Obama Portraits Unveiled at the White House, and Other News

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The official White House portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama, by Robert McCurdy and Sharon Sprung. Image courtesy the White House Historical Association/White House Collection

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The official portraits for Barack and Michelle Obama are unveiled at the White House. 

“In recent decades former presidents and first ladies have had their official White House portraits unveiled by their successors. But that did not happen for the portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama while Donald J. Trump was in power. The official portraits of the Obamas were finally unveiled in the East Room of the White House on Wednesday by Mr. Trump’s successor, President Biden.The portraits, commissioned by the White House Historical Association, have been a well-kept secret, along with the identity of their artists: Robert McCurdy and Sharon Sprung.” [H/T The New York Times]

The National Building Museum will host a discussion series about race in architecture.

“How does race affect design and the way our cities are built? That’s the question being explored at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. this month through a program of talks with pioneering Black architects, artists and designers. “Intersections: Where Diversity, Equity and Design Meet” launches on Sept. 16 and runs through Dec. 14 as a series of in-person talks, panel discussions and events. Highlights include a conversation with OffTop Design founder Demar Matthews. A pioneer of the Black Aesthetic movement, Matthews will discuss how architecture amplifies or silences perspectives and how buildings and landscapes can define community.” [H/T The Spaces]

A view of the immersive experience “Your View Matter” (2022). Image courtesy of Olafur Eliasson and Acute Art

Beeple buyer Metakovan taps Olafur Eliasson to create an immersive new NFT work.

“Otherworldly, psychedelic experiences in augmented and virtual reality seem to be all the rage, and a new project by Olafur Eliasson follows suit. Using cutting edge immersion tools, the Danish-Icelandic artist is delving into his ongoing interest in light, perception, and sacred geometry. As a part of the new digital project called Your view matter, which takes the form of an immersive VR experience, Eliasson, the Bob Ross of light art meets climate change, will make a foray into the realm of NFTs as well. Perhaps in testament to its scale and ambition, the project is being commissioned by none other than Vignesh Sundaresan, better known as Metakovan, the art collector and early crypto engineer who famously paid $69.3 million at Christie’s in 2021 for Beeple’s Everydays: the First 5000 Days.” [H/T Artnet News]

Kim Kardashian launches a private equity firm to invest in consumer businesses.

“Reality television star and entrepreneur Kim Kardashian and a former partner at Carlyle Group Inc are launching a new private equity firm focused on investing in consumer and media businesses. The new firm to be launched by Kardashian and Jay Sammons will be named SKKY Partners, the WSJ reported, citing interviews with them. The firm will make investments in sectors including consumer products, hospitality, luxury, digital commerce and media, according to the report.” [H/T Business of Fashion]

Calder Gardens will have a Piet Oudulf landscape and a Herzog & de Meuron building.

“The future of Calder Gardens, a Philadelphia cultural project that is scheduled to open in early 2024, was being planned on a sunny day in June on the lush Litchfield County estate where the famed sculptor Alexander Calder once lived and worked. This is where Alexander S. C. Rower, Calder’s grandson and the president of the Calder Foundation, met Piet Oudolf, the Dutch landscape designer known for his work on New York City’s High Line. They went over the $70 million project, the design of which will be announced Wednesday. Calder Gardens, as the renderings show, will be jewel-box in scale and an untraditional art space in many ways, more of an oasis than a shiny new attraction. His landscaping will surround an 18,000-square-foot, shedlike building designed by the Pritzker Prize-winning firm Herzog & de Meuron that tucks its primary exhibition spaces underground.” [H/T The New York Times]

Waterline in Austin, Texas, by KPF. Image courtesy of Atchain, courtesy of KPF

In Austin, construction begins on a skyscraper slated to become the tallest in Texas.

“Construction work on a new supertall is now underway in downtown Austin. Developed by Lincoln Property Company in partnership with Kairoi Residential and designed by the skyscraper specialists at Kohn Pedersen Fox, the 74-story Waterline will rise a record-setting 1,022 feet over the Texan capital city at a 3.3-acre campus along the Waterloo Greenway near the intersection of Lady Bird Lake and Waller Creek.” [H/T The Architect’s Newspaper]

Pennsylvania and Washington become the first U.S. states to explicitly tax NFTs.

“In June and July, Pennsylvania and Washington quietly became the first two states in the nation to explicitly list non-fungible tokens (NFTs) as digital assets subject to sales and use taxes. While Pennsylvania’s Department of Revenue inaugurated the change by adding NFTs to its “taxability matrix” without providing any accompanying guidance, Washington published an interim statement with definitions of key terms and a proposed schema for determining the “sourcing” of NFTs, or where, for tax purposes, related transactions physically take place. The key complication in taxing NFTs is that the current ecosystem is notoriously murky when it comes to the identities of buyers and sellers, down to where they are located. Moreover, some states currently acknowledge that NFTs may be taxable (even if they have not formally listed them as of yet) while others do not.” [H/T Hyperallergic]

An apocalypse bunker. Photography by Terravivos/Observer Design

Today’s attractive distractions:

The ultra-wealthy are buying up tricked-out bunkers for the apocalypse.

Researchers discover a new material with brain-like learning capabilities.

NASA is building a special facility to prevent a Martian plague outbreak.

The compostable mushroom suit Luke Perry was buried in didn’t work.

All Stories