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Pumpkingutter via Facebook
Pumpkingutter via Facebook

10 Amazingly Intricate Jack O’Lanterns

Pumpkingutter via Facebook
Pumpkingutter via Facebook

Most of us will carve a few angled shapes into a pumpkin and call it a day—but there are artists who do amazing things with pumpkins, carving detailed faces and scenes into these members of the Cucurbitaceae family to create one-of-a-kind sculptures. Here are some of our favorites.

1. WHITE WALKER BY NOEL DICKOVER

Noel Dickover, who started carving pumpkins in 1997 after his brother found an old pumpkin carving guide, specializes in Jack O’Lantern designs featuring pop culture figures from science fiction and fantasy. His Death Star pumpkin was so popular that he created a tutorial so Star Wars fans could carve it themselves. He's also tackled Game of Thrones, as you can see from the white walker-adorned Jack O’Lantern above. You can find more of Dickover’s carved pumpkins at Instagram.

2. GIL FAIZON AND GEORGE ST. GEEGLAND BY NALINI ASHA BIGGS

According to her website, Nalini Asha Biggs has been using pumpkins as a canvas since she was 7. The artist and filmmaker has gotten pretty good at it, as you can tell from her carving of Nick Kroll and John Mulaney as the characters George St. Geegland and Gil Faizon (currently appearing in Oh, Hello on Broadway, the actors originated the prankster characters on Comedy Central's Kroll Show). Biggs has carved everyone from Calvin and Hobbes to Will Ferrell as Anchorman's Ron Burgundy into pumpkins; the realistic carvings look like they could jump out and yell "Boo!" You can see more of her work in her Facebook gallery or on her website.

3. SKULL BY SIMON PATEL

DeviantART member Simon Patel is a British wood carver and seasonal pumpkin artist who, according to his Facebook page, has "over 10 years experience in hand carving and chainsaw carving." He's turned pumpkins into wrinkled old folks, goofy goblins, and several kinds of skulls, like the ghoulish one above; you can see more of his work in his DeviantART gallery or on Instagram.

4. THE GREAT WAVE OFF KANAGAWA BY EDWARD J. CABRAL

Chicago artist Edward J. Cabral uses a variety of media in his art, including cakes, candy, silicone—and, of course, pumpkins. Many of his jack o'lanterns are recreations of famous works of art, like Grant Wood’s American Gothic, Jacques-Louis David’s Napoleon Crossing the Alps, and Hokusai’s The Great Wave off Kanagawa (above), which he created for the 2013 Louisville Jack O'Lantern Spectacular. Check out more from Cabral at Instagram.

5. DARYL DIXON BY ALEX WER

 

Alex Wer, a.k.a. The Pumpkin Geek, makes jack o'lanterns that last forever—he carves pop culture portraits on synthetic GEMMY Craft pumpkins, which are made of foam. Daryl from The Walking Dead is just one example; you can see his other work here.

6. GIANT PUMPKIN MONSTER BY JON NEILL

Most of the time, Jon Neill is doing prop and creature creations for TV shows and movies—but when October rolls around, he becomes the Pumpkin Guru. The sculptor prefers to work with giant pumpkins, which means means hitting the gym. “You need good core strength and endurance in your shoulders because you have your arms out in front of you all day long pulling through material,” he told Instagram's blog. Using customized tools, Neill carves the massive pumpkins in front of a live audience. “In America, everyone has carved a jack-o’-lantern, and they all have a family experience which is repeated year after year,” he said. “I am taking this experience everyone is familiar with and I’m turbo-charging it.” See more of Neill’s work on Instagram.

7. WALTER WHITE BY FITZY SNOWMAN SCULPTING

When Sean Fitzpatrick sculpted a snowman for his then-3-year-old daughter after a Nor'easter, he couldn't have imagined it would be the beginning of a career. It wasn't until he was building a sand sculpture on family vacation and looked up to see a crowd watching him that he realized he might be able to make a living this way. He launched his business, Fitzy Snowman Sculpting, in 2000; these days, he sculpts in sand, snow, ice, and, yes, pumpkins. He'll carve anything a client could want into a pumpkin, including logos and portraits. Behold the face of Breaking Bad’s Walter White embedded in a giant pumpkin! See more of Fitzpatrick’s carved pumpkins in his gallery, and at Instagram.

8. HAIRY GUY BY SCOTT CUMMINS

Pumpkingutter via Facebook

Scott Cummins is an artist and art teacher based in Perryton, Texas, who taught himself to carve pumpkins the old fashioned way: by practicing. (That's his advice for aspiring carvers, too: "Practice, practice, practice," he writes on his website. "I can say that if you have no experience with carving and sculpting, I would recommend another material other than pumpkins to start with.") Cummins uses knives and clay ribbon tools to sculpt his expressive pumpkins; you can see more of his work in his Facebook gallery.

9. DINOSAUR BY MANIAC PUMPKIN CARVERS

Marc Evan and Chris Soria met in the sixth grade, but it wasn't until they were attending art school together in New York City—and working at bars and restaurants to pay the bills—that they started carving pumpkins. Initially, Evan told Priceonomics, it was simply "a fun thing to do to get some decorations up for Halloween. But we kept wanting to push the envelope.” Within two years, they were carving intricate pumpkins and, in 2008, founded the Brooklyn-based company Maniac Pumpkin Carvers. During autumn, they and their team spend 18 hours a day fulfilling commissions. See more of their work on Instagram, and read their tips for carving a better jack o'lantern here.

10. ZIPPERFACE BY RAY VILLAFANE

 

New York native Ray Villafane began carving pumpkins after he moved to Bellaire, Michigan in 1993 to become a teacher. Though he initially carved with his students, it wasn't long before he was getting professional commissions; these days, there's a whole carving studio that bears his name. Villafane and his team don't just create intricate pumpkin portraits—they'll carve whole creatures out of the gourds.

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Louvre Abu Dhabi
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Art
The Louvre Abu Dhabi Just Opened the World's First Radio-Guided Highway Art Gallery
Louvre Abu Dhabi
Louvre Abu Dhabi

One way to plan an epic art road trip is to drive from museum to museum, but in the United Arab Emirates, you can take in masterpieces without leaving your car. As Artforum reports, the Louvre Abu Dhabi has lined a stretch of highway with billboards displaying works by Leonardo da Vinci, Vincent Van Gogh, and Piet Mondrian.

The 10 works on display along the E/11 Sheikh Zayed road connecting Dubai to Abu Dhabi are recreations of pieces at or on loan to the Louvre Abu Dhabi, which developed the project in partnership with three radio stations. Dubbed the Highway Gallery, it was "created to reinforce art's role in elevating everyday life into something beautiful and memorable," the museum website reads.

Like in a traditional gallery, the 30-foot-by-23-foot displays along the road are accompanied by a guided audio tour. Drivers can learn the title, artist, technique, and other details about each piece by tuning into a participating local radio station (Radio 1 FM, Classic FM, or Emarat FM). There they will hear descriptions of Leonardo da Vinci’s La Belle Ferronnière, Van Gogh’s Self Portrait, 1887, and Piet Mondrian’s Composition with Blue, Red, Yellow, and Black, as well as the Islamic sculpture Mari-Cha Lion and the sarcophagus of Egyptian princess Henuttawy.

The Highway Gallery will run through mid-March. After that, art lovers can drive their cars to the Louvre Abu Dhabi to see the items in person.

[h/t Artforum]

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5 Things You Might Not Know About Ansel Adams

You probably know Ansel Adams—who was born on February 20, 1902—as the man who helped promote the National Park Service through his magnificent photographs. But there was a lot more to the shutterbug than his iconic, black-and-white vistas. Here are five lesser-known facts about the celebrated photographer.

1. AN EARTHQUAKE LED TO HIS DISTINCTIVE NOSE.

Adams was a four-year-old tot when the 1906 San Francisco earthquake struck his hometown. Although the boy managed to escape injury during the quake itself, an aftershock threw him face-first into a garden wall, breaking his nose. According to a 1979 interview with TIME, Adams said that doctors told his parents that it would be best to fix the nose when the boy matured. He joked, "But of course I never did mature, so I still have the nose." The nose became Adams' most striking physical feature. His buddy Cedric Wright liked to refer to Adams' honker as his "earthquake nose.

2. HE ALMOST BECAME A PIANIST.

Adams was an energetic, inattentive student, and that trait coupled with a possible case of dyslexia earned him the heave-ho from private schools. It was clear, however, that he was a sharp boy—when motivated.

When Adams was just 12 years old, he taught himself to play the piano and read music, and he quickly showed a great aptitude for it. For nearly a dozen years, Adams focused intensely on his piano training. He was still playful—he would end performances by jumping up and sitting on his piano—but he took his musical education seriously. Adams ultimately devoted over a decade to his study, but he eventually came to the realization that his hands simply weren't big enough for him to become a professional concert pianist. He decided to leave the keys for the camera after meeting photographer Paul Strand, much to his family's dismay.

3. HE HELPED CREATE A NATIONAL PARK.

If you've ever enjoyed Kings Canyon National Park in California, tip your cap to Adams. In the 1930s Adams took a series of photographs that eventually became the book Sierra Nevada: The John Muir Trail. When Adams sent a copy to Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes, the cabinet member showed it to Franklin Roosevelt. The photographs so delighted FDR that he wouldn't give the book back to Ickes. Adams sent Ickes a replacement copy, and FDR kept his with him in the White House.

After a few years, Ickes, Adams, and the Sierra Club successfully convinced Roosevelt to make Kings Canyon a national park in 1940. Roosevelt's designation specifically provided that the park be left totally undeveloped and roadless, so the only way FDR himself would ever experience it was through Adams' lenses.

4. HE WELCOMED COMMERCIAL ASSIGNMENTS.

While many of his contemporary fine art photographers shunned commercial assignments as crass or materialistic, Adams went out of his way to find paying gigs. If a company needed a camera for hire, Adams would generally show up, and as a result, he had some unlikely clients. According to The Ansel Adams Gallery, he snapped shots for everyone from IBM to AT&T to women's colleges to a dried fruit company. All of this commercial print work dismayed Adams's mentor Alfred Stieglitz and even worried Adams when he couldn't find time to work on his own projects. It did, however, keep the lights on.

5. HE AND GEORGIA O'KEEFFE WERE FRIENDS.

Adams and legendary painter O'Keeffe were pals and occasional traveling buddies who found common ground despite their very different artistic approaches. They met through their mutual friend/mentor Stieglitz—who eventually became O'Keeffe's husband—and became friends who traveled throughout the Southwest together during the 1930s. O'Keeffe would paint while Adams took photographs.

These journeys together led to some of the artists' best-known work, like Adams' portrait of O'Keeffe and a wrangler named Orville Cox, and while both artists revered nature and the American Southwest, Adams considered O'Keeffe the master when it came to capturing the area. 

“The Southwest is O’Keeffe’s land,” he wrote. “No one else has extracted from it such a style and color, or has revealed the essential forms so beautifully as she has in her paintings.”

The two remained close throughout their lives. Adams would visit O'Keeffe's ranch, and the two wrote to each other until Adams' death in 1984.

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