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  1. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon masterfully blends the serenity of ancient artwork with stunning virtual architecture. Creator Patch Thibaud is actually an architect in the physical world as well, and his years of experience inform every detail of this majestic locale. After observing some work on Patch’s Flickr, Resident Crista reached out to him to build a region for her. Of the request, Patch says, “I agreed to participate as long as I got to do The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, which was an ideal subject; an evocative and romantic concept, monumental in scale - and nobody has any idea what the original looked like, if in fact it existed at all.” Patch’s affinity for building in the metaverse is strengthened by the fact that “there is no one in between me and the final result; I don't have to deal with contractors, estimators, building codes, etc.,” and yet there are limitless possibilities. Furthermore, Patch feels that “in all 3D modeling software I am familiar with, you are working in an abstract, gridded space. In SL I am used to working outdoors, with a beautiful sky and perhaps with beautiful water, and the context of an entire world.” The concept of storytelling has been incorporated into many visual art forms, and as a trained designer, Patch adopted an episodic approach to the immense project. Patch created an extensive history for the estate: “This build imagines a structure originally built in mud brick by the Assyrians; later seized and rebuilt in stone by the Romans; {eventually} acquired by a cardinal during the military struggles of Renaissance Italy, who rebuilt the temple complex at the summit to include a villa for him and pleasure gardens and pavilions; subsequent alterations and additions by the cardinal’s family, including the ballroom and the Moroccan Garden; and finally the current owner, who restored the whole structure and its gardens, and inserted a gallery for art, built in the modern style.” Crista is also a longtime Resident, having started her inworld adventures 14 years ago. For Crista, Second Life is “a part of myself… part of my life and {it has} taught me many things that made me what I am now, in RL and SL. I am one person living in two different worlds. A wonderful SL can make a better RL. The Gardens were my SL dream for years… A ton of thanks to Patch Thibaud, I am not sure if we have a better builder. Sharing the beauty he makes, {as well as the} sensations and feelings deriving from it, is the biggest pleasure and satisfaction in this world.” Video Production Credits: Draxtor Despres The Hanging Gardens of Babylon The Hanging Gardens of Babylon is an amazing estate filled with magical places that will amaze you. Created by Patch Thibaud and adapted as a residence, this is a true work of art. Majestic beyond words, you must experience this to fully appreciate it! Let the gondola guide you to your arrival then explore this awesome creation. Visit in Second Life
  2. This week Drax spoke to Kate Stilley-Steiner, sister of acclaimed artist Tucker Stilley, who uses adaptive technology to continue making breathtaking art 20 years after being diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS). Virtual Ability’s Cape Able Island hosts art exhibits by deaf artists and/or artists with disabilities. Exhibits change quarterly, and just like a physical gallery, the works can often be purchased privately through the artist. Tucker’s new collection is called ‘Palimpsessed,’ and he describes his creative vision as follows: “The term “palimpsest” describes the unnatural sedimentary accumulation of imagery, information and concepts. For instance, on a billboard, many years of imagery may suddenly form an inexplicable Dada collage after a twister rips the surface down to bare plywood; leaving a dog, pulling the underpants off a sweaty cola bottle, who is smoking a cigarette with half a handsome, torn, lopsided grin. Fragmentary meanings combine into the mysterious. Unsaid, unthought, unquestioned dream of the present. I treasure this moment. I am palimpsessed.” Tucker’s art has been lauded for years, with the LA Times describing it as “breathtaking images of the frailty and strength of the human condition.” Creativity runs in the family: Tucker's sister, Kate Stilley-Steiner, is a filmmaker. The strength of their bond is incredibly inspiring, proving that the encouragement of family and community can help you do anything. Visit Tucker's exhibit at the Cape Able Island gallery today to see his images of resilience and the truth of his extraordinary spirit. The exhibit is co-presented by Second Life, Virtual Ability, Inc., the Cape Able Art Gallery, Cohort of Disembodied Artists and Citizen Film. Tucker Stilley’s work has been curated by distinguished artists Sam Durant, Randi Malkin Steinberger, Kate Brown and Craig Milanesi. His work has been featured nationwide including at the Venice Beach Biennial in collaboration with the Hammer Museum, the Disney CALARTS Theater, the Santa Monica Museum of Art, Monte Vista Projects, the Keystone Art Space, Artist Curated Project (ACP) LA, the Nave Gallery and Hen House Studios. Special thanks for facilitating the virtual exhibit at VAI to Gentle Heron and Eme Capalini. And here is a special treat for Second Life residents: Tucker’s graphic novel - which he actively continues to write - “The Permanent Record of New Jack Rasputin” is free to download here! Video Production Credits: Draxtor Despres RL Footage courtesy of Kate Stilley-Steiner Cape Able Art Gallery The Cape Able Art Gallery is a beautiful, eclectic gallery hosting art exhibits by deaf and/or disabled artists. Exhibits change quarterly. Artists can be contacted privately for the sale of their works. Cape Able is a nonprofit, Virtual Ability Inc. owned region. Visit in Second Life
  3. This week we are given an inside look at the musical project Tia Rungray and the new art venue, Spiralo. Known as Takayuki Noami in RL, Rungray is based in Japan and describes his musical style as “noise classical: this style encompasses ambient, post-classical and noise music.” Rungray tells us that he uses several platforms for creative expression, but he says of Second Life, “I'm particularly impressed by the amount of user-driven creativity that goes on there. The freedom to do so is an important part of what makes Second Life such a great place for me to come up with ideas and try them out.” Like many talented SL musicians, Rungray’s tracks are “streamed live, not recorded.” This one-of-a-kind vibe is amplified by the variety of venues in which the music is streamed, “from art galleries and shopping events to installation art spaces that I produce.” The video offers a few shots of the mysterious region of Spiralo. Described as a virtual cultural complex, it is a minimalist structure that guides visitors up a spiral to a rooftop with a piano against a dreamily surreal background. As you traverse the structure, you will see several art pieces, and you are welcome to discuss your takeaway with others at the ground floor cafe. As much as Rungray enjoys the freedom available in Second Life, he is careful not to rest on his laurels, saying, “I'm looking forward to seeing how Second Life evolves in the future.” So are we! The special exhibit at Spiralo opens today, and you are all invited to observe and maybe even be inspired to create some experimental art of your own. Video Production Credits: Draxtor Despres Spiralo “Spiralo” is a virtual cultural complex produced by the noise-classical music project 'Tia Rungray'. The space will include a sound installation hall, a gallery, a café, and a shopping floor. The name "Spiralo" means "spiral" in Esperanto, and the name comes from the fact that the floors are arranged in a spiral pattern, inspired by the image of everyday life and art blending together in virtual life. The idea is to make it easier to enjoy high-quality art activities in Second Life and to make visitors more aware of their close relationship to life. It functions to make everyday activities such as watching, listening, dressing, talking and photography more artistic. It offers you a way to enjoy the time and space in which you can relax in everyday life. As a cultural hub for contemporary art in Second Life, “Spiralo” hopes to continue to create a cultural scene. Visit in Second Life
  4. This week Tansee, Coordinator of the Second Life Endowment for the Arts (SLEA), takes us on a tour of this region’s immense and breathtaking landscape. The Second Life Endowment for the Arts, in partnership with Linden Lab, launched January 1st, 2021. The new initiative, originally announced in September, provides an opportunity for artists to apply for use of grid space to create artistic experiences in Second Life while also promoting the overall virtual arts community in SL. The SLEA, which is the spiritual successor to the former Linden Endowment for the Arts (LEA), bears a colorful aesthetic that is part university courtyard and part amusement park, influenced by art galleries, the cosmos, and more. There are a total of nine regions of varying thematic focus, such as machinima or performing arts. This ambitious initiative, which is aided by the help of 21 core volunteers and many more contributors, aspires to give grant awards to selected applicants about twice a year. For the debut exhibitions, the SLEA was pleased to receive wide representation from the arts both in terms of genre, style and nationality. On arrival, visitors will be given access to a HUD experience which enables ease of travel around the regions in addition to a teleport network. The Landing Pod provides a view over a Performing Arts Center, Arts Education and Innovation facilities, Machinima Land, and the dPod where SLEA’s archives are located for all to peruse. The SLEA regions are expected to further evolve over time as more artists collaborate and new exhibitions are brought into rotation. Tansee emphasizes that the SLEA aims to draw attention to all artists, galleries, art venues, communities and art education locations in SL. That goal is evident by the presence of a massive T-shaped “connection bridge'' spread across two regions that aims to connect SLEA to the larger community of artists and venues. As visitors stroll across the bridge, they will encounter numerous promotional posters along the way. There are also additional kiosks that visitors can click to get teleport links and even more information about the wide range of artists and exhibitions to be found across all of Second Life. While this region is already open to the public, SLEA intends to celebrate in style with a full itinerary of performers and artists during the weekend of January 23rd & 24th. Check out their Facebook and Instagram for news and events. Whether you are a budding artist or a supportive observer, feel free to explore this region at any time. Video Production Credits: Draxtor Despres Second Life Endowment For The Arts The Second Life Endowment For The Arts (SLEA) is opening with a bang at midnight SLT 1/1/2021. Use the SLEA experience to visit 9 regions of diverse creativity representing the many levels of virtual art in SL, including 2 & 3D, Theater, Literature, Visual, Machinima, Art Education, and Media Art. Cost-free grants are awarded! For more info, visit: slendowmentforthearts.wordpress.com Visit in Second Life
  5. (Photo courtesy of Juel Resistance) This week’s featured artist is Juel Resistance (you may know her as Suzen Juel), whose creative output consists of soulful music as well as dreamy visual art. Please visit her Spotify and this awesome RL video of her playing music. We hope you check out her calendar to catch her live inword! She posts some amazing photos in a variety of styles on Flickr, and more information can be found on her website. If you’d like to experience some of her artwork inworld, head on over to Altered. Q: When and how did you hear about Second Life? A: I was playing an online game with a friend called The Sims Online. He told me to check out Second Life, so I did. I created Juel Edison and explored the vast spaces and just couldn't figure out what to make of it. While I was exploring I met another friend that I kept in touch with and eventually I just lost interest. In 2005 my SL friend said, “JUEL, COME BACK, there is live music in SL now!” I told him he was full of s*** haaa, and I came back as… well, me. Q: What instruments do you play, and how did you first become interested in music? A: I had a thing for the organ at my grandma's house when I was about 4ish. It had all those fun bossa nova, samba, cymbals sounds, so I'd putz around on it, playing what I would hear on the radio. Mom would sometimes play it with me, she had taken lessons when she was young. I lost interest… at about 13 I found a guitar in my grandparents’ attic, a tiny one. I ran downstairs: “PAPA!” He smiled and said, “I made that the year you were born, it's yours… go play it!” I loved that guitar and I was going to learn it… so I got some books and taught myself for a while, eventually taking lessons until my guitar teacher asked me to sing and play “Delta Dawn.” I slowly packed up my little guitar, walked home, and never went back. I was mortified. SING? I'm NOT going to SING in FRONT of YOU! OMG! That was that. I really haven't put it down since. I also have a ukulele that I love, but I don't really play it as much. I dabble around on harmonica and also have my mom's banjo, which I would like to learn as well. Oh, and I whistle, that's important too! Q: The painter Wassily Kandinsky was known to experience synesthesia and expressed hearing music as he painted, associating colors with distinct musical notes. As a visual artist, do you ever feel that your paintings are informed by your music, or vice versa? A: It's interesting that you bring up this question! When I was a preteen or so, I would listen to music, what kid didn't, right? My mom had come into my room and asked what I was doing. So I said without hesitation, "I'm drawing the sounds: this is the bass, this is the drum, this is the guitar," She just said, “Ok… interesting.” I didn't find out until many years later that this is synesthesia. It has had a profound impact on my art and music. I often paint in what I'm seeing or hearing from music with a good bass line, like trip hop. It's full of vibrant imagination to me. My own music doesn't really make me see colors, more shapes...closing my eyes when I perform is like a putting up the big screen theater, haha. Q: While there have been many incredible female Blues and Americana figures, the mainstream image of the "greats" of these genres is predominantly men. Please share some underrated female musicians that you feel we should know about. A: I'm a sucker for female songwriters. Lucinda Williams tells some soulful stories in her lyrics. She's relatable, she gets it. Holly Williams. Mary Gauthier. Rory Block. Beth Hart. They all have serious soul, edge, and guts. Q: A huge obstacle to gender equality in the arts is the notion that many see female/non-binary experiences as only interesting to them, but male experiences as universal. Do you try to make your work universally appealing, or do you aim for a niche audience? A: I do quirky little cartoon drawings called 'inkies.' They can have curly hair or long hair and they always have a shirt on. Someone once asked why they are all female and I said, “Nooo, they aren't, they are gender neutral.” And as I'm grinning, I realized that no one has ever questioned this before in my inkies. As far as music goes, I write what I write and hope someone else finds it relatable, I hope someone feels something. I hope people find a little release, be it funny or sad or any other emotion. I tend not to create things to be universally appealing, it's quite personal and very much a niche audience. Q: What is the most meaningful aspect of the SL music community to you? A: That we are a global community all in one little world called Second Life. We are music and art driven, we support each other with all the unique gifts we have. It's a great community that I fall more and more in love with every time. Thank you, Juel. Keep it up!
  6. Last week we announced the beginning of Music Mondays, a new weekly initiative to spotlight the diverse talents of the musicians of Second Life. Our first featured musician is Quartz, whose eclectic style is sure to have something for everyone. Some of you may already know of him, as he has been a Resident and fixture of the SL music scene for quite some time. A talented multi-instrumentalist, his musical style is classic, indie, and progressive rock. As with any devoted artist, his style has evolved over the years, and we encourage you to check it out. (Photo courtesy of DupliCat) A selection of his music is available on ReverbNation and HearNow, as well as some videos on YouTube. Q: What was the first record you ever bought? A: Hmmm... that's a toughy. I think it was Quadrophenia by The Who. Might have been Pink Floyd’s Animals. First Queensryche EP? The soundtrack to Heavy Metal? I still have all of these. Q: When and how did you discover Second Life? A: I saw a show on TV about SL and I thought "That looks cool!" After I signed up, I found out you could actually perform music to an audience. Double cool. And off I went... Q: What instruments do you play and how did you first become interested in making music? A: Keyboards, electric guitar (lead & bass), acoustic guitar, drums, voice, still working on harmonica. How? I took, I think, three or four guitar lessons when I was young then I stopped. Then out of those, I figured out how to play "Squeeze Box" by The Who. After that, I couldn't stop. Still can't. Once I start working on something, I just go and go. I don't know what I'd do without music. Q: Describe your favorite experience as a musician in SL. A: It's hard to pick one. Out of recent memory, it's doing the Pink Floyd tribute shows with Skyfire (ParticleTom Nova and Lexi Marshdevil). Tom & Lexi are so talented and creative and their particles look stunning with the music of Floyd. I love that we can combine two arts into one show. Stay tuned... Pink Floyd's "The Wall" show is coming soon My other favourite experience is dualing with Max Kleene. Sadly, I don't have time to dual a lot, but I really enjoy my shows with Max; we're just two crazy Canucks having fun. I highly encourage you to check out dual shows (2 or more musicians). It's a very cool experience. Q: If you could open for any musician, who would it be? A: Peter Gabriel. I'd actually be happy having a tea with him to say thank you for all he's done. An artist beyond time and scope. Q: What aspects of the SL music community are the most meaningful to you? A: The support of the fans in SL for live music and the arts. In RL, it's so hard to generate an audience appreciative of performing artists to come to the shows. I have some really great fans that come out consistently and support me & the SLive Music venues. I'm very grateful for all of them. I've been told I have some of the best fans out there by venue owners. That makes me very happy. Q: Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, there's been a lot of talk on the internet about how all the extra time at home we have could be put to creative use. That can feel like a lot of pressure, and it's important to acknowledge that it's okay to just focus on taking care of yourself and your loved ones during this uniquely stressful time. What are your thoughts on that, and has your creative output been impacted by these circumstances? A: My creative output has remained pretty much the same. I keep the same hours. I do miss being able to play with my RL band for live shows. But for everyone to be safe, those will have to wait. I did finally get my EP finished though. And up on the Spotify/iTunes thingy. So maybe my output has been impacted. I'd rather everyone stay safe and do their best to help others stay safe. This will be over. Might not be next week. But it will pass. Quartz would also like to give a shoutout to his management team. His manager, DupliCat, has been by his side from the beginning, and he would also like to give a huge thank you to Liz Harley, Laurie Alexis and the entire Keys Management Group (KMG) Thank you so much for taking the time to share this with us, Quartz! Please check out his calendar for information on his upcoming shows.
  7. Pictured above: fossil found at The Natural History Museum of Vienna There’s nothing quite like the serenity of a beautiful building filled with art. I always feel inspired after an afternoon of walking the quiet halls of a place dedicated to creativity. Since most museums are currently closed, here are some places in Second Life where you can take a virtual field trip. 1. Chic and modern buildings like The Vordun, where you can also take a relaxing walk around the large outdoor space and courtyard. 2. The Peale Museum, a recent addition, is a replica of the RL building in Baltimore. Built in 1814, it was the first purpose-built museum in the United States. The virtual Peale has exhibits and events curated by the staff, so there's sure to always be something to pique your interest. 3. Put on your cocktail attire and spend the evening at an art gallery, like Art Atelier. Their current exhibition, a collaboration with Museo Omar Reina de San Rafael of Argentina, goes until September 15. Mark your calendars so you don’t miss out. 4. The Natural History Museum of Vienna, which has been designed to replicate the RL building. Currently, you can see exhibitions on both dinosaurs and steampunk. A combination very fitting for 2020. 5. The Cats Museum is a quaint house dedicated to these furry ninjas and their antics. I always appreciate a splash of humor. We don’t all need to be The Louvre. The Cats Museum is an adorable place to make your quiet walk a little more fun. 6. The Virtual Black History Museum is spread out over a beautiful piece of land with open grassy space and calming brooks to make a peaceful moment for yourself. There is an indoor text based history exhibit, as well as a stylized outdoor structure with photographs of many notable figures like Marsha P. Johnson and Diane Nash.
  8. Shyla the Super Gecko’s exhibition at The Glinka Gallery shows us the spirited activity within one of Second Life’s many cathartic outlets: poetry. Shyla’s work is informed by her personal experiences and passions as a person with a disability concerned about social justice issues. She writes to express herself, especially during these times of limited outdoor travel, and hopes to create material that others can relate to. The Glinka Gallery, run by real world novelist and poet Wolfgang Glinka, comprises four galleries dedicated to fine art, photography, poetry, music, and dance by SL artists. The aesthetic is a fun blend of modern and minimalist with surreal accents that make the space welcoming and engaging. Shyla’s work is in the Frank O’Hara Building. Named after the notable writer, this building is dedicated to poetry. Some of her work takes the form of Fibonacci poems, where the number of words per line are determined by the mathematical sequence which starts with 0 and 1 and the next number is found by adding up the two numbers before it. This adds a visually alluring element to the poetry, with pieces resembling diamonds, triangles, or hourglass shapes. Second Life has provided an opportunity for virtual recreation as well. You might catch Shyla hanging out with friends, going to concerts, or even on the slopes, as she is an avid snowboarder. Shyla would like us to know that there are plenty of places for fans and budding poets to try out, adding, “The SL poetry community is vibrant. There are daily opportunities to share work. An ability to be vulnerable in an environment of trust and respect. Sabreman Carter hosts daily open mics. Circes’ New Poet Sanctuary and Hotel Chelsea’s Sunday Spoken Word feature amazing poets in SL.” For more in-world poetry, Shyla suggests The Blue Angel Poets Dive (SL’s oldest continuously running open mic), and Poet’s Plunder run by Klannex Northmead. Northmead also maintains The Apple, a calendar of SL poetry events. The Glinka Gallery The Glinka Gallery is a group of four galleries dedicated to fine art, photography, poetry, music, and dance by SL artists. Glinka Gallery One focuses on new art exhibitions. Glinka Gallery Two is home to the permanent collection of art and photography from previous shows. The Fibonacci Gallery is dedicated to the short-form poetry that adheres to the Fibonacci number sequence. The Frank O'Hara Building is a poetry gallery for Second Life poets. There is also the Frank O'Hara room for special events and readings. The piazza is home to Glinka gallery's resident dance group The Sway & Dance Troupe who mix choreography, music, and poetry in their very visual dance spectaculars. The gallery director is real-world novelist and poet, Wolfgang Glinka. Visit in Second Life
  9. While many localities are now in the process of carefully reopening certain businesses, many of us will likely be telecommuting for a few more months. Some companies are even giving their employees the option of permanently working from home if they prefer. Whether you’re itching to get back into your routine or pleased about not having to deal with You-Know-Who leaving dirty dishes in the break room (every workplace has one!), we wanted to present a way to add a little flair to your video chats. With an abundance of gorgeous regions to choose from, why not set a screenshot from Second Life as your Zoom virtual background? The Destination Guide has a photo for each entry, and you of course have the option of snapping a picture inworld. Impromptu video call making you panic about that laundry pile? Place yourself in an immaculate virtual living room. The category Photogenic Spots is a great place to start out, and the Art section has some immersive and surreal environments that are visually stunning. You could have a Mediterranean cliffside for your meeting at 2:00 and a disco dance floor for a hangout with friends at 5:00! With so many options, it’s impossible to choose just one. Just don’t turn yourself into a potato! (Photo by Elenna Dagostino)
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