Dog Star / A Creative Arts Guide






Image above: Vik Muniz

A Bar at the Folies-Bergère after Édouard Manet, from the Pictures of Magazines 2 series, 2012.

Out of the refuse of modern life—torn scraps of outdated magazines, destined for obscurity—Muniz has assembled an ode to one of the first paintings of modern life. Édouard Manet’s A Bar at the Folies-Bergère, painted in 1882, explores the treachery of nineteenth-century Parisian nightlife through the depiction of a bartender attending to a male patron reflected in the mirror behind her. Muniz plays on Manet’s style, replacing Manet’s visible brushstrokes with the frayed edges of torn paper and lending the work immense visual interest.

“Thank you for DogStarNYC, in general. The site speaks to so many kinds of interests; it discerns which qualities will appeal to many different tastes in a tremendous number of activities. I love how it encourages young people to pay attention to the unusual.

In New York we let so many teens walk around the periphery, mildly shell-shocked by life, while the information that they need to make sense of their world sits in the center of the room. DogStarNYC welcomes them into the middle of the room; the blog tells them how to walk there. ” - Stacy L.


DOG STAR is the creation of a high school English teacher in New York City. This blog began in 2008 as an online community for a journalism class and has since evolved into a curated site on the creative arts, arts-related news and a guide to free and low-cost events for teens. Our mission is to offer teens real-life options for enjoying all the creative arts in New York City. May wisdom guide you and hope sustain you. The more you like art, the more art you like!

IMPORTANT NOTICE OF NON COMMERCIAL & EDUCATIONAL CONTENT Unless otherwise stated, we do not own copyrights to any of the visual or audio content that might be included on this blog. Dog Star is for criticism, commentary, reporting and educational purposes under the FAIR USE ACT: Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use. If you own the copyright to any images and object to them being included in this blog, please advise and the content will be removed. No attempt is made for material gain from this blog's content.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

TOXIC BEAUTY: The Art of Frank Moore @ NYU Grey Art Gallery - Bring your friends!

Dog Star is a huge fan of Frank's paintings - we remember seeing gallery shows of his artwork in SoHo before he died.  These wild and imaginative landscapes with such tiny details sometimes seemed like dreamscapes or nightmares.  Frank is an expert technical artist whose skill allowed him to conceive and execute a whole universe of scenes.  This FREE exhibition will be a MUST SEE for devoted readers interested in art and artists from the 1980s, those interested in the impact of AIDS on art in the 1980s and 1990s and for anyone willing to discover an artist who lived briefly and boldly both in life and his art.  Go here for more at Frank's gallery representative Sperone Westwater.

TOXIC BEAUTY: The Art of Frank Moore 
SEPT. 6—DECEMBER 8, 2012
NYU Grey Art Gallery is EASY TO REACH at 100 Washington Square East, NYC 10003 - On the east side of Washington Square Park - Take 6 train to Astor Place and walk west to Washington Square Park
Tuesdays/Thursdays/Fridays: 11:00 am – 6:00 pm OPEN LATE Wednesdays: 11:00 am – 8:00 pm Saturdays: 11:00 am – 5:00 pm Closed Sundays, Mondays, and major holidays.

From the gallery's website:
Toxic Beauty: The Art of Frank Moore surveys the career of a remarkable artist whose life was cut short by AIDS. In figurative paintings filled with fantastic and symbolic image- ry, Frank Moore (1953–2002) addressed themes drawn from American visual culture, the state of the healthcare and farming industries, and his personal life. His paintings often explore human effects on the natural environment in, as he noted, “sites of great, but toxic, beauty.” Featuring major paintings, works on paper, sketchbooks, and films, Toxic Beauty will be on view concurrently at the Grey Art Gallery and the Tracey/Barry Gallery at NYU’s Fales Library.  Go to the Grey Art Gallery site here.

We will re-post about this exhibition every two weeks until the show ends in December to remind devoted readers of this special opportunity.

Paintings below:  Patient (top), Cow (middle) and Lullaby (bottom)

OPEN NOW! Warhol & Friends @ Met Museum - Bring YOUR friends!

Dog Star is excited about this giant Warhol exhibition now open at the Metropolitan Museum.  Called "Regarding Warhol," it investigates the premise that Warhol has influenced younger artists.  From the museum website:  Commentators on contemporary art have often claimed that Warhol is the most influential artist of the last half-century. No exhibition, however, has truly examined that assertion in depth. The exhibition is built around five broad themes ranging from vernacular subject matter to celebrity portraiture to issues of sexual identity. The presentation will include approximately 150 works of art in a broad range of media across five decades. A quarter of the selected works are by Warhol, and they will be juxtaposed with key examples by some sixty leading contemporary artists. The show will be arranged as a series of thematic vignettes, not simply to demonstrate Warhol's overt influence, but to suggest how artists both worked in parallel modes and developed his model in dynamic new directions.

What's most interesting about this exhibition is that they will display Warhol's work alongside the artwork of other artists to show connections and influences. It will be a great opportunity to add to your art education by seeing these works together for the first time.

The Metropolitan Museum is EASY TO REACH at 82nd Street & Fifth Avenue and is ALWAYS $1 FOR HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS - Easy directions:  take 4, 5, or 6 train to 86th Street & Lexington Avenue and walk west to Fifth Avenue.  Walk up the cashier desk, hand a one dollar bill and say, "One, please."  You will be given a metal button to put on your shirt or jacket to wear while inside the museum.  On view until December 31, 2012.

Imaginary Dog Star Landscapes


"I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant." - Martin Luther King, Jr.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Discover JUNOT DIAZ (Shoutout to Room 314 Reading Junot's Stories!)

UPDATE on OCT. 1:  Junot Diaz wins a MacArthur Genius Grant - $1000,00 a year for the next five years - go here for more.

Dog Star's 10th and 11th graders are reading a few Junot Diaz short stories right now - they like them a lot.  Shoutout to room 314!  You know who you are!  We plan to generate, maybe, five really good questions and then we will email them to Junot for his responses.  

Found this quote from Junot on his Facebook page:

“...But the reason that anybody wants art is not because we want to hear about your experience in an academic institution. An artist has to bring back news from the world... If you are serious about being an artist, what you need to do, and I cannot put enough emphasis on this is that you need to go into the world. You need to bring back news form a world where nobody cares what your major is, nobody cares what you wrote, nobody cares anything about your intellect, nobody cares what dorm or what street you lived on. Where you join the rest of the world in being someone who is pretty much irreverent. And I think that it’s from this view of encountering the world, unprotected from an academic institution that real art develops. I was stunned at how many of my brightest, smartest students felt a very strong aversion to being out in the world. But the only art worth living is the art that develops when you are out in the world. You can do that and you can write books but I promise you that the person who spends four to five years in the world is going to kick your book’s ass.” - Junot Díaz 

We like that Junot is reminding everyone that art comes from LIVING LIFE not from mechanically trying to "become" an artist.

He has been getting a lot of press lately on the occasion of his third book, "This is How You Lose Here," his second collection of short stories.  We chose two stories from the new book to read with our classes.

Here is a small round-up of recent New York Times articles on Junot - for devoted readers and, especially, our dear friends Naomi and Sheri who are traveling and have missed much of the newspaper for weeks.  

Don't forget!  Mark your calendars!  Junot will make an appearance at Brooklyn's Book Court bookstore on Tuesday, October 23 at 7pm - go here for more.

Engaging and many insights to his writing on a radio interview with Portland station - go here

Great interview on NBC about the craft of writing - go here

Book review of THIS IS HOW YOU LOSE HER in the Sunday Times (Junot appeared on the cover of the book review section in a HUGE picture shown at the top of this post!)

Book review of THIS IS HOW YOU LOSE HER in the regular edition of the Times

Short interview with Junot on the theme of "inspiration"

Here's a CNN story on bringing back his central character Yunior

And on a NY Times podcast he talks about the return of Yunior

Short interview with Junot on what he's been reading lately (also included below so you can read it right now!)

And this from the Sunday NY Times:

YUNIOR ACHIEVEMENT: Story collections are rare enough on this page that readers might do a double take when one appears, like birders spotting a vagrant heron far from its usual range. The bird this week is Junot Díaz’s new collection, “This Is How You Lose Her,” which enters the hardcover fiction list at No. 6. Díaz is no stranger to the best-seller ranks; his previous book, the Pulitzer-winning novel “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao,” spent eight months on the paperback list in 2008 and 2009. And his new one is earning raves. In the Book Review, Leah Hager Cohen called Díaz’s language “at once alarming and enthralling, even erotic in its assertion of sudden intimacy.” She also noted (as have many other reviewers) that his recurring narrator, Yunior, is a clear stand-in for the author. I e-mailed Díaz to ask how he felt about creating a literary alter ego. “I don’t mind giving Yunior so many of my surface characteristics,” he replied, “because at the deepest level we are very different people. For starters, I have a wide, healthy social circle, which Yunior lacks. Yunior’s pretty sealed off, incapable of risking the real intimacy he longs for. I might not be perfect, but I can certainly make myself vulnerable to intimacy. And to be honest, I never thought anyone would focus on mine and Yunior’s similarities. I thought readers would be too busy wrestling with all the craziness I was bringing up in the book — like the impact of immigration, hyper-sexualization, tragic loss and traditional masculinity on male intimacy — to do anything else.” 

Junot Díaz: By the Book

As a child, the author of the new story collection “This Is How You Lose Her” loved the unabashedly smart Encyclopedia Brown. “Smart was not cool where I grew up.”
You’ve just recovered from back surgery. What books helped you get through it?
Man, you guys have some good intel. I have family members who only found out after the neck brace came off. But definitely, I read like crazy while I was laid up; reading for me is proof against anything, but especially pain. These books in particular gave solace: Two superb collections of stories, from Krys Lee (“Drifting House”) and Tania James (“Aerogrammes”). Also Wasik and Murphy’s “Rabid: A Cultural History of the World’s Most Diabolical Virus.” But really, the book that most lifted me out of my bent clay was Ramón Saldívar’s “The Borderlands of Culture: Américo Paredes and the Transnational Imaginary.” There’s a reason Saldívar won the National Humanities Medal. His insights on Paredes’s years reporting in Japan alone are priceless.
What’s the last truly great book you read?
Katherine Boo’s “Behind the Beautiful Forevers.” A book of extraordinary intelligence, humanity and (formalistic) cunning. Boo’s four years reporting on a single Mumbai slum, following a small group of garbage recyclers, have produced something beyond groundbreaking. She humanizes with all the force of literature the impossible lives of the people at bottom of our pharaonic global order, and details with a journalist’s unsparing exactitude the absolute suffering that undergirds India’s economic boom. The language is extraordinary, the portraits indelible, and then there are those lines at the end that just about freeze your heart: “The gates of the rich, occasionally rattled, remained unbreached. The politicians held forth on the middle class. The poor took down one another, and the world’s great, unequal cities soldiered on in relative peace.”
In fiction, though, the ‘last truly great book’ I read has to be Alejandro Zambra’s “Bonsai.” A subtle, eerie, ultimately wrenching account of failed young love in Chile among the kind of smartypant set who pillow-talk about the importance of Proust. You get the cold flesh of the story in that chilling first line: “In the end she dies and he remains alone, although in truth he was alone some years before her death.” But only by reading to the end do you touch the story’s haunted soul. A total knockout. 
Among the many books on your shelves are “What It Is We Do When We Read Science Fiction,” by Paul Kincaid; “Shikasta,” by Doris Lessing; “The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún,” by J.R.R. Tolkien; and “By Night in Chile,” by Roberto Bolaño. Can you tell us about any of those books — what you thought of them, what they meant to you?
Tolkien I grew up on, fed my insatiable Ungoliant-like hunger for other worlds; I was a young fan and yet, even as an adult, I continue to wrestle with Tolkien for reasons that have much to do with growing up in the shadow of my own Dark Lord — that’s what some dictators really become in the imagination of the nations they afflict. “Shikasta” was a book I used to see at the library a lot when I was growing up but which finally came into my hands when I was in college. A strange anti-novel that purports to be the history of our world from the perspective of our sympathetic alien caretakers. “Shikasta” takes that sub-zeitgeist “theory” that God and his angels are actually alien visitors to its logical conclusion. Not the easier read, but the book had a lasting impact on me. I’ve always wanted to write something with “Shikasta’s” scope, with its thematic and structural bravura. Alien ethnographic reports on our Old Testament history mixed with cranky letters home by overworked alien bureaucrats and a moving realistic journal written by a young Lessing-like teenager living in Africa in the years before a worldwide youth revolt — bananas stuff. As for Bolaño, what can one say? One of our greatest writers, a straight colossus. Is there really anything in print even remotely approaching “By Night in Chile”? For anyone like me obsessed with the interplay between the personal and the historical, “By Night in Chile” is a master class in which Bolaño manages to distill the perverse brutal phantasmagorical history of an entire continent down to 150 seductive pages. A halfhearted priest secretly teaching Marxism to Pinochet so the demon general might better know his enemy? Latin American letters (wherever it may reside) has never had a greater, more disturbing avenging angel than Bolaño. 
What was the last book that made you cry?
That’s easy: the winner of the Yale Younger Poets prize, Eduardo Corral’s collection, “Slow Lightning.” When I finished that book I bawled. Wise and immense, but peep for yourself: “Once a man offered me his heart and I said no. Not because I didn’t love him. Not because he was a beast or white — I couldn’t love him. Do you understand? In bed while we slept, our bodies inches apart, the dark between our flesh a wick. It was burning down. And he couldn’t feel it.”
The last book that made you laugh?
K. J. Bishop’s “The Etched City.” I’m a sucker for lines like “He had numerous stories of recent adventure and suffering — specifically, his adventures and other people’s suffering, almost invariably connected — that he told with the air of an amiable ghoul.”
The last book that made you furious?
“The Femicide Machine,” by Sergio González Rodríguez. The notorious femicides in Juárez were not unknown to me, but González Rodríguez’s grisly post-mortem of the cultural, political and economic forces behind these atrocities would infuriate anyone.
What were your most cherished books as a child? Do you have a favorite character or hero from children’s literature?
I loved Encyclopedia Brown as a kid. Donald Sobol passed recently, and that really brought it all back to me, how important his books were to my little self. I didn’t learn to read until I was 7, so I missed out on the early stuff, jumped right to chapter books, right to Encyclopedia Brown. What I loved about Boy Detective Leroy Brown was that (1) he was unabashedly smart (smart was not cool when and where I grew up) and (2) his best friend was a girl, tough Sally Kimball, who was both Leroy’s bodyguard and his intellectual equal. Sobol did more to flip gender scripts in my head than almost anybody in my early years.
If someone really wanted to understand the Dominican Republic, and the Dominican-American experience, what books would you suggest?
That’s a tough one. We need a lot more books in English about the Dominican experience. Fortunately the field is growing, and there’s some good stuff out there. I recommend one start with one of the country’s greatest poets, Pedro Mir, his “Countersong to Walt Whitman and Other Poems.” Pure genius. Then read Ginetta Candelario’s “Black Behind the Ears” for a superbly guided journey through the complexities of Dominican racial identity. Also Frank Moya Pons’s “The Dominican Republic: A National History” is excellent, and so is Julia Alvarez’s novel “In the Time of the Butterflies.”
Other great novels about the immigrant experience in America you’d recommend?
Gish Jen’s “Typical American” is another one of my personal classics. A masterpiece of a novel bursting with wit, yearning and truth, and for an immigrant kid like me looking for an idiom with which to write about an experience that we in this country don’t talk about enough — absolutely indispensable. Maxine Hong Kingston’s “The Woman Warrior” is not exactly a novel, but few books out there can rival its powerful vision of what it means to live simultaneously in two worlds.
You teach creative writing at M.I.T. What books do you find especially useful as a teacher? 
All depends on the class. If I’m teaching straight creative writing I try to flood the students with great fiction, from Jamaica Kincaid to Pam Houston, and essays on craft by folks like Samuel R. Delany (his “About Writing” is spectacularly useful). I’m always trying to sneak Octavia Butler into all my syllabi. She is a master for all seasons. 
Read any good graphic novels recently?
Yes, Jason Shiga’s “Empire State: A Love Story (or Not).” Oakland boy loses best female friend to N.Y.C. and takes a cross-country bus trip to try to transform friendship into love. A bicoastal heartbreaker, beautifully rendered and deeply moving.
You’re organizing a dinner party of writers and can invite three authors, dead or alive. Who’s coming?
José Martí, because he lived so many lives and because he was such a fantastic writer and because, damn it, he was José Martí (he also lived in the N.Y.C. area, so that will help the conversation). Octavia Butler because she’s my personal hero, helped give the African Diaspora a future (albeit a future nearly as dark as our past) and because I’d love to see her again. And Arundhati Roy because I’m still crushing on her mind and on “The God of Small Things.” 
Who are the best short story writers?
People who like to suffer or perhaps people tempted by perfectibility. For that is the short story’s great lure — that you can write a perfect one. With novels it’s quite the opposite — the lure of the novel is that you can never write a perfect one. But do you mean who are the best short story writers by name? Wow. I’m certainly the worst judge of this as I’ve not read even one one-thousandth of what’s out there in English. But if I had to cobble together a shortlist from what I’ve read, I’d  have to say Roberto Bolaño is my No. 1; read “Last Evenings on Earth” and tremble. Mary Gaitskill as well; she makes the rest of us look like we don’t know jack about the human soul. And then Sandra Cisneros and Anne Enright and Ted Chiang, who have each written as perfect a collection of stories as I’ve ever read. Also Michael Martone, Lorrie Moore, Edwidge Danticat, Tobias Wolff, Louise Erdrich, George Saunders, Annie Proulx, Yiyun Li, Sherman Alexie. Honestly the list is long; the form is blessed with awesome practitioners.
You can bring three books to a desert island. Which do you choose?
This is a question that always kills me. For a book lover this type of triage is never a record of what was brought along but a record of what was left behind. But if forced to choose by, say, a shipwreck or an evil Times editor, I’d probably grab novels that I’m still wrestling with. Like Samuel R. Delany’s “Dhalgren” (which in my opinion is one of the greatest and most perplexing novels of the 20th century) or Toni Morrison’s “Beloved” (to be an American writer or to be interested in American literature and not to have read “Beloved,” in my insufferable calculus, is like calling yourself a sailor and never having bothered to touch the sea) or Cormac McCarthy’s “Blood Meridian” (so horrifyingly profound and compellingly ingenious it’s almost sorcery). Maybe Octavia Butler’s “Dawn” (set in a future where the remnants of the human race are forced to “trade” genes (read: breed involuntarily) with our new alien overlords). Or Gilbert Hernandez’s “Beyond Palomar” (if it wasn’t for “Poison River” I don’t think I would have become a writer). Perhaps Leslie Marmon Silko’s “Ceremony” or Alan Moore’s “Miracle-man” or Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” — books that changed everything for me. To be honest I’d probably hold a bunch of these books in hand and only decide at the last instant, as the water was flooding up around my knees, which three I’d bring. And then I’d spend the rest of that time on the desert island dreaming about the books that I left behind and also of all the books, new and old, that I wasn’t getting a chance to read. 
What do you plan to read next?
“Our Kind of People,” by Uzodinma Iweala, and “Mountains of the Moon,” by I. J. Kay. I loved Iweala’s first book, so I’m eager for this nonfiction follow-up, and I’ve heard strong things about Kay’s debut.

Church Covers Floor with Real Grass!

Dog Star thinks this is pretty wild and a creative way to bring attention to the 1,000-year old building. We are sharing this from the Design Boom blog (go here for more great pictures):  Greenery installation branch Wow! Grass! of UK turf company Lindum has covered the entirety of the nave belonging to York Minster with a layer of real grass.  Rather than growing turf from a soil base, the company instead starts their roll-able plant sheets from a felt structure formed from recycled British textiles, developed by Lindum.  A team of ten workers extended a layer of plastic upon the ground of the church, then putting in place the soil-less plant artwork, transforming the Gothic structure's nave into a green expanse of interior space.  The 16,000 square foot grass artwork had been developed for the york minster rose dinner to benefit the cathedral's monetary collection organization, the york minster fund, for the continued upkeep of the 1,000 year old structure.


On Homophobia In Sports

Dog Star says this is a fresh and different topic to raise in your classes this semester.  Usually when classes have debates or students are asked to write about controversial issues it's always the same:  abortion rights, capital punishment, misogyny in hip hop and racial profiling by police.  These are important issues but all of them ignore pervasive homophobia in schools.  When a teen or teacher raises this issue - homophobia in sports - it raises the potential for deep dialogue and values clarification.  Homophobic slurs and anti-gay hate speech are commonplace among many of the professional athletes who are role models for young people. IN THE LIFE examines pervasive homophobia in the world of sports and speaks with professional athletes who are standing up to put an end to it. Then, transgender advocates Isis King and Janet Mock discuss trans identity, vocabulary and how the media usually gets it wrong.

Cool Hotel Room by French Sreet Artist TILT

Dog Star says this is so hot! Slashing a hotel room in two has never looked so interesting! This half white, half graffiti-covered interior can be admired at the Au Vieux Panier hotel in Marseille, France. Each of the five rooms of the hotel are annually redesigned by artists, graphic designers, and painters from all over, each of them lending a unique style to the interiors. This Graffiti-styled room was named “the Panic Room” and was created by artist Tilt featuring Tober, Grizz and Don Cho. The photos were taken by Big Addict (aka Roudet Benjamin) and convey an overwhelming feeling of duality. Half of the hotel room was painted in white, with a few framed canvases that seem to balance the graffiti side of the room. Painted over the walls, mirror, bed, ceiling and floors, vividly colored bombs, tags and throw-ups stop right in the middle of the room, where the boring, white half begins.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Imaginary Dog Star Landscapes

New Art Work by Yinka Shonibare

Dog Star is a fan of Shonibare's artwork (pronounced show-na-bar-ree):  he is a smart and creative artist who tackles post-colonial issues in fresh dioramas (go here) and visual art.  The Nigeria-raised and London-based visual artist Yinka Shonibare, MBE has developed two small sculptural works on display at Art Basel 2012 (during the Summer).  Shonibare continues his exploration of issues of both class and race through the use of textiles, technology and taxidermy in this pint-sized actualization of beastly revolution.  Rather than employing his typical headless mannequin base-dressed in vibrantly colored fabrics from Africa-- the artist instead gives the human bodies the head of either a young fox or cow in order to express the timeliness and particularities of a youthful rebellion.  This theatrical installation draws attention to both the postcolonial relationship between Africa and Europe, highlighting the economic disparity between the two continents, while also speaking to the youth of both regions as the tools of emancipation, violence and globalization are displayed in the hands of each figure (the gun and smartphone device).  Two things you should know about Shonibare:  the waxed printed fabric is exported from European manufacturers and imported to African nations.  Yet, it's popularity among African cultures has made it a symbol of "African-ness" yet it's not African at all.  The MBE that follows his name stands for "Master of the British Empire" - and he insists that it always follow his name since being awarded the honor by Queen Elizabeth.  He has said it further complicates the contradictions and ironies of his artistic work to be honored with such a strongly colonial title.  It's like a reward for criticizing the British Empire!


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Computer Error Message Street Art

Dog Star likes this new series spotted during the Summer.  The ads are likely down by now.  Brooklyn-based street artist Jilly Ballistic plasters faux dialog boxes atop billboards and posters throughout New York subway stations. the messages take their textual cues from the advertisement itself, offering jests against consumer culture and lowbrow films. The error messages comprise primarily Mac alerts, although one Windows-style popup displays the message, "We're sorry, the product you are looking for is currently under maintenance due to a lack of quality" over a Coors advertisement.

Really Great Halloween Make-Up Idea!

The World's Strangest Toys

Dog Star knows there are stranger toys than these products.  Let's re-name this post "Strangest Toys Made By a Corporation."  Many people make their own toys and they can get very strange.  See more strange toys here.  Really - the strangest among these?  The Titanic slide.  Just so weird to encourage children to "slide" down a sinking ship that resulted in the loss of so many lives.

Erwin the Little Patient: Germany
Budding surgeons-to-be will appreciate Erwin, a plush doll with Ziggy Stardust hair and a secret under his hospital gown. Lift Erwin’s hem, unzip his apparently genderless torso, and voilà—out pops a series of interconnected, sort-of-anatomically-correct innards. A set of bright blue lungs, a tangle of green intestines (both small and large), a pair of kidneys, a spleen and liver, and a red valentine-shaped heart are all attached to one another with color-coded Velcro strips.

Mega Plumber Action Figure: U.S.
Sure, the Green Lantern fights against evil with his Colossal Cannon, and Spider-Man has his sticky web nunchucks. In a real emergency, though, what most of us need is a man with a plunger. Ergo, the Mega Plumber action figure, created by American Standard (a company that also makes toilets) to help kids “see plumbers as true superheroes.” The 6-inch figure comes equipped with his own monkey wrench, miniature toilet, and—so important for superheroes—rubber gloves.

 Doggie Doo: Germany
One of Europe’s most popular toys (with more than 1 million sold in 2011 alone), Doggie Doo caters to two childhood fixations: a love of animals and a fascination with poop. The game, which purports to teach about responsible pet care, features a plastic dachshund with a leash that ends in a pneumatic pump handle. Kids feed molded-putty treats into the dog’s mouth, then pump the handle to watch them expelled beneath its wagging tail—to a barrage of farting sounds. The first player to scoop three poops wins.

 Giant Microbes: U.K.
Germophobic parents may look askance at these plush creations, which portray disease-bearing microbes as cuddly, google-eyed friends. But while it may be unsettling to see your child snuggle up to a squiggly pink toy Syphilis; play house with fuzzy, tasseled E. coli; or have a tea party with Flesh Eating Bacteria (helpfully embroidered with a knife and fork), the microbes are undoubtedly helpful for educational purposes. And they’ve been heralded for their design by no less than New York’s Museum of Modern Art.

Titanic Inflatable Slide: China
Why read your kids a book or show them a movie about the world’s most famous shipwreck when you can re-enact the epic tragedy in your own backyard? Made in China but available for party rentals all over the world (with the exception of Switzerland, where it was called unethical by the national Titanic Club), the Titanic Inflatable Slide is a 33-foot-high, bouncy replica of the doomed steamship—tilted at a precarious angle to allow kids to plunge screaming from the decks. For extra realism, some models include an inflatable iceberg. 

The Bristlebot: U.S.
Made from a battery-operated motor attached to the head of a hacked-off toothbrush, this buzzing, vibrating mini bot has nothing to do with cleaning kids’ teeth. Rather, it’s meant to be set on the floor, where it careens around like a caffeinated caterpillar, ricocheting off walls and furniture. The bot’s simple design elements (and high parental annoyance factor) are almost certainly why it’s so popular with kids; while there are premade bots available for purchase, there are also plenty of Internet videos showing how to make Bristlebots at home.

My First Bacon Talking Doll: U.S.
This huggable hunk of pork is a sure way to introduce kids to the joys of cholesterol-laden breakfast meat. Made of “velveteen flesh and super soft fleece fat,” My First Bacon—when loaded with batteries and squeezed—emits just a single, hypnotically spoken phrase from its moving robotic lips: “I’m Bacon.”

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

FREE! Go see Japanese manga-inspired artist Mr. in Chelsea!

Dog Star re-posts this from Hypebeast:

Mr. “Metamorphosis: Give Me Your Wings” @ Lehmann Maupin Gallery

While the work of Japanese artist Mr. and his obsession with otaku subculture — characterized by a fixation with manga, anime, video games and sci-fi literature — may not bring to mind the seriousness associated with the Japanese natural and nuclear disasters of 2011, the former protege of Takashi Murakami has created one of the more thoughtful installations on the subject. His “Metamorphosis: Give Me Your Wings” exhibition is largely composed of garbage and objects from everyday Japanese life, formed into an enormous, complex display that deals with the devastation caused by the events of last year. Juxtaposed with the installation is a series of the artist’s paintings — a range of colorful, uplifting pieces that provide a suitable counterpoint to the exhibition’s heavier subject matter — Mr.’s “Metamorphosis: Give Me Your Wings” exhibition is currently running at Lehmann Maupin Gallery in New York at the 540 West 26 Street location until October 20. 

Basketball Tree in Nantes, France

Dog Star thinks this should be built in NYC's playgrounds!  A/LTA Architects have designed "Arbre à Basket," a basketball court in the form of a tree that has been positioned in front of the Maison des Hommes et des Techniques in Nantes, France.  The artistic installation offers a new way of interacting with sport venues, appealing to a larger demographic so many people can play simultaneously.   The hoops branch at different heights allowing play for multiple teams and different age groups.

Imaginary Dog Star Landscapes