Despite the lack of funding for the arts when compared to Europe, the U.S. has scores of wonderful art museums and galleries within its borders. All major cities have at least minor offerings, and admission to these museums is often inexpensive or completely free.
One of these free museums is the Menil Collection in Houston, Texas. The Menil, as it is called, is a collection gathered by John de Menil and Dominique de Menil over the course of their lives. It houses a wide range of art from modern paintings and pop art to sculptures from ancient Byzantium and African tribal works. Some of the pieces are more than 3,000 years old.
Another museum where admission is free is the National Gallery of Art (NGA), located in Washington D.C. This museum was established in 1937 and is is regarded as one of the finest art collections in the entire world. The NGA is home to the only Leonardo da Vinci painting in the United States and boasts a 6.1 acre sculpture garden.
Many of the best art museums in the country are found in New York City. NYC is home to the a Museum of Modern Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, called the Met for short, was founded in 1870 and has grown to more than 2,000,000 square feet. It’s home to an actual Egyptian temple that has been on display there since 1978. Admission is donation based and follows a “pay what you want” model, though the recommended donation is $25.
The appreciation of art is one of humanity’s most enduring characteristics. Seeing art from other eras in our species’ lifespan can be a beautiful and humbling experience.
By placing saliva on undeveloped photographic paper, Erno Erik Raitanen was able to grow bacterial cultures on the paper while it developed. The resulting images, dubbed “bacteriograms” are surprisingly colorful and artistic. They almost look like something captured by an electron microscope, except with vibrant color.
Photograms (sometimes called cameraless photography) are made by placing objects on light-sensitive materials and then exposing them to light. The microbes in Raitanen’s saliva affect the photographic paper on which they were placed through their normal growth and biological processes. They eat away the coating on the photographic paper, creating the colorful effect.
If not stopped, the microbes continue growing on the paper. Raitanen has tried to remove all the bacteria from some of the images he feels are complete, but continues to find new cultures growing on them occasionally.
Banksy is a popular street artist turned filmmaker turned author. His work is often political, sometimes combining violent and peaceful imagery into a single work to make a statement. For example, one piece features an image from a famous photograph of a napalm attack from the Vietnam war where a young girl is running from a smokey horizon. She is naked and horrified and in the original photograph is being followed by soldiers in protective gear. Banksy’s graffiti of the young girl features her, with the same horrified expression, except she is flanked on either side by Mickey Mouse and Ronald McDonald.
If you’ve seen an image of interesting or thought-provoking wall art online, there’s a good chance he produced it. But how does he manage to get his art up without being caught? Graffiti is, after all, seen as a form of vandalism and is therefore punishable by law.
It is said Banksy uses stencils to create his works. Stencil artists make outlines of their designs for wall art in advance of putting them up. This gives them time to plan out the work, allowing them to finish it in one session quickly enough to not be caught by police. Stencils are typically drawn on cardboard or other thick material that won’t allow spray paint to bleed through and cut out to preference. This allows artists to add detail and decide on how they’ll employ coloring as well. While Banksy didn’t invent stenciling, his work has played a major role in popularizing the method.