Raging Graphix Gallery in Second Life

Raging Graphix Gallery, December 2019

Raging Graphix Gallery is a newly-opened gallery curated by artist Raging Belles and Jimbo Neximus with a mission “to promote these amazing artists and inspire those who appreciate their talent with monthly events … featuring well-known and new artists on the scene.”

For the opening exhibition, which runs through until the end of 2019, the gallery is featuring the work of two well-known artists, CybeleMoon and Big Zee, neither of whom need any real introduction. Both are quite modest exhibitions, between them occupying around one third of the total gallery space, and for those perhaps not familiar with either Cybele’s work or that of Zee, they offer warm introductions to their art.

Raging Graphix Gallery: CybeleMoon, December 2019

Cybele is a visual storyteller; her art steeped in narrative and beautifully layered. Here she presents something of a winter’s theme from her Song and Stories collection, with Winter Homecoming in particular standing as tale perfect for the season of the year.

Raging Graphix presents my second encounter with Big Zee’s art, coming on the heels of his exhibit at THE EDGE gallery (see Artistry at THE EDGE in Second Life), and once again the selection of pieces here – two of which can also be found at THE EDGE – demonstrate his feel for landscape images and his rich use of colour.

Raging Graphix Gallery: Big Zee, December 2019

The majority of the gallery features Raging Belle’s art, a number of pieces of which can also be seen at her selection on display at the December exhibition at THE EDGE. As I noted with that exhibition, her work presents insight into the richness of opportunity for expression in Second Life through a series of studies constructed around her avatar, together with vivid landscapes.

Compact without feeling small, with room to appreciate the art on offer, Raging Graphix Gallery is an interesting addition to Second Life’s artistic community. When visiting, please ensure you also visit the garden display of avatar studies by Strand, located to one side of the gallery building.

Raging Graphix Gallery: Raging Bells, December 2019

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Hannington Endowment for the Arts (HEA) in Second Life

HEA, December 2019: Thoth Jantzen

The Hannington Endowment for the Arts (HEA) is a new, community-fostered arts centre and group that has been founded to “to unify The Arts and artists in SL by providing a central info location to find all participating art related events and locations .”

Established following the closure of the Linden Endowment for the Arts  – with which it has no official connection, being entirely resident supported and run, HEA has been made possible by long-time Second Life resident Hannington Xeltentat, for whom the centre and group have been named, and who directly sponsors HEA activities and art installations available at the HEA’s in-world gallery spaces, which are managed by Tansee and available on a grant basis for 1, 3 or 6 months at a time.

HEA, December 1029: Cica Ghost

For the inaugural HEA grant series, which opened on November 30th, 2019, the gallery spaces present installations by Cica Ghost, Thoth Jantzen, Lorin Tone (building structure by Elicio Ember) and Betty Tureaud. Set to join them soon are two further installations by Patrick Moya and Bryn Oh respectively, although at the time of our visit, the space for Bryn’s exhibit was “temporarily” home to The Garage Gallery of Happy Stuff, presented by Impossibleisnotfrench (aka Harry Cover).

It’s important to note that the gallery setting – and the exhibits – are best appreciated by having your viewer’s Advanced Lighting Model (ALM) function enabled via Preferences → Graphics (you do not need to necessarily enable shadows, however), and having local sounds enabled. For Thoth Jantzen’s installation you should also be willing to accept the local parcel media.

All four of the “main” artists present at the time of our visit offer 3D installations that perfectly reflect their art. Cica offers Drawn Town Small, a charming miniature of her February 2019 installation Drawn Town (which you can read about here). Like the larger version, this one comes with sit points and animations for people to discover, while Betty presents a nicely layered piece with Art of the Game that reflects her traditional use of colour as expression.

HEA, December 2019: Betty Tureaud

For TJ’s Mess, Thoth Jantzen presents a selection of pieces, some of which might be familiar to those who have enjoyed Thoth’s work at events such as past SL Birthday celebrations. Combining light, colour and sound, Thoth’s work can be living pieces, interactive pieces, and this is certainly the case here with the three larger elements. Be sure to note the instructions on entering the exhibition space.

I’ve always enjoyed Lorin Tone’s use of sound and his demonstrations of what can be achieved with sound and LSL scripting in Second Life. Within Borealis Revisited, he presents another master class – one with a deeper narrative to it than might be apparent, so excuse me if I delve a little more deeply into it.

Within a structure built by Elicio Ember, lie four small moons / planets, all orbiting a central sphere. Together, these five orbs form a set of musical emitters, the sound from the lower four constantly shifting aurally as you sit on the benches below them. Between the benches and the upper spheres are four larger, interactive orbs (three of which have a passing resemblance to the Jovian moons Io, Ganymede and Callisto respectively, and the fourth to Mercury), also circling a central point while rotating slowly about their own axes. As Lorin then explains:

The build is based on and inspired by a musical piece titled Aurora, composed by Hans Zimmer (used with permission from his management). [It] has been cut into almost 60 pieces and rebuilt into five sound emitters. Each set gradually fades in and out, and each sound emitter has a different number of silences built in; the result is five musical sections that constantly evolve, never repeating the same combination twice. [The lower spheres] contain 36 solo female voice sounds. When clicked, each will randomly play one sound one time.

– Lorin Tone, on Borealis Revisited.

HEA, December 2019: Lorin Tone

Aurora was written by Zimmer to commemorate those killed or wounded in the 2012 Aurora, Colorado, mass shooting (at the time the 3rd largest mass shooting in the United States but which is now ranked 18th – which says a lot in and of itself). It’s a hauntingly beautiful piece, and Lorin’s installation presents it as such and entirely uniquely given the way the composition constantly shifts and changes between each silence, complete with the opportunity for visitors to add their “voice” to the choral by touching the interactive spheres.

Harry’s The Garage Gallery of Happy Stuff – which as noted is a temporary installation pending Bryn Oh’s arrival at HEA, although I very much hope Harry considers an installation of his own work – is a charming mix of pieces, 2D and 3D, many of which cannot fail to raise a smile. When visiting, don’t miss the eggshibition of his charming mesh eggs, which present scenes drawn from Harry’s life experiences and memories. Most are interactive (touch the lids to close / open them and hear an accompanying sound), and the “?” plaque on the plinths supporting six of the smaller eggs can be touched for a note from the artist on the meaning behind the egg.

HEA, December 2019: The Garage Gallery of Happy Stuff – Impossibleisnotfrench

All of the HEA gallery spaces are gathered around a central landing point and information centre / arts hub, the lower part of which presents room for events, and the upper platform the information centre. The latter includes a seating area, a teleport connecting HEA to other major art galleries, installation and facilities in Second Life, and a computer terminal where artists can obtain a grant application.

As noted above, grants are available for one, three, or six month periods, with awardees presented with a total land capacity of 1,000 LI each. Grants are awarded at the discretion of the HEA staff on the basis of concept, originality, ability and space availability, and applications are open to all who are “dedicated to The Arts to learn, teach, and display their own unique original style of creativity in Second Life for all to enjoy.”

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Homage to Surrealism on Second Life

Itakos Project: Homage to Surealism – PatrickofIreland

Officially opening on Saturday November 30th, 2019 at the Itakos Project, is A Homage to Surrealism, a dual exhibition by the gallery’s owner and curator, Akim Alonzo and PatrickofIreland.

Hosted in the gallery’s Blue Pavilion, the exhibition is split across two levels, with Patrick’s work on the lower level, and Akim’s on the upper, linked by reproductions of classic surrealist works by the great Salvador Dalí and Renè Magritte.

As a cultural movement, Surrealism encompassed multiple aspects of the arts: literature, music, film, theatre, sculpture, and – perhaps most famously – art itself – whilst also touching on politics. It has its roots in the early 20th century, rising to become a major form of expression in the 1930s – the period when the likes of Dalí and Magritte joined it.

Itakos Project: Homage to Surealism – Akim Alonzo

The movement carried within it its own manifesto, and was created with the aim of resolving “the previously contradictory conditions of dream and reality”. Surrealist work is most often marked by the use of juxtaposition and non-sequitur elements and ideas. Within the visual medium, this can result in the most startling, attractive and thought-provoking pieces of art, and this is very much the case with the pieces presented by PatrickofIreland and Akim.

The eleven pieces PatrickofIreland offers embrace originality, with some almost touching on hints of post-modernism. Each is richly expressive, strong in narrative and engaging to the eye. So much so, that picking out individual pieces would be unfair; all need to be seen and savoured for their depth and appearance.

Itakos Project: Homage to Surealism – PatrickofIreland

With his exhibition, Akim builds on his Matrix series, a selection of his art I’ve covered previously in these pages (see: Water and a Matrix: reflections on life by Akim Alonzo, April 2019). It is a series rich in story and interpretation within it lie questions of reality and identity, and the riddle of worlds within worlds, that allows them to stand as a collection in their own right.

Here, Akim’s work offers a unique perspective of both surrealism mixed with a strong sense of post-modernism and futurism – take the title of the series, for example, drawn as it is from the film series of the same name. This might appear to be a step away from the ideal of surrealism – until you consider that the Matrix franchise both presents a surreal world view and carries a manifesto (and warning) of its own concerning automaton and the superior reality offered by technology – just as surrealism carries its own manifesto drawing on the same themes – albeit one aimed at broadening horizons and opportunities. Thus, Akim’s works present both a visual representation of surrealism and an underlying thesis.

Itakos Project: Homage to Surealism – Akim Alonzo – note the Dalí reference

This is an engaging and provocative exhibition. It is already open to visitors, but those wishing to celebrate it with the artists might like to attend the official opening at 13:30 SLT on Saturday, November 30th, 2019, when the music will be provided by D.J. Ramel Markova.

Akim as also produced a video to introduce the exhibition, which I’ve taken the liberty of embedding below.

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Art in reflection of self and poetry in Second Life

Nitroglobus: Maloe Vansant, “The moon lives in the lining of your skin”

Available at Nitroglobus Roof Gallery, curated by Dido Haas, is an exhibition of art by Maloe Vansant that takes as its inspiration, words offered by Chilean Nobel Laureate Ricardo Eliécer Neftalí Reyes Basoalto – better known as poet Pablo Neruda.

In Ode to a Beautiful Nude, Neruda offers a song of love and appreciation for the flawless beauty of a model appearing before him. The poem offers a lyrical examination of the woman, initially acknowledging his desire to appreciate her in a chaste manner rather than giving into more carnal desires – although the praise he goes on to offer towards her beauty carries with it an undertone of that desire throughout, before culminating in the line:

The moon lives in the lining of your skin.

– Pablo Neruda, Ode to a Beautiful Nude.

Nitroglobus: Maloe Vansant, “The moon lives in the lining of your skin”

It is this line that Maloe takes as the title of her exhibition at Nitroglobus. Within it, she offers an exploration of self and beauty as reflected in the moods and words found throughout the poem, whilst at the same time offering insight into the relationship between artist and avatar.

After creating little Maloe, my barbie doll, my pixel soul, I discovered the possibility of making snapshots and I started to make a graphic diary of Maloe’s journey in Second Life, showing the emotions she experienced in this pixel world … I am not a woman of many words, I try to express myself, my feelings, my passion and probably my dark side through my pictures.

Maloe Vansant, describing her relationship with her avatar.

The use of Neruda’s words might suggest that Maloe is offering a visual homage to his poem  – something that has been done before in Second Life (see: Poems and art in Second Life, April 2016). However, this would not be a fair assessment. The art and poem stand apart from one another in the extent of their explorations, but at the same time they are entwined by common themes of giving for and depth to the the nature of natural beauty. Therefore, one is neither a homage to the other.

Nitroglobus: Maloe Vansant, “The moon lives in the lining of your skin”

One of the interesting contrasts been poem and art is in their examination of beauty. Whereas the poem perceives the beauty and reflection of the soul from without; Maloe’s art does so from looking out from within. One of the interesting links between the two is in their use of metaphor.

Take eyes, for example. In his Ode, Neruda acknowledges The two deep countries of your eyes, so often seen a a window into a person’s soul. Within The Face is a Picture of the Mind, focused as it is one the eye of her avatar, presents a similar examination of the eye and soul.

Elsewhere, each uses metaphor from somewhat different perspectives. With his poem, Neruda uses metaphor to encapsulate that push-pull between wanting to appreciate feminine beauty both from a celibate objectivity and that of a more carnal desire:

Flowering fire
Open chandelier
A swelling fruit
Over the pact of sea and earth.

– Pablo Neruda, Ode to a Beautiful Nude.

By contrast, Maloe uses metaphor more broadly. Take Leaving the Light, Gold Makes Monsters of Men, and The Apple that Changed the World. In three both in words and image, might be seen as metaphors for the way in which west religion has cast the female as being complicit in the Fall of Man (The Apple… and Leaving…) and the subjugation of women as a whole (Gold Makes Monsters…).

Nitroglobus: Maloe Vansant, “The moon lives in the lining of your skin”

Thought-provoking, rich in substance and meaning, The moon lives in the lining of your skin is another outstanding exhibition at Nitroglobus, and will run through until the end of the year. Also still on display at the gallery (at least at the time of my visit) is Kaiju Kohime’s CRISP, an examination of CRISPR gene editing, and which I wrote about in Art, science, and the future, October 2019.

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Artistry at THE EDGE in Second Life

THE EDGE Art Gallery: Artistry – Ladmilla and Eli

Open through until December 23rd 2019 at THE EDGE Art Gallery, curated by Ladmilla, is the gallery’s final exhibition for the year. Entitled Artistry, it is again an ensemble exposition, bringing together an interesting mix of talents and a stirring of 2D and 3D art, with images from both the virtual and physical realms.

In all, eight artists present displays at the gallery, their number rounded-out by a further display of art by Lamilla herself, accompanied with words by her Second Life partner, Eli Medier. As usual, the majority of the artists participating in this session display their art within the gallery’s individual Tuscan-style houses set around the gallery’s grounds / gardens, with Ilyra Chardin presenting her pieces within the garden itself.

THE EDGE Art Gallery: Artistry – Ilrya Chardin

It is the latter that mixes 2D and 3D art, with Ilyra’s 2D digital mix media, most of which originate with photos taken within Second Life, sharing the space with six very distinctive pieces of mesh sculpture.

Two artists making a return visit to THE EDGE having been a part of the September / October ensemble exhibition at the gallery are Davenwolf Dagger and Loegan Magic.

THE EDGE Art Gallery: Artistry – Davenwolf Dagger

As I’ve admitted to in past articles on his work, I’m something of a fan of Davenwolf’s evocative photography, in which he captures physical world locations in the most captivating way, and through his pictures, weaves a pictorial narrative. With Broken Dreams, he takes this a stage further, combining words with his images (please read the text panels before examining the art) to present a haunting story of a once-loved house and home (and a place which now, thanks to Australian bush fires, may no longer exist).

With Simple Things, Loegan offers more of his enticing looks at Second Life, offering a marvellous selection of focused images that convey stories about the digital spaces in which we chose to spend so much of our lives – but which also contain within them moods and thoughts that extend beyond the digital and into the physical, thus tying the two together in an elegant reflection of how our physical and digital lives intertwine.

THE EDGE Art Gallery: Artistry – Loegan Magic

Through Out of the Mist, Thomas Crown simply presents as series of images of Second Life that offer unique glimpses of this world through his eyes, and the landscapes and residents that bring it to life. And by “residents”, I’m not referring to avatars; a world is brought to life as much by its animals and wildlife and even by the vehicle humans have created to assist them in their travels through the places they inhabit. So it is these “residents” – wild fowl, horses, steam trains, boats, and cattle, to which I refer and which are evocatively portrayed here.

Avatars are very much the focus of Tresore’s From Dark to Light, in which she presents her avatar in a variety of story-laden setting and styles from period to fantasy and back, in which colour – notably red and black – play as much a role in many of the pieces as her avatar’s pose and style of dress. Colour and depth are also very much present to great effect in Raging Bells’ untitled selection of SL photographs, offering as they do a sense of the richness of life and opportunity within this virtual realm.

THE EDGE Art Gallery: Artistry – Raging Bells

I admit to not having to have previously come across Zia Branner’s work in Second Life, or that of BigZee. Zia is a physical world artist who constructs marvellous images through the use of acrylics (mainly on canvas) together with structure paste, gel, sand, glue, bandages and paper, and perhaps oil crayons and acrylic ink to accentuate parts of a an image. Held under a layer of mat or gloss varnish, this gives such pieces a sense of physical texture that is clearly evident when presented through a digital medium like SL. BigZee meanwhile, presents images from Second Life that offer their own sense of texture and life through his use of especially vibrant and attention-grabbing colours.

In Shadows, Ladmilla and Eli round-out the exhibition with a series of very tonal images by Ladmilla combined with words by Eli. Utterly captivating in their own right, the narrative in each image is given even greater depth and poignancy through Eli’s words as they perfectly amplify the mood and feeling exuded by each piece.

THE EDGE Art Gallery: Artistry – Zia Branner

As always with THE EDGE, a fascinating selection of art and artistry.

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Mary Cassatt at the Museum of Fine Arts in Second Life

Museum of Fine Arts: Mary Cassatt

Currently open at the Museum of Fine Arts in Second Life is the third part of a series celebrating les trois grandes dames of French Impressionism. Having featured Marie Bracquemond in the first part of the exhibition (see: The Museum of Fine Arts in Second Life) and then Berthe Morisot in the second (see: Berthe Morisot at the Museum of Fine Arts), this final part turns to the work of Mary Stevenson Cassatt (May 22, 1844 – June 14, 1926).

Cassatt is perhaps the most unusual of the grand dames, in that she was born in the United States, the daughter of a stockbroker of French descent. Her parents were able to afford to provide her with a well-rounded education that included travel and study in Europe, where she gained her first exposure to music and the arts. It was at this time that she likely gained her first exposure to  some of the great masters including Edgar Degas, would later be both colleague and mentor.

Returning to the United States, she started to formally study art – albeit it against her parent’s wishes – a path that would lead her back to France in her early 20s. At the time, women were unable to the École des Beaux-Arts, Paris – one of the most influential schools of art in the country – and so sought be be privately tutored. It was this bias against women in a foremost school of art that likely further reinforced Cassatt’s support for equal rights, which formed as much a part of her life as her art.

Museum of Fine Arts: Mary Cassatt

Learning under the tutelage of Jean-Léon GérômeCharles Chaplin and Thomas Couture, it was at this time (1868-1870) Cassatt had her first pieces of art accepted for exhibition. Following a visit home to her family in 1870/71, Cassatt returned to France where she enjoyed further success with exhibiting her art, although she became increasingly cynical and outspoken about the male bias against women artists event in many of the art salaons. In return, she was increasingly seen as “troublesome” for her views and straightforwardness – something that perhaps moved her more towards the Impressionist movement, who were just starting to mount their own independent (or “fringe”, as those practising more accepted forms of art may have regarded them) exhibitions.

It was at this time that she came directly into contact with Edgar Degas, who invited her to join their exhibitions and movement. With Degas she formed a life-long, if often strained, friendship, which included experimenting with form and colour, and she continued to enjoy moderate success.

In 1894, Gustave Geffroy referred to Cassatt as one of les trois grandes dames (the three great ladies) of Impressionism alongside Bracquemond and Morisot. However, by that time, Cassatt no longer regarded herself as part of any movement, but rather as an experimentalist and teacher. Similarly, her popular reputation is based on an extensive series of rigorously drawn and tenderly observed paintings and prints on the theme of the mother and child, works which she embarked upon after she had started to move away from the impressionist movement – which is not to diminish her role within the movement.

Museum of Fine Arts: Mary Cassatt

The exhibition of Cassatt’s art at the Museum of Fine Arts can – as with the previous exhibitions of Bracquemond’s and Morisot’s work can be found in the pavilion buildings, behind the main gallery. It is broadly split into two parts: the pavilion to the left (as you face them) is predominantly focused on Cassatt’s  work from the 1870s through her time in the impressionist movement, while the pavilion to the right  focuses more on her later work including the aforementioned series of mother and child pieces.

As is the practice at the gallery, the paintings are drawings are presented with wall-mounted information cards, and touching any reproduction will display the information relating to the piece in local chat. All the the pieces are also offered in scale with one another – which, as I’ve noted in past reviews, can make some pieces hard to fully appreciate. To counter this, the gallery offers some of Cassatt’s drawings to scale – but with a larger-scale version alongside to offer the opportunity for clearer appreciation. It’s a simple, but effective approach.

Museum of Fine Arts: Mary Cassatt

One of the attractive features of these exhibitions at the Museum of Fine Arts is that that bring together works  that might never all be seen together under one roof; as such, this is again an exhibition that connoisseurs of fine art will not want to miss.

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