Category: News from Art Scene

An Art Lover’s Guide to Toronto

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An Art Lover's Guide to Toronto

Altough Toronto’s fin-de-siecle rush to the top was largely focused on high finance and even higher skycrapers, the city’s art culture has seen notable growth in the past decade.

At the millennium’s dawn, visitors to Toronto seeking business deals or power suits probably departed Pearson International well satisfied. Those anticipating cultural riches befitting Canada’s biggest city were likely underwhelmed, however, as Hogtown’s fin-de-siècle rush to the top was largely focused on high finance and even higher skyscrapers.

Take the venerable Art Gallery of Ontario, for instance. Frank Gehry’s 2008 transformation includes a cocooning spiral staircase and a “billowing glass facade, which evokes a crystal ship drifting through the city,” as The New York Times describes it. The AGO celebrates its rebirth with animated art parties on the first Thursday night of each month, when millennials mix with artists and DJs, try their hand at creativity, and talk hard over drinks and themed street food.

The past decade’s other notable transformations include the Royal Ontario Museum’s striking renovation, and significantly improved acoustics at the Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s Roy Thomson Hall.

There have been major additions too, most notably the Canadian Opera Company’s purpose-built home of glass and light, the Toronto International Film Festival’s centre of screen culture, TIFF Lightbox, and the serene Aga Khan Museum, North America’s only museum dedicated to arts of the Islamic world.

An Art Lover's Guide to Toronto

As this renaissance began, Toronto announced its rediscovery of the arts to the world by joining the global network of Nuit Blanche cities in 2006. From Union Station to a Lake Ontario pontoon, this one-night-only revelation of diverse contemporary art now attracts a million curious people each October.

In 2007, the city doubled down with another major event, Luminato. An annual adventure across artistic disciplines, this festival is remarkable for the number of free events and commissioned works.

One’s cultural rediscovery of Toronto should not be limited to big festivals and institutions, however. While the rest of the city was wheeling and dealing, creativity simmered around the west end of Queen Street West, boiling over to become the city’s official Art and Design district; a.k.a. the section between Bathurst and Gladstone.

Locals bemoan the effects of gentrification, which has prompted the recent departure of some enterprises that made West Queen West cool. Indeed, the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art’s 2015 closure took a little shine off Vogue’s announcement only the year before that this was the world’s second coolest neighbourhood.

There’s still a whole lot to love though, from Stephen Bulger Gallery’s photography to Brodawka & Friends’ handcrafted shoes, the Bellwoods brewpub’s artfully labelled beers (made from hops grown in local backyards), and art hotels the Gladstone and the Drake (which now has a smart resto-bar offshoot downtown, Drake One Fifty). Take an Art Insite walking tour with long-time local Betty Ann Jordan to discover the best of the best.

Street art is also thriving, particularly along Rush Lane just south of Queen West. Better known as Graffiti Alley, and regularly glimpsed as the backdrop of Rick Mercer’s rant, this kilometre-long backstreet is a kaleidoscope of ephemeral colours and styles. A Tour Guys walk reveals the highlights, and provides a primer on street-art’s history, terminology, and fluid cultural status.

The tour may pause at the 401 Richmond creative hub, whose tenants include Spacing. Like the urban-design magazine that spawned it, Spacing’s shop doesn’t hold back on Toronto pride, offering sweet souvenirs such as subway badges and neighbourhood toques. Pride in the new Toronto, where art matters.

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Our Abstract Art exclusive website is launched

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Our Abstract Art exculive website is launched

For the past hundred years, abstract art has been a dominant mode of expression in America. But in its character, most of our abstract painting and sculpture pays small fealty to the concepts of those pure abstractionists, who hold that the work of art should be a completely meaningful object in itself, of solely esthetic significance, hermetically sealed against all other associations.

In Europe, as George Hamilton pointed out in the catalogue of his “Object and Image” exhibition at Yale, this atlitude is historically associated with the early modern movemen in its heroic break with tradition and is diametrically opposed to a more recent trend toward an abstract but evocative imagery which reflects man’s consciousness and inner being. In America,

ew even of our pioneer abstractionists could be called purists. The latter began to appear here only in the 1930’s (many from abroad), and while they still form an active and vital group, they have always been a minority. Our tendency, more marked than ever today, has been toward kinds of abstraction which draw on observed reality to create, variously, a conscious imagery, an unconscious imagery or, at the least, a kind of organic and “natural” teleology of form.

It is our purpose here to determine exactly what the relation is between American abstract, art and one traditionally important aspect of observed reality — nature. The inquiry is not in any sense a reactionary back-to-nature thesis. It is, rather, an effort to understand the character of the abstract vision and especially the personal attitudes and methods of various abstract artists in dealing with nature.

Our Abstract Art exculive website is launched

These terms are used in their widest and commonest meanings: “abstraction” to describe any art not clearly based on recognizable visual reality, “nature” as the all-embracing universe about us, the tangible world of land and water, the intangible world of light, sky and air, the eternal forces of germination, growth and death which make up the cycles of life and season — with man and man-made things alone excluded.

It is apparent that this is but part of a larger question, the relation of’ abstract art to all experience. Still, it is a significant part, for the multitudinous aspects of nature are inescapable, a part of every man’s environment. Since the Renaissance they have been the timeless themes of art, and there is ample evidence that they continue to move, and sometimes perplex, many abstract artists just as powerfully.

By focusing on this single but universal area of experience and avoiding the moral and social problems inherent in man and his works, we can perhaps dig deeper and hope to reveal certain truths about the abstract artist’s approach to reality, which will be valid in other areas as well.

Such a restriction does not imply dehumanization, for the artist has always found in nature compelling symbols of man’s own “nature,” especially of his relation to the organic world. And even when symbolism is absent, nature inevitably assumes human meaning as it passes through the artist’s eye, mind and emotions to his canvas. In Balcomb Greene’s words, “One humanizes nature even as he sees it.”

Viev Art Canyon Exclusive Abstract Website

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Paris floods: Louvre and Orsay close to protect exhibits

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Paris floods: Louvre and Orsay close to protect

Two museums in Paris have been closed to protect exhibits after the River Seine was predicted to hit a peak of up to 6m (19ft). The Louvre and Orsay museums have moved works to higher floors as a precaution.

The Louvre’s most famous painting, The Mona Lisa, has not been moved as it is housed on the museum’s top floor. The Orsay’s website said it was likely to be shut “at least until Monday”, while the Louvre did not give a reopening date.

“Due to the level of the river Seine, the Musee du Louvre will be exceptionally closed to the public on 3 June to ensure the protection of the works located in flood zones,” it said.

More downpours are forecast for the weekend across a band of central Europe from France to Ukraine.

At least 11 people have died in the past week as a result of the flooding in Europe and several towns in southern Germany have been devastated, with thousands being forced from their homes. Belgium, Austria, the Netherlands and Poland have also been affected.

Paris floods: Louvre and Orsay close to protect

York’s Jorvik Viking Centre had to close in December after the River Foss flooded. Their chief executive David Jennings said all museums “have a disaster plan”.

“For us, and it’ll be the same for the Louvre, it depends on what your information is and the time frame you have for understanding the disaster that’s about to happen.

“The first thing is to protect the public and your staff. Then, the thing that’s most important is protecting the collection.

“We closed the museum as soon as we could see there was a risk of flooding, and did the same thing the Louvre is doing to move the artefacts from the basement up to a safe place.

“We already had in place the basics of protection from water – and our conversation now is about how we enhance that protection in the future.

“It’s about trying to put in place flood barriers at the entrances and the doors – they are the weak spots of any basemented building.”

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Understanding Art Basel Hong Kong

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Understanding Art Basel Hong Kong

Everything you need to know about this unmissable stop on the global art circuit.

Rest assured that many of the seats on Hong Kong-bound flights in the last week of March were filled by high-rolling collectors, curators, reporters, and analysts heading for the city’s much anticipated third iteration of Art Basel. Hotels had been booked months in advance, five-star restaurants were at full capacity and VIP parties ran into the early hours of the morning, their attendees arriving bleary-eyed at the fair’s entrance the next day.

Inside, 180 of the world’s leading commercial galleries had set up booths exhibiting sculptures, paintings, drawings, installations, photographs, video, and digital artworks from the 20th and 21st centuries. A frenzied, week-long gathering for the international art community, a deep-pocketed collector’s haven and show-time for blue chip galleries, Art Basel drew thousands of visitors to the Asian metropolis for an unmissable stop on the global art circuit.

Art Basel originated in 1970 in Basel, Switzerland, and now stages annual iterations in Miami and Hong Kong in addition to its hometown. In each locale, the fair aims to flaunt the best of premier international galleries’ inventories, attracting patrons to negotiate sales that can reach into the millions of dollars. Parallel programming is produced in collaboration with each city’s local institutions, including non-profits, museums, and publishing houses which host talks, events, and mini-exhibitions around the fair. Housed inside the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre since its inauguration, Art Basel Hong Kong covers a sprawling 35,000 square metres of space over two floors, complete with lavish VIP lounges (think champagne and attendants offering private jet services) and cafes to refuel.

This year, the event attracted nearly 70,000 visitors over five days—a 17 per cent increase from 2015’s attendance. Lines snaked around the convention centre, tickets sold out on the last day, and some visitors waited hours to enter. As the fair in Switzerland showcases the best of contemporary European art, and collectors in Miami snatch up works from Central and South America, the Hong Kong iteration of Art Basel naturally has an Asian focus.

With work by over 4,000 artists, around half of the 239 participating galleries hailed from the Asia-Pacific region, a lineup that aimed to provide an overview of the area’s diversity. A designated section presented 28 special projects by Asian galleries, including Seoul-based Gallery EM, which showcased work by Hyemin Lee and Jae Yong Rhee, and Beijing-based gallery Ink Studio, which exhibited paintings by Li Huasheng. To provide some contrast to the big names like Picasso,

Miro, Emin, and Hirst adorning some booths, 24 booths exclusively provided platforms for emerging artists. New Zealand’s Jess Johnson’s densely layered experimental paintings were shown in Australian gallery Darren Knight’s booth, while Berlin-based gallerist Isabella Bortolozzi championed LA-based but Hong Kong-adored artist, Wu Tsang.

On par with the “go big or go home” philosophy that accompanies all art fairs, Art Basel presented several large-scale sculpture and installation works by leading international artists. Edouard Malingue gallery installed Indonesian collective Tromorama’s larger than life, revolution-inspired work Private Riots inside one of the show’s entrances, while Chinese artist Zhang Ding encouraged visitors to leave their mark by scratching and defacing his human-sized and brilliant gold installation 18 Cubes. To supplement the plethora of works on view, salon-style talks were held, and offered insights from speakers including curators Hans Ulrich Obrist and Alexie Glass Kantor, artist Simon Denny, and Artforum’s Charles Guarino.

However, at the end of the day, after all the parties, champagne, and celebrity sightings (Leonardo Dicaprio, Adrien Brody, and Uma Thurman, to name a few), the idea behind the fair is to sell, sell, sell. With booth fees running from $12,000 to $90,000, exhibiting is a costly affair for galleries.

Despite fears that sales would be diminished in light of China’s recent economic downturn, by most accounts sales were steady. David Zwirner reported a sold out booth that included a five Michaël Borremans paintings that went for as much as $1.6 million. Los Angeles-based gallery David Kordansky sold nearly all of its stock, including pieces by artists Jonas Wood and Rashid Johnson.

It seems as though the right patrons showed up from overseas, and the coveted ultra-rich buyers from mainland China were in full force. That Hong Kong enjoys geographic proximity to deep-pocketed Asian collectors was a strategic point in Art Basel’s establishing an outpost in the region. Less than a five hour flight from other major cities in Asia, and with a history as a trading centre, an international character, and no sales tax, Hong Kong is well-positioned to be a premium destination for collectors. “Hong Kong has been recognized as the international Asian art hub,” said Adeline Ooi, Asia director for Art Basel. “Ten years ago it wasn’t the case, now it is very pronounced.”

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Did Leonardo da Vinci copy his famous ‘Vitruvian Man’?

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Did Leonardo da Vinci copy his famous ‘Vitruvian Man’?

Leonardo da Vinci’s drawing of a male figure perfectly inscribed in a circle and square, known as the “Vitruvian Man,” illustrates what he believed to be a divine connection between the human form and the universe. Beloved for its beauty and symbolic power, it is one of the most famous images in the world. However, new research suggests that the work, which dates to 1490, may be a copy of an earlier drawing by Leonardo’s friend.

Another illustration of a divinely proportioned man — the subject is Christ-like, but the setting is strikingly similar to Leonardo’s — has been discovered in a forgotten manuscript in Ferrara, Italy. Both drawings are depictions of a passage written 1,500 years earlier by Vitruvius, an ancient Roman architect, in which he describes a man’s body fitting perfectly inside a circle (the divine symbol) and inside a square (the earthly symbol). It was a geometric interpretation of the ancient belief that man is a “microcosm”: a miniature embodiment of the whole universe. Leonardo and other scholars revived this vainglorious notion during the Italian Renaissance.

After decades of study, Claudio Sgarbi, an Italian architectural historian who discovered the lesser known illustration of the Vitruvian man in 1986, now believes it to be the work of Giacomo Andrea de Ferrara, a Renaissance architect, expert on Vitruvius, and close friend of Leonardo’s. What’s more, Sgarbi believes Giacomo Andrea probably drew his Vitruvian man first, though the two men are likely to have discussed their mutual efforts. Sgarbi will lay out his arguments in a volume of academic papers to be published this winter, Smithsonian Magazine reports.

The key arguments are as follows: In Leonardo’s writings, he mentions “Giacomo Andrea’s Vitruvius” — seemingly a direct reference to the illustrated Ferrara manuscript. Secondly, Leonardo had dinner with Giacomo Andrea in July 1490, the year in which both men are thought to have drawn their Vitruvian men. Experts believe Leonardo would have probed Giacomo Andrea’s knowledge of Vitruvius when they met. And though both drawings interpret Vitruvius’ words similarly, Leonardo’s is perfectly executed, while Giacomo Andrea’s is full of false starts and revisions, none of which would have been necessary if he had simply copied Leonardo’s depiction.

Other scholars find the arguments convincing. “I find Sgarbi’s argument exciting and very seductive, to say the least,” said Indra McEwen, an architectural historian at Concordia University who has written extensively about the works of Vitruvius. “But [I] would opt for the view that Giacomo Andrea and Leonardo worked in tandem, rather than Leonardo basing his drawing on Andrea’s.”

Rather than competitors, the two Renaissance men were colleagues working together to bring a beautiful, ancient idea back to life. “Whose was the ‘original’ drawing is a non-question as far as I’m concerned. Much as it is a preoccupation of our own time, I don’t think it would have been an issue in Leonardo’s day,” McEwen told Life’s Little Mysteries, a sister site to LiveScience.

Patrice Le Floch-Prigent, an anatomist at the University of Versailles in France who has analyzed the anatomical correctness of Leonardo’s famous work, noted that, for both drawings, “the source is Vitruvius.”

Furthermore, regardless of their chronology, Leonardo’s work is an improvement on Giacomo Andrea’s, McEwen said: “Leonardo is by far the superior draftsman, with a far superior understanding of anatomy.”

Leonardo’s is also more faithful to the text, she explained. “Nowhere does Vitruvius say that the man is positioned inside the circle and the square at the same time. A man lying flat on his back, can be circumscribed by a circle if his hands and feet are outstretched,” writes Vitruvius. “Similarly, his height is equal to his arm span, ‘just as in areas that have been squared with a set square.'” Giacomo Andrea’s figure has only one set of arms and legs, which are simultaneously circumscribed by a circle and outlined by a square, while “Leonardo deals with [the two propositions] by having the position of his man’s arms and legs change. That, I would have to admit, makes his drawing a closer approximation to the textual description than Giacomo Andrea’s,” McEwen wrote.

One thing is certain. The better Vitruvian man gained international fame, while the simpler, but possibly more original, one was left to languish in a library for five centuries. That may have to do with the very different fates met by Leonardo and Giacomo Andrea. When the French invaded Milan in 1499, the former fled to safety and went on to achieve eternal renown. The latter stayed in Milan and was hanged, drawn and quartered by the French, and largely forgotten by history — until now.

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Natasha Wescoat and Jeweled Trees

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Unfurling Wonderland by Natasha Wescoat

A self-taught artist from Michigan, Natasha comes from a family of artists, including the famous painter, Georgia O’Keefe. She began drawing at an early age when her interest in geeks and crime fighting birthed her obsession for superhero comic books. First copying the art of others, and then creating her own characters, Natasha’s childhood love for the fantastical world fueled her passion for pop art.

As a teenager, she became inspired by Gustav Klimt, Takashi Murakami, and Tim Burton and planned for a career as an artist and animator for Disney. Natasha began studying graphic design and fine art at Delta College before a series of successful eBay auctions in 2004 launched her commercial career. Since those very first online sales, she now has more than 1,000 original pieces in private and corporate collections around the world. She is perhaps best known for her whimsical landscapes and the popular, award-winning series, “Jeweled Trees,” the series that propelled her into a professional career.

Today, her colorful and playful style has helped her to create uniquely identifiable imagery that extends beyond her trademarked “Jeweled Trees” to other colorful landscapes, whimsical creatures, and young women in fantasy themes. She has an exceptional eye for design and emerging trends and uses her skills to develop colorful artwork that appeals to everyone, whether in the home, in the office, or on products.

Natasha Wescoat Biography

Prolific and hardworking, Natasha is a highly-skilled self-promoter. Her talent, determination, and love of technology have helped her create a diverse and obsessive fan base truly unique to any young artist. She excels in connecting with her fans, collectors, and clients to keep them coming back for more.

She is a juried member of EBSQ and Self Representing Artists. Her work has been featured in many publications, including the 2008 Artists and Graphic Designers Market Book, the New York Time’s Bestseller and Wall Street Journal Bestseller ”Crush It” by Gary Vaynerchuk, and “Fans, Friends and Followers” by Scott Kirsner. The A&E Channel, NBC News, ABC’s Extreme Makeover Home Edition, Lifetime Channel, the Ritz-Carlton gallery in Los Angeles, Leo Laporte’s TWiT, and Ford have shown Natasha’s work. She is also an Abrakadoodle Artist of Distinction.

Natasha was one of Ford Motor Company’s first 100 agents in the “Fiesta Movement.” She spent more than six months behind the wheel of her own Fiesta, live streaming her experience to help launch the Fiesta brand.

In addition to her painting and the development of a new children’s book, Natasha writes regularly at her official blog, Fresh Gloss, and frequently speaks at seminars and conferences about art, social media, self-promotion, and motivational topics. She serves as Chief Creative Officer of Natasha Wescoat Enterprises, LLC, a firm she co-founded in 2011 to promote her art and work.

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Photographer’s time-delay exotic artworks

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Photographer's time-delay exotic artworks

Photographer's time-delay exotic artworks

Amateur photographer David Johnson used a time-delay exposure to get exotic images.

David Johnson took the pictures during Spain’s entry into the competition, which spanned five evenings in August. To capture the fireworks images, David Johnson didn’t use common exposure settings that other photographers might use. Instead, Johnson fixed his focus around certain points of the fireworks, and then quickly refocused his lens as the rockets exploded midair, according to the Daily Mail.

“The technique I used was a simple refocus during the longer exposure,” says Johnson, an amateur photographer from Ottawa. “Each shot was about a second long, sometimes two,” Johnson says. “I’d start out of focus, and when I heard the explosion, I would quickly refocus so the little stems on these deep sea creature lookalikes would grow into a fine point.”

But with a slight bit of imagination, it’s not hard to see what might be a rare flower. Or, a strange bioluminescent creature pictured at nighttime on a coral reef, perhaps a sea anemone?

“The shapes are quite bizarre,” Johnson says. “Some of them was I pleasantly surprised with.”

Johnson has been taking pictures for about three years, according to his web site. “I’m always eager to get new gear, try different photography techniques, and take my camera everywhere I go,” he says. “I take photos for myself. That’s all,” he adds. “Going through the photos after a good day of shooting is the exact experience I love.”

Johnson’s photography portfolio includes people, animals, nature, travels, and sports. Indeed, these images could pass for many things: Flowers, sea creatures, distant stars and planets, or perhaps microbial organisms inside another living thing.

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Thomas Kinkade died peacefully in sleep, girlfriend says

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Thomas Kinkade

As the Coroner’s Office Santa Clara County is trying to determine how painter Thomas Kinkade is dead, a close friend said he went peacefully in his sleep.

Kinkade died suddenly Friday at 54. The coroner performed an autopsy Monday, but it is unclear when the office will issue a final cause of death.

Amy Pinto, identified by the San Jose Mercury News Kinkade’s girlfriend, was at his home in Monte Sereno, a wealthy enclave near Los Gatos in the Bay Area, and said that the painter died in his sleep.

Cindy Lemus, who works in administrative support for the coroner’s office said medical tests are planned for all those who died during the weekend in Santa Clara County. “All examinations of the weekend will take place this morning,” she said.

She said the coroner’s office has a policy of not releasing the cause of death to anyone, but the next of kin, which seems inconsistent California law stipulates that all coroner’s reports are made public.

Kinkade family attributed his death to natural causes, but the exact cause of death will be determined by the coroner.

“We are shocked and saddened by his death,” his wife, Nanette Kinkade, which he had been separated for over a year, said in a statement.

In the last decade, he had been locked in legal battles with former owners Thomas Kinkade Signature Gallery, including some accused in lawsuits of trade heavily on his Christian beliefs, even as he drove them into financial ruin.

He had fought against alcohol abuse, former associates said in court records and interviews, and in 2010 his mug shot went viral after his arrest on a drunken driving charge for which he later pleaded not challenge.

“The history and legacy of Thomas Kinkade is a story of triumph and tragedy, which I think everyone can earn to pay attention to,” said Terry Sheppard, a friend Kinkade former company vice president who parted with the painter in 2003.

Besides his wife he is survived by his daughters, Merritt, Chandler, Winsor and Everett, and a brother, Pat, who worked for the company Kinkade.

On Saturday, Thomas Kinkade Co. officials sent a message to distributors that the company will continue, saying that “his art and the powerful message of inspiration will live on.”

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Thomas Kinkade dies at age 54 at his California home

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Thomas Kinkade dies at age 54 at his California home

Thomas Kinkade, one of the most popular artists in America, has died at his California home, his family said. He was 54. Family and friends recalled the artist as a generous man, who inspired others and will missed.

“He had a rare ability to exude a sense of warmth, a transcendent light,” said Robert Goodwin, who wrote the book “Points of Light: A Celebration of the American Spirit of Giving,” with Kinkade. “He had a great commitment to inspire others — one who was nurtured in his early life by family and friends and church to really be an example of selfless acts of service,” he said Saturday.

Kinkade’s death at his Los Gatos home appeared to be from natural causes, according to the family. “Thom provided a wonderful life for his family,” his wife, Nanette, said in a statement late Friday night. “We are shocked and saddened by his death.”Art from the self-described “painter of light,” adorns many living rooms in America. It emphasizes simple pleasures and warm, positive images of idyllic cottages, lighthouses and colorful gardens. “My mission as an artist is to capture those special moments in life adorned with beauty and light,” Kinkade said in a message on his website. “I work to create images that project a serene simplicity that can be appreciated and enjoyed by everyone. That’s what I mean by sharing the light.”

Kinkade painted more than 1,000 pieces on various topics, including cabins, nature scenes, seascapes and classic Americana. In 2006, the artist recalled one of his earliest lessons during an interview with CNN’s Larry King.”When I was a young boy, my mother told me, ‘Your talents are God’s gifts to you, and what you do with those talents are your gift to God,'” he said.

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Yuri Gagarin: The First Man in Space Limited Edition Pens

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Yuri Gagarin: The First Man in Space Limited Edition Pens

Montegrappa is proud to honour one of the greatest heroes of the 20th Century, with a limited edition pen marking the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s flight into space. It signalled the start of manned space flight, launching the most exciting period in the history of man’s unquenchable thirst for exploration.

Born on 9 March 1934 in Klushino, Russia, Gagarin was a Soviet Air Forces pilot who, in 1960, after completing the selection process, was chosen with 19 other pilots for the Soviet space program. Gagarin was further selected for an elite training group known as the Sochi Six from which the first cosmonauts of the Vostok programme would be chosen. He became the first human being to journey into outer space when his the Vostok 3KA-3 (Vostok 1) spacecraft completed an orbit of the Earth on 12 April 1961, with a time in space of 1 hour 48 minutes.

Following this momentous flight, Gagarin became a worldwide celebrity, touring widely abroad. Beginning in 1962, Gagarin served as a deputy to the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union; he also spent seven years working on designs for a reusable spacecraft. Gagarin achieved the rank of Lieutenant Colonel of the Soviet Air Force on 12 June 1962 and on 6 November 1963, was promoted to Colonel.

Because of his importance as a Soviet hero, and fearing for his safety, officials banned him from participating in further spaceflights. Gagarin had become deputy training director of the Star City cosmonaut training base, later named after him, while re-qualifying as a fighter pilot. On 27 March 1968, with tragic irony and despite the best efforts of Soviet officials to protect him, Gagarin and flight instructor Vladimir Seryogin died when their MiG-15UTI, on a routine training flight, crashed near the town of Kirzhach. Their bodies were cremated and the ashes were buried in the walls of the Kremlin on Red Square.

Originally conceived as part of the new Cosmopolitan collection, the importance of the 50th Anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s space flight has elevated the pen to the status of a stand-alone limited edition. The Montegrappa Yuri Gagarin Pen joins the company of other honours including a series of commemorative ruble coins issued by the Soviet Union for the 20th, 30th and 40th anniversaries, his title of Hero of the Soviet Union and the re-naming of the town of Gzhatsk in 1968 as Gagarin.

Montegrappa’s artisans have engraved the barrel with the image of Yuri Gagarin in bas-relief, bordered with an interplanetary motif, while the cap features the coat-of-arms of the USSR. The pocket clip, fitted with a rotating ball at its tip to facilitate smooth insertion to and removal from a pocket, is flanked by reproductions of Moscow’s monument to Yuri Gagarin, completed in 1980 and located in Gagarin’s square. The fountain pen features a built-in piston-fed filling mechanism, providing ink to the two-tone 18K gold nib with ebonite feeder.

Both the roller ball and the fountain pen arrive in presentation boxes, fashioned in wood. The lid of the box is embellished with a metal plaque bearing an engraved image of Yuri Gagarin, with a commemorative message in Cyrillic characters. The box for the fountain pen also includes a complimentary bottle of ink.

To mark the 50 years since Yuri Gagarin’s historic space flight in 1961, Montegrappa will issue the Yuri Gagarin pen in a limited edition consisting of:

• 1961 silver fountain pens
• 1961 silver roller balls
• 50 solid 18K gold fountain pens
• 50 solid 18K gold roller balls

Since 1912, Montegrappa has been manufacturing high-quality writing instruments in the same historic building in Bassano del Grappa, North East Italy.

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