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The Evolution of De-evolution

Posted on January 27, 2015 by admin

Myopia. The Mark Mothersbaugh exhibit at MCA-Denver. Through April 12.

Devo’s amazing “Whip It” was perfect video fodder for 80s MTV. For many of us Devo exemplifies the 70s New Wave (which Devo actually predates) to what became an 80s aesthetic with their red “energy domes” and hazmat suits. Their bright, angular, (seemingly) cold, clean, symmetric, repetitive, factory-produced, artificial, keyboardy, irreverence was firmly rooted in 60s counter culture and the milieu around the 1971 Kent State killings (Devo are alums). You cannot separate the music from their highly visual style — an influential vision unique to the mind of Mark Mothersbaugh.

Amazingly, Myopia, the ongoing exhibit of his work at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver is his first. As it was a Denverite, Adam Lerner, who encouraged Mothersbaugh to reveal the rest of the iceberg, of which Devo is only the public tip, the Mile High City is the starting point (it will move to other cities during the year). His art utilizes different approaches (de-evolution being one) and media, while maintaining a unity. After viewing the source material, Devo starts to make more sense. Myopia fleshes out and makes warm what can otherwise be seen as plastic and aloof. Although Devo embraced digital, video, (and digital video!), and despite a cookie-cutter facade, there is a human behind it after all. And, as a bonus, that human, Mark Mothersbaugh, performed in the flesh at a related event, at the Holiday Theater in Denver on January 22. When it comes to a town near you, use your Freedom of Choice!

Devolved headgear at MCA-Denver

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When Problem Comes Along, You Must Fix It — Or Not!

Posted on January 27, 2015 by admin

Kintsugi and Marcel Duchamp.

As the banners here at BetterWall are hung outdoors to advertise exhibits, they are exposed to the elements and may have slight signs of wear. Though we always make sure only the finest specimens are sent to our customers, a little scuff only adds to its authenticity and character — yes? Nirvana’s scruff to Devo’s sheen — both have their merits. We’ve all seen the artificial weathering of clothing over the years as a marketing tool, however, there is nothing like a genuinely worn pair of jeans. Even a scratch on vinyl, and the skip it creates, tells you it’s yours. This got me to thinking about Kintsugi, the Japanese art of repair, and the Dadaism of Marcel Duchamp.

Actually I stumbled upon this concept on Wikipedia, so I’ll just go with the definition I found there:

Kintsugi is the Japanese art of fixing broken pottery with lacquer resin dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. As a philosophy it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise.

And then I got to contemplating Duchamp’s “The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even” aka “The Large Glass”, which lives at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The story goes that during transport the glass shattered. Duchamp, liking the resulting patterns, decided against repair; much of the Dadaist philosophy being rooted in chance.

And coincident to writing this, and yet another rock’n'roll reference, indie group, Death Cab for Cutie have just announced they are releasing an album called “Kintsugi” this March.

An example of "Golden Joinery"


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Low-Brow and “Big Eyes”

Posted on January 22, 2015 by admin

Amy Adams wins Golden Globe for title role in Margaret Keane film.

An enduring memory growing up in the suburbs in the 60s and 70s were the freaky big eyes staring at me from the walls of friends’ homes. By the 80s these kitsch masterpieces became collectible among hipsters. As it turns out, the artist behind these very popular, money-making images wasn’t Walter Keane at all (though he took all the credit), but his wife Margaret. Tim Burton’s Big Eyes, in theaters now, tells the whole story.

Behind every "great" man, the woman who did all the work

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Swiss Watch

Posted on January 22, 2015 by admin

Hans-Ulrich Obrist. The art world’s most influential curator?

The man held a film festival in his kitchen cupboard! As an art-obsessed lad who grew up in the middle of Europe, Obrist scraped together what he had to visit as many artists and galleries as he could, mostly by train. He willed himself into expertise in an unorthodox manner, making himself a highly-connected maven of the art world. An interesting character. Check out this article in the December New Yorker.


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Posted on September 15, 2014 by admin

At BetterWall, we’re big fans of Houzz. It’s incredibly addictive even if you’re not in the market for a new home or remodeling one. The visual flow of millions of well organized appealing photographs is more than enough to waste a few hours of your day. Below are some of our recent finds on Houzz.

Julia Child inspired peg board modernist!

Perhaps Burning Man inspired?

Aperitivo anyone?

Bohemian chic

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Digital Switcheroo

Posted on September 15, 2014 by admin

English portraitist George Dawe 19th century paintings of Russian generals is the inspiration for an amusing digital switcheroo that places celebrity heads on these military shoulders.
Bob Marley

Clint Eastwood

Eddie Murphy

Brad Pitt

Bob Dylan

David Bowie

Frank Zappa

Sylvester Stallone

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Amazing “Find” is a 60 Year Old Theft

Posted on September 15, 2014 by admin

Earlier this year, we reported on an amazing flea market find in West Virginia. A woman claimed to find what was later authenticated as an original Renoir, worth $100,000. While the story made the rounds of national news reports, Washington Post reporter Ian Shapira didn’t quite think the story added up. His investigation revealed that the Renoir had been stolen in 1951 by the mother of the woman claiming the flea market find. In fact, it had been hanging in her home for decades before being passed down to her daughter. The painting was originally purchased by Alphonsine Fournaise Papillon, who is depicted in Luncheon of the Boating Party, and then purchased and eventually loaned to Baltimore Museum of Art by Baltimore collector Saidie May in 1937.

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The Coif Awaits its Comeback

Posted on September 15, 2014 by admin

While the cycle for fashion retreads seems shorter than ever, we’re still waiting on the coif to stage a serious comeback.

Nicole Kipar has accumulated a catalog of late 17th century coifs, cloth headwear that were ubiquitously worn by women.

While noblewomen wore elaborately embroidered or decorated coifs, women of lower classes wore simple white caps.
Perhaps the only remaining use of the coif today is among nuns.

Some original coifs:
Holbein, Hans Il Giovane (the Younger)

Vincent Van Gogh

Rogier van der Weyden

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Beware: The Thanksgivukkah Meal

Posted on November 19, 2013 by admin

The holidays bring out all sorts of intriguing combinations: witness the Turduken. A deboned chicken stuffed in a deboned duck stuffed in a deboned turkey sounds downright macabre. It actually tastes quite good, with the fatty duck keeping the two other meats moist and flavorful.

Jason Kessler, at Bon Appetit, got into the holiday swing last week, but veered entirely off track for a foodie magazine. Rather than recount warm delicious holiday meals, he made a list worth noting to all holiday cooks who like to dabble conjuring up new recipes. Warning: Do Not Attempt these at Home.

Beware! The Thanksgivukkah Meal

Turkey Maccaburgers: Yup, you guessed it. Maccabee shaped turkey burgers.

Noodle Kugel Stuffing: Eggy noodle stuffing.

Thanksgiving Shepherd’s Pie: Brisket, cream of schmaltz soup, and a mashed potato latke topper.

Gelt-Cream Pie: Unimaginably bad sounding.

Cheese Ball Sufganiyot: Traditional Hanukkah doughnuts with cheese filling.

Manischewitz Crangria: While nobody in their right mind would combine Manischewitz kosher wine with cranberries and candied pumpkin (yuck), we can highly recommend using any leftover kosher wine for a sangria of apples, oranges, and grapes. In this case, the sweet wine is perfectly fine for this Spanish comfort drink.

Read the entire article here.

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$45 Begets $400,000

Posted on September 12, 2013 by admin

A $45 find at auction resulted in a $400,000 find, as experts authenticate this postcard as an original 19C John Constable. His most famous painting, The Hay Wain, can be seen on this banner.

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