The stupendous hand-painted signs of Carter's travelling Steam Fair


The Better Letters tumblr has posted a massive gallery of the hand-lettered signs from Carter's Steam Fair, a touring vintage fair that stopped last weekend in Clissold Park in Stoke-Newington, London. Carter's is a family business, and it's a magnificent affair, even down to the gleaming, streamlined family trailers parked around the perimeter. Joby Carter, the fair's signpainter, is the son of the founder, John Carter, and he is part of a five-generation tradition of handpainted signs. My wife and I took our daughter and a friend to the fair yesterday and were amazed, thrilled and delighted by every single detail, from Voltini's Electrocution sideshow to the penny arcade where we gambled recklessly with enormous, Georgian pennies to the many rides and funhouses (and don't forget the steampunk QR code!). As my daughter's six-year-old friend said while we left, "This was the best day of my life!"

I took some pictures, but Better Letters had the run of the place at a pre-opening tour and is in any event a much better photographer than I'll ever be, so look at those pics, too.

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Huge crop circle in Italy

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This magnificent crop circle appeared last night in Poirino, Italy.

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Collaborating with your kids: the story of "A Dark and Dismal Flower"

JC Herz and her five year old daughter, Eve, created A Dark and Dismal Flower, a beautifully-animated picture book. In this essay, Herz offers her advice on how to collaborate with your own kids.

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Entangled: hearts' tentacles entwined


Kate MacDowell's Entangled is a beautiful, tentacly porcelain sculpture depicting two hearts whose questing tentacles have entwined. (via JWZ)

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Stone busts carved from stacked books


Sculptor Long-Bin Chen creates art out of recycled books and magazines; his current show, at Charleston's Halsey, features a series of pieces that appear to be solid sculptures, but which are actually carved stacks of books, painted and surfaced on one side. He has recently completed a set of enormous Buddha heads carved from stacks of phone books. As the Halsey explains, "The Buddha sculptures represent the missing heads of many ancient Buddha figures that have been looted from Asia and sold to Western museums and collectors. Since colonial times, Westerners have taken heads from the Buddha statues in Asia and brought them back to the West. While one finds so many Buddha heads in Western museums and galleries, an equal number of Buddha bodies in Asia are headless. When carved into phone books, Chen's Buddha heads contain the names and numbers of millions of residents."

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Beautiful nightmarish taxidermy: Scott Hove, 'Master of Rapacity'

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The trippy work of Scott Hove. If you're in San Francisco, catch his work at the Hashimoto Contemporary through June 21. More at Juxtapoz.

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Kokuyo Roll Table: Roll of drawing paper wrapped around a cube


The Kokuyo Roll Table is a clever alternative from Kobe Ishou Sourenjo is a very clever way to package and dispense rolls of kids' drawing paper. It seems like it would be tedious to re-fill, though -- but if you're game for it, it should be simple to make your own for your playroom with four pieces of MDF (or pine, if you're fancy!) and some screws.

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Fluorescent, pissing Lenin statue


A fluorescent statue of a urinating VI Lenin has been erected in Nowa Huta, a town built by the old Stalinist regime. The Soviet-era Lenin that stood in the spot was subjected to multiple unsuccessful attempts by activists to blow it up. The new statue, "Fountain of the Future," is a temporary installation that is meant to spur debate about what statue should be permanently installed in its place.

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Sculptures made from repeating human bone motifs


Czech artist Monika Horčicová makes beautiful, haunting sculptures comprised of repeated, 3D-printed human bones. They remind me of the Capela dos Ossos in Portugal, whose walls and vaults are lined with bones of 5,000 parishoners from nearby churches. There's something about Czech artists and bones, it seems -- witness Alice, Jan Svankmajer's classic taxidermy adaptation of Alice in Wonderland.

PRÁCE / WORKS | Monika Horčicová (via Kadrey)

Hidden painting found under Picasso masterpiece

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One of Pablo Picasso's most famous works, The Blue Room, was painted over an earlier work now revealed by infrared imaging. The hidden image, of a large man in formal attire resting on his hand, would have been created early in the artist's career, reports The Associated Press.

Though the existence of an earlier work beneath The Blue Room was long-suspected, it took years to develop techniques to expose it in detail. Earlier X-rays showed an image so "fuzzy" it wasn't even clear that it was a portrait. Now there's a new mystery: The identity of the subject himself.

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Scholars are researching who the man might be and why Picasso painted him. They have ruled out the possibility that it was a self-portrait. One candidate is Paris art dealer Ambrose Villard, who hosted Picasso’s first show in 1901. But there is no documentation and no clues left on the canvas, so the research continues.

Ms Favero has been collaborating with other experts to scan the painting with multi-spectral imaging technology and X-ray fluorescence intensity mapping to try to identify and map the colours of the hidden painting. They would like to recreate a digital image approximating the colours Picasso used.

Curators are planning the first exhibit focused on The Blue Room as a seminal work in Picasso’s career for 2017. It will examine the revelation of the man’s portrait beneath the painting, as well as other Picasso works and his engagement with other artists.

We covered multispectral imaging ourselves in a trip to the Library of Congress. The same techniques revealed that a draft of the Declaration of Independence originally named Americans "subjects" instead of "citizens".

Interviewing Leila Johnston about Hack Circus


My latest Guardian column is an interview with Leila Johnston about her Hack Circus project, which includes a conference, a podcast and a print magazine, all with a nearly indefinable ethic of independence and art for its own sake.

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Liz McGrath's customized toy robot

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The inimitable Liz McGrath created "Minerva," a recycled toy robot, for the "World's Greatest ONE of ONE Custom Toy Show" curated by KMNDZ opening tonight at the dA Center for the Arts in Pomona, California.

Pesco speaking at WebVisions Barcelona on June 21

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I'm thrilled to be speaking about the intersection of science, art, and magic on Saturday, June 21, at the WebVisions Barcelona conference taking place 6/19 - 6/21!

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Ben Frost: paintings on packages

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The work of Ben Frost. If you're in Los Angeles, check out more of his paintings on packages in his show at Sozer Gallery through June 27, 2014. I seriously want to buy every single piece.

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Artist Ryan Heshka's "Mean Girls Club Exhibition"

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Ryan Heshka announces his first solo art installation project, presented by the Wieden + Kennedy Gallery in Portland, Oregon. "For this show, Heshka resurrects his Mean Girls characters: a band of vicious female hoodlums devoid of morality but oozing with feminine pulchritude."

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