What insect has the ability to extend down into the nearly foot-long nectar tube of the ghost orchid? For generations, that question has interested researchers who’ve speculated that the giant sphinx moth, which has a proboscis that often exceeds 10 inches, was one of few species with a tubular tongue that could reach the sticky pollen nestled inside the endangered flower.

Shot during the course of three years, a short documentary by Grizzly Creek Films follows researchers committed to proving this hypothesis. It draws on Charles Darwin’s 160-year-old studies about orchids’ evolution, particularly in relation to one species in Madagascar about which he famously said, “Good heavens. What insect could suck it?” In  “Chasing Ghosts,” the team wades into the buggy swamplands of south Florida alongside snakes and alligators to reach a grove of cypress trees, where the white flowers wrap themselves high among the boughs. There they installed … Read the rest

In New York, during the ’70s, the city’s rich gallery scene was dominated by a handful of galleries, including Leo Castelli, Ileana Sonnabend, Pace, Ronald Feldman, and Marlborough. Later on, during the ’80s, Mary Boone, Paula Cooper, Marian Goodman, and Larry Gagosian would join their ranks. These galleries represented the day’s top artists, from Jasper Johns to Andy Warhol, and almost all of the solo exhibitions at these spaces were devoted to white artists. At the time, to be an artist of color in one of these galleries’ stables was unusual, if not extremely rare.

The severe racial disparities affecting the New York scene occasioned a conversation in 1974 between Linda Goode Bryant, then the director of education at the Studio Museum in Harlem, and artist David Hammons. Hammons, who is now widely known for his sculptures making use of ready-made objects in service of koan-like statements about Blackness and … Read the rest

“Purple Mountain” (2020), oil on wood panel, 48 x 36 inches. All images © Seth Armstrong, shared with permission

“Color and light are basically all I think about when I’m painting,” says Seth Armstrong. Working with oil paints on wood, the Los Angeles-based artist renders the sloping hills of his native California county in bold, saturated tones. Depicting the staggered houses and vegetation in the glow of golden hour or just after sunrise, Armstrong balances both hyperrealism and more sweeping, gestural strokes. He includes the occasional candy-colored hue to veil the densely populated landscape—the artist notes that small details can be difficult to perceive when not viewing the works in person—with a layer of magic. “The paintings do become, for me, more than a depiction of light and color,” he writes. “But that’s a personal relationship we have.”

A limited-edition print of “Purple Mountain” releases on April 12 through Unit … Read the rest

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Made from pigment mixed with nondrying oil and a wax binder, oil pastels are a softer and more blendable drawing tool than either colored pencils or crayons. They can also be thinned with oil or solvents for painterly effects. Oil pastels never fully dry, so finished works should be framed behind class or sprayed with a fixative formulated for that purpose. They make up for this drawback, however, by supplying immediate, vivid color.

Can’t decide which brand of oil pastels to choose? We don’t blame you. Not only are there dozens of options available, but there are also so many factors to consider: color strength, consistency, firmness, and of course, price. If you’re just starting out with oil pastels or are looking for a set for casual use, we … Read the rest

All images © Naoki Onogawa, shared with permission

Using just his hands, Tokyo-based artist Naoki Onogawa folds scores of origami cranes with wingspans that never top a single centimeter. He then fastens the minuscule birds to asymmetric tree forms, creating bonsai-like sculptures engulfed by hundreds of the monochromatic paper creatures.

Onogawa tells Colossal that he began crafting the tiny birds following the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake that devastated parts of southern Hokkaido and Tohoku, which the artist visited the next year. As he walked around the city of Rikuzen Takata, he spotted 1,000 paper cranes at the site of a school demolished by the tsunami. “I found myself in terror of how powerless we humans are in the face of nature’s wonder; yet at the same time, I felt empowered by the power of life, vitality, that shined so brightly in the aftermath of its wrath,” Onogawa says. He … Read the rest

Earlier this week, the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art in Los Angeles announced that it has acquired the archive for The History of California, Judith F. Baca’s epic mural cycle. More commonly known as the Great Wall of Los Angeles, Baca’s mural offers a vision of history from the perspectives of historically marginalized groups, including Indigenous, Latinx, Black, and Asian communities, as well as queer people and women.

“This monumental work by an iconic artist contributes to shaping a more inclusive view of life in the United States and California,” Sandra Jackson-Dumont, the Lucas Museum’s director, said in a statement announcing the acquisition. “This incredible repository uniquely positions the Lucas Museum to illustrate the significance of public murals to storytelling.”

The Lucas Museum’s acquisition of the archive includes more than 350 objects related to the creation of the Great Wall, from concept drawings and mural studies to blueprints and … Read the rest

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Delight the young artists in your life by giving them a set of creative tools. A bounty of markers, crayons, or clay can satisfy kids on rainy afternoons or long car rides—or during endless time at home in a global pandemic. Personal art and craft supplies not only help children express themselves, develop motor skills, and strengthen their creativity, but also teach them how to take care of their possessions. Plus, they encourage them to spend less time on digital devices. Below, find our best picks for kid-friendly and nontoxic crafting and art making sets.

ARTNEWS RECOMMENDS 
Crayola Colossal Creativity Tub
This thoughtfully assembled tub from Crayola gives kids a big variety of good-quality, complementary craft supplies to use. It comes with crayons, twistable colored pencils, markers, kid-friendly paints, Read the rest

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Ah, watercolors. For many of us, they represented our first forays into the world of painting. Who can forget the soupy messes of those bygone watercolor trays? Fast-forward a few decades, and now you’re seeking the perfect watercolor set for a new generation of beginners, whether you’re a parent, a teacher, or a caregiver. Or maybe you’re a prodigal painter seeking to recapture the joys of your childhood and want a set for yourself. (Either way, you’ll be responsible for cleanup this time around!) What are the best and safest watercolors to experiment with? Here’s our verdict.

ARTNEWS RECOMMENDS
Faber-Castell Connector Watercolor Paints
This watercolor set by the august German manufacturer towers head and shoulders over its competition in terms of sheer creativity. Rather than a palette or tin
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“A Canopy of Cherry Blossoms,” 2021 by Han Cao

Every month, Colossal shares a selection of opportunities for artists and designers, including open calls, grants, fellowships, and residencies. If you’d like to list an opportunity here, please get in touch at [email protected] You can also join our monthly Opportunities Newsletter.

 

Open Calls

Chicago Botanic Garden Call for Artists with $5k to $40k for Commissions Featured
The Chicago Botanic Garden will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2022. A series of public programs and art experiences will celebrate the Garden’s remarkable growth and will establish the tone for the next decade. The Garden is seeking Statements of Interest from artists for sculptures, installations, and experiences.
Deadline: April 12, 2021.

SUNY Oswego Outdoor Sculpture Initiative
SUNY Oswego seeks proposals for outdoor sculptures for the school’s main campus. Seven artists will be chosen to install artworks in a centrally located lawn area adjacent … Read the rest

Phillips will sell its first NFT by digital artist Mad Dog Jones (Micah Dowbak) in an online sale that will run from April 12–23, with bidding starting at $100.

The fully digital piece, titled REPLICATOR, is an “NFT experience,” according to Phillips statement on the piece, which is designed to self-produce 7 unique NFT “generations” in a 28-day cycle. The original NFT set to be auctioned is an image of an urban night scene. At its center is a photocopy machine; its screen reads “Ready to replicate.” From that illustration, the work will produce one new NFT per month, with every subsequent cycle producing one less artwork.

“It uniquely links form, subject, and function as it is completely dependent on the capabilities of an NFT to exist and perform the role it’s been given,” said Rebekah Bowling, a senior specialist in Phillips’s 20th century and contemporary art department.

According … Read the rest