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Pentagram's Custom Signs Make Picking Up Dog Poop A Religious Experience At Manhattan's Famous Cathedral Saint John the Divine.

Michael Bierut and designer Jesse Reed of Pentagram have created a series of heavenly signs for New York's well known Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine that gently remind visitors to curb and leash thy dogs on Sunday, Oct. 6 (today) for its annual St. Francis Day Blessing of the Animals.

Funerals of many notables have been held at St. John the Divine, such as Soprano's star James Gandolfini, Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, writer James Baldwin, inventor Nikola Tesla, musician Dizzy Gillespie and puppeteer Jim Henson.

Visitors will encounter a new set of commandments designed for the institution, which employs the custom font Divine, a redrawn version of Frederic Goudy’s 1928 Blackletter.

above: The font, St. John The Divine, was created exclusively for Pentagram to rebrand the Cathedral by typographer Joe Finocchiaro in 2009.

Throughout the past few years, Pentagram has been refreshing the identity of Manhattan’s Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine. Their relationship with the Cathedral, an extraordinary New York institution, goes back fourteen years. They designed its previous identity in 1999.

Shortly after 9/11, the Cathedral was severely damaged by fire; a painstaking seven-year restoration followed, and the interior was reopened to great acclaim last November. The updated identity, which has been slowly introduced over the past years, builds on the success of the reopening.

above: The updated identifier pairs a drawing of the Cathedral's rose window with the name set in Franklin Gothic.

The Cathedral’s identifier juxtaposes a drawing of the rose window (shown below) that dominates the building’s western wall with asymmetrical sans serif typography. The signature is complimented with a new version of Frederic Goudy‘s blackletter text from 1928, which Goudy had based on Gutenberg’s 42-line Bible.

In a process that paralleled the Cathedral’s detailed interior restoration, typographer Joe Finocchiaro “repointed” Goudy’s letterforms to ensure crisp reproduction at large sizes.

above: A comparison of the letter P in Goudy's original blackletter, left, and redrawn by Joe Finocchiaro for the custom font Divine, right.

The signs will be a permanent addition to the Cathedral grounds, a popular spot for walking dogs in the neighborhood.

above: The church also holds many exhibits. Dog Bless You: The Photography of Mary Bloom, opened there last month and will be on view through winter 2013. For more information on the exhibition and photographer Mary Bloom's evocative portraits of Cathedral friends both four- and two-legged, visit here

Related links:
Joe Finocchiaro
Cathedral of St. John the Divine
Architectural history and images of the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine
Construction of the West Rose Window

UPDATED: Miley Cyrus: Overexposed or Marketing Genius? Terry Richardson Captures More of Miley's Tongue and Then Some (ALL the pics).

Haven't yet got enough of Miley's tongue or her twat-touching? Photographer Terry Richardson's latest images of the overexposed Miley Cyrus were shot in New York just these past two days, October 3rd and 4th where she's in town for her live hosting of tonight's SNL.

The Helvetica Hotel, From Soap To Signage - And A Little History.

For an independent study, Jung Hwan (Albert) Son, a senior communication design student at Parsons the New School for Design, decided to create and brand a hip and trendy hotel - inspired by the Helvetica font. Below are the elements he designed for his concept of the Helvetica Hotel.

Room keys, signage, wall clocks and stationary:

Toiletries, hangers and minibar items:

The clean sans serif font has been a favorite of designers since its inception, used for many recognizable logos and even inspiring a full length film.

History of Helvetica:
The Helvetica font was developed by Max Miedinger with Edüard Hoffmann in 1957 for the Haas Type Foundry in Münchenstein, Switzerland and quickly became an international hit in the graphic arts world. With its clean, smooth lines, it reflected a modern look that many designers were seeking. At a time when many European countries were recovering from the ravages of war, Helvetica presented a way to express newness and modernity.

“First learn a proper trade.” These were the words with which Max Miedinger’s father put an end to the debate on the future career of his 16-year-old son, who longed to become a painter. Instead, in the autumn of 1926, Miedinger junior began an apprenticeship as a type setter with the Zurich printing company Jacques Bollmann. Four years later, he knew for certain: “I want to be a designer, not spend the rest of my life fiddling with columns of type in galleys”. Evening classes with Johann Kohlmann at the Zurich School of Arts and Crafts confirmed his interest. Finally, in 1936, Max Miedinger was able to put his talent to professional use – as a typographer in the advertising studio of the Globus department store chain. There, over the ten years that followed, he created posters, newspaper advertisements, the corporate lettering and printing for in-house use.

above: just some of the brands that use Helvetica for their corporate identity (image courtesy of

Once Helvetica caught on, the typeface began to be used extensively in signage, in package labeling, in poster art, in advertising—in short, everywhere. Innumerable corporate logos such as those of Lufthansa, Bayer, Hoechst, Deutsche Bahn, BASF and BMW use the font. Inclusion of the font in home computer systems, such as the Apple Macintosh in 1984, only further cemented its ubiquity.

above: the poster for Gary Hustwit's documentary about Helvetica.

In his own words, designer Albert Son says "Essential theme of the branding is based on the visual attributes of the typeface, which is neutral, clean, simple. As it is most beautiful when it is by itself, focus of the overall branding was on keeping everything simple and clean in terms of typography as well as use of colors. While reinterpreting essential hotel products in 'Helvetica' way, the brand also introduces bunch of unconventional items in a range of categories."

Albert Son on Behance

Books, DVDs and other Helvetica related items:

Prada Marfa, A Full Scale Replica of a Prada Boutique In Texas: Art or Advertisement?

above: A permanent art installation, PRADA MARFA, is under fire by the Texas Department of Transportation who has officially classified the structure as an illegal outdoor advertisement. (photo by Casey McCallister)

What Is Prada Marfa?
Prada Marfa is a site-specific, permanent land art project by artists Elmgreen & Dragset constructed in 2005. Modeled after a Prada boutique, the inaccessible interior of the structure includes luxury goods from Prada’s fall collection from that year. The door does not open, ensuring that the sculpture will never function as a place of commerce. Art Production Fund and Ballroom Marfa co-produced the project.

Prada Marfa is a favorite subject of photographers, both professional and amateur. I found some fabulous images and have featured them throughout this post.

above photo by Roderick Peterson

Artists Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset:
"Prada Marfa is an artwork initiated by ourselves and realized in a collaboration with the not-for-profit cultural organizations Art Production Fund and Ballroom Marfa in 2005. It was not a work commissioned by the fashion brand Prada nor had the fashion brand any involvement in the creation of this work. They kindly gave us the permission to use their logo after we asked them, due to the founder Muccia Prada’s personal interest in contemporary art, and she donated shoes and bags, which have never been renewed but stay the same – as a historic display – inside the sculpture. The right definition of advertisement must be based on criteria more accurate than just including any sign which contains a logo. It is advertisement only when a company either commissions someone to make such a sign, pays for its execution or makes a sign themselves in order to promote the company’s products. And this is not the case here since Prada Marfa never had any commercial link to the fashion brand Prada, unlike the Playboy bunny which went up this summer initiated by Playboy itself.

above photo by Rice Jackson

Prada Marfa is firmly positioned within a contemporary understanding of site specific art, but also draws strongly on pop art and land art – two art forms which were conceived and thrived especially in the USA from the 1960s and onwards. Many artists, from Andy Warhol with his famous Campbell soup cans to Andreas Gursky with his grand photographic documentation of retail spaces have appropriated and dealt with the visual language of commercial brands. In an increasingly commercialized world, we see the independent artistic treatment of all visual signs and signifiers as crucial to a better and wider understanding of our day- to-day surroundings, including the influence of corporations.

It comes as a big surprise for us that the Texas Department of Transportation now after eight years may declare this well-known artwork to be illegal and we think it would be a shame for the local community if it disappeared after being there for so long since the work clearly is one of the strong points for the cultural tourism, which is such an important financial factor in this region. However, we are very happy to experience the fantastic support from both art professionals internationally, locals and others, who have even created a Facebook page named “Save Prada Marfa” that after just a short while has received almost 4000 likes and daily receives plenty of new posts, stories and images from people who once visited this site."

above: two photos by Gray Malin from his series of Prada Marfa, prints available here

Yvonne Force Villareal & Doreen Remen, Co-founders, Art Production Fund:
"Within our 13 years of producing and presenting important public art, few works have been as eagerly embraced than Prada Marfa by Elmgreen & Dragset. With full integrity, the artists refused for us to ask any corporation, especially Prada, for monetary donations to support the making of this project. It took us over a year of intense fundraising from local and international private patrons to realize this authentic and pure permanent artwork. The family of the late Walter Alton “Slim” Brown, even generously contributed to the project by lending their land. Great public art empowers people and gives them alternate ways to understand the times that we live in; Prada Marfa is a civic gift that has become one of the great worldwide pop icons."

above photo by Lizette Kabré

Fairfax Dorn, Co-founder and Executive Director, Ballroom Marfa:
"Prada Marfa is a living sculpture, an installation that has taken on a life of its own. In the eight years since its creation, Elmgreen & Dragset’s work has become part of the cultural and physical landscape of Far West Texas. At the same time it has entered into international art history discourse. It’s part of what people think of when they think of Marfa, either as art lovers on a pilgrimage, or as surprised passersby.

above photo by James Evans, Prada Marfa, 2005, Digital photograph, 40 x 50 inches (unframed), Limited edition of 25, available for purchase here

It’s also a non-profit project — supported entirely by funds from foundations and individuals — and the antithesis of commercialism. Prada Marfa is an embodiment of the Ballroom Marfa mission to combine innovation and accessibility without compromising on either front. We are encouraging engagement with art. Prada Marfa has been a precursor to other public art projects in Marfa, from temporary installations to our current work creating a community gathering place and performance venue with the Drive-In."

above photo by Cody Austin (courtesy of Facebook)

Where is Prada Marfa?
​Despite its name, the sculpture is not located in Marfa, but 37 miles northwest on highway 90 in Jeff Davis county, just outside of the town of Valentine, TX.

​above: Desolation from Will Sones (courtesy of Facebook)

Who are Elmgreen & Dragset?
Working together since 1995 and drawing from disciplines as varied as institutional critique, social politics, performance and architecture, Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset’s interdisciplinary practice reconfigures the familiar with characteristic wit and subversive humor. The static, staged environments they have presented across the world question our expectations by enacting paradoxical, seemingly misplaced scenarios that challenge our habitual notions, often to surprising or shocking effect. As a result, throughout their collaborative artistic partnership, Elmgreen & Dragset, from Denmark and Norway respectively, have redefined the way in which art is presented and experienced.

above photo by Noel Kerns, 2008

Michael Elmgreen (born 1961 in Copenhagen, Denmark) and Ingar Dragset (born 1969 in Trondheim, Norway), based in Berlin and London, have worked together as an artist duo since 1995. They have held numerous solo exhibitions in art institutions worldwide, including the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen in Rotterdam (2011), ZKM Museum of Modern Art in Karlsruhe (2010), MUSAC in Léon (2009), The Power Plant in Toronto (2006), Serpentine Gallery (2006) and Tate Modern (2004) in London, and Kunsthalle Zürich (2001). Their work has been included in the Liverpool (2012), Singapore (2011), Moscow (2011, 2007), Gwangju (2002), São Paulo (2002), Istanbul (2001), and Berlin (1998) biennials, and in 2009 they received a special mention for their exhibition The Collectors in the Nordic and Danish Pavilions at the 53rd Venice Biennale. Amongst their most well known works are Prada Marfa (2005) – a full scale replica of a Prada boutique in the middle of the Texan desert, and Short Cut (2003) – a car and a caravan breaking through the ground which was first shown in Milan and now resides in the collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. Recent projects include the permanent public sculpture Han in Elsinore, Denmark (2012) and the theatrical play Happy Days in the Art World, which debuted at the Performa 11 biennial in New York (2011) and was subsequently performed at the Bergen International Festival and the Royal Danish Theatre in Copenhagen (both 2012). Their winning Fourth Plinth Commission Powerless Structures, Fig. 10” – depicting a child astride his rocking horse – is on view until August 2014 in Trafalgar Square, London. Currently Elmgreen & Dragset are the curators of A Space Called Public / Hoffentlich Öffentlich, an extensive public art program taking place in Munich through September 2013. Their solo exhibition Tomorrow, a major site-specific installation in the former textile galleries of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, will open in October 2013. Upcoming solo exhibitions by Elmgreen & Dragset will take place at the Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo (March 2014), PLATEAU, Seoul (summer 2014), and Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen (autumn 2014).

​Elmstreen & Dragset

Who are Ballroom Marfa and Art Production Fund?
Art Production Fund (APF) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to commissioning and producing ambitious public art projects, reaching new audiences and expanding awareness through contemporary art. It aims to provide artists with the necessary production assistance for complex, difficult-to-realize projects, often of a multidisciplinary nature. It was founded by Yvonne Force Villareal and Doreen Remen in 2000. Recent notable APF projects include Yvette Mattern’s Global Rainbow in response to Hurricane Sandy, NYC (2012); Yoko Ono’s Imagine Peace in Times Square, NYC (2012); and Josephine Meckseper’s Manhattan Oil Project, NYC (2012).

Founded in 2003 by Virginia Lebermann and Fairfax Dorn, Ballroom Marfa is a 501(c)3 non-profit cultural arts organization in Far West Texas. Ballroom Marfa’s mission is to serve international, national, regional, and local arts communities and support the work of both emerging and recognized artists working in all media. Ballroom Marfa has worked with over 200 artists, produced 28 internationally-recognized exhibitions and hosted over 100 music concerts.

above: Shoe (detail), Prada Marfa, 2005. Photo by James Evans.

Prada Marfa is a marquee undertaking for both organizations, as it represents their shared interest in supporting projects outside of traditional gallery or museum environments.

Who is Boyd Elder?

above: Boyd Elder surveying the property. Photo by Lizette Kabré.

Boyd Elder is the photogenic caretaker and site representative of Prada Marfa, making appearances to individual travelers as well as a national audience in 60 Minutes’ profile of the sculpture. He is a lifelong resident of Valentine and a Big Bend legend, his name coming up alongside Mick Jagger, The Eagles and Joni Mitchell. He has his own line of Southwestern-themed leather gear, and makes paintings on horse and cattle skulls.

above image ©2011 Barry B Doyle

Is Prada Marfa a store?
No. There is no public access to the interior of the structure, and nothing is for sale.

As Michael Elmgreen said in a recent interview with Texas Monthly, “[Prada Marfa] was meant as a critique of the luxury goods industry, to put a shop in the middle of the desert.”

Anyone is welcome to take a picture, and it seems like almost everyone does — from Beyoncé to the scores of amateur photographers you’ll find using the #PradaMarfa hashtag. Snapshots are free, unless you would like to collect the limited edition print from photographer James Evans, currently available from Ballroom Marfa.

Is Prada Marfa an advertisement for Prada?
No. It is a non-profit public art project that was conceived of by Elmgreen & Dragset, who declined any monetary support from Prada or any other corporation.

As an art lover, Miuccia Prada, founder of the museum spaces of Fondazione Prada, did give the artists the right to use the Prada logo, even though she knew it was intended as subversive of commodification and the very brand itself.

“There’s a difference between being commissioned by a company to do something for them and using their logo, and using their logo on your own,” Elmgreen told Texas Monthly.

Is the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) trying to remove Prada Marfa?
We don’t know. As of now we have yet to receive any communication from TxDOT about Prada Marfa.

What does this have to do with Playboy Marfa?

Ballroom Marfa and Art Production Fund are not involved with Playboy Marfa, an installation outside of Marfa, Texas by the artist Richard Phillips (shown above). Playboy Marfa was commissioned by Landis Smithers and Neville Wakefield, Playboy’s Creative Director of Special Projects. Wakefield also curated Autobody, an unrelated exhibition at Ballroom Marfa in 2012.

Following much controversy and a complaint by Lineaus Hooper Lorette, a local accountant and artist, TxDOT “ordered the property owner to remove this sign because the owner does not have a Texas License for Outdoor Advertising and a specific permit application for the sign was not submitted.”

After further discussion with Plaboy’s legal team, Veronica Beyer, TxDOT Director of Media Relations, told the Big Bend Sentinel in August that “the order of removal issued to the landowner has been rescinded, and TxDOT is having discussions with Playboy Enterprises to find a solution to this issue.”

No doubt the deeper critical ramifications of this question are being pondered by art historians, enthusiasts and MFA thesis writers at this very moment, as well as by Playboy counsel Dick DeGuerin. Dick’s a good friend of Ballroom, but is not officially involved with Prada Marfa.

Related Links:
Art Production Fund
Ballroom Marfa
Elmstreem & Dragset
Gray Malin's prints of Prada Marfa
Boyd Elder
Save Prada Marfa on Facebook

The Magnificently Macabre Photography of Miss Lakune.

If Heaven and Hell could be combined in an artistic photograph, the beautiful and talented Miss Lakune, has done so with her ethereally disturbing Gothic photographs. The perfect images for the month in which Halloween lies, her work is both simultaneously repelling and compelling.

The Alphabet & Northwest Native Flora and Fauna Carved Into Crayons by Diem Chau.

In honor of her gallery showing at the G. Gibson Gallery in Seattle, artist Diem Chau has carved yet another amazing set of crayons. This time, it's the complete alphabet along with flora and fauna (and a person or two) corresponding to each of the 26 letters and all related to the Great Northwest.

above: N for Northern Spotted Owl, from all angles

An incredible amount of work went into these carvings and Diem says she had a lot of fun learning about her native species, some are which were favorites and others were completely new to her.

above: D for Dogwood, from all angles

Letters A-G:

A is for Aquilegia (Columbine)
B is for Bald Eagle
C is for Cougar
D is for Dogwood
E is for Elk
F is for Fox
G is for Grizzly Bear

above: B is for Bald Eagle, from all angles

Letters H-M:

H is for Heron
I is for Iris
J is for Juniper
K is for Killer Whale
L is for Lynx
M is for Mountain Goat

Letters N-T:

N is for Northern Spotted Owl
O is for Otter
P is for Painted Turtle
Q is for Quinault Tribe
R is for Rhododendron
S is for Salmon
T is for Timberwolf

above: O is for Otter, from all angles

Letters U-Z:

U is for Urchin
V is for Viola
W is for Wolf Eel
X is for Xanthogrammica (Giant Green Anemone)
Y is for Yuma myotis (Vesper Bat)
Z is for Zapus princeps (Western Jumping Mouse)

above: V is for Vesper Bat, from all angles

The entire set will be on view at an upcoming show in Seattle.

Diem Chau
A-Z: Northwest Natives
August 30th - October 12th, 2013
Artist Reception: Thursday, Sept. 5th, 6-8pm
G. Gibson Gallery
300 S. Washington Street
Seattle, WA 98104
(206) 587-4033

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