For the last half decade, Aris Jerome has been directing videos for Bay artists from Kreayshawn to Starting Six to Iamsu. More recently though, he’s made the transition to stunning portrait photography, capturing bad ones and superstars in their element. We talked to Aris about his successful transition, and where he’ll go next.
Curator Gabby Bess takes an expert eye to curating Illuminati Girl Gang, a publication dedicated to showcasing the female perspective in the arts, poetry and literature. We took a look inside, with work from a few of the talented ladies featured in the third installment of our new favorite zine.
For the last few years, Oakland native Pendarvis Harshaw has been engaged in an ongoing photographic essay that asks the city’s elders to impart some wisdom. From luminaries like Bill Russell to everyday strangers on the bus, OG Told Me offers a portrait of Oakland’s elder generation and the stories they have to tell.
Fusing her powerful voice with avant-garde club sounds from producers like Nguzunguzu and Kingdom, Kelela is carving out her own space at the vanguard of pop music. In the wake of her gorgeous debut, Cut 4 Me, we sat down with the songstress to talk about her journey so far.
Mixed-media artist Leo Eguiarte takes on a journey into a vibrant but troubling future, with his latest collection, Synthetic Dream. Painting his imagery directly onto circuit boards, Eguiarte also opens up a dialogue about the modern condition, and about where our collective relationship with technology might be taking us.
I’ll admit it’s been a while since I’ve seen a good movie in an actual theater. While I’m sure there have been countless gems that have come across the big screen since I last saw a good one, recently I was fortunate enough to catch a film at the Colcoa French Film Festival. Highlighting the work of numerous French filmmakers, the annual festival celebrates the art of French film making while offering a platform for these films to be received by an audience outside the country’s borders.
Although a variety of films piqued my interest, I was able to attend a screening of the film Polisse this past weekend. Following the lives of members of the Child Protection Unit in Paris, Polisse reveals the joy, the pain, the laughter and the anguish that characterizes the work of police whose mission it is to protect children. Both directed by and co-starring French actress and filmmaker Maïwenn Le Besco, who plays a timid albeit dedicated photographer in the film, Le Besco’s work places you directly in the midst of the chaos that characterizes the CPU of Paris. Although I couldn’t characterize Polisse as a fun or lighthearted movie, it is an important one nonetheless as it offers a seemingly authentic and unapologetic window into realities that are constantly occurring all around us.
So what exactly is art? Any human creation? How does something transform from, “Just some shit I’m working on,” into a work of art? Must it hang in a museum, at least hang on a wall? What if it’s not to be seen, but only heard? What about that beat you made last night? Is that art? While we all have our own definitions of what art is, the video above compelled me to reconsider the definition of the term.
Meet Melati Suryodarmo, an Indonesian performance artist who has garnered global notoriety for her butter dance. Titled, “EXERGIE – butter dance” specifically, the film above documents part of Melati’s peculiar yet extraordinary 20 minute performance. Using 20 blocks of butter, laid out in a square across a black dance floor, Melati’s performance is received by a live and seemingly receptive audience. I usually don’t like to use the “W” word, but I already know a lot of you are sitting here like, “Damn this shit’s weird as fuck!” But wait, when she finished, people clapped! On top of the fact that they had just watched a lady writhe in butter for 20 minutes.
Which brings us back to my initial question, what, the fuck, is art? Personally, if Melati had performed this in her room by herself, I’d dismiss it as some weird shit. But since she’s on stage, with an audience and a camera perhaps this aligns more upon the side of artistic expression. In reality I suppose there is no definite answer, although perhaps Andy Warhol might’ve answered it best when he said, “Art is anything you can get away with…”
As many of us near, are at, or have recently passed that threshold known as the 25 year mark, our time on earth and how it’s spent becomes something to consider. Those, “What am I doing with my life?” thoughts tend to seep in at the strangest moments and for the first time we can begin to objectively look back at our childhood. Not to ostracize the folks who are far from 25 on either end, but age and purpose seem to lie at the foundation of Ping Pong, a new documentary about the reality of getting older. Centered around the lives of 8 players, (with 703 years between them) Ping Pong captures their pursuit of the annual World Over 80s Table Tennis Tournament, held in Mongolia each year. The film tells the stories of these players, revealing the unique ways in which ping pong influences their lives. Set to open in July in the U.K. Ping Pong should be making its way to the U.S. by mid-summer.
It’s one thing to get inspired by an artist as you come across their work on the internet, but’s another thing to watch an artist’s progression in real life. Although I’m sure he was taking pictures before it happened, I’d argue that getting hired at Freshjive was one of the first big breaks of Ian Flanigan’s photographic career. From shooting product shots and live boxing matches, to photographing the out-of-pocket images that typify the Freshjive brand, Ian’s work is as varied as it is focused. Capturing a variety of compelling landscapes through his travels, the photo collection within showcases Flanigan’s eye for setting and composition through landscape photography. Having recently completed a short film comprised of over 4,000 photographs taken while in New York as well, it seems as though Ian’s portfolio is evolving by the day. Hit the MORE to check out Ian’s landscapes along with his short film from New York.
Highlighting the cult following that the Ralph Lauren brand has garnered over the years, this recent edition of Put This On focuses on the ‘Lo Heads, the famed Polo enthusiasts whose love for rare and iconic pieces of Polo gear has spawned a title and culture all its own. Charting the development of the movement, from its beginnings in the 1980s to its prevalence today, PTO sheds light on a unique American culture that draws from the lifestyle that Ralph Lauren embodies. An already intriguing culture within itself, it seems as though the ‘Lo Head culture may also be rooted in materialism despite its aspirational undertones. Makes me wonder what Ralph himself thinks of all of this.
I think even the most avid Instagram users were a little shocked when they saw the billion dollar price tag put on the photo-sharing network by internet juggernaut Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook empire. But looking at it from their perspective, the decision doesn’t seem all that strange. Instagram was becoming ubiquitous, essential, indispensable, and to their credit, they had found a way to intertwine what they did with Facebook and the iPhone–two similarly indispensable products– seamlessly.
Former entertainment lawyer Bob Lefsetz tends to stick to talking about the music biz in his now-famous newsletter. But please believe there are parallels between what Kevin Systrom and your favorite artists do. At the end of the day, it’s about putting the work in on your craft and creating something people love. Read on for some wisdom from Lefsetz on everything Instagram did right. For those pursuing big things, this one’s pretty essential.
In one of the more progressive initiatives to directly reach the people in recent memory, Argentinian artist Raul Lemesoff has created a tank vehicle simply aimed to educate the masses. Equipping a 1979 Ford Falcon with a number of book shelves attached to the car’s exterior, Lemesoff has created the Arma De Instruccion Masiva, better known as the Weapon of Mass Instruction. Frequenting various destinations throughout Buenos Aires, Lemesoff’s vehicle offers passersby the ability to take a book for free, for keeps, adding to the general knowledge of Buenos Aires’ book reading public.
Describing his artistic pursuits as as “a search for beauty in its most simple (honest) form: line, shape and color,” the work of Piet Mondrian remains influential to the development of abstract art in the 20th century. Most recognized for his bold, grid-based paintings, much of Mondrian’s work dealt with theories of life, spirituality and the celestial. Distilling his work down to the primary colors of red, blue, and yellow along with black and white, Piet’s paintings sought to visualize the world through the use of vertical and horizontal lines. Relating the dualities of life through the perpendicular lines, much of Mondrian’s work represents spiritual energy through his own artistic lens.
A major point of reference in commercial design as well as popular culture, the influence of Mondrian’s paintings can also be seen in the work of fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent, who used Mondrian’s designs to formulate a variety of iconic dresses in 1965. Although it may appear hard to decipher the messages that lie within the work of the artist, it appears as though Mondrian maintained a continuous curiosity about the world throughout his career, once famously stating, “I don’t want pictures, I want to find things out.”
The vibe, the music, the atmosphere- it’s all important. But at the end of the day, a great party begins and ends with great people. Friday night marked our eleventh celebration, and in our mind, provided us with an opportunity to break from the norm. This one was a little different, a little weirder, and a little looser, so for those of you that made it out, thank you for being a part of it. Thank you for being so cool, so open-minded, so diverse and yet so united.
And while After Hours was, in a sense, the first function we pulled off on our own, the night would not have been possible without the help of a few special people. To our bartenders Claudia and her team, thank you for your insight and professionalism. To Sydni and Whitney, thank you for holding down the door. To As Is, thank you for once again providing the soundtrack to another special night, and to Oscar, for always coming through in the clutch. Much love to Rebekkah too for capturing the moments as she does so well, and to Gino for providing us with a space to make it happen. Thank you again for supporting Wine & Bowties. Let’s keep this good thing going.
At first glance, the works from Chinese artist Lu Xinjian‘s City DNA series could just as easily be arbitrary patterns, intricate, colorful graphics along the lines of Keith Haring’s. But the titles of each work offers a bit more insight into the process behind its creation. Beginning with Google Earth, Xinjian turns the aerial plots of some of the world’s most famous cities into stencils in Photoshop, before painting each by hand with colors based on national or local flags. As the title suggests, each work in City DNA carries with it the distinct imprint of the metropolis it’s abstracted from, allowing the work to double as a fascinating study in urban planning and the strange, often haphazard ways in which cities tend to develop. A pretty dope concept, if you ask me.
It seems only logical that cars would be a recurring theme in Andy Warhol’s work. With pop art honing in on, and poking fun at the implications of mass-produced consumer culture, the automobile represented one of American industry’s biggest triumphs and most impactful contributions on a global scale. Alongside the soup cans and coke bottles, then, came numerous paintings, drawings and installations featuring Cadillacs, Fords or Beamers, a motif as emblematic of the 20th century’s growing consumer society as any.
The Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, naturally enough, is celebrating Andy’s fascination with cars with Warhol and Cars: American Icons, showcasing a career-spanning collection of works touching on vehicles of all shapes, sizes and colors. From early fashion drawings from his pre-pop days in the late ’40s and ’50s to the iconic and haunting car crash prints of his Five Deaths series, the exhibition uses cars as a means to explore not only Andy’s meditations on the theme at hand, but also to delve into his development as an artist over the course of a career. The most notable item in the collection though, might be the 1977 BMW M1 art car, commissioned by BMW and hand-painted by Warhol in all of 23 minutes. For those of us who can’t make it to Pittsburgh anytime soon, peep the gallery below.
From the mind of Duane Hanson, a Minnesota-born artist whose poignant life-like sculptures brought him fame in the 1960′s. Known for depicting gritty scenes of life’s not-so-glamorous incidents, large scale pieces such as Accident (1967) depicting a violent motorcycle crash, and Race Riot (1969-1971) showcased Hanson’s ability to create astoundingly realistic environments using a variety of artistic materials.
Combining fiberglass with polyester resin and bronze, alongside other materials, Hanson constructed his sculptures with meticulous precision. Choosing to create softer, less jarring scenes in the ’70s, Hanson turned his attention to middle America, situating realistic people in real environments rather than constructing traditional installations. Pieces entitled Supermarket Shopper, Hardhat and Woman Eating typified Hanson’s departure from the graphic scenes he once created in the sixties. Passing away at the age of 70, Hanson and his work remain a significant touchstone for the tradition of hyperrealism in art.
To call Annie Leibovitz‘s portrait work iconic is almost redundant. Aside from the stature of her subjects– they tend to be among the most famous and celebrated icons on the planet– her best work is effecting and poignant to the point that it’s become inescapable. So when Annie announced last year that her next book would feature no formal portraits, it came as a shock to more than a few. A period of personal turmoil and financial crisis found Leibovitz in need of a departure– literally, stylistically, perhaps even spiritually. A chance encounter on a trip with her daughters to Niagara Falls and a few shots snapped at the home of Emily Dickinson would soon inspire an open-ended photographic journey spanning the country, as well as the next few years.
Pilgrimage gave Leibovitz the chance to funnel her inspirations, and her reverence for American mythology into a truly distinctive collection. There are breathtaking shots of the American sublime, from the edge of Niagara Falls to Yosemite, but probably most striking are the images from inside the homes and lives of Leibovitz’ heroes. Inspired by a list she once made with Susan Sontag, Leibovitz set out to photograph objects and places that held special significance in those lives: the blood-stained gloves Lincoln wore the night he was assassinated, a box of pastels used by Georgia O’Keeffe, or the couch in Sigmund Freud’s office.
Though not a single image features a person, it’s hard not to feel that some of these homages constitute portraits all the same. These tiny fragments from the lives of people so ingrained in the American psyche seem to emanate something profound, about where we’ve come from collectively, and where Leibovitz comes from as an individual. Pilgrimage is available in hardcover now, and the works from the book will be on display at the Smithsonian in D.C. until May 20th.
Sharing his disdain for the exploits of the advertising industry, world famous street artist Banksy recently offered this public service announcement through his website. Highlighting the intrusive efforts of advertisers, Banksy’s insight comes at a time where the ubiquity of advertising is unprecedented. Data from a New York Times article found that a person living in a city sees up to 5,000 advertising messages a day, compared to 2,000 messages thirty years ago.
Interestingly enough, Jack Lowe of Huh Magazine, relates the irony of Banksy’s statement, in that Banksy advertises his messages to people in a similar fashion to the advertisers he condemns. Do you agree with Banksy’s opinions? Are advertisements too intrusive, and if so, in what way? Also, I wonder what makes “good” or at least non-invasive advertising work? As always, all thoughts are welcome.