Lens-Artists Challenge #171: Weird and Wonderful

Elvis/Marilyn by David Scheinmann, 2013

The job of the artist is always to deepen the mystery.

Sir Francis Bacon

With Ann-Christine’s choice of topic — Weird and Wonderful — for this week’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge, we were reminded of a recent trip to Lexington, Kentucky, and a stay at 21c Museum Hotel. It’s not that the hotel was weird by any means, but the contemporary art both in the lobby and in the large museum on the second floor gave us pause.

For example, take a closer look at the above pigment print by David Scheinmann called Elvis/Marilyn created in 1993. From the information beside this larger-than-lifesize piece comes this description: “An uncanny double-portrait, Scheinmann’s work resembles Warhol’s Pop Art silkscreens of the rich and famous while also alluding to ongoing myths about Elvis evading death.” We can tell you this: it got our attention. And it’s no wonder we stood in front of it quite a while marveling at the likenesses of the two famous stars embodied in one portrait.

Another piece — an almost floor-to-ceiling portrait of Abraham Lincoln — also caught our attention, not so much that it was weird, but more that the technique was wonderful. Artist Djawid C. Borower’s Picture of a Dollar done in 2006 recreates the image seen on currency but on a grander scale.

Portrait of Lincoln by Djawid C. Borower

And how did he create the watery quality on this portrait? By dragging a squeegee across the still-wet paint to form an abstract image.

Wonderful? We thought so.

Picture of a Dollar (Lincoln) 2000 by Djawid C. Borower

But the one portrait that made us move even closer was this one: Barack Obama by Robert Silvers, a chromogenic print created in 2009.

Barack Obama, 2009 by Robert Silvers

By repositioning ourselves directly in front of the portrait, we could see up close thousands of individual photographs of Obama that created light, shadows, and intricate details of his facial features.

We should have been tipped off that this hotel was a special one when we checked in and noted two circular formations behind the desk, an art installation titled Face to Face with Death II by Spanish artist, Carlos Aires. So special, in fact, that we returned several times to see it from various perspectives.

Art at the desk of 21C, Lexington, KY hotel

A closer look revealed animals, people, and objects (weird and wonderful that they are) created from vinyl records. And when taken altogether, it’s truly a unique piece of art for greeting guests and introducing them to the wonders of 21c Museum Hotel Lexington.

For more entries in this week’s Lens-Artists Challenge, head to Anne-Christine’s blog and check out the unusual scenes and objects. And let us know if you’ve seen some weird and wonderful art in your neck of the woods. We just might want to visit!

Travel weirdly and wonderfully,

Rusha & Bert

47 thoughts on “Lens-Artists Challenge #171: Weird and Wonderful

  1. Alison

    Wow these are so special, especially Barrack Obama, how clever. The Marilyn/Elvis is definitely weird and wonderful.
    Great finds for this challenge

  2. pattimoed

    What a wonderful post, Rusha! You absolutely nailed this one! I love the art and the stories behind each of them. What a great collection in that hotel!

    1. Oh, the Places We See

      It’s only the tip of the iceberg! There’s an incredible amount of art here, and one reader told me this is typical of this hotel chain.
      Thanks for taking a look and commenting. It was definitely weird yet wonderful!

  3. Wind Kisses

    This was a very interesting find. I think La Posada in Winslow AZ may have some of this art as well. It is so engaging to visit and also to see this through your eyes…and travels Donna.

    1. Oh, the Places We See

      Thanks so much for the compliment! This hotel has quite the collection of interesting art, and I’ve heard from a friend that another in this chain of hotels has similar art. You just never know what you’ll find when you book a room!!

  4. Tina Schell

    That is REALLY weird Rush1!! I saw the Elvis/Marilyn right away, before you described it but the Obama portrait was truly amazing. Rather a weird way to decorate a hotel tho 😱

    1. Oh, the Places We See

      You’re so right. We weren’t expecting so much oddity in a hotel, but looking back on it, it’s truly a draw to that spot. We were amazed at the talent of these artists, even though there wasn’t one piece we’d showcase in our home! Thanks for taking a look!

  5. dawnkinster

    These are very cool. The whole thing reminds me of a hotel located in Winslow AZ, the La Posada, which has an art gallary in an upstairs lobby with the work of the resident artist, similar interesting, political art. The restaurant is phenominal too.

  6. Leya

    I don’t know what happened to my comment…but here we go again! Woooowwww! Absolutely gorgeous art and entry! I cannot have a favourite – they are all outstandingly weird and wonderful, beautiful, creative and fantastic! More than 7,000 square feet of exhibition space I read from your link – I would buy a ticket any day to see this! Elvis/Marilyn had me watching several times, and the last one – so much work put into this…Thank you for the treat of the week!

    1. Oh, the Places We See

      I kept trying to imagine how the artists came up with the ideas to do these pieces, but then I realized that the production must have taken a long time and quite a bit of effort. I appreciate both! Thanks for your comment.

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