Crate of Curios part 52

As it seems, the Crate is going to float a bit from one day to another now, due to the general busy-ness of the season, but have no fear, it’ll be here providing its usual eclectic oddities and perhaps adding a few new ones. As the South America series has progressed, a number of interesting artists from the region has surfaced, so instead of finishing it off as initially planned, I’ll continue and remind you of some you surely already know and introduce you to some artists that you most likely encounter for the first time. So, let’s get to it without further ado.

  1. Maria Izquierdo is the most ‘classically Mexican‘ artist if Diego Rivera, her teacher at the Academy of Fine Art is to be believed. As a student at the school during 1927-28, she already had a different type of life experience to draw upon than most of her peers – having been forced into marriage at the age of 14, she had divorced her husband in 1926 and become in effect a single mother of three in Mexico City. She also had embarked on the road of fulfilling her dream to become an artist – in 1930 she would become the first Mexican woman artist to have a solo exhibition in the United States.

2. Self-improvement can sound like an utterly daunting task – the Kaizen method, however, makes it look quite manageable.

3. Do big cats like water? Big Cat Rescue made a little experiment to find out.

4. Wonder, which cities on Earth are the most polluted? At least in 2020 most of the top 20 was occupied by just one country.

5. We tend to think of ancient Greek cities as pristinely marble-white, but as the recent reconstruction of the ancient city of Ephesus shows, they were anything but.

6. And to finish off for this week, have a look how your favourite genre of music would look as a chair. (by Wrong Hands)

And that’s it for this time. Happy reading and until next week!
If you want to receive the Crate to your mailbox, you can subscribe here at Substack.

Crate of Curios part 51

And finally-finally, this is the day! The Crate has been around for a whole year, opening its boxy jaws every week – to be honest I did not expect it to last this long or more precisely to keep producing it this long. Yet it’s still fun, so I guess I’ll just keep on doing it. Continuing with the South American series, this time we’ll go a long way back in time to look at some marvelous art.

  1. Cave paintings have fascinated the public for many years now and it looks like there a new name on the stage, stealing the spotlight from Lascaux. Amazon rainforest in Colombia has revealed a stunning wall of rock art dating back to the end of the last Ice Age. The discovery was in fact made 2 years ago, in 2019, but kept quiet as it was to be a part of a Channel 4 series “Jungle Mystery – Lost Kingdoms of the Amazon”. Despite the initial thrill of the discovery, the real work of analysis only just beginning in order to reveal and understand the meaning and significance of the drawings to the people living there at the time.

2. Decisions can occasionally be a real nuisance. The model of imagining them as one-way and two-way doors might make them more palatable.

3. If you happen to be an aficionado of Jules Verne or steampunk or bothLes Machines de l’Ile will be your next dream destination, full of giant mechanical wonders and machinery.

4. If you tend to wonder about the people who unerringly manage to pick out the edible parts of the greenery around them, here is your key to the mystery – Alexis Nikole Nelson and her TikTok account.

5. Not sure what you want to do with your life? Approach it like the mission of finding your ikigai.

6. And to finish off for this week – a little comic with Calvin and Hobbes from the master Bill Watterson himself.

And that’s it for this time. Happy reading and until next week!
If you want to receive the Crate to your mailbox, you can subscribe here at Substack.

Crate of Curios part 50

Autumn keeps approaching and twilight embraces the city already before 9 o’clock, cafes and eateries are full of people and finally finally this weekend saw us through the much-missed comics festival, illustration festival and Athens Art Book festival. Evenings are still warm and still quiet, parks are open and besides the ubiquitous face masks life seems more or less back to normal. Which brings us to yet another Monday evening and yet another Crate, so let’s get to opening it without further ado.

  1. Two weeks ago I wrote about the legendarily productive Mexican illustrator Ernesto Garcia Cabral who left behind between 25 and 30,000 drawings and sketches. At that time this seemed like a whole lot. However, when it comes to arts, South America is the land of plenty, as J. Carlos (José Carlos de Brito e Cunha) from Rio de Janeiro is estimated to have produced about 100,000 drawings during his 50-year-long career. In 1922, he started working as art director at a magazine called ‘Para Todos’ and from 1926-1930 drew all of its covers, producing some of the most stunning examples of Brazilian Art Deco illustration.

2. We speak about ‘mind’s eye‘, but what if your mind happens to be blind?

3. Something we probably never think about, but… how was it to be a vegetarian in the Soviet Union?

4. London and Tokyo are both big cities, right? Well… it depends how you look at them.

5. A really important secret to productivity? Disagreement.

6. And to finish off for this week, here’s some poetry spamming from Federico Garcia Lorca from the beginning of 1920’s.

And that’s it for this time. Happy reading and until next week!

If you want to receive the Crate to your mailbox, you can subscribe here at Substack.

Crate of Curios part 49

It’s Monday again and in this Crate we take a jump from a happy clearly outlined Mexican Art Deco to moody and dark Cuban expressionism that rather than providing cheery aesthetic pleasure fulfills the viewer with a vague unease and a premonition of dark things that are yet to come. And as another point, I’ll turn the gaze again towards female creators of the area as I have come to a realization that besides the brilliant-yet-ubiquitous Frida Kahlo, I know no other South American woman artists. So… time to open this week’s Crate.

  1. The word ‘Cuba’ usually calls up a range of associations starting with the bearded figures of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, moving on to sun, rum, elegant vintage cars and salsa-dancing women in fruity headgear. The work of Antonia Eiriz‘ is the antithesis of all that – Goya rather than Carmen and ‘The Scream’ rather than sunsets between palm trees. At the age of 2 she caught polio, that left her left leg damaged for the rest of her life. Youngest of six children of poor Spanish immigrants in Cuba, Antonia learned various crafts as a child, but turned towards painting when she applied to San Alejandro National School of Fine Arts at the encouragement of her sister. During her student years, she joined the artist group ‘Grupo de los once’ (The Eleven), who rejected the earlier picturesque style in favour of a more expressive and abstract approach to painting. After an intensely prolific period of creation during the 1960’s, Antonia ceased painting in 1968 when the death of her mother and the announcement by the Cuban government declaring her work counterrevolutionary made her decide to withdraw from artistic circles. She spent the rest of her life teaching crafts and giving private art lessons in the neighbourhood where she had been born and raised and only resumed painting when she moved to Miami with her husband in 1993.

2. And, speaking of crafts, Mariko Kusumoto‘s transparent textile sea life shows just how thin the line between arts and crafts is.

3. Why it’s important to own books that you’ll never read? An antilibrary reminds us of the things we don’t (yet) know.

4. Do you know the three temperature scales? If not, here’s an easy way to remember.

5. How much can we trust our own minds? Not that much as this infographic of 50 cognitive biases shows.

6. And to finish off for this week, here’s the most tranquil little comic Nathan W. Pyle has ever created.

And that’s it for this time. Happy reading and until next week!

If you want to receive the Crate to your mailbox, you can subscribe here at Substack.