March 7, 2018

The Palette is available to all interested with an e-Subscription

In this issue:

A Paper Hat Arts and Crafts Store Opens on Baker Street in Maplewood Village
Artwork hidden under Picasso painting revealed by x-ray
Dramatic Whale Hunts Depicted in Ancient Rock Art
Unprecedented study of Picasso's bronzes uncovers new details
Eugene art supply distributor expanding into new lines
Art and teamwork help one Puerto Rican town nearly five months after Hurricane Maria ripped through
Original Picasso Art Worth Up to $50,000, Stolen From Milwaukee Gallery
The art behind the counter: MSU alumnus manages art store and freelances his art
Oldest known cave paintings yield big surprise: Neanderthals may have been first artists
Stolen Edgar Degas Pastel, Valued at $1-Million, Recovered In the Luggage On A Bus Outside Paris
Karen Pence Is Praising NEA Art Therapy Program on White House Blog






A Paper Hat Arts and Crafts Store Opens on Baker Street in Maplewood Village

MAPLEWOOD, NJ: If you’re thinking Maplewood Village and environs is looking a craftier lately, you’re right. Geralyn’s Art Studio is a fixture, and Oh! Canary on Valley Street opened last year. Both offer classes to help you practice your art. (And don’t forget Express Yourself Studios and Paint & Chill on Springfield Avenue and The Local Yarn Store in South Orange Village Center.)

And now, if you want arts supplies, ideas or a few more specifics learning how to use the latest innovation in your craft, you can come to the most recent addition to the neighborhood: A Paper Hat at 94 Baker Street.

“This town is a creative community in need of quality art supplies,” said A Paper Hat owner, Mika Braakman. Braakman and her family are South Orange residents, close enough so she can ride her bike to work. “I’m standing in my dream,” she said as she looked around her store.

Indeed, A Paper Hat is the perfect place for artists who don’t want to drive half an hour to giant craft stores only to find chaos on shelves and no sales people to answer questions.

A Paper Hat has a bright, open, airy feel that makes you think maybe you could become good at oil painting after all. Braakman is available to talk to customers about their projects and can offer advice on the products that will best suit them. “I want people to know we’re here to collaborate,” says Braakman. And though A Paper Hat has the polished look of boutique, you’ll find products on the shelves that range from top of the line to affordable.

As you look around, you’ll see some old crafting standbys, like a beautiful array of watercolor paper and paints, stretched canvas, craftsman pens of every color, drafting supplies, and books for cartoonists.

But you’ll also see newer innovations. One of the best selling products is the Coco Color Stylus. This nifty electronic pen lets you color on tablets and iPhones in hundreds of different colors and and brush styles. Then you can save your doodle for later. It’s a little addictive. And the best part is, A Paper Hat sells this at the same price point as a certain online behemoth. But you can get it today.

Though A Paper Hat doesn’t offer classes, there will be demonstrations to help customers learn to use art supplies they may not know what to do with, or just show them better ways to use supplies they have used for years.

As you peruse the shelves, you’ll find them loaded with local products. “We sell brushes that are made in Newark, and paint supplies made by long time residents of the area,” says Braakman.

Braakman took the name “A Paper Hat” from a Dutch children’s song. “The song is playful and teaches kids to count,” says Braakman, who is part Dutch. To celebrate the theme, alert shoppers will find gnomes in different places all around the store and a Dutch flag out front. “We are decorating our front window with paper hats made by customers,” Braakman adds.

So next time you want to get your art on, come down to Baker Street. No matter the project, A Paper Hat has you covered. The Village Green


Artwork hidden under Picasso painting revealed by x-ray
Non-invasive imaging reveals landscape painting beneath Pablo Picasso’s The Crouching Beggar but who created it remains a mystery

Wrapped in a mustard coloured blanket with a white scarf and her head on one side, Pablo Picasso’s La Misereuse Accroupie (The Crouching Beggar) is a study of forlorn resignation. But researchers say that there is more to desolate character than meets the eye.

Beneath the mournful image lies another painting, a landscape, researchers have revealed after using non-invasive imaging techniques to examine the work.

The study has also shed light on previously hidden features of Picasso’s early attempts at his desolate figure.

“This is where technology allows us to get into the mind of the artist, so we can actually understand the creative process of Picasso and how he actually started producing this work of art,” said Marc Walton of Northwestern University, who is presenting the work at the meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Texas.

La Misereuse Accroupie was painted by Picasso in 1902, during Picasso’s early “blue period”. It currently hangs in the the Art Gallery of Ontario, Canada.

The first secrets of the painting were discovered by conservators in 1992. Eagle-eyed experts had noticed that the surface texture of parts of Picasso’s painting seemed at odds with the brush strokes of the figure. “There is also unrelated colour peeking through the cracklines that always suggests either a change in composition or a reused canvas,” added Sandra Webster-Cook, senior conservator of paintings at the Art Gallery of Ontario.

When an x-ray image, known as an x-radiograph, of the painting was taken as part of background research, the team found the hidden landscape scene.

To probe further, the gallery team joined forces with researchers from Northwestern University. By using a technique known as x-ray fluorescence, researchers looked across the canvas at the distribution of chemical elements that are found in different pigments.

“This gives us a little bit better sensibility about how this layered structure has developed, because some pigments are only in one layer and not another,” said Walton. Tiny fragments taken from the painting were also analysed to further probe the layers.

Information from x-radiographs, backed up by findings from the x-ray fluorescence, revealed that Picasso adopted shapes that had been laid out in the landscape.

“[Picasso] used the landscape as inspiration for the shape of the woman,” said Walton. “The hills that were painted in the background become the contours of her back.”

But just who the landscape painting is by remains a mystery. Initial suggestions that it was a work by the artist Joaquín Torres-García have been dismissed now that curators believe the landscape depicts a real location in Barcelona, the Parc del Laberint d’Horta. “We know that Santiago Rusiñol, the leader of the Catalan modernisme movement, painted this site, and we believe other younger Catalan painters would have painted this site too,” said Kenneth Brummel, assistant curator of modern art at the Art Gallery of Ontario.

The x-ray fluorescence also uncovered another surprise. While the distribution of iron and chromium pigments matched well with the figure of the woman as seen today, the spread of cadmium and lead based pigments provided insights into the puzzling surface features.

The distribution of these pigments showed slight differences in the tilt of the woman’s head and revealed that she originally had a right arm and hand, possibly holding a piece of bread.

With a watercolour by Picasso of a crouching woman with a similar arrangement of hands also holding a circular piece of bread recently sold at auction, the team suggest the two works might be linked. But that has raised questions about why, in the final painting, the bread-bearing hand is absent. “Is it something that is religious but he then decides to paint over it because he doesn’t want that connotation in this particular painting?” suggested Walton.

Walton adds that the ultimate goal is to identify the colours of the original landscape. “This is really the holy grail because then we [have] uncovered this lost painting and it is part of the world again,” he said.

The latest discovery is not the first time a work of art has been found lurking beneath a Picasso: conservators have previously revealed a portrait of a man wearing a bow-tie beneath a painting known as The Blue Room, while a moustachioed, cravat-wearing man has been found hidden underneath the painting Woman Ironing. In both cases the concealed portraits are thought to be by Picasso himself.

“The interesting thing about the blue period is that Picasso was reusing materials because he probably didn’t have a lot of money at this early period in his life,” said Walton.

Dr Nicola Ashmore from the University of Brighton, who has been researching Picasso’s Guernica, welcomed the revelations.

“This new discovery presents some fascinating findings with regards to Picasso’s painting practices of working on used canvases – finding inspiration from the forms and composition of the paintings worked into the canvas that lie beneath La Misereuse,” she said. “The application of new technologies within art history is contributing to the formation of an archaeology for each painting it is applied to.” The Guardian


Dramatic Whale Hunts Depicted in Ancient Rock Art
The paintings match historical artifacts that suggest hunters set out on small boats with makeshift harpoons.

Using makeshift harpoons and rafts, a hunter spears a large whale.

It would have been a welcome kill for hunter-gatherers living in one of the world's driest regions, Chile's Atacama Desert, 1,500-years ago.

The moment, and others like it, were frozen in time by ancient artists nearly 1,500 years ago. In bright red rock art, painted in iron-oxide, the ancient hunting tradition can still be seen. Whales, swordfish, sea lions, and sharks are among the depictions, say archaeologists.

A new study, published in the journal Antiquity, outlines just how critical marine hunting was for hunter-gatherers during this time and how rock art tells its dramatic story.

Rock art was first found in this part of Chile by anthropologists in the early 20th century. Nestled between the ocean and the desert is a valley called El Médano, where the first rock art in this region was catalogued. For over a thousand years the rock art's existence was known only to local Paposo people who live in the region.

The new study focuses on cave art found several miles north of El Médino, at a site called Izcuña, but paintings from the time period are generally referred to as El Médano art.


In the Izcuña ravine, 328 different paintings were found on 24 different blocks of rock. Many have been degraded by moisture brought by camanchacas, or cloud banks that form over the Chilean coast and move inland. But enough of the art has been preserved to date it to the other El Médino art.

The most common type of art shows the silhouettes of large fish. Other images show hunting scenes with rafts and weapons. Terrestrial animals are also present in the art, but finding depictions of marine life in rock art is rarer.

The study's author, Benjamín Ballester, notes that the fish or whales are always drawn oversized to the hunters and their rafts, making the prey a daunting antagonist.

"Overall, hunting is represented as a specialized, solitary, individual practice, led by a selected few people," the study notes.

More than just art, the images illustrate archaeological evidence that marine hunting was an essential part of this society.

During previous excavations, archaeologists have found makeshift harpoons constructed from 10-foot wooden shafts, with detachable arrowheads dating as far back as 7,000 years ago.

Ballester says looking at the artifacts and art as a whole, archaeologists can piece together a better understanding of Chile's ancient life.

"Marine [hunts] were one of the most important elements of their subsistence, but they were also great fishers and mollusk gatherers," he says.

"From their coastal settlements, they actively participated in large-scale exchange networks with agro-pastoralist communities from the interior valleys and oasis of Atacama, specially circulating dried fish in exchange of manufactured goods." National Geographic


Unprecedented study of Picasso's bronzes uncovers new details
Scientists use non-invasive techniques to trace five sculptures to foundry in WWII Paris

EVANSTON, IL: Musée national Picasso-Paris and the Northwestern University/Art Institute of Chicago Center for Scientific Studies in the Arts (NU-ACCESS) have completed the first major material survey and study of the Musée national Picasso-Paris’ world-renowned Pablo Picasso bronzes using cutting-edge, portable instruments.

The international research team of scientists, art conservators and curators used the portable instruments and a robust database of alloy “fingerprints” to non-invasively analyze a priceless group of 39 bronzes (cast between 1905 and 1959) and 11 painted sheet metal sculptures (from the 1960s) in the Musée national Picasso-Paris’ collection.

The researchers were able to trace five bronzes cast in Paris during World War II to the foundry of Émile Robecchi, a lesser-known collaborator of Picasso’s. They also discovered Robecchi’s alloy compositions varied significantly during 1941 and 1942, likely reflecting the challenging circumstances of the Nazi occupation of Paris. In their study of Picasso’s cast-iron sheet metal sculptures, the researchers are the first to report the use of silver for facial features in a work inspired by one of his wives.

Francesca Casadio, the Grainger Executive Director of Conservation and Science at the Art Institute and co-director of NU-ACCESS, discussed the findings at a Feb. 17 press briefing titled "Technology Peers Into Picasso's Art" at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting in Austin, Texas.

“Our project highlights the value of cutting-edge scientific tools and international collaborations in advancing discoveries in art,” Casadio said. “It was exciting to partner with Virginie Perdrisot, curator of the Musée national Picasso-Paris, to unlock the material composition and technical details of Picasso’s creative process. We now can begin to write a new chapter in the history of this prolific giant of modern art.”

The NU-ACCESS team included Casadio and three scientists from Northwestern. Emeline Pouyet, a materials scientist and NU-ACCESS postdoctoral fellow, created the diagram of bronze compositions over which Picasso’s production could be mapped. With their portable instruments, which use X-ray fluorescence spectrometry, the researchers could easily analyze the priceless objects in the museum galleries and in storage, without the need to move them.

Using non-invasive analysis of elements at a work’s surface, NU-ACCESS has amassed the world’s largest art database of alloy “fingerprints” for early 20th-century fine arts bronzes. More than a decade in the making, the database includes data on 350 works of art by the leading artists that came to Paris from all over the world to achieve the finest casts of their bronzes. This data is key to NU-ACCESS’s “elemental fingerprinting” technique.

The researchers used this technique to analyze the alloys in the Picasso bronzes for clues about how, when and where they were cast.

Scientific analysis of the metal alloys of the bronze sculptures, coupled with recently discovered archival information, revealed that five of Picasso’s 1941 and 1942 casts without a foundry mark were made by Robecchi’s foundry. One of these sculptures is “Head of a Woman, in Profile” (modeled 1931, cast 1941).

The study provides provenance for these works and helps define the activities of Picasso and the Robecchi foundry during war times. (For the bronzes cast in the 1940s by Robecchi, Picasso first modeled the works in the 1930s in plaster.)

“In the context of increased material studies of Picasso’s painting practices, our study extends the potential of scientific investigations to the artist’s three-dimensional productions,” Pouyet said. “Material evidence from the sculptures themselves can be unlocked by scientific analysis for a deeper understanding of Picasso’s bronze sculpture-making process and the history of artists, dealers and foundrymen in the production of modern sculpture.”

The researchers also discovered that in this short two-year period during World War II, the composition of the alloy used by Robecchi varied significantly -- possibly because of the scarcity of raw metals, German appropriation of non-ferrous metals for the war efforts and re-use of scrap metal from brass objects of ordinary use. This work was done in partnership with the Musée national Picasso-Paris staff and Clare Finn, a private conservator in London and an expert on the dynamics of fine arts castings during World War I and World War II.

Picasso made a relatively small number of sculptures (approximately 700, roughly one-sixth of his output in paintings) and issued few numbered editions of his bronzes, Casadio said. The circumstances of much of his early production as well as that of the sculptures cast during World War II have been unclear. Many of the bronzes analyzed by the NU-ACCESS team are unique casts.

In its analysis of Picasso’s sheet metal sculptures, the research team is the first to discover the use of the precious metal silver to render the details of the hair, eyes and other facial features on the cast-iron sheet, polychrome sculpture titled “Head of a Woman”(late 1962). The artist’s second wife, Jacqueline Roque, inspired the piece.

Analysis also sheds light on the productive relationship of Picasso with craftsmen in a workshop in the south of France. For this project, Ludovic Bellot-Gurlet, a molecular spectroscopist in Paris who has developed a mobile lab for paint and pigment analysis, worked side by side with NU-ACCESS scientists and their elemental analysis tools. They figuratively peeled back layers of paint to uncover what paintwork was done by Picasso to the sheet metal sculptures and what was applied by the workshop.

In addition to the press briefing, Casadio participated in the presentation “Analyzing Picasso: Recent Breakthroughs Thanks to Mobile Instrumentation,” part of a scientific session co-organized by Casadio and Walton called “Analyzing Picasso: Scientific Innovation, Instrumentation and Education.” Casadio was joined at the session by two Northwestern speakers discussing different aspects of Picasso’s work.

This major project with the Musée national Picasso-Paris was made possible through NU-ACCESS, which is supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The center’s mission is to provide scientific support for the investigation of art collections, to develop new technology to look at art and to research new methods to conserve art for future generations.

Other NU-ACCESS projects have included studies of the works of Paul Gauguin, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Henri Matisse, Winslow Homer, George Seurat and Mary Cassatt. Most recently, the center spearheaded a study by scientists and Northwestern students of a series of mummy portraits produced in Egypt during the Roman period and a complete intact 1,900-year-old young girl portrait mummy. Northwestern Now


Eugene art supply distributor expanding into new lines

EUGENE, OR: From humble beginnings, Imagination International in Eugene has filled a niche for art supplies and grown to a 100-plus employee company.

The firm has expanded from being the exclusive North American importer and distributor of expensive Japanese-made art markers and pens to a distributor of other art supplies, as well as its own products.

“We have been a company that imports, distributes and markets other people’s products,” said Chief Executive John Darland. “But we’re slowly transitioning to a company that manufactures its own product lines.”

Imagination International has long been a wholesaler for one of its owners, Tokyo-based .Too Corp.

Copic brand markers made by .Too Corp. are popular in the production of Japanese-style comics known as manga and anime, or animation.

“(Copic markers) grow every year, year after year,” Darland said. “Since then, we used what we built and the trust people have in us to bring in other really high-end, quality products that are really unique, and offer them to the same channels in the art supply and hobby world.”

In addition to Copic products, Imagination International now is a wholesaler of other art-related products, such as Italian made paints from Tommy Art and a nontoxic glue from Better, another Japanese manufacturer.

Imagination International makes its own products, too, including Terial Magic, a liquid fabric stabilizer that lets crafters, quilters and others cut, sew and shape fabric.

The firm this year is introducing Everyday Easel, an adjustable easel that was designed and engineered in Eugene, but eventually will be produced overseas.

The firm is taking orders for the easel and expects to begin shipping them to outlets in the United States and other countries later this year.

“Someone brought an idea to my team and we created this thing from scratch,” Darland said. “The easel has been the same for hundreds of years, and our approach is completely different.”

Imagination International distributes its own line of LED light panels under the ImagiLux brand, and supplies LED lights designed for indoor agricultural grow operations through another company,

Darland said he hopes the grow lights can help increase local food production.

“Food is an issue for the world,” Darland said. “The climate is pretty unpredictable these days. The only way to stop it is by controlling the environment in which you grow food.”

Asked if the firm’s LED indoor grow lights could be used by the legal marijuana industry, which includes large indoor growing operations, Darland said, “These lights work very well for all flowering plants.”

Founded in 1997

Imagination International was founded in 1997 by University of Oregon art professor Kenneth O’Connell and Takuma Takahara, a Japanese art gallery employee and UO graduate.

O’Connell has since retired from the firm, but retains an ownership stake, Darland said.

“He will always be part of the (Imagination International) family,” he said. O’Connell “generously offers support and advice, and has always been a great mentor to me.”

Imagination International also supports O’Connell’s art programs, such as a sketchbook workshop in Italy, by providing supplies, Darland said.

Today, Darland and his wife, Hillary Darland, own the corporation with Takahara and .Too Corp.

Despite the rise in e-commerce hurting traditional retailers, Darland said his firm is growing because it’s a wholesale distributor and manufacturer of art supplies.

The firm’s customers are art supply distributors and retailers, both traditional and e-commerce outlets.

“We sell to brick and mortar stores and to people who sell online,” Darland said. “It doesn’t matter where the (end) user buys.”

Imagination International has grown from 7 employees in 2004 to 110 employees today.

Along the way, the firm has moved from a rented warehouse in west Eugene to a 38,000-square-foot headquarters on Chad Drive in northeast Eugene. A company controlled by Darland purchased the building for $2.6 million, according to Lane County property records.

With a colorful mural on the exterior painted by local artist Bayne Gardner, the building at Chad Drive and Suzanne Way is hard to miss.

Needing more space, Darland’s firm last September acquired a nearby former Grainger Industrial Supply warehouse for $2.2 million. That 22,000-square-foot structure also was decorated with a Gardner mural on its facade.

Darland declined to disclose the firm’s annual sales. They are “very healthy,” he said.

Hillary Darland is in charge of Imagination International’s charitable activities.

The firm has supported the Eugene Symphony and Springfield High School, as well as creating the Imagination Art Bus and Imagination Mural Project. The company also has employees at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art who teach classes.

The people at Imagination International take pride in supporting charitable and community organizations, John Darland said.

“It’s the right thing to do; it’s what we believe in,” he said. “We want to give back to the community as much as we possibly can. It provides a greater meaning to our employees. People who work here really like that and are motivated beyond the every day tasks. They know we’re trying to do stuff that’s more meaningful.” The Register-Guard


Art and teamwork help one Puerto Rican town nearly five months after Hurricane Maria ripped through

The Perez family's guava-colored home stands out in the Cerro Calero section of Aguadilla, in northwestern Puerto Rico.

It's not only the home's faint pink exterior, or the roof, temporarily covered with a blue protective sheet, that make this house distinct.

It's also not the extension cords coming from a neighbor's house to power a few light bulbs and the refrigerator, or the fact that the cords sometimes double as clotheslines, that make people notice this house.

What truly catches the eye from outside the Perez home are murals painted between the two windows on the front wall. Indigenous Taíno symbols adorn the facade and side walls of the modest three-bedroom home, which the family says makes them proud and helps them overcome hardships.

"What's painted there is part of who we are," said 20-year-old artist Jwan Perez Ramos.

The Perez family, like many of the roughly 3.4 million Puerto Ricans on the U.S. territory, remains in recovery mode from the devastation that came when Hurricane Maria made landfall nearly five months ago. The Sept. 20 storm caused dozens of deaths, destroyed homes and left behind myriad other problems.

While thousands of residents, who are U.S. citizens at birth, relocated to the states, many stayed put and tried to do their best under conditions that have included lack of electricity and shortages of food and water. Many families remain worried about safety and what may happen next to their supplies of drinking water, medicine and power.

An explosion and fire at a substation on Feb. 11 left several areas, including parts of San Juan, temporarily in the dark. On Friday, officials said the island's electric company would reduce power generation beginning Sunday while a federal control board seeks a $300-million loan for the company, even as nearly 400,000 customers have remained without electricity since September.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, which has been criticized for its response to the hurricane, said last week that since the storm hit, the agency has distributed more than 68 million liters of bottled water and at least 62 million meals and snacks.

The agency also said key infrastructure improvements were signs that Puerto Rico was getting back on track. Despite difficulties, electricity and cellphone service have been restored to much of the island and nearly 90% of gas stations are operating, officials said.

Many analysts and officials say the island still faces a recovery process bound to take months at best. In Cerro Calero, the paintings by Perez Ramos and his father, Billy Joe Perez, aim to help brighten a thin alley leading to spectacular views of the sunset along the coastal area.

Two months after the storm, the father and son team painted a mural at the entrance of the neighborhood depicting the community the way it was before Maria. They looked up the hill at the entrance of Cerro Calero and created an image of the colorful homes as they were before the hurricane winds demolished the area, then inscribed it with the phrase: "Salimos de Aqui," meaning "We came from here."

"At least the people who live here can stop before going up and see it beautiful again," the younger artist said.

Other murals by the elder Perez seen along the neighborhood's entrance include a portrait of a deceased neighbor, Doña Ana, who he said was greatly missed during the holiday season.

Perez, 45, at times has been asked by the city to paint over murals but he still tries teaching others in the community to turn hardship into art, and relies on his neighbors for materials. He keeps an eye out when the neighbors are painting their homes and approaches them for supplies to complete his palette.

Support comes from others who appreciate his work and in some cases are taking their own steps to try to help in the hurricane recovery.

When Aguadilla artisan and painter Jenny Cruz heard of the efforts to bring art to the neighborhood, she pledged to help provide paint for the murals.

Cruz, 46, was also busy trying to find a home for a friend who she learned was sleeping under the bleachers of a basketball court in the nearby town of Rincon.

Another resident, Orlando "San" Gonzalez, a boxing coach with a reputation for taking in the toughest kids in the Cerro Calero neighborhood, decided to form a fighters brigade to help the elderly clean and rebuild their homes.

Gonzalez, 48, and his friend, businessman Gabo Sola, 31, and other professionals and volunteers help people in need, especially those who are most frail, through a nonprofit group called "We Are One."

Gonzalez's 22-year-old son, boxer Orlando "Capu" Gonzalez, recently returned from a fight in Kissimmee, Fla., with supplies of water and food, which were distributed in the community with help from other boxers.

When the boxers heard that Aguadilla resident Irene Mendez had lost her husband, Leonardo Enchautegui Flores, in an accident days after the hurricane, they vowed to help clean debris off her yard and home.

Mendez said Flores, 75, died after falling from the roof of their house while trying to fix damage caused by the hurricane.

"The hurricane took something from me that nobody can restore," Mendez said.

But she said the boxers were kind to take time to think about the needs of the older people in the community.

For Manuel Medina Carrero of the Camaseyes section of Aguadilla, help and a dose of community unity came after he called radio newscaster Victor Vazquez during a recent interview with a FEMA official on WABA 850 AM.

Medina Carrero, 59, told the broadcaster he and his parents were hungry. He said the roof on his parents' home had blown off during the hurricane.

Medina Carrero said he helps take care of his father, Maximino Medina, who is 84, and his mother, Iris Carrero, who is 79.

Hearing the family's situation inspired Vazquez to go to the Medina home.

Vazquez, 42, contacted Sola and Cruz and together they secured a week's supply of food for the family. Vazquez also called a friend who volunteered to fix the roof and someone from the neighborhood anonymously fixed the family's 1991 Oldsmobile, which needed a new radiator hose.

The Medinas never found out who fixed the car, but it was a gesture of solidarity that brought Medina Carrero to tears. He also appreciated meeting the different people who offered their support for his family.

"The most beautiful thing was gaining their friendship," he said. Los Angeles Times


Original Picasso Art Worth Up to $50,000, Stolen From Milwaukee Gallery
The artwork was stolen from DeLind Fine Art Appraisals on North Jefferson Street

A rare original Picasso artwork approximately worth up to $50,000 was stolen from a Milwaukee art gallery Friday afternoon.

The Wisconsin owner of DeLind Fine Art Appraisals on North Jefferson Street, told our NBC-affiliate station TMJ4 that the 1949 print was just one of 30 copies made and it was signed by the iconic artist 70 years ago.

The stolen piece is not owned by the shop, but was in their possession because it was soon going to be sold to a client.

Authorities say that the investigation into the theft is ongoing, and that anyone with information on the theft has been asked to contact Milwaukee Police. NBCChicago


The art behind the counter: MSU alumnus manages art store and freelances his art

Inside the Kresge Art Center on MSU's campus resides the art store, where art students come and go to purchase equipment for their classes or art projects. However, some students might be unaware of the artist behind the counter, ringing them up.

Casey Sorrow, an MSU alumnus with a bachelor's degree in art, started working at the art store as an undergraduate student and soon took over management of the store after he graduated in 1999.

Sorrow initially came to MSU with an English major and a minor in film studies, however, he graduated with a degree in art.

“My main focus was painting, but I also delved pretty strongly into printmaking,” Sorrow said.

Sorrow's work now doesn't stray far from his undergrad years. He still focuses on printmaking and illustration and does freelancing focused on illustration.

“I have illustrated children's books, most recently I have done illustrations for the New York Times,” Sorrow said. “I have always illustrated, I've been a cartoonist my whole life. ... Since I was a kid, I've always done art.”

Peter Shutt, a studio art senior who has worked with Sorrow for the last three years, has seen a variety of Sorrow's work throughout his employment at the art store.

“Casey and I are actually really great friends now, even just outside of the art store we love to talk about comics and cartoons or just art in general," Shutt said. “He draws mostly creatures and monsters ... he is more into that kind of grotesque stuff, while I'm more into charming, simple cartoon stuff."

Shutt said Sorrow has taught him a great deal about printmaking and drawing, along the lines of what materials to use and what to avoid.

He said he feels Kresge Art Center should display more of Sorrow's art.

“He is an important part of Kresge," Shutt said. "He graduated with a BFA from MSU and he has worked in the art store for, I don't even know how long, but almost everyone knows him here. It would be cool to see some of his art hanging out in the hallways.”

Jill McKillips, instructor for the Department of Art, Art History and Design, has worked with Sorrow on and off since 1996.

“We're also very good friends,” McKillips said. “I have learned how you can render 3-D looking block prints using red and blue ink and 3-D glasses, which I, being a printmaker myself, was not aware of, so that was pretty exciting.” The State News


Oldest known cave paintings yield big surprise: Neanderthals may have been first artists

The 65,000-year-old cave paintings were little more than stencil-like drawings, an abstract combination of lines and geometric shapes and handprints, as well as rudimentary attempts at animal representations.

And yet those drawings, recently discovered in three caves in Spain by a team of archaeologists, might have just changed what it means to be human.

The cave art was made by Neanderthals, representing the first certain Neanderthal paintings ever discovered and suggesting that the modern human species didn’t invent creative expression, as previously thought, according to an article published Thursday in Science and Science Advances.

The discovery brings researchers one step closer to understanding how it is that humans developed art and language and religion — the types of symbolic and cultural expressions that have always been thought to elevate humans from other species, said archaeologist Alistair Pike of Britain’s University of Southampton, who was part of the research team.

“It’s almost the definition of being human,” Pike told The Washington Post. “It’s how we define ourselves as different from other animals and primates, having language and cultural expression. There’s been a lot of work trying to understand where in Homo sapiens’s lineage did we first become symbolic individuals?”

The archaeologists were able to determine that the paintings were made by Neanderthals through a type of carbon-dating involving uranium-thorium. Understanding the rate at which uranium-thorium decays, scientists can at least determine the minimum age of the top layer of the rock, the surface marked with the drawings.

The earliest known modern humans had migrated to Spain roughly 40,000 to 45,000 years ago, according to the article. But these paintings predate the time of modern humans by at least 20,000 years, providing what Pike described as the first form of “incontrovertible proof” that Neanderthals made them. They are the oldest-known paintings in the world, the article says.

Professor Chris Stringer, a researcher at London’s National History Museum and who was not involved in the discovery, told the BBC that the latest findings “seem to remove any doubt” about whether Neanderthals were capable of symbolic expression. “They further narrow any perceived behavioral gap between the Neanderthals and us,” he said.

Still, Stringer stressed that there is still not definite proof of Neanderthals’ ability to make figurative art — of animals and people — because the animals the researchers found on the paintings in Spain have uncertain origins. Pike said it was not entirely clear whether humans may have stumbled upon the Neanderthal paintings and simply added to them with the vague animal drawings, or if they were a part of the original Neanderthal designs; the researchers have not yet dated them, he said.

Neanderthals had been tentatively credited in the past with the cave drawings. The problem, according to the article, was that the drawings weren’t old enough to rule out the possibility that modern humans made them during the time that Homo sapiens briefly coexisted with Neanderthals. Some archaeologists theorized that the Neanderthals may have even copied modern humans’ paintings, yet still did not possess the creativity to do it themselves.

The discovery that they did not, in fact, need the help of modern humans puts Neanderthals and humans on a more level playing field, Pike said, given that tens of thousands of years ago, modern humans weren’t all that sophisticated either. The end goal with this research, he said, is to understand how the brain became wired for symbolic expression — but that’s going to require a lot more cave discoveries.

“If we’re going to try to find out when we started thinking like humans, we’re going to have to go back further in time,” Pike said. “What we’re interested in is when the brain became modern, and that’s a really difficult thing to get at. You can see how big it was by looking at the size of the skull, but it’s really hard to know how it was wired inside. If the use of symbols and symbolic behavior can be used as a proxy for how the brain was wired, then we can understand how the brain evolved.”

The Neanderthals went extinct about 5,000 years after humans arrived in Europe. The suspected causes have ranged from climate change that affected available food to competition with modern humans. As research moves forward, Pike said, it may be useful to keep in mind that perhaps humans and Neanderthals were not as different as we thought.

“There’s always been a sense that all this expression, this art, arrived with modern humans, and Neanderthals might have been copying them in the very late period of their existence,” Pike said. But wouldn’t it be interesting if it was in fact the other way around? Modern humans may have landed on the moon — but they started out in the same place as Neanderthals.” The Washington Post


Stolen Edgar Degas Pastel, Valued at $1-Million, Recovered In the Luggage On A Bus Outside Paris

In the dubious business of art theft, it's axiomatic that the goods must travel, often to other countries, but at a minimum away from the locus of the crime. We might like to think that all high-end stolen art travels discreetly first-class. So it was with considerably amused surprise, and not a little elation, that the art world greeted the news late Friday from the French customs police that they'd just recovered a million-dollar pastel by Edgar Degas, Les Choristes (1877), in the decidedly down-market luggage compartment of a public bus they somehow decided to search outside Paris on February 16th. The tiny, intense work, measuring just 10 by 13 inches, depicting the rousing choral finale of the first act of a performance of Mozart's Don Giovanni, Les Choristes had been stolen on the night of December 30-31, 2009, from Marseille's Musée Cantini, where it had been on loan from the Musée d’Orsay.

By contrast, it comes as no great surprise to us, or presumably to the customs officers who recovered the seminal Impressionist work, that, when the bus passengers were then asked to whom the package belonged, none of them claimed it.

As per tradition in such matters, the quiet, arguably accidental but almost precise circumstances of the recovery and the Musée d’Orsay's swift authentication of the work only served to deepen the questions around the theft. Eight years and two months ago, as the pastel was taken, France's art theft squadron assumed an inside job involving considerable planning. The theft occurred on the last day of the exhibition.

In other words, if we consider that the picturesque Mediterranean capital bears a well-earned reputation as an epicenter of maritime and other forms of international organized crime, very much including the heroin business driven by its trailblazing Corsican gangs, the progenitors of the infamous French Connection trade routes, it's fair to say that any interested and able parties in Marseille would have been well-aware that the art work was about to be returned to a presumably higher-security environment in its Parisian home of the Orsay. Les Choristes also bore one other great advantage to any enterprising thief in that, once unscrewed from the wall, it comes easily to hand and is even easier to conceal on the body by virtue of its modest size. Les Choristes could literally be walked out of the Musée Cantini. So, it was.

Secondly, the pastel is not just artistically intense, it's of intense artistic value, coming from the heart of the Impressionist period from the hands of one of its deepest and quirkiest masters. Degas is all about the unguarded human moment, which was one of the major reasons he so often chose to portray the backstage routines of dancers and actors in the throes of their work. In fact, in Les Choristes, there's a slightly unsual twist in that the singers, lit theatrically from below, are actually performing to an out-of-frame audience, while the artist sees them from close up in the wings, stage left. It's an elevated perspective that lends the performers, who are in full throat with song in the opera's first-act finale, an otherworldly aspect and yet also gives us an immediate, unrivaled and intimate picture of their real work, the work of being humans who do this crazy artistic thing called singing. Degas reflects the audience, even though he did not paint them, in the faces of his performers and in the glare of the stage lights. It imbues the picture with a grand cinematic sweep and volume, despite its small size.

While all of that may have been at the heart of motive for the theft, it's not likely. The French customs officers were reportedly not operating on a tip -- which would imply a broader investigation -- rather, the search was a random, if wholly spectacular, result of dumb luck. The gendarmes just decided to rummage through that bus's luggage compartment. It's very much to be hoped that the officers were sharp enough to have taken down some sort of passenger manifest, including at least the stated identities of the ownership-deniers. Any constellation is possible, but, hewing to gang form, the art work would have been consigned to the care of a courier.

The consigners would, also, know that their hot Degas was being sent at some risk into, or through, the public realm, and would certainly be temporarily vulnerable outside the presumably secure confines in which it had been held. Eight-plus years after its theft, the Degas was on the move outside Paris for a reason, be that a commercial one -- as in, for its ownership to be transferred for some gain or consideration -- or a sentimental one, as in, whoever had become the end-owner couldn't part with it. Art connoisseurs in the Marseille underworld being arguably thin on the ground, the latter motive for the move seems unlikely. We do not now know the bus's point of origin or its destination, but from the hilariously modest choice of transport and the simple fact that the work was still in-country, we may fairly deduce that the gang responsible is, or was, a French one. It can be that they were over-matched by their booty and had finally, after eight long years, realized that, since Les Choristes is a major, superbly-documented work that had hung in the Orsay, the thing would never cool down. Or, they could have pushed it on to another beleaguered set of bus-riding owners, who discovered that for themselves as the customs officers began rummaging through the luggage hold on February 16th.

One note on the size of the pastel add to the piquancy of its reclamation. First, the courier and/or his or her bosses clearly knew that they were freighting something quite damning, should it be sniffed out by the authorities. Its diminutive size would have allowed concealment in hand luggage in the bus cabin. Ergo, as a last bastion, the courier wanted the deniability afforded by having it in the hold. Pending an arrest, that little bit of defensive tradecraft has turned out to be useful.

We'll look forward to the gendarmerie's art sleuths rooting around in their informant-pool for hearsay of any current debts or transactions in the fertile growing medium of underworld Marseille. Because: at bottom, the recovery of Les Choristes is really just the starting gun for the unraveling of the mystery of its theft. Forbes


Karen Pence Is Praising NEA Art Therapy Program on White House Blog
The Second Lady of the United States has written extensively in support of an agency Donald Trump wants to shut down.

Though her husband’s boss — President Trump — has repeatedly called for the shuttering of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), Second Lady Karen Pence has emerged as one of the agency’s most improbable champions. The wife of Vice-President Mike Pence — an “award-winning watercolor artist“ in her own right — she has made art therapy her cause célèbre. And in a series of posts on the White House blog begun in October 2017, she has sung the praises of the NEA’s art therapy initiative for veterans.

“Over and over again, we hear amazing stories about how the art therapist working with vets has changed their lives forever,” Pence wrote in her second post, dated October 25, 2017. “That was definitely evident on Tuesday as we had the privilege of participating in Creative Forces Summit in Tampa, Florida. Creative Forces: NEA Military Healing Arts Network is an initiative of the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) in partnership with the US Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs, plus state and local arts agencies.”

Since launching in 2011, Creative Forces has steadily grown, and in 2016 Congress allocated an additional $1.9 million in funding to the NEA specifically to support and expand this program. The initiative is a partnership between the NEA, the Department of Defense, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and state arts agencies. Earlier this month, Pence sat in on a Creative Forces music therapy session at the Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage, Alaska, and “was serenaded by four brave servicemen.” She attended another Creative Forces summit the week before.

Not all of Pence’s blog posts about art therapy are paeans to NEA-funded initiatives. Many recount visits with art therapists and patients at major hospitals, or nonprofit organizations that depend primarily on corporate grants or private donations. One chronicles a party at the Vice President’s Residence last November where she and 60 spouses of current and former members of Congress assembled 800 art supply kits for children’s hospitals.

Though contradictory messaging has been one of the only consistent features of the Trump White House, it’s still striking that the Second Lady is writing glowing articles about an agency the President seems hellbent on closing down. Or perhaps, given her feelings about Trump, Pence’s outspoken support of the NEA isn’t surprising at all. Hyperallergic



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