Paintings by the masters such as Rembrandt, Botticelli and Rubens have been delicately preserved and treasured to last for centuries. Yet some artists today create work that will knowingly disappear in hours. Puff; it’s here. Puff again it’s gone. Much of this art is vulnerable to its environment.
Sand. A wonderful element that conjures unique memories whether you were building with it or just sunning on the beach. Sandcastle contests are fabulous and held at many beach locations across the United States. The work can be dramatic or playful but the world of sand art has been forever elevated by Jim Denevan. His work is graphic, linear and huge; aerial photographs must be used to capture the entire work which can stretch for miles. Not limited to warm weather and sand, he has also traveled to the other extreme. With his crew, he has created frozen two dimensional art on over nine miles of the world’s largest lake, Siberia’s Lake Baikal. The finished piece was a series of circles representing the Fibonnacci sequence and its monumental size has been considered the world’s largest drawing.
Scott Wade does not require vast space for his art. He calls his work Dirty Car Art and his brush work on windshields is remarkable. Scott achieves amazing detail and shading to create portraits that show subtle expressions and has also captured a studied work of Vermeer. Alas, the work will not last on those windshields; weather and air particles will alter it.
Do you ever think that amazing art can be made with your cup of coffee? How about what can be made with 3,604 cups of coffee and 564 pints of milk. An Australian team recreated Mona Lisa with coffees of varying intensities to replicate the sepia tones. At 20 feet high and 13 feet wide, it involved a team of eight people three hours to complete. Yes, this is ephemeral art but it will last longer than the single cup of coffee that is made into art by using steamed milk for contrast. Baristas should be sharpening their creative skills and watching for global Latte Art competitions!
Not intended to be edible, there are beautiful ice sculptures exquisitely carved and destined to gracefully melt in their environment. Some special culinary events showcase ice art for the table such as the classic swan or fish while there are monumental pieces that stand alone in their glimmering elegance. Predictably wherever there is art, there is competition. The National Ice Carving Association runs regional and national competitions and Kevin Gregory and Tony Young have won awards for their extraordinary work. Ice sculpture as a sociopolitical statement was created by Marshall Reese and Nora Ligorano. Mainstream Meltdown was created on 10/29/08, the 79th anniversary of the stock market crash. Pristine and elegant, Mainstream Meltdown on 10/29/08, the 79th anniversary of the stock market crash. In its pristine elegance the word ECONOMY was carved in block letters weighing 1600 pounds and measuring 15 to 20 feet across and about 5 feet high. Its strategic New York City location was in front of the Supreme Court Building and next to Wall Street. Yet it was doomed; it could not last 20 hours and was an “economy meltdown” disintegrating right before your eyes.
Unlike ice sculptures, food art does not usually get affected by the weather. Time and human consumption are its culprits. Beyond the traditionsl radish rosettes, food elements are composed in such a way that their original state is transformed. Vegetable and fruit art is insightfully creative with the potential of being both sophisticated and humorous. And then there are edible portraits that are delicious mosaics of all sorts of food and can capture the aesthetic essence of Rachel Ray, Rosey O'Donnell and others.
A tribute to the glory and purpose of food art was on exhibition at the recent Pennsylvania Farm Show. A 1,000 pound refrigerated butter sculpture by Jim Victor beautifully created this piece to depict a boy taking his calf through a county fair. This work was remarkable yet at the end of the fair this sculpture would be tossed in a manure pit. Steve Reinford is the farmer in charge who will oversee a bacterial breakdown process that can take a month to turn the butter to methane gas which can be burned in an engine and can be converted into electricity. This butter sculpture will have had many lives.
For the ephemeral nature of all these art forms, there is photography to document its presence in time. Perhaps it also speaks of the preciousness of time and beauty in our own lives.
If you want to experiment, do something temporary.
Andy Garcia, Actor