I was alerted to the re-opening of the University of Texas, San Antonio ArtSpace gallery by Bryn Oh. This marks the first new exhibition within the gallery in a new of years. It marks a reconnection of the university’s virtual presence with Second Life arts, which has been spearheaded by curator Constructivist Solo, with the very able support of Igor Ballyhoo and Rebecca Bashly.
Together with Bryn, Rebecca and Igor are three out of the five artists who will be exhibiting at the facility through until the end of July, the remaining two artists being Eupalinos Ugajin and Ini Inaka. In addition, works by Artée (Artistide Despres), Sasun Steinbeck and Afrika Burton can be found with additional piece by Igor and Rebecca within the broader region.
The new ArtSpace gallery complex is designed by Igor, towering over the tropical reaches of the region and supplies an appreciable amount of exhibition space. Just outside of it, and dominating the region, is a massive (and still under construction) DNA model, part of a long-term project for the region. Linked to this are a number of platforms bearing further art exhibits and facilities, most of which can be reached via a map-based teleport system.
The region is described by Constructivist Solo as a “virtual exploration of interdisciplinary and culturally situated STEM education.” However, with the integration of visual and physical art into the region, it is fair to say it embraces STEAM, a movement to place equal emphasis on the Arts as on the traditional STEM areas of science, technology, engineering and maths, correctly seeing all of the arts as a vital element within education, learning, development and innovation.
Sunday, June 5th will see the second of our Stories at the Park series, featuring the voice talents of the staff and friends of Seanchai Library.
Stories at the Park offer visitors to Holly Kai a unique opportunity to experience art in Second Life, both through both the exhibits by our visiting artists for May – which will remain in place through until Saturday June 11th – and through the beauty of the written and spoken word.
Each month, members of Seanchai Library and their guests select pieces of art by the artists participating in the current Art in the Park exhibition, and write either a 100-word work of fiction (referred to as a “drabble”) or a 100-word poem about each piece. These stories and poems are then read live at Stories at the Park, either by the author or by a member of Seanchai Library.
For June, Trolly Trollop, Kayden Oconnell, and Caledonia Skytower will be reading pieces inspired by the art of Ceakay Ballyhoo, Eleseren Brianna, JudiLynn India, Lantana Silverweb, Slatan Dryke and SisterButta.
The event starts at 15:00 SLT at the storytelling gazebo. Visitors are of course welcome to come early and tour the art exhibits before Stories at the Park commences, or to linger afterwards and explore the art hill and the rest of Holly Kai Park – which includes woodland walks, the Holly Kai Garden with studio featuring the art of Silas Merlin and the photography of Inara Pey, and lots of little places to snuggle under the shade of trees, over the sands of a tropical beach, beside a sunlit pond or within an ancient ruined watchtower – you can even grab a kayak and paddle around the Holly Kai River.
Whatever you decide to do, I hope very much you’ll first and foremost join us for Stories at the Park and take the time to explore and appreciate the artistry of six wonderful talents from within and without Second Life, and the amazing storytelling skills of the Seanchai Library team.
Newly opened as of Saturday, June 4th, is Gates of Melancholy, the latest regions design by photographer shelly70, and a further piece in her Gates series (see my article on Gates of Memories for a sample of her work cloaked in winter). And like her previous designs, Gates of Melancholy is a visual feast.
“This sim which is based on and inspired from the life and work of the famous American painter Andrew Wyeth,” Shelly says of the design, “is created to emulate and elicit the feel in [his] watercolour paintings.”
A realist painter, Wyeth (July 12, 1917 – January 16, 2009) predominantly focused on his local landscape and the people within it, presenting America and the world with a grim, flinty, and often starchly sentimental view of New England. His was a world of empty beaches, windswept, desiccated fields, wooden buildings grey with age, their frames like brittle parchment, and locals with faces as craggy as many a coastal cliff, couple with evocative studies of families and friends. There is, as Shelly states in her introductory notes, a stark nostalgia and melancholy evident in his work, and she has striven to recreate that feeling with the look and feel of the region.
This is a rugged, coastal landscape from which wood-framed outbuildings and chapels rise, wood parched and faded under the unrelenting influence of coastal weather, and where the farmhouses carry a careworn look. The lands around them is a mix of open fields, craggy scarps and rises, where the trees are often bent and crooked as with great age, shapes borne of long years resisting the prevailing winds. The grass is mostly short and tufted, often with the bald, rocky land beneath it showing through here and there before the land abrupt falls way by scarp or cliff. Over all of this, an ochre sun hands in an ochre sky, casting the landscape into a sombre twilight.
It is, quite simply, breathtaking – although I admittedly opted for an alternative Windlight when capturing the images shown here; there is so much that is evocative of Wyeth’s work. Two examples of this came to me in the form of a view up a grassy slope towards distance farm buildings which immediately suggested Christina’s World, albeit without the central character, whilst a rowing boat draw up onto the grass immediately put me in mind of Teel’s Island, Maine.
Nor is this any empty landscape – there are signs of life everywhere, within the barns, in the houses, and outside under the awnings of little market-like stalls, all offering views and scenes ready to capture the eye and camera. Many of the the building offer the opportunity to sit and snuggle or chat, adding to the desire to visit and tarry.
Complemented by an audio stream Shelly has taken pains to put together, as well as ambient local sounds, Gates of Melancholy, like Wyeth’s paintings, is not something simply to be seen; it is a place to be experienced and savoured for all of its stark beauty and realism. It is a place, I’ve little doubt, that were his spirit ever to visit, it would recognise and approve.
It’s time to kick-off a week of story-telling in voice, brought to our virtual lives by the staff and volunteers at the Seanchai Library. As always, all times SLT, and events are held at the Library’s Second Life home at Bradley University, unless otherwise indicated.
Sunday, June 5th
13:30: Tea Time with The Jungle Book
Bryn Taleweaver presents selections from Rudyard Kipling’s great adventure.
Trolly Trollop, Kayden Oconnell, and Caledonia Skytower read 100-word drabbles and poems inspired by the current exhibition of art on display at Holly Kai Park, including composition by Rosedrop Rust.
Please join the Seanchai Library team and members of Holly Kai Park, and take the opportunity to hear stories and poems, and see the art that inspired them. Featuring the work of Ceakay Ballyhoo, Eleseren Brianna, JudiLynn India, Lantana Silverweb, Slatan Dryke and SisterButta.
Monday June 6th, 19:00: The Alchemyst (The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel #1)
Faerie Maven-Pralou reads Michael Scott’s mystical novel.
According to the records, Nicholas Flamel was born in Paris on 28 September 1330 and died in 1418. Only his tomb has forever lain empty, because Nicholas Flamel is the greatest Alchemyst of all time. Entrusted with the care of the Codex – also known as the Book of Abraham the Mage – Flamel found within it the secret of eternal life.
But there is much else in the Codex which, if used by the wrong minds, could very well bring about the end of the world. So, for 700 years, Nicholas Flamel has guarded the Book, keeping it from all those who might otherwise seek to abuse its secrets.
Until John Dee steals it. And John Dee has the desire to unlock the Codex and bring about the very cataclysm Flamel has always feared. Without the book, he and his wife, Perenelle, will age and die, whilst with the book, Dee can thwart all attempts to recover it.
Enter 15-year-old twins, Josh and Sophie Newman. Prophecy has foretold of a time when the world would be threatened – and of the two youngsters gifted with extraordinary powers who will save it. Flamel recognises the Newman twins as those youngsters, and sets out to awaken their magical talents. So it is that Josh and Sophie find themselves cast into the middle of the greatest tale – the greatest confrontation – of all time.
Tuesday June 7th, 19:00: When Sisterhood was in Flower
The writings of Florence King return to Seanchai Library as Trolley Trollop continues reading When Sisterhood was in Flower (1982),
Isabel, a conservative southern writer living in Boston, finds her life taking a number of strange turns. After an explosion brings down the wall of her apartment she is forced to share her living space with her neighbour, an ardent, humourless feminist called Polly Bradshaw. Then, between them, they take in nutty Gloria, who is fixated with all things medieval, including the lute, which she constantly plays, and the death of Edward II.
Things start unravelling further when Polly inherits a house in California, and unilaterally decides they’ll form a self-sufficient feminist commune there. Along the way, they collect Agnes, who is trying to escape her survivalist husband, and Martha, a widow whose estranged husband died after an unfortunate incident with an inflatable rubber doll.
Then Isabel has the opportunity to earn a living as a writer … of pornography …
Wednesday June 8th 19:00: Raymie Nightingale
Caledonia Skytower reads Kate DiCamillo ‘s 2016 children’s story.
What do you do when your father takes off with a dental hygienist? Be upset? Miss him? Rail against him? Or hatch a plan to get him to come home?
Raymie Clarke decides on the latter course of action. Dad needs to come home, and it’s down to her to see that he does – and that means winning the Little Miss Central Florida Tyre contest. Doing so will get her name and picture in the papers, which are sure to be read by her father, prompting his return.
Except… In order to win the contest, Raymie must do good deeds and learn the graceful art of baton twirling. Worse, she has to go up against the nauseating, show-business steeped Louisiana Elefante, who has fainting for effect down to an art form. Then there is Beverly Tapinski, who has entered the contest not to win it, but to wreck it for everyone else. So Raymie faces a mountain of challenges she must overcome.
Then fate plays a hand, circumstance and events bringing the three girls together in an unlikely friendship in which each has a role to place in supporting and aiding the others.
Thursday, June 9th 19:00 Special VIP event at the University of Washington The Lounge at 221B Baker Street: A Scandal in Bohemia
Join Corwyn Allen, Kayden Oconnell, and Caledonia Skytower in celebrating the re-opening of Baker Street and the lounge at 221B Baker Street, last seen at Seanchai Library’s Crazy Eights LEA installation, and now relocated for the Summer at the University of Washington;’s
To mark the event, Corwyn, Cale and Kayden present one of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s most well-liked mysteries to have engaged his Great Detective. It first appeared in The Strand Magazine in 1891, before going on to be the first story in the 1982 collection, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. It was also the first of Doyle’s detective series to be illustrated by Sidney Paget. I’m of course talking about A Scandal in Bohemia.
In March 1888, Dr. John Watson, married and with his own medical practice is returning home when, on a whim, he drops in at 221B Baker Street to see Holmes. No sooner has Watson arrived, than Holmes demonstrates some of his incredible deductive powers – which are shortly given greater exercise when, after receiving his expected guest, who arrives during the reunion, Holmes pronounces him to be not “Count Von Kramm” as he purports, but rather Wilhelm Gottsreich Sigismond von Ormstein, Grand Duke of Cassel-Felstein and the hereditary King of Bohemia.
Admitting Holmes has correctly identified him, the king reveals he is seeking Holmes’ assistance in a matter of some delicacy. It revolves around a liaison he had five years’ previously with an American opera singer, Irene Adler, and which could now threaten his upcoming marriage to a Scandinavian princess. Thus Sherlock Holmes comes to pit his wits against an adversary he will forever only refer to as “the Woman” …