Max and Ari, the duo behind Oakland Surf Club, have quietly turned OSC into one of the Bay’s most eclectic retail destinations, curating everything from gear and boards, to vinyl and fine art–all while balancing a budding business with a new marriage and a brand new baby girl.
Our good friend and Cre8tive Class founder Daghe offers up a glimpse into his world–from party pics and landscapes, to portraits of the young and doin’ it, Daghe’s 35mm photography acts as an ongoing document of his eclectic, on-the-go lifestyle.
Bucking the conventions of the prototypical sex shop, Feelmore combines expert curation, adventurous sexual politics, and deep engagement with the community. We take time out to kick it with proprietor and adult industry pioneer Nenna Joiner to talk about all that and more.
Rebekkah Castellanos gives us a glimpse of her photographic journey across China. From sprawling urban centers and ancient temples, to gorgeous portraits and double exposures, Rebekkah’s work offers a brief snapshot of a changing country.
I couldn’t have been the only one whose jaw dropped when we were given our first glimpse into the exquisite home of Mr. & Mrs. Draper in the fifth season of Mad Men. Their apartment was doper than nearly anything I’d ever seen–chic, minimal and full of vibrancy, their abode made me wonder if homes of the sixties really looked like that. It wasn’t until recently then that I came across the work of Charles Schridde.
A Wild West enthusiast and commercial illustrator by trade, Shridde was commissioned by Motorola to envision the homes of the future, stunning, luxurious and perfectly situated to house Motorola’s most recent line of radio equipment and large-screen (19 inches) television monitors. The year was 1961. Taking on the enviable commission, the illustrator got to work creating an array of visuals that ran in Life Magazine and The Saturday Evening Post from 1961 to 1963, depicting these elegant dream-homes, symbiotically nestled into their natural surroundinngs. Today, those illustrations provide some vintage visual inspiration, as well as serving their original intention, allowing us to imagine the possibilities of the future.
Somewhere between Cape Cod and the Western shore of Ireland, Bas Jan Ader was most likely swallowed up by the sea. His final art piece, In Search of the Miraculous, would consist of a botched journey across the Atlantic in a twelve-foot sailboat, the smallest vessel ever to make its way across that vast stretch of ocean. When the boat washed up on shore, Ader’s body was nowhere to be found, and though even his friends and family thought his death to be an elaborate hoax, his disappearance has remained an enigma ever since.
Over the course of the previous decade, Ader had amassed a small collection of masterpieces, each of them notable for their utter simplicity. It would be hard to imagine another artist so mythologized, based on such a limited body of output. But the works most often cited in connection with Bas Jan Ader’s name, including, perhaps most notably, his final voyage, carry with them an eerie sense of purpose, and a minimal aesthetic geared for undeniable communicative power. Many of his most famous works are short, performance-based films of Ader himself, some of them featuring short but unforgettable messages, penned by hand. In the years since his 1975 disappearance, Ader has become something of a cult figure in the contemporary art world, with creatives of every stripe developing their own romanticized notions about who the artist was, and the mystery surrounding his death. Among other things, the 2007 feature-length documentary, Here Is Always Somewhere Else, explores his life and final days in great detail. I suppose I’m only the latest to be pulled into the orbit a story like his creates.
This past Friday was a special one. A stepping stone for us in our journey and a moment to remember for a number of reasons. If you’ve stepped inside a Wine & Bowties party before, with the exception of two, the intention more times than not has been to throw bangers. Complete, utter, unadulterated bangers. But this one was different. It wasn’t “crackin,” and it wasn’t going ham, per se. It was just settled, and it felt right. Somehow we brought the grown ups out, and also the kids, making myself, Will and some other 20-somethings the middle children within this eclectic night. It was kinda beautiful.
Many a thank you to go around for this event. First and foremost to Barry’s family for allowing us to share Barry’s work with a new audience. And also much love to the Scrivani family for providing us the space to hold our first art exhibition in Oakland, and the wisdom to help us do it right. To our friends and family who attended the opening, thank you for being a part of such a unique night. In the years to come we’ll look back and understand the significance of it all, but for now, let’s enjoy the moments that Barry captured in his time. A Dangerously Curious Eye runs from now until March 30th, and you can join us for the artist talk this Saturday from 4pm to 6pm at Warehouse 416.
This one feels like it’s been a long time coming. On March 1st, we’ll be holding our first show at Oakland Art Murmur, and we’re proud to announce we’ll be presenting the work of Bay Area photographer Barry Shapiro. More specifically, we’ll be partnering with Warehouse 416 to present A Dangerously Curious Eye, a stunning and iconic collection of black and white photographs shot in Hunter’s Point between 1972 and 1982.
Barry Shapiro will likely be remembered as an unsung hero of Bay Area photography, an accidental cultural documentarian who captured an unforgettable portrait of San Francisco’s toughest neighborhood during turbulent times. Though largely unseen until shortly before his passing in 2009, his work was published in the 2010 photobook A Dangerously Curious Eye and was shown briefly in a solo show at SF Camerawork. Today, his work constitutes not only an invaluable historical document of a community on the whole, but also an idiosyncratic record of life lived on the edge. Barry’s story, and that of the community of which he was a part, is an incredible one, and one we’re proud to be able to share with you.
Over the coming weeks, we’ll be showcasing more of his work here on the Bowties, in the interest of providing a preview of what to expect for the opening reception on March 1st. Additionally, the show will continue through March 30th, so stay tuned for other upcoming events at Warehouse 416.
It couldn’t have just been the drugs, right? I suppose it was a combination of things–a golden age for psychedelic art and graphic design, an era when every new scientific discovery seemed to be expanding our collective understanding of human nature, a thousand Ram Dass or Sagan-inspired fusions between both of those worlds. All I know is my textbooks growing up, from the late part of the last century and the early years of this one, just didn’t look like this.
Biology Today, printed in three separate editions for college-level science students, was a prime example of the confluence between the aesthetic and scientific realms that seemed to characterize its particular time period in the world of popular science. In addition to some fifty-plus editorial contributors–seven of them Nobel laureates–Biology Today called on an impressive collection of the era’s most imaginative visual communicators in order to explore and interpret the subject matter at hand. Spanning virtually every medium imaginable, the illustrations, paintings, photo montages and diagrams supplied by those artists bring to life those concepts with psychedelic, surrealistic imagery–from reimagined biblical scenes, to visualizations of drug trips, to cell structures and all kinds of groovy body parts. For the design folks, this is some solid vintage eye candy. For the TED Talk crowd, it’s a reminder of just how far we can take things when we blur the lines between disciplines. And finally, yeah, it’s not a bad advertisement for doing a whole bunch of drugs either. Thanks to 50 Watts, for the inspiration.
In 1924, graphic design, as such, wasn’t really a thing yet. Granted, the practice of creating visuals for commercial or political causes was nothing new, but it wasn’t until the growing needs of a globalized world–massive military conflict, and more importantly, the rise of an international culture of commerce, mass-production and pop culture–would spur the development of graphic design into a discipline of its own. Like any discipline then, there emerged a handful of pioneers at the forefront, pushing the boundaries of the art form, and helping to articulate its purpose and parameters. Enter Gebrauchsgraphik, a Munich-based publication celebrating typography, innovative graphics and illustrations, and other staples of the still-burgeoning art form.
Over the decades to follow (though unsurprisingly, with a hiatus from 1936 to 1944) Gebrauchsgraphik became a leading force in graphic design, featuring some of the finest from artists’ whose work fell squarely at the intersection of art and commerce. Leading the way for publications like Graphis or Avant Garde, Gebrauchsgraphik was published in several languages and circulated worldwide, and in fact is still published today under the name Novum, a change adopted in the early ’70s. Today, each issue is a goldmine trove of images and information, but maybe what’s most striking is the cover design, particularly during the golden age of advertising, from the late ’50s to the early ’70s. Featured below is just a brief selection, for inspirational purposes.
I guess he never really could’ve seen it coming. Did anybody? I’m not sure he had Chocolate Rain or the turtles kid in mind. Let alone Worldstar. But it’s a beautiful thing, the walls coming down the way they have in the YouTube era. Accessibility is almost always a good thing, and pretty clearly, it’s a big reason why art is thriving on so many platforms, in so many places. Even if a low bar of entry means we’re exposed to a pretty substantial amount of dumb shit. I suppose it’s all up for debate. But in a sense, it’s why Max and I, and the rest of the crew are here, doing what we’re doing. On a side note, for the Coppola fans, Hearts of Darkness is a must. But more broadly speaking, this particular excerpt just kinda tripped me out. The future’s arrived. I guess all we have to do now is figure out what we’re going to do with it.
One night Keith came to a party at Nell’s for art dealer Tony Shafrazi. As he was leaving he turned back to me and offered me a button to put on my Levi’s Trucker’s Jacket. I asked him if he could tag my jacket, since I saw his tag all over the Village I figured I might as well ask. So he obliged. He always carried sharpies in his bag, so he drew a little man on the back with a black sharpie. I saw him not long after at the Garage again and he brought me into his group. I started hanging out at his studio at 676 Broadway in Greenwich Village. Lots of cool people used to come through that studio. And it put me in the loop into the Downtown 80’s art scene.
Given the fact that our phones now put the power and clarity of 8 megapixels in the palm of our hands, I think it’s fair to say that all that convenience has probably left our appreciation for art form of photography lacking. Which isn’t to say that that accessibility is a a bad thing by any means. But I do remember pretty clearly sitting in an art history class, marveling at a slide of Ansel Adam’s Taos Pueblo only to have the kid a few rows back raise his hand and ask, with all the conviction of someone who’s thought about their question for about a millisecond, what made the image worthy of our discussion. It was just a picture of a building, and what made that art? I suppose it’s always an interesting question to ask, assuming you’re not already jumping the gun by answering it yourself. But it struck me as funny, if also a little unfortunate, that the ease of photography today, for artistic or non-artistic purposes, could have made it so difficult to understand what so many people had seen before in those images.
My pretention aside though, the discussion popped into my head almost immediately in reflecting on the photography of Albert Renger-Patzsch, a master of early 20th Century German photography, whose work had a profound impression on New Objectivity in Weimar Germany. Renger-Patzsch, despite having a profound impact on his art, strayed away from descriptions of himself as an artist, instead choosing to classify himself more as a documentarian of things as they were, as a careful examiner into the nature of shape, light and contour. Renger-Patzsch’s work took a meticulous attention to detail, to highlighting shape and form, from flowers and small animals to massive human constructions like train stations or bridges. Like Adams, Renger-Patzsch’s photographs emanate aesthetic clarity, and even as they strive for that detached objectivity, they still bear the undeniable fingerprints of a master at work. Despite the destruction of his archives during WWII, Renger-Patzsch continued to have a profound impact on German photography up until his death in 1966. Somehow today, in a sea of iPhone photos, these seem all the more gorgeous.