Your eyes and ears on the world of art and culture:

Did you know that Harvard University has a pigment library? Credit goes to Edward Forbes, for many years Director of the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard. Forbes traveled around the world collecting samples of pigments as he was studying classical Italian paintings. Today's contemporary researchers use things like mass spectrometry, gas chromatography, and electron microscopy to analyze the chemical components of a pigment. A special treat is a discussion of some of the rarest pigments included in the collection.

The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. is sponsoring the A. W. Mellon Lectures which this year examines bronzes from the South Indian Chola dynasty (850 - 1270). The lectures are titled "The Thief Who Stole My Heart: The Material Life of Sacred Bronzes in Chola, India" and will be available on podcasts after the series finishes. Of particular interest are two 11th century pieces, intricately described and explained.

From the ancient to the contemporary: Andy Lomas produces what he calls Morphogenetic Creations, the study of organic natural forms produced by digital mathematical rules. Lomas received the Gold Award Lumen Prize in 2014 and an Honorable Mention at Prix Ars Electronica that same year.

In case you have ever wondered what goes on inside Cern's Large Hadron Collider, , the BBC takes you on a 360-degree tour. Cern is the European Union's Nuclear physics laboratory, and the Collider is the world's largest machine. The tour is quite astonishing.

Jenny Sabin has installed a knitted textile installation at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. Materials used to create the pavillion include twill tape, aluminum tubing, digitally knitted 3D forms, and light-activated yarns. Portable and exremely light, the installation can be placed outdoors as well as inside. You can see more works at the Jenny Sabin Studio of Experimental Architecture & Design. ( See below for more on the Cooper Hewitt.)

The Paul Mahder Contemporary Art Gallery has moved from its San Francisco home in Presideo Heights to an 8000 sq. ft. space in Healdsburg, California. Among the artists represented is Whitaker, who has been with the Mahder Gallery since its inception as the Blue Room some 15 years ago. Healdsburg is a charming community in Sonoma wine country roughly an hour outside of San Francisco and well worth a trip.

Many of us are familiar with the later works of Niki de Saint Phalle. An exhibition at Art Basel Miami Beach in the historical sector called "Survey" brings out her early assemblages and shooting paintings. These appear to be much more downcast and negative than the delightful whimsy that she produced later.

Here is an inside look at the new Met Breuer, just recently opened. It occupies the premises of the former Whitney Museum of American Art, which vacated the site in late 2014.

An exhibition at the West Collection takes a bold approach to contemporary art. The Collection began roughly 46 years ago by Al West and continues with his daughter Paige. The pieces are on long-term loan to SEI, the financial services firm started by West. The art tends to be flamboyant, confrontational, certainly not boring.

At a completely different aesthetic level entirely, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art presents Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist Art from the Indian Subcontinent. Called "Puja and Piety", the exhibition catalog features an introduction by the distinguished curator and art scholar (and also my friend) Pratapadity Pal. Dr. Pal's writing is informative, scholarly, and often droll, making him a rarity among historical writers.

Heidi Berrin Shonkoff is a painter and psychotherapist in Berkeley, CA. Born in Los Angeles, Shonkoff produces canvases that are rich in innuendo, gentle and yet commanding. Her use of color, sometimes restrained, sometimes glorious, infuses each piece with a distinct personality while still retaining a sense of its place in the larger body of work.

The Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum has chosen Beauty as its theme for an international triennial, then breaks the concept down into seven sections. One of the sections is called "Extravagant", another "Transgressive", then there is Emergent and Transformative. No matter the label, the works shown here are striking. At another site you can read Ken Johnson's review in the New York Times and also see more work.

If you love dance, you will want to see this video of five women. Choreographed by sisters Chloe and Maud Arnold,, the routine was inspired by Beyonce's new single with its plea for solidarity among women. This group is called Syncopated Ladies and their performance is smashing.

In another tribute to dance, Rick Guest photographed the dancers in Richard Alston's troupe as they were performing. The result is a combination of sci-fi, Fantasia, and 3D design gone wild. It is certainly unique.

The Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art presents a six-decade retrospective of the work of Bettye Saar. Called "Still Tickin'", the exhibit traces Saar's journey from graphic designer and costume creator to assemblages and installations. Now 90 years old, Saar's work is both backward resonant and contemporary reflective.

The Freemuse organization, based in Copenhagen, reports on the increasing influence of censorship in the arts worldwide. Last years's attacks on freedom of expression nearly doubled the number seen in 2014. As you might expect, the most flagrant attacks were held in China, Iran, and Russia. The report is based on publicly available media, which means that tightly controlled states like N. Korea is not included in the statistics. In addition, the bombings in Paris were included, since they went after music venues which are cultural centers. For rather inexplicable reasons (read the article) the murdered artists at the magazine Charlie Hebdo were not counted.

c. Corinne Whitaker 2016