Bought to be Destroyed: Artist Ron English Will Whitewash His New Banksy

[ By SA Rogers in Art & Street Art & Graffiti. ]

Street artist Ron English paid over $730K for a work of art by Banksy – and he plans to paint over it. It might sound like some kind of silly high-profile artist feud, but English harbors no animosity toward the infamously anonymous creator of ‘Slave Labour,’ the mural he just bought at auction. He just doesn’t want anyone else to have it.

The mural, which depicts a small child on his knees with a sewing machine producing a string of Union Jack bunting, was originally painted onto the side of a London store in protest of sweatshop souvenirs before the 2012 Olympics. The mural disappeared in 2013, to the anger of local residents, and later resurfaced to be sold at auction for $1.1 million. It’s all part of an ongoing scheme in which building owners have Banksy works chiseled off their property and sold at auction without the artist’s consent.

Ron English, an American contemporary artist known for vivid, often satirical works with a comic book aesthetic, is sick of it.

“My idea for this painting is to whitewash it for my good pal Banksy, I only wish I could’ve spent more money for it,” English told a crowd of reporters in Los Angeles. “I’m going to paint it white again, I’m done. This is a blow for street art. It shouldn’t be bought and sold. I’m going to paint over it and just include it in one of the walls in my house. We’re tired of people stealing our stuff off the streets and re-selling it so I’m just going to buy everything I can get my hands on and whitewash it.”

But, English notes, while he might be crazy, he’s not stupid. He plans to sell the whitewashed painting for a million dollars – and he’ll probably get it.

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Going, going, gone…

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In October, Banksy’s work Girl with Balloon literally self-destructed the moment it was sold at auction for more than £1 million at Sotheby’s in front of an astonished crowd.

Learn more at WebUrbanist’s Banksy archive.

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[ By SA Rogers in Art & Street Art & Graffiti. ]

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Troll Train: Brazil’s Steamy Mundo a Vapor Museum

[ By Steve in Culture & History & Travel. ]

The front facade of the Mundo a Vapor train museum in Canela, Brazil recreates a spectacular Parisian train wreck from 1895 in steamingly accurate detail.

No doubt the worst – or at least, the most embarrassing – day in the history of the Chemins de fer de l’Ouest railway was October 22 of 1895, the date of the Montparnasse Derailment. Captured for posterity through the miracle of photography, this epic urban train wreck saw the twelve-car Granville to Paris and Montparnasse Express train enter the Gare Montparnasse station at too high a speed, suffer a brake failure, smash through safety buffers, careen 100 feet across the station concourse, and finally burst through the building’s outer wall, falling 30 feet into the street below. Ta da!

Steam locomotive No. 721 was hauling 10 coaches and 131 passengers at the time. The only fatality of the spectacular crash, however, was a woman in the street who was struck by displaced masonry while waiting for her husband. Though CF de l’Ouest was absorbed into the French national rail system in 1909, their day of infamy lives on, day after day, thousands of miles away in Brazil. Flickr member RV1864 has posted several photographs of the accident and the subsequent cleanup, two of which are presented above.

Troll Steam Ahead

Fast-forward 96 years and fast- er, sideways 5,837 miles to Canela, a charming town of 40,000 set jewel-like in the Gaucho Highlands of Rio Grande do Sul. Canela (Portuguese for “cinnamon”) is a popular tourist destination boasting several noteworthy attractions including Mundo a Vapor… the “World of Steam” train museum and theme park, which opened in 1991.

Exterior Loco Motive

It’s hard to miss Mundo a Vapor, just like it was hard to miss a major train station in Paris… we’re looking at you, engine driver Guillaume-Marie Pellerin. Unlike the old (demolished in 1969) Gare Montparnasse train terminal, over-achieving locomotive No. 721 is a feature, not a bug… and yes, the replica engine proudly displays its ID ‘cuz if one’s gonna troll, might as well troll to the max. These images from Flickr members Rosanetur and Solon Aguiar (solonneto) date from November of 2017 and September of 2012, respectively.

Steam Dream Team

Mundo a Vapor isn’t your average train museum and calling it a “theme park” is a bit of a stretch – the only real “ride” is a small steam train that, perhaps fortunately, does NOT crash through the second-story wall. What’s up with that? Here comes the history! Back in the 1920s, Ernesto Urbani ran a small business servicing and repairing the steam engines used at many of the local sawmills. Urbani’s sons Omar, Benito and Hermes spent their childhoods in the shop, learning all about steam engines and crafting miniature versions in their spare time. The boys – now retired gents – opened Mundo a Vapor in 1991 as both a tribute to their father and an homage to their love of all things steam.

Iron Horseplay

As such, Mundo a Vapor isn’t so much a museum of railroads as it is a showcase of the Urbani’s many handmade steam engines and miniature mechanical devices. For example, one steam-driven machine presses pulp into usable paper while another spits out pot-metal souvenirs cast from molten solder. Not exactly thrilling but hey – there’s always the replica crashed locomotive out front for photo opportunities. Be sure to snap the shutter when the stack belches thick white smoke. Flickr members Contato Dearaujo and Cesar Cardoso captured these scenes (and our lead image) in April of 2014 and June of 2011, respectively.

South Polar Express

Canela (along with its sister city Gramado) lies on the so-called “Rota Romantica” and it’s popular with tourists year-round. Successive waves of immigrants from the Azores, Germany and Italy have influenced the town’s architecture, not to mention its overall European character. Snow often falls during the winter, prompting extensive Christmastime events and activities. Someone better tell Santa that reindeer can’t fly but steam locomotives can…  for a few seconds. Flickr member Anderson Rancan snapped some of the holiday disaster fiasco fun in late 2008.

Keepin’ It Rail

Flickr member Jeff Belmonte brings us these night-time images of Mundo a Vapor’s crash-tacular facade taken in early 2006. Flying down to Rio – or a tad farther, to the Sao Paulo region – isn’t an option for many in the Northern Hemisphere but thanks to Mundo a Vapor you can pay a five-minute visit to the museum via this YouTube video. In the meantime, and to paraphrase Bogie from Casablanca, “We’ll always have the Paris trainwreck” thanks to those masters of steam (and trolling), the brothers Urbani.

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[ By Steve in Culture & History & Travel. ]

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Durable Self-Balancing Scooter Boasts Better Battery Life & Higher Speeds

[ By WebUrbanist in Technology & Vehicles & Mods. ]

A combination of rugged and road-worthy, this self-balancing electric scooter boasts quick-start functionality and speeds of up to 25 mile per hour, perfect for scooting through (and around) traffic in congested cities for hours on a single charge. For those already into Bird, Lime or other private scooter share programs (but frustrated with hunting for them in the wild), this device represents a potential leap up in durability, maneuverability, customizability, acceleration and speed.

Developed by California-based product designer Nathan Allen, the Stator has oversized wheels connected to a single-tube frame and a single, wraparound handlebar with an electronic control unit (turned on by a wireless RFID tag or standard key.

Modularity is part of the design’s charm, which is made up of components that can be swapped out and customized, including the seat, headlights, brake lights, phone chargers and holders, custom racks and rack bags.

It’s powered by a 1000W geared motor and a 20-Ah, 48-volt, lithium-ion battery pack tuckedi not the baseboard. Different power settings can be used to achieve better performance or balance energy usage.

At 90 pounds, it won’t be easy to lug around, but if you’re cruising urban streets that shouldn’t be an issue, and the extra weight helps provide extra features, like: regenerative brakes paired with front-wheel hydraulic disk braking. For now, it’s still a prototype, but its creator hopes to roll out models for sale in the near future.

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Midcentury Modern ‘Draper’ RV Offers a Nomadic Lifestyle for Discerning Design Fans

[ By SA Rogers in Technology & Vehicles & Mods. ]

With its black facade, stylish roof slant and fold-down deck, the new ‘Draper’ RV by Land Ark is ready to cruise all over the country and look hot doing it. The lines between recreational vehicles and tiny houses continue to blur, and while the Draper is closer to the latter than the former, it runs on standard RV-style hookups, and it’s easy to imagine it sliding into an RV park to instantly make the rest of the residents look terribly uncool.

But looks aren’t all the Draper has to offer. The 300-square-foot midcentury modern RV features a mud room entry with a 7-foot-wide wardrobe, a washer and dryer, recessed lighting, clerestory windows for lots of natural light while maintaining privacy, a full-size walk-in shower, a spacious galley kitchen, a lofted bed and a convertible U-sofa that transforms into a queen bed for guests.

The interiors are sleek and streamlined, nearly every surface covered in pale whitewashed pine, and in stark contrast to the usual RV fittings, the Draper’s propane-powered stainless steel appliances rival those you’d find in an upscale home (albeit much smaller.) Sliding glass doors lead out to a fold-down deck that’s lowered and raised with a hand-operated winch. There’s more storage than it seems at first glance, including an area for shoes.

The Draper was designed to be most comfortable for individuals or couples, but if you like the look and need a tad more space, Land Ark’s ‘Drake’ model might be a better fit. Measuring 357 square feet, the Drake sleeps up to six and has a similar look, though the sharp roof angle is sacrificed for more loft space. The Drake is listed at $139,000, while the Draper starts at $144,900.

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True Colors: Photographer Captures Urban Spectrum of Modern Istanbul

[ By WebUrbanist in Architecture & Cities & Urbanism. ]

Istanbul, Turkey, conjures to mind far-off days of Constantinople and historic works of architecture, from stone masonry homes ot ornate mosques, but there is a colorful variety to the city’s more modern buildings, too, as captured in this photo series.

An architect and photographer, Yener Torun photographs elements of the city’s past, but focuses mostly on more contemporary structures with minimalist forms, modern geometries, and above all: rich rainbows of color.

One could get the wrong impression looking at his work, because indeed it takes work at times to find the most vibrant examples.“I dig every corner of the city to unearth these colorful gems,” he explains. “Finding these places in this gray mass is quite like a treasure hunt.”

“My primary motive was to document a different, less-known part of Istanbul to escape from the one dimensional and orientalist perception…I believe increasing the variety of aspects provides a better understanding of the city, both for the viewers and me. Even long-term residents can’t believe these pictures were taken in the city they live in.”

So in some ways, he surfaces lesser-seen sides of the city. Together, his photos paint a picture, or create a collage, of a very selective sort, but then again: what architectural photographers really do otherwise? Near San Francisco, the colorful hilltop houses of Daly City often become stand-ins for local vernacular, even if they only show one side.

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[ By WebUrbanist in Architecture & Cities & Urbanism. ]

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Wave Forms for Artists & Artisans: Free Vintage Design Guide to Japanese Waves

[ By WebUrbanist in Art & Drawing & Digital. ]

In Japan, an island nation, waves are symbols long found in a vast array of art, design and craft from around the country, which one author decided to systemize in a three-book series now available for free online.

Myriad ancient wave and ripple examples were carefully compiled and catalogued in black ink by little-known artist Mori Yuzan just over a hundred years ago, detailing different motifs and patterns for other creators and craftspeople to emulate

The sheer variety of waves in these volumes alone is mesmerizing, all fitting into a style yet representing various applications as borders, backgrounds and design details suitable for all sorts of applications..

These Nihonga style (Japanese painting) graphics, typically applied to Japanese washi paper with brushes, can also be applied to anything from everyday ceramics to religious objects, swords, scrolls and wall art.

 

Perhaps the most famous application of waves remains the Great Wave of Kanagawa, a classic image from the 1800s featuring an enormous wave threatening boats off the coast of the present-day city of Yokohama. While sometimes assumed to be a tsunami, the wave is more likely to be a large rogue wave. As in many of the prints in the series, it depicts the area around Mount Fuji under particular conditions, and the mountain itself appears in the background.

Following the Meiji Restoration in 1868, Japan ended a long period of national isolation and became open to imports from the West. In turn, much Japanese art came to Europe and America and quickly gained popularity. The influence of Japanese art on Western culture became known as Japonism. Japanese woodblock prints became a source of inspiration for artists in many genres, particularly the Impressionists. Hokusai was seen as the emblematic Japanese artist and images from his prints and books influenced many different works.

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The World’s First Underwater Hotel Villa is Officially Open in the Maldives

[ By SA Rogers in Destinations & Sights & Travel. ]

Sleep sixteen feet below the surface of the ocean at the new Conrad Muraka villa in the Maldives, nestled into bed with panoramic views of marine creatures to color your dreams. Officially the world’s first underwater hotel residence, the two-story Muraka villa is now open for booking at the same Rangali Island resort hosting the world’s first underwater restaurant, the five-star Ithaa. Of course, there is a catch, and it’s not the hyper-fresh seafood brought in each day for guests to enjoy. The suite is only accessible via a four-night $200,000 package.

Connected to the rest of the resort by jetty, the Muraka features not only an underwater bedroom and bathroom but also a private gym, bar, infinity pool, an ocean-facing bathtub, a relaxation deck, additional above-water bedrooms and butler’s quarters. The price tag includes three meals a day prepared by a personal chef on the premises, and use of a private boat. It takes its name from the word “coral” in the local Dhivehi language, and cost a reported $15 million to build.

All of its components, including the 600-ton ultra-fortified lower level, were built in Singapore and transported to the site to avoid damaging the delicate ecosystem (which is, by the way, severely threatened by the effects of climate change, to say the least.) A Conrad Resorts video gives us a peek into the process of building and assembling the villa, which sleeps nine guests in total.

With four different itineraries tailored to traveler’s preferences, including “The Wanderers” for those seeking local culture, “The Flavors” for culinary delights, “The Soul” for wellness and “The Thrill” for adventure, the Muraka is a fantasy getaway for billionaires and celebrities, as visually dazzling as it is bittersweet, especially since the Maldives’ famous coral reefs are steadily degrading.

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[ By SA Rogers in Destinations & Sights & Travel. ]

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Cough-y House: Abandoned Cresson Tuberculosis Sanatorium

[ By Steve in Abandoned Places & Architecture. ]

The abandoned Cresson Tuberculosis Sanatorium once housed TB patients seeking relief and recuperation amidst Pennsylvania’s rugged Allegheny Mountains.

Sanatoriums (not to be confused with sanitariums, San Antonio or Santeria) were the “in” thing back in the dark days before antibiotics. These collegial care homes away from home offered tuberculosis sufferers fresh air, bright sunlight and balanced nutrition – beneficial even if one wasn’t inflicted by “consumption”. Often located in mountainous or desert settings, sanatoriums also served to segregate the infected away from the uninfected… a time-honored practice applied to lepers and the mentally ill. Dude, harsh – welcome to the good old days!

In For The Long Hall

The so-called “sanatorium movement” originated in mid-nineteenth century Europe with Switzerland being a popular site due to its abundance of brisk Alpine air. As not everyone could afford treatment overseas, Americans looked to their own backyards to approximate the Swiss sanatorium experience. The year 1885 saw the first American sanatorium open in the New York Adirondacks town of Saranac. By 1900 there were 34 American sanatoriums and by 1925 that number had skyrocketed to 536.

A Cool Reception

The Cresson Tuberculosis Sanatorium opened in the midst of this clinical building boom.”The San”, as staff nicknamed it, was situated in Cambrian County, Pennsylvania, on land generously donated by wealthy steel tycoon and noted philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.

A Clean Sweep

The town of Cresson sits roughly 2,000 feet above sea level in the Allegheny Mountains of western Pennsylvania. Though only 80-odd miles east of Pittsburgh, Cresson’s relative isolation contributed to the four years required to build the sanatorium, which finally opened in 1916.

That Sinking Feeling

Tuberculosis – known as “The White Death” – was once one of the leading causes of mortality in the United States. In 1882 the disease’s cause (infection by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis) was discovered but it wasn’t until 1921 that an effective vaccine was developed. Meanwhile, sanatoriums thrived though many of their patients did not, living out the balance of their shortened lives in the palliative care of dedicated staff.

Switches Brew

The Cresson Tuberculosis Sanatorium had a good run as such institutions go, closing in 1964. That may seem surprisingly recent but CTS wasn’t the last holdout, not by a long shot: the A. G. Holley State Hospital (opened in 1950 as the Southeast Florida Tuberculosis Hospital) closed on July 2nd of 2012 and was demolished in November of 2014.

Steps To Recovery?

Circumstances conspired to shield the Cresson Tuberculosis Sanatorium from the wrecking ball. After its official closure in 1964, the sanatorium was repurposed as the Lawrence Frick State Hospital (a government-run mental health hospital) and carried on as such until 1984. Subsequently, and following some security modifications, the facility re-opened in 1987 as a prison (State Correctional Institution – Cresson) that closed in 2013.

Caught Red Handled

The current state of the former Cresson Tuberculosis Sanatorium ranges from mildly deteriorated to post-apocalyptic, depending on which areas were most recently used. Flickr member Thomas (Thomas James Caldwell) visited the facility in April of 2018 and although we’ve only posted his haunting images of the sanatorium’s interior, other areas of the complex can be viewed at his photostream. Hopefully Caldwell wore a face mask – although TB bacteria can survive in a dry state for mere weeks, dust from flaking lead-based paint is forever.

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[ By Steve in Abandoned Places & Architecture. ]

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Urban Forestry: Explore 678,632 Street Trees of NYC with Interactive Map

[ By WebUrbanist in Gaming & Computing & Technology. ]

The NYC Parks Department offers an amazing resource in the form of an online map that “includes every street tree in New York City” (spanning 422 species) first mapped by volunteers in 2015 and now updated daily by their forestry team. “On the map, trees are represented by circles. The size of the circle represents the diameter of the tree, and the color of the circle reflects its species. You are welcome to browse our entire inventory of trees, or to select an individual tree for more information.”

Clicking the trees reveals not just species and size but also ecological benefits provided, quantified in dollar terms, from things like capturing storm runoff and reducing air pollution. “We know that trees improve the environment and the health of a city in measurable ways. Trees can capture storm water runoff, reduce energy costs, and make the air less polluted and easier to breathe. We can calculate the benefits that each tree provides to the people of New York City based on a formula developed by the Center for Urban Forest Research. The benefits each tree provides varies based upon its species, size, and location.”

Fans can even track their favorite trees over time and add notes about tree-related activities. So far, nearly five thousand trees have been “favorited” and 20,000 activities reported. For those interested in doing even more, the Parks Department also encourages people to become involved: “It’s easy to become a tree steward! We host volunteers all year long. We can train you in basic activities such as watering trees, adding mulch and soil, and removing weeds and litter; as well as advanced activities such as installing a tree guard, expanding tree beds, and installing or removing stone or brick pavers.”

One caveat: the map only shows trees that grow on land under the jurisdiction of NYC Parks, but this includes trees planted along sidewalks or other public rights-of-way (still, it doesn’t have all trees maintained by the state or federal government or, of course, on private property). Still, with over 600,000 trees to explore, urban plant fans should have plenty to do just tracking and examining the ones that are covered!

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Wild Waste: Giant Trash Animals Nest Inside Abandoned Las Vegas Motel

[ By WebUrbanist in Art & Sculpture & Craft. ]

A classic mid-century roadside motel in Las Vegas has been turned into a fantastically colorful habitat for a series of huge animals, constructed from waste collected from dumpsters, abandoned factories and scrap yards.

This 10,000-square-foot zoo parody (dubbed ‘Wild Wild Waste’) by artist Bordalo II is his biggest installation to date. It’s designed to make statements about the commodification of animal habitats as well as human waste production and management activities.

“Bordalo is inspired by the rejected, the broken, the wasted, somehow our everyday,” explains the exhibit’s curator. “With the trash we refuse to be responsible for he creates a fantastic installation that is playful and, furthermore that question our relation to waste and our responsibility.”

The animals are simultaneously visible as a whole and a set of parts. A flock of penguins emerges from plastic cubes, car parts morph into a family of pandas, while a whale caught in a fishing net and lion caged in a truck further highlight ideas of confinement.

“We were so humbled to have the opportunity to help host the art of bordalo at life is beautiful this past weekend,” said one of the organizers. “The entire installation’s emotional nature gave us all a little lesson in doing more with less in our work and in our environment.”

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