Donald Trump butt plug by Mexican American artist


This 14 July 2015 video from the USA is called The Next Web headquarters reacts to #TrumpPlug news.

From The Next Web in the USA today:

3D-printed Donald Trump butt plug is the best the asshole has ever looked

By Mic Wright

Donald Trump is running for president with all the grace of a three-legged dog chasing a ball and with absolutely none of the cuteness. One of the many unpleasant jibes in his campaign announcement last month was about Mexico:

When [it] sends its people, [it’s] not sending [its] best…[it’s] sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems to us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people!

Fernando Sosa, a Mexican-born US citizen, has the perfect response. He specializes in using 3D printing for political satire and has previously made caricatures of Hillary Clinton, Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un.

His take on Trump sums up ‘the Donald’ more directly than a late night monologue or ‘Daily Show’ spot: It’s a butt plug.

Donald Trump butt plug

Sosa passionately explains his reasons for creating the object on his Shapeways page, where it is available to buy for $27.99:

[This is my] response to Donald Trump’s remarks…I say screw you and your Republican Party. I was not sent here by the Mexican government. I came here with my family thanks to my step-father, who is also an immigrant from Finland. We came here looking for the American Dream and my parents worked their butts off so my brothers and I could go to college or serve in the armed forces.

I’m no rapist and no drug dealer. I have a college degree in 3D animation and run my own 3D printing business and guess what? I can make you into any shape I want and 3D print you and sell you to others who share their dislike of you.

…You are a public figure and me making you into a butt plug is freedom of speech. Welcome to America, motherfucker!

It’s an eloquent disavowal of Trump’s claims and politics, but in the end, a satirical butt plug is worth more than a thousand words.

Cactus flowers photographed


Cactus flowers opening

This is a photo of cactus flowers opening.

From National Geographic about this, with more photos there:

Cactus Flowers: Mother Nature’s Fireworks

Janna Dotschkal

Did you know that cacti can bloom? Yes, those prickly green plants burst out some of the most beautiful flowers you’ve ever seen.

For photographer Greg Krehel, these crazy cactus flowers have become an obsession.

“Since I was a kid I’ve always loved succulents and cacti. One year I ended up at a local garden shop and picked up [a] cactus for my collection. A couple years later it put out these awesome flowers, unlike others I had seen. It just kept blooming. It really went to town.”

Note: Many of these cacti are hybrids that were bred and cultivated by different individuals, hence the unusual names.

After seeing these stunning blooms, Krehel decided he needed to know more about the breed of cactus he had bought. He discovered it was a type of Echinopsis, cacti that are native to South America. Krehel says, “It turns out mine was a ‘snoozer’ compared to other varieties out there, even though I thought it was fantastic.”

Krehel was hooked. He started buying more blooming cacti and realized he wanted to find a way to capture the flowers’ incredible beauty.

Eventually he developed a method of focus-stacking images so that every part of the frame would be sharp, making every little detail visible.

Stolen Rodin sculpture found after 24 years


Rodin's Young Girl With Serpent

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Rare Rodin sculpture stolen during $1 million Beverly Hills heist recovered in London

Young Girl With Serpent has been missing for 24 years

Matilda Battersby

Thursday 09 July 2015

A rare Auguste Rodin sculpture stolen nearly 25 years ago as part of a $1 million Beverly Hills art heist has been recovered after it turned up in London.

The 1991 theft was facilitated by the “trusted” housekeeper of a Los Angeles art collector who, after bragging about his employer’s wealth a local bar, was paid $5,000 by art thieves to give them copies of his house keys.

The bronze statue, titled Young Girl With Serpent, by French sculptor Rodin, is believed to be worth around $100,000.

A number of other valuable artworks, including an important early sketch of Rodin’s most famous work, The Kiss, and another sculpture, The Eternal Spring, were also taken and remain missing and total assets taken were valued at more than a million dollars at the time.

The thieves had considerable access to the Beverly Hills property while its owner was away at another residence for several weeks and used the copied key to rob it over several visits.

The unnamed Beverly Hills art collector, who is now in her Eighties, described returning to her house after the burglary to find it looking “as though it had been hit by an earthquake”.

The housekeeper had skipped town and a warrant was issued for his arrest by the Beverly Hills Police Department.

A six month manhunt followed after which the housekeeper was located and arrested in Miami, Florida while sunbathing next to a hotel pool.

The collector is said to be “delighted” at the recovery of the statue which turned up at Christie’s auction house in New York and was transferred to London for sale in 2011 having being missing for more than two decades.

Christie’s were alerted to the fact that the sculpture was stolen and “assisted all involved parties during the investigation” according to Chris Marinello, CEO of Art Recovery International.

There was a four year deadlock in negotiations between lawyers for the possessor of the artwork who offered it to Christie’s and the Beverly Hills victim, but following intervention by Marinello the work has now been released unconditionally back to her.

The housekeeper claimed to know nothing of the artwork’s whereabouts after his arrest and later attempted to contact the family where he’d worked as “a trusted member of staff” to apologise.

He served time for his role in the theft in the US and was later extradited to prison in Switzerland over an unrelated crime.

Marinello credits the resolution of this case to one particular officer from Beverly Hills Police Department, Detective Michael Corren, who kept the case open for 24 years – even after he had retired.

“Detective Corren was very impressive in the way he pursued the case. He was kind of like Moby Dick and the White Whale,” Marinello told The Independent.

“The police department tracked down the caretaker in Florida by the swimming pool and got an arrest and Corren pursued it to solve it. It’s rare that you get an officer today who is so single-minded.”

The victim has asked Art Recovery International to continue pursuing the other lost artworks.

However, it seems there is quite a market for stolen Rodins on the black market and also fears that thieves might melt the statues down. “Sadly, many of these bronze items are sold for scrap, as horrific as that may sound,” Marinello said previously.

Rodin’s The Thinker was stolen and damaged along with six other bronze statues from the garden of the Singer Laren Museum, Netherlands in 2007. It was recovered two days later “pretty worse for wear” and had to undergo considerable and expensive restoration.

A nude bronze of French novelist Honore de Balzac was stolen from the Israel Museum while it was undergoing renovation in 2011 – one of a series of four studies that Rodin cast for a monument to Balzac on display in Paris – and has yet to be recovered.

In 2012 portrait in bronze of Rodin by his artist lover Camille Claudel worth a reported £800,000 was recovered in the truck of an antique dealer 13 years after it was taken from the Guéret art and archaeology museum in France.

Young Girl With Serpent will be consigned for sale later this year as part of a deal between the victim and her insurance company.

Hendrik Willem Mesdag, new watercolour painting discovery


The newly discovered Hendrik Willem Mesdag watercolour painting

Recenly, a very small watercolour painting, five centimeter by three centimeter, was discovered in the national archive in The Hague, the Netherlands.

The newly discovered painting is by Hendrik Willem Mesdag (23 February 1831 – 10 July 1915). He made it in 1854 for his fiancee (later: his wife), Sina van Houten, also a painter.

On the back of the watercolour, Hendrik Willem wrote a poem for Sina.

The poem on the back of the newly discovered Hendrik Willem Mesdag watercolour painting

The words of the poem are (translated):

Thoughts are not subject to laws;
therefore; think of the
maker of this; as often as ye will take up this sheet.

Gron[ingen], July 1854

H W Mesdag

Hendrik Willem Mesdag and Sina van Houten are most famous for painting the very big Panorama Mesdag. So, this very small work is a bit of a surprise.

#BlackLivesMatter and street art in Baltimore, USA


This video from the USA says about itself:

29 April. 2015

SHOCKING VIDEO: Joseph Kent, a 21-year-old Morgan State student and civil rights activist, was telling demonstrators to disperse Tuesday night after the 10 p.m. curfew as a line of police officers stood by in riot gear.

Baltimore protester’s creepy arrest on live TV prompts concerns of ‘blackbag kidnapping’. CNN was broadcasting live when a National Guard armored car drove directly toward Kent and some of the officers pushed him behind the Humvee, which drove off.

Protester with his hands up arrested by police in Baltimore

The camera followed the armored vehicle, leaving many to conclude Kent had been shoved inside.

Shocking Video broadcast live by CNN shows a prominent Baltimore activist being kidnapped off the street by five National Guard troops as an armored vehicle shields the scene from cameras.

“They ran out and grabbed him … and then arrested him,” reported CNN’s Chris Cuomo.

Kent gained attention during protests in Baltimore over the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

The music student was credited in some reports as helping to keep protests peaceful and organized.

Baltimore police could not be reached for comment on Kent’s arrest.

A local attorney said Kent had apparently been booked into jail but was not among those who will be presented for bail on Wednesday.

By Priscilla Frank in the USA, with photos there:

Baltimore Students Team Up For #BlackLivesMatter Street Art Takeover

06/25/2015 11:59 am EDT

In 2011, street artist JR made a call to art and a call to action — a call he hoped would reach people around the world. “I wish for you to stand up for what you care about by participating in a global art project,” he said. “And together, we’ll turn the world inside out.”

“Inside Out” is the name of the project, which challenges people around the globe to share their portrait and a message they believe in. Thus far, the project has attracted over 200,000 people from 112 countries, from Ecuador to Nepal to Palestine. Issues addressed range from climate change to gender-based violence, all communicated through the simple yet striking image of a large, black-and-white pasted portrait.

Now, the students of Morgan State University’s Visual Arts Department are taking a hint from JR and collaborating, along with Computer Graphics II and Computers in Art Design professor Chris Metzger, on an “Inside Out” Group Action project, a visual response to the #BlackLivesMatter Movement.

For me, Black Lives Matter — way before it became this social media movement, before it became a hashtag — it’s always been a part of my work,” artist Sheldon Scott explained in a previous interview with The Huffington Post. “We’ve been saying these things for years about … mistreatment and injustices.”

From June 17 to June 19, students teamed up to take on the facade of the future home of Open Works in Baltimore City, a space meant to serve as an incubator for Baltimore‘s creative economy.

“Research shows that Baltimore City ranks 100th out of 100 cities nationally in terms of income mobility,” program manager Will Holman explained in a statement. “We view Open Works as a ladder for youth, unemployed, and underemployed workers looking for better opportunities.” The facility will offer advanced tools and technologies for ordinary citizens, transforming Baltimore into a grounds for burgeoning tech and art scenes.

“These facilities, such as TechShop, FabLab and other homegrown maker spaces, are emerging as a new kind of civic institution, similar to schools or libraries,” BARCO Managing Director, Mac MacLure added. “Maker communities are springing up around the world as places that inspire and teach, provide access to tools and mentorship, and connect individuals with financing and customers.”

Given its potential for the creative and economic future of Baltimore, Open Works is an ideal canvas for the young faces of Baltimore’s artists and activists. The project comes at as an apt a time as ever, following the horrific events of last week’s shooting in Charleston, in which 21-year-old white gunman Dylann Roof murdered nine individuals at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church during a Bible study meeting.

The only reason someone could walk into a church and shoot people praying is out of hate,” Charleston Mayor Joe Riley said at a news conference following the massacre. “It is the most dastardly act that one could possibly imagine.”

In the wake of such tragedy, projects like “Inside Out” restore some sense of hope. The strong faces of the men and women of Baltimore’s “Inside Out” installation emanate a sense of strength, togetherness and peaceful defiance.

Manchester, England, only one statue of a woman


This video from England, recorded in 2001, says about itself:

Unveiling Statue Of Victoria At Manchester

Lord Roberts with civic dignitaries unveils statue of Queen Victoria after making short speech.

By Bernadette Hyland:

Feminist monument or progress standing still

Tuesday 23rd June 2015

BERNADETTE HYLAND explores a bid to redress gender imbalance in Manchester’s statues by memorialising a famous woman

ANDREW SIMCOCK, Labour councillor for the leafy, affluent suburb of East Didsbury in Manchester, has instigated a campaign to try to rebalance the male-female ratio of public statues in the city. Of its 17 statues, only one is of a woman — Queen Victoria.

He says: “Like many people I was unaware that there were no statues dedicated to women in the city centre, and it seemed to me to be an injustice that should be righted.” Simcock has got Manchester City Council to support his idea and a shortlist of 20 women has been drawn up.

He is asking the public to donate to the campaign and stresses that no public money will be used. Simcock has paid for an advertising agency to promote the campaign and has embarked on a nationwide bike ride to raise money for the statue.

Estimated costs range from £120,000 to £500,000.

The Queen Victoria statue has a long history as a meeting place for political events in Manchester. In 1908 the Suffragettes were trying to get women to go to London for a huge procession, so they used the statue to advertise the meeting with a card displaying the Women’s Social and Political Union motto and a placard with details of a meeting the following evening.

A crowd gathered, the police arrived and ordered the removal of the placards. The event got in all the papers and gave the Suffragettes the publicity they needed.

So who are the 20 women on the shortlist? Well, as you would expect, the Pankhursts are there: Emmeline, Sylvia and Christabel. But there are also grassroots activists including socialist Hannah Mitchell, suffragist Lydia Becker and trade unionists Mary Quaile and Esther Roper.

Prominent politicians including Labour education minister Ellen Wilkinson, Shena Simon and Margaret Ashton appear alongside the odd Tory, such as Katherine Ollerenshaw, who was a councillor and adviser to Margaret Thatcher.

Others range from Louise Da-Cocodia, a nurse and activist in the Afro-Caribbean community, to Sunny Lowry, who was the first woman to swim the English Channel.

Across the north-west (and maybe beyond) new public statues have been dominated by entertainers. Morecambe’s statue of local boy Eric Morecambe is one of the most popular places for tourists to visit. Liverpool has Ken Dodd and Labour MP Bessie Braddock together, which might be a political comment, while north-west council Rochdale is putting up a statue to singer and actress Gracie Fields, a woman dubbed by a local Labour councillor as the Madonna of her era. Shouldn’t it be the other way round?

Underneath the overhyped 24/7 image, Manchester is a city facing major challenges because of government cuts as well as the choices made about where those cuts should be made by the Labour Council. Only 46 per cent of Mancunians voted in the general election, which is a sign of the increasing division between the people and the political system.

Manchester is the fifth most deprived area in Britain, and walking around the city, the increasing levels of poverty are obvious in the deteriorating state of its public places, as well as the way in which some groups of people, including the homeless, are taking their campaigns literally to the streets.

What do Mancunians think about having a new statue of a woman? Over 100 people turned up to the launch and Simcock believes the Womanchester Statue project “has struck a chord with people in Manchester.”

Annette Wright, president of Manchester Trades Council, hopes the debate will inspire new activists to get involved in local politics. “As the shortlist clearly illustrates, women have played a major role in campaigning, protesting and organising in the trade union movement in Manchester. We have a long way to go to give them all the recognition they deserve.

“By building the union movement in the present day, making sure women play a full role in this and remembering the women who played such significant roles in the past, we can start to go some way to addressing this. We can learn a great deal and be inspired by the examples of labour movement pioneers.”

Local historian Alison Ronan is a supporter of Margaret Ashton to win. “It seems to me that it is important that the statue represents a woman who was committed to Manchester and its citizens.”

Ashton was the first female councillor for Manchester (a Liberal), a committed pacifist and internationalist and campaigner for women’s and workers’ rights, including the vote.

Manchester NUJ activist Rachel Broady is more cynical, particularly about the whole role of statues: “It would be great if the list of women helps create a debate and reminds people of Manchester’s radical history rather than repeat the same, often limited, story of the Suffragettes. Ultimately, though, I think funding education — in schools and beyond — about our radical past, and the men and women involved, would be of more value than one more statue for the pigeons to sit on.”

Project worker and activist in the Mary Quaile Club Ciara Sullivan is also not impressed about either the statue or the fact that it is going be paid for by the public: “I think that makes it much worse. That makes it feel like a distraction to divert attention from areas still needing fixing and funding and using historical achievements as a diversion.”

It is now a question of whether the good people of Manchester will cough up the tens of thousands to pay for the statue and then vote for the woman whose legacy it will honour.

For further details see www.womanchesterstatue.org.

Saiga antelope and art in Kazakhstan


Drawing attention to the plight of the saiga through local engagement in community art. Photo: Rory McCann

From BirdLife:

Drawing attention to the plight of the Saiga through school mural painting

By Rory McCann, Mon, 15/06/2015 – 12:40

I am here in Kazakhstan to paint a mural depicting the wildlife of the steppe environment, with a particular focus on the Saiga antelope – a comical-looking yet critically endangered species which originally inhabited a vast area of the Eurasian steppe zone. The Saiga population in Kazakhstan has recently suffered severe losses due to a disease outbreak.

On my second day I meet staff of the Association for the Conservation of Biodiversity of Kazakhstan (ACBK, BirdLife Partner in Kazakhstan), who tell me one of the main issues for Saiga antelope is that they are being poached, especially by individuals in the remote villages of central Kazakhstan.

Our mural will be made in one of these villages, with the aim of boosting the plight of the Saiga. The mural painting team are Zhanna Aksartova – ACBK’s Conservation Education Coordinator, Ekaterina Aksartova – Zhanna’s sister and ecology student, and myself – Rory McCann – a wildlife artist with a background in conservation.

We travel across Kazahkstan to the village where we will paint the mural.  Its location is the village school, a mighty-looking building built by the government 3 years ago. We hope to have the help of the schoolchildren.

We are shown around the school by the school director and the village leader. I am touched and tickled to be given many business-like handshakes by children as young as three years old!

It’s exciting to introduce ourselves and explain our reasons for being there. We talk about the values of preserving native biodiversity and we launch a drawing competition for the students.

We have eight days to paint the mural!

The first brush strokes are always the hardest, but the fear of ruining a perfectly good wall quickly subsides and mural-painting fever takes over!

The days go by and our mural starts to take shape and so does a growing following of budding young artists. By the third day, I can barely move for all the students who are packed around me producing their own drawings based on the mural painting.

Zhanna and Ekaterina chat to the children and get them involved in activities such as making masks and singing songs about the Saiga. The children seem enthralled by the process – exactly the response we were hoping for!

We run a workshop with the younger competition winners – a series of mini drawing challenges, a master class in drawing eyes, and making Saiga gift cards. The competition winners can paint an animal on the mural.

The final day arrives. We must have the mural finished by 5pm in time for the grand opening. The mural has been sectioned off with curtains across the entrance so that our big unveiling can have maximum dramatic impact!  At 4:45 pm, the brushes are put down for the last time, with a big sigh of relief.

At 5pm, we emerge from behind the curtains to a waiting crowd of students, staff and other villagers. A few minutes of prize–giving, tributes and words of thanks, the curtains are pulled back to reveal the finished mural. More than 25 steppe animals and birds are represented on the mural painting.

The hope is that this project can pave the way for ACBK to conduct further outreach and educational projects in this region with a view to improving the status of the Saiga antelope and other species in the surrounding environment.

The enthusiasm and friendliness of the students has really made this experience a rewarding one for me.

The Mural Project was instigated by the Saiga Conservation Alliance, with funding generously given by Zynga via the Wildlife Conservation Network.

Rory McCann worked for two years at BirdLife’s Global Secretariat office in Cambridge.