Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Owen A. Kelly

The October 2009 Digital Color Artist of the Month is Owen Kelly. Owen built the Mutant Vehicle Polaroid Photo Booth at Burning Man 2009. It was a large outdoor photo studio for Mutant Vehicles. Mutant Vehicles, or art cars, are great creative achievements. They are vehicles and are driven like cars or trucks or carts or pulled like trailers, but they don't look at all like their original form. They even go through a jury like process by the festival which only licenses ones which are sufficiently mutated. Photo Booth greeters mingled with the artist and crew of each creation before it was photographed. They took time to appreciate the many many details in each art car. Next, a countdown to the opening of the shutter: 3, 2, 1 . . . open. The essence of each of the artists and their work then emerged in the long held poses they struck. Owen then exposed the last remaining Polaroid film of its type.

The Booth was extra large and grand. Huge black tarps were affixed to the vertical surface of a 4 story climbable scaffold. White fabrics were laced together and strung from cables that ran from the top of the scaffold to poles taller than telephone poles. Even vehicles with tall masts fit under this canopy. It was oriented to put the vehicles in the best light during the day and illuminated at night. The Booth was in its full undamaged glory for only a day or so. An antenna from a vehicle tore the canopy and then winds did further damage overnight. The damage was expected, as it was an integral part of its post-apocalyptic vintage-carne poster look.

The 2010 Mutant Vehicle Polaroid Booth is currently looking for sponsors aiming to build a little bigger next year -- 50 feet high and 80 feet wide. Plans are for a system scaffold that has greater rigidity and strength, and also a faster assembly and breakdown. There will be four different teams: one for construction, one for tear down, one for photography and one for greeting, processing and promotion.

Illuminated and Climbable Metal Sculptures
Also at the festival were a great number of climbable metal sculptures. Mentioned here are the Natural Selection Dome built by Jessue, the Amethyst Portal by Harlan, the Rocketship, the Slide and the Portal of Evolution. The Natural Selection Dome was a big uncovered steel geodesic dome. The struts averaged about 5 feet and were painted many different colors. The whole thing was lit with black lights from a dozen columns mounted around it. People climbed on it day and night for a week. The slope of the climb lessened closer to the top. The views were great, of the playa and of the other climbers. They hung on it, rightside up and upside down, from their feet, from silk and from ropes.

The Amethyst Portal was an indigo stellated dodecahedron constructed of wood and steel with an open interior space. Inside it was a subsonic sound device that emitted the deep frequencies. The Raygun Gothic Rocketship was an immersive large-scale installation consisting of a 40 foot tall metal rocketship and scaffold walkway. People climbed into the rocket and explored its interior chambers. The ship was set to launch. At launch time, fireworks went off and then there were plasma gas explosions of most unusual and vivid violets and greens. Then there was a fire and the launch was aborted. The astronaut jumped out of the ship onto the scaffold. He shot so many fireworks out of all parts of his body, front and back, legs and arms that the air about him was completely full of fire and color. He kept it up as he did somersaults down the walkway. The Slide, just like the name suggests, a slide, may have been the only thing bigger than the Photo Booth. Thousands of people climbed it and slid down, ten or more at a time. The Portal of Evolution was also big. It was formed with petal like steel plates from which sprung fallopian tubes and ovaries. Emerging from the top was a kinetic butterfly on which one could perch.

Autumn Lights LA
Autumn Lights LA 09 was a one day, 7pm-1am, event. Next year it will be expanded to a 3 day weekend event. It was at Pershing Square for the first time. The backdrop of skyscrapers in the midst of a revitalized re-aestheticized downtown LA was spectacular. It was like the Festival of Lights in Berlin and White Nights in St. Petersburg. A Manifestation of Collective Subconscious, a geodesic non-dome steel and canvas assembly by Collabo was the focal target of three projections. Sean Sobczak displayed an illuminated dragonfly and caterpillar sculpture. There was a man sized fish and balancing designs painted on a black lit carpet that took the light so perfectly it looked like illuminated sculpture. Newaje had advanced technology laser walls and fans visible across the entire square. Silvia Rigon projected Dipsy-Doodle, hand-drawn animation exploring the growth and emergence of organic patterns. A multi-colored glow radiated from lights moving under a small cargo parachute covered dome. The parachute was like semi-transparent silk.

Frogtown Art Walk
The artists of Elysian Valley (Frogtown) displayed the creativity and talent that flourishes in the industrial buildings along the LA River. Visitors wandered along the river led by glowing arrows, the sound of music and a trail of flickering lanterns. Steve Graziani had a group of steel sculptures in the from a creatures with large cubical heads. He also displayed wall and functional sculptures and will create unique pieces that fit any contemporary setting. He opened his sculpting studio in 2005 after a film industry career. The Michael McCall photo studio let people see and use its makeup and costume rooms. Gallery Frogtown was open with its many rooms turned into galleries. The living skyscraper works exuded a softening energy. A terrific list of Southern California Art Walks, Open Studio Tours & Art Festivals like these can be found at: See you there.

New Contemporary Artists and Galleries
The following artists registered in the last month. To view the work of an artist enter the artist's name at To see these most recent artists go to

1. Maria Beatrice. Polymer dolls and sculptures.
2. Jonhomer. Geometric shapes from architecture and demonstrates a mechanical intuition.
3. Robert Thomas. Realistic portraits and characters.
4. Lise Boucher. Digital orbs.
5. Philippe Benichou. Color coordinated for primitive healing.
6. Owen A Kelly. The Mutant Vehicle Polaroid Photo Booth.

Donna C. Willis, Moustafa Al Hatter, Jaff Seijas, Judy Puckett and Kevin Barr have added new artwork to their galleries.