A quick look at the de Young’s massive new Keith Haring retrospective, The Political Line. Focusing on Haring’s more deliberately political works, the pieces take on consumer culture, technology, sexuality, and racism head on, and span the length of Keith’s short but prolific career.

Category Archives: Art

White Wax

Brandon Tauszik's new photo series captures Oakland's street-side murder memorials


Clusters of candles, empty liquor bottles, and personal effects on corners in East, West, and North Oakland are an all too common sight. These street-side memorials, ranging from the most subtle flower vase to trinkets filling the width of the sidewalk, are often erected at the spot of the murder and serve as a way for communities to remember slain loved ones. The public nature and commonality of these memorials also provide a haunting reminder of the dehumanizing effect that violence has here in Oakland; another member of the community, faceless to outsiders, has been reduced to candles and bottles on the sidewalk.

I was immediately drawn in by Oakland-based photographer Brandon Tauszik‘s latest photo series entitled “White Wax”, which is a collection of pictures featuring Oakland murder memorials. The familiar but evocative imagery is at the same time powerful and problematic for me. Art that depicts the results of systematic oppression can help to educate, but it can also glorify these situations for an audience that has only second and third-hand experience with the realities being addressed, if any at all. For people who have lost family members and loved ones, does this series trivialize their painful experiences? For those on the outside looking in, are we being desensitized to the violence that is happening just miles from our homes, looking at photos on the internet of memorials for people who we will never know? These questions don’t have simple answers, but I know other folks reading will be able to offer more insight than myself. After all, the Bowties is about nothing if not interaction. See other photos from the series below.

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From elaborate nail art, to imaginative design and photography, Lauren Michelle Pires does it all


Lauren Michelle Pires

I suppose I didn’t quite imagine my local manicurist at Star Nail on 5th Ave in Brooklyn doing nails for a high fashion photo shoot, but I also wouldn’t have pictured someone with as extensive a background in the arts as Lauren Michelle Pires. It makes sense though; in order to create 3-D rose gold rose tips or full-on textured crushed black ice, you need mad skills and a high fashion aesthetic. And with the rising popularity of nail art in the fashion industry, Lauren has cultivated a skill that’s particularly in demand at the moment.

Having graduated just two years ago from Central Saint Martens, Lauren has already had an impressive array of clients who are just as diverse as her skill set. From photographing campaigns for powerhouse commercial brands like Nike, to creating packaging design for high end designers like Stella McCartney, Lauren continues to build a diverse portfolio of work, even collaborating with lesser known indie labels and various fashion publications.

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Daniel Cronin's film portraits offer a window into The Gathering of the Juggalos


Daniel Cronin

You’d be hard-pressed to find an experience more peculiar or extraordinary than The Gathering of the Juggalos. For many it was filmmaker Sean Dunne who introduced us to the cultural phenomenon, via his 2011 short film American Juggalo. A 22-minute documentary comprised of personal interviews with festival-goers, the film shed light on the five day, Insane Clown Posse-founded festival, an extravaganza involving love and drugs, music and sex, wrestling matches, helicopter rides, and pretty much anything else you can get away with. Now in its thirteenth year, the festival has ballooned since moving its annual festivities to Cave-in-Rock, Illinois, welcoming well over 100,000 Juggalos and Jugalettes since its inception.

While the documentary, along with the notorious Gathering infomericals, have done much to showcase The Gathering to a wider audience, cultural documentarian and photographer Daniel Cronin offers an alternative glimpse into festival life through his lens. Snapping iconic photos of concert goers in the throws of the festival, Daniel’s images reveals the culture and lifestyle of the Juggalos through some of the particularly memorable characters and encounters he came across. We recently spoke with Daniel about his experiences there, lending his insight into one of the nation’s most popular music festivals you’ve never heard of.

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Catching up with mixed-media master Jesse Draxler


Jesse Draxler

There’s a sense of experimentation that makes Jesse Draxler‘s work particularly fun to take in. From project to project, and series to series, Jesse takes subtle, but substantial steps into new stylistic territory, and yet still maintains an undeniable tone. Occasionally dark, eerie and moody, but just as often elegant, and playfully subversive. Over the course of the last year-plus, we’ve been keeping up with his work from collection to collection, from the handful of collage pieces featured in our Black & White showcase last year, to our feature interview late last year.

More recently, Drax has been prolific as usual, creating an eclectic array of collage work, doing great interviews, and opening up his own solo show, When The Target is as Big as Everything at Minneapolis’ highly fashionable HAUS Salon. Aside from that, he’s even moved into a new studio space, a meticulous and sparsely decorated, white-walled oasis of creation. The work coming out of that studio, of course, is quality, signature shit: mysterious floating objects set against cloudy skies, beautiful women’s faces morphing into geological clusters and diamonds, and even a particularly angsty Kristen Stewart, chopped and screwed and cleverly repurposed. Somewhere in between all that, Drax even found a moment to lend us a little insight on the ideas and the process behind it all. We asked him to provide a few impromptu explanations for each of his new series, off the top of the dome. Here’s what he came up with.

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Catching up with Los Angeles based filmmaker Jason Madison


Fresh off of the debut screening of his latest film I’m Not A Kid Anymore, we find Jason Madison between projects. Planning more screening events while continuing to develop ideas, Jason’s years spent in his beloved city of Los Angeles have provided him with more than enough inspiration for his visual works. Over the course of the last half decade, his knack for channeling the city’s sun-drenched aesthetic has served him well, making him a go-to director for L.A. hip-hop mainstays like Dom Kennedy, Pac Div and Nipsey Hussle, whose lives and music provided the backdrop his short film debut, L.A. Is My Playground two years ago.

“I always believe in my cast more than anything,” Jason told us, in regards to his latest. And why shouldn’t he? After all, I’m Not a Kid Anymore finds the filmmaker stepping out from behind the camera, and starring, directing, and in a sense, even scoring his own coming of age story. Taking time to touch on the origins of his work, ’90s inspiration, and his early love affair with Home Alone, our check-in with Jason catches the director on his way to big things.

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Photographer Alexis Vasilikos invites us to escape the ego


Alexis Vasilikos

“There is a seeing which doesn’t see objects. It doesn’t see thisness and thatness. It is pure. It doesn’t come from thought or intention. This is why it has the power to bypass the mind, and speak directly into the heart of being.”

It’s not every photographer I’ve interviewed that elects to send over a collection of personal, philosophical meditations with his work. The longest of the bunch is above, but most of the brief notes Alexis Vasilikos supplied were no longer than a line or two, taking on the air of a tossed-off poetic observation, and yet gesturing toward the kind of question you could sit and contemplate for years. His photography can feel the same way. Alexis’ images capture these subtly serendipitous moments, fragmentary glimpses of everyday life that seem to hint at something bigger: a funny juxtaposition, an expression, maybe just the way a shadow strikes an object.

There’s something very deliberate in Alexis’ presentation too. His website consists of ten collections, pristinely laid out and accompanied only by vague, open-ended titles like swimming in the wind or back to nothing. No artist bio, no background info, nothing to take in but the images themselves. It’s that sense of mystery that gives the photographs so much power. Free from outside context, Alexis’ work allows your imagination to wander, to ruminate on whatever feeling you pull out of the image itself, rather than searching for something external to it. Later on, Alexis gave me a bit more context–about places he’d been, and things he’d learned in his seventeen years behind the lens. Whether the context is necessary is still up for debate, and given what you know already, I’d suggest digging in to Alex’s archives here first. At the very least though, our conversation offered a chance to dig a bit beyond the surface of those gorgeous shots.

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Kahlil Joseph's FlyLo-scored short film explores a little known pocket of American culture



“Wildcat is a state of mind; an experiment inspired by the composition and performance of jazz music. The characters that populate this world are actual–cowboys; and envisioned–angels. The town they all inhabit is real–Grayson, Oklahoma.”

It seems like there are still a precious few places in America where it feels like time stands still. I haven’t been to too many of them, but it’s an eerie feeling when you find one. And somehow, those lively urban centers where I’ve spent most of my days don’t always feel quite so full of possibility. It gives me this real sense of wonder about those isolated pockets of culture –that feeling of mystery that used to be such an essential feature of exploring unfamiliar parts of the country.

For Wildcat, Kahlil Joseph zeroes in on a subculture not often documented. Grayson, Oklahoma (known once upon a time as Wildcat), boasted a population of 134 at the time of the last census, and is home to a time-honored black rodeo tradition. Following the pattern of his short film work with Shabazz Palaces and Flying Lotus, Wildcat is steeped in surrealist beauty, pairing documentary footage with a gorgeous, dreamlike soundtrack from FlyLo himself. The seven-minute short is the latest in a string of phenomenal, meditative work from Joseph, and another reminder of his promising vision. Simply put, Joseph’s films take you somewhere else.

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Fuck Yeah Namio Harukawa

Some feelings about rape and "femdom erotica"


Namio Harukawa

First of all, fuck rape. I feel like rape cases have been getting a lot of press lately. So fuck the controversy but seriously, fuck the concept. Fuck the fact that somewhere down the line, man realized that they could physically dominate and sexually force themselves upon their own kind. Fuck the systems in play, be they familial or otherwise, that don’t have the mechanisms or strategies to teach our young men to respect others, or young women to respect themselves. Fuck power-tripping neighbors, uncles, and teachers. Fuck that all my friends have to carry pepper spray. Fuck creepers at the gym. Fuck it all. And fuck that I can’t do anything about it. But, fortunately, because I’m so damn self realized, and don’t just stick my dick into any passed out shit at a frat party because I feel insecure, I take this anger and use it productively. I use it to feel proud of being a woman. I use it to love women, love sex, and love myself, fervently and as best I can.

Now, I don’t know if that’s what Namio Harukawa has in mind when he creates his pieces, but that’s how they make me feel. The Japanese “femdom erotica” artist is best known for his drawings of thick ass women dominating the fuck out of small ass dudes. Harukawa’s images feature consensual sexual acts in which he typically depicts large women sitting on the faces of their petite male counterparts, looking incredibly indifferent. Though Harukawa illustrates women of all races, his subjects are predominantly Asian as represented through their facial features and physical props. And I don’t know if this is his intention either, but I love the fact that Harukawa is seriously flipping the female Asian stereotype on its head here. Where Asian women, too often unfairly and grossly characterized by small frames and a docile nature, are devouring dudes with their massive cakes. Harukawa’s work depicts men in submissive roles as subjects of dominatrix play, and therefore I don’t find that the pieces evoke a sentiment of rape. And I also don’t feel that the injustices of the world would be righted if things were just reversed. Simply put, seeing an image of a huge woman getting her ass ate with the utmost devotion while she apathetically smokes a cigarette just soothes my angry heart. Maybe you’ll disagree. Take a look.



Eric Valli travels to Nepal to capture honey hunters 15,000 feet into the air


Eric Valli Honey Hunters
Photography by Eric Valli

In 1987, French photographer and cultural documentarian Eric Valli traveled to the cliffs of the Himalayas to capture the Himalayan Gurung men’s harrowing journey to gather honey. Nestled high up in the foothills of this mountain locale lies the habitat of the rarified Himalayan honey bee, the world’s largest bee, and the producer of Asia’s most highly sought-after honey. Building their nests anywhere from 8,200 to 15,000 feet into the air, each nest can contain as much as 130 pounds of honey, with different types available at varying altitudes.

Making use of rope ladders and baskets, the men climb into the cliffs to gather honey that sells for five times the amount of other honeys throughout Asia. The hunters then secure ladders at the top of the cliff, before dropping down ropes to a lower base where a fire is lit to smoke the bees out of their nests. Once deserted, the hunters descend upon the nests, cutting away the honeycomb in chunks. Capturing a time-honored tradition in Nepal, Eric’s photographs offer a fascinating glimpse of a practice that’s supported Nepalese communities for generations.



Katie Orlinsky photographs the women of Mexico's deadly drug war

Screen Shot 2013-03-25 at 8.46.15 PM

Women of Juarez Katie Orlinsky
Photography by Katie Orlinsky

When a portrait is really good, it doesn’t just capture the subject’s essence – it gives you a glimpse into their world. Even better, is when that world is something most don’t even know exists.

Katie Orlinsky’s beautiful black and white photographs in her series Prison Portraits: The Ciudad Juarez Women’s Prison do just that. Living in El Diario of Ciudad Juarez, the then murder and drug capital of Mexico, Orlinsky sought out the women’s prison to capture images of the prisoners. What emerged are stunning black and white portraits that give a face to the growing female population participating in drug-related crime.


Through My Lens

A photographic glimpse into the life of Daghe


With the digital age already in full swing, the realm of photography has, in many ways been turned upside down. The ubiquity of camera phones and the rise of Instagram have made taking a photo easier than ever. Yet with the rise in convenience comes a greater appreciation for time honored approaches to the art form. Enter film.

Shunning the “vintage filters” in exchange for the gritty imperfections of a film photo, our friend Daghe has amassed a collection of photographs that paint a vivid picture of his experiences and interactions. Shooting everything from bad bads and It’s It bars, to party pics and L.A. landscapes, Daghe’s images relate the eclecticism of his on-the-go lifestyle, teaching us all how to really move and shake in the 2K13.



The story of Father Yod and his mystical 1970s commune


The Source Family

It’s a bit difficult to neatly sum up the significance of The Source Family’s legacy. Established in the early ’70s with loads of contemporary relevance, The Source Family remains one of America’s most extraordinarily peculiar social experiments. Their story is one of love, sacrifice, sex and religion: in many ways, an archetypal 1970s spiritual commune. Founded by the worldly and charismatic Jim Baker (later known as Yehowa or Father Yod), The Family grew out of teachings inspired by his own spiritual evolution–from mere human to what came to be known as “God Consciousness”. In the years to come, Baker’s vision had grown into a deeply insular, intimate community of hundreds–complete with a well-detailed belief system and even a highly prolific psychedelic band.

Fortunately, this year marks the release of the feature length Source Family documentary. Compiled from the family’s archives, photographs, videos and personal accounts piece together the story of an extraordinary journey, from the commune’s beginnings at Baker’s Sunset Strip health food restaurant, to its eccentric following, and all the strange and beautiful stories along the way. The Source Family is currently screening in major cities across the country.

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