Gustav Klimt & Nanibird


I know what you're thinking - what the hell is a Nanibird? Good question. It's one I asked myself when I discovered the website and the story of its creator, Josh McKible. Short story is, Josh moved to Japan and found he was constantly asking himself, "What?" or "Nani?" in Japanese, throughout the day. To document his experience, he created 100 paintings of birds asking "Nani?" and then took the format to a more 3-D (and in my opinion, much more fun) arena. After creating his own series of Nanibirds and a template, he set out to find other designers who could make the structure their own. Thus, the Nanibird website was hatched. Josh is now roosting his fourth batch of Nanibirds and I sent him my own design (fingers crossed he'll pick it!).

I appreciate Josh's venture for a few reasons. First, I really like how there's a community of Nanibird artists and that no matter your background and geographic location, there's this common meeting ground found among these birds. Second, living in NYC for the last year, I found that I ask myself the same word over and over again to keep some sort of sanity. In this case it's not the word what, but rather, seriously?

The car that nearly sideswipes me on the way to work. Seriously? My landlord who rings the doorbell at 10:30 at night. Seriously? The man who is singing his heart out to Wu Tang Clan on the subway. Seriously? I feel your pain Josh - and I'm still living in my country of origin. (Although, at times I question that last statement.)

The creation of my own Nanibird also allowed me to use an artist's style I've admired for a while - Gustav Klimt's. Klimt was an Austrian painter in the late 1800's during the Art Nouveau movement. Art Nouveau, French for "new art", explored art through geometric and organic shapes. Klimt is best known for his decorative embellishments in paintings, most often of erotic images and femme fatales. His work also incorporated gold leaf, which produced some striking images. In this mashup, I took some of Klimt's styles from the paintings The Kiss and the Tree of Life.

While this on my wall to enjoy, it was by far the most fun I've had in creating a mashup. I've named him Gustav. I encourage you all to check out the Nanibird website and make one of your own!

One Year Anniversary


No - I didn't paint this (I wish I did!). Hide and Seek was painted by Pavel Tchelitchew over the course of two years during the 1940's. It is amazing. Just take a few minutes to examine it and you'll find there's more than meets the eye. I first learned of this piece when I was a senior in high school. As part of an art course, my class took a museum trip to NYC to visit The Met, Guggenheim, and the MOMA. This was the only piece I wanted to see - not Van Gogh's Starry Night or Dali's Persistence of Memory - and as luck would have it, it was in storage during the time of my visit. It took me eleven years to seek it out again and yesterday, I was able to see it at The MOMA in all its glory. Yesterday not only marked this special event, but also marked my one year anniversary of living in New York City.

One year of driving the crazy streets of Queens. One year of listening to airplanes fly over our house towards LaGuardia airport. One year of walking the streets and having no clue what language a passerby is speaking. One year of paying an obscene amount of money for a box of cereal. One year of randomly yelling, "I hate this place!" to myself while on my way to work.

As my family can see, my outlook on this city hasn't changed from my first month of living here. But like staring at Hide and Seek, I've realized that taking a long hard look at NYC is more involved than I originally thought. Sure, there's the surface level details - the subways are dirty and there's some pretty creepy people who ride them; driving can be a harrowing event on a daily basis; the bus will never be on time. But then comes another level of NYC that took some time to understand.

I work with such a diverse array of people, from cultures I would not have been exposed to if I remained in Rhode Island. I've learned of religious customs of which I never was aware. And within this diverse, massive population, Pat and I still feel totally alone. I'm not going to Pollyanna out on you all - it's hard for us here. While we've managed to form those co-worker relationships one has to in order to survive in a new place, those familial relationships that keep you emotionally alive - that bring you joy and sense of belonging - well, we're still playing hide and seek for those.

NOTE: This post was meant as a sort of intermission between mashups. I have been percolating some ideas but have been busy/traveling these last few weekends and haven't had a chance to sit down and produce. I promise - they're coming! :)