It wasn’t beamed down from the Mars rover, but it is a window into another world—one just beyond our physical ability to perceive. Armed with a specially converted infrared camera, Australian artist Kate Ballis unlocks the hidden universe in the scorching-hot desert of Joshua Tree National Park, revealing the spectrum of light emanating from plants and the natural environment that’s invisible to the naked eye. Ballis, who says her work “straddles science and magic,” created her Infra Realism series during multiple trips to Southern California, seeking out the surreal in her everyday surroundings. Seen through her lens, the brittle desert landscape springs to life, unveiling a lush oasis where succulents and dusty palms thrive in stunning, saturated reds, pinks, purples and blues. In addition to a forthcoming book, she’ll soon be taking her candy-colored reality show on tour to galleries around the world.
North Carolina—Pakistani-American artist Anila Quayyum Agha wields light and shadow like a sorcerer, transforming whole rooms into sensory-rich experiences. In Intersections, a floating wooden cube is illuminated from within, casting elaborate geometric patterns that evoke Islamic sacred spaces. It’s on view this month in You Are Here at the North Carolina Museum of Art, an exhibition featuring immersive installations from 14 contemporary artists.
New York—Wood slabs, branches and roots are the canvases for Hudson Valley artist Jason Middlebrook, whose works overlay nature’s geometries with his own. Those include Eleven Ways to Get Your Groove On, an acrylic painting on a cross section of maple, an upcoming commission for a courthouse in Mobile, Alabama, and a series of graphic planks coming to New York’s Miles McEnery Gallery in May.
Tulsa—With a headlight for nighttime landscaping and an all-aluminum chassis, the aesthetically striking Lawn-Do-All mower was conceived in 1948 by Clifford H. Flanigan for Universal Auto Parts in Indiana—and quickly forgotten. It’s among the 4,000 underappreciated objects of design that make up the inimitable collection of philanthropist George R. Kravis II, housed in a 14,000-square-foot facility in Oklahoma and beautifully presented in a new book, Industrial Design in the Modern Age, out from Rizzoli Electa this month.
Philadelphia—Dating back to 2450 BC, the glittering Ram Caught in a Thicket, an ancient Mesopotamian statuette crafted in gold, lapis lazuli and copper, was discovered in 1928 by archaeologist Sir Leonard Woolley in the Great Death Pit at Ur, in what is now modern-day Iraq. It’s on view in the Penn Museum’s new, 6,000-square-foot Middle East Galleries, opening April 21.
New York—The contorted, almost extraterrestrial elegance of the Monument to the Battle of Sutjeska, a World War II memorial in the former Yugoslavia, represents the radical, forward vision of the country’s groundbreaking architects before the regime’s collapse in the ‘90s. More than 400 drawings, models, photographs and films from the era are on display in “Toward a Concrete Utopia: Architecture in Yugoslavia, 1948-1980” at MoMA this summer.
Denver—Comprising of 34 talons from at least six American grizzlies, this 19th-century bear-claw necklace was worn by the Pawnee tribe’s Sky Chief to ward off enemies and disease. When he took the powerful spiritual object off during a hunt in 1873, it did not go well, leading to a surpise attack by the Lakota now known as the Battle of Massacre Canyon. It’s on view at the Denver Art Museum in “tampede: Animals in Art,” through May 2019.
Philadelphia—JVC’s Videosphere television, designed in 1970, was inspired by the mod-futuristic set of 2001: A Space Odyssey. It’s just one of the treasures in the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s “Design in Revolution: A 1960s Odyssey,” a broad survey of photographs, paintings, prints, furniture and architecture, running through September 9.
Long Live the King
Graceland—HBO’s two-part documentary Elvis Presley: The Searcher, airing April 14, journeys into Presley’s creative trajectory with rare footage and dozens of revealing interviews
Making the Grade
Madison—With 12 locations in university towns across the country and plans for a dozen more by 2020, the rapidly expanding Graduate Hotels chain brings a locally unique, boutique aesthetic—and parent-friendly luxuries like Malin + Goetz toiletries—to each of its properties, including the Madison location, above, a block from the University of Wisconsin’s campus.
Culver City—L.A.’s most otherworldly new culinary experience springs from the mind of chef Jordan Kahn, whose $250, 17-course tasting menu at Vespertine consists of avant-garde sculptural dishes like this vermouth aperitif topped with passionfruit flower, which seems to fulfill Kahn’s promise that his restaurant “is from a time that is yet to be, and a place that does not exist.”
Washington—What to do when your cabin sits in a floodplain? Prop it up on wheels, clad the exterior in steel, and take in the mountain view from your elevated porch. That’s what Seattle architect Tom Kundig has done with six 200-square-foot “rolling huts,” now for rent in north-central Washington, each of which offers a fireplace, a sleeping platform, and an ideal jumping-off point for cross-country skiing and hiking. The hovering frames also allow the surrounding meadow, once an RV park, to reclaim its natural state. As Kundig puts it, “That’s ultimately what architecture is: Ask the client. Ask the landscape.”