Anil’s been a blogger since forever, and a good friend for many years now. We’re both in Portland, Oregon for XOXO this weekend, so it seemed like a good time to highlight him and his picks.
I love Anil’s choices and what he has to say about them. When I told him so via text, he replied “a little intimidating for me because I don’t know nothin’ about art. I figured I could tell some stories and maybe that’s enough.”
To which I say: it absolutely IS enough. You don’t need a playbook to make a meaningful connection with a photograph or painting. The meaning you find doesn’t need to be validated by the Art Authorities to be real. It’s your connection, and it’s your story to tell. —Jen
5 Perfect Picks
1) Black Marble (Asia), a 20x200 Space Edition
Ever since my son has been old enough to understand space and our place amongst the planets, it's been revelatory for me to see the Earth from this perspective. And since 3/4 of his grandparents were born in Asia, having a view of the world that centers those parts of his history just adds a resonance to the work for me. Plus, it's space! Who doesn't love space?
2) I Am an American, Oakland, CA, March 1942, by Dorothea Lange
As the child of immigrants, and someone who lives and works in between and among many cultures, nothing speaks more to my heart than an assertion of identity. Especially because the concept of being an American is definitively one that is asserted, rather than simply an accident of geography. Lange's work is always beautiful, but perhaps never more than here.
3) Parachute Jump and Beach Scene, Coney Island, ca. 1965, a 20x200 Vintage Edition
Sometimes time travel is possible. Coney Island is for our family what it has been for millions of others in the past -- the default place we go to the beach in the summer. But what's striking is this image can provide a window to a moment almost 50 years ago that looks as if it could have been taken when we hopped off the subway this summer. That's amazing.
4) S75-20361, a 20x200 Space Edition
I remember very distinctly being a kid and reading about the Apollo-Soyuz mission, which took place just before I was born, and being struck by the sheer idealism of the venture. Millions and millions of dollars were spent, lives risked, careers put on the line, all for something that was unabashedly a symbol of our ability to get along with our fellow humans. That's a beautiful thing, and even more so for creating such evocative mementos of the occasion.
5) Seventh Avenue Looking South from 35th Street, Manhattan, by Berenice Abbott
Living and working in Manhattan, I sometimes feel like I'm surrounded by so much history that's just beyond my grasp. I always want to know "what did that building used to be? What was here before?" So Abbott's ability to capture a moment that is both so specific to 1935, but still so familiar, just speaks to that question that is in the back of my mind every time I walk down the street. Just beautiful.
5 Q's + 5 A's
1) What's your favorite museum?
Still gotta be the Natural History Museum. I'm a sucker for the classics.
2) Favorite color?
3) Coveted coffee table book?
Manhattan in Maps -- a documentation of not just how a city evolved, but how New Yorkers have seen themselves. It's art that also reveals how we function politically, socially, culturally, even geologically.
4) You've got $5M to spend on one piece of art. What would it bel?
I would love to have Jeff Katz's original photo used for the cover of Prince's album "Sign O' The Times". It's a work that represents to me the pinnacle of focusing all of one's expressive, technical and entrepreneurial ambition and at the same time that image was so mysterious, and layered, and off-kilter that I would study it for hours to divine its meaning.
5) If you could be reincarnated as another artist, who would you want to be?
It changes every day, but at this moment, Massimo Vignelli. The idea of being deeply innovative and evocative while also creating rich designs that bring order to complex systems is so appealing, particularly in a social or civic context. But ask me again tomorrow, it'll be somebody different.
The 411 on Anil Dash
Anil Dash is cofounder of ThinkUp, an app that makes our social networks more fun. Dash is also cofounder of Activate, a strategy consultancy that works with the leading companies in technology and media. Described as a "blogging pioneer" by the New Yorker, he has been blogging at Dashes.com since 1999. In 2013, Time named @anildash one of the best accounts on Twitter; some of its half million followers agree.
Anil is on the board of Stack Exchange, the Data & Society Research Institute, and the NY Tech Meetup, the largest tech trade group in the United States. He has been a contributing editor for Wired and advises startups and non-profits like Medium and DonorsChoose. Dash's works have been exhibited in the New Museum of Contemporary Art and he co-created monegraph, the first system to use bitcoin technology to verify digital artworks as originals.
Anil lives in New York City with his wife Alaina Browne and their son Malcolm. He's also the only person quoted in both Chris Anderson's "The Long Tail" and in Toure's Prince biography "I Would Die 4 U", and has never played a round of golf, drank a cup of coffee, or graduated from college.