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The Field Museum Library via Wikimedia Commons
The Field Museum Library via Wikimedia Commons

Art From the 1893 World’s Fair Was Found in a Chicago Storage Facility

The Field Museum Library via Wikimedia Commons
The Field Museum Library via Wikimedia Commons

During Industrialization, World’s Fairs became the hottest places to showcase art and technology from across the globe. In 1893, the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago hosted exhibits from Nicola Tesla and Thomas Edison, debuted Pabst Blue Ribbon beer and Juicy Fruit Gum, and became the site of the world’s first Ferris Wheel. Most of the architecture and artwork from the fair is gone for good, but three original pieces have just resurfaced.

The three intricate, carved Japanese sliding doors were discovered in a Chicago storage facility operated by the Park District. They depict two large, colorful birds and a smaller white bird against a vivid gold background.


Japan was one of many countries to construct buildings on the fairgrounds, as a way of showcasing Japanese art and architecture. The doors seem to have come from an installation called the Ho-o-den or "Hall of the Phoenix," and were made by a Japanese artist by the name of Hashimoto Gaho. In his photographic record of the fair, Stanley Applebaum described the Japan pavilion as “the first real introduction of Japanese architecture to the Midwest.”

An essay published the year after the fair opened dedicates a section to the fair’s Ho-o-den, and even appears to describe the newly discovered doors:

"The painting on the wall of the central room, depicting male and female phoenixes at play with their young, is by Professor Hashimoto, of the Tokyo Fine Art School, and his pupils. It is emblematic of the peaceful reign of the Tokugawa Shoguns... a period extending from the beginning of the seventeenth century down to the restoration when the present Emperor came into power in 1868."

A rare photograph of the building’s interior from the essay helped experts identify the pieces as the real thing.

The grounds of the Columbian Exposition were designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the famous landscape architect behind Central Park. The gorgeous layout and architecture of the fair is thought by many to be the inspiration behind the Emerald City in L. Frank Baum’s classic novels. When designing the grounds, Olmsted thought to put an island in the fair’s artificial lagoon that would offer visitors an escape from the over-stimulation. At the center of this Wooded Island stood the Japan pavilion.

While the Wooded Island is still around today, the pavilion along with most of the exposition’s architecture is long gone. In order to restore the pieces of Japanese art, the city of Chicago plans to collaborate with the Art Institute where they’ll likely go on display.

[h/t: Gizmodo]

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The Getty Center, Surrounded By Wildfires, Will Leave Its Art Where It Is
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The wildfires sweeping through California have left countless homeowners and businesses scrambling as the blazes continue to grow out of control in various locations throughout the state. While art lovers worried when they heard that Los Angeles's Getty Center would be closing its doors this week, as the fires closed part of the 405 Freeway, there was a bit of good news. According to museum officials, the priceless works housed inside the famed Getty Center are said to be perfectly secure and won't need to be evacuated from the facility.

“The safest place for the art is right here at the Getty,” Ron Hartwig, the Getty’s vice president of communications, told the Los Angeles Times. According to its website, the museum was closed on December 5 and December 6 “to protect the collections from smoke from fires in the region,” but as of now, the art inside is staying put.

Though every museum has its own way of protecting the priceless works inside it, the Los Angeles Times notes that the Getty Center was constructed in such a way as to protect its contents from the very kind of emergency it's currently facing. The air throughout the gallery is filtered by a system that forces it out, rather than a filtration method which would bring air in. This system will keep the smoke and air pollutants from getting into the facility, and by closing the museum this week, the Getty is preventing the harmful air from entering the building through any open doors.

There is also a water tank at the facility that holds 1 million gallons in reserve for just such an occasion, and any brush on the property is routinely cleared away to prevent the likelihood of a fire spreading. The Getty Villa, a separate campus located in the Pacific Palisades off the Pacific Coast Highway, was also closed out of concern for air quality this week.

The museum is currently working with the police and fire departments in the area to determine the need for future closures and the evacuation of any personnel. So far, the fires have claimed more than 83,000 acres of land, leading to the evacuation of thousands of people and the temporary closure of I-405, which runs right alongside the Getty near Los Angeles’s Bel-Air neighborhood.

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This 77-Year-Old Artist Saves Money on Art Supplies by 'Painting' in Microsoft Excel
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It takes a lot of creativity to turn a blank canvas into an inspired work of art. Japanese artist Tatsuo Horiuchi makes his pictures out of something that’s even more dull than a white page: an empty spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel.

When he retired, the 77-year-old Horiuchi, whose work was recently spotlighted by Great Big Story, decided he wanted to get into art. At the time, he was hesitant to spend money on painting supplies or even computer software, though, so he began experimenting with one of the programs that was already at his disposal.

Horiuchi's unique “painting” method shows that in the right hands, Excel’s graph-building features can be used to bring colorful landscapes to life. The tranquil ponds, dense forests, and blossoming flowers in his art are made by drawing shapes with the software's line tool, then adding shading with the bucket tool.

Since picking up the hobby in the 2000s, Horiuchi has been awarded multiple prizes for his creative work with Excel. Let that be inspiration for Microsoft loyalists who are still broken up about the death of Paint.

You can get a behind-the-scenes look at the artist's process in the video below.

[h/t Great Big Story]

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