Raymond might provide. In each of the two, the show's central conflicts will be resolved and amends made; Raymond might fight with his mother, but at the end of the show, they have to come to a mutual understanding in order to keep up the pretense of family.

In many episodes of Seinfeld, the situations don't resolve; they get increasingly worse until they just can't anymore--and the show has to end. During "The Junior Mint," Jerry can't remember his girlfriend's name, except that it rhymes a with a "female body part." In true Seinfeld fashion, he avoids the conflict until she confesses she's falling in love with him, sweetly repeating his name. He can't reciprocate, which causes him to be exposed. Rather than giving up the ruse, Jerry guesses that her name is: "Mulva?" After she storms out, he finally remembers her name, calling after her, "Dolores!"

Today's syndicated comic strips are driven into the ground by stupid resolutions at the end of the strip. Every day there's some sort of "OH WOW, YOU DID THAT? THAT'S STUPID" reaction by one of the characters. It's dumb and not needed. Let the comic strip not resolve itself. Let the creative idea hang in the reader's mind.

Seinfeld let its creativity move around in interwoven narrative that didn't resolve itself. Seinfeld let the viewer think about the show after it ended, comic strips can do the same by eliminating the stupid reactions at the end of a comic strip.

0 archived comments | | Tuesday, August 05, 2014
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12 things I love about Chicago's CTA public transit

We love public transit, we hate public transit. Occasionally there are days that challenge us, as the Chicagoist demonstrates with its post, "9 Unfortunate Thoughts We're All Are Having On The CTA." While releasing angst about commuting can be therapeutic; on a daily basis being negative can wear you down. Instead it's good to be thankful and focus on the positive.

There will always be hiccups and bad incidents that happen on public transit, but there are also many wonderful things that occur while on the bus and train. Here's 12 good thoughts about riding public transit in Chicago.

1) Getting weekly free concerts while waiting for the bus next to the side door of the Green Mill.
Sweet! The Green Mill's side window is open

2) Getting home faster, when a train that goes express.
Long exposure at Damen

3) Buses filled with inflatable toys
The inflatable 81 Lawrence bus

4) Holiday train!
CTA Holiday Train

5) Doing somersaults in the aisles of an empty CTA train
Such an empty, empty train

6) Vinyl ads transforming the entire interior of the train
I totally feel like I'm riding in the Darth Vader train with all this night scenery advertisements

7) Inspiring messages via street art at CTA stations
You are meant for amazing things

8) People watching
Winner of best St. Patrick's Day coat

9) Throwing paper airplanes from the elevated platform (view entire set)
The patient paper airplane: Part 2 of 2

10) Drawing on foggy bus and train windows (view entire set)
Snowman drawing on window

11) Art on Track (view entire set)
The plant car is by far the best car for Art on Track

12) Beautiful views from elevated platforms
Pano sunset at Sheridan red line CTA
(All photos taken by Matt Maldre.)

What are things that you love about the CTA? Please leave your thoughts in the comments or on your favorite social media channel. This question appears on Yahoo Answers, Reddit, ask.com, Quora, Google Plus, Twitter, and Facebook.

0 archived comments | | Monday, August 04, 2014
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Goal: Have one of my artworks officially on display in a major art museum

White-out monster in front of Art Institute of Chicago

The opportunity: The Art Institute of Chicago was asking for "surrealist objects" last week as a promotion for the current Magritte exhibit. The objects will be selected by the curator of the Magritte show and will be displayed in the Art Institute's Modern Wing for one day.

I created a surrealist object and submitted it to the Art Institute. The people at the desk seemed to like my object, so I think they'll use it.

Come August 7th, I'll find out if my artwork is on display at the Art Institute of Chicago!

I've published a few blog posts about this:
* Free admission to Art Institute's Magritte show
* How to make a surrealist sculpture with office supplies and a finger monster
* Secrets behind origin of Wrigley Building design revealed by mythical artist
* Developing the voice for the White-out Monster

The name of the show is "Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary, 1926–1938." The promo is called "Surrealist Pricing" and they are using the #unthink hashtag. The Art Institute said on their site, "We will curate the objects and unveil them in a grand installation on Thursday, August 7, from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. inside the Modern Wing."

0 archived comments | | Friday, August 01, 2014
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Developing the voice for the White-out Monster

The other White-out Monster

One part finger monster. One part white-out. Inspired by Magritte's surrealism exhibit at the Art Institute.

Take all these together and what do you have? The "White-out Monster" who likes to paint things white.

Yesterday I wrote up an interview with this fictional character. If you haven't had a chance to read the interview, please do check it out.

It was fun developing the character and voice. The character still needs loads of work, but I'm liking how he has a historical aspect, having lived for thousands of years. He has been able to influence great artists of the past to work with white materials. In some cases, he's also able to cover items in white.

His voice still needs to be further refined. Is he a high-minded Brit? Or a rough-n-gruff monster?

Director of the WXAV radio station, Peter Kreten (who also happens to be my cousin), wrote a comic book review for Hellboy Vol 2. He praises the author saying, "Hellboy does an excellent job of combining that Universal Monster's feel with Indiana Jones style adventure."

Which made me realize. White-out Monster is a MONSTER. I don't normally think about Hellboy as a MONSTER, but he is one. Perhaps I could inject more of the monster into the White-out Monster's character, but keep the artist balance at the same time. Just as Hellboy is a monster, yet also like Indiana Jones.

0 archived comments | | Thursday, July 31, 2014
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Secrets behind origin of Wrigley Building design revealed by mythical artist

Many of Chicago's iconic buildings are white today, because of an unknown artist working today. This artist has managed to keep his identity relatively unknown for the past hundreds of years. He's also managed to stay alive for the past hundreds of years because... he's monster.

This mythical creature regularly visits the city of Chicago and contributes to public projects and architecture. In the underground art world, he's known by the descriptive moniker "White-out Monster" for he himself is entirely white. Early 21st century records capture him wearing a "White-out" or "Liquid paper" t-shirt.

Recently, White-out Monster returned to Chicago to check up on some of his projects and also to create new projects. We were granted an exclusive interview with the White-out Monster through a proxy agent. Through this interview White-out Monster reveals how certain buildings and public artworks would have looked like if it were not for his influence years ago.

White-out monster talks about why Wrigley Building has white terra cotta detailing

Matt Maldre: What is one of the buildings where we can see your influence today?

White-out Monster: Back in 1920, there were no office buildings north of the Chicago River. Why, there wasn't even a bridge at Michigan Avenue yet. A great new fad was recently invented, chewing gum. People loved it. This chap, William Wrigley Jr, built a chewing gum empire; and he wanted to have his headquarters anchored just north of the Chicago River.

Nobody knows this, but originally his plans for the building had it all in Indiana limestone. What a joke. The plans for the Wrigley Building were so beautiful that I knew it just had to be set in all white. The architects for this building was an eight-year-old firm named GAP&W, which stands for Graham, Anderson, Probst & White. You can guess which of the four architects I decided to have a talk with...

MM: The fellow named "White"?

WOM: You got it! Howard Judson White. Naturally, he loved the idea of the building being set in all white-glazed terra cotta. The original limestone that was purchased was instead used for the Michigan Avenue bridetowers.

Why the Michigan Avenue bridgetowers aren't made of marble

MM: How do you feel about the limestone bridgehouses not being done in all white?

WOM: Yeah, I would have loved for those to be all white. But William Wrigley had all this limestone, so yeah. But hey, watch this, I'll paint these flowers on the Michigan Avenue medians white.

White-out monster turns Michigan Avenue flowers white

MM: Wow, that's amazing! You just turned those flowers white. How did you do that?

WOM: I'm a mythical artist-monster. I got my ways.

White-out monster at the Chicago Bean

MM: Have you used your "ways" with any other public artworks?

WOM: Initially, the Chicago Bean comes to mind, but of course that would make no sense to have the bean be all white, because it would simply be a white bean. However, when I look at the bean, I do see myself, and thus I paint the bean white every time I encounter it. That very concept is one to be celebrated by everyone who looks into the Chicago Bean—walk up to the bean, and you paint it with the colors of yourself.

Jaume Plensa's marble sculpture Looking into my Dreams, Awilda

MM: How about Crown Fountain with the faces that spit out water?

WOM: Heh, funny story about those. The artist is Jaume Plensa erected those towers. I visited him in his hometown of Barcelona about those towers with giant heads. Actually, the visit was via a dream where I suggested to him that he create a giant white marble head. Guess what was just installed a month ago by Plensa in Millennium Park? A giant white marble head. And he named it "Looking into my Dreams, Awilda." I'll let you connect the dots there.

White-out Monster attacks Magritte show at Art Institute of Chicago

MM: Any other public artworks that you'd love to see painted white?

WOM: Naturally the Art Institute lions would be fantastic in white. However, their bronze patina is a great site to behold. Back in 1893, I suggested to sculptor Edward Kemeys that they be done in marble, but he insisted on bronze. Through many years of lobbying the Art Institute for a pure presence of white, they hired Pritzker Prize–winning architect Renzo Piano. Heh, well… take a look at the Modern Wing now. Beautiful pure white cathedral of art that I'm going to-- +poof+

MM: White-out Monster? White-out Monster? Where did you go? Well, it seems that White-out Monster has disappeared back into his mythos. Thank you, White-out Monster wherever you may be now. We appreciate how you have influenced Chicago's great landmarks. Maybe we'll be able to see more of your work in the future, and uncover more of your influence in the past.

0 archived comments | | Wednesday, July 30, 2014
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The day I crawled into a giant claw machine that was a bus

The inflatable 81 Lawrence bus

Standing silently with other commuters at the bus stop. Only when the bus arrives, it's not a bus, but a giant claw machine! The two dollars you slide into the bus vendor box gains you admittance inside the claw machine.

Do you love the claw machines where you use a joystick to try to pick up a toy and drop it into a dropbox chute? I do. Ever get frustrated with the claw dropping the toy? The hanging claw may look menacing with its curved metal fingers, but often the toy slips from its loose grip. At that point you want to climb into the claw machine box and retrieve the toy yourself.

As this 81 Lawrence bus pulled up, it was like a dream on wheels. A giant claw machine you can walk into! Only this giant claw machine held a mystery. You slide your money into the machine, but you aren't allowed to touch the toys. The social norms of being inside a bus full of toys puts up a glass window making the toys inaccessible.

In fact, it's not even clear whose toys they were. Nobody was sitting by them. Perhaps they were free after all. A public art project on a bus. Free toys for those brave enough to take them.

[Update: Gapers Block selected this photo as the featured Chicago photo in Rearview for July 29, 2014. Thank you, Gapers Block!]
[Update 2: Fun! My inflatable bus photo is currently the 396th best photo on Flickr for July 28, 2014. ]

0 archived comments | | Monday, July 28, 2014
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How to make a surrealist sculpture with office supplies and a finger monster

White-out finger monster

If you had to make a surrealist sculpture only with office supplies and a finger monster, what would you make? Walking around the 14th floor of the Tribune Tower with a finger monster wedged onto my finger, I weighed my options.

Surrealism is all about irrational juxtaposition of images and words. So simply take one object and merge it with another object. Finger monster + office supply = surrealist object.

Picking the supplies

Perhaps the arms of the finger monster could be cut off and reattached to a stapler. But how to attach the arms? A cardboard box of staples could easily hold the arms. Simply cut a hole into a small cardboard box. But that didn't have enough surrealist impact.

Using office supplies is a challenge when making artwork. No matter what office supply you use, the resulting artwork still looks like an office supply.

Naked white-out monster!Rummaging around through tape dispensers, sticky notes, whiteboard markers, the one obvious office supply stood out. White-out. The finger monster would fit perfectly atop the brush/cap. Then I could paint the monster all-white. The fact that this would have PAINT on it helps to make it look more like an artwork, because artwork has paint. Paint = art. Or in this case, Finger monster + office supply + paint = surrealist object.

Painting a finger monster with white-out sounds simple, right? No. Actually it's quite challenging.

Challenge #1

First, you want to paint the finger monster when it's on the white-out bottle. But if the finger monster is already on the white-out bottle's cap and brush, how do you paint the finger monster? You can't. UNLESS you have a second white-out bottle. Thankfully one of my co-workers had an extra white-out bottle squirreled away in his desk. (Curtis, I owe you one white-out bottle tomorrow!)

Challenge #2

Now that you have a second bottle of white-out, let's get to painting. This should be fast, because white-out dries fast, right? No. white-out does not dry on rubbery plastic. It doesn't dry at all. When applied on paper, white-out absorbs into the paper. When applied on rubbery plastic, it sits on the surface, unsure what to do. Even the space heater from my work desk could do no good to make the white-out dry.

You can make a white-out monster surrealist sculpture creation just for the fun of it, but I had an extra reason. The Art Institute of Chicago that night was giving free passes to the Magritte show from 5pm-8pm if you brought a "surrealist object" to the museum. Totally awesome promotion, right? That's right. But I couldn't hand in a sticky, wet artwork. The Art Institute has super strict rules. In fact, I blogged about them earlier this week. They are a crazy long list of restrictions. Things like, no feathers, no sequins.

Using a space heater to quickly dry a White-out finger monsterShowing up with a sticky monster would simply be unacceptable. Wet paint surely is on their list of unacceptable materials. Time was running out. The Tute's deal was to show up between 5-8pm for free access. It was already 6:30.pm I had to get my artwork dry!

Rushing to meet the deadline brought back memories of being an art major trying to finish paintings before critique. The paint has to be dry! He professor doesn't accept wet paintings! Get out the hair dryer and point it at the canvas while you paint!

Now 20 years later I'm doing the corporate equivalent with my desk's space heater drying a white-out sculpture. Thankfully I just so happened to have a tube of white acrylic paint at my desk--a gift from my former manager, part of a yo-yo customization kit. PERFECT!

Of all things, I just so happened to have ACRYLIC paint at my corporate desk inside Tribune Tower. Not oil paint for that would not dry in time. Not watercolor for that wouldn't cover the monster. Not that other crap craft paint that chalks up. But good ole reliable acrylic. On top of that it was WHITE, perfectly imitating white-out.

White-out finger monster at Tribune TowerIf you happen to be making a white-out monster at work, make sure to bring some white acrylic paint to work first. It will make your job a whole lot easier. The space heater speeds drying up too. Now the White-out Monster is ready to attack!

Stay tuned for the next blog post where the White Out Monster attacks Chicago as it gallops down Michigan Avenue towards the Art Institute. Rawr!

Whiteout Monster Attacks Chicago

0 archived comments | | Friday, July 25, 2014
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LEGO bricks or limestone: which is more durable?

LEGO brick replacements

Old skyscrapers falling apart because of their limestone exterior. Over time the limestone becomes weak and crumbles. Restoration projects take quite some time to replace the damaged limestone.

The Crains Communication building in Chicago is going through an extensive limestone removal process. The past couple months I've been watching the process outside my work window at the Tribune Tower. The scaffolding moves up and down the facade of the building installing a brighter limestone.

This whiter limestone looks like LEGO bricks being inserted next to the darker older limestone. This begs a fun question...

What if they installed actual LEGO bricks into the gaps? Does the plastic of LEGO have a longer life than the porous nature of limestone? Public artists across the world have been using LEGO bricks to fill in gaps in architecture.

collection of photos of LEGO brick public art

Imagine an ENTIRE BUILDING with colorful LEGO bricks along the edges.

0 archived comments | | Wednesday, July 23, 2014
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Free admission to Art Institute's Magritte show

How to get into the Art Institute for free on July 24, 2014

Bring a "Surrealist-inspired object" to gain free admission to the Art Institute's Magritte show on July 24, 2014.

In the fine print the Art Institute outlines the rules for what cannot be accepted. One of things they do not accept are "objects longer than 8 feet." Makes me want to show up with an object that is 7 feet 11 inches.

What if you show up with a person who is 7 feet tall?

The rest of the rules state:
We are also unable to accept any Objects that AIC deems in its sole discretion to be hazardous, perishable, unlawful, and/or which contains any of the following items: organic matter that may harbor pests (such as potted plants, soil, sand, grasses, feather, moss, branches, bark, rose petals, hay, etc.), animals, confetti, rice, bird seed, balloons, bubbles, glitter, sequins, fireworks, sparklers, smoke/fog machines, dry ice, aerosol products (i.e. spray glue, spray glitter, spray snow, spray string, spray paint), vessels containing water, open flames.

They don't outright ban humans. However, we can interpret the rules and say they might ban a human as surrealist object because humans are:
1) organic matter that may harbor pests
2) vessels containing water.

Make sure you don't have any pests and purge yourself of all water. Simple!

It would be fun if someone came with me and wear all sequins and feathers? (those materials are also banned). Or I should give them an object that combines every single item on their list.

But seriously, I need to think of a good surrealist object to bring. What is your "Surrealist-inspired object"?

0 archived comments | | Tuesday, July 22, 2014
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Doorstop public art

This red doorstop in the men's washroom is currently the best artwork on display in the museum

Art museum bathrooms. Clean, sharply designed, austere. Much like the white walls of a museum, most bathrooms within art museums have a modern, contemporary yet neutral feel.

Among the granite tiles and light gray walls of the bathroom in Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art lays an object on the floor next to the door. A doorstop, wooden, worn, and intensely red.

Such a firehouse red, it screams out for attention more so than the artwork officially hanging on the walls. Unlike the artwork worth thousands of dollars which has been declared "art" by a curator, the doorstop sits on the floor, functional. Unlike the artwork which is outside the touch of its viewers, the doorstop can be manipulated by a bathroom visitor.

The doorstop keeps the door open, symbolizing access and openness.

I'd like to make a series of doorstop artworks and leave them in art museum bathrooms. This red doorstop made me stop and consider it for a longer period of time than any of the artworks currently on display in the museum. If this simple wooden triangle can hold my attention for so long, I am inspired to make more of such doorstops for others to enjoy.

0 archived comments | | Thursday, July 17, 2014
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What a public artist learned from cute motivational sticky notes on the train

Nine sticky notes with motivational phrases

Boredpanda.com reports:
October Jones (real name Joe Butcher), the prolific writer and illustrator... is at it again with a fun series of sticky notes featuring a grimly determined cat named Peppy posing next to motivational messages. He draws them and leaves them in the trays of the train he takes for unsuspecting fellow commuters.
If you’re having a case of the Mondays (or of any other day of your work week, for that matter), these images are perfect for getting inspired and pepped up!
The cute
I am also a public artist that uses sticky notes in public spaces, so I'm very excited to see another artist using sticky notes in public. Seeing this series reported in many places online makes me excited to see the success it's having.

Beyond the medium and success of the series, what do I think of this artwork as a fellow public artist?

Bored Panda posted 15 photos of the sticky notes, the majority of the notes are extremely positive, which is great. This series is really effective by using a cute drawing in each sticky note. That gives me ideas for my own public art. I have been leaving just a message in my work, but to have a cute animal spokesman, gives the work greater impact.

The feelings
This series is also very VERY pointed at the reader. The artwork is very successful at playing at the viewer's emotions.

The straight-up compliments about being "awesome" are nice, buuuuut... I feel like the compliments are rather empty. That might be my rational INTJ personality coming out. But I like compliments that are real.

I might be getting too philosophical, but part of what makes me a joyful person is accepting that I'm not always "awesome." Not everything can be awesome. I can be a person who does wrong things. When I start from that foundation, things become simpler and more honest. I then have the courage to break out.

But to not overthink it, these sticky notes would be fun to come across and brighten up someone's day. So for that simple notion, they are wonderful.

They also inspire me to think of how to make my public artwork more emotional. Most times the goal of my work is to make people THINK deeper or to THINK creatively. Rarely do I consider about how my artwork makes people FEEL.

These motivational sticky notes make people FEEL better, even though rational thought says that we don't always have to be awesome.

The artist is expressing love for others by encouraging others, which is a great idea. However the sort of encouragement is artificially bloating up individuals with inauthentic praise. How does this artist really know you are awesome? When I compliment someone, it's a personal direct compliment. It has authenticity.

Man. Am I a big jerk for critiquing these wonderful positive sticky notes? I should let them be nice positive notes.

But what about the "You are beautiful" stickers?
I love the "You are beautiful" project. Isn't that project in the same line as the commuter sticky notes? The artist behind "you are beautiful" doesn't know if you are a beautiful person, or does he?

Perhaps this is an individual belief, but I believe that every human is beautiful. We all may have ugly sides. We all may do ugly things. But we are beautiful creations.

Now, beautiful creations also be awesome? Hmm, perhaps. But I hold the word "awesome" in a more literal sense of awe. Like a, strike-you-down-to-your-knees awesome.

"I am a superfly success machine," declares another sticky note. Well, we aren't always successful. We are workers. We at times succeed and other times fail. I see great growth in failing.

Another sticky note jokes, "Lick the back of your hand. That's what a winner tastes like." Ok, so this one is funny, because of the cat pun. But the underlying philosophy is there, that we must always be winners. I disagree. We don't always have to be winners. I enjoy and thrive on daily live with its ups AND downs. Life isn't all about the ups. Life isn't all about happiness. Life is about growth.

Perhaps the phrase on one of the sticky notes "Kicking Monday in the face" is what turns me off. I don't believe in kicking Monday in the face. I believe in hugging Monday. Embracing it. Giving Monday love. The Monday sticky notes in this series strike me as a "F-- you world. I'm the best there ever is." When you view the rest of the sticky notes with that attitude, you start to see why I have a hard time with these notes. That or I just need to lighten up.

There are many things I learned from this series.
1) To use a cute cartoon animal in my public artwork. I'm not being sarcastic. This is really a good technique.
2) To think about how I would like the viewer of my work to FEEL when seeing my work, not just how they THINK.
3) Love and embrace your imperfect self. We don't have to always be awesome, or always be winners, or kick Monday in the face.
4) Srsly, I should just lighten up.

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