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GANGSTERS DOODLE

We take a look inside the world of Post-It Note Illustrator turned author Marlon Sassy. The Vancouver based artist has grown a considerable following for his hip-hop culture inspired “doodles,” and with his first book under his belt, it seems like things are only going up for our friend Marlon.

Category Archives: Art

THE OTHER DREAM TEAM

The story of Lithuania's improbable journey to Olympic glory, with a little help from the Grateful Dead

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Lithuania

Barcelona, 1992. In the version of this story we’re all too familiar with, the storyline follows a who’s who of NBA mega-legends, decked out in the good old red, white and blue, absolutely oblerating the competition, and cruising their way to Olympic gold in the process. On the podium just to the right though, stood a team outfitted head to toe in tie-dye, a cartoon skeleton, mid-bashout, emblazoned across their chests. As you might expect, that same team had a back story at least as compelling as that of the team most consider to be the greatest ever assembled.

Appropriately entitled The Other Dream Team, director Markius Marevicius’ new documentary tells in rich, vivid detail, the story of the 1992 Lithuanian team’s unlikely journey in the broader context of Lithuania’s struggle for independence from the Soviet Union. Most centrally, it’s a fascinating example of the potential of sports to act as a symbol, or even a catalyst for political and social change. But even aside from the big picture, tragedy-to-triumph stuff, The Other Dream Team is equally lovable for its attention to small details–to the individual peculiarities and unlikely twists of fate that brought a fledgling nation onto the international stage. Among the strangest of all those details, probably, is the involvement of the Grateful Dead, who, upon hearing about the plight of Lithuania’s talented, but underfunded team, decided to lend a hand.

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POLISH FILM POSTERS

A vibrant retrospective of Poland's iconic poster art from the '60s and '70s

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On the surface, the communist era in Poland proved unkind to the arts. As the international theater and film emerged between the 1960s and ’70s in Poland, accompanying visuals were created in the form of movie posters and promotional material to market the works. Yet while many of these posters served to promote the films to a wider audience, the state-controlled film and theater institutions saw most of those promotional materials as subversive and incendiary. As a result, the government commissioned Polish artists to re-do the works in hopes of creating more “tasteful” advertisements for upcoming plays and films.

Fortunately, the results were actually astounding. Vibrant posters were created by famed Polish artists from the likes of Wiktor Gorka to Waldemar Swierzy. Oftentimes hardly resembling the films they were advertising, the recreated posters embodied a more carefree, abstract nature, which over time helped to establish Polish poster design internationally. Collected by vintage film aficionados Eye Sea Posters, these images provide a window into the past through the work of some of Poland’s most revered artists.

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THE STUDENT

Adrien Sauvage reintroduces us to the art of "DE"

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In many ways Adrien Sauvage is an enigma. A keen sense of style, coupled with modernist sensibilities spawned his most celebrated work to date in the form of his 2011 cinematic short, This Is Not A Suit. With time spent as a personal stylist following his stint as an English international basketball player, at 29, it seems as though the Ghanaian born Sauvage continues to evolve with the times. Following up his creative efforts with his most recent piece aptly titled The Student, the film again finds Suavage in the director’s chair, expertly detailing the intricacies of his “Dress Easy” mantra. Simple yet effective, The Student offers another glimpse into the ever evolving mind of Sauvage, while also offering a subtle reminder for us all to step our sartorial game up.

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REACH OUT, I’M RIGHT HERE

Ryan McGinley's travelling photographic utopia makes its way to Tokyo

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Ryan McGinley

By now, I feel like we’ve all got to be pretty familiar with the work of Ryan McGinley. Now more than a decade removed from his early days documenting the young and the hip on the Lower East Side, McGinley’s built up an illustrious set of achievements and accolades, and more specifically over the last few years, honed in on his own unique vision and stylistic and thematic hallmarks. Youth, nudity, freedom, wildness–McGinley’s work tends to pair almost unnaturally vivid color with a certain level of spontaneity, so even as shots are carefully designed to some degree, they still teem with the kind of energy that’s impossible to stage.

Most of the work McGinley’s shown recently, including these shots from his recent Tokyo show Reach Out, I’m Right Here, revolves around summer months spent road tripping, setting the stage for two distinct collections of images. Both, naturally enough, feature nude models, though the setting and the relationship of those models to nature differ. Some images, which formed the bulk of Animals, find their subjects mingling with a strange selection of creatures, culled from a handful of zoos or wildlife sanctuaries across the country. Others, in typical McGinley fashion, feature naked bodies in motion, turning wide open, natural space into a liberated playground. I know I’m not the only one waiting to see what he does next, but for now, we’ve got these to meditate on.

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VISIONS OF ITALY

Iconic shots of Italy's most storied destinations from photographer Kevin Sandlow

The Venice canals, the Coliseum, the Vatican–Italy is full of sights that you might pass off as cliche if they weren’t so damn beautiful, and so full of history. They’re the kind of places we’re all familiar with in a sense, but that you have to see for yourself to really know. For photographers, these landmarks offer the opportunity to capture that timeless beauty through their own lens, finding a tone and telling a story that relates their own unique experience. Fortunately, Kevin Sandlow, also known as Kayven found himself in a position to do just that. Choosing to document his time in Italy with a Canon 7D and an Olympus OM-1, Kevin’s classic black and white shots help further relate just how dope Italy really is. With stints in Milan, Florence, Venice and Rome, among others, Kevin was able to capture his surroundings gorgeously, and even learned a few things along the way. We asked Kevin to fill us in on the insight he picked up in his time abroad, for our most recent Q&A.

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BROKE

ESPN's 30 For 30 takes a look into a shockingly common phenomenon among former pro athletes

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I remember one day on the blue courts pretty vividly, when my fourth grade dreams of NBA superstardom were effectively squashed. It was a much wiser and more seasoned fifth grader, undoubtedly one with an older sibling, who dropped the bomb on me that the odds were pretty stacked against me in that particular pursuit. The staggering odds against most young athletes making a career out of it are something most of us come to terms with pretty early on in life. But I feel like until more recently, the assumption was that once you’d made it to the pros and raked in a few million, you’d be pretty well set up for the rest of your life, financially speaking.

The reality is, as plenty of sports fans now know, quite the opposite. According to a much-cited report from Sports Illustrated in ’09, 60% of NBA players end up dead broke within five years of retirement. In the NFL, where injuries are plentiful and careers are cut shorter, 80% are down and out by year three. The phenomenon is of course, pretty prime fodder for ESPN’s storied 30 For 30 documentary series, and for tonight’s installment, Broke ESPN asked director Billy Corben (of Cocaine Cowboys fame) to dig a bit deeper into the stories of the athletes who got breaded fast and lost it all. Among the better known interviewees are Andre Rison and Antoine Walker, and without having seen a minute of it, I’d say it’s safe to assume it touches a few things–the hazards of ballin, the pitfalls of bringing too many homies along for the ride, the challenges of money management. I can’t help but wonder what a Top 40 rappers version might look like.

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LIFE IN THE REAL WORLD

San Francisco based artist Christina Empedocles navigates the balance between creativity and practicality

Making it as an artist isn’t easy. Patience, dedication, talent, and perseverance are just a few of the qualities necessary for those looking to live off their creativity, and not go broke or starve in the process. Fortunately, Christina Empedocles has managed to navigate those challenges, finding her own niche in the ever-evolving San Francisco art scene, thanks to a talent for striking photographic realism. The body of work she’s amassed shows her evolution as an artist over time, channeling childhood memories and fleeting moments, turning the temporary and the transient into something more permanent. Now, having added a daughter to her growing list of creations, Christina’s evolution as an artist is ongoing. We had a chance to chat with Christina recently, where she shared some valuable insight on her creative influences, balancing art and family, and what it’s like to make ends meet doing what you love.

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THINGS WE SAW

We had an art show on Saturday. It was pretty fun.

I have to admit, we’ve come a long way since the Family Affair. Yet while our environments have changed considerably, many of the faces have not. In my eyes Saturday marked a small albeit significant shift in the evolution of Wine & Bowties. Because more than anytime before, Saturday truly was a Family Affair. To the wonderful artists who collaborated with us to share their work, to Louis and Hemisphere holding down the boards, it felt like there were good folks at every turn. Special thanks to Kellee and Co. for keeping the drinks flowing, and to everyone else that stepped through the doors. This was our second art show, not our last.

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FRANK OCEAN – “PYRAMIDS”

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The first Frank Ocean song I ever listened to was “Novacane”. Aside from just being a great song though, there was something about the storytelling that really stuck with me. There was this crazy sense of detachment about the whole thing, as if even as he was narrating in the first person, he was able to remove himself from the narrative, to see things from a bird’s eye view, or a director’s chair (“feelin’ like Stanley…Kubrick”). It’s a talent that kept resurfacing on the first album, and sure enough, when Nabil stepped into his own director’s chair for the “Novocane” visuals, he kept the song’s removed, hazy feel fully intact, with Frank sitting and reminiscing in the midst of a trippy, melty, out-of-body experience..

“Pyramids” once again finds that unique balance, and in a lot of ways, it almost feels like a sequel to that piece. The story all seems to come to us as a version of what’s flashing in front of Frank’s eyes, a Fear & Loathing-style blur of gunshots, menacing strippers and pretty lights, complete with a vision quest, desert mirage John Mayer guitar solo. And yet, through all that drugged-out, woozy haze and confusion, Frank somehow seems above it all, enough removed that it somehow feels like he’s both a character in the story, and the author weaving it all together. It’s something along the lines of Charlie Kaufman in Adaptation. Of course, there’s nowhere that balance delivers more powerfully than on Channel Orange, and I suppose it’s only natural. At a certain point, all great writers write themselves into the script.

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GEBRAUCHSGRAPHIK: WORLD OF GRAPHIC DESIGN

A look back at Germany's pioneering commercial art magazine

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Gebrauchsgraphik

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.

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CHASING FIRE

Sean Garrison shows us how to photograph 100-foot flames and live to tell about it

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LA Is on Fire
Porter Beach

When most people hear that a fire is approaching they run, evacuating their location while clutching on to what belongings matter most. Sean Garrison runs as well–just in a different direction. Over the past six years, inflamed terrain in the greater Los Angeles area has provided Garrison with a perilous pursuit that has yielded gold many times over. Capturing fire as a means to show his audience a reality they would not otherwise encounter, Sean’s photographs remain an enduring representation of fire’s beauty and destructive power. We sat down with Sean earlier this week to gain some insight on how he goes about photographing the flames.

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GATS: Graffiti Against The System

Art and agitation in the streets of Oakland

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Stemming back to the 1980′s, graffiti writing has been a thriving subculture in the Bay Area. Often coinciding with political movements and tensions, the much-debated art form continues to be a relevant part of Bay Area culture in 2012. As well as examining the motivations behind graffiti writing and the current state of the scene, the video above focuses on Oakland-based graffiti artist GATS (Graffiti Against The System), one of the most well-known and respected graffiti artists in the Bay Area. As tension between the people of Oakland and the Oakland Police Department has increased in recent years with the killing of Oscar Grant and the Occupy movement, GATS has linked up with musician and songwriter Roberto Miguel to paint verses from an original poem around the city of Oakland.

Despite the disappointment that I, and many other Oakland residents, felt with the results of the Occupy movement, I still remember how exciting it was initially. This time last year there was a pervasive feeling in the streets of Oakland that a radical change was forthcoming. As I walked down Adeline and across the overpass to the Port of Oakland on November 2nd, side by side with fellow residents of all colors and ages, it felt as though the people in this city were a stronger force than any institution. A year later, it’s clear that there’s still plenty of work to be done. To my mind though, any form of artistic protest is a step in the right direction. Find part two of the video below.

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FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA PREDICTS THE FUTURE

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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.

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FLYING LOTUS – UNTIL THE QUIET COMES

Director Kahlil Joseph brings the latest from FlyLo to life in another bizarrely beautiful short film

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It was sometime late last year when I finally caught a glimpse of the short film that served as a preview for Black Up, Shabazz Palaces’ ridiculously dope, afro-hyper-futurist opus, which landed them on no shortage of best-of lists and critics polls for 2011. For me though, as cool as the album was, it was Joseph’s vision as a director that really made the music translate, the abstract imagery and this crazy, eerie feeling it left me with.

Having lent his talents to projects showcasing a handful of music’s more forward thinking folks (Aloe Blacc, Shafiq Husayn, Seu Jorge), a collab with Flying Lotus seemed only appropriate, particularly with FlyLo’s third full-length, Until the Quiet Comes, around the corner. For this particular short film, Joseph takes a similar approach to Black Up, using a handful of the album’s more hypnotic songs to soundtrack a dreamlike set of beautifully orchestrated, slow-motion scenes. In doing so, Joseph takes the album’s title to a morbid extreme, crafting a surreal, sublime meditation on life, death and violence. As music videos go, Kahlil’s on a whole different level right now. Oh, and did I even mention the music? I mean, god damn.

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THE ART OF DAGGERING

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Jennifer McLeod. She was the first girl I ever freaked with. Freak dancing hit the scene fast at the EBISC dances. It was the year 2000. Walking through a foggy haze of B.O. and Tommy Hilfiger cologne, you’d run into Palley straight freakin to the left and The Zappas playing tag on the right…Cot damn. There was nothing like those EBISC dances. Nonetheless, the apex of our freak days don’t hold a candle to the legacy of Switch, the self-proclaimed king of daggering. If daggering is new to you, you might want to direct your attention towards a variety of Major Lazer videos to get an idea of how exactly this dance is performed. Essentially simulated sex on the dance floor, daggering has now taken the world by storm, so much so that contemporary fashion label Insight has put together this short documentary for your viewing pleasure, appropriately entitled, “Split Your Jeans, But Don’t Break Your Dick”. Watch and learn.

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