Friday, August 17, 2018

Leggo My Madonna! ...

There are those for whom Madonna’s birthday is always cause for celebration, but today the Material Girl turns the big 6-0. Fans all over the world are paying tribute, but one has honored her with a special gift: Artist Sam Hatmaker handcrafted a one-of-a-kind set of Madonna Lego Minifigures dedicated to the Queen of Pop.
“Legos, like Madonna, have been a big part of my life since I was a child,” Hatmaker says. “I thought since Madonna was turning 60 and the Minifigure, which was introduced in 1978, is turning 40, I should do something special for both of them.”

Appropriately, the first Madonna Lego Minifigure he designed was the pop star circa 1978, when she was art modeling in New York.
All the Madonna Lego incarnations were made from official Lego pieces, including accessories and fabric (except for the bow on the “Material Girl” Minifig). The “Rain” figure even incorporates the original 1978 Minifigure legs, which don’t move.
Hatmaker painted any pieces that were not available in the correct colors, and designed stickers for the various chest decorations. “The MTV ‘Vogue’ figure took the most painting since the skirt piece is only available in red,” he says. “But her boa from the Oscar performance of ‘Sooner or Later’ was the hardest part to be satisfied with. Making something that small that looks soft using just Lego parts was not easy.”
There are 20 Madonna Lego Minifigures in the Queen of Pop’s birthday collection, including iconic representations from “Like a Prayer,” “Erotica,” “Like a Virgin,” “Bedtime Stories” and even a kimono-clad Madonna from “Nothing Really Matters,” but Sam says he could easily think of 20 more to do.
This is hardly Hatmaker’s first foray into Lego art. A Golden Girls Lego set he created became a viral sensation.
He’s currently working on a series of celebrity portraits using colored Lego blocks as tile, each portrait containing between 2,000 and 4,500 tiles.

In all the Madonna Lego Minifigures project took more than 40 hours to design, paint, package and photograph, and they’re all for sale on his website, But what would the diva herself think of the Madonna Lego set?
“I think she would be flattered and recognize how much respect I have for her,” Hatmaker says. “Madonna changed the world — and my life — in many ways. She pushed buttons and tried to open people’s minds, always with her tongue planted firmly in her cheek. She continues to make art, and push for us to love ourselves and others, and tries to make the world a better place.”

I couldn’t have said it better. Happy birthday, Madonna!
 Artist Sam Hatmaker
Be sure to check out the other participants' offerings on today's Beverly's Pink Saturday!

Now, go make something beautiful!
¸.•´¸.•*´¨) ¸.•*´¨)
(¸.•´ (¸.•´? Tristan

 Before Hatmaker's Madonna series, he created the Cher in Logos Trio!

Friday, August 10, 2018

Meet the Barons Ludwig and Alexander von Stieglitz ...

Looking at photos of lavish and luxurious home libraries, I discovered this photo, which led me on a search for the house in which it came from. Thus I discovered the palace of the Baron Ludwig von Stieglitz, of St. Petersburg, Russia.
Ludwig von Stieglitz was born December 24, 1779 in Arolsen, Waldeck – March 18. He was a Jewish Russian  commersant and founder of banking house Stieglitz & Company.

 Detail of library
As a young man Stieglitz moved to Russia as a representative of his merchant house, and eventually was appointed court banker to the Czar Alexander I, gaining influence and receiving various Russian decorations. After adopting Christianity he was raised to the dignity of a Russian hereditary baron on August 22, 1826 as Ludwig von Stieglitz.
 Ballroom of the von Stieglitz palace
 Detail of the Ballroom
Stieglitz continued as court banker to Czar Nicholas I and took an active part in many financial affairs of his adopted country, investing in range of enterprises including steam navigation between Lübeck and St. Petersburg. He purchased the Estate of Gross-Essern in Courland, and on May 3, 1840 his name was inscribed in the register of the nobility of Courland.
 Study of the Baroness von Stieglitz
A contemporary has noted: "He was the German Rothschild of St. Petersburg, but in reality more; for he was not only rich in money, he was still richer in heart, and a noble benefactor in the best sense of the word."
 Family Dining Room
Formal Dining Room
 Supper Room
                                                                 Detail of the Supper Room
Ludwig von Stieglitz married Amalie Angelica Christiane Gottschalk (July 26, 1777, Hannover – February 20, 1838, St.Petersburg), their descendants were confirmed in the dignity of Russian hereditary baron penunts by ukaz of the Senate of April 3, 1862.
Daughter, Nathalie (October 17, 1803, St.Petersburg – May 17, 1882, Frankfurt)
Son, Alexander was his successor as head of the bank (until the firm went into voluntary liquidation in 1863) and became head of the State Bank of the Russian Empire established in 1860.

 Baron Alexandeer von Stieglitz
 The Concert Hall
 Detail of the Concert Hall
 The Blue Drawing Room
 The Main Drawing Room
Detail of the Main Drawing Room (I love the alcove large enough 
to house a billiards table!)
 The White Drawing Room
Detail of the White Drawing Room
The second Baron von Stieglitz received numerous awards, including the Order of St. Stanislav of the 3rd degree, the Order of St. Vladimir of the 4th degree and the Order of St. Anna of the 2nd degree.

In 1878 he donated funds to build a museum for the benefit of students of the Central School of Technical Drawing, which had been established by him earlier. 

The magnificent von Stieglitz palace was ransacked during the Russian Revolution in St. Petersburg in 1905. Although the uprising in St. Petersburg was short, the palace was emptied of its splendors and has been left to decay until this day.
 The von Stieglitz palace as it appears today 
on the English Embankment in St. Petersburg.
 The Ballroom
 The Ballroom
 The White Drawing Room
The White Drawing Room
The Main Drawing Room
 Hand-carved mouldings in the library today.

And, because I can't bear to leave you with the tattered remains of such finery ... one final photo of the palace in its grandeur - The Golden Drawing Room.
Interestingly, though I searched for quite some time, I could find no images of the bedrooms in this palace either before or after the Revolution. I'm sure whoever lived in such grand style had bedrooms fit for - well - a palace!

Be sure to see the offerings of the other participants on this week's Beverly's Pink Saturday blog hop!

Now go make something beautiful!
¸.•´¸.•*´¨) ¸.•*´¨)
(¸.•´ (¸.•´? Tristan

 My first two albums of 2018 ... "Fairy Dust" will be listed for sale in
my online shop soon - "Paris Flea Market" has been sold.


Saturday, August 4, 2018

Did Hugh and The Greatest Showman Get It Right? ...

One of the greatest myths about the 2017 P.T. Barnum biopic musical The Greatest Showman is that P.T. Barnum invented the circus, even getting the name from a theatre critic who called it a “primitive circus,” as in the derogatory meaning meaning “chaotic or ridiculous event.”

In fact, Philip Astley of England popularized the circus ring in the 1760s. He started with vaulting, a performance form in which he rode a horse galloping in circles. He was able to do this because the horse’s movement creates a centrifugal force that allowed him to balance. These early circuses also included staged combat, and in fact the pantomime, what we now associate with white-faced voiceless street artists, initially included battle reenactments akin to LARPers. Again, this made heavy use of equestrian acts.
Astley’s great success, however, was in integrating this trick with music, acrobatics, and clowns, all ancient art forms that took place in a ring-shaped stage. Acrobatics and balancing acts date back to 2500 BCE in Egypt. In a way, Astley was responsible for a new Renaissance incorporating these art forms into contemporary entertainment. The circus ring was and still is 42 feet in diameter, and the name circus is from the Latin for circle.
With many contemporary circuses, we see a similar integrated experience, notably featuring acrobatics and music. However, many circus productions today have narrative structure making them more akin to a cabaret style show. Overall, the combination of narrative with music and movement is best known to American audiences as the stage musical or opera; however, both cabaret and cirque have particular differences. For one thing, they intend to amaze and even shock audiences.
P.T. Barnum picked up the sideshow approach from Europe, exhibiting unusual people, and unlike in The Greatest Showman, it wasn’t necessarily an empowering troupe of diverse characters. (Nor did they all drink together — Barnum was a teetotaler.)

Both cabaret and circus incorporated clowning, derived from medieval jesters but moreso from commedia dell’arte, Elizabethan theatre, and Victorian vaudeville, all of which used slightly varying forms of performance and aesthetic to parody and satirize. In fact, these acts were called burlesques, meaning “comedy.” The word “burlesque” has been partly misappropriated to mean striptease after dancing girls acts began to take over speakeasies, many of which had a heavy cabaret influence. (Read reigning burlesquer Dita von Teese’s excellent reflexive history of burlesque.)
commedia dell’arte stock characters
Victorian era Jester
an original Jester
Burlesque icon Gypsy Rose Lee
Burlesque in the Vaudeville Era
Marlene Dietrich in “The Blue Angel

If not the best burlesque costume ever, my favorite! (keeping that equestrian theme)
Although much circus takes place in a theatre building these days, during circus’ heyday in the mid-19th century, tents were popular — and again, not invented by P.T. Barnum but instead by Joshuah Purdy Brown.
No such thing as humble advertising for Barnum, Bailey or Ringling!
In the U.S., the traveling circus suffered a decline after its Barnum and Bailey era in the mid-19th century. According to National Geographic, between the world wars, as the country experienced economic depression, so did the circus. New passport laws, customs regulations, and currency caps significantly limited the freedom of movement they enjoyed in the century prior. Simultaneously, the demise of train travel and the arrival of the motor vehicle forced many circuses to abandon the railroad and move back into truck shows. By the time the country finally recovered from the Great Depression, the advent of motion pictures and television posed a new threat, as the public was faced with ever expanding entertainment options.
In 2017, Ringling Bros closed. CEO Kenneth Feld said that the circus was no longer relevant in the same way. However, since the 1980s, a new era of circus had been brewing.
This has long been my favorite vintage circus image! I used in several memory and junque albums! 
Contemporary circus involves a renewed focus on acrobatics and other human skills that notably, don’t involve animals. (However, dog, horse, and even cat circuses exist.) One notable addition is aerial dance and acrobatics.
James Leotard
                                                                   Contemporary Chinese Pole
Although certain forms of aerial performance date back to 12th century China — the origins of pole dancing — flying trapeze was not invented until the mid 1800s, by Jules Leotard (yes, the namesake of the characteristic garment worn by acrobats and dancers), and apparatuses such as aerial silks, aerial hoop, and aerial rope appeared only in the 20th century.

trapeze, top, and aerial hoop (also called lyra) bottom

One thing The Greatest Showman gets right is that the aerialist swings around the circus ring on a rope; acrobats invented trapeze, after translating their tightrope acts into “loose rope” acts, and eventually added a bar to it. Now, new aerial apparatuses appear every year and can take unique forms, such as aerial chandelier, aerial birdcage, aerial umbrella, aerial cube, and aerial gyrosphere.
 aerieal spiral
 aerial umbrella
aerial birdcage
aerial cube
Spanish web
aerial straps
original lyra
rope sling!)
Circus arts now encompass the ancient forms such as Chinese pole and Egyptian acrobatics, the classical forms such as clowning and vaulting, and new forms such as aerial dance, along with a dose of sideshow shock in some circuses and a speakeasy aesthetic in others. Around the world, more and more circus schools and aerial dance studios open their doors every year, and the public’s appetite for circus has actually expanded from beyond the once-a-year big-top rolling into town to frequent encounters at lounges and clubs, as well as destinations such as theme parks and Vegas, to small-level encounters right in one’s hometown. 
Clearly, circus is here to stay. 

Check out the offerings of the other participants today on Beverly's Pink Saturday blog hop.

Now go make something beautiful!
¸.•´¸.•*´¨) ¸.•*´¨)
(¸.•´ (¸.•´? Tristan

I've always been a huge fan of vintage circus images and photos ... 
here is a photo/memory album/journal that I made a couple years ago 
maybe it's time to make a couple more vintage circus 
and/or burlesque themed albums!