Archive for category Art

Wil Wheaton Pushes STEAM at the USA Science & Engineering Festival

Wil Wheaton

Wil Wheaton at the USA Science & Engineering Festival. Credit: Pat Cuadros

Thousands converged upon Washington, DC, last weekend for the fourth USA Science & Engineering Festival. The Festival is regarded as the largest STEM education event in the country, with family-friendly demonstrations and talks. They focus on guiding young people with interests in the career fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). In addition to educators and professional associations, well-known scientists and even entertainers offer their insights on these exciting opportunities.

Actor and blogger Wil Wheaton (Star Trek: The Next Generation; Big Bang Theory) was one of the celebrity guests at hand for the festivities this year. On Sunday morning, he introduced the winners of the Generation Nano Awards on behalf of the National Science Foundation and the National Nanotechnology Initiative. The competition required high school students to imagine their own superheroes with powers emerging out of nanotechnology. With the angle on comic books and visual design, it was fitting that legendary comic-book writer Stan Lee joined Wil Wheaton (virtually) to extend his congratulatory sentiments to the winners. Read the rest of this entry »


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Interview, Part 2: Bonnie MacBird, Author of ‘Art in the Blood: A Sherlock Holmes Adventure’

Cover Art for 'Art in the Blood'

Courtesy of Bonnie MacBird

Art in the Blood: A Sherlock Holmes Adventure follows Holmes and Watson in December of 1888 as they investigate a kidnapping, murder, and art theft. The author, Hollywood screenwriter Bonnie MacBird, recently met with me when I was on assignment with Blogcritics. She explained the influence of her screenwriting experience on the development of the novel. In this final part of our interview, MacBird discusses the research process and what’s next in her Sherlock Holmes series.

At your panel, you spoke about how great it is to find “research gold” in your preparation for a book. Can you mention a couple of other examples of historical facts you included?

Yes, there were several besides the finding of Dr. [Henri] Bourges, who is the Watson to [artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec]. Lautrec threw a lot of parties. There’s a picture in the annotations of them and obviously they had a lot of fun.

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Interview, Part 1: Bonnie MacBird, Author of ‘Art in the Blood: A Sherlock Holmes Adventure’

Photo of Bonnie MacBird

Courtesy of Bonnie MacBird

Bonnie MacBird visited the Virginia Festival of the Book to promote her latest book, Art in the Blood: A Sherlock Holmes Adventure. Her long career as a screenwriter, producer, and director includes the screenplay for the original TRON as well as three Emmy Awards and eleven Cine Golden Eagle Awards. A lifelong Sherlockian, MacBird lives in Los Angeles and takes frequent trips to London.

Is this your first time at the Virginia Festival of the Book?

Yes, it’s my first time and I love it! I’m very impressed with Charlottesville. It’s beautiful. The whole town and the festival itself are quite impressive.

I know you have a background as a screenwriter, producer, and actress. You’ve put on a Sherlock Holmes play, The Blue Carbuncle. What was the transition like from screenwriting to novel writing?

My background is in the movie business. I’ve been 35 years in the entertainment business in Los Angeles. I started as a studio exec. I did development and that meant reading literally thousands of scripts. I think during that very formative time in my career, I got many lessons on story structure by doing that and working on screenplays, which are highly structured pieces of writing. Then I was a screenwriter for a number of years. I was the original writer of the movie, TRON, and then did a bunch of other scripts that sold. Read the rest of this entry »

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A Fantastic Summer at the Art Museum: ‘Guarding Leonardo da Vinci’

Yes, it’s April 15th, which means your Federal income taxes are due today. On a much more positive note, it’s also the birthday of celebrated Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci, who lived from 1452-1519. I’m always excited about Leonardo because I studied Art History as an undergraduate at the University of Virginia, situated within a day’s drive of our nation’s capital: Washington, D.C. The close proximity is quite nice, as it affords me with the opportunity to visit the National Gallery of Art on a regular basis. The NGA is the only museum on the Western Hemisphere that houses a Leonardo painting.

Leonardo da Vinci, Ginevra de' Benci, c. 1474/1478. Oil on Panel. National Gallery of Art, Washinton, D.C. Photo by Pat Cuadros.

Leonardo da Vinci, Ginevra de’ Benci, c. 1474/1478. Oil on Panel. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. Photo by Pat Cuadros.

The Ginevra de’ Benci, executed in oils during the 1470s, is a rather masterful portrait that still continues to marvel visitors today. It was purchased in 1967 with funds from Alisa Mellon Bruce. I sat down recently for an interview with my co-worker, Toni Engel-Gonchoroff, to explore the impact that Leonardo da Vinci’s work has had on her life. She worked as a museum guard at the NGA, keeping a close eye on the Ginevra during the summer of ’68.

Check out the interview below or via Youtube. I’ve also included a montage of my own artistic endeavors. As an aside, this video was my first foray into the realm of film editing programs such as iMovie and Adobe Premiere Pro. In spite of the challenges, it was quite exciting to pull this project together!

As I mention in the video, “Leonardo da Vinci and the Idea of Beauty” runs from today (April 15th) through June 14, 2015 at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts. The same exhibition concluded last week in at the Muscarelle Museum of Art in Williamsburg, Va, as well as the Leicester Codex viewing at the Phoenix Art Museum. The Ginevra de’ Benci is part of the permanent collection at the NGA, so there’s no need to hit both Boston and D.C. on the same vacation if you’re on a tight schedule. Finally, this year marked the limited release of  “Inside the Mind of Leonardo,” with Peter Capaldi (“Doctor Who”) as the Renaissance artist. What will 2016 bring for us to enjoy from Leonardo da Vinci?

Thank you again to Toni for agreeing to share her story.

Update on 5/3/2015: I made edits to the interview after I received a response to one of the pending photo requests.

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Final Weekend to See Idil Sukan’s Fantastic ‘This Comedian’ Exhibit in London

Last month, I visited London for the first time with Tony, my older brother. It was a whirlwind of a week with excursions to the museums to see many works of art that I’d studied as an art history major at the University of Virginia. Call to mind any number of famous works housed in London in graphite, paint, ceramic, or marble and it’s likely we marveled at them.

Embassy Tea Gallery on Union Street, London - Photo: Pat Cuadros

Embassy Tea Gallery on Union Street, London – Photo: Pat Cuadros

Notice that my enumeration above leaves out photography. To be honest, I generally dislike exhibitions centered around photography, avoiding them on the museum circuit. It’s probably because photos, while artfully rendered, often seem too gimmicky and hollow. Where’s that sense of a captured moment in time, quirkiness, and charm when you gaze upon a subject? Read the rest of this entry »

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Film Review: Julian Jones and Peter Capaldi Try a Bold, New Approach with ‘Inside the Mind of Leonardo’

Peter Capaldi as Leonardo da Vinci in

Peter Capaldi as Leonardo da Vinci in “Inside the Mind of Leonardo.” (Submarine Deluxe/History Film/IWC Media)

It’s very exciting to post my review on “Inside the Mind of Leonardo in 3D,” which opened in US theaters on December 19th. It finally arrived in our nation’s capital, Washington, DC, earlier today (in 2D). Julian Jones’ documentary is a bold endeavor to capture the mind of the artist Leonardo da Vinci, who left us with quite a body of work that includes the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper. There seems to be a bit of an aura about the man, tied largely to the release of books from authors like Dan Brown. Da Vinci thus has seemed to strike many people in today’s world as a genius, a Renaissance man that towers above others in his time and the great artists of today. Read the rest of this entry »

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Film Review: ‘Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb’ is More of the Same

Caution: This review contains spoilers.

What appears to be the final chapter in the “Night of the Museum” series was a bit of a mixed bag as Larry (Ben Stiller) and the gang headed off to London. The tablet that keeps the exhibits alive is losing its juice, making everyone act differently. It seems only Ahkmenrah’s father (Ben Kingsley) can reveal the answers for this problem. We still have Teddy (Robin Williams), Octavius (Steve Coogan), Jedediah (Owen Wilson), Sacajawea (Mizuo Peck), and Dexter the monkey in for this adventure. Joining them in London is Sir Lancelot (Dan Stevens) and the night guard Tilly (Rebel Wilson).

Meanwhile, Larry has to wrestle with familial woes. First, his son Nick doesn’t want to go to college (Skyler Gisondo). The more surprising and hilarious front is Laaa (also played by Stiller), the new Neanderthal. Laaa is taken with his new “Dada” and imitates and follows him whenever he can.

In some ways, “Secret of the Tomb” is disappointing in choosing not to develop some points more. Rebel Wilson and Ben Kingsley seem terribly underused. There’s not much on the plot either, as the solution for fixing the tablet is overly simple. The film can leave you feeling a little sad because of the recent passing of both Robin Williams and Mickey Rooney. It’s difficult to imagine another “Night at the Museum” without Williams, who was definitely a highlight of the series as Teddy Roosevelt.

There are still some moments that are very amusing, if rather brief. Larry takes on a dragon or a demon with an AED. Unlikely friends Jedediah and Octavius leave a comment on a Youtube video. Later, they unknowingly fall into the city of Pompei and then take a selfie. Overall, the film will keep families entertained. As Teddy himself remarks, the point of the exhibits is to inspire children to learn and do great things.

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