A compulsion for neat art wins award

By Diane Brown, IU Communications Specialist:

Barry Rosenthal's 'Found in nature' Source: Things Organized Neatly

Barry Rosenthal’s ‘Found in nature’
Source: Things Organized Neatly

I got that “why didn’t I think of that?” feeling when I first browsed Austin Radcliffe’s Webby Award-winning website.

Radcliffe, a 2012 Herron School of Art and Design graduate, creates and curates images of everyday stuff for the website “Things Organized Neatly.”

My first thought — or assumption — was that the genius images must be rooted in what I called AOCD — artistic obsessive compulsive disorder — for lack of any known, real terminology.

More than one image reminded me of how a relative tackled dishwashing.

First, all the dirty glasses, spoons, forks, knives, plates, bowls, pots and pans were laid out in military parade formation across the kitchen countertops. Then they were marched one group at a time into the sink for washing.

Totally inefficient. Certainly not a thing of beauty to be photographed and shared.

Things Organized Neatly Feb. 26, 2014 post: 'Car' - a disassembled 1980s Mitsubishi Colt.

Things Organized Neatly Feb. 26, 2014 post: ‘Car’ – a disassembled 1980s Mitsubishi Colt.

Boy was I short-sighted.

Since his days as a Herron junior, Radcliffe has posted hundreds of photos of ordinary objects just as neatly organized as those unwashed dishes. At a New York gala last month he received the 2015 People’s Voice Webby Award in the personal blog/website category.

“Do you arrange all your own compositions, or do you also look for neat compositions by other artists?” I asked in an email interview.

“Images on my blog come from artists, mainly photographers, all over the world,” Radcliffe said. “I have featured approximately one photo every day for the last five years, so I couldn’t have done it all myself. The site has become a documentation of the trend/style of organizing things neatly.”

Brooke Shanesy for Brush Factory - Neatly Organized

Brooke Shanesy for Brush Factory – Neatly Organized

Did he say a trend? A style?

Yep. Apparently Radcliffe is not the only artist with a penchant for order.

“Are you as neat as this in your everyday life?” I asked, still thinking his artistic pursuits had to be tied to a Felix Unger or Adrian Monk personality.

“My apartment is not as tidy as most people (would) think, though I am acutely aware of neatness in design and image,” Radcliffe said. “There are a lot of scientific applications such as archaeology and geology which interest me. Artists like Tom Sachs and Mark Dion opened me up to these relationships to art.

Googling “Dion” and “Sachs” led me to Neatly Art Magazine.

“From Wunderkammern to modern forms of artistic compulsion,” proclaimed the subtitle. Hey, does that imply that my assumption of a tie to compulsive behavior was understandable?

“Follow me on Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/neatlyart/neatly-art/” the magazine begged.

Award show host actor and comedian Hannibal Buress shown with Webby awards.

Award show host actor and comedian Hannibal Buress shown with Webby awards.

So I did and found a whole world of the art of neatly organized things.

There was Derick Melander’s tree trunk wearing 25 different colored belts and his interlocked rings of white sneakers and work boots, just to name two.

And there was that 1955 photo of a young boy and a girl standing among shelves of dozens of doll heads at the Ideal Toy Company in Long Island.

(Hmm, maybe I can find a use for those dozen identical Barbie dolls that I purchased new for less than two bucks each.)

Austin Radcliffe's 'Springs Organized Neatly' - Radcliffe made this photograph with the talented Brooke Shanesy to promote and share his excitement about winning a Webby.

Austin Radcliffe’s ‘Springs Organized Neatly’ – Radcliffe made this photograph with the talented Brooke Shanesy to promote and share his excitement about winning a Webby.

Having a well-known blog (350,000 Tumblr followers) has opened doors for Radcliffe.

“It is very exciting to be recognized by such a prestigious Internet award, for a blog project I started while at Herron. And the Webby people actually asked me to participate this year; I didn’t apply on my own, “Radcliffe said. “The awards ceremony was surreal and definitely memorable. I don’t know exactly what it will lead to, though I have already gotten a few new emails from creative agencies who want to work together.”

 The successful IUPUI alumnus literally put some springs into his art in response to winning one of the coiled-spring-shaped Webby Awards.

 “One of my latest images is ‘Springs Organized Neatly,” which I created specifically in celebration of my Webby Award,” said Radcliffe, who shot the award-inspired photo in collaboration with Brooke Shanesy.

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