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ART & COLLECTABLES

New York, London, L.A. …This Artist Has Seen It All, As She Jumps In The NFT Boom

Karen Amy Finkel Fishof is the creator of #FamousFaces, a digital collection of NFT portraits with a touch of charity.

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Born in the Bronx, Karen was influenced by the New York art scene in the 1980s. In elementary school her art was chosen to be shown at City Hall in New Rochelle, NY. She was labeled as “gifted”, and her parents encouraged her artistic development enrolling her in painting and sculpture classes. She apprenticed under artist, Marylyn Dintenfass and was motivated by her work practice. Karen received a BFA in painting from Syracuse University including a year abroad at St. Martins School of Art, London, UK, creating photograms under the same professors as Gilbert and George.

Photograms

By pushing the boundaries of conventional black and white photography, she produces large scale, life size, and one-of-a-kind photograms. The work is thought-provoking, visually compelling and a challenge to norms grounded in integrity.

“I stage scenes on photo paper in the darkroom, expose them to light, and then develop them traditionally with black and white chemistry. Photograms provide the medium I need to tell my stories. Through them, I can communicate. I love the creative process of these works, from the exposure to the development. The magic of seeing the image appear when the photo paper is placed in the chemistry, knowing it was a moment captured with no negative, and the anticipation in the darkroom of seeing how various objects live in the light and how light wraps around them, fascinates me.” She then captures that living dance on 2D, still, photo paper. Unlike conventional photography, each piece is a one-of-a-kind, like a painting and bears a painterly feel.

She considers the process drawing with light. It gives her the strong imagery and narrative, with hidden subtleties. Each piece is premeditated to a degree with a window left open for spontaneous improvisation. From a pictorial standpoint, compositional organization is paramount.

“I start with what interests me, not just ideas, but the relationship between ideas.” Her work merges socio political content with sculptural, painterly objects in its own reality experience. The pieces are theatrical stills, each with its own story.

“I am influenced by all artistic mediums including interior design, film, music, fashion and social media. I’ve worked in all these areas professionally and draw from their current trends.”

Inspiration may come from current events, personal experiences or from found objects. Creating photograms allows her to collage these areas together into one cohesive image statement. 

Figures are not only in a physical space, but a psychological one as well. The characters are firmly planted in their own surreal, distorted space. All persons and objects serve a double role. Not only are they instruments in imagery, but also declare a statement about the medium itself. We are forced to recognize a new aspect of the person or object touching the surface, the form itself.

There is a presence that remains of the people and objects, sort of like when you see the handprints on the Hollywood “Walk of Fame”. You know that the person had physical contact with the paper, unlike conventional photography or portraiture. Not only are the figures actors in a drama, but they are also portraits of the models and reflect their inherent personalities.

“The work makes one cognizant of the relationship we have with objects. We almost always have an object in our hands, whether it be a phone, pen, fork, cup, remote control, gun, bible or flowers. We are dependent on them and they define us.”

Recent photograms explore contemporary issues of parenting, politics and the intersection of gender and religion, defining her identity, confronting stereotypes and moving between the secular and the sacred. The work engages the viewer to explore the definition of photography as well as examine their pre-existing ideas of the various content.

NFT Portraits

Karen hasn’t actually transitioned, but added NFTs to her creative arsenal. Aside from her BFA in painting, she also has a degree in computer graphics and have been working as a graphic designer for over 20 years. She had in the past, used those skills for helping brands promote themselves creating websites, logos, brochures etc. When she got wind of the NFT boom, she immediately went back to her love of color, pop art and a statement about celebrity.

“I’m at a point in my life where I really want to give back. There are so many needy people and so many worthwhile causes that it was hard to decide what to put my efforts behind.  I came up with an idea…”

Karen created an #NFT series called #FamousFaces and she’s donating a portion of the proceeds from each piece to a charity that she associates with that person. 

​She’s been working on #FamousFaces – a digital collection of NFT portraits while in lockdown. Her approach is to bridge the art with the Jewish concept of Maaser, giving a tenth of your earnings to charity. The works are slightly animated, living in the small space between a traditional portrait and a full blown animation. Employing a “close up” of the face, she has integrated the Jewish practice of “looking at the faces of the righteous” with the idea that looking at the faces of those with honorable traits, one will feel a sense of connection and in turn, that will imbue the onlooker with inspiration to obtain those positive attributes.

​The first collection of #FamousFaces (1-10) includes:(1) Notorious RBG – Ruth Bader Ginsburg, (2) Imagine – John Lennon, (3) Dare, The Greta Effect – Greta Thunberg,  (4) Dave Stands Up – Dave Chappelle, (5) Let’s Talk About Sex – Dr. Ruth Westheimer, (6) Visionary Elon – Elon Musk, (7) Compassionate Oprah – Oprah Winfrey, (8) Art Takes Action – Ai Weiwei, (9) Girls Just Wanna Have An Education – Malala Yousafzai, (10) Truth, Justice and Nonviolent Resistance – Mahatma Gandhi.

“What do you want this piece to say and what is the best method to get that message across?” is what she always asks herself before creating an art piece.

Mod Wall Art

“It’s a funny thing when you’re an artist and you finally get a wall large enough to hang one of your own works on. That’s what happened to me when my husband and I purchased a house. For two years we sat looking at a blank wall over the sofa. I felt that none of the works I had done prior worked in the space, a space that I had decorated!”

​After seeking inspiration from various sources, it finally hit her. She has been creating such large scale, delicate art. The photograms require a truck to transport and expensive mounting of the photo paper to Sintra, an archival PVC board and then that gets mounted onto a wooden support frame. Beautiful in their own right, she had always thought of them as museum pieces. For her home (and to please her husband who loves color) she created Mod Wall Art.

“At first I designed the entire piece in photoshop and then, working backwards, I hand painted 27 wooden hexagons. That would be the first and last hand painted pieces.” Her fabricator who has been mounting her photograms came to one of her shows where she was also displaying some hexagons. He told her she could encase them in museum grade acrylic. They worked together to get the fabrication just right and Mod Wall Art was born.

What’s great about these pieces is that they can scale horizontally or vertically to fit any wall and still fit in a small space for transport. They look like floating glass. Karen has created hundreds of designs, incorporating various colors, patterns and themes as well as utilizing photos from nature, sports, music and the like. They can be created for bespoke, site-specific installations in any shape or size. 

​“These works allow me to utilize my ‘found object’ skills, while out and about I stop to capture an image as opposed to the photograms which are premeditated and staged.”

The final works are of course carefully curated and the vault of images she has amassed and have at the ready, permits her to collage the best images together to obtain sensational results.

Karen has designed window displays for Macy’s, Lord & Taylor, Dress Barn Stores, and major music labels and fashioned licensed products for Kraft Foods, Simon Malls, Crayola, Nickelodeon, Imax, Cartoon Network and Gameboy after receiving a second degree in Graphic Design. 

Currently, Karen is active in the Los Angeles Arts scene, exhibiting frequently including, The Orange County Center For Contemporary Art, PhotoLA, The Other Art Fair by Saatchi and Solo Exhibitions at DNJ Gallery and UCLA, pushing the boundaries of conventional black and white photography, producing large scale, life-size, one-of-a-kind photograms, abstract modular hexagons for interior designers and digital NFT art for the metaverse.

ART & COLLECTABLES

Naomi Osaka’s NFT to Raise Awareness About Athlete Mental Health

An auction on Basic.Space will resell a rare NFT produced by tennis champion Naomi Osaka.

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In April, Osaka collaborated with her sister Mari on a six-piece collection. On Basic.Space, the first five were auctioned off. They sold for about $600,000 in total, with one fetching over $200,000. Meanwhile, the sixth Osaka NFT was raffled off to the general public. As a result, the NFT is now available for sale in a global auction by the winner of that raffle. The silent auction will begin on July 26 at 9 a.m. ET.

“Finding What Was Lost” is the title of the digital artwork being auctioned. Naomi’s favorite of the six, according to Osaka’s sister. The NFTs for the Osakas were developed on the Flow blockchain, which is best known for its NBA Top Shots NFTs.

Mental Health Awareness

A part of the net earnings will raise mental health awareness and assist athletes all across the world. Donations to NGOs like Athletes for Hope fall within this category. In addition, the money will go to the organization’s newly announced Whole Being Athlete initiative. The project’s goal is to encourage athletes while also raising mental health awareness.

Jason Belinkie, COO of Athletes for Hope, stated that athletes are battling with their mental health now more than ever. “With one in every five individuals being diagnosed with a mental illness, it’s become the most sought cause for advocacy, connection, and support from our athlete network,” he said. Belinkie expressed his company’s “pleasure” at assisting Osaka in “continuing this critical effort in the mental health space.”

The NFT Influence

According to Shea Newkirk, founder of CryptoStache.com, the sale of the piece has special relevance for sports NFTs. “While professional athletes have sold some huge NFTs in the last six months, Naomi Osaka’s constant and positive presence in the public spotlight will almost certainly propel this auction to a new NFT record,” he said.

Boxer Tyson Fury established the NFT sales record for an athlete last week, selling a single-edition piece for $987,000. Fury has a history of releasing NFTs, dating back to earlier this year. Patrick Mahomes, a football player, sold an NFT for $247,000 in March, which Rob Gronkowski later surpassed with a sale of $430,000.

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ART & COLLECTABLES

Physical and NFT Versions of Steve Jobs’ 1973 Job Application are up for auction.

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs’ 1973 employment application form is up for auction, with both physical and digital versions available.

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Steve Jobs’ 1973 handwritten application for an unknown job is up for sale once more. It’s unclear what position Jobs was applying for, where he applied, or whether he was hired. What is known is that this piece of paper has been sold for a large sum of money several times in recent years. It was sold for $18,750 in March 2017, $174,757 in 2018, and $222,400 in March 2021.

Jobs wrote the three-page application three years before he and Steve Wozniak co-founded Apple. Jobs is skilled with computers and calculators, but not so much with type machines, according to the application.

Physical and Digital Collectibles are Pitted Against Each Other Face-to-Face

The addition of a non-fungible token to this auction sets it apart from prior auctions. Both the original physical copy and a digital counterpart in the form of an NFT will be sold side by side, according to the listing. According to auctioneer Olly Joshi, the purpose is to see which version has the most value in the current market. In a statement, Joshi said, “The Steve Jobs hand-written 1973 job application auction intends to illustrate the modern shift in perceived worth — the physical or the digital.”

The auctions will take place on various platforms, with the digital edition available on Rarible and the physical version available on Joshi’s own website.

The auctions will last seven days and began on July 22 at 9:41 a.m. PT. That time was chosen because it was the time chosen by Jobs to unveil new Apple products at formal events, and it is also the time displayed on Apple product clocks.

The hard copy of the application currently has a price of $14,000, while the digital version has a bid of $635 at the time of writing. The Cancer Research Institute and the One Laptop Per Child organizations will each receive a percentage of the proceeds from the final sale.

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ART & COLLECTABLES

Dolce & Gabbana Will Debut an Exclusive NFT Collection

In collaboration with luxury marketplace UNXD, Dolce & Gabbana unveiled the first in a series of NFTs.

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Dolce & Gabbana has announced the debut of an exclusive NFT collection in conjunction with UNXD, a digital marketplace powered by the Polygon Network that aspires to be the premier destination for digital luxury and culture.

Collezione Genesi, or Genesis Collection, will be the fashion label’s debut NFT collection. The collection will be shown at Dolce & Gabbana’s upcoming Alta Moda, Alta Sartoria, and Alta Goilleria exhibitions in Venice at the end of August. According to the press release, the collection focuses on Venice’s deep-rooted artistic traditions.

L’abito Dei Sogni, or Dress from a Dream, is the first concept in the collection, inspired by a dream by Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana. In the weeks leading up to the Alta Moda, Alta Sartoria, and Alta Goilleria exhibitions, other NFTs from the Collezione Genesi collection will be shown. All will be auctioned exclusively on UNXD.

Dolce & Gabanna’s NFT isn’t the first high-end brand to venture into the NFT industry. A few NFTs will be available from designers participating in Paris Fashion Week, with Gucci believed to be joining the NFT sector as well.

NFTs have stayed robust even as the prices of various cryptocurrencies have fallen, with more and more entries to the market. For example, LABS Group recently merged real estate with NFTs, allowing individuals to invest in its resort using the popular token technology. In addition, as more corporations, organizations, and foundations join the burgeoning market, artists like Muse have created more NFTs.

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