Friday, April 22, 2016

Theater on the Hill

By Gemma Cleanslate

I go to shows at the Theater on the Hill (TOTH) often and enjoy them thoroughly. I usually arrive and enter the theater immediately about 15 minutes before the show begins to get a good seat for viewing and taking pictures for my articles. I rarely have looked outside but I find I should have. There is a lot more to the region than I ever knew.

The theater itself is very beautiful and built in the style of a classic domed temple that gleams in the sunlight. Beneath the Theater lobby there is a cabaret where events are also held.  The main theater overlooks two sims, Pure Luxury and Theater Stage. I saw the outdoor sunken theater and went over to check that out, then saw that the whole region was a beautiful area to walk. Along the paths I found some lovely real life  artwork by Taddeus Adagio set  on easels for sale. There are small buildings along the walkway which circles a large lake. Oliver Lake, with an island, Oliver Island with  an enclosed resting area with a small pond and fountain . As you cross the bridge to begin your walk you will find a hydrobike to take you out to the island.

I climbed a tower to get an over view of all. The foliage and trees are in late spring glory which adds to the experience of walking. Continuing along the walk way I came up a brick walled garden with another art piece fountain that is a memorial garden to some of those members of the TOTH that have passed. It is a place of serenity and meditation. 

I continued around and back to the theater sim and stopped there at a museum built in the style of the old west pueblo dating back to the original inhabitants of that area. It is named the Great Light Gallery and holds the photographic works of Immerdar Fredriksson where he reflects, “If one is patient with Grand Canyon; if one spends the time, eventually visual rewards--supreme moments for the landscape photographer--will surely present themselves. "Grand Canyon:  The Great Light" are these moments.” There are three floors of photographic images that are utterly marvelous. Walking through you will experience the feeling of being at the rim, in the canyon, and on the Colorado River. I went through three times I think just to get the feeling  over again.
In the area below the theater there is a shop with dashing clothes for gentlemen and formal gowns for women. Very lovely and I was tempted but resisted .. for now.
Next to that is a gallery called “Kids Art”  and behind it a workshop for those who wish to create works at scheduled workshops and who take field trips for inspiration and themes . It is run by Jeppe Violet. You can find out more about this gallery by visiting. Don’t miss the Scaled Orrery featuring the sun and planets.

All this I missed by just going into the theater! It pays to look around. Be sure to visit and take a walk. Some people fly everywhere in sl. I think they don’t know what they are missing. I have learned to take a long walk or a horse ride if the sim calls forthat. This slurl will take you outside the Theater and you can make your way from there. There is a lot to see. s

Gemma Cleanslate

Friday, April 15, 2016


By Becky "Sha" Shamen

Well folks, here we are again, now on our third art exhibit in a row. A notice was sent to the Newser staff, that a reporter was needed to cover an exhibit of M.C. Escher's work. I responded, immediately, that this was my baby. As a Graphic Artist and Engineer, I have been a fan of Maurits Cornelis Escher (1898-1972) all my life. I was 22 when he passed on, making him a contemporary artist and inspiration in my own works. It is very likely that I have been a fan of MCE since before the creators of this exhibit, Solkide Auer and Sniper Siemens were even born. This exhibit is found on the LEA 15 sim. I didn't need to even search for a LM, because it was right next door to the last exhibit I wrote about. Arriving at the landing point, I found myself in the lower level of a flying saucer shaped structure. There are a number of objects to explore at that level, before going up the stairs to the main exhibit.

    My first visit to a sim is always a short one, to get an idea of the layout, make a LM and get a first impression. I return a few more times, to get more insight and take pictures. On this first visit, I notice that on the first level objects have been placed to provide key information that will help make the exhibit better understood and enjoyed by visitors. The first thing they want you to know is that it took two artists to build the exhibit. Next, we see two signboards that show the proper settings for Firestorm and SL viewers, to get the intended lighting effects for the exhibit. Next we see an original MCE drawing, placed as it was originally drawn. In addition, there were a number of the objects, used in the exhibit. I also took a quick look around the upper level, before dashing off to another appointment. Later, before returning, I reported to the Editor that I would indeed write the article, but it would be a short one and I would have to add a bit of "spin" to make it sell.

When I returned, the first thing I did was adjust my graphics settings, hoping to get the spectacular lighting effects that I thought Solkide and Sniper had intended. Alas, the lighting didn't impress me. I thought perhaps there was a problem with the viewer I was using, so I switched from Firestorm to the SL viewer. After matching my settings to those on the signboard, the lighting was the same as in the previous viewer. While in the SL viewer, a notice popped up, saying it would upgrade the viewer on my next start, so I closed it and came back. This time, the upgrade had set the lighting back to default settings. I could now see the difference, with and without the correct settings. When I corrected the settings, I was back to the same lighting as I saw in the other viewers. It was not spectacular. If anything, it was very subtle. It would take a bit longer to understand why the artists placed so much importance on getting the settings right.

At the exhibit level, the lighting is what, in stage lighting, we call a "wash". Little ovals of soft white blurred lighting dotted the walls and ceiling, beyond the perimeter of the physical exhibit. A single spot of light illuminated the center of the floor. Aha! Perhaps they want the exhibit to be seen from the center. Using Alt+Ctrl+T, to see the invisible source of the center light, I moved to where the light was directly above my head and entered "Mouselook". Doing a complete 360 degree turn did not improve the picture, but it did produce a thought, in my mind. This exhibit is built in a circle, around me. As an artist, this thought was interpreted as art "in the round", a.k.a., 3D. Suddenly, the lighting made perfect sense. By being outside the exhibit, it enhanced the 3D perspective. At this point, the artists gained  in status. Their art had communicated the message that they wanted me to hear. They had converted MCE's 2D drawing into a 3D object and I, the viewer was now inside the creation. In my attempts to create Escher style art, these were the two things that were the greatest challenge, making it 3D and being inside the art.

 Now that I understood the main message, that of turning Escher's "Metamorphosis" into 3D art, my questions switched from what they were doing to how well they were doing it. I began to investigate the individual elements that went into building the exhibit.  It looks like it was made from hundreds of mesh objects, which were then assembled. None of the mesh objects had any name, other than "object". How hundreds of objects, no two alike, were made and assembled is something I have experienced with my PXL structures, so I know how difficult it can be. This pair of artists, compared to my skills, are master art engineers. If he were alive today, Escher would probably like their work and tell them, "Bedankt voor het compliment".

While I was in the middle of being in the middle of Metamorphosis, I got a group message from my friends at Sunweaver. After telling them I was at the Escher exhibit, Mamma Gil responded with, "I went to one, once, but damn it wore me out. I never did find the top of the stairs and just felt like I was going around and around in circles". While I was there, there was very little visitor traffic. If you go now, there's a good chance you'll be in the center of attention and the circle will go round and round YOU. In closing, it turns out this article was not short and did not require any additional hype. They did a great job. I  recommend that you go see this exhibit, even if Escher is new to you.
Have fun,
LEA15 (128/129/1998)

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Hope Gardens 2016 Photography Exhibition

By Gemma Cleanslate

Melodie Jigsaw greeted the visitors to the Hope Gardens “Hope 2016 Relay for Life Photography Exhibition”. This touching exhibit will be open to the public for the entire Relay and I urge you to visit. Each part of the exhibit is dedicated to the story of courage of survivors and caregivers. The building itself is a modern design and the d├ęcor is lovely and inviting. The area was donated for the length of the exhibit by Dian4ma Shen, known as Delight and Royce Zeplin. The courtyard is delightful and relaxing. While I wandered through the gallery there was a party going on with dancing just outside the building with music provided by Gem Sunkiller that wafted through the area.

The next morning  I met Delight at the door and she showed me her portrait and next to it the notecard giver plaque that has her personal story of being a survivor and her long road to finding it easy to embrace. She pointed out that on the wall next to each of the exhibits there is a plaque that shows the name of the SL photographers who did the portraits. Polly Elan was her photographer and the piece is exquisite. She stood by her portrait garbed in the elegant gown that she wore for the portrait. Her story is inspiring and gives any survivor a lift.

As I walked through looking at the wonderful photos and reading the stories written by all the participants I was so touched. Being either a survivor or a caretaker one becomes so involved in the illness it is like being in one big family. The feelings of all touch the others and draw them together. In between the exhibits there are words of encouragement on the walls. There is a video of the whole exhibit that you can look at and it is a wonderful overview.  

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(Click here if the video fails to load)

As you go through the entrance look to your left. There is a photograph there that to me embodies  the meaning of all of the Relay for Life participants. We are all pushing the world up the hill all the way.

Gemma Cleanslate 
 * * * * *

Bixyl Shuftan was also invited over to the exhibition to speak with two of the people involved. His article can he found Here.

Friday, April 8, 2016


By Becky "Sha" Shamen

Here we are exploring our second art exhibit in a row. It wasn't planned, but I got a staff notice that was looking for a reporter to check out "Strawberryland," by Cica Ghost. My ears perked up, as I recalled my recent article, "Roots," by the same artist, last January. I found her art to be very simple, but radiating subtle mental imagery, through all of our senses. It even smelled good.

On the return visit, as my landing spot rezzed, I spotted a lady in a black dress, standing in front of me. Her name tag showed her to be the artist, Cica Ghost. I introduced myself as a reporter for the SL Newser, that had written about her last show and was now reviewing Strawberryland. She asked for the URL of the Newser and I gave it. I sensed that neither of us was prepared for an interview, but perhaps she could answer a question or two. In my mind, I am about to judge her art on how well it communicates ideas to me. I couldn't ask her, what's the meaning behind this or that, so I let the technical artist in me blurt out, "Are all you art objects made from sculpties or mesh?". She seemed proud to announce that they were all mesh. There was a steady trickle of new visitors to the exhibit, wishing to bestow at-a-girls and pats on the back side, so I thanked Cica for her time and inched away, pointing at my camera.

I think good art should convey a message, from the mind of the artist to the mind of the observers. I wanted to see more of what's inside Cica's imagination. After finding the link for Strawberry Land, in the Destination Guide, I made a short, scouting trip to make a LM and take a quick look about. First impression? I would return, a.s.a.p. and take pictures.

 Within a few feet of the meeting with Cica, I snapped a photo of a small, table top model of a house and flowers. What made it unusual was it had a background picture of sky and it and the flowers were moving, as if being blown by wind. I didn't realize, until later when I cropped all the photos, that this first model sculpture was a key to understanding the language being spoken, throughout the rest of the sim.
The first thing you notice is all the strawberries. When I think of the song "Strawberry Fields", I picture a place and event, but no fruit. In Strawberryland they are plentiful and BIG. How big? I walked into a small greenhouse, with a starter plant and baby strawberries. I estimate them to be about 30 inches tall. Strawberries also brought the smell of the fruit to mind. To my nose, the taste and smell of strawberries is  right in the middle of the scale. It's OK, but I don't seek them for myself. On the other hand, the smell of synthetic strawberry flavor (ester) has always raised a red flag in me. As before, Cica's art spoke through my nose.

Strawberries aren't the only big thing here. I felt about one foot tall, through most of the exhibit. I begin to notice another theme among some of these large sculptures. Although they contain no animated parts, they display motion, like wind blowing hair and cloth or wheeled carts under sculptures to move them around.

As we continue the tour, I remark to myself that this exhibit seems more colorful than the previous one. An industrial looking building, with rusting metal sides, is just ahead. Inside, we can see a collection of smaller sculptures, so we open the metal gate and go inside.
I recognized the objects as being ones that were used in "Roots", but these had somehow been made anew. They had been painted, but not in the way a normal house is. It's more like they were splattered with different colors. As I head to the next area, I remark to myself, "She's added a splash of color this time".
 At the painter sculpture, we see several of the communicated ideas come together in one spot. A big man, covered in a rainbow of paint spills, is splattering two different colors on one wall, as his hair blows in the wind and an impatient horse waits in front of the biggest strawberry on the island, to be taken somewhere else.
Down the path, we find a boy and girl enjoying this impression of wind. Looking back at the picture, it's hard to believe that nothing in this scene was moving.
So readers, let us review what these objects d'art have communicated to us today. We had strawberries. Did you taste them? We had the motion of wind and wheels. Did you feel the rush? We had a splash of color. Did you get wet? Perhaps, if these three key ideas were placed end to end, in the right order, they might form a complete sentence, a thank you from Cica Ghost to the visitors of Strawberryland.  I'll leave that for the readers to decipher. Meanwhile, I get out my tape measure to calculate if I can build an island with this huge strawberry.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Light Thoughts 2

By Becky "Sha" Shamen

In the past few months, real life and Second Life events seemed to be taking me away from scheduling, exploring and writing about my SL adventures. To get back to my old schedule, I went through all my favorite tricks for finding new sims to explore. One of these tricks is the World Map, found in the viewer and also at I remembered that, only a few days earlier, I had been looking at the map and made a mental note to visit a sim that caught my eye. Returning to the area of the map, I learned that the sim is one of the LEA sims.

Based on past experiences at LEA sims, this would have been enough to keep me from going, but my intuition was telling me I would find something good, this time. The problem was, every time I visited a LEA sim, in the past, as an artist/designer, I always found myself asking how much this artist had to pay LL, to get them to promote his excuse for an art project in the Destination Guide. It sounds harsh, but I hold all products up to the same standards. If it requires advertisement, instead of word-of-mouth, I probably won't buy it. On the other hand, the inner voice of my intuition has always given good advice.

Given that the sim in question was near several other "interesting" looking sims, I felt sure I would find a good adventure and promptly headed down to check out several of the sims. Art should communicate the thoughts of the artist. The first sim I visited had me wondering if it's artist was thinking at all, so I flew over to the next sim. That sim showed a bit more thought, but was also under construction. With a lot more work, it could be worth a return visit. From this sim, I could clearly see the next. It was brightly lit and just a short walk, so I strolled over for a look.

This sim is LEA 20 and was host to "Light Thoughts 2", by Mario2 Helstein. Within seconds, I knew this was the place that was calling me. I cannot even begin to describe this project, until I explain that NONE of the pictures, shown here, do it justice, because a major part of the art is moving light and textures, playing on and incorporated into the solid sculptures on the sim.

To any observer, this exhibit of lights and sculptures will be a wonderful adventure. To a seasoned Designer, Artist, Builder, there is an inner beauty that shines for them. This Artist, Mario2 Helstein, is an adept in the sciences of Geometry, architectural strength and chromatics, and even a fair amount of Psychology. I found his sculptures somehow fascinating, but it took a couple of days, looking at the photos, to discover why. Bless his PXL (Pneumatic Xtal Lattice) heart. He builds with triangles. His triangles have holes in the middle.

I will confess, I don't know, exactly what a LEA sim is or how they work. I assume LEA means "Linden Endowed Artist", since they are temporary and have art exhibits on them. What I did discover is, some times they can impress and inspire even a professional artist. The point is, don't take  the Destination Guide or this writer's word for where the fun is. If you hear of an interesting sim, go see it for yourself. Remember, the word YOU has U right in the middle of it.
LEA20 (126, 129, 21