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October 23, 2014 | Posted by | No Comments

Pumpkin Nonsense

Blame it on Starbucks’ iconic seasonal Pumpkin Spice Latte arriving before the teenage summer lifeguards traded in their buoys for backpacks, but America’s food industry has undergone full-blown pumpkin madness since before back-to-school supplies went on sale.

“Autumn Harvest” by Robert LeMar on

Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte: Culprit or Scapegoat?

Though the Pumpkin Spice Latte—now, due to its ubiquity, is simply referred to as “#PSL” in twitter talk—may be the ringleader of all unnecessarily pumpkin-infused sweets and condiments, it can’t be totally to blame for the recent pumpkin takeover. In fact, the beloved beverage was introduced over eleven years ago, but, according to CNBC, sales somewhat recently increased by 234% from 2008 to 2012.

“Harvest” by Anne Lively on

Before the Chaos & The Method Behind the Madness

There was a time when pumpkin flavor was reserved for pies, muffins, bread and the occasional coffee creamer. Now pumpkin flavoring extends beyond enhancing already-sweet desserts and baked goods; there is pumpkin spaghetti, pumpkin beer and pumpkin soy milk. Clearly, Starbucks’ supreme influence may have lit the match, but the rest of the food industry quickly caught on to the appeal—as the PSL proved, artificial pumpkin flavoring not only sweetens even the most bitter coffee, but it also invokes positive emotions and nostalgia within the consumer.

“Fatty Pumpkin” by Bronle Crosby on

Pumpkin means autumn, which means changing leaves and changing seasons, and, ultimately, excitement for the new. Not only that, but pumpkin is reminiscent of comfort food in a happy environment, namely pumpkin pie after Thanksgiving dinner. Starbucks had the idea of bottling up Thanksgiving dessert while providing a daily caffeine kick, and the rest of the food industry caught on as more coffee lovers slurped it up.

Repeat Offenders & Nonsensical Snacks

No food trend is complete without McDonald’s joining in on the fun. Last fall, McDonald’s introduced their very own McCafé Pumpkin Spice Latte, perhaps marking the official start of the pumpkin craze. Then, among the standard pumpkin-flavored bread products and perhaps the occasional few (usually specialty or organic) brands offering pumpkin butter or pumpkin cider, came dozens of odd-sounding pumpkin-infused snacks.

“Pumpkin” by Anthony Dunphy

For example, Whole Foods gave up their usual entrance display of sale items and flowers for a pumpkin shrine featuring dozens of ripe pumpkins along with pumpkin soda and pumpkin tortilla chips. Next time you stop by the health food store chain, pay extra attention as you walk in—you might see your favorite snack with a pumpkin twist.

“Still Life with Pumpkins” by Pavel Kasparek on

Pumpkin Flavor: Friend or Foe?

Overall, there isn’t any harm in this pumpkin craze—just commercialism milking the trend for all its worth. So, besides consumers knowingly succumbing to a silly (albeit delicious) food trend, pumpkin-flavored foods pose no threat. They just promote another way to celebrate the changing of seasons. God ahead and dig out your “ten extra pounds” jeans from the back of the closet!

October 21, 2014 | Posted by | No Comments


Movement draws the eye. In art, it requires a more active participation from the viewer. Whether it is the depiction or anticipation of movement, artists can convey motion in their work in a variety of ways.

This early abstracted work by Marcel Duchamp depicts a figure in motion. The repetitive shapes and angles lead the eye forward in a blur of movement:

Nude Descending a Staircase (No. 2) by Marcel Duchamp

Using soft lines and figural positioning, the graceful, pastel dancers flutter and twirl across the stage in this Impressionist work by Edgar Degas:

Dancers by Edgar Degas

The multiple diagonals and varied angles in this lively painting lead the eye rapidly across the canvas, mimicking a frenzy of movement:


Hot Salsa by Valerie Vescovi on

The flowing, winding lines of this sculpture simulate graceful, sensual movement as the curves and flares lead the eye slowly upward:

“Captivated” by Daryl Stokes on

This unique aerial perspective and blurred outline give the motion of a brisk stride to the central figure:

Parisian Woman With Shopping Bag by Warren Keating on

Contrasted with the stable stone base, the twisting metal spiral holds kinetic energy. It appears to burst forth from the stone in a swirl of motion:


Twister IV by David Smalley on

Motion can also be captured in a photograph. This stunning work creates the sensation of a feathery mass of clouds rushing towards you:


Clouds over the San Juan by Tom Reed on

With a few simple strokes, the artist constructs the erratic flight path of the tiny hummingbird, imbuing this abstract work with energy:

Hummingbird by Charles E. Hellwig on

The flowing lines and subtle blues give this work the soothing sensation of an underwater plant rippling gently in the current:


Coldwater 106 by Chase Longford on

Liven up any space with an artwork full of energy and movement. There are endless possibilities!

October 16, 2014 | Posted by | No Comments

City Life

There are a lot of advantages to living life as a Big-city Dweller; Seamless is a religion (it’s not just pizza at 3 a.m. anymore….it can be sushi, steak, salad, or even a meatball sub delivered to your door!), “mowing the lawn” is a foreign concept, and the cable guy doesn’t have the “you’re too far away” excuse. However, some big cities tend to catch a lot of flak for being menacing, bustling, smelly eyesores to their inhabitants.

“New York Reflections” by Richard Silver on

A city setting can be an artist’s greatest fantasy or worst nightmare. It’s true that metropolises lack lush forests and babbling brooks, but there’s always something to pay attention to, whether it’s a teenage girl decked out in head-to-toe retro:

“North Side Kids, Pittsburgh, PA” by Joel Degrand on

A cluster of fallen leaves on the sidewalk, marking the beginning of Autumn:

“Autumn & 84th” by Lorenzo Laiken on

Or a scowling woman braving the city’s whistling winter winds on a dreary weekday morning.

“Commute” by Debbie Pacheco on

Besides, now that Fall has officially arrived, long gone are the days of lounging by the beach or hiking in the mountains. People are locking up their rural-setting summer homes and throwing away the keys—until May, that is. Life will resume as normal September-May, so cities are back in the spotlight until the temperature hits 75 degrees again.

“Soft City: Broadway Windows” by Marilyn Henrion on

The opportunities for city inhabitants are endless. You never know who you’ll run into on your way to work, Starbucks, or the local bar. There’s never a shortage of events to attend or movie theaters to inhabit on rainy Saturday afternoons. If your favorite band is touring, they’re bound to make a stop in your city. And there’s no such thing as “driving two hours to the big mall to shop at Nordstrom or Saks”; you have every coveted retailer at your fingertips—or just a subway ride or bus stop away.

“Los Angeles Golden Bridge” by Anyes Galleani on

“Parisian Woman with Shopping Bag” by Warren Keating on

Other “perks” aren’t so enticing to some country-lovers. Many necessary evils of city life may seem like dreams come true to some, and torture to others. Public transportation, for example, has pros and cons. Pros? No car payments, sky-high gas prices, or worries about car accidents. Cons? Unreliability, commuters with B.O., and rising subway prices.

“Underground Beauty” by Gordon Webb on

At times, it’s almost impossible to escape loneliness in the big city. The buildings are vast, the streets are never-ending, and the monuments are menacing. It’s easy to feel insignificant and overlooked among the watch-gleaming investment bankers, stick-thin runway models and aggravated, exhausted service industry workers.

“Still” by Sarah Lapp on

But, it’s just as easy to find your niche, that place where you belong. Somewhere among the millions and millions of city-dwellers, commuters, and tourists lies a group of trustworthy, like-minded friends who will make you feel right at home in the otherwise-intimidating city.

“MOMA” by Kevin Brewerton on

Lastly, for the artist within us all: the city has more to offer than one might think. Though there won’t be miles and miles of blooming meadows come Spring, a bright city evening is a breathtaking, nightly occurrence. If you’re ever feeling out-of-touch or overwhelmed, try taking a trip to a borough to see the city for what it truly is—beautiful, boundless, and, above all, your home.

“Skyscrapers in Montreal- Cityscape” by Cristina Stefan on


October 14, 2014 | Posted by | No Comments

Think Outside The Frame

When we think of Art, often the first thing that comes to mind is a painting on a canvas. These standard size rectangles have served artists well for hundreds of years. However, for artists today, the sky is the limit. Many creative individuals have found innovative ways to break free of the standard flat canvas.

This work, made up of painted wood strips arranged on canvas, creates a simple yet engaging 3D pattern:

Scaling Condescension by Rich Moyers on

Reminiscent of the stunning altarpieces of the Renaissance, this modern take on a classic adds visual allure to the collage with a pointed wooden panel:

Broken Hearted
by Darlene Olivia McElroy on

This circular photo is printed on silk, adding a soothing sheen to its already serene shape:


Portal 2- Reflection by Marilyn Henrion on

This assemblage of found industrial equipment has stimulating layers of depth, color and texture:

Take It Or Leave It by Michel Keck on

This vibrant, lyrical sculpture composed of a myriad of painted wooden sticks would add life to any setting:

Sticks Sculpture in Wood & Multicolor by Rosemary Pierce on

This lovely abstract work is made all the more captivating by its unusual half-circle shape:

Orb 7 by Hayden Phelps on

This fun and colorful work uses painted wood pieces to break the plane of the canvas and create a compelling silhouette:

All That Jazz by Betty McGeehan on

Channeling Mondrian, these colorful wooden panels are playfully arranged like LEGO blocks to create an interesting and unusual shape:

Construction 12.12 by McCain McMurray on

Shake up your original art collection with something unexpected!

October 9, 2014 | Posted by | No Comments

Your Teenager’s Mood

Louder by Sergio Lazo on

Reported by Kashmira Gander at The Independent: Teenagers may not be irritable because of supposed attitude problems, but because early school hours affect their biological clocks, scientists claim. New research shows that early starts can affect mood, and changing when the school day begins can perk up our teens, benefit their health and enhance their ability to learn.

Mia (Portrait Series #2) by Katia Zhukova on

The team leading the study published in the journal ‘Learning, Media and Technology’ suggest that “our ability to function optimally [and learn], varies with biological time rather than conventional social times”. Our sleep-wake cycle, or circadian rhythm, is the result of a complex balance between states of alertness and sleepiness regulated by a part of the brain called Suprachiasmatic Nucleus (SNC).

North Side Kids, Pittsburgh, PA by Joel Degrand on

When a child’s biological time and school hours are closely aligned, like at the beginning of their school careers, their faculties are not affected. But during adolescence, the consequences become drastically clear, when “‘the conflict between social and biological time is greater than at any point in our lives” according to the academics. This is because during puberty, shifts in a teen’s body clock push the optimal time for sleep later into the evening, making it difficult for most teenagers to fall asleep before 11.00pm. When early schools starts are coupled with a teen’s biological clock, the result is chronic sleep-deprivation, and low grades and health problems.

Afterthougts by Dan Lavric on

Academics added that there is there is a body of evidence showing the benefits of synchronizing education times with teens’ body clocks. They conclude that while studies “consistently” show adolescents benefit from waking later, there is no evidence to show that early starts have a positive impact on how healthy or how academically successful school students are. Examples harnessing this body evidence include the United States Air Force Academy, where a later start policy saw the grades earned by a group of 18–19 year olds soar.


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