Painting the Solar System with Pigments of the Desert

solar system

Stella Maria Baer paints the solar system with sand and cacti pigments, evoking the otherworldly landscape of the American Southwest. Stella Maria Baer — a widely respected painter and photographer who currently resides in Denver, Colorado — grew up in the enchanted, surreal deserts of Santa Fe, New Mexico, in a family of artists going back generations. “Art was always part of our family’s language and landscape,” she explains. Her mother was a weaver, and her father owned an art gallery. One of her grandmothers was a sculptor, and one of her grandfathers was a photographer. With such influences, she grew up experiencing art in many forms — from the visual to the tactile to the gallery. Originally from California, her family moved to Santa Fe when Baer was just a few years old. Yet it is her grandfather’s photography — largely featuring California — that she recalls most vividly        …read more

The Competitive World of Gingerbread House Design

gingerbread house

These artists take their gingerbread house creations seriously. Very, very seriously. Gingerbread house making isn’t reserved for kids and the kitchen table. Gingerbread dates back to ancient Greece, and in the Middle Ages gingerbread cookies were all the rage. When the Brothers Grimm released the tale of Hansel and Gretel, the gingerbread house took off — losing the evil witch attachment in favor of a winter-wonderland fantasy. Gingerbread house construction grew into an art form that continues today — so much so that there are yearly competitions to crown the best of the best. The National Gingerbread House Competition in Asheville, North Carolina, is the biggest, with magnificent entries that look too good to eat. The National Gingerbread House Competition For 25 years, artists of varying skill levels have entered The National Gingerbread House Competition. The number of competitors was highest at 289 in the early 2000s. “It was almost        …read more

SoundCloud Connects Musicians and Fans in Worldwide Chorus


Through SoundCloud, musicians are connecting with one another and with listeners all over the world. We spoke with three artists about the importance of the platform. No one quite knows where the music industry will go next, and that’s because prognostication is a dangerous undertaking, often prone to error. The past is rarely prologue, and a trend is only as good as a trail of digital breadcrumbs leading to the unknowable. Take streaming, for example. There was once a time when most people were content hauling around a bunch of CDs with them. Then something funny happened — music downloads took off, followed by the world of streaming. You can carry an entire catalogue of music on the smartphone in your pocket. A recent report by Billboard finds that, thanks to streaming subscriptions, the music industry is rebounding in an enormous way. Streaming is set to rake in billions, and        …read more

‘Calvin and Hobbes’ and Bill Watterson: A Phenomenon and a Recluse

Calvin and Hobbes

‘Calvin and Hobbes’ first appeared on November 18, 1985. The strip has remained relevant for more than 30 years, and its creator has stuck to his principles through it all. It was one of those things moms say to their kids to impress them about their jobs, as if being an outstanding AP teacher weren’t enough. But of course, I was just a young boy. Name-dropping has its effects. “Bill Watterson graduated from Chagrin Falls,” she told me. Chagrin Falls High School in Northeast Ohio, that is. The school where my mom’s now taught for 22 years. Calvin and Hobbes, the revolutionary comic strip, made Chagrin Falls’ own Bill Watterson a household name. Calvin and Hobbes had always reminded me of home. The precocious Calvin and his stuffed tiger live in an idyllic Midwestern town with many Chagrin Falls characteristics. In one of the first Calvin and Hobbes strips, for        …read more

The Strange Magic of Automata with Master Craftsman Thomas Kuntz


Kuntz uses old-school techniques and a touch of magic to build surreal automata. You’ve likely heard that machines will one day take over the world. Don’t fret: it will only give humanity more time to create art. Automata are the predecessors of robots, and their artistic creation dates back centuries. In the 1500s astrologer and mathematician John Dee made a wooden beetle that could fly. During the Age of Enlightenment Jacques Vaucason crafted a flute player that actually played the instrument. And in the modern era Thomas Kuntz, whose work has appeared in Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak, dominates the automata art scene with fantastical things of nightmares. Thomas Kuntz’s Automata A devil blowing smoke. A vampire drinking blood. A skeletal Prussian conjuror tapping his foot and raising his hat. The devil lurking inside a merry couple. A seductive ghost playing a sonata. A widow finding company with skeletons. These are just        …read more

Dive into the Creepy-Fantastical World of Karen Jerzyk

Karen Jerzyk

They might look like dreamscapes from the love child of Tim Burton and Terry Gilliam, but the photography of Karen Jerzyk is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. The childhood of Karen Jerzyk practically reads like a script of a film she adored as a kid, where outcast children find their true calling. When she was young, Jerzyk barely owned Barbie dolls, but the few she had went under the knife, “because I ended up cutting off their hair or burning them.” At nine, she and her friends explored dark wooded areas near her hometown of Manchester, New Hampshire, where she still lives today. They found an abandoned shack, thick dust coating antique furniture. “It was like I was stepping back in time,” she recalls. “I loved it.” She wasn’t into cartoons, but instead watched Unsolved Mysteries on TV, and her favorite films were Labyrinth, The Goonies and Edward Scissorhands. She        …read more

With George RR Martin’s Help, Artists Open Immersive Fantasy Realm

George RR Martin, Meow Wolf, House of Eternal Return

How art collective Meow Wolf convinced George RR Martin to invest $3 million and create a real-life fantasy/sci-fi world — and how it’s paid off. Imagine walking up to a beautiful, eccentrically styled home. You’re not sure what to expect, but you’ve heard odd things are going on at this house — and it’s up to you to investigate. To your right is a brown wooden staircase with numerous family portraits carefully lining its ascent to the second floor. Looking at the portraits of the Seligs — the family that allegedly resides in this home — you see parents, a boy, a girl and some curious-looking relatives. At first glance, they seem like a pretty regular American family. But there’s something odd, and you know it. A strange booming sound is coming from unseen interior areas of this house. In fact, multiple odd noises are coming from different parts of        …read more

What The Hell? The Extraordinary Mini Art of Ryan Thomas Monahan

mini art

Jump into this super-detailed mini art by Ryan Thomas Monahan, and get a taco while you're there! Believe it or not, lots and lots of people like things small. Meet Ryan Thomas Monahan, who goes by @what_thehell on Instagram, an outstanding creator of mini art working in Chicagoland, where Crixeo is based. A local boy. Ryan originally began creating his highly detailed mini art scenes — grimy back alleyways and bodegas — because he wanted them on his own walls. Now he’s surprised to have so many fans and customers who enjoy the pieces as well. We dropped by his studio and asked Ryan about his inspirations, creative process, hidden references in his work and more. In a video interview, Ryan tells us about how he begins every mini art piece. He says he always starts with a box and asks himself what fits inside. He then layers and weathers his pieces. After        …read more

13 Celebrities You Didn’t Know Were in the Visual Arts

From Michael Jackson to Lucy Liu, did you know these 13 celebrities worked in the visual arts? We know their faces, voices, performances and general fame, but what about their paintings, photographs, sketches and “Faberge-style eggs”? Whether brilliant or just...interesting, this work is well worth seeing. Here are 13 celebs you may not have known were so serious about the visual arts. Michael Jackson The King of Pop is often recognized as a polymath of sorts who excelled as a singer, dancer, composer and even inventor, but he was also an accomplished visual artist who created realistic sketches and fanciful cartoons, many of which can be viewed online. One of his most-discussed works is an impressively mature rendering of Jackson’s idol Charlie Chaplin drawn when Jackson was only nine years old. Some later works, like this caricature of the singer with musical collaborator Paul McCartney and this self-portrait of the artist as        …read more

Gary Larson: Hater of Cartoons and Lover of Jazz

Gary Larson

In celebration of Gary Larson on his birthday, August 14, take a deep, dark dive into the life of the beloved creator of ‘The Far Side’ cartoons. The Far Side. The recognizable rectangle cartoon that donned so many high school biology teachers’ doors and probably still does. In 2003 Gary Larson, the cartoon’s creator, told Time, “I’m not into cartoons. That’s the irony of it.” He’s said his true love is jazz guitar, but it was his cartoons that gained enormous fandom that continues to this day. Larson’s cartoons were in over 1,900 newspapers. His work is on T-shirts, calendars and mugs. There’s an active Facebook page with over 60,000 followers. In 1986 20/20 interviewed him and had his mother read his favorite childhood book about a mean bear that inspired his work. But what else do we know about Larson? What’s he up to nowadays? Visit his website and you’ll feel like you’re still on dial-up in        …read more