After a year of soul-searching, I have decided to pursue graphic design full-time. The name of my new venture is Chromakit. I hope you’ll all subscribe to my new blog at http://www.chromakit.wordpress.com. I’ll be writing about art and design just as I have here. I’m planning to pull the plug on this blog by the end of the week. Hope to see you all at Chromakit! -Jayme Catalano blog

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Austrian artist Andreas Franke has just launched a ground-breaking underwater art installation off the coast of Sanibel Island in Florida entitled Mohawk Project:  The Life Above Refined Below.  Using sunken World War II battleship the USS Mohawk, magnets attach the twelve photo exhibition to the iron hull.  Exploring themes of love, loss, and youth at a time when the world was at war, Franke has evoked a sense of life and love transcending death, a defiance of the devastation and suffering experienced during that period.  Most importantly, it reminds us of just how young and optimistic those sailors and their sweethearts were all those years ago, and how quickly lives were changed and loves were lost.

The USS Mohawk, or “Mighty Mo,” was sunk last year to act as an artificial reef.  The ship that helped carry off the D-Day invasion in Normandy, France also survived 14 Nazi attacks and rescued more than 300 sailors from torpedoed ships during WWII.  Franke first photographed the ghostly ship swarming with fish while diving in August.  He then shot a second series of photographs featuring contemporary models in 1940s styling that were then superimposed over the original shots.  Franke says, “I imagined these sailors waiting in the North Atlantic for a German sub to attack them, so in these images I tried to make their lives a little bit nicer with the girls on board.  If I was there, what would I want?  It’s a dream, a fantasy land for sailors.”

This Mohawk Project is another exhibition in a series of underwater exhibitions by Andreas Franke.  He also displayed retro images on the WWII ship USNS General Hoty S. Vandenberg and photos of Renaissance aristocracy frolicking on sunken freighter ship SS Stavronikita.  The Mohawk Project underwater exhibition will be attached to the ship until September, where it will then be exhibited in more conventional, land-bound galleries.  For more information, please visit the artist’s website here.

Image 5 from the Mohawk Project by Andreas Franke, 2013

Image 5 from the Mohawk Project by Andreas Franke, 2013

Image 10 from the Mohawk Project by Andreas Franke, 2013

Image 10 from the Mohawk Project by Andreas Franke, 2013

Image 2 from the Mohawk Project by Andreas Franke, 2013

Image 2 from the Mohawk Project by Andreas Franke, 2013

Image 1 from the Mohawk Project by Andreas Franke, 2013

Image 1 from the Mohawk Project by Andreas Franke, 2013

Image 11 from the Mohawk Project by Andreas Franke, 2013

Image 11 from the Mohawk Project by Andreas Franke, 2013

Image 6 from the Mohawk Project by Andreas Franke, 2013

Image 6 from the Mohawk Project by Andreas Franke, 2013

Image 7 from the Mohawk Project by Andreas Franke, 2013

Image 7 from the Mohawk Project by Andreas Franke, 2013

Image 12 from the Mohawk Project by Andreas Franke, 2013

Image 12 from the Mohawk Project by Andreas Franke, 2013

Image 3 from the Mohawk Project by Andreas Franke, 2013

Image 3 from the Mohawk Project by Andreas Franke, 2013

-Jayme Catalano

Philip Harvey captures the essence of scorching summer days and balmy nights in his most recent body of work.  Ironically, the commercial photographer who captures the essence of summer lives in San Francisco, a city well-known for its year round chill.  His cheerful, colorful images capture the melting decadence of ice cream, the sophisticated luxury of French macarons, and the nostalgic joy of soda.  For more information and additional images from his portfolio, please visit his website here.

Philip Harvey 2013

Philip Harvey 2013

Philip Harvey 2013

Philip Harvey 2013

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Philip Harvey 2013

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Philip Harvey 2013

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Philip Harvey 2013

-Jayme Catalano

When independent game developer John Nelson Rose approached me about branding, marketing, and designing the user interface for his new puzzle game, I couldn’t have been more thrilled. The task granted me the opportunity to combine my skills in graphic design with interactivity while challenging me in ways I had never imagined.

I started the process by thinking about names for the game. It was important to the developer that the title be simple, relatively short, and very descriptive of the game play itself. The central game mechanic is moving columns and rows of colored circles left and right, up and down to make two-by-two (or larger) squares. The name “Circle Squared” seemed the most fitting.

Once the name had been settled upon, I moved forward with designing the look and feel of the game. Inspired by a mid-century, minimalist design aesthetic, I settled upon using the font Century Gothic in white against black, all lower case with certain of the round spaces filled in with coordinating colored circles. The resulting menu and in-game screens are minimalist and very bold.

Establishing a color story that was pleasing to the eye and true to the branding of the game proved to be a bit of a trial and error process. In addition to coordinating beautiful colors that showed well against a saturated black background, I also had to make sure that the order in which the colors appeared in progressing difficulty levels was finely-tuned to avoid certain combinations. The resulting palette of plum, canary yellow, salmon pink, avocado green, cool red, warm baby blue, tangerine, and denim blue has been universally praised by those who have played the game.  If you don’t believe me, download the game and see for yourself.

While it’s a small start, I’m so excited to have officially launched my “indie” game career and I look forward to future collaborations.  Check out John’s website for details on upcoming title releases.

-Jayme Catalano

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Fine artist Jemima Kirke is best known for her roles in Tiny Furniture and the HBO series Girls, both created by friend Lena Dunham.  In the second season of Girls, Jemima’s character Jessa paints a portrait of her then-husband, a scene which miffed Kirke, “I was a little pissed at the moment, when I saw that painting as a prop…It’s just a little close to home.  And only because I have been been very vocal about the fact that I make artwork, so I don’t want this to be seen as mine.  Not that there was anything wrong with it; it just wasn’t me.”  Kirke’s paintings are influenced by the work of Edouard Mamet and Lucian Freud and one can sense a bit of Francesco Clemente in her portraits.  As her website describes the work, “By turns both heart-breakingly intimate and ultimately entirely distant, Kirke flees from obvious representations of her subject matter to focus on underlying darkness and the interplay of pathology that exists between artist and the person studied.  Her practice highlights the uncanny moment of fusion between the sitter’s projected identity and the internal character that the artist imposes upon her subject.”  She is currently signed on to portray Jessa in season three of Girls.  For more information regarding Kirke’s fine art, please click here.

Untitled by Jemima Kirke, 2006

Untitled by Jemima Kirke, 2006

Noah by Jemima Kirke, 2012

Noah by Jemima Kirke, 2012

Lola by Jemima Kirke, 2005

Lola by Jemima Kirke, 2005

Untitled by Jemima Kirke, 2006

Untitled by Jemima Kirke, 2006

Heather and Emma by Jemima Kirke, 2011

Heather and Emma by Jemima Kirke, 2011

-Jayme Catalano

German artist Catrin Welz-Stein creates her works by digitally collaging old illustrations and photographs.   She combines, divides, removes, fills and retouches elements in Adobe Photoshop to produce digital images that explore the worlds of fantasy and fairy tale.  She says her images, “speak from inner feelings which we often hide in our daily life.”  A former professional graphic art designer, she feels free from the rules and compromises she felt in creating art for clients.  She now enjoys “creating art that does not explain itself from the beginning.”  Based in Malaysia, she says “a large part of my work is the search for license-free images, illustrations or photophos, for which the copyright has long expired.  Old books, magazines and the Internet are my primary resources for that.  Once I have found a fitting image, I break it into pieces, until the original image is no longer recognizable and an entirely new image is created.”  Visit her website to see more of her images or purchase the artwork at Redbubble.

Summer Dreaming by Catrin Welz-Stein

Summer Dreaming by Catrin Welz-Stein

Bye Bye Butterfly by Catrin Welz-Stein

Bye Bye Butterfly by Catrin Welz-Stein

Frau Holle by Catrin Welz-Stein

Frau Holle by Catrin Welz-Stein

She Took Her Wings and Walked by Catrin Welz-Stein

She Took Her Wings and Walked by Catrin Welz-Stein

Her Garden by Catrin Welz-Stein

Her Garden by Catrin Welz-Stein

Peacock by Catrin Welz-Stein

Peacock by Catrin Welz-Stein

Autumn by Catrin Welz-Stein

Autumn by Catrin Welz-Stein

-Jayme Catalano

Before the golden age of photo manipulation, extreme breast augmentation,  Penthouse and Victoria’s Secret, randy men the world over turned to pin-up art for a thrill.  The artwork reflected the rampant consumerism of the mid-century, offering sexuality as a product: processed, packaged, and sold.  Mostly anonymous, the women in the paintings are coy, sexual confections in fantastical settings.  The images reflect a bright, sanitized, and Caucasian reality where feminism has no place.  Gil Elvgren was the best pin-up artist the world has ever known, at least according to his own website.  Like his contemporary Norman Rockwell, Elvgren also worked from staged photographs, changing facial features, expressions, and atmosphere at will in the final painting.  And like many of Rockwell’s illustrations, the paintings present an idealized vision of American life.  Click here to read more about Elvgren.

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Myrna Hansen poses for a painting by Gil Elvgren.

Gil Elvgren

Gil Elvgren

Gil Elvgren

Gil Elvgren

Gil Elvgren

Gil Elvgren

Gil Elvgren

Gil Elvgren

Gil Elvgren

Gil Elvgren

Gil Elvgren

Gil Elvgren

Janet Rae poses for a painting by Gil Elvgren.

Janet Rae poses for a painting by Gil Elvgren.

Gil Elvgren

Gil Elvgren

Gil Elvgren

Gil Elvgren

Gil Elvgren

Gil Elvgren

Gil Elvgren

Gil Elvgren

Gil Elvgren

Gil Elvgren

Gil Elvgren

Gil Elvgren

Gil Elvgren

Gil Elvgren

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Gil Elvgren

Gil Elvgren

Gil Elvgren

-Jayme Catalano

San Francisco artist Dave Young V explores a militarized, anarchist, post-apocalyptic future in his large format paintings, drawings, and three dimensional works.  In addition to the graphic pen and ink drawings he is known for, he re-appropriates elements for the three-dimensional works including automatic rifles, helmets, a fully-functional flame thrower, ammo boxes and even a full-size automobile (a collaboration with artist Eddie Colla).  Young V says that the name of his upcoming exhibition, “The New Race,” is “more of an implication to allow the viewer’s mind to wander into the possibilities of not only where we may be going as a society or culture but also as a species.  My work as always worked on the loose premise of a ‘post-apocalyptic’ world.  Each installment thus far has been an exploration of people, languages and aesthetic of that world.  ‘The New Race’ will continue in that vein, only stepping further into the implications of genetic engineering, cloning, human reproduction, the biological fusion of technology as a natural part of our evolution, and question notions of racial and cultural identity in this new hypothetical world.”  The exhibition opens at the White Walls Gallery in San Francisco on Saturday, January 12th and continues through February 2nd.  You can find more information about the artist here and at the gallery website.

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Dave Young V

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Untitled 11 by Dave Young V

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Dave Young V

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WP1 by Dave Young V

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MML-4 by Dave Young V

-Jayme Catalano

Americans get a little bit nostalgic this time of year, clinging to traditions from their own childhoods and creating new traditions to carve out some sense of ritual in an ever modern world.  We look to the illustrations of Norman Rockwell, with their sweet coating of cane sugar and gender roles served on sterling silver plates, and mourn for the loss of our collective innocence.  What we don’t realize as we’re looking at these savory slices of Americana is that many of them were based upon photograph that sometimes tell a very different story than the resulting painting.  In one photograph, a man and woman sit in a marriage counselor’s office; the woman sits next to her angry husband with the expression and posture of a woman begging forgiveness.  In the illustration, the man has a black eye and the woman wears a teasing, sly, proud expression.  The photograph, though devoid of any evidence of domestic violence, is nonetheless chilling in its implication of male power.  In another series of photographs, three little girls are shot from the same angle wearing the same dress.  He used the reference image to create one of his most well-known works:  The Problem We all Live With.  The photographs behind the paintings, nearly 20,000 in all, are often works of art in their own right, and do much to inform the illustrations, adding depth and historical context.  Ron Schick has collected a selection of the photographs and their resulting illustrations in a book called Norman Rockwell:  Behind the Camera, available for purchase here.

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Photograph taken in 1963

Marriage Counselor by Norman Rockwell, 1963

Marriage Counselor by Norman Rockwell, 1963

Photograph taken in 1964

Photograph taken in 1964

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The Problem We All Live With by Norman Rockwell, 1964

Photograph taken in 1948

Photograph taken in 1948

Breakfast Table Political Argument by Norman Rockwell, 1948

Breakfast Table Political Argument by Norman Rockwell, 1948

-Jayme Catalano

Dennis Wojtkiewicz defies the destructive nature of time passing in his large scale, photo realistic paintings of fruit and flowers.  Using a technique perfected by Vermeer and other Northern European masters, he captures and enhances the transitory nature of his subject matter.  “Each painting is constructed by beginning with a monochrome under painting in the complement of the featured subject.  Subsequent layers of semi-opague through to transparent colors follow with up to ten passes before the end result is achieved.”  In explaining the meditative qualities of the work, Wotjkiewicz says, “There are a number of elements in the visual undertow which function as a metaphor or representation of themes such as spirituality, relationships (or lack thereof), reproduction and, generally speaking, the transitory nature of most stuff.  When I go into the studio, it is with the intent of imbuing the paintings with a living spirit and to realize something that will connect with the viewer on a sensual if not metaphysical plane.”  His work is currently on exhibit at the Castle Gallery.

Dennis J. Wojtkiewicz

Dennis J. Wojtkiewicz

Dennis J. Wojtkiewicz

Dennis J. Wojtkiewicz

Dennis J. Wojtkiewicz

Dennis J. Wojtkiewicz

Dennis J. Wojtkiewicz

-Jayme Catalano