It’s been a while since I’ve had the opportunity to visit an exhibition by Kayly Iali in Second Life, so when Kultivate Magazine announced the opening of such an exhibition of her paintings within their Loft Gallery, I decided to make amends for this and hop on over.
Kayly is an artist in the physical world who uses Second Life as a means of reaching a global audience and present her work. She most frequently works with watercolours and oils, and describes herself as an impressionist in terms of her style of painting, utilising relatively small, thin, yet visible brush strokes, open composition with an emphasis on an accurate depiction of light and movement within her work. Her subject range encompasses still life, portraits and landscapes, and she has a reputation for producing engaging commissioned portraits of pets belonging to Second Life users, some of which have also featured in her in-world exhibitions.
At the loft, Kayly presents a modest selection of her landscape art – twenty in total – featuring locations and sights to be largely (exclusively?) found within her home state of California. Whilst all of them are individual pieces, some might also be drawn together as themed sets or pairings – such as those featuring various landmarks in San Francisco, the “causeway” paintings, and the “Vacaville” pairing. The majority are presented in that impressionist approach noted above, although the “San Francisco trio”, as I’ll loosely refer to it and featuring Alcatraz and both the Golden Gate and Oakland bridges, also leans towards something of an abstract styling.
Whilst all originating in the physical world, these are pieces that could just have easily had their inspiration rising from within Second Life. As such, they offer something of an artistic bridge between both the physical and the digital, reminding us that our two worlds, whilst never exactly meeting are nevertheless closely intertwined.
These are engaging pieces which form an equally engaging exhibition; they are also – given the way the link our two worlds – pieces that will grace any Second Life home.
Wednesday May 10th 2023 saw the opening of a new exhibition of work by Wicked Eiren at the Heartsong Erotica Galleries owned and curated by Luanamae Heartsong. Entitled Ocean’s Dance, this is a small but utterly captivating selection of black-and-white / monochrome pieces is located in the West Gallery at Heartsong. All of the images feature the-artist-as-the-model, and all convey and emotional depth and narrative strength.
I first encountered Wicked’s avatar-focused SL photography in June 2022, when Dido Haas hosted Body Language/The Invisible Woman, an intensely powerful visual narrative focused on Wicked’s life as someone suffering from Complex Chronic Disease – also known as Central Sensitivity Syndromes (CSS) and it resultant psychological impact, in terms of both the condition and the reaction of others around the sufferer to their situation, it can cause (see Art and Complex Chronic Disease in Second Life).
Her condition has not robbed Wicked for her zest for life; she is passionate about the things she enjoys, and as a practicing Buddhist, she does her best to offer a positive, loving outlook in her interactions with all living things she encounters and refusing to allow the demands of CCD / CSS deny her her womanhood as much as she can.
This attitude is very much present within the images presented within Ocean’s Dance, a selection of 16 greyscale images, six of which are reproduced as split monochrome works on three free-standing displays, all of which feature oceanside settings. All are deliberately untitled (other than the name of the exhibition and a number), there only supporting text coming in the form of a single-stanza ode in celebration of the ocean’s call. In this, Wicked notes:
As a creator, I like the image to transcend the viewer into a memory or emotional that is purely of their own intimate personal journey inspired by my work [and] not to be formed from any “title” I might place on it. So please step in and don’t be afraid to dip your toes!
– Wicked Eiren
By leaving the pieces so open to interpretation like this, Wicked does indeed invite us to go where our thoughts opt to walk as when look at the images in this series – a freedom enhanced by the fact that there is not explicit order to viewing the pieces; just enter and appreciate and let go of your imagination.
For me, Ocean’s Dance is once again a celebratory story; the freedom visible in each of the pieces, be it expressed by pose or windswept hair or expression or scudding and seemingly roiling clouds or the foaming splash of a wave, is only too apparent. These are pieces that speak to the core desire of being free in and of oneself to express a vitality and sensuality of life and desire free from labels and unencumbered by thoughts of how the resultant images speak to an audience.
I could continue to was lyrical about Ocean’s Dance, but honestly, and as with Body Language/The Invisible Woman, this is an exhibition which deserves to be seen first-hand.
Raglan Shire, Second Life’s Tiny community, has once again opened its doors to people from across the grid as participating artists and visitors are invited to the Raglan Shire Artwalk 2023.
This year, the the event runs from Sunday, May 14th, through until Sunday, June 18th, 2023, inclusive. It offers an opportunity not just to appreciate a huge range of art from both the physical and digital worlds, but to also tour the Shire regions and enjoy the hospitality of the Raglan Shire community.
A non-juried exhibition, the Artwalk is open to any artist wishing to enter, and has minimal restrictions on the type of art displayed (one of the most important being all art is in keeping with the Shire’s maturity rating). All of this means that it offers one of the richest mixes of SL art displayed within a single location in Second Life, with 2D art is displayed along the hedgerows of the Shire’s pathways and tree platforms overhead and 3D art among the community’s parks.
2022 attracted 150 artists, and 2023 is set to match that number, with many artists participating for the first time. As such, the depth and range of art on display is guaranteed to keep visitors exploring the paths and walks around and through the hedgerows – and if walking proves a little much, there are always the Shire’s tours to ease the load on the feet, together with the teleport boards to help move visitors swiftly around and through the different display areas. But that said, I do recommend exercising your pedal extremities and doing at least some of your exploration on foot – just keep in mind people do have their homes in the regions as well.
Given the number of artists involved, there isn’t a published list of participants, but anyone interested in the world of SL art is bound to recognise many of the names of the artists here. The Artwalk is also a marvellous way to see art from both our physical and digital worlds and for catch artists both familiar and new to your eye. Just don’t try to see it all at once; the Artwalk is open for a month, which gives plenty of time for browsing and appreciating the art without feeling overloaded.
All of the Raglan Shire Artwalk regions are rated General)
May has brought with it not one but two exhibitions at Nitroglobus Roof Gallery, curated by Dido Haas. Whilst both very different in tone and content, they are nevertheless connected in that each has a particular source of inspiration / interpretation.
Occupying the Annex section of the Gallery, and having opened on May 2nd, is a compact exhibition which should be noted as potentially Not Suitable For Work (NSFW), given the subject is nude studies. Entitled Zorian Women, it presents a total of 15 studies of the female form, as imaged by Kian (random26356). Fourteen of these (the 15th is rather more novel in approach!), have been inspired by the nude studies of “the Swedish Impressionist”, Anders Leonard Zorn (18 February 1860 – 22 August 1920).
Zorn was an incredibly gifted artist, a veritable virtuoso working in multiple formats and styles – watercolours, oils, pencil, etching, sculpture – to produce an incredible range of art during his lifetime. A graduate of the Royal Swedish Academy of Arts, at the age of 29 he was made a Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur at the 1889 World Fair in Paris, and he would gain international recognition for his portraiture, with subjects including three US Presidents and King Oscar II of Sweden, whilst he and his wife Emma would go on to established The Bellman Prize for Swedish poetry, which is still awarded annually by Swedish Academy.
Zorn’s repertoire included a series of female nude studies which became particularly noted for their unique style. Initially produced in watercolours, these depicted his models fully unclothed and painted against the backdrop of the open countryside of Dalarna, the district where he and Emma lived in Sweden. Such was the form and impact of the pieces in this collection, they became known under the collective name of Zornkulla.
It is these works Kian celebrates within his exhibition. This is no easy task, because despite their apparent casualness of presentation, employing a loose brushwork, soft tones and gently blurred edges, the Zornkulla paintings are all incredibly well composed through use of colour, pose, placement of elements such as water and the horizon and features within the landscape beyond the nude subject, all of which results in a visual play: focus on the subject, and she immediately comes into sharp focus, the background dissolving so as not to be noticed. But then focus on the backdrop, and the subject herself appears to dissolve into it, becomes an almost natural part of the landscape, rather than appearing as a something standing within it.
Emulating this technique, Kian offers that same sense of loose brushwork and familiar soft tones whilst adding his own interpretation on Zorn’s Zornkulla, thus offering something fresh and new.
Within the main halls of Nitroglobus is the first solo exhibition by Nowhere B. A relative newcomer to SL photography and to the art exhibition scene here – his first time exhibition was at an ensemble event in 2021 – there could not be a better, more nurturing environment than Nitroglobus under Dido’s stewardship, by which he could spread his wings into the world of solo exhibitions.
Entitled Intimistic Journey, this is an engaging and somewhat personal selection of pieces by Nowhere B., representing as it does a record of his journeys through Second Life’s richly varied landscapes and settings, whilst also offering hints of his inner responses and experiences during those visits (hence the intimist sub-text to the title).
Given this, these are not you usual captures of places seen in Second Life. Instead they offer a highly personalised perspective (in places quite literally!) and narrative to present not just reflections on the places Nowhere visited, but his potential mood and thoughts on seeing them. This is helped in part by the artist including himself – and his John Steed-like bowler and brolly – in many of the images in a manner that draws us into his thinking without bashing u over the held with obviously posed context and narrative.
Taken individually or together, Zorian Women and Intimistic Journey present engaging, highly visual and expressive exhibitions which can be enjoyed both independently to one another, or as a joint visit to Nitroglobus, with Zorian Women set to remain in place through into the better part of June.
Now open at the Third Eye Gallery, curated by Jaz (Jessamine2108) in Second Life, is a broad cross-section of art from both the virtual and physical worlds, and which stands as a excellent introduction for those seeking to discover more about artistic expression in Second Life.
Entitled Songs of Earth it is an outreach of the Unity Art project, founded by Viktor Savior, the exhibition is intended to present “the artists’ vision of thanking, and cherishing this beautiful planet which has enabled us all to experience the joys of life in a tiny corner of the universe.”
With 33 artists participating, it is perhaps the most extensive exhibition mounted at Third Eye, with the art displayed over three balconied levels within the gallery space, all connected by staircases and walkways. Each artist has provided two pieces of art each, with their works displayed side-by-by, with most also providing a giver which will present those touching it with further information on the artist – always a welcome element in such a broad ranging display of art, allowing those particularly taken by an artist to find out more about them and where more of their work might be appreciated / purchased.
And when I say “broad ranging”, I do mean precisely that. Within Songs of Earth one can find images of Second Life Landscapes, reproductions of abstract pieces, mandalas, and digital compositions from the physical world; avatar studies, and even a touch of art utilised the Midjourney AI system.
All of the pieces offer a unique take on celebrating the world around us; some doing so through the presentation of flowers, landscapes, and so on, others more creativity, calling on the eye and mind to work a little. In this latter regard, I would particularly call attention to Lalie Sorbet’s Song Of Earth pairing, two images which perfectly encompass the unique beauty of the planet on which we walk, the complete encapsulation of nature’s creativeness through the beauty of a flower and that of the human eye itself – the very organ which allows us to see and appreciate nature and beauty.
However, it would be unfair to single one just one artist or one or two pieces of art; the entire exhibition is engaging and rewarding of a visit, and as it opened on May 8th, you likely have the rest of the month in which to do so and appreciate it.
Currently open at the Kondor Art Centre, curated by Hermes Kondor, is an exhibition of art by Eta (Etamae) entitled Skewered. It forms the second of two exhibitions at the centre I recently visited, the other being Bamboo Barnes’ Unusual, which I recently wrote about in An Unusual statement of freedom in Second Life.
Of the two, Eta’s was actually the first I visited, and as I toured both, I felt a thread of connection between them which I initially saw as a means of writing about both in a single article. However, given the idea there might be a connection between them was purely subjective, I decided against and joint-write up, and to instead focus on each in turn, starting with Unusual, as that had been open a few days longer than Skewered.
The latter is presented within a sky gallery designed by Etamae’s SL partner, Jos; it is also best viewed through the use of a specific EEP setting – Bryn Oh’s Virginia Alone. The latter is one of over 200 former Windlight settings converted to EEP assets (through the hard work of Whirly Fizzle) which can be found in the Library section of your Inventory. To use it, just run an Inventory search for “Virginia”, and it should show up in your results (located in the folder Library → Environments → Skies → Bryn Oh). When located, right-click on it and select Apply Only to Myself. A copy of the asset is also contained in the introductory notes for the exhibition (available from the information giver close to the landing point), and can be copied from there to Inventory an applied to your avatar from there.
In addition, the installation makes use of the viewers Advanced Lighting Model (ALM) and looks its best with Shadows: Sun/Moon enabled (although this is not vital). Both of these can be set through Graphics → Preferences, if needs be.
The core of the installation comprises 10 free-standing mounts, each displaying two layered images on reverse sides of each mount. Abstract in nature, these pieces have about them the suggestion of human flesh / the body in a fluidic state, as if in motion across a darkened surface, subtle animations layered in to each adding an almost subliminal additional sense of motion. This is further added to by the installation space itself through the use of sine wave patterns along the walls and part of the floor and the play of projected lighting (hence the requirement for ALM being enabled).
It is this sense of fluidity and gentle motion that – for me – suggested (tenuously, admittedly) the incidental connection with Bamboo’s Unusual and, perhaps more appropriately – if equally tenuous – a link to Eta’s recent installation entitled Pariah – The Hidden Persona, displayed at the Hannington Arts Foundation (see: Art and our Hidden Personas in Second Life).
I say this because both Unusual and Pariah in part (or fully) focus on matters of identity and what lies within each of us, often hidden (or forced into hiding) by the demands of society / conforming to what is expected of us, and only given the opportunity to thrive / find release when we are alone or as we embark on a journey of self-discovery. Though highly abstract in form, the images within Skewered might be said to suggest the idea that life is a transformative and we are organisms in a constant state of flux and change, revealing (or discovering) new facets of ourselves – perhaps in defiance of the demands of “fitting in”, whilst also hiding others through the fluidity of expression.
I’ve honestly no idea if this interpretation is anything close to Eta’s intent – if indeed she had any intend beyond getting us to engage the grey cells between the ears -, and it is not something I’ve discussed with her. But even if you don’t see Skewered as it occurred to me, there is no denying the manner in which this exhibition engages and draws the visitor back to it, each viewing of the pieces often revealing something new / causing additional cogitation. As such, I suggest you hop on over and take a look for yourself.