—————————————-Greenlanders, life on the edge, image found here

Here at the republic, we’ve been hearing it from all over the map:

things have changed,

people have changed

whatever you were counting on, you’ll need to count on something else...

the party’s over, the merry–go–round is broken, and the tools to fix it are all gone.

——–National Snow & Ice Data Centre– iceberg image Greenland found here

We take sorrow seriously here, and sadness, and dispair. And grief. And there is a lot of all of this around, and we are not the ones to say to anyone: just get over it sunshine, nor do we deal in advice.

No matter what any of us feels about all this right now, what we can say for sure is this: nobody knows for sure where we are all headed.(some 8 billion of us, not including household pets).

—————-Photographer Hengki Koentjoro, The Roads of Mount Nebo, found here

But the fact that we don’t/can’t know what will happen tomorrow means, among other things, that we can count on a few surprises, discoveries, and once in a while: a truly “wow” moment or two. And there are lots of people out there who, every day, take on the job of making and delivering a one-of-a-kind experience for us–in music, in sculpture, in paint, in pixels. in steel wire and water. As always.

——————nik wallenda on the high wire across Niagra Falls image found here

Around here, our general approach to what’s going on lately, and to most things before that, is to stand back and look at the big picture while clinging to a few simple, but sometimes overlooked, facts.

———————————– Earth in space image found here

Such as the fact that we all live in the middle of nowhere (ok, “space”), there is no backup generator to provide heat, light, and water, virtually all of the people in the world have no idea who we are, each of us has and expiry date, we don’t know what love is, or how to find it….or keep it.

We all know these things to be true, apparently, and yet lots of humans, lots and lots, manage and have always managed, to not just carry on, but to rise above our sketchy circumstances and make something, which is by itself an act of defiance in the face of our precarious circumstances. And among the makers, we have a special fondness for visual artists, for (some) architects, and performers who risk everything.

—————————–nuuk Greenland early morning image found here

Whatever is coming down the pipe for us in the next decade and beyond, there is no doubt whatever that all over the map there will be original images, objects, structures, and experiences, made by humans of all sizes and shapes and circumstances. And some of these ‘works’ will stop you in your tracks and adjust your dials. All right here on this rock in the dark. Because that’s who we are.

With that in mind, we had a look around for a few recent examples of what humans get up to when they take on the job making something new. We have made a point of not thinking too much about the impact of work like this. Mostly it is love at first sight followed by “yes” Which sometimes leads to love.


Regine Schumann

Shown recently at galerie hoffmann and found here

This artist works and lives in Cologne Germany. We first saw this just a few days before selecting it for this post. It definitely says Yes to all the right questions. Thank you Ms Schumann


Shio Kusaka

Recent work by Shio Kusaka presented at David Zwirner gallery in 2022. You can find more here

Ordinary/Extraordinary. Clay, glass objects suitable for the home, any home, now, tomorrow or 100 years ago. Very nice.


Vilhelm Sundin

————————————————————————————————————-See some of his work here

We saw from across the room a picture of a heavy snowfall in a city. Up close we saw the snow was moving, falling. It was a beautiful thing. Silent. All of us see so much video all day all night. How much of it is beautiful?

Video art by Swedish born Canadian artist Vilhelm Sundin can be viewed in person at Monte Clark Gallery in Vancouver


Patkau Architects, Patricia and John, Vancouver BC

——————————————————————————This image of the Audain Art Museum found here

Interior of the Audain Art Museum in Whistler BC. If you visit no other building in Canada, visit this one.

Patricia and John Patkau and their team are among the very best in their profession anywhere. oh yes.


Tham + Videgard Architects

images found here
from here

Scandinavia is always worth a look for the kind of design and production of objects, from cutlery to houses and public buildings, that whispers “quality” “quiet” “sensible” and “uncluttered”. A team of Swedish architects, Bolle Tham and Martin Videgard now at work is producing their own portfolio of houses and public buildings (etc) that embody these qualities –with very clean and quiet and tasty results. Brace yourself


Olafur Eliasson artist Danish + Icelandic + multimedia + prolific

image above seen here
image seen here

Mr Eliason has built a unique practice and continues to search and surprise.

You can hear him talk about what he does in this video

You can see a new exhibition of what he does this Fall in New York City at the Frick Madison


James Turrell Light + Space

image found here massmoca.org/james-turrell/

Mr Turrell creates spaces filled with light. People linger. Something happens. He has been doing this for a long time. There is nothing like it and no one like him.

Current exhibit at Mass moca in Massachusetts


Ai Wei Wei ARTIST. Provocateur. Man of the World

opening of AI WEI WEI recent exhibit. image from here

Ai Wei Wei is a truly international/world artist. He delights as much as he disturbs. You feel you might welcome him to your home and yet is one of the most famous people on earth. His work always provokes in some way, it raises issues often overlooked. But he never preaches. He makes things. Happen. For which we can all be grateful

image found here

And, just to put this in perspective, a long time ago in a desert in Peru someone and their friends made something to be enjoyed by birds and space travellers. That’s who we are.

it’s always amazing to see what nature is up to when we aren’t there

white sands national monument john hunter

up there in the wildest places, the farthest places from our small lives, that’s where you’ll see what can happen without us.  it is always original, never trivial, never trending.

ice greenland nytEven when these farthest places change because of the accumulated effects of our daily lives. the result is all nature’s own–spectacularly un-human,  beautifully bereft of our precious cliches.

We can’t help but drop our jaws and shed some tears of admiration before we go back to our day job.  But some have chosen to find work, put down roots and raise families right up against the raw originality (and harshness) of remote places.

La Rinconada Peru REMOTE-6

This is upper Peru. Life unplugged from everything except life.  It isn’t easy of course, but the miracle is that it exists at all.  Found here


And this village is on Greenland in the upper middle of nowhere looking bright, cheerful, remarkably at ease.  Part of a collection here

The only rival to the remoteness of the highest and coldest places on earth are the oceans where, we are told, you might sail for weeks without seeing any land at allocean-yonaguni-ring-shape-oxygen-ascending-risingThe only mark on this part of the Pacific is an air pocket…

landsat image of antarctica

The remotest places have many lessons to teach us, if we will only listen and look, lessons about beauty, humility, responsibility…

hiroshi sugimoto-seascape-north-atlantic-cape-breton-1996Just look .

Image by hiroshi sugimoto (seascape-north-atlantic-cape-breton)

Originally posted May 2016

Image result for black and white motherwell

So here at the end of the year/beginning of the year, we find ourselves thinking about what matters most/what matters least.  Through all the buzz, all the fear, all the lunacy, all the loss, what starts to matter more and more to some of us is that humans are also very well equipped to make something BEAUTIFUL and never before seen. Hold that thought. And take a look up there, that, made by Robert Motherwell.  (it’s now at the MOMA).

Image result for black and white calder

Who knows why, but the objects of eye-popping beauty-made-by-humans that rush to the front of the mind, for us at least, so often seem to be those made with the simplest palette of all: Black. White. Black + White. Look up, the amazing Mr Calder, his amazing THING, all BLACK set in a white, light filled room.

Image result for charcoal drawing matisse

And then there is Henri Matisse, no slouch with colour, he was, but often, OFTEN, he put the reds and blues and acid greens to one side and made DRAWINGS–in charcoal, graphite, conte, ink,   No colour necessary.  None.  It’s all there.

Image result for white on black drawing matisse

Oh good gravy, even simpler even more reduced and amplified.  Achingly beautiful.  H. Matisse, encore.

Maria Likarz-Strauss: Draft for the FABRIC “Montag” [Monday]

Not sure who she is, but Maria Likarz Strauss (1928 Vienna) is up to the challenge embracing colourlessness in the name of striking go-tell-someone-about-this-ness.


The pen + the ink for centuries the main way of conveying information from one hand and one mind to one pair of eyes.  We have other tools now,  but even so, the power and seductiveness of the inked line has no competitor.  Artists everywhere know this.  Paul Klee knew it.  Intimately.    Thankfully


The ‘white’ of Mr Klee’s drawing has drifted in the direction of sand or warm chocolate milk, as opposed to say snow or salt.  We approve.  Found here.

OImage result for pen and ink kandinsky

Wassily Kandinsky made some of the most colourful pictures of the last 100 years, but he too sometimes paused, took a breath, and showed us the power of B+W, musical, explosive..

Image result for black and white keith Haring

Keith Haring.  Young. Subway artist.  Gifted draftsman. Brief life.  Draped in black. And white.

Related image

We are not done with this dark/bright discussion.  But for now, a pause, the last word, for now, to A. Calder again. Giving us a wire “drawing”.   Aquarium.  It’s all there.

Originally posted in January 2019

Painters, photographers, and law enforcement officers have shown a lot of interest in capturing just one side of us, a side of us we don’t usually see.

Potrait double Piero_della_Francesca_-_Portraits_of_Federico_da_Montefeltro_and_His_Wife_Battista_Sforza_-_WGA17626

Portrait Paolo Uccello (1397 - 1475)  Roundel with Head, ca. 1435

Italian artists working 500 years ago and more gave us some of the most arresting one-sided portraits we will ever see.  Up top, that’s  Federico da Montefeltro giving his wife Battista Sforza the eye, courtesy of Piero della Francesca.  And that beautiful face in the round frame belongs to an unnamed Florentina painted by Paolo Uccello (1397-1475).  More here

Portrait Fra Filippo Lippi (Italian Renaissance painter, c 1406–1469) also called Lippo Lippi, Portrait of a Woman with a Man at a Casement

Here’s a lady caught at the window by Fra Filippo Lippi (c 1406–1469).  Her eyes don’t quite meet his, and maybe that’s the story here.  From this nicely gathered collection of side portraits.

portrait Bernard exhibit_fivecenturies

Moving up the road to France and a bit closer to our time, we found this lovely drawing by Jean-Joseph Bernard, 1785, at Vanderbilt University. Just pen and ink with watercolor on paper.

portrait profile French_-_Profile_Portrait_of_a_Man_-_Walters_27251

Staying in France for a moment, here is a carved profile of an homme who from this angle seems both aristocratic and capable of beating somebody up.  Image found here

portraits of lawgivers montage

This group called Portraits of Lawgivers lives in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol Building. Each of the men depicted is a person who, some say, contributed to the laws that now underlie the US justice system. We think that’s Hammurabi up there.

Portrait Sargeant Madame_X_(Madame_Pierre_Gautreau),_John_Singer_Sargent,_1884_(unfree_frame_crop)

Madame X, as she came to be called, was an American in Paris in the 1880’s who did well in marriage, generated much gossip, and attracted the attention of painter John Singer Sargent who asked if he could paint her.  She said yes and the resulting portrait of her, with her gaze averted stage left, was judged just s bit too, you know.  Despite the averted gaze and the “X” everyone recognized the woman in black as “that woman”.  See her here now, at your leisure.

portrait Jimi jailhouse672a0

Jumping ahead to modern scandalous celebrity, getting your “mug” shot shortly after an arrest, profile on one side and full face on the other, is  almost a rite of passage for film stars and musicians of the last 70 years or so.  Mr Hendrix got out of the Toronto jail soon after and went on to play another day.

Portrait Man Ray of Lee Miller IMAGE-ONE-T

20th century artists like Man Ray rediscovered the power of the sidelong view even when no crime had preceded the shot.  This is Lee Miller in his Paris studio. Some of course thought it a crime that a woman this beautiful could also be a talented, brave, and prolific photographer.

portrait studio-portrait-movie-star-billie-dove-profile-in-silky-robe-and-heavy-jewels-hair-french-short

Isn’t she lovely, actress Billie Dove.  We don’t care what she’s done.

Portrait yousuf-karsh-audrey-hepburn-1956-profile-portait-high-quality

Audrey Hepburn photographed by Yousaf Karsh and, bless her, she turned just a little toward us.  From Boston.com

Portrait silhouette ProfileBrightonMahomed

The silhouette was not just a fad, it was an obsession at a certain point.  If you hadn’t been caught from the side on black paper with scissors well you just hadn’t arrived.  This nice example from England found here

Portrait silhouette sturgefamily_092-4-_stu_hug

Many got the whole damned family scissored and pasted. This is the Sturge Family, ca. 1820 presented in the collection of the Library of the Society of Friends (The Quakers)

Portrait sillhouettes book

Some silhouettists snipped black images of everyone they met, apparently.  Here’s a book of hundreds of them at the Smithsonian Institute

ghirland 2 giovanna

Back to where we started, in Italy, this must be counted among the most beautiful portraits ever produced, and it is amazing how much it conveys while only showing us one side of this woman’s story.  Her name is Giovanna Tornabuoni, and she died in childbirth.  Painted posthumously by Domenico Ghirlandaio about 1490. She now lives in a museum in Madrid and was recently the star of an exhibition there reported here.

portrait Johannes_Vermeer_(1632-1675)_-_The_Girl_With_The_Pearl_Earring_(1665)

Much as we love the profile portaits we found, we are very very glad that Jan Vermeer (go here) coaxed this lady to turn toward his canvas and to us.  Perhaps the gift of her gaze is all the more powerful because we have been deprived of it.  Maybe that’s the power of the profile–to increase the appetite for more of her face.

originally posted June 2014

clowns 2 and high hair gal-1

clowns 3 clowns phunny

Clowns tell us a lot about ourselves and our lives. The best of them reveal some sadness or strangeness or both while doing their best to amuse us.  The overall message is: you might as well laugh because, well, life isn’t always a piece of cake, sometimes it’s a pie in the face.

clown handstand   clown_gum_display

clown toy crawling

Clown figurines of tin or ceramic seem to carry an extra layer of sadness and oddness after a few years.  Maybe there is a contradiction between what we see now and the smiles the little joker was meant to induce.  Crawling clown toy, 1900, from here

clown rolly dollys

But for all the contradictions, we can’t stop smiling at this little gang of kidders.

clowns mini rolly dollys

According to Tracey’s Toys:

“The Rolly Dollys first appeared in 1902 and were produced through the 1920s in over 70 different styles. Some were based on advertising or cartoon characters like Buster Brown and Foxy Grandpa, while others represented children, clowns, police officers, and more.”

Foxy Grandpa??

Is this him?

clown cookie jar

All in all, the clown whether he is a comic actor, a circus performer, a tin toy, or cookie jar (above) has a long history and a continuing important function in human society.  Is there sadness underneath it all?  Is there misery and madness?

clown group photo1916_clowns

Well…maybe.  But we all have a choice to see the soda spray bottle half empty or half full.  Is the whoopee cushion a cry for help?  Or just a perennial boyish prank.  We come down on the side of mirth.  Release the clowns!!!

Digital StillCamera

Play on fellas.  Do you know “My Funny Valentine?”



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