Monday, January 15, 2007

James Allen: Love of trains leads to career in art

As a child James Allen had a fascination for the railroad. He was 6 years old when he began sketching trains. Now, at 23, he is still absorbed by that passion

"The mechanical complexity, things like the wheels to the air conditioning parts of the train those are just very intriguing," said James Allen, artist.

Allen has never had an art lesson.

"I was drawing because it was just an everyday hobby for me. I started to recognize it the moment that people would acknowledge and say you be very grateful for what you have," said James Allen.

Allen is a participant in Project Onward, a 3 year old program for artists with special needs based at the cultural center.

Rob Lentz is cofounder and program director of the project.

"James is an incredible talent. I think he has a lot of natural ability for someone his age. I think what distinguishes him is that he's really got a lot of passion and drive for what he's doing," said Rob Lentz, co-founder.

A high school drop out, he was homeless for time and slept in the subway.

"You'd see various rare maintenance vehicles you'd see these workers cleaning at the wee hours of the morning occasionally you would see really very large rats it was an experience. Its something I wouldn't want to go back through," said James Allen.

He has become self sufficient as his reputation as an artist grows. About his first sale?

"I couldn't believe it. I thought it was just one of my farfetched dreams that I'd actually be an artist. But it actually came to life," said James Allen.

To learn about James Allen's work and Project Onward, visit

Legendary Chicago newsman Harry Porterfield profiled Allen for his segment "Someone You Should Know" on ABC7 News, broadcast January 11, 2007

sparking curious mind: Advertising: 5 rules of creativity

Advertising: 5 rules of creativity

Wieden+Kennedy's five rules of creativity:

1. Act Stupid.

"Our philosophy is to come in ignorant every day. The idea of retaining ignorance is sort of counterintuitive, but it subverts a lot of [problems] that come from absolute mastery. if you think you know the answer better than somebody else does, you become closed to being fresh." states Jelly Helm, creative director.

2. Shut up.
"The first thing we do when we meet with clients is listen. We try to figure out what their problems are. Then we come back with questions, not solutions. We write these out and put them on the wall. And then we circle the ones that we think are interesting. More often than not, the questions hold the answer."

3. Always say yes.
"What I've learned from improvisation is to let go of outcome and just say yes to what4ever the situation is. If you say an idea is bad, you're creating conflict--you're breaking an improv rule. You want an energy flow that moves you forward, as opposed to a creative stasis."

4. Chase Talent.
"Find people who make you better. It's best to be the least talented person in the room. It's reciprocal. It challenges you to keep up."

5. Be Fearless.
"Do anything, say anything. In the worlds of our president, Dan Wieden, 'You're not useful to me until you've made three momentous mistakes.' He knows that if you try not to make mistakes, you miss out on the value of learning from them."

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Painting of Jolie as the Virgin Mary hovering over a Wal-Mart check-out line draws notice

By MARTHA WAGGONER, Associated Press Writer Fri Jan 5, 6:57 PM ET

RALEIGH, N.C. - A North Carolina artist intrigued by the public obsession with celebrity has found herself feeding that obsession with a painting of actress Angelina Jolie as the Virgin Mary hovering over a Wal-Mart check-out line.

Kate Kretz has painted for 20 years but none of her previous work has garnered the attention given "Blessed Art Thou," showing this weekend at Art Miami, an annual exposition of modern and contemporary art.

The painting has gotten much attention from celebrity web sites and blogs. Since the buzz started, the number of daily unique visitors to Kretz's own blog has jumped from an average of 30 to 15,000 on Wednesday.

"My intention was to ask a question and get people to think," Kretz said in a telephone interview Friday from Miami. "I had no idea so many people would be asking a question and thinking."

The painting — acrylic and oil on linen — depicts an angelic Jolie in the clouds, holding her newborn daughter, Shiloh, with children Maddox and Zahara at her legs. Below them is a Wal-Mart checkout line. The painting is for sale for $50,000 through Chelsea Galleria in Miami, which represents Kretz.

On her blog, Kretz, 43, said the painting addresses "the celebrity worship cycle." She said she chose Jolie for the subject "because of her unavoidable presence in the media, the worldwide anticipation of her child, her 'unattainable' beauty and the good that she is doing in the world through her example, which adds another layer to the already complicated questions surrounding her status."

Washington Post art critic Blake Gopnik, asked to comment about "Blessed Art Thou" on a Post blog, was unimpressed. "Once you've deciphered it, there's not much chance of giving it a second look," Gopnik wrote.
On the Net:

The artist web site:

The artist Blog : In her blog she talks about her amazement at the publicity that this one picture recieved.

To give you another example of this artist work:

Putting Moonlight to Sleep
38 x 42”
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