All change at Holly Kai Park – again!

With Seanchai Library in the foreground, the new Holly Kai Gallery looks out over the Balboa islands, domes catching the morning Sun

I’ve been spending the last couple of weeks re-working Holly Kai Park. This came about for a couple of reasons: I found that trying to run this blog, spend time relaxing in-world with Caitlyn (and running the bar) as giving time to that “real life” thing, meant trying to organise up to six artists per month to exhibit at the park each month got to be just a little too much. So for the last several months I’ve been mulling over precisely what to do with the park and pulling at the threads around the edges with little changes here and there.

In the end, it was a visit to Erebos Harbor (which you can read about here) that spurred an idea for me. Not to try to replicate that outstanding build by Leaf and Julz, but rather take the idea of an observatory and use that as the focal point for a new gallery space and revised park layout. And not just any observatory; there is one in particular I’ve always loved visiting when on the West Coast of the USA, which has a design I find captivating: Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles. So a lot of my time for around the last 10 days has been focused on in-world building and poking and prodding with ideas.

Another view of the new gallery building, as seen from the lawns of Seanchai library. The steps linking the two with one another and the waterfront are visible in the foreground.

Things still aren’t entirely finished – there are the inevitable nips and tucks, and one or two things may yet be tweaked, but hopefully the news design and layout for the park is now complete.  This being the case, and allowing for said tweaks and the cleaning-up of sawdust from prim cutting and the shavings from mesh trimming, I’d thought I’d offer a note about what’s been done so far.

As noted above, the gallery building has been inspired by the major elements of the Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles California – as I hope those familiar with that building will recognised. It’s not an exact replica of the Griffith; essentially I’ve taken the two main wings with their telescope domes, the main entrance and the rotunda of the planetarium and cut away some of the structure to the rear of the original (and all the underground bits!). I’ve also (for now!) left out the external stairways up to the roof and the telescope domes.

Holly Kai Gallery from the upper terrace, which will be used for displays of 3D art, such as Giovanna Cerise’s Ice Castle, seen left

Inside, the design encompasses four linked parts: the foyer / entrance area, two gallery spaces contained within the building’s wings and an events space in the rotunda at the back of the building for exhibition openings. The gallery spaces can either be used for individual exhibits of art (allowing Holly Kai to display two artists at a time) or for a single display spanning both wings. It’s a little Spartan inside as of now, as I’m still mulling over interior fixtures and lighting.

Just below the gallery is a large terrace area with lawns and cypress trees. This is currently home to two interactive 3D art installations: Ice Castle by Giovanna Cerise and Reflections at Midnight by Frankx LeFarve; a smaller piece by Frankx is also displayed on one of the lawns. This terrace and lawns will be used to present 3D art from various artists and friends quite separately from any exhibitions within the gallery.

Given this is a radical makeover for the park, we have a new landing point. This is located within a new information centre, which might be a little cramped, so we’ll see how it goes and perhaps move it outdoors if people find it an issue. The info centre is still being equipped, but there is a large map of the park on one wall to allow visitors to get oriented, and which has information on the park and on Seanchai Library, whom we’re honoured to have as partners sharing the grounds with us.

Holly Kai Park – Landing Point and Information Centre

The map has a couple of active web links in it – click the blue URLs to go to either the Holly Kai Park website and blog or to Seanchai Library’s website. Once things have settled down and the sawdust from cutting prims has been cleared away, active teleport links will be added to the map as well.

Also in the centre is a donations kiosk for Feed A Smile. We don’t take venue tips at the park, but we do ask that those who enjoy a visit to consider making a donation of L$100 at the kiosk (one the others to be found at various points in the park and its facilities) to help feed a young child in Kenya – and yes, as incredible as it may sound, L$100 is enough to provide a Kenyan child with a hot meal!

Between the information point and the Gallery terraces, is a “mid-level” terrace. This is home to the Holly Kai Café, with seating indoors and out (and I may be expanding the outdoor area to create a little more room! I also have a small studio area on this level for my SL photographs.

The Holly Kai Café

Getting between the terraces is achieved via the stairways – just look for the stone steps on the east side waterfront and follow the grass paths – everything is signposted as well!

One of the things that has bugged me about the park design – and it’s been entirely my fault – is that on the east side it’s always felt as if it’s not a single park area, but three distinct parts of a region that aren’t really related other than by position: the Art Hill, with Seanchai Library to the south, and Caitinara Bar and the Medici Collection – 2D and 3D art from Nber Medici’s personal collection – to the north.

Replacing the Art Hill with the new design has allowed me to rectify this. Paths from the gallery and its terraces now directly link to Seanchai Library and to the Medici Collection (the former path also giving access to the Park Walk that leads via an under-tree trail to the Pavilion and our bumper boats pool). This will, I hope mean that these three elements now feel part of a contiguous park looking out over the water.

Caitinara Bar has a new location and new outdoor area

Caitinara Bar, meanwhile, has been re-oriented to face the park’s bay with its piers for visiting boats. It also has an expanded outdoor seating area which linking it to one of the ways up to the gallery terraces. All of this will hopefully again make the bar feel more a part of the park as a whole. As a result of this, there’s also an updated landing point for Caitinara Bar.

The piers have mooring for up to 2 hours – small to medium-sized boats are welcome. Boats can be r-e-rezzed in the waters between the piers, if required.

There have been some revisions to the Pavilion events area on the west side of the park. At the time of writing, this is still a work in progress, with potential further changes to be made as we strive to make this a more flexible area of a wide variety of events. The landing point, however, remains unchanged and also serves the park’s bumper boats.

The Pavilion has been revised with a new stage area and the removal of the glass domes

These changes have obviously resulted in some extensive changes to the park itself. However, the park walk looping around the base of the gallery hill remains in place, and offers the way to various secluded spots visitors are free to enjoy.

So that’s it! I’m still working on bits here and there, as noted, but if you fancy dropping by, you’re welcome to so so and as of today unlike to find the grounds cluttered with bits of mesh or face the risk of a building suddenly rezzing overhead  – or the ground beneath you suddenly moving (or vanishing!).

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All location are on Holly Kai Estates, rated: Moderate

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Hypnopompia in Second Life

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Hypnopomia

Now open at Nitroglobus Roof Gallery, curated by curated by Dido Haas, is Hypnopompia, as exhibition by Cat Boucher. The title refers to the state of consciousness leading out of sleep (and not to be confused with hypnagogic state. The latter is associated with moving from wakefulness to sleep, and is referred to as a rational waking cognitive state).

Hypnopomia is more an emotional state of credulous dreaming, influenced by almost anything around us: noises, scents, touch, which on waking can lead to confusion, dissociation from our surroundings and confused (to others) speaking. The hypnopompic state is sometimes accompanied by lingering vivid imagery, and some of the creative insights attributed to dreams actually happen in this moment of awakening.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Hypnopomia

All of this is richly reflected in Cat’s images, which are quite stunning in their range. Among the 14 pieces on offer are monochrome images – perhaps reflective of the state experienced by around 12% of people, who only dream in black-and-white (a percentage, interestingly enough that has changed over the last 60-ish years: dreaming in colour was once a rarity reported by adults, and according to some researchers, the shift from “monochrome dreaming” to “colour dreaming” appears to be associated with the arrival and rise in popularity of colour television broadcasting).

Other images in this selection are presented in deep, vivid colours, perhaps reflective of the more vivid influence our surrounding can have on us as we move through hypnopomia to full wakefulness. Most, reflect not a scene, but a moment in time: bones of a fish; a face caught in sharp focus; a figure with legs curls and entwined, but seemingly without a body. In this they mirror how we so often recall our dreams – not as a continuous narrative, but as flashes of images and colour that we can only recall as a single, brief frozen moment, there rest having been lost as another stimuli causes the mind to discard the imagery and move on.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Hypnopomia

There would appear to be some plays here on the state of dreaming; one image seems to reflect an erotic dream – but whether it is brought about as a result of the brain processing actual events or simply the hypnopomic reaction of something, I leave to you to decide. There’s also an echo of the sepia tone so often loved by Hollywood directors when portraying dreams, while the clever use of vignetting can be said to both also reflect the Hollywood use of pinhole focus to convey dreaming and also, as noted above, as a metaphor for the way in which certain images in our dreams come into crystalline clarity and sharpness, imprinting themselves so strongly on our emotions, that the remain with us through our waking hours.

Evocative and captivating whether considered individually or as a part of the exhibition’s theme, these are stunning images – and all the more so given none are post processed; all Cat uses to achieve her completed images in the SL camera floater, within its colour and filter options, and suitable windlights.

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The purpose of clouds in Second Life

The Purpose of Clouds

I’ve been spending time at the Visions of Art complex of late, looking at the various exhibitions by visiting and hosted artists. Curated and managed by dj12 Magic. What tends to attract me to the complex is the broad diversity of art that has been gathered in a single place, mixed both physical world artistry with that of the purely digital medium of Second Life, offering plenty of scope for me to see work by artists with whom I might not be familiar, and to at times re-acquaint myself with the work of those I know but may not have seen elsewhere for a while.

One of the artists in the former category is Paula Cloudpainter (paula31atnight). Located on the top floor of the building – appropriate, given the subject – she presents The Purpose of Clouds, a series of her physical world digital photographs of cloud formations taken at different times of the day.

The Purpose of Clouds

Transient, ever-moving at the whim of winds and air currents, there is a wonderful magic about clouds. They can flow across the sky, dappling the ground and water beneath in shadow, allow the Sun or Moon to play peek-a-boo with us – and driven by our imagination, no matter how young or old we are, they can become a thousand different things, however briefly. Looking up at them, we can see everything from grey-white towers reaching majestically into the heavens or great rolling tides of cloudy surf rolling across the sea of the sky or the most fantastic of creatures, by they from the real world or works of fiction or mythology, while towering piles of cumulonimbus can trundle across the horizon like great mobile castles on their way to war, the level reaches dark and threatening. Clouds can even, at times, mimic the look of parts of the world over which they pass, offering fleeting outlines of Great Britain here or Italy’s boot there, a Caribbean like chain of islands somewhere else…

With the canvas of the sky and the aid of the Sun, clouds can also become nature’s unique expressions of art; sky paintings in which colours become layered, and even the apparent strokes of a giant brush can be seen, as cirrus cloud vie with cumulus and alto-cumulus to form exotic landscapes in the sky. Paula captures all of this, together with the sheer grace and beauty clouds have in and of themselves, through the images she presents in The Purpose of Clouds.

The Purpose of Clouds

These are wonderful reminders of the splendour of nature; and for those willing to let their imaginations flow free, there are perhaps stories to be seen in some. Is that a ghostly bat flying out of and orange-grey sky towards us? Dos the splash of white cloud among the grey and a deep blue sky look like and exotic sea creature hugged the relative safety of a shadowed reef? As we really looking up at a roiling sky of cloud caught in the light of a setting Sun, or are we perhaps hanging above an upside-down world looking at a rolling sea turned orange by its setting Sun?

While the images are perfect for purchase and hanging at home, I couldn’t help but wish that for the purposes of the exhibition, they’d been offered in a larger size, even if that meant fewer pieces (or perhaps using a little more of the central floor space). Doing so would immediate capture the eye with their sheer beauty. Nevertheless, The Purpose of Clouds is a wonderful exhibition deserving of being seen up close, rather than through the page of a blog post.

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Barbara and Cherry at La Maison d’Aneli

La Maison d’Aneli Gallery: Barbara Borromeo

Currently open at La Maison d’Aneli Gallery, curated by Aneli Abeyante are two exhibitions, both of which run through until August 16th. The first features Barbara Borromeo and the second, Cherry Manga.

Barbara Borromeo is an artist whose work – much to my shame – was unknown to me until June of 2018, when I gained an introduction to her work. The exhibition at La Maison d’Aneli follows on the heels of that event, and actually contains a number of pieces that were also featured in it as well. However, that there is some repetition doesn’t matter: Barbara’s work is simply extraordinary, and at La Maison, we are additionally treated to more of her physical world art as well.

La Maison d’Aneli Gallery: Barbara Borromeo

Several pieces are presented around the walls of the gallery, of which I found myself particularly drawn to Woodstock Hendrix (seen at the top of this article, on the left), and Words Never Said, two remarkable studies full of visual and emotional impact among a tour de force of stunning art that really captures the eye, heart and imagination.

However, it is the main slide show element of the exhibition that really captivates. Using a large screen, Barbara presents a rich cross-section of her portfolio – and it is not to be missed. Photographs and paintings from the physical world are displayed along with images captured from Second Life and – in what makes Barbara’s work fabulous to the eye – collage pieces that appear to combine both Second Life (or at least digital art she has produced) with images from the physical world. Given the number of pieces included in this slide show, use of the provided armchairs is advised – and taking the time to see all of the pieces it has to offer really is worthwhile.

La Maison d’Aneli Gallery: Barbara Borromeo

I confess to have fallen for Barbara’s work; her layered collages are among the most creative pieces of artistic expression I’ve seen either in Second Life or the physical world. The compositional work within them is sublime; the subjects evocative and, on occasion, provocative (as art should on occasion be); and the images bring to Second Life the full breadth and deep of a truly extraordinary talent.

Reached via teleport is a skybox featuring 3D art by one of Second Life’s long-standing artists, Cherry Manga, although sadly, she is nowadays rarely active here, preferring to spend her time in the Open Simulator FrancoGrid. As such, opportunities to witness her work in SL are always welcome.

La Maison d’Aneli Gallery: Cherry Manga

There are actually two teleports to the installation – the teleport disk on the gallery floor, and a poster on the wall. Both deliver you to different sides of the installation, but for convenience, I’d suggest using the disk. Doing so will land you near a selection of Cherry’s art avatars, which she is giving away free. These are located on a cube bearing the legend Freedom and Random Stuff – which I assume refer to the avatars, but might also be the title of the installation itself.

The two primary elements of the installation are side-by-side cubes in which are displayed animated wireframe scenes of marvellous complexity and which could both be taken as commentaries on modern living. The piece on the right (when looking from the side with the free avatars), seems to suggest a figure breaking free from confinement, the overall design of hexagons suggesting he is escaping the hive-like thinking that modern society can demand of us.

La Maison d’Aneli Gallery: Cherry Manga

To the left, the second cube offers a scene with strong metaphysical elements – and the chance to become a part of it by entering it and clicking on one of the spheres floating within the cube. This piece is perhaps harder to quantify, being strongly subjective. As such, while I have formed an opinion on it,  I’ll leave it to you to visit and to form your own.

A third piece, Freedom, floats and turns above the selection of free avatars. It presents a strong juxtaposition of ideas: the figure may well be floating and “free”, but she retains the chains which may once have confined her. While they are no longer locked or connected to anything, their presence seems to suggest that “freedom” can simply be an illusion – or, more positively – a state of mind to which we can all aspire, and possibly achieve.

La Maison d’Aneli Gallery: Cherry Manga

Two stunning exhibitions, both of which should be seen before they close on August 16th.

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The mandalas and art of Sheba Blitz in Second Life

InterstallART: Simply Spiritual

Mandalas, whether presented as art or an expression of spirituality or as a symbol of the universe or as a result of geometric teasings of fractals, have long fascinated me. The name literally means “circle” in Sanskrit, and within Buddhism and Hinduism the mandala is a spiritual and ritual symbol representative of the cosmos around us.

Within Second Life, an artist who captures everything of the rich context, ritual form, balance and harmony of the mandala in her art is Sheba Blitz, and she is currently the Artist in Residence for August at  InterstellART, where she is presenting Simply Spiritual, featuring several of her mandalas, and more besides.

Sheba draws on numerous sources as inspiration for her mandalas. Some of these may be close to the spiritual origins of the form – Buddhism and Hinduism -, others might be as diverse as western astrology or tarot cards. Whatever the source, she produces these marvellous pieces using gouache, acrylics or metallic paints on either canvas or paper, and the uploaded images offered for display within Second Life lose nothing of the intricate beauty of their production.

InterstallART: Simply Spiritual

One of the most fascinating forms of the mandala is created by Tibetan Buddhists. Called dul-tson-kyil-khor (mandala of coloured powders”), or sandpainting, it is a most intricate ritual that sees the production of the most stunning mandala art that has to be seen to be truly appreciated. None of the pieces produced – generally over the course of several days – survives long after its completion; instead, it is destroyed and the sands used taken to a body of water where they are given up as an offering. The entire process serves as both a metaphor for the “impermanence” of the physical world, and also as a means to reconsecrate the earth and its inhabitants.

In many respects, through their survival beyond the creative process, Sheba’s mandalas also offer a metaphor. However, rather than being representative of the impermanent nature of the physical world, their continuance serves as a reminder of the enduring beauty of the universe in which we reside.

InterstallART: Simply Spiritual

Sheba notes that she didn’t originally come to Second Life to display her work. However, after joining, she found herself drawn to the world of art in Second Life, attending exhibitions, seeking other artists, buying pieces by others, and immersing herself in the means to experience art in a new way. Fortunately, she was asked to start exhibiting her own work, and Second Life has been the richer for it.

More recently, the rich diversity of artistic opportunities she’s experienced in SL has led Sheba into new avenues of expression, notably in-world photography and 3D art and sculpture. Simply Spiritual also presents some of the fruits of these broader endeavours, with a number of Sheba’s paintings, photographs and 3D art also on display within the gallery space.

InterstallART: Simply Spiritual

An engaging visit, Simply Spiritual will run through until the end of August, 2018.

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Carolyn Phoenix at Club LA and Gallery

Club LA and Gallery: Carolyn Phoenix

“There’s a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in” are the words printed on the invitation to see an exhibition of photographic art by Carolyn Phoenix that recently opened at the Club LA and Gallery, curated by Fuyuko ‘冬子’ Amano (Wintergeist). Whether this is the title of the exhibition or a byline for it, I’m unsure. But I can say that the pieces on offer are hauntingly beautiful in their composition and presentation.

The mezzanine level of the gallery, where the exhibition is being hosted, has been converted into a dark, enclosed space in keeping with the title / byline. On display within it are 20 images by Carolyn, sharing the space with torso mannequins equipped with angel wings that add to the dream-like feel of the environment.

Club LA and Gallery: Carolyn Phoenix

The images themselves are mostly dark in tone and subject – so much so that specific details can be hard to make out beyond the shard or pools of washes of light each image contains. These bursts and flickers and beams of light reflect the title  / byline: they have seemingly entered the worlds of these pictures through cracks or holes or as a result of sunlight breaking through clouds or a lone bulb hanging from a ceiling or a reflection from somewhere, to revel things that might otherwise remain unseen.

What these casts of light reveal various from image to image.  Some are mindful of dreams or secret thoughts, often dark in tone – the kind of imaginings we’d rather not shed public light upon, but that nevertheless draw us to them. Others are lighter in nature, simply exulting in the play of light and shadow or the beauty of an artist’s expression of their work; there’s even a hint of playfulness about one.

Club LA and Gallery: Carolyn Phoenix

Some of the images seem to call into focus ideas of identity and of judgement. Teller (seen on the left of the banner image for this review) for example, with its reclined figure looking at a list of eyes from eyeless sockets, tends to suggest the idea of how we present ourselves to the world. The eyes, after all, are the windows of the soul; so how better to project who we might want to appear to be than by selecting our eyes, and only revealing what we want to be seen of ourselves? At the same time there is another potential interpretation: if the eyes are the windows into the soul and thus to who we really are, then how better to remove the potential for the light of understanding to penetrate our inner self than by expunging our eyes altogether, lest we be judged for what lies within.

Judgement is a theme brought into focus by a piece called Verdict (on the left of the image directly above these two paragraphs). But Again the meaning seems to be twofold. On the one hand, the tall figures surrounding the smaller one suggest a fear of judgement; of being looked down upon by others. But closer examination of the smaller subject, catsuited and hooded, perhaps suggests something else: a desire to be judged, to be found wanting and perhaps “punished”. Thus the light haloing the scene perhaps reveals kink-edged secret she at the centre of the image would rather remain hidden to all but a few – or even takes a guilty pleasure in having it so revealed…

Club LA and Gallery: Carolyn Phoenix

Nuanced throughout, a captivating display of photographic art well worth visiting. And while doingso, why not avail yourself of the exhibitions by tralala Loordes and Sighvatr (worthaboutapig), both of which can be seen or accessed on the ground floor of the gallery.

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