Friday, August 31, 2007

The Brazilian Millionaire of Breakfast at Tiffany's

Spanish actor Jose Luis de Villalonga, who appeared in over 60 movies including the 1961 classic "Breakfast at Tiffany's" has died yesterday at his home on the island of Mallorca. He was 87.
He played character Jose da Silva Pereira, the suave Brazilian millionaire, paramour of Audrey Hepburn's unforgettable Holly Golightly. Born into an aristocratic family in Madrid on January 9, 1920, Villalonga was also an accomplished author and journalist. Among his books is a respected biography of Spanish King Juan Carlos and another of interviews with Fellini. In Paris he worked for magazines like Paris Match, Vogue and Marie Claire and developed a reputation as a playboy amongst the jet-set crowd he belonged to. After he returned to Spain following Franco's death in 1975, Villalonga he worked for various media outlets including the Spanish version of adult entertainment magazine Playboy.
In Brazil, "Breakfast at Tiffany's", directed by Blake Edwards, was retitled "Bonequinha de Luxo" or roughly "Luxury Dolly".

Religion & Politics vs Artistic Freedom or Bin Laden as Jesus

In the 56 years since it was first awarded, the Blake Prize for Religious Art, In Sydney Australia, has not been noted for controversy. But this year's entries for the coveted £6,000 award have caused a chorus of outrage from Christians and Muslims alike. They include a portrait of Osama Bin Laden which, viewed from an angle, morphs into an image of Christ. And just for good measure there is a figure of the Virgin Mary, hands clasped in prayer, with an Islamic burqa concealing her upper body apart from the eyes.
While such exhibits might merely cause raised eyebrows if entered for Britain's always-controversial Turner Prize, the decision to place them on show at the National Art School in Sydney has caused deep upset in Australia, whose 20million population is predominantly Christian.
"The choice of such artwork is gratuitously offensive to the religious beliefs of many Australians," said Prime Minister John Howard. And Labour Opposition leader Kevin Rudd said: "I accept people can have artistic freedom, but I find this painting off, off in the extreme. I understand how people would be offended by it." Glynis Quinlan, spokesman for the Australian Christian Lobby, said: "It's really unfortunate that people take liberties with the Christian faith that they wouldn't dare take with other religions." She described the Bin Laden/Jesus picture as a "big mistake", adding: "Jesus brought a message of love and forgiveness that has nothing to do with terrorism."
Sydney artist Luke Sullivan, creator of the Virgin Mary entry, entitled "The Fourth Secret of Fatima", said his work was intended to pose the question of what was the future of religion.
Queensland lawyer Priscilla Bracks, who painted the Bin Laden portrait entitled "Bearded Orientals: Making the Empire Cross", said it was not meant to compare Jesus to the terror leader but was a commentary on the way Bin Laden had been treated in the media. She was concerned, she said, that Bin Laden would be unintentionally glorified in years to come.

In an astonishing defence, the chairman of the Blake Society, the Rev Rod Pattenden, denied that they were likely to cause harm because "the Christian community doesn't look at art a great deal". (!?)

As always, politicians being politicians. If a controversial subject is on the table (religion, gay weddings, abortion) it's always safer to play conservative and guarantee future votes.
The Blake Prize @ The National Art School in Sydney, via The Daily Mail.

Ultra Nate @ The Week Rio

The Baltimore-native singer Ultra Nate will be performing at Rio de Janeiro's new mega club The Week tomorrow night, Saturday September 01. She will be singing tracks from her 5Th album "Grime, Silk & Thunder". Her new single "Automatic" is a cover from the 1984 Pointer Sisters dance smash hit. The original song reached #5 in the Billboard charts by the way. Ultra is known for her huge dance-floor classics like "Free", "Found a Cure", "Joy" and "Desire", and anyone that has been to a decent club in the 16 years will recognize them within the first accords.
To watch the steamy homoerotic promo video (that you won't see at your local MTV), with a cameo of a very Leigh Bowery-looking being, click here.

A Cena Muda - Ipanema, Rio

This is "A Cena Muda", a vintage magazine news stand near General Osorio Square, in Ipanema neighborhood, here in Rio. I've always admired all the murals that are painted around the whole kiosk, though they are no longer in tip-top shape. The designs are a bit Dali-esque, specially the fish-headed being on the first image. "A Cena Muda", that opened in late 2003, specializes in magazines from the 19th century all the way up to the 1970's, but they also sell vintage post cards, period trading-cards and movie star photographs. There you will find 1940's Vogues, 1960's Playboys and hundreds of mid-century Brazilian publications like "O Cruzeiro" and "Manchete". They also publish reprints of Brazilian cartoonist Carlos Zefiro's erotic work, that was sold underground in the 50's-60's because of it's explicit and graphic nature. Their display windows are quite good too with thematic tableaux of magazine groupings of a single theme. During the Pan American Games in July they had all old Pele covers in their display. Earlier in the year it was all Chico Buarque's youth that adorned it's window. Their current window display is vintage girlie magazines grouped with naked Barbie dolls! Love it!
I read somewhere that they might be relocating in the next month or so, to a different spot in Ipanema. If so, I will let you know.

Bandage of the Heart

"The bandage is a universal sign of injury and healing. When worn over the heart, it can be a declaration of personal loss that is on the mend. More so, the "Bandage for the Heart" can be a declaration of support, for victims, casualties and survivals of tragedy. It can be given, as a "badge of honor", to those that have made it through hard times, or to the heroes among us who helped to guide them through."
By Alyssa Dee Krauss, a RISD graduate jewelry designer & artist. Available at her website, US$250.00 for the sterling silver/stainless steel/garnet version and US$1,100.00 for the 18 Karat gold/garnet version. Each bandage comes presented in it's own gauze wrapping.

Theo Fennell @ Royal Academy of Art

One of Britain’s most revered jewellers, Theo Fennell, is hosting an exhibition by arrangement with the Royal Academy of Art in London this September. The title of the exhibition is "Show Off!" and will consist of installations, dioramas, paintings, presentations and sculptures each showcasing a piece of Fennell’s jewellery.
The idea behind the exhibition is to herald a return to the halcyon days of jewellery, when our hardware was less status symbol or fashion tag and more precious, perennial and personal. Advocating jewellery and silverware made with skill and traditional craftsmanship, Fennell has conjured-up a series of extraordinary vignettes, both thought provoking and amusing and all the while, driving home the timeless qualities and attitudes our forebears felt about jewellery.
Fennell explains his venture:

‘So much jewellery nowadays is badly conceived and made – be it huge, expensive stones strung thoughtlessly together or ‘branded’ gee-gaws put together with no heart. I wanted to show that great craftsmanship is still alive and thriving and, if combined with emotion and design, jewellery can be something magical and engaging; something talismanic and precious to its owner in a lasting way, not at the ephemeral whim of fashion: it can be truly owned.’

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Chic Wine Bottle @ MOMA Design Shop

A unique gift for the wine enthusiast, this bottle with a wine glass inside is meticulously hand crafted. It's mouth-blown in Romania from a single piece of glass, making no two identical.
Very simple and classical in design, with no color or patterns to distract from the silhouette.
Designed by Claudio Colucci. Available at the MOMA design shop for US$95.00. Love it!

Pitty Does Rihanna - Umbrella

Brazilian singer Pitty covers Rihanna's smash hit "Umbrella" at a live concert in Sorocaba, SP. Pitty adds in her rock'n'roll-chick attitude and does not disappoint! I find her very cool and love her overall attitude. She hails from Bahia, a place that has been producing Brazilian music deities for decades. She goes against the grain by not singing axe or regional folk stuff. Her musical style, and looks, have a much harder edge than the hippie-dippy Bahian vibe. Check out her official site too, great web design! Loved it!

Most Anticipated Murder in Brazil

Tonight Brazil will be tuned in on TV Globo's prime time soap "Paraiso Tropical" to watch the death of evil twin Tais, portrayed by the great Alessandra Negrini. Tais is the villainess that antagonizes the life of her twin sister Paula, and everyone else's that crosses her path in the popular soap. She has lied, stolen, murdered and kidnapped throughout the past months and many characters have plenty of reasons to do her off. She will be murdered tonight but the culprit will only be announced by month's end when "Paraiso Tropical" wraps up.
She will be found dead on the kitchen floor of her sister's apartment, with the stove's gas turned on. She goes in there to try to steal her sister's passport trying to flee the country but the safe's combination has been changed. Then the door bell rings! She peeks through the peep-hole and recognizing the person, and having no other alternative, lets him/her in. That's the end for the deceiving bitch. I'll keep you posted about this saga's end in the upcoming weeks.

Bush - A Pornographic Portrait in History

Artist Jonathen Yeo has created a collage portrait of US President George W. Bush by cutting up porn magazines. The Bush portrait, currently on display in London, has attracted the wrath of Republicans.
British artist Jonathan Yeo had every reason to be offended. The Bush Library in Texas had yet again rescinded a commission it had given him to paint a portrait of United States President George W. Bush. In the end, though, the artist decided to go ahead with his artistic portrayal of the 43rd president, even if he wasn't getting paid for it -- and created a portrait of Bush using a collage of pornographic images.
The tribute has not gone over well with Bush's supporters. A spokesman for Republicans Abroad International described the portrait as a "cheap stunt" in an interview with the British tabloid The Sun. Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Republican Party in Bush's home state of Texas didn't find much humor in the portrait either. "This picture is very distasteful," he told the paper, adding angrily, "Why would anyone want to make a picture of our president from pornographic material?"
For his part, artist Yeo has reacted calmly to the furore over the smutty visage. "I did it for fun, not to offend," he told the paper, adding that he was "pleased with it."
The artwork, titled "Bush 2007," is currently being shown as part of an exhibition at London's Lazarides Gallery and is available in a limited edition run of 150 prints, each measuring 86 by 56 centimeters. Via Spiegel Online.

Ivete Sangalo's Latin GRAMMY Nominations

The 8TH Annual Latin GRAMMY Awards will be presented on October 08TH in Las Vegas and Brazilian Singer Ivete Sangalo has 3 reasons to be proud. She has received 3 nominations on this year's awards, 2 out of 8 specifically created for the Portuguese language. There are 49 categories in total. These are her bids:

Best Brazilian Contemporary Pop album for "Ivete no Maracanã - Multishow ao Vivo"
Best Brazilian Song for "Berimbau Metalizado"
Best Long Form Music Video for "Ivete no Maracanã - Multishow ao Vivo"

On the last nomination she will be competing with fellow Brazilian artist Chico Buarque and international Puerto Rican pop sensation Ricky Martin. Many other Brazilian artists are also on the run for "the golden gramophones" like Daniela Mercury, Gal Costa, Mart'nalia and Caetano Veloso in remainder categories. For a complete list click here.

Kehinde Wiley @ Cerealart

Kehinde Wiley is best known for his paintings which reference specific works by Titian and Tiepolo. He also incorporates into his paintings a range of art historical and vernacular styles, from the French Rococo to the contemporary urban street. Wiley describes his approach as 'interrogating the notion of the master painter, at once critical and complicit.' He makes figurative paintings that quote historical sources and position young black men within that field of power. His figures, sometimes larger than life size, are depicted in poses of power and spiritual awakening. For his limited edition busts Wiley puts his own spin on sacred and secular themes of the Renaissance and Baroque, giving new meaning to codes of gesture and dress, and provoking a reconsideration of stereotypes about masculinity, race and class in our society today.
The first bust is a Bernini-influenced, Baroque-style work positioning a young man dressed in contemporary urban street attire styled as a 17th-century monarch. The second portrays a strong, athletic young man dressed in street attire, holding a book, sceptre and a cognac bottle.
Available at Cerealart, from US$ 1,200-1,400, cast marble dust and resin, editions of 250 each.
(Click images to enlarge)

My birthday is still a few months away but add that to my wish list please!

Damien Hirst's $100 Million Dollar Skull

UK's wealthiest artist, Damien Hirst, has found a buyer for his US$100 million diamond encrusted skull sculpture that had been on the market since early June. "For the Love of God" is a life-size cast of a human skull in platinum and covered by 8,601 pave-set diamonds weighing 1,106.18 carats. The single large diamond in the middle of the forehead is reportedly worth US$4.2 million alone. Hirst financed the project himself, and estimates it cost between 10 and 15 million. Hirst has had a good record in the past with sales of his controversial conceptual artwork. One of his most iconic pieces, the shark-in-a-tank piece "The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living" (1991) sold in 2004 for a reported £7 million.
I find Hirst's work very intriguing and fascinating. I had visited the original Saatchi Gallery in London a few years back when most of the "Sensation" artwork was still together under the same roof. I remember vividly his "pickled" pieces and they were thought-provoking even if you didn't care for conceptual art. His work deals with issues of life and death and I saw beauty and serenity in the same pieces that many found gross or ridiculous. Most of the pieces, that had been acquired for "pennies" before the artists became art-world stars, were sold off and a new gallery is scheduled to open in November 2007.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

New Look

Just updated the blog to a cleaner layout. It was getting too busy for my taste, too many colors and graphics. I tend to be a "maximalist" at heart but I felt I had to edit down here a bit. This is a work in progress and the blog's look might change a bit still but the content will stay the same. All fluff! ;-)
My best,


Road Trip - (Part 3) - South Of The Border

This is the final chapter of my road trip saga and it will be dedicated to a roadside "distraction" called South of The Border. On day-two of my driving drama, as I left lovely Emporia, VA on the wee hours of the morning (actually 8 AM), I kept seeing these colorful billboards mile after mile on I-95 South. I must have driven by 40 of them at least, no exaggeration. They were all very colorful, with a sassy sombrero-wearing Mexican cartoon guy as mascot, announcing different attractions for this place that I couldn't make out what it was. The signs were done in 1950's style and would state: "(Miniature golf, Camping, Barbecue, Arcade, Accommodations, etc) at South of The Border, in (50, 47, 44, 41, etc) miles!" What was it? I thought it was an amusement park at first, then a restaurant, but how come they had EVERYTHING there!? I just had to check it out as I very intrigued and already fascinated by the Mexican dude. I could tell the place had to be very kitschy and camp by the way the ads were done. I love all that Americana stuff and was dieing to buy a T-shirt or a souvenir there.
SoTB is located in Dilon, South Carolina, a 350 acre roadside attraction with 20 shops, 6 theme restaurants, a motel, 2 gas stations, convention center and dozens of really weird concrete statues, including a collection of Pedros, the cartoon mascot with the sombrero. The statues were amazingly odd, but in a cool I-wanna-hug-you way. It was mix of dinosaurs, flamingos, African animals, giant golf balls and sea creatures. And some were done as a blue rhinoceros or a green horned-rabbit, not much connection to reality. Love that stuff! I was only disappointed by the shops that missed their niche clientele (me) as the stuff they sold was not too cool. They need a good graphic artist to design some hip T-shirts and some take-me-home tchotchka. I found a cool Pedro coin bank but at $15.00 or so was not worth the price. They also had a pet-rest room, a fenced in area with a mock dog house, for the puppies. As Booboo was with me he got to enjoy the stop as well. It was still early in the day and the place was not mobbed yet so I got to walk around and take some pictures. I wished I had more time to explore but I still had many more hours driving to get to Miami and had to leave.
By the way, there are 175 billboards in total, from Philadelphia all the way to Daytona, Fl passing through Virginia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia. There is no way you'd miss them on the road!
Road Trip (part 1) and (part 2) can be found here.

Dita Von Teese @ Harper's Bazaar Nippon

She did it again! Burlesque Goddess Dita Von Teese is the cover girl for Japanese Harper's Bazaar September issue and she's prettier than ever. She is a vision of beauty and grace throughout the spread and I just get deeper & deeper in love with her!!

Von Teese is also a M.A.C. cosmetics Viva Glam spokes person, along Debbie Harry, Eve and Lisa Marie Presley. Dita, you are HOT!!

Marc Jacobs - Guest Editor @ Visionaire

Louis Vuitton lovers will have a unique temptation this fall. The next issue of Visionaire magazine will be guest edited by Marc Jacobs. The issue will feature photos of the famously fashionable (Drew Barrymore, Selma Blair, Lil' Kim, Scarlett Johansson, Stephanie Seymour, Gisele Bündchen et al.) by noted fashion photographers Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott. The biggest draw for the 192-page edition will probably be that it comes in a limited-edition Louis Vuitton gold Monogram Miroir case. You can get yours starting October 1 for US$375.00

Bar Do Pirata - Downtown Rio

This small dive, or botequim as we say here, is located on Rua do Ouvidor, near Rua do Comercio's corner in downtown Rio. Every time I walk around the city center I come across small hidden treasures like Bar do Pirata. I love all the murals and attention to detail that one can find even in a hole in-the-wall place like this. The bar is minuscule but even so somewhat tidy and organized. The owner told me that people ask to take pictures in there all the time and welcomed my request on the spot. Love the mix of religious & superstition icons on the top shelf (click to enlarge). Not too sure what the half filled champagne glass does but it probably wards off evil eye or brings good fortune. The clenched fist is called a figa and used as a protection tool as well.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The New Collectibles @ The New York Times

This chunky citrine and white gold ring is by paulista designer Simone Coste. She carves Brazilian stones into one-of-a-kind wearable sculptures.
Ring $4,545. At Barneys New York.
The blue rooster-feather cuff, $2,310, is from the Louis Vuitton runway show.
All photos by Jens Mortensen. To view more images from The New York Times click here.

Banshee Girl @ New York Times

"Channeling Siouxie Sioux in Punk Neon and Leather".
Via The New York Times Sunday magazine.
All photos by Alexei Hay. Fashion editor: Anne Christensen.
For credits click here.
I LOVE the green mohair sweater by Gaultier!!!

Le Freak, C'est Chic @ New York Times

"Mutant materials offer creature conforts". Via The New York Times Sunday magazine. All photos by Matthias Vriens. Fashion editor: Elisabeth Stewart. For fashion credits go here.
To view larger images just click on the pics.