Tag Archives: 3-D

The ‘art’ of shopping creatively for the holidays

The holiday season arrives with a multitude of traditions, memories and decisions concerned with the search for perfect, festive gifts. If you are interested in finding things a little out of the ordinary and made with artistic flair, there are a few exhibitions that have made this year’s recommended list. 

A perennial favorite is Art Bar’s Mini exhibition, which features the tag line “tiny art at tiny prices.” Both of these descriptors hold true as the dozens of works on view are less than 4-inches square and cost less than $100, with many options only a fraction of that. 

Acrylic, oil and other varieties of paintings are always plentiful in this exhibition, with everything from abstract works to figurative pieces, landscapes and still lifes available. Some of the boldest works are prints by Daniel Stauff, with figures in black on red backgrounds that take on the character of James Bond movie posters in miniature. Also hunt for Stauff’s oil paintings, where his talents as a portraitist come through in the vibrant light and color he captures in the faces of people on the street or musical icons. 

The Mini installation is changed up a bit this year as more three-dimensional pieces are included, such as pottery mugs by Andrew Linderman and vases by Ken Willert. Laura Rehorst shows jewelry with pendants that are actually tiny drawings. Sculptural earrings are creatively made by Charles Stevens, with elongated pieces that work as wall decorations or embellishments for the ears. Less utilitarian are Leann Wooten’s delightful assemblages, which come together like diminutive dioramas. 

If you find that three-dimensional art is what you seek, the new exhibition I made this for you: Small Gestures in Clay at Portrait Society Gallery should be high on your list of venues to visit. This is the first exhibition of its kind done by the gallery, and as director Debra Brehmer notes, many of the artists involved took this as an opportunity to work in ceramics, although that may not be the medium they are most known for. A sense of inventiveness and the singular beauty of imperfection is what is most sought to bring out a distinctly individual sense of character in each piece.

About a dozen artists are included, including Rory Burke, Adolph Rosenblatt, Colin Matthes and Harvey Opgenorth. The pieces shown span a wide range of styles, from Burke’s mysterious busts and skulls that are caught between beauty and decay, to Opgenorth’s finely tuned, smooth black vessels. Matthes’ work combines his illustrations in richly textured mugs and dishes, while Rosenblatt’s sculpture is definitively figurative, reflecting his work, which is done on-site in front of the people in his art. His figures lounge on beach chairs, recline while reading a book, or are somewhat harried at their desk, as seen in his representation of the former art dealer Michael Lord. 

Darlene Wesenberg, Debbie Kupinsky, Craig Clifford, Gerit Grimm, and Meghan Sullivan are other artists showing original work as well. Gary John Gresl takes a curatorial approach to his installation, which reflects one hundred years of home ceramics, from late nineteenth-century knickknacks to smooth Atomic Age dishware. Noted Wisconsin artist Rudy Rotter is also featured with an installation that introduces his ceramic pieces, a medium that expands on his wooden sculptures of entwined figures. He envisioned them in clay, with smooth, sparkling glazes that retain a sense of optimism and humanity in their naked forms. 

Additionally, Portrait Society is showing Wisconsin Supper Club, a series of works by 20 artists who painted handmade plates thrown by Scott Dercks. Their decorations honor various Wisconsin artists, contemporary and past, and is a compendium of artistic accomplishments. 

Also of interest as a gallery and a commercial space is the Pfister Holiday Marketplace, which is set up in the former Roger Stevens menswear boutique. More than 80 local artists have their work on display, which ranges from handmade cards and prints, to jewelry, scarves and other decorative items. 

Nina Bednarski presents enamel paintings on glass from her Bird Hero series, with various avian species depicted by brilliant colors and noble gazes. The proceeds from her work go in part to nonprofit organizations devoted to wild bird protection and preservation. Dan Kirchen operates on a similar theme with charming birdhouses made in the form of Airstream trailers, a perfect seasonal home. 

In addition to the art objects, a selection of Milwaukee music is available for sale, including CDs by bands such as the Fatty Acids, Nineteen Thirteen, Painted Caves, and De La Buena. As a bonus, selected releases are available on vinyl and cassette. 

The holiday season is one in which goodwill and generosity should flow bountifully. In the spirit of gift-giving, these exhibitions and events are a way of sharing the abundant creative talent in the Milwaukee art community. 

MORE VENUES AND EVENTS 

Pfister Holiday Marketplace

424 E. Wisconsin Ave.

Dec. 3: The always entertaining and engaging writer Ànjà Notànjà will offer advice on holiday letter writing. 

Dec. 6 and 20: Paper snowflake cutting will be the activity of the day. Visitors can create their own to hang in the shop or take home. 

Dec. 11: Artist and event curator Renée Bebeau will demonstrate techniques for creating original etchings on mirrored coasters. 

Student/Alumni Art & Design Sale

273 E. Erie St. 

Dec. 3–5: Current and former students of the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design offer an array of unique holiday and art items for collectors and gift givers. Entry on Dec. 3, 6-9 p.m., is $20, admission Dec. 4 (5-9 p.m.) and Dec. 5 (12-5 p.m.) is free.

Cream City Creatives Craft Fair 

1038 N. Fourth St.

Dec. 13: More than 40 artists will display their work at Turner Hall Ballroom, including art pieces and various wares such as jewelry, body products, crafts and more. Admission is $3, free for kids 12 and under.

ON DISPLAY

Mini: Tiny Art at Tiny Prices continues through December at Art Bar (722 E. Burleigh St., Milwaukee). Visit Art Bar’s Facebook page for more details.

I made this for you: Small Gestures in Clay continues through Jan. 8 at Portrait Society Gallery (207 E. Buffalo St., fifth floor, Milwaukee). Visit
portraitsocietygallery.com for more information.

The Pfister Holiday Marketplace continues through Dec. 24 off the lobby of the Pfister Hotel (424 E. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee). Visit thepfisterhotel.com for details.

The most buzzed-about performances at Cannes

The 67th annual Cannes Film Festival featured a number of remarkable performances, many of them from big-name stars. These were among the actors that had Cannes buzzing:

• Steve Carell: It was an open question which star of Bennett Miller’s “Foxcatcher” turned in the most impressive performance. There’s Channing Tatum as Olympic wrestler Mark Schultz, a physically potent but emotionally stunted man. And as his older sibling and mentor, Mark Ruffalo’s brotherly physicality is also essential. But Carell, with a prosthetic nose and grayed hair, was the one to cause the biggest stir at Cannes for his dramatic turn as the creepy multi-millionaire John du Pont who’s obsessed with the other two.

• Kristen Stewart: There’s a clever irony to casting one of the most famous American actresses as the assistant to a European star, played by Juliette Binoche. But in Olivier Assayas’ “Clouds of Sils Maria,” Stewart does more than wink at her fame. She’s natural and intelligent in a way she hasn’t been perhaps since the 2009 “Adventureland.”

• Timothy Spall: Great artists have often been given majestic big-screen incarnations. In Mike Leigh’s biopic of British master J.M.W. Turner, Spall takes another route. His Turner is a humble, grunting worker whose grand artistry is hidden beneath his gruff manner.

• Marion Cotillard: The Dardenne brothers have never before cast a major star as a protagonist, but they said they were smitten by Cotillard after a brief encounter. In their “Two Days, One Night,” Cotillard proved (to most, although not all) that her stardom didn’t interfere in telling a story about a working class woman trying to convince her co-workers to vote against a raise that will eliminate her job.

• Robert Pattinson: The former “Twilight” star is beginning to put his teen heartthrob past behind him, and the early returns are encouraging. Along with a supporting role in David Cronenberg’s “Maps to the Stars,” Pattinson impressed as Guy Pearce’s bloodied, not-all-there companion in David Michod’s Australian thriller “The Rover.”

• Evan Bird: “Maps to the Stars,” a midnight dark satire of Hollywood, offers up a lot of choice parts. Most notable is Julianne Moore as a star actress terrified that her status is slipping. But the 14-year-old Evan Bird breaks out playing a Justin Bieber-like child star with an ego far greater than his years.

• There were others, too. The Italian family drama “The Wonders” was impossible to imagine without the gentle presence of the young Maria Alexandra Lungu. Alexey Serebryakov enlivened the Russian tragedy “Leviathan” with vodka-swilling fury. Ibrahim Ahmed rooted the Turkish “Winter Tale” with uncommon gravity. Jean-Luc Godard’s dog also took a bite out of Cannes — stealing the show in the French master’s 3-D “Goodbye to Language.” 

WiGWIRED: Five great features that the Amazon smartphone is expected to offer

A report this week in The Wall Street Journal that Amazon is planning to release a smartphone has prompted industry analysts and technology blogs to muse about what the device might offer.

Amazon hasn’t confirmed that it has plans for a smartphone. Introducing such a device would be tough in a crowded market dominated by Apple and Samsung. Even so, innovations like the Kindle Fire and Prime membership program demonstrate that the online retailing giant has a knack for using its massive size and marketing budget to capitalize on gaps in the marketplace.

Some unconfirmed reports say the phone could have a 3-D interface and multiple front-facing cameras.

Here’s a look at five features technology experts believe Amazon might include on its smartphone.

1. 3-D shopping

A 3-D interface doesn’t require special glasses could have a lot of uses. For example, when you’re shopping online, you could pull up a 3-D image of sneakers or a jacket and see all of the features easier, suggests Bill Menezes, principal research analyst at Gartner. Another possibility: you could scan your living room to make a 3-D rendering. Then, when you’re out furniture shopping, take a picture and digitally insert the product into the rendering to see if it fits.

“You could see ‘Oh that’s how that purple couch looks in the bedroom, I think I’ll buy it,’ and you avoid buyer’s remorse,” says Ramon Llamas, research manager of research firm IDC’s mobile phones team.

2. Enhanced games

Amazon is rapidly expanding into the gaming arena with its Amazon Game Studio and video game offerings on its new streaming device, Amazon Fire TV.

“A phone could be a way to help them potentially push more on the game front,” says CRT Capital analyst Neil Doshi.

The phone’s purported 3-D interface could be a way to offer a more robust gaming experience.

3. Seamless grocery shopping

Amazon has been testing a Wi-Fi wand called Amazon Dash that simplifies barcode scanning. Such capabilities could be included in the Amazon phone to improve on current barcode scanning apps. Combine that with Amazon’s same-day grocery service Amazon Fresh, currently in testing in Seattle, Los Angeles and San Francisco, and grocery shopping could be drastically simplified. Rather than dragging a shopping cart through aisles —or even scrolling through a list of products online— a quick wave of the phone in your pantry could have all your groceries at your doorstep within hours.

“It’s an opportunity to continue to tie users into the Amazon ecosystem,” Doshi says.

4. Free streaming video

IDC’s Llamas suggests one of the phone’s selling points could be a free ad-supported version of Amazon’s current instant Video service, which is included in the $99-per-year Prime membership. The hypothetical service could be viewed on the phone, a Kindle or on Amazon’s Fire TV but not elsewhere like Xbox or Roku, he says, which could be a selling point for the phone.

5. Competitive pricing

Menezes at Gartner speculates that the phone could be offered on different price tiers. One tier could be a one-time payment for the phone that offers Amazon’s apps and services but a limited number of other features. A higher price tier could feature a monthly bill and a phone with more bells and whistles.

It’s difficult to be competitive on price in the cutthroat phone market. But as Amazon has shown with its tablets, the company is willing to deliver high-quality hardware at a loss in order to undercut competitors like Apple and put its devices in the hands of people who will use them to buy Amazon’s goods and services.

Disney takes viewers on a return trip to Oz

Returning to the mystical land of “The Wizard of Oz” took more than 70 years and several hundred millions dollars.

Disney released its highly anticipated prequel to the 1939 movie classic on March 8. Directed by Sam Raimi, “Oz the Great and Powerful” explores the origins of the wizard (James Franco) and the witches (Mila Kunis, Michelle Williams and Rachel Weisz) in a three-dimensional Oz.

The $200 million production, not counting another $100 million in estimated marketing costs, is a huge gamble for everyone involved, considering “The Wizard of Oz” is among the most enduring and beloved films of all time. Even Raimi, director of the first three “Spider-Man” movies, described the project as “daunting.”

The risk is compounded by a general box-office slump and a poor showing for last weekend’s $200 million big-screen take on another popular tale, “Jack the Giant Slayer,” based on “Jack and the Beanstalk.”

“The plus side is that there’s such incredible awareness of ‘The Wizard of Oz’ that it’s going to translate into a mammoth opening weekend for ‘Oz the Great and Powerful,’” said Dave Karger, chief correspondent for Fandango.com. “The danger is that many people’s natural tendency will be to compare this to ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ and there’s no film that will ever live up to that.”

According to a survey done by the site, nearly all those buying tickets for the new “Oz” film have seen the original, and the film is far and away the most popular of the week, comprising almost 80 percent of tickets sold.

Franco has loved the world created by L. Frank Baum since he first saw the 1939 movie on TV as a kid. It inspired him to read all of Baum’s books, which led him to other fantasy fare such as “Alice in Wonderland” and the works of J. R. R. Tolkien. But the notion of revisiting the Land of Oz with an A-list director wasn’t enough to lure Franco to the leading role.

“I already had a lot of faith in the movie because Sam was attached, but as an Oz fan, I wanted to be sure that the approach was sound,” the actor said. “They very smartly did not just do a boy version of Dorothy and have the same trip through Oz.”

For one, Franco notes the wizard is a con man and his trip through Oz is very different than Dorothy’s was. “He’ll be getting into awkward situations, basically kind of bouncing off of Oz in ways that Dorothy didn’t,” the actor said.

While the new “Oz” has plenty of familiar elements – the yellow brick road, Emerald City, witches, munchkins – “the ways they’re interacting with the protagonist (are) completely different,” Franco said.

As the film opens in sepia-toned 1905 Kansas, Franco’s Oscar Diggs is a carnival magician who dreams of fame and fortune at any cost. When a twister whisks him to a fantastical land bearing his stage name – Oz – whose inhabitants believe him to be a wizard sent to save them, he can’t believe his luck. Power and riches are practically his for the taking.

But first, he faces three witches, none of whom are exactly as they seem. Oz befriends a few locals, including a flying monkey (Zach Braff) and a china doll (Joey King), and eventually makes the plight of the people of Oz his own.

Like Franco, Raimi grew up loving the original “Oz” film.

“I remember it being the scariest movie I’d ever seen in my life and also the most touching movie, the saddest, sweetest thing I’d ever seen,” he said. “It was that spirit of sweetness, of characters becoming complete by the end of the story – that was the most powerful thing I took away from the 1939 classic and the thing we tried collectively to put in our picture.”

Some critics have questioned the casting of Franco as the wizard. The AP’s Christy Lemire wrote that he’s “too boyish for the role … neither charismatic nor self-loathing enough.”

Yet Raimi believes Franco was the perfect actor to portray the wizard: “He was born to play the part.”

Franco and Raimi are personal friends, and the director said he’s seen the actor’s growth as a performer and an individual since they first worked together on 2002’s “Spider-Man.”

“I knew James was a moody dreamer, and that’s who Oz is,” Raimi said. “He dreams of being this great man, even if he doesn’t know what greatness is.”

The director knew Franco could embody both the selfishness – which Raimi had seen in the actor when he was younger – and the heart of the wizard.

“Because James had, in his life, been all of these things, I knew that if he could grab a hold of them and recognize them and hold up a mirror to himself – however actors do that – he could channel everything he was through this character and really bring him to life like no one else,” Raimi said.

Franco said playing the role “was really like I was stepping into the imaginative world of my childhood.”

And coming into Oz through the wily wizard, whose origins were never fully explored in the Baum books, is an inspired way to revisit the world, he said.

“It’s a great way to return to Oz through a character that you sort of know but not really,” the actor said. “Because of that, it’s a great entry that feels familiar and new.”

For director Ang Lee, filming ‘Life of Pi’ was an expensive leap of faith

Is there anything Ang Lee can’t do?

The pithy answer might be: Large, angry, green men. Yes, Lee’s “Hulk” was not well received. But in his incredibly varied filmography, Lee has steadily steered films that could very well have turned disastrous into box-office hits and Oscar bait.

Combining martial arts with drama? “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” became the highest grossing foreign language film ever, more than double any previous foreign film. A film about gay cowboys? “Brokeback Mountain” went on to be nominated for eight Oscars, winning three including best director.

Few filmmakers have been so drawn to such delicate material where even slight shifts in tone or execution could mean the difference between a hit or a flop. That couldn’t be truer for Lee’s new film, “Life of Pi,” a supreme balancing act for a filmmaker accustomed to working on tightropes.

In an interview the day after “Life of Pi” premiered at the New York Film Festival in September, Lee sat down with obvious relief. Asked how he was doing, Lee exhaled: “Better than I thought.”

The first screening had gone well: the 3-D “Life of Pi” was greeted as a success and immediately added to the Oscar race. For even Lee, knowing which side of the sword a film of his will fall isn’t clear until the first audience sees it.

“I’ve been holding this anxiety for a long time. It’s an expensive movie,” says Lee. “It’s really like the irrational number of pi. For a long time it felt that way – not making sense.”

“Life of Pi,” which 20th Century Fox released Nov. 21, contains, Lee says, “all the no’s” of filmmaking: kid actors, live animals and oceans of water. It’s adapted from Yann Martel’s best-selling 2001 novel, in which a deadly shipwreck maroons a boy (Suraj Sharma) on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger.

Not only does filming such a tale involve considerable challenges, the story is ultimately a spiritual journey – and matters of God and faith are far from typical blockbuster fodder. For those reasons and others, the project went through several previously attached directors, including Alfonso Cuaron, M. Night Shyamalan and Jean-Pierre Jeunet.

Lee, then, was a kind of savior, one of few directors capable of corralling all the difficult elements of “Life of Pi.” His imprimatur helps carry it, given that the cast is one of unknowns (Sharma, only 17 when cast, hadn’t previously acted), digital creations (a combination of real tigers and digital effects were used) and international actors (Irrfan Khan, Gerard Depardieu).

Tobey Maguire, who starred in Lee’s “The Ice Storm” and “Ride With the Devil,” was initially meant to give the film a dose of star power, but he was recast (with Rafe Spall) after proving an awkward fit.

Elizabeth Gabler, president of Fox 2000 Pictures, calls the film ­– whose budget exceeded $100 million – a huge gamble. The international cast and the PG-13 rating, Gabler says, will hopefully make “Life of Pi” ‘’an international adventure for people of all ages.”

“Why do I dare, a Chinese director, do Jane Austen when I still speak pidgin English?” Lee says, referring to his 1995 film “Sense and Sensibility.” “It’s still a leap of faith, you’re taking a risk. Every movie is unknown. If it’s known, then no studio would lose money.”

Lee was born and raised in Taiwan, where he initially pursued acting. Artistic endeavor in ‘60s and ‘70s Taiwan, he says, was considered a low profession and not the choice of his father. Ever since, patriarchs have been a connecting tissue in Lee’s protean filmography. Responding to a comment that father figures _ including one in “Life of Pi” – have often been focal points in his films, Lee corrects: “I think always.”

“I never rebelled against him but he told me what I do is,” he says. “The father figure is something I love, but also suffocate from and want to work against. My mother loves me and everything goes well. I have no conflict with her, so that’s not dramatic.”

Lee emigrated from Taiwan to attend college at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and then film school at New York University. The 58-year-old still lives in the New York area, the Westchester suburbs, with his wife and two sons.

His first three films, all in Mandarin and revolving around Chinese families, were followed by a distinct break with “Sense and Sensibility,” his Hollywood arrival. But it was 1997’s “The Ice Storm,” an adaptation of Rick Moody’s novel about a Connecticut family’s disaster in the swinging ‘70s, that Lee says changed his perception of filmmaking and set him on a new path.

“A movie is really provocation,” says Lee. “It’s not a message, it’s not a statement. Before I thought: I have a story to tell, not even thinking of myself as an auteur. But that is a precious lesson to me, to take a step back _ a respectful step back.”

“Something about cinema, how it works in wonders, you just have to respect it,” he adds. “You should never believe fully like you know.”

“Life of Pi” was certainly full of its own lessons and trials. Lee spent a year making a 70-minute pre-visual animation of the middle chunk of the film set at sea. He had a giant water tank built in an abandoned airport in his native Taiwan, (“Taiwan will do anything for me,” he joked at the NYFF). Still, because of the considerable technical challenges, he says he only got an eighth of his planned shot list.

He was led to 3-D not by James Cameron’s “Avatar,” which was released after planning on “Life of Pi” began, but by searching for “another dimension” to tell such a story. The results, achieved with cinematographer Claudio Miranda, are perhaps the best 3-D work since “Avatar,” including a memorable flying fish scene and the glorious visuals of a whale surfacing in moonlight.

For the film’s young star, the gentle, humble, self-deprecating Lee was a mentor.

“He makes you so calm that you just let him mold you into whatever he wants to mold you into,” Sharma says. “He really showed me that I could do a lot more than I ever thought I was capable of doing.”

Lee may be “a Zen master” like Sharma claims, but his tranquility won’t abide one thing: Anyone who doesn’t cherish the precious chance to make a movie. “If you don’t give 100 percent, I get mad,” he says.

It’s enough of an all-consuming process that Lee doesn’t contemplate his next film until he has seen through the present one.

He says: “I’m still surviving this one.”