Green Day: The Earth-Friendly Surrealism of Steven Kenny

The Glade

Steven Kenny is a St. Petersburg, Florida artist whose work is an interesting mash-up of classic 17th century portraiture and surrealistic dreamscapes. His subjects are invariably surrounded by animals or other aspects of the natural realm, especially flora and birds. In fact, a symbiotic connection to the natural world is a major focus of his work; indeed, many of his subjects appear as if they one with the earth, not born but sprouted fully-realized from terra firma.

“My paintings most often focus on the human figure paired with elements found in nature,” he said. “These surreal, symbolic juxtapositions are intended to work on at least two levels. The first alludes to the fact that we are an integral part of the natural world and subject to its laws. This seems like an obvious statement until we step back and objectively assess our symbiotic relationship with each other and the Earth. Depending on your perspective, these relationships fall somewhere on the scale between harmonious and dysfunctional.”

Just in time for Earth Week, here’s the spiritual, thought-provoking and earth-conscious work of Steven Kenny.

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Ailsa’s Travel Theme: Round

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Round could like umbrellas in Kyoto, Japan (above), or giant Christmas ornaments in
San Francisco (below).

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Check out more of this week’s roundness at Ailsa’s Travel Theme!

Posted in Ailsa’s Travel Theme, Japan, Kyoto, Photography, San Francisco, Stephen Kelly Photography, Travel Theme | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Happy Easter: WTF Edition

wtfbunny_10When it comes to holidays, I can be subversive; remember my recent Valentine’s Day essay/rant? Well, I’m the same way with Easter. Despite being raised in a Catholic household, it’s a holiday that I’ve never really embraced or celebrated. In fact, what with its constant annual shifting of dates, the day could come right up and I wouldn’t even know it … like this year.

Growing up, I always thought Easter was something of a gyp, even though in the Catholic calendar it was considered THE holiest of holy holidays, you know, what with Jesus rising from the dead and all. In fact, it was considered to be even more important than Christmas, if that’s even possible! But instead of gifts and toys, on Easter Day all you woke up to was a basketful of chocolate rabbits, gummy bears, little Hershey kisses and Easter eggs, which were the greatest scam of all, because no matter how gala you color the outer shell, what lies underneath is still a hard-boiled egg, and there isn’t a kid on earth that likes hard-boiled eggs. Let’s not even get into the impact that much candy has on the world’s rampant childhood obesity problem.

bunny2And the Easter Bunny … wassup with that? Another scam! The thought of a single rabbit hopping around the world distributing candy to the world’s kids always seemed illogical to me, even more than a fat guy who basically breaks into your house by sliding down the chimney. Speaking of getting in, I’ve always been unclear on the Easter Bunny’s mode of entry … how does he even get in the house? Does he hop around jimmying windows open with a crowbar, because that sounds like breaking and entering to me. In any event, I don’t know about you, but unless it’s Bugs, Roger or Jessica (or, to a lesser degree, Brer, or that peevish rabbit from the Winnie The Pooh stories … another example of animals behaving illogically), I don’t want rabbits hopping around my house, mainly because they’re always leaving little bunnies and/or tiny poop balls in their wake.

Thank God my parents never subjected me to an actual visit with a department store Easter Bunny, because I would probably would have projected some of the same unfortunate looks as the poor kids depicted in this disturbing gallery (check it out after the jump). Even at this early juncture, you can tell some of these kids are in for years of adult therapy in an attempt to permanently eradicate the thoughts of that fateful Easter Sunday when their little psyches were scarred forever.

But hey, if you’re into it, don’t let my grumpiness rain on your (Easter) parade. Hope it is/was a fun, happy day devoid of freakish rabbits and bizarre bunnies! Continue reading

Posted in Holidaze, Humor, Strange But True | Tagged , , , | 17 Comments

Ultra-Surrealism: The Digital Art of Andrey Bobir

ConsciensWhile doing background research on this week’s featured artist, Andrey Bobir, and his trippy surreal art,  I was a little surprised that I was unable to uncover much on the man, or his interesting photo-realistic technique.

What I did discover was that he is 27 years old and he lives and works in Almaty, the former capital of Kazakhstan. All of the work seen here was created digitally using 3ds max and Photoshop, his preferred medium. Themes of loss, alienation, loneliness, the concept of consciousness and an overall pessimistic view of technology are common themes that he revisits in his work.

As I like to say in cases like this, perhaps it’s best to let the art speak for itself, in this case, the ultra-surrealist digital art of Andrey Bobir. Check out the gallery after the jump. Continue reading

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Monument

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Near the busy Shibuya Station in Tokyo is this monument to Hachikō, a dog who for years has been an enduring symbol of loyalty and perseverance to the Japanese people, and once you hear his amazing story, you’ll understand why.

Hachikō, a golden brown pure-bred Akita, was adopted in 1924 by Hidesaburō Ueno, a professor of agriculture at the University of Tokyo. At the end of each day, Hachikō would greet Professor Ueno at the Shibuya Station, and the two soon became a familiar sight at the station. But one day in 1925, Professor Ueno suffered a fatal stroke while at work, and would never again return to the station. Each day for the next nine years, at exactly when the train was due, Hachikō would arrive at the station to await his master’s return.

HachikōOne day in 1932 a former student of Professor Ueno’s followed the dog to the Ueno home, where he learned the story of Hachikō. Deeply impressed by what he heard, he published several articles about the dog’s loyalty. A 1932 story published in the Tokyo Asahi Shimbun caught the public’s attention and made Hachikō a national sensation and he soon became a symbol of family loyalty, especially for children.

Hachikō died on March 8, 1935, and a small monument stands next to the grave of his beloved Professor Ueno in the Aoyama Cemetery, Minato, Tokyo. Hachikō’s preserved remains are on display at the National Museum of Science and Nature in Ueno, Tokyo.

As is fitting for national heroes, in April of 1934 a bronze statue of Hachikō was erected at Shibuya Station, with Hachikō present for the ceremony. The original statue was recycled during World War II and a second monument, designed by the son of the original artist, was installed in 1948. A similar monument was erected in Hachikō’s hometown, in front of Ōdate Station in Akita Prefecture, JapanThe exact spot where Hachikō waited in the train station is permanently marked with bronze paw-prints and text in Japanese explaining his loyalty.

Love for Hachikō hHachikoas not faded over the years, and he remains a beloved figure in Japan. His life was the subject of the popular 1987 movie Hachi-kō (Hachikō Monogatari) (“The Tale of Hachiko”), which concluded with an imagined spiritual reunion with Professor Ueno.

In 1994, the Nippon Cultural Broadcasting in Japan was able to lift a recording of Hachikō barking from an old record that had been broken into several pieces. After a massive advertising campaign, on Saturday, May 28, 1994, 59 years after his death, millions of radio listeners tuned in to hear Hachikō bark.

Public admiration for Hachikō is also credited with making the Akira breed of dogs the most popular in Japan.

Hachikō’s monument remains a popular Tokyo meeting spot and is found near the “Hachikō-guchi” (“The Hachikō Entrance/Exit”), one of the station five exits. Gone but never forgotten, Hachikō is honored each April 8 with a remembrance ceremony at the Shibuya railroad station where his monument stands. Hundreds of dog lovers attend the annual event to honor this abiding symbol of loyalty.

Man’s best friend, indeed!

Posted in Animals, Japan, Photography, Stephen Kelly Creative, Stephen Kelly Photography, Tokyo, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Ailsa’s Travel Theme: Misty

IMG_4237 copyHere in San Francisco, misty is a way of life!

Posted in Ailsa’s Travel Theme, Photography, San Francisco, Stephen Kelly Creative, Stephen Kelly Photography, Travel Theme | Tagged , , , , , , | 8 Comments

The Haunting Surrealism of Gabriel Pacheco

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Gabriel Pacheco is a Mexican painter and illustrator known for working in the Surreal Visionary style. Born in Mexico City, he began his career as an illustrator when his sister asked him to illustrate a story she had written. Since then, he has become widely known for his work illustrating children’s books and has even taught classes on that subject in Mexico, Spain and Italy.

His simple, haunting style is populated by romantic and intense characters and a soft surrealistic ambience. He is fond of vivid patches of colors on simple backgrounds and a strong use of precise, sharp lines. His work is inspired by Hieronymous Bosch and Marc Chagall, although it can be said that he is also influenced by the styles of Hans Christian Andersen, Rudyard Kipling, Edgar Allen Poe, Lewis Carroll and other writers and composers whose work he has brought to life in his intriguing illustrations.

Viva, Pacheco! See more of his work by checking out the gallery after the jump, or by visiting his interesting blog, which, not surprisingly, is a true mix of art of literature. Continue reading

Posted in Art, Weekly Art | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments