National Martin Ramirez Day

So I’m currently reading Murakami’s, “Wind-Up Bird Chronicle”…( I know, I’m so late to that bus). Man in the well? I mean, the book and the these drawings should have tea together. I feel like they’d be best friends.

And for some facts on Martin Ramirez: ( I’m going to let wikipedia take this one): Having migrated to the United States from Tepatitlan, Mexico in 1925, Ramírez was institutionalized in 1931, first at Stockton State Hospital in Stockton, California, then, beginning in 1948, at DeWitt State Hospital in Auburn, near Sacramento, where he made the drawings and collages for which he is now known. At DeWitt, a visiting professor of psychology and art, Tarmo Pasto, came across Ramírez’s work and began to save the large-scale works Ramírez made using available materials, including brown paper bags, scraps of examining-table paper, and book pages glued together with a paste made of potatoes and saliva. His works display an idiosyncratic iconography that reflect both Mexican folk traditions and twentieth-century modernization: images of Madonnas, horseback riders, and trains entering and exiting tunnels proliferate in the work, along with undulating fields of concentric lines that describe landscapes, tunnels, theatrical prosceniums, and decorative patterns.


Patterns in the USA :: Part 3

It’s hard to keep up with Karli as she drives cross-country, but here is the latest installment of photos from her travels.


Below are pictures of the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota.  Constructed in the late 1800′s, the building is covered in murals made with different naturally colored corn cobs.  Karli tells me they call it “paint by corn” because the murals are done much like a “paint by numbers” activity: they murals are re-made every year.  Corn wall art. Crazy!




A rusty cowboy truck parked outside the Corn Palace. Awesome surface and color.


Badlands National Park in South Dakota.  Karli writes, “this area used to be an ancient shallow sea that build up layers of mud that are now eroding away by wind and rain creating these amazing barren plateau and castle shaped landscapes. It kind of looks like large sand castles everywhere.” A surface shaped by time itself. Amazing.


Two unusual building facades in Minneapolis:



And the coat room area of the Walker Museum.  Wallpaper by Murakami, who I love.


Thanks for all the updates Karli!  Can’t wait to see where the journey goes next.

General, Wallpaper History

Wallpaper History :: Political Wall Coverings

Political themes emerge in wallpaper’s recently history. First, Andy Warhol’s most famous wallpaper depicted Chairman Mao with a purple face, simply repeated. Like his cow wallpaper, the pattern challenged traditional notions of wall coverings with strong color and bold composition.  It also created a strange discord between the poppy colors and the unlikeable political figure.

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Then we have the Japanese artist Takashi Murakami, known for his bright colors and fanciful, absurd renderings. With mushroom, eyeballs, and happy flower characters, Murakami evokes political themes associated with the atomic bombs that dropped on his home country. Like Warhol, he creates an intriguing (even disturbing) effect by matching such serious political themes with such an optimistic, energetic color palate.

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Nick Peters picks up where Murakami and Warhol left off. Several of his images mix World War II bomb imagery with innocent, even childish, fruit renderings. He also uses wallpaper to investigate the current political situation in Russia. After meeting Putin for the first time, George W. Bush said, “I looked the man in the eye. I was able to get a sense of his soul.” Peters patterned those eyes, adding hammers and sickles.

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Political wallpapers certainly do not appeal to mainstream taste, but they do provide an interesting outlet for activism. They also serve as yet another example of the thin line between wallpaper and fine art.