The Duck Pirate

 

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Costa Magarakis, a Tel Aviv-based artist also known as The Duck Pirate, specializes in sculpture that uses shoes as the base objects for some of his work. Footwear in his hands can become an animals body, a sailing vessel, or an imagined creature. As a child he spent time looking through his grandfather’s antique encyclopedia and old books.  His results often feel stolen from drawings in children’s books from days gone by, often imitating  Jules Verne or in modern day, Tim Burton.

Costa produces each sculpture thru a long  process in which each shoe must be made suitable for reforming. Once he softens the old shoe, he adds fiberglass resin and a wide variety of materials that might include, glass, wood, metals and paint. Finished sculptures can sell for up to $1200.00.

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Maria Rubinke Extreme Porcelain

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Usually when someone works in porcelain, they are trying to follow traditional methods. Artist Maria Rubinke adds a twisted turn to her work pushing what is acceptable in the world of art.

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Currently based out of Copenhagen, Denmark, Maria Rubinke blends innocence with grotesque in her work, creating porcelain sculptures with shocking streams of red glaze originating from rips and tears in their bodies. She uses a mixture of cute and surreal to pull people between these extreme opposites.

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Most vintage or Victorian porcelain dolls are delicate and beautiful. She doesn’t do that. The children have innocent faces, but are completely twisted. The portrayals in Maria’s sculptures bring to mind the work of Edward Gorey, the American artist and writer known for illustrated books depicting unsettling scenes in Edwardian settings.

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She doesn’t yet have her own website, (although it is in progress),  but you can check out more of her work on her Facebook page.

https://www.facebook.com/rubinke?fref=ts

Ventriloquist Dummy

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Ventriloquism was originally a religious practice that got its start in ancient times, somewhere around the sixth century. The name “ventriloquist” means “belly speaker” in Latin. It supposedly was used to communicate with the dead. The noises made by the stomach were thought to be the voices of the dead, who took up residence in the stomach of the ventriloquist. For a long time, it was viewed negatively by the Christian church.

 

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The change from being a sign of spiritual forces to being considered entertainment happened in the eighteenth century at travelling fairs. It came of age as entertainment with the help of vaudeville in the United States.

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Ventriloquism is the illusion of creating life, but the fear of ventriloquist’s dummies is called automatonophobia.

Son Doong Cave, Vietnam

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Son Doong Cave the world’s largest, is located in Vietnam. It was originally found by a local man who discovered the entrance in 1991. He was afraid of the 300 foot drop and the roar that came from below. For 18 more years, it stayed unexplored until it was re-discovered in 2009 by British cave explorers. The name Son Doong means “mountain river”. The cave was created 2-5 million years ago by a river whose source is still unknown. The cave is so big it contains a jungle and you could fit a 40 story building inside.

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Where the limestone was weak, the ceiling collapsed creating huge skylights. Thousands of “cave pearls” sit untouched in Son Doong. These were formed over hundreds of years when dripping water created layers of calcite that build up around grains of sand.

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Vietnam has a very difficult terrain, and the cave is far out of the way. It’s totally covered in jungle, and you can’t locate anything on Google Earth.  A team from the British Cave Research Association, who first explored Son Doong, will be returning to find out more of the cave’s mysteries.

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A tour company called Oxalis, is running trial tours of the cave and accepting sign-ups for real six-day tours to take place next year. Ropes and harness are needed to get inside Son Doong, and any visitors will need to rappel 260 feet to reach the cave floor. Tourists will explore the cavern by day and sleep on the cave’s sandy beaches at night.

 

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

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A road winding to the top of a North Carolina mountain is the entrance to Oz, a 1970s theme park that closed less than 10 years after it opened. Back when it started, the Land of Oz would attract up to 20,000 visitors a day, but now the Yellow Brick Road is missing some bricks, and the Wicked Witch’s castle is empty.

Grover Robbins developed the Beech Mountain theme park as a way of attracting families to the  resort town. Robbins never lived to see his masterpiece, dying at the age of 50 of bone cancer only six months before  the park was complete. The park opened on June 15, 1970 with Debbie Reynolds making an appearance, along with her daughter, Carrie Fisher. In its  first summer 400,000 visitors came to the Land of Oz.

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The Yellow Brick Road wound its way through the park, leading tourists to a replica Emerald City (destroyed in a fire), Dorothy’s house, the castle of the Wicked Witch and the Munchkin village all accurately recreated on over 450 acres.

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After a decline in amusement park visitors in the 1970s and a lack of modernization and updates in the park itself, the Land of Oz closed in 1980. The park was left to vandals and decay, but there was enough interest in its restoration that it was eventually restored as a private garden in the Eagle Mountain community built at that property near the top of Beech Mountain.

The park does open to the public one week-end a year in the beginning of October.

http://www.ourstate.com/north-carolinas-land-of-oz/

Showmen’s Rest Circus Cemetery

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Here the clowns have stopped laughing, the acrobats no longer fly, and the music has quit playing. Everything is quiet here, but now in immortal life, the show must go on. The small town of Hugo, Oklahoma,  the winter home of the traveling circus since the 1930s, has become the eternal home for some who have spent their life under the big top.

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A section of Mount Olivet Cemetery called Showmen’s Rest, is bordered by sculptures of elephants on granite pedestals and each grave is designed to show the circus skills of the performer. Here they will remain forever performing under a timeless Big Top.

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While these lie in quiet slumber, the rest of the city celebrates their legendary past with clowns, elephants, and death defying stunts. Children watch with delight as performers practice their impossible feats. Adults are held spellbound by the show overhead.  This small Oklahoma town has a history more unique than any other in the state.

http://www.okgenweb.org/~okchocta/cemetery/showmans_rest.htm

Ray Caesar Surrealist

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Ray Caesar is one of the most notable digital artists of our time. He is also the mind behind some of the most disturbing surrealist art.  He is a Toronto-based artist with works that have been in high demand over the past decade. Caesar is unapologetic about being a digital artist in an art world that sometimes sneers at using the computer for creating fine-art.

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Caesar’s portraits usually include abnormality and fantasy in a dismal setting of sexual suggestions. His works captivate some and turn others away. Onlookers have described his work as both grotesque and beautiful at the same time. Besides being a gifted dream-weaver, he is without a doubt one of the most influential surrealist artists of our day.

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http://www.raycaesar.com/