From tats to tags, visual artist Jus Ontask takes us inside his creative process in a couple different mediums. Luckily, the homie and OnTask family member Veeejzilla was around to document, giving us a step-by-step look at these pieces coming together.

Category Archives: Art

Moments From Nightcap

We went in for our final celebration of the Summer


Nightcap was memorable for the quality not the quantity. Heads were in the building for Nightcap. Famous faces and soon to be famous faces mingling in harmony. It’s really what it’s all about. I told you, Wine & Bowties party pics will be the best “before they were stars” archives. Mark my words.

Juan G, Bobby Peru and Yung_smh blessed the tables to put on one of the more eclectic listening experiences we’ve had. And while the underground has been our go-to for the Summer, please believe we’ve got more up our sleeve. We’re just trying to bring all the creatives together. The people who put faith into their dreams and see the world how it could be rather than merely the way it is. If we can bring together all the like minded spirits, who knows how far we can take it? Shout out to Morgan for bringing her crew through, and to all the dope folks that are, and have been supporting Wine & Bowties. We do it all for you.

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Curator Trevor Parham talks Art Murmur and the business of art in Oakland's changing landscape

Trevor Parham Town Business

For art curator Trevor Parham, combining his relationship with art and Oakland is both natural and intentional. After growing up in The Town, Trevor moved across the country to study art at UPenn and, soon after building up his creative bars and graduating, set up shop back at home in 2006. Since, he has become immersed in the local art world, positioning himself as a contributor in an array of roles including artist, curator, artist manager, consultant, and gallery manager alike.

Trevor’s unique perspective on the current climate of art culture in Oakland directly informs his latest exhibit, Town Business: State of the Art Hustle, opening at Warehouse 416 this Saturday. Examining the relationship between art and economics in a changing city, the show will run through mid-October, featuring art from a wide range of East Bay creatives spanning the visual art spectrum, including photographer Lauren Crew, graphic artist Ralph Carlile Browne, and even yours truly. “It’s not only a developing city, it’s Oakland,” Trevor says, “It has a specific flavor and a specific way of doing things. And now we have all this business and economic growth. So like, what’s the child of that? How does the art fit in with that?”



Thoughts on the documentary film "White Wash", and the struggle of black surfers against cultural hegemony


White Wash

I’ll never forget the day I bought my first surfboard. I had been talking with Tiago at my old apartment in Culver City when he said with his typically irrepressible enthusiasm, “Bro! I found you a surfboard, bro! Fifty Dollars. Let’s go!” On July 1st, 2010 I paddled out for the first time.

A year later, Max told me that surfing had changed my life. I never really thought about it. I always just felt how much I loved “tapping the source” as the grimy surf author Kem Nunn would call it. He was right, however, it had transformed me. Physically. Spiritually. Emotionally. I may sound like I’m the stereotypical surf dude, but what I’ve learned from surfing has crossed over into my life on dry land. It may seem like surfing was brought into my life by an enthusiastic friend; like I had simply been introduced to the sport and that’s all that was needed. In truth, however, hobbies don’t form that way. Much of what goes into people’s interests is a result of experience, and my foray into surfing had been slowly brewing over decades.

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Photographer Sequoia Ziff on life behind the lens, and her eye for arresting black and white portraiture


Sequoia Ziff

What does it mean to be a photographer these days, when everyone has a Nikon and Instagram has made everyone into an amateur shooter? Well, first and foremost, devotion and understanding of one’s craft is what distinguishes amateurs from professionals, and in that sense, LA-based photographer Sequoia Ziff is a true professional. As the in-house photographer for apparel and accessory company Della and with works featured in Urban Outfitters and Vogue Italia, Sequoia has developed a portfolio of portraits that speaks to her dedication to the craft. Snapping candid, intimate portraits of her subjects, her work hints at an admiration for legends like Annie Lebowitz and Helmut Newton, capturing something essential about each of the people she shoots.

Recently, I had the opportunity to work with Sequoia for an upcoming W&B profile on R&B and house vocalist Kelela Mizanekristos, and needless to say, she killed it. Since then, I’d been eager to sit down with Sequoia to learn more about her love of photography and her inspirations. Check out our conversation, and more from Sequoia, below.

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Meditations on love and creative partnerships, through the lens of an extraordinary pair of artists


Cutie and the Boxer

Because I even half-assedly wear the title of an artist, Cutie & the Boxer hits pretty close to home. Just peep dude’s face at 1:06 in the trailer above. Artist Ushio Shinohara, an otherwise boastful and confident adult, stands splattered in paint, hands on hips, with the defensive face of a guilt-ridden child, crushed in the wake of his wife’s honest critique. I’d say I’ve been there. And I think anyone invested in creative work has. We wouldn’t be able to produce what we do without the support of those around us, but they can be some pretty difficult critics too. Even when people I love and respect the most are only trying to help inspire me through my painter’s-block or calm my approaching-deadline-induced panic, I often can’t help but feel that the creative struggle is only my own. That I’m an artist…and yes, perhaps from time to time, I am a bit sensitive about my shit. As I create, like Ushio, I joke and jab and passive-aggressively or aggressive-aggressively push my loved ones away. Because something about making art to be hung, judged, hated, loved, purchased, or traumatically disregarded is fucking brutal. And sometimes, tragically, relationships suffer in that process.

Director Zachary Heinzerling’s 2013 documentary, Cutie & the Boxer, positions itself within this very space – between lovers and their art. The story follows Japanese artist Ushio Shinohara and his wife Noriko living in New York, with 40 years of marriage and two extensive art careers under their belts. Back in the ’60s and ’70s, Ushio’s Neo-Dada-pop creations made him a fixture of both the Japanese art world and Andy Warhol’s New York. At 80 though, he’s now struggling to reclaim that stride alongside Noriko, nearly 20 years his junior, whose role as wife and assistant has taken a toll on her personal identity as an artist. The film is a profoundly intimate journey into the lives of Ushio and Noriko as lovers and artists working to navigate their marriage and careers after decades of ups and downs. Cutie & the Boxer is currently playing in select cities and I seriously encourage you to go see it. Love lessons, life lessons, art lessons, and these sick paintings involving a tiny old man throwing bows at a canvas. For more information about the film, check here, and for a brief look into Ushio and Noriko’s creative life, hit the MORE.

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Thoughts on art, hoop and childhood inspiration from illustrator Andrew Ho


As kids we all start off as artists, don’t we? We draw, we paint, we make sculptures out of bricks, legos, really whatever we can get our hands on. As the years go on though, as the Picasso adage goes, we seem to get caught up in a vicious cycle of working more and creating less. Reflecting on that unfortunate reality, I’ve grown to really appreciate artists like Andrew Ho. Choosing cartoon as his medium of choice, the Los Angeles-based illustrator has managed to maintain a childlike sense of creativity, even in the face of age and mounting responsibility.

Weaving biographical stories into his work, Andrew shares moments of his life in each piece. Ho’s illustrations touch on a broad range of passions and experiences, from love and personal relationships to his undying nostalgia for ’90s hoop. And though the cartoon aesthetic is playful, his work strikes an impressive balance between surface appeal, and hinting at a deeper level of meaning. Last week, I had the chance to ask Andrew a bit more about his work. Chatting about his girl, his artistic development and the underappreciated legacy of Patrick Ewing, Andrew taught a little and shared a lot in our short conversation.



Tim Head translates the energy of '90s rave culture and UK pirate radio into colorful collages


Maximum Respect

Listen to some folks tell it, we’re now squarely at the point on the nostalgia timeline when the sounds and styles of the ’90s have made their natural ascent to supremacy. And indeed, a quick browse-journey around the more fashionable side of the Tumblrsphere might substantiate that claim pretty convincingly. But even if you subscribe to that sort of blanket-statement mentality–the kind that might posit the current wave of ’90s nostalgia as just, well, inevitable–it’s hard to deny that the hallmarks of the era are hitting home these days, from the loud colors to the playful eclecticism and genre-bending in music.

For me, a lot of my yearning for all things ’90s is built on a feeling that things seemed a bit more open back then, that certain lines hadn’t been drawn yet, or certain structures weren’t in place. Maybe it’s just that the internet fucked it all up. There’s a vague notion in my head that the scenes and subcultures that sprung up in the ’90s had a chance to evolve a little more organically–that something could be cool and evolve in relative obscurity for just a little longer before getting mass-disseminated and becoming a thing.

Maximum Respect, a zine compiling artist Tim Head‘s latest collage creations, is a celebration of a subculture that almost certainly falls under that category. Identified by Head as “a visual transmission of the UK pirate radio scene throughout 1900-2001″, the collages function as colorful love letters to the underground rave and pirate radio scenes that defined young London while the artist was still in his formative years. As Head put it, it’s an ode to “the last time London youth culture was truly dangerous, underground, inventive and genuinely exciting before the internet age.” Whatever the case may be, it’s a pretty dope representation of all the frenetic energy of London’s storied ’90s raves, and the jungle, trip-hop and dance music beamed in from a few hundred pirate radio stations over the course of the decade. And however you feel about the ’90s moment we’re having, the works presented here feel not only timely, but timeless too.

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This Saturday, we'll be holding our first film screening at Oakland Surf Club


The story of Father Yod and The Source Family is one that’s captured Max and my imagination for a long time now. In fact, it’s hard to find a piece of it that doesn’t read as mythical: the occult cosmology, the Godlike father figure, drugs and polygamy, the psychedelic family band…the list goes on. It was the kind of romantic ’70s L.A. saga where an eventual movie option seemed almost inevitable. Thankfully, directors Maria Demopoulos and Jodi Wille were able to mine the Family archives to produce just that film, The Source Family. Joining forces with family historian and archivist Isis Aquarian (also one of Father Yod’s thirteeen wives), Maria and Jodi weave together archival footage, photography and music, with personal interviews with family members, to create a robust, thoughtful portrait of the ’70s grooviest spiritual commune.

Back in May, we had the opportunity to talk with Isis about her experiences in the Family, and now we’re getting yet another chance to share the Source Family story with you. This Saturday, at 7:00, we’ll be co-presenting The Source Family documentary along with Oakland Surf Club, at their gorgeous retail space and gallery at 337 14th Street in Downtown Oakland. Doors will open at 7, with the screening following at 7:30. For the record though, capacity is very limited, so if you’re interested in checking it out, shoot us an email at, and we’ll let you know about availability. You can learn more about the Family here and the movie here, and we’ll hope to see you in there. Peep the trailer below.

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A look inside Chicago's epidemic of violence



For me it was Chief Keef that introduced me to the epidemic of violence that has been plaguing the city of Chicago. A couple conversations and news stories later, and I found myself wondering what was really going on in Chicago. Lil Snupe headlines, and Yeezy lyrics further fanned the flame, eventually leading me to click on the video above. When I look at it from afar it makes me wonder, why, why, why, and how, how, how? Why is it that that black on black violence seems so normalized across the country, and where are the leaders to say this shit ain’t cool? Were black men killing black men like this in the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s? Where is Lil’ Mouse‘s father at, and how do we make things better?

In any case, at the very least, Chi Raq offers some firsthand perspective. Captured by U.K. born filmmaker Will Robson-Scott, the 13-minute documentary takes viewers through the neighborhoods of South and West Chicago, creating a vivid portrait of the city’s troubling dynamics. Seen through the eyes of those directly caught in the cycle of poverty, violence and retaliation, Chi Raq goes beyond the statistics, offering a close-up look into one of the country’s most destructive social diseases.



Adrian Skenderovic chases rural hoop courts around the world

Screen Shot 2013-08-27 at 12.07.48 PM

Adrian Skenderovic
Photography by Adrian Kenderovic

When I was a young’n somewhere round four, five, or six, I used to play a game in the car with my parents. It was called, “Hoop.” There really wasn’t much to the game aside from the goal; to spot as many hoops as possible in a single car trip. When you spotted a hoop with a rim, you yelled out “Hoop!” And that was it. It was tight though. It went on for years.

Although those type of hoop games are long gone, cultural photographer Adrian Skenderovic has breathed new life into my childhood past time. Opting to travel the world in search of the compelling and memorable, Adrian’s most recent work unearths a collection of rural courts from around the globe. Intriguingly distant, Adrian’s photos also relate the transcendent nature of basketball, its global popularity, and its universal appeal.



A new documentary takes a look at the plight, and the wrath, of killer whales in captivity



In February of 2010, aquatic trainer and performer Dawn Brancheau lay beside her 12,000 pound colleague, Tilikum, at the end of their SeaWorld Orlando show. In a few inches of water, Branchaeu affectionately stroked the orca, letting her long blonde hair drift into the water and unknowingly into Tilikum’s mouth. Suddenly, Tilikum yanked Branchaeu deep into his performance pool, shook her violently, and repeatedly dragged her under when she tried to break free and swim to the water’s surface. Meanwhile, families who had gathered around the huge glass tank for a photo-op instead watched awestruck as Brancheau body’s endured drowning, blunt force trauma, a severed spinal cord, and fractures to her jawbone, ribs and a cervical vertebra.

Brancheau was the third death involving Tilikum in his 27 years in captivity, after drowning a previous trainer and one particularly bright park-goer who snuck into Tili’s tank after the park closed one evening. Each of the victims suffered severe beatings at the Tili’s hands (fins?), but none of the casualties was quite as shocking as Brancheau–a highly skilled and professional trainer who had carefully coaxed Tilikum into his adulthood as a performer while providing for his needs as a member of the wild animal kingdom.

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San Francisco based artist Meryl Pataky bends metal and takes names


One day we’ll have our own neon signs, but in the meantime let us marvel at the work of Meryl Pataky. A San Francisco based mixed media artist, Meryl’s work consistently revolves around elements found on the periodic table. From silver and copper to neon, iron and carbon, Meryl creates a variety of abstract works that relate to her concept of universal connectedness. In doing so, Meryl combines technical expertise–from welding to glasswork to metalworking–with her own personal narrative, building complex pieces that invite the viewer to guess at what thoughts and experiences influenced her process.

Most recently, Meryl’s work has been featured within the walls of The Shooting Gallery in San Francisco. In her exhibition entitled Cellar Door, Meryl recreates the elemental symbol of the noble gases: helium (He), neon (Ne), argon (Ar), krypton (Kr) and xenon (Xe) pumping the glass tubes with the material they represent. Also juxtaposing her neon pieces against natural outdoor backgrounds, the artist effectively alters the character of the neon, placing it in unfamiliar territory, and thus giving the signage and accompanying words new meaning. Cellar Door is currently running at The Shooting Gallery until August 10th, but keep up with Meryl here to follow her artistic exploits.

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