Traditional Andean Design Finds New Life in Architectural Details

Colors, Design & Designers, Random Beauty

The city of El Alto in Bolivia, high up in the Andes, is the country’s second largest city and right next to the third largest one, La Paz. Something that El Alto beats its richer neighbor in is unique eye candy right on the building facades.

That’s because an architect, Freddy Mamani Silvestre, is slowly working bright colors into El Alto’s red-brick and concrete scenery.

Wikipedia Mamani Cholet1

via Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0).

Information on Silvestre seems scant in English. A member of the indigenous Aymara, he apparently started working on buildings as a bricklayer. There’s a feature on El Alto in The New York Times in 2013 and in The Washington Post in 2014. He’s referred to in a 2014 BBC News article on president Evo Morales. The Architectural Association, Inc., still has their exhibition info Salones de Eventos from 2015 available online. I also found two articles via the German Wikipedia entry for Silvestri: one in The Architectural Review and the other in Quartz, both from 2015. The best bet at the moment might be the 2017 book El Alto by Silvestre and Peter Granser. For Spanish readers there’s more, including the 2014 book La arquitectura de Freddy Mamani Silvestre.

Quartz Mamani Salon Montecarlo

Salón Montecarlo by Alfredo Zeballos / The Architecture of Freddy Mamani Silvestre. Via Quartz.

Silvestri draws on traditional shapes and colors in his designs. Some of the detailing reminds me of jugend (I believe the phrase art deco is used in the U.S. instead), but Silvestri’s work is clearly not derivative of it.

If the exteriors seem colorful and detailed, just wait until you see the interiors!

Wow! His style has been described as Neo-Andean, new Andean, space-ship architecture or, plainly, kitch. However you may want to describe it, the word colorful will have to be there!

Found via Colossal.

Cross-posted from Co-Geeking.

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

Two Black Amazons from 1400s

Arts & Crafts, Bits in Spaaace!, Thumbs Up

Oh, goodness! An illumination from a 15th-century French manuscript shows two black Amazons. Have a look:

Le secret de l'histoire naturelle, France, ca. 1480-1485, BnF, Français 22971, fol. 2R; via discarding images on Tumblr.

Le secret de l’histoire naturelle, France, ca. 1480-1485, BnF, Français 22971, fol. 2r; via discarding images on Tumblr.

This image has clearly been cropped and edited. My source, discarding images on Tumblr, says the two women are Amazons but gives no more details.

Being an early history nerd, I did some additional digging. Below is the whole page via Gallica, the digital library for the national library of France (Bibliothèque nationale de France, or BnF).

Le secret de l'histoire naturelle fol 2r Full Page

Le secret de l’histoire naturelle, France, ca. 1480-1485, BnF, Français 22971, fol. 2r.

The full title of the manuscript is Le secret de l’histoire naturelle contenant les merveilles et choses mémorables du monde. It was created between 1401-1500, and is currently stored at BnF. The illumination comes from the first part of the book, which presents the great countries and the great provinces of the old world.

Unfortunately, my French isn’t good enough anymore to be confident in my reading; I can understand a word here and there, but not the whole. However, it does look like the first word below the illumination is Amazon.

I’ve cropped into a separate image the bottom left corner of the illumination with the text following immediately after it:

Le secret de l'histoire naturelle fol 2r Amazons

Le secret de l’histoire naturelle, France, ca. 1480-1485, BnF, Français 22971, fol. 2r; cropped.

I just cannot make out the full spelling of the first word due to the ligatures that squish up the last two or three letters. It definitely looks like it’s inflected, though. The sequence ma definitely follows the capital A, with most likely a z and o further along.

It also looks there’s a sigil marking an abbreviation on top of the o, which was very common in handwritten Medieval documents to mark inflectional endings, among others. (Unless it’s a diacritic like in modern French – were they even used in Medieval French? If so, maybe Amazonye? Amazònye? Amazónye?? Amazônye???)

Anyway, it seems that Amazons are indeed talked about on the same page. The larger block of text above the illumination mentions the word affricà, too. (Again, not sure whether that’s a sigil or diacritic on the final a.)

In any case, if the two women aren’t Amazons, at the very least they are heralds of some sort leading a column of warriors. The image details, like the mi-parti dresses, are really neat, too.

Found via MedievalPOC on Tumblr.

And speaking of MedievalPOC, I’ve found it a truly valuable source for types of art imagery that’s not usually included in the canon from the Middle Ages onwards. The site is sometimes a little too interesting: on several occasions, I’ve spent much longer than intended there, happily chasing intriguing details down the rabbit hole. If you’ve got the time to spare, I wholeheartedly recommend it. 🙂

P.S. You can also follow MedievalPOC on Twitter. Happy browsing!

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

July 2018 Reading Pile

Books & Mags

I have a great selection of reading right now:

Reading Pile July 2018

From left to right: Flesh and Fire by Laura Anne Gilman, Hit by Delilah Dawson, Gilgamesh: A New English Version by Stephen Mitchell, Murder in the Mews by Agatha Christie, The Winter War: Russia’s Invasion of Finland, 1939-1940 by Robert Edwards and Just One Damned Thing after Another by Jodi Taylor.

Not pictured is Dumb Witness by Agatha Christie because it’s on my nightstand. Also, I’ve already read Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach by Kelly Robson. 🙂

Possible Presidential Wool Socks?

Arts & Crafts, Fabrics & Materials, Thumbs Up

My native Finland is voting for a president this coming Sunday. One of the most quirky newspaper articles leading to the election focused on the candidates’ favorite wool socks.

That’s right – their wool socks.

Helsingin Sanomat (HS), the largest national daily, asked all of the eight candidates to bring in their favorite pair of wool socks to be photographed (note: article in Finnish only). The socks were then arranged into a quiz for readers to try and match each candidate with their socks. And here they are:

Presidentinvaalien lempivillasukat 2018

Outi Pyhäranta / Helsingin Sanomat.

It’s telling that no-one refused to share their favorite socks. Like sauna or certain traditional foods, wool socks are a core part of the Finnish identity. Journalist Marko Junkkari writes that wool socks are a symbol of ordinary, everyday life, which is the image the candidates aspire to portray. If one candidate were to refuse sharing their favourite socks, they might come across too cocky and pompous.

On one hand, I was left wondering how serious the article was, but on the other I do appreciate that Junkkari thought to ask and the candidates all responded. It’s not that I really need to know what kind of socks each candidate is wearing. Rather, knowing that our presidential candidates do wear wool socks and took the request seriously is a nice reminder of our unifying humanity, especially in a small country that’s partially in the Arctic.

Another reason I loved the article is that I do love wool socks! Sock knitting is still very much a living tradition in Finland. In fact, one of the candidates told HS that her mother knitted her socks, and two more said their socks were made by supporters. Another of the three female candidates said she’s favoring a loaner pair.

Oh, Finland – never change! 🙂

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

Happy 100th Anniversary, 1st Sámi Congress!

Thumbs Up

Happy Sámi National Day, and Happy 100th anniversary, Sámi Congress!

Flickr arctic_council Small Sami Flags

Small Sami Flags by arctic_council on Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0).

The first Sámi congress – meeting between Sámi from different countries to find solutions for their shared problems – took place February 06, 1917.

The Sámi are a Finno-Ugric people indigenous to Arctic Scandinavia, Finland and the Kola peninsula in north-eastern Russia. They are a minority in each country, and have suffered from discrimination for centuries. They are by no means invisible, however – I grew up with people of Sámi descent as neighbors, classmates and teachers. The Sámi National Day is increasingly recognized by the non-Sámi populations.

Discoveries: Take Back Halloween!

Arts & Crafts, DIY, Stunt Double, Thumbs Up

Take Back Halloween is a costume guide for women. In their words:

“We’re a resource guide: we come up with the costume designs, explain what you’ll need to pull off the look, and provide links to where you can buy the various components. […]

“We love Halloween. We really love Halloween. We think it’s cool that there’s one day a year when people can dress up as anything they want. What we don’t think is cool is that increasingly women are only supposed to dress up as one thing: “Sexy _____” (fill in the blank). Sexy Nurse, Sexy Cowgirl, Sexy whatever. […]

“There’s nothing wrong with sexy (for adults), and if you want to go that route, fine. Have fun! We just want there to be other options as well.”

I couldn’t agree more – options are always good, since we’re not made in one single mold. And they run a costume contest!

Take Back Halloween 2016-contest_1200x1200

Take Back Halloween!

What we’re looking for: costumes that fit into our own costume categories here on the website. That means a goddess or mythological figure, a great queen, a notable historical person, or a glamorous star.”

Make sure to have a look at the previous winners – they are awesome!

What interests me in all this are the historical women (queens, notable women) and goddesses or mythological characters. Even browsing quickly, they seem to have a variety of options.

Take Back Halloween is the first venture from the Real History Project, which was conceived in 2010 by Suzanne Scoggins.

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

Native American Style Mainstream Genre Icons

Arts & Crafts, Colors, Design & Designers, Geek out!, Stunt Double

Jeffrey Veregge, an artist and member of the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe in Washington state, makes positively fantastic versions of mainstream genre icons like superheroes, movie characters, Transformers, aliens, and the like.

Jeffrey Veregge Early Bird

Early Bird by Jeffrey Veregge.

Veregge himself says of his work:

“This site, the work that is seen on it is a reflection of a lifetime love affair with comic books, toys, TV and film. Taking my passions and blending them with my Native perspective, artistic background and the desire to simply be me. Basically I am just trying to have fun and get back to that kid that went to art school to begin with, wanting to create artwork that I want to see and make just for the hell of it.”

Jeffrey Veregge Shield Logo

Shield by Jeffrey Veregge.

Several of his designs would make fantastic fabric prints, like this Flash-inspired one, for example:

Jeffrey Veregge Scarlet Blurr

Scarlet Blurr by Jeffrey Veregge.

If there was a fabric Flash version, I’d use it for pencil cases, zipper travel pouches, or a table cloth. Or maybe tall, tall shades with a wide border on the bottom; that would look really striking.

Visit Veregge’s home page for more!

Cross-posted from Co-Geeking.

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

A Native Art Market in NYC & Washington, DC

Arts & Crafts, Design & Designers

Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian will run a Native Art Market this coming weekend, Saturday & Sunday, December 6 & 7, 2014, in New York City and Washington, D.C.

Smithsonian art-market-header

Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of the American Indian.

I had a look at some of the artists’ websites, and their skills just take my breath away. It’s humbling. The colors, shapes and techniques clearly speak of traditions so longstanding that they make my creative efforts seem meager and fleeting like a butterfly.

More info at the Native Art Market website.

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

 

 

Carved Pumpkins

Arts & Crafts

Continuing my Thursday post on Halloween and painted pumpkins with a set of inventive Jack-o-lanterns. Scary faces seem to be the ubiquitous choice for lanterns, so I’m always tickled to see other things carved on them.

Brilliant use of the natural features of the pumpkin:

Wrinkly Pumpkin

Photo: Evil Erin.

One of the lanterns at The Great Jack-o-lantern Blaze in New York in 2010:

Checkered jack-o-lantern

Photo: The World Through My Eyes.

An interesting geometric arrangement!

Polka dot lantern:

Polka dot lantern

Photo: Dan Mushrush.

When dots are more to your liking.

Bunny lantern:

Rabbit jack-o-lantern

Photo: Richard Lord.

A special pick for my sisters! 🙂

Elvish script from the Lord of the Rings by Finest Geekery:

Elvish Script Pumpkin

Finest Geekery.

This is a neat take on the glowing lettering on the One Ring!

And the most stunning jack-o-lantern photo I’ve seen in a while by Karen Montgomery:

Kaleidoskope Lantern

Photo: Karen Montgomery.

It looks like a composite, using photos of Jack-o-lanterns, if I had to guess. A very, very neat way of seeing an everyday (holiday) thing from an unexpected angle!

On Halloween and Painted Pumpkins

Arts & Crafts

Being new in the U.S., I’m still wrapping my head around some of the holidays. Halloween, for instance. Oh, I know the whats and the whens, I have participated, and I’ve read on the whys. Being a geek, I’m big on reading and research. There’s only so much reading can tell you, though.

For getting to know a culture, there’s nothing quite like everyday life. Although holidays are by definition not part of everyday, they offer an interesting counterpoint to it and may, therefore, shed more light on the mundane.

(Incidentally, I found that this Ask MetaFilter post is really helpful – it’s listing all possible angles, from love to hate, from silly to serious, from puritan settlers to a dentist conspiracy – and told not by researchers but by a range of ordinary folks, which is what interests me.)

Jack-o-lanterns are maybe THE stereotypical Halloween decor. They are quite well known outside the U.S., as is trick-or-treating. When I still lived in Europe, we were largely on the mercy of mainstream media and what bled through their filters. (Blogging wasn’t yet a big thing back then. Blogs existed, but weren’t as common or varied as now.) Both national and international culture segments were chosen and edited by journalists and other professionals, and published at their pace. Whether their interests met yours was completely up to chance. Finding information on topics not covered by the mainstream media outlets took effort.

After moving to the States, 10+ years ago now, I’ve naturally enough discovered a much wider range of facets than the Halloween scene in E.T. (for example) can convey. Nowadays we’re lucky to have blogs. Blogging has made it much easier to discover other cultures, the everyday as well as holidays, in the writers’ own words, with the range of experiences that is human life.

One new and different thing for me was not carving your pumpkin into a lantern, but painting it. The novelty of funny faces and spiders wore off quite quickly, but fortunately those are not the only things people paint on their pumpkins. Below are a few that I especially like.

Alicia Kachmar painted maple leaves on a pumpkin and glittered the edges:

Leaf-Decoupaged Pumpkin

Alicia Kachmar at Create!

A little twist on traditional Halloween decor. It’s a few years old now, but still a great idea. I’m not a great friend of glitter in general, but this application is nice. Plus, maple leaves are so pretty.

Alisa Burke at Redefine Creativity painted her lacy pumpkins with layers of acrylic and dimensional paint:

Lacy Pumpkins

Alisa Burke at Redefine Creativity.

I’m seriously impressed at the detail! The laciness reminds me of batik fabrics – or gingerbread house decorations, if you can believe me. I guess I have Christmas in my head already. 🙂

Scandinavian-style stars were decoupaged on this pumpkin:

Country Living Magazine Oct 2011, via Babble. Photo by Dana Gallagher.

Country Living Magazine Oct 2011, via Babble. Photo by Dana Gallagher.

Country Living Magazine Oct 2011; found via Babble.

Niki and Ali at Papery & Cakery made ombre pumpkins in two color schemes:

Ombre Pumpkins

Niki and Ali at Papery & Cakery.

Niki and Ali’s pumpkins show that Halloween can be any color, not only black and orange!

And, finally, Sherry Petersik’s pumpkins sport a pantyhose:

Sherry Petersik at Young House Love.

Sherry Petersik at Young House Love.

Not painted, but very clever, very quick and minimally messy. Non-messy is always a good thing! 🙂

(Please follow the links for more photos and descriptions by the makers themselves.)

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.