20 Natural Wonders That Didn’t Make The Cut

We all grew up learning about the 7 Natural Wonders of the World, which, up until recently, consisted of The Grand Canyon, The Great Barrier Reef, Harbour of Rio de Janeiro, Mount Everest, Aurora Borealis, Paricutin Volcano and Victoria Falls. In 2001, however, a Swiss corporation called New7Wonders, in conjunction with UNESCO, started an initiative to choose new wonders, based on public voting. 

On 07/07/07, a brand new list of 7 man-made Wonders was released, after more than 100,000,000 votes from the public were cast. Later in the same year, the 7 New Wonders of Nature campaign was launched, and the Vote count took place on 11/11/11. The announcement was made, and now our new 7 Natural Wonders of the world consists of – The Amazon River, Halong bay, Iquazu Falls, Jeju Island, Komodo Island, Puerto Princesa Underground River and Table Mountain. In this list, I was less interested in looking at the 7 winning entries, as I am sure they will be spoken about for years to come, and more interested in looking at the entries that did not make it, as they might soon be forgotten. Of the 28 finalists for which the public voted, this list is all about 20 that did not make it onto the list. All the entries are listed in alphabetical order, as I cannot judge which is better.

1 - Angel Falls
Venezuela, 5°58′03″N 62°32′08″W

At a height of 979m, Angel Falls is the world’s highest waterfall. Found in the Canaima National Park in Venezuela, which has been a UNESCO World heritage site since 1994. The waterfall drops over the edge of Mt Auyantepui and plummets into the Korep River almost a kilometer below. This spectacular waterfall was named after Jimmie Angel, who was the first U.S. pilot to fly over the falls. The falls makes for one of Venezuela’s most popular tourist attractions, even though reaching it proves to be rather difficult, as visitors will need to fly to the Canaima camp before trekking through the jungle and taking boats up the river. Trips to the falls can only be made during the rainy season when there is enough water to take the boats up river and get a glimpse of the magical waterfall.

2-Black Forest
Germany, 48°N 8°E

The Black Forest is found in South-Western Germany. It was named the Black Forest by Romans, because of the dense tree growth, which blocks out the sun almost completely. The forest consists mainly of firs and pines, which were needed for wood, and resulted in mass logging in 1999, obliterating acres of the forest and reducing its size to a fraction of what it was. It is also the only home of Lumbricus badensis, which is a species of giant earth worm. The Black Forest is also the home of many small towns and villages, from which black forest ham and black forest cake apparently originated.

3-Bu Tinah Islands
United Arab Emirates, 24°37′N, 53°05′E

Bu Tinah is found in the waters of Abu Dhabi and is protected as a private game reserve. It is a tiny cluster of islands, amongst extensive coral reefs and seaweed beds. It is recognized as a UNESCO marine biosphere reserve, and is off limits to visitors. The Islands brag of at least 16 species of coral and holds high significance for climate change research, as coral generally thrives in water with a temperature between 23°C and 28°C, but in this case, is thriving in water that can reach up to 35°C. The islands are also home to a wide range of wildlife, including the rare hawksbill turtles and dugongs.

4-Cliffs of Moher
Ireland, 52°56′10″N 9°28′15″W

The Cliffs of Moher are located in Ireland’s County Clare. They range from a height of 120 meters to 214 meters, and make a vertical plummet into the Atlantic Ocean. Over a million tourists visit the cliffs for the exceptional view that they provide. The cliffs are home to an array of animals, including 30,000 birds. Besides the wildlife and tourists, you might have seen the cliffs before, as they have been featured in a number of films, including Leap Year, Princess Bride, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince and several episodes of Father Ted.

5-Dead Sea
Israel, Jordan, Palestine, 31°20′N 35°30E

The Dead Sea is a stretch of water about 67km long and 18km wide. It is a hyper saline lake and is 8.6 times saltier than the oceans, with a 33.7% salt saturation. The Dead Sea and its surrounding coastline is also the lowest elevation of the earth’s surface, at 423 meters below sea level, and is also the deepest hyper saline lake on earth, with a depth of 377m. The Dead Sea received its name as no marine life or animals can flourish or survive in the extreme conditions. The mud from the bottom of the Dead Sea is full of minerals and nutrients, which is used commonly in spas and resorts, as well as proving an effective treatment for eczema and psoriasis. The ultimate reason why tourists flock to the Dead Sea, however, is that the high density of the water (2.24kg/L) allows a person to float on the surface.

6-El Yunque
Puerto Rico, 18°19′00″N 65°47′00″W

El Yunque National Forest is found on the North Eastern side of Puerto Rico, and is the only tropical rainforest in the United States National Forest System. The rainforest is situated on the slopes of the Sierra de Luquillo Mountains and covers a 113.3km2 area. The forest has diverse flora and fauna, including up to 23 species of plants which are endemic to the area. Due to the forest’s location just below the tropic of cancer, it does not have specified seasons and generally has year-round rains, which can amount to over 6m or 240 inches of rainfall per year.

Ecuador, 00°30′S 91°04′W

The Galapagos Islands are a series of small volcanic islands in the Pacific Ocean. They are about 972km west of Ecuador, and form an Ecuadorian national park and biological marine reserve. There are 18 main islands in this relatively new geological formation, and they are renowned for their diverse wildlife and connections to Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, as he had also visited the Islands and based a large portion of his research on discoveries made there. In 1957, 97.5% of the Galapagos was declared a national park and, in 1986, 70,000km2 of ocean surrounding the Islands were declared a marine reserve. By 2001, both the national park and the marine reserve had been declared a world heritage site by UNESCO.

8-Grand Canyon
USA, 36°03′19″N 112°07′19″W

The Grand Canyon is located in Arizona, USA. It is believed that the Colorado River first cut its path through the would-be canyon, 17 million years ago, and has since been eroding it down to its current state. The Canyon is 446km long, up to 29km wide and about 1.8km deep. Through the years of erosion, almost 2 billion years of the Earth’s history has been exposed in the rock layers. The first evidence of human activity in the canyon is up to 3000 years old. The Pueblo Native Americans have inhabited the Grand Canyon for centuries, and some still reside there. The Canyons are also one of the world’s top tourist attractions, and draw about 5 million people to it every year. The Grand Canyon was a prominent feature on the previous list of 7 natural wonders, but has failed to make the cut this time around.

9-The Great Barrier Reef
Australia, Papua New Guinea, 18°34′4″S 148°33′19″E

The Great Barrier Reef is another wonder, from the previous 7 natural wonders list, that did not make it onto the new list. It is the largest reef system in the world and covers 344,400km2, with almost 3000 reefs and 900 islands. The reef is a protected world heritage site and one of the most thriving and diverse ecological sites in the world. The Great Barrier Reef is also the largest structure built by living organisms in the world, and can be seen from space. This magnificent reef is also home to over 30 species of whale, dolphin and porpoise, 6 species of sea turtle and a whopping 1500 species of fish.

10-Jeita Grotto
Lebanon, 33°56’35″N 35°38’36″E

The Jeita Grotto is two large interconnected cave systems that span for over 9km. The astounding caves are located just 18km from the Lebanese capital, Beirut. The two systems form the lower cave, which is only accessible by boat through an underground river system, which also happens to provide more than a million people with fresh drinking water, and the upper cave which forms large chambers and contain the world’s largest stalactite. A multitude of evidence has been found to suggest the caves being used as shelter by humans for thousands of years, long before their rediscovery, in 1836. Evidence found in the caves suggest human presence, in the form of pot shards, spear heads and bone shards, from the Late Palaeolithic/early stone age, the Neolithic/late stone age and the Chalcolithic/copper age/transitional bronze age.

11-Mt Kilimanjaro
Tanzania, 3°4′33″S 37°21′12″E

Mt Kilimanjaro is the tallest mountain in Africa, and is located in the Kilimanjaro National park, in Tanzania. It is, in fact, a volcano with three distinct cones called Kibo, Mawenzi and Shira – Kibo being the largest of the three and also having the mountains highest summit. Even though the huge volcano is located close to the equator, has lush tropical and sub-tropical forests, savannahs and grasslands surrounding it, and receives up to 2000mm of rainfall per year, it is still capped with snow year round, due to its enormous height of 5895m. After running tests on snow samples from the summit, it was determined that the base snow is over 11,000 years old. A major decrease in the amount of snow that caps Kilimanjaro has been witnessed since 1912, it now carries an 80% lighter load than then, and is expected to be snow free by 2030. The two smaller volcanic cones are extinct, but Kibo, the largest, is only dormant and could erupt again in the future.

12-Islands of Maldives
Maldives, 3 15 N, 73 00 E

The Maldives, or the Republic of the Maldives, is a series of 26 natural Atolls (coral islands that surround a lagoon completely or partially) situated in the Indian Ocean, about 400km south-west of India. Each atoll consists of smaller islands and coral reefs, and the Maldives’ 26 atolls form about 1130 smaller islands, of which only about 200 are inhabited. The Maldives are renowned for their diverse variety of colorful corals, and are home to over 300 species of tropical fish. Seven new species of fish have been discovered fairly recently in the Maldives. Sadly, in 1998 the increase in water temperature brought on by El Niño, killed two thirds of the entire coral population, but by 2004 methods using electrified, coral larva attracting cones that speed up coral growth was discovered and the reefs are being rehabilitated.

13-Masurian Lake District
Poland, 53°46′N 21°45′E

The Masurian Lake District is found to the north-east of Poland. It has over 2000 lakes, spread across 52,000km2. Most of the lakes are interconnected by rivers forming a large, extensive system of waterways. The entire district was shaped by the Pleistocene Ice Age and is now a very popular tourist destination, which offers fantastic boating opportunities, angling, cycling, hiking and canoeing, perfect for any nature lover. The entire area boasts 11 nature reserves with a wide variety of wild life. The area has a temperate climate with warm summers and cold winters, during which time the lakes freeze over.

14-The Matterhorn
Italy, Switzerland, 45°58′35″N 7°39′30″E

The Matterhorn is a mountain in the Pennine Alps, on the border between Italy and Switzerland. The mountain forms one of the highest peaks in the Alps, and it has four very steep sides, pointing in the directions of a compass, forming a pyramid at the summit. The Gargantuan Mountain towers over Zermatt village on the Swiss side, and over Breuil Cervinia on the Italian side. The Matterhorn has inspired fear in climbers for years, and was one of the last alpine mountains to be conquered. It was first ascended in July 1865, by seven climbers from the Swiss side, however two of the climbers plummeted to their deaths on the descent. Only three days later, the mountain was climbed again, by Jean-Antoine Carrel and Jean Baptiste Bich, who became the first to reach the summit from the Italian side.

15-Milford Sound
New Zealand, 44°40′30″S 167°55′46″E

Milford Sound is a fjord/fiord (a long narrow inlet with steep sides) found on the south-west side of New Zealand’s Southern Island. It is also a marine reserve, a world heritage site and one of the most popular tourist destinations in New Zealand. Milford Sound runs for 15km inland from Dale Point and is completely surrounded by high, steep rock faces and cliffs. Many of the cliffs and peaks surrounding the fiord have been named according to their appearance, for instance, The Elephant reaches 1517m in height and resembles an elephants head. Milford Sound is also the wettest inhabited area in New Zealand, causing lush forests to blanket the cliffs. The waters below are teeming with dolphins, penguins and seals with the occasional whale rearing its head, as well. There are two magnificent permanent waterfalls gushing down the cliffs, but when it rains, hundreds of temporary waterfalls form.

16-Mud Volcanoes
Azerbaijan, 40°06′20″N 49°23′20″E

Mud Volcanoes are basically formed when underground mud deposits are forced to the surface, expelling gasses and muddy liquid mixtures. Of the 700 known mud volcanoes around the world, over 400 can be found in Azerbaijan, along the countries Caspian coastline. All the mud volcanoes are fed by a giant underground mud lake. 86% of all the gas released by the pits is methane, which caused quite a stir in 2001, when one of the pits started spewing fire up to 15m into the air. It is estimated that every mud volcano should have at least one large eruption every 20 years, and for the rest of the time they create nutritional mud baths, to which tourists flock.

Bangladesh, India, 11°00′N 122°40′E

The Sundarbans form the largest saline mangroves in the world, and the name translates to “beautiful jungle” or “beautiful forest.” The mangrove is formed by three convoluted rivers, called Padma, Brahmaputra and Meghna. The Sundarbans cover about 10,000km2, collectively, with fresh water forests found more inland & saline tolerant mangroves closer to the coast. Thanks to the complicated, interconnected waterways, almost all parts of the mangrove is accessible by boat. The mangrove is home to crocodiles, deer, snakes, hundreds of varieties of birds and several endangered species, such as Bengal tigers, Ganges river dolphins, olive ridley turtles, hawksbill sea turtle and even the critically endangered Javan rhinoceros.

Australia, 25°20′42″S 131°02′10″E

Uluru is the name given to a huge sandstone rock formation, slightly south of central Australia. Uluru is a sacred site for the Aboriginal Australians, whose ancient rock art can be found in a variety of caves found in the sandstone mound. Uluru stands 348 meters above the ground, and has a circumference of 9.4 km, but the larger portion is buried beneath the ground. It is believed that Uluru is a small remnant of large mountain ranges that use to stand in the area. It also boasts several streams, springs and water holes, is a popular tourist attraction and takes about one hour to climb.

Italy, 40°49′N 14°26′E

Mt. Vesuvius is a well-known volcano in Italy, about 9km away from Naples. It is a large mountain that has only one cone, which is surrounded by the rim of a caldera that collapsed into the much larger original mountain, called Monta Somma. Mt. Vesuvius has erupted about 30 times in the last 2000 years, with the most notable eruption occurring in 79 AD, which is the eruption that famously swallowed Pompeii, a town near Naples, burying it beneath 4-6m of ash and pumice. After the town’s rediscovery and excavation in 1794, it has become a very popular tourist attraction and is considered a world heritage site. Vesuvius’ last eruption was in 1944, but none of the eruptions following 79AD has been quite as destructive. Today, the area around the mountain is considered a national park and millions of tourists flock up the mountain every year to look into the crater.

Taiwan, 23°28′12″N 120°57′26.16″E

Yushan, or Jade Mountain, is the highest point of the Yushan mountain range and also the highest mountain in South East Asia. The summit of the mountain stands 3952 meters above sea level and continues about 4000m below sea level, to the ocean floor. During the winter, the mountain is covered in frost, looking much like smooth uncut jade, hence the name. During the summer, lush conifers cover the base of the mountain. Because the area has a high climate range, there are about 140 species of bird, 28 species of mammal, 17 species of reptile, and over 186 kinds of butterflies living on the mountain and the surrounding Yushan national park.

Photo Romania Festival 2014 is launching the photo contests

Amateur and professional photographers from Romania and from abroad can submit their photos in 3 of Photo Romania Festival’s different competitions. 
The total prize sum is over 1.200 Euros 

For before the 4th edition of the Photo Romania Festival – “the most important photography festival in Eastern Europe” according to The Telegraph – the organizers have set up three different competitions for photo enthusiasts, with a total prize sum of over 1.200 Euros.

The first of these competitions is Photo Romania Award. It is addressed to amateur and professional photographers from around the world. Using the Photo Romania Award App, photographers can submit a photo on the Photo Romania Festival Facebook page for one of the three sections of the contest: “Photojournalism”, “Black and White”, and “Journey Photography”.

The submitting period is from the 26th of March till the 16th of May 2014. After the submitting has ended, the jury will choose a winner. The prize consists of a 500 Euro voucher for an online photo equipment store.

Based on the number of likes given by the public during the submitting period, there will be another winner photo, called “Viral Photo of the Year”, the prize for this will be a 300 Euro voucher. The announcing of the winners will be done on the 25th of May.

Romanian amateur photographers with a collection of 15 to 20 photos on a specific theme, who want to exhibit said collection during Photo Romania Festival, can register for the Expo-Debut Competition. The registrations will start on the 1st of April and will last till the 30th of April, on the Festival’s Facebook page. On the 1st of May the jury will decide the winner. The exhibition of the winner of the contest will take place on the 23rd of May, and the cost of the printing, transport, and accommodation of the winner will be provided by the organizers.

The third competition – Head to Head – is addressed to a number of 16 Romanian amateur or professional photographers. The photographers can register for the competition beginning from the 14th of April until the 16th of May, and during the festival (16th of May – 25th of May) they will undergo three distinct competition stages.

On the 1st stage, photographers will be split in 8 teams composed of 2 photographers each. Each team will receive 2 themes. For each theme, each contestant will have to shoot a photo in a 12-hour interval from the receiving of the theme. The jury will analyze all the photos and will choose 6 participants to qualify in the second stage of the competition. 

The same mechanism will be applied again for the last 2 stages of the contest so that in the 4th stage there are only 2 contestants left. They will receive 5 themes and be given 48 hours to submit their photos. 
The jury will appoint the winner on the 25th of May. The prize will be a 200 Euro voucher for an online photo equipment shop.

The jury for all 3 competitions will be made out of Sebastian Vaida, Radu Salcudean, Horatiu Curutiu, and Sebastian Magnani.

Also, this is the last week for the 20% early bird discount for the Photo Romania Academy photography workshops.

More info on: photoromaniafestival.ro/en and on facebook.com/PhotoRomaniaFestival

About Photo Romania Festival: The festival’s first edition was held in 2010, and since then it has brought photography in the spotlight of Romanian culture, succeeding in just 4 years to put Cluj-Napoca in a world-wide network of photography festivals. Along complex photography events, the festival has managed to unveil the first photography museum in Romania that starting 2015 will have a permanent headquarters. 

Last year’s Photo Romania Festival meant 40 exhibitions, 5 national firsts, 1.500 printed photos, 500 photographers from 15 countries, and 70.000 participants.

The festival is organized by Photo Romania Association and produced by Fapte, an agency that also organizes The Career Fair and Jazz in the Park. Communication partner for Photo Romania Festival is Vitrina Advertising.

Photo Guide part one 2014

Hit Rune Persson in 2013 when he had his show on Ålgården in Borås that day I shot for United Photo Press, and had only intended to do a photo essay, I was there with my son Vincent, we were there early before it had been people there.

I went up and greeted the Rune that I know since a while back we train at the same gym Iform in kinna, we had talked about possibly doing something together that brought photography to do.

I began to prepare myself for the shoot, my son, he ran around the room and looked happily on all items that Rune had made as an artist.

Rune and vincent found each other very quickly, so Vincent became a part of the whole shoot with Rune of this day...

SEE MORE AT:  http://fotografhammarsten.se/engelska/runewebb/index.html

United Photo Press painter Santiago Ribeiro brings "International Surrealism Now" to dallas texas - interview

The LuminArte Gallery of Dallas, Texas, is presenting the “Luso-American Surrealism of the 21st Century,” art exhibit featuring works by Portuguese artists Victor Lages, Paula Rosa, Francisco Urbano, and Santiago Ribeiro and American artists France Garrido, Joe MacGown, K.D. Matheson, Shahla Rosa, Steve Smith, and Olga Spiegel.

The exhibit, running from March 22 through April 26, is the continuation of the itinerant collective series promoted by the “International Surrealism Now” project comprising of variety of artworks, created through different techniques and media, such as drawings, paintings, photography, digital art and sculpture.

In 2010, United Photo Press painter, Santiago Ribeiro founded the “International Surrealism Now” project, a collective exhibits series dedicated to showcasing Surrealism as an art form. Last year, in June, he was invited to participate in the “Fantastic Realism” exhibit, an international collective promoted by the LuminArte Gallery of Dallas, featuring local and international artists.

Born in Coimbra, Portugal, Santiago Ribeiro, 49, attended art classes at the Escola Avelar Brotero and Escola Superior de Educação of Coimbra. He has organized and participated in numerous individual and collective art exhibitions in Portugal and abroad. His work is represented in several private collections as well as in the Collection of Contemporary Art of the National Museum Machado de Castro and in the Bissaya Barreto Foundation in Coimbra, Portugal. He is affiliated with United Photo Press.

Based in dreams and visions, Ribeiro’s metaphoric surrealist imagery surprises, puzzles and triggers mixed feelings. (See Photo Gallery). His paintings have been described as “complex compositions illustrating deep concerns about modern society and its individual and collective behavior.”

In this interview for the Portuguese American Journal, Santiago Ribeiro speaks of his development as a surrealist painter, Surrealism as an art form and his “International Surrealism Now” initiative.

When did you start painting?

I started painting as a child and continued experimenting mostly with primary colors. It all began after my father brought home a library of 40 art books with illustrations from the Middle Ages throughout the classics of the Renaissance to the masters of Impressionism and Surrealism and other contemporary modern artists. At the time, I couldn’t read the books but I was fascinated by the imagery. I remember being particularly captivated by the fantastic allegories of Hieronymus Bosch as well as the impressionist and surrealist art forms. Studying those illustrations was my first painting lesson because they inspired me to start painting on my own.

What is your background training as a painter?

I consider myself a self-taught artist. Actually, I was only sixteen when I produced my first oil painting. Since then, painting became my profession and I started selling my paintings to make a living. I attended a couple of art schools but I dropped out because I enjoyed painting more than going to classes. It was difficult to coordinate school and work. Yet, although I was self-taught, I consider that attending art classes was very helpful to my artistic development.

How did you come to identify with Surrealism?

I believe I was always a surrealist painter. Surrealism draws from dreams, the imaginary and the subconscious. In other words, I was a surrealist painter before I realized what Surrealism was. I only became aware of Freud’s theories of dreams and Surrealism as an art form later in my career. This is to say that, like many other surrealist painters, Hieronymus Bosch included, I was creating surrealist imagery as a way of expressing myself not being aware of Surrealism as an art form.

How has Surrealism evolved into your painting?

Surrealism allows for absolute unlimited unrestrained freedom. Surrealist painters tend to absorbed all kinds of influences from all kinds of art forms. It also allows for individuality and diversity. Each one of us ends up developing our own unique style, creating original paintings that are truly distinctive. Like most surrealist painters, I have developed my own distinctive technique and style. Yet, because we all share common traits, we end up being labeled as ”surrealist” artists.

What does the “surreal” mean to you as an artist?
Surrealist imagery draws from dreams and visions allowing the unconscious to express itself. As an artist, I feel compelled to create dreamlike imagery emerging from the stream of unconsciousness.

Do you have a reference or someone who has influenced you?
Hieronymus Bosch has always been an important reference to me. He has inspired and influenced me since I was a child and started experimenting with painting.

Is the “surreal” a means to an end in itself for you?
It is not a means or an end. It is a process. It all starts with a dream, a vision or a thought. It is a creative process that happens free from preset ideas. In my particular case, it happens as it happens when it happens. I follow no rules.

What fascinates you the most about Surrealism?
I don’t know. But, because you have asked, I would say it is all about freedom. I feel totally free to create whatever I feel like. That’s what fascinates me.

Oil on canvas, 100cm x 70cm, 2014.

What most inspires your creativity?
Surrealist aesthetics taps the subconscious through the free association of images and thoughts. It is a creative process which comes from deep within, very much influenced by the real and the unreal in which dreams play an import role. Dreams are based in reality as reality is based in dreams. Everything is connected. There are no boundaries. I may also feel inspired by a vision, a movie, a painting, a book or poem I just read. Music also inspires me. Everything intersects and interconnects.

What are the recurrent themes in your work and why?
The human form is definitely a recurrent theme in my paintings. Other recurrent themes are the yellow and red as dominant colors. But, if you ask me “why”, I would not be able to answer. It just happens that way.

What medium do you most often use?
I use oil on canvas exclusively.

Could you describe your artistic process?
Some surrealists are more descriptive while others are more abstract in their narratives. In my case, I envision what I want to represent and I try to make it happen. Yet, it takes technique and skill to give form to that visualization. I must say that more often than not I am not able to represent what I have envisioned. It is part of the creative process to be surprised with the end result. I often find myself bemused by my own creations which become revelations to me. Sometimes, when I look at an old painting of mine, I feel surprised by what I see – like I am seeing it for the first time. I find myself experiencing the same sense of revelation as any other person seeing the painting for the first time.

Oil on canvas, 100cm x 70cm, 1998.

Many have defined Surrealism is an art movement set in the beginning of the 20th century. How do you explain that the movement continues to thrive, over a century, across the globe?
Surrealism existed before and after the 20th century. It belongs to all ages and cultures past, present and future. Unlike other art forms, Surrealism has survived the test of time because it is tied to dreams. To dream is inherent to the human condition and Surrealism is the creative process that best serves the human need to represent dreams and visions in a continuum with little variations. In the 20th century there were attempts made to framework Surrealism as an aesthetic art form. The effort failed to materialize because Surrealism is about freedom of expression. It can’t be constrained to time, culture, ideology or aesthetics. Surrealism will prevail as long as there is the human need to express oneself spontaneously in freedom with creativity.

Where did you get the idea for your project “International Surrealism Now”?
The idea came about when I realized the power of the internet to communicate and connect with fellow artists and the public. Through the internet, I found out we could organize projects collectively with local institutions and groups worldwide. We started working with local artists promoting inclusive group events open to diverse artistic expressions such as poetry, music, multimedia and dance events. Our first group initiative took place in 2008 when we organized an international collective exhibit at the Casa Museu Bissaya Barreto, in Coimbra. This event led to broader initiatives and to the creation in 2010 of the “International Surrealism Now” project.

Your “International Surrealism Now” project has promoted exhibits in over 30 countries. A new exhibit is opening in Dallas, Texas, March 22. Why Dallas?

Oil on canvas, 70cm x 50cm, 1997.
Last year, Romanian-American Magi Calhoun, an artist affiliated with the our project, proposed my participation at the “Fantastic Realism” exhibit, an international collective promoted by the LuminArte Gallery of Dallas, Texas. Following that exhibit, American Surrealist Shahla Rosa proposed the realization of a collective exhibit at the LuminArt Gallery bringing together Portuguese and American surrealist artists which we titled “Luso-American Surrealism of the 21st Century.”

Is Surrealism in Portugal any different from any other forms of Surrealism?
There isn’t anything unique to Surrealism in Portugal that I am aware of. However, because we are all influenced by our environment, Portuguese surrealist painters will use references explicit to their environment that one can easily identify. As an example, I have used Coimbra, the city where I was born and where I live, as a reference in many of my paintings. Another reference is Condeixa-a-Nova, the town where I spent time as a child and where I did my first painting. I have also used elements from Conimbriga, the nearby ancient Roman city in ruins. Other easily identifiable references in my paintings include elements from the Portuguese architecture and from our national monuments.

Do you have one favorite painting in your personal portfolio?
I can’t say I have one favorite painting. Most of my paintings are sold quickly and I may not see them again. What I can say is that I have two particular paintings that I am much attached to and that I will not sell. One was painted in 1997 and the other in 1998. They must mean something special because I just can’t let them go. They give me a deep feeling of accomplishment and the sense that I will never be able to create anything like that ever again. So, I hold on to them.

How do you know when a work is finished?
It happens when I get a sense of completion and closure and I feel the urge to start something new.

About LuminArte Gallery

LuminArte Gallery, conveniently located in the Dallas Design District, showcases contemporary award-winning artists, as well as bright emerging talent. Specializing in art placement and interior design consultation, the gallery presents collectors, designers and corporate clients with a diverse array of artwork in a variety of media, styles and techniques. Representing over forty artists from more than a dozen countries, LuminArte continues to embrace the local art community by hosting an artist in residence program, and by providing workshops and continuing education opportunities.

The first “International Surrealism Now” collective exhibit was held in Coimbra, Portugal, in 2010, dedicated to the city and sponsored by the by the Bissaya Barreto Foundation. The project has been recognized by artists in 27 countries.

In the last four years, the itinerant exhibit has expanded to include 50 artworks by internationally renowned surrealist artists, in over 30 countries, including Germany, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Spain, USA, Philippines, France, Netherlands, Indonesia, England, Iran, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Ukraine and Vietnam.

The exhibit will open with a reception taking place on Saturday, March 22, from 7 – 10pm. LuminArte Gallery is located at 1727 E. Levee Street, Dallas, Texas 75207. Hours are Tuesday through Friday, 11am – 6pm; and from noon to 6pm on Saturday. For more information, call 214.914.4503.                          

Interview by: 
Carolina Matos, is the founder and editor of Portuguese Portuguese American Journalonline. She was the Editor–in-Chief for The Portuguese American Journal, in print, from 1985 to 1995. From 1995 to 2010, she was a consultant for Lisbon based Luso-American Development Foundation (FLAD)She graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Artsand a Master’s Degree in English and Education from Brown University and holds aDoctorate in Education from Lesley University. She is also an adjunct professor at Lesley University where she has taught undergraduate and graduate courses. In 2004, Carolina Matos was honored with the Comenda da Ordem do Infante D. Henrique, presented by Jorge Sampaio, President of Portugal.

Cars in Cuba

1957 Chevrolet on the Malecon in Havana, Cuba, 1998. © Daniel Kramer
Houston-based editorial photographer Daniel Kramer had the opportunity to visit Cuba multiple times and created an extensive body of work including this series on Cuban cars that was photographed between 1998 and 2000. 

His first trip to Cuba was in January 1998 when the Village Voice asked Kramer to photograph Pope John Paul II. Kramer tells PDN, “I returned [to Cuba] in November. The visas only allowed one [person] to stay for 30 days, so I’d return to the States, do some laundry, mail my Kodachrome to the lab, and turn around and go back.” 

The idea of photographing Pope John Paul II with Fidel Castro was appealing to Kramer, but so was the idea of documenting a place that was forbidden to U.S. citizens. “This is the land of the free … and we can’t travel to this beautiful island only 90 miles from our shores?” asks Kramer. “My mom is a world traveler who has been to more than 100 countries. Hanging in her office is an unattributed quote: ‘My favorite thing is to go where I’ve never been.’ 

One day I Googled the quote … Diane Arbus.” Twenty five of Kramer’s photos shot in Cuba in 2006, and a few other photos, are in the permanent collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. 

BRAZIL | The world's biggest carnival

Brazil's annual Carnival is a four-day festival that takes place just before Lent. While customs, celebrations and costumes vary by region and city, Rio de Janeiro's Carnival is the biggest and flashiest. As the city's top tourist draw of the year, the festival is expected to generate US$1.665 million in income.

You can't be afraid of crowds

More than 500,000 foreign visitors flock to the carnival each year to dance, shout, drink and surge around in happy mobs. Last year, 1.1 million people took part in the celebrations. The occupancy at Brazil's hotels is currently more than 80 percent and is expected to hit 98 percent, beating last year's 95 percent. According to local media, Rio's hotel association says this is the first time they predict an increase in domestic tourists over foreign tourists.

The festival's highlight -- the Samba Parade -- is a fierce competition

What began as street parades developed into a more organized competition among top samba schools from Brazil and abroad. Approximately 3,000 to 5,000 members of each school participate in full-blown costumes that differ every year.

March with a samba school

All you have to do is buy a costume, head to the meeting spot of the samba school you decide to parade with, pay a membership fee and, most importantly, follow what the person in front of you is doing once you enter the parade with your school. Oh, and don't forget to learn by heart your school's tune.
In order to be king, you need to be "as big as a house." And jolly

So says the current King Momo, Rodrigues da Silva, 33, shown here with his daughter. King Momo, the title for the King of the Carnival, must be won via a contest each year. The crown comes with a US$9,800 prize and a hectic party schedule. Da Silva was a bank teller before he ascended the throne. The Queen of the Carnival is also chosen via a contest.

The Vastness of Nebraska

"First Light, Cherry County, Nebraska," 2013. © Andrew Moore/Courtesy of the Artist and Yancey Richardson
Photographer Andrew Moore‘s current exhibit at Yancey Richardson showcases what he calls the “openness of the landscape, and a sense of freedom. Emptiness but not empty pictures.” 

“Dirt Meridian” is a collection of images from around the one-hundredth meridian (hence the show’s title) in Nebraska. Moore’s interest in the area stemmed from a cousin who worked on a ranch in South Dakota, and other family in Nebraska. Through family connections he was introduced to an expert pilot who specialized in aerial application (crop dusting). 

By attaching the camera to the strut of the plane and controlling remotely from his laptop inside the plane, Moore was able to photograph looking straight forward, looking straight down, backwards, etc. “I was able to shoot the moment before ‘Decisive Moment,”” he explains. The project will continue and include the southern plains around the panhandles of Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.

48th Montreux Jazz Festival Poster Sculpted by Yoann Lemoine (Woodkid)

The poster for the 48th edition of the Montreux Jazz Festival transcends time and space. This monochromatic masterpiece was designed and crafted by Yoann Lemoine, better known on stage and records as Woodkid. He based his work on a 3-dimensional scan of one of jazz’s most emblematic instruments and then took advantage of the complex shape, with its intriguing imperfections and hollows. This entirely digital process, sculptural in nature, resulted in the Festival’s first ever 3D poster. The mineral feel of Woodkid’s artwork evokes the unique landscape of the Montreux region.

In the Montreux tradition of nurturing special relationships with artists, Lemoine was given carte blanche to produce the Festival poster after his memorable stage performances at Montreux. In 2012, after his concert at the Festival, Claude Nobs invited Woodkid to perform the following year at the Auditorium Stravinski, this time with Lausanne’s Sinfonietta orchestra. That performance prefigured this year’s poster, with brass instruments resonating with Woodkid’s hi-tech soundscape as part of his relentless, and avowedly unattainable, pursuit of perfection.

Lemoine has many irons in the fire: in addition to his music, he has had success as a graphic designer, photographer, and director of prize-winning videos, inhabiting these various spheres with verve and vision. He burst onto the scene as Woodkid with his first album in 2011, followed up by a tour and then 2013’s The Golden Age.

A few questions for Yoann Lemoine

Yoann Lemoine
How did you end up involved in this latest project with the Montreux Jazz Festival?
I met with Mathieu Jaton in Lausanne last October. He asked me to produce the poster for the next edition.

How did you come up with the idea of the poster?
t started with a connection I discovered between technology and the Montreux Jazz Festival. I spent some time with Claude Nobs during my first visit to Montreux, and he told me how the Festival had made the first HD concert recordings, in 1991 with Sting I think. I was really struck by that revelation, as my roots are in the world of the image. Claude Nobs had his eyes on the future: he spoke about the possibility of capturing 3D images, a technology I use in my graphic design work.

One element dominates the image: a trumpet. Why that choice? 
Because the trumpet is one of the major symbols of jazz. The poster image was made from a 3D scan and the purposeful alteration of its shape, including bugs and gaps. The process echoes the way I do music and graphic design. I try to understand the digital world that surrounds us and to find in it the sensitive spot, the emotion, or even the human imperfection that is key to the beauty of music, especially jazz. What I really find interesting with this poster is that it is a kind of collision of past and future. It is simultaneously simple, pared down, and futuristic–it’s different from the posters we usually see.

It’s also the first ever 3D poster in the history of the Festival, as well as the first to be pretty much all white. How did you bridge your artistic universe and the world of the Montreux Jazz Festival?
I haven’t really thought about that question. Since the history of the Festival’s posters reflects a great eclecticism and a wide variety of esthetic choices, I felt that anything was possible. Of course, I wanted to keep a strong tie to music, so I went with the theme of the instrument. That worked better for me than evoking more nostalgic themes related to the history of jazz. I wanted to incorporate that into the contemporary, sort of like when, in my music, I bring brasses into a digital soundscape.

Yoann Lemoine’s official website: www.woodkid.com

Renowned Spanish flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucia dies at 66

Spanish flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucia plays a guitar during a rehearsal of closing concert of the Biennial of Flamenco in the Andalusian capital of Seville October 9, 2010.
Paco de Lucia, the influential Spanish guitarist who vastly expanded the international audience for flamenco and merged it with other musical styles, died suddenly on Wednesday of a heart attack in Mexico.

The 66-year-old virtuoso, as happy playing seemingly impossible syncopated flamenco rhythms as he was improvising jazz or classical guitar, helped to legitimize flamenco in Spain itself at a time when it was shunned by the mainstream.

"I learned the guitar like a child learns to speak," the guitarist said in a 2012 documentary.

Born Francisco Sanchez Gomez, he became famous in the 1970s after recording bestselling album "Entre Dos Aguas", becoming the first flamenco musician to perform at Madrid's opera house Teatro Real in 1975.

Paco's albums such as "El Duende Flamenco de Paco de Lucia" and "Almoraima" reinvented traditional flamenco.

He toured extensively with well known international artists and played with the likes of Carlos Santana and Al Di Meola, happy to expand flamenco rhythms into jazz, although that upset flamenco purists.

"It has been said, and rightly so, that Paco de Lucia has never been surpassed by anyone and guitar playing today would not be understood without his revolutionary figure," Spain's arts association SGAE said in a statement.

De Lucia went on to record flamenco jazz fusion with Di Meola and John McLaughlin in a series of now legendary concerts, and also recorded with Chick Corea.

He was highly acclaimed after playing Joaquin de Rodrigo's "Concierto de Aranjuez" at London's Festival Hall in 1991, attended by the composer himself, and considered one of the best interpretations of the piece.

De Lucia memorised the piece by ear as he did not read music, and gave it a distinctive flamenco flavor.

"With the guitar I've suffered a great deal, but when I've had a good time, the suffering seemed worthwhile," he said in the documentary.

He also formed a partnership in the 1970s with singer Camaron de la Isla which played a large part in creating the New Flamenco movement.

A spokesman for the city hall in Algeciras, where de Lucia was born, confirmed his death and said the city had decreed two days of official mourning.

Emma Martinez - Author of Flamenco, 
All You Wanted To Know

I discovered flamenco and Paco de Lucia with [the singer] Camaron de la Isla in the 1970s, thanks to my flamenco-playing cousin. His music and flamenco have been a constant companion and inspiration throughout my life.

I recall managing to get backstage at a London concert of Paco where we compared fingernails (he didn't believe I was a classical guitarist) and I told him how I thought his interpretation of the Concierto de Aranjuez was the best.

I remember my knees were shaking, I was so excited about meeting him. He thanked me and muttered under his breath that Narciso Yepes thought it was "folkloric" (a common classical guitarist put-down of flamencos).

For me, as for the vast majority of my contemporaries, Paco was, is and forever will be the ultimate flamenco guitarist. As a classical guitarist (retired), for me he also became simply the world's greatest guitarist regardless of genre, and one of the world's best composers for guitar.

Live at MONTREUX Jazz Festival

Hennessey Venom hits a record 270.49mph

America’s 1244bhp hypercar has just gone faster than the Bugatti Veyron SS. TG has the full story.

America’s 1244bhp hypercar has just gone faster than the Bugatti Veyron SS. TG has the full story.

Top Gear can exclusively reveal the Hennessey Venom has hit 270.49mph at the Kennedy Space Center, the highest speed ever recorded by a production car.

The 1,244bhp Venom clocked its record-breaking figure in the hands of test pilot Brian Smith on February 14 on Florida's Space Shuttle landing runway. Its run eclipses the v-max of the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport, which clocked 269.86mph on the Ehra-Lessien test track in 2010.

You can watch footage of the run below, but suffice to say the stats are astonishing. According to the official VBox figures, the Venom - powered by a 7.0-litre twin-turbo GM-sourced V8, remember - accelerated from 20mph to 120mph in just 7.71 seconds, pulling a maximum 1.2g of longitudinal acceleration as it went.

Perhaps even more impressive, the Venom went from 120mph to 220mph in a fraction under ten seconds. That's extraordinary acceleration, even for a car that holds the 0-200mph record. Achieving the final 10mph took just ten seconds, a zone Smith described as just a little sketchy.

TG drives the Venom GT prototype

"At the very top end, there was a little wandering, but hey, we're going 270mph!" says the former Michelin tyre test engineer. "It was still pulling. If we could run on an eight-mile oval, we could go faster than that..."

But the Venom didn't have an eight-mile oval with play with, rather a runway that is, by the standards of v-max runs, somewhat on the snug side at just 3.22 miles. The Ehra-Lessien straight measures some 5.5 miles, with curved banking at the end. The Space Center's runway ends in ‘grass and a ditch'.

Which meant Smith had to get hard on the brakes after clocking 270mph. The Venom decelerated from its v-max to 70mph in just under 1000 metres, which might sound a long way but, when you consider it was covering over 120 metres every second at its quickest, is a mighty impressive feat.

However. Despite going quicker than the Veyron Super Sport, the Venom can't call itself the fastest production car in the world, at least not in the eyes of Guinness. See, to qualify for a Guinness speed record, a car must make two runs, one in either direction, with the two top speeds averaged out for the official time.

In 2010, the Veyron SuperSport hit 265.96mph on its upwind leg, and 269.86mph on its downwind leg. Neither figure, as you'll notice, is as rapid as the Venom's 270.49mph. So why didn't Hennessey do another run in the opposite direction? Blame the space dudes.

Venom GT vs SSC Ultimate Aero

"We wanted to run in both directions, but the NASA guys wouldn't let us. Getting into NASA isn't easy. It was a two-year process," company boss John Hennessey told Top Gear. He confirmed the car would have been mechanically fine for a return run, and that the single run didn't take advantage of any significant wind assistance. "The morning was relatively calm, about a 3mph quarter-crosswind. If we'd run in both directions, the result would have been pretty much the same."

Even if the Venom had run in both directions, Hennessey says it couldn't have qualified for a Guinness record. "For whatever reason, Guinness made a decision that to qualify [for a production car world record], you have to build 30 units," John told us. "We're only making 29 Venom GTs. To date we've built and delivered 11."

Like Smith, Hennessey believes the Venom could have gone even faster on a longer runway. "Looking at the rate of acceleration, we're still pulling around 1mph per second at 270mph," he says. "With another mile to run, I believe the car could do 275. Maybe 280..."

Even so, Hennessey is pleased with the result. "Since the inception of the Venom GT, it's been a dream of ours to build the fastest car. There are lots of different definitions, different metrics, but for us, when people talk about being the fastest, it's about being the absolute fastest. So it was a good day. We achieved the goal. No other road car has broken 270mph..."

Despite the inevitable comparisons, Hennessey doesn't see the Venom GT as a Bugatti Veyron competitor. "They're completely different cars," he says. "We aim not just to be the most powerful, but also the lightest. That thing [the Veyron] is a Bentley GT, a comfortable car."

So what next for the Venom? Hennessey says there are no further v-max runs planned, but that the Venom's next targets are track-based. "We'd like to switch gearing, and look at validating performance numbers on some well-known race circuits around the world."

Including the Top Gear test track? Yes, says Hennessey. "I think we could be the fastest at Dunsfold. We could go into the very low teens [i.e. a lap time somewhere around 1m13s] with Stig in the driving seat. That would be a bigger validation than breaking 270mph..."