Our group show comes full circle next Saturday night
May 21, 2014 by Will Bundy
The FEELS run has been wild so far. A major set of thank yous goes out to the folks who contributed work, to Maat and Kyle, and to everybody who’s stepped inside the Grid since April 25th. Next Saturday, May 31st, we’ll be wrapping up a month-plus run of our 12-artist group show with a last chance to see the gallery in all its glory, and a function to celebrate the show.
From 5 to 7PM, we’ll have gallery hours with drinks, friends and fam. After that we’ll be closing down the show to make room for one last party, with a little help from some friends. Headlining the night will be Friendzone, the surreal slap architects known for their work with Main Attrakionz, A$AP Rocky, and Antwon (to name a few), as well as their own instrumental work. Like last time, we’ll have an all-star lineup from the Trill Team 6 camp, headed up by our good friends Starter Kit and Bobby Peru. And as usual, the great SMH will be holding it down once again.
For now, you can get acquainted with our DJ lineup below, and brush up on the artists from FEELS here. Over the next two weeks, we’ll be rolling out a few more feature interviews with our artists, starting with Oakland-based shooter Kristian Contreras and the retro-leaning digital collage work of Lambo (look down). Much love y’all and thanks again. More info here.
May 21, 2014 BY Will Bundy
Ben "Lambo" Lambert on early Master P, Super Nintendo, and mining our collective memory
May 21, 2014 by Will Bundy
“Lambo the homie though!” A few hours after hanging Lambo‘s prints, I overheard a couple younger dudes marveling over them. You could almost hear them cycling through the questions in their heads beforehand. Was there actually an R. Kelly NES game? Is that Master P in a Costco? Who even thought of this shit? A few pieces over from 8-bit Lou Reed is post-Doughboy Ice Cube, surrounded by a mishmash of scattered items: Lakers/Sonics tickets, a blimp, a beeper, and a home-cooked breakfast. Within five seconds of scanning it over, the Isley Brothers break is already cued up and looping in the back of your head.
Based in Los Angeles with roots in the Bay, Ben Lambert has been creating since he can remember. These days, he moonlights as a visual artist specializing in digital collage and design. Outside of the art world though, Ben has quietly left his fingerprints all over L.A.’s independent music scene, helping to guide the career of rap god Freddie Gibbs, shaping the identity of tastemaking powerhouse Innovative Leisure, and generally popping up in a lot of the right places.
More recently, Lambo premiered a series of digital collage pieces at our FEELS group show in Oakland, dipping liberally into the imagery of classic ’80s and early ’90s album art and video games. And even if some of the goofier retro references are arranged with our LOL in mind, Lambo’s work always feels like pastiche just as much as it does parody. For ’80s babies like myself, those homages to Clinton-era kitsch double as window into some alternate-universe childhood–where even Frasier feels weirdly significant. Last week, on his birthday of all days, we took a minute to chop it up with Lambo via email, and to pick his brain about all the above.
May 21, 2014 BY Will Bundy
Some insight into the latest from photographer and FEELS artist Kristian Contreras
May 19, 2014 by Max Gibson
Photography by Carina Moreno
It’s been almost eight months since we last checked in with Kristian Contreras. Lending his talents to our group show, FEELS, the Youth Kinfolk founder-turned-photographer sat down with us to talk about some of his inspirations for the work in the show. Raised in Alameda, California the 21 year-old creative is situated comfortably at the intersection of journalism and the Bay’s resurgent young hip-hop scene.
As a photographer, Kris’ portfolio is varied, shooting friends, creatives, and live events, while also executing long form features for his music blog Youthful Kinfolk. The collection of portraits Kristian curated for FEELS is simple and elegant, pairing off close friends and family with emerging stars like DaVinci and Denzel Curry, and paying particular attention to stark color contrasts. The common denominator though, is Kristian’s vision, and his ability to make connections between the different worlds he shoots.
May 19, 2014 BY Max Gibson
Stones Throw's unconventional journey gets the doc treatment in "Our Vinyl Weighs a Ton"
May 13, 2014 by Will Bundy
From the opening minutes of Our Vinyl Weighs a Ton, a specific portrait of Stones Throw already starts to emerge. A-Trak talks about how Peanut Butter Wolf’s “quirks” have shaped the label’s sensibilities. ?uestlove gushes about the label’s tradition of “cultivating the underground” and “embracing the unembraced.” If you had teenage backpack days like mine, it’s likely you remember a time when an understanding of that trademark weirdness–pitched up, nasally vocals on Lord Quas records, Jeff Jank‘s shroomy cartoons, or the jump-cut masterpieces that make up Donuts–was its own kind of social currency.
For a kid like me, who spent hours flipping through Mass Appeals and lifting fan-made Pete Rock compilations off lightweight embarrassing rap forums, this was it. That shit. If you knew about it, you knew about it. The humor and originality that colored those early releases separated it from an ocean of forgettable, golden-era-fetishist backpack shit by a mile. It was all in the approach, and it all had this air of mystery around it. It was the kind of stuff you just kinda had to seek out.
A few hundred miles south, around the same time, Jeff Broadway was soaking up those same albums firsthand in his dorm room at USC. A little less than a decade later, after film school and few forays into documentary filmmaking landed him briefly on the festival circuit, Jeff followed his curiosity all the way to Wolf’s doorstep, and found himself with the opportunity to tell a story.
May 13, 2014 BY Will Bundy
A last word about our opening party last Friday
April 29, 2014 by Will Bundy
Photography by Intwovision
I felt a lot about Friday night. Mostly gratitude. A little vindication. Feels took some sweat, but damn did it ever turn into something beautiful. For the folks who saw this thing through and contributed a piece of their creative vision to ours, I can’t thank you enough. Seeing all that amazing shit up on the walls of the same building was surreal. To Kyle and Maat at Grid Gallery, you guys are heroic. And to our Trill Team representatives, y’all really made some magic happen. Somewhere between the D-Lo and the liquid light show, it all kinda hit home for me.
To those who didn’t get the chance to step inside, Friday marked the opening our group show Feels, and we had a good time with it, to say the least. Fortunately though, that was the beginning, and not the end. We’ll be featuring work contributed by our artists for the next month, with events to follow throughout the show’s run time. In the meantime, you can learn more about the artists and their work here, and enjoy some more moments from Friday below. Once again, much love to Kyle of Intwovision for these shots. More from him very soon.
April 29, 2014 BY Will Bundy
And nothing was the same...
April 27, 2014 by Max Gibson
And so we continued on. A movement for the ages, or perhaps a movement for our generation. No one said it was gonna be easy. But we knew we were on to something. We could see it all around us. Some called it a renaissance, others called it a movement. Oakland was ground zero, and it was ours for the making. Two steps outside the comfort zone lay magic, and we were the magicians. All of us. From Aris’ bad bad’s to Danielle’s colorful cakes, the walls were covered with creativity. Freeman & Ian in the building together. Justin and Jeremiah both blessing the spot. A Malidoma installation and early 2000′s fashion from Kool A.D. Lambo’s 16-bit gold and Kristian’s debut. Kev and Des was the cherry on top, and the second DRGN + W&B + TT6 collab left us with this. Will saw it before all of us, so we helped him bring it to fruition. A full team effort to bring these moments to life.
April 27, 2014 BY Max Gibson
Offering up a limited run of hand-designed outerwear for the people
April 21, 2014 by Will Bundy
It’s been a long time. We shouldn’t have left you. The weather is getting warmer, but Bay nights are generally pretty chilly, so we’re bringing out a limited run of hand-designed hoodies for the folks here and beyond. For the design, we drew some inspiration from a staple Oakland institution, De Lauer’s Super News Stand. Hoodies are 100% cotton and American made, printed here in the East Bay.
To the folks out there who we’ve seen on the street, or on Instagram, or anywhere else, rocking our tees, thank you. It means a lot that y’all are out there spreading the gospel. For now, we’re working on some things we’re extremely juiced about, but we’ll stay grinding over here, and keep the merch coming too. If you dig what we do here–parties, articles, art shows, screenings, whatever–the shop is a cool way to show your support. So shouts out to you. Special thanks to Carmina too for modeling these in epic fashion. You can find one here, in our online shop.
April 21, 2014 BY Will Bundy
This Friday marks the opening of our group exhibition at Grid Gallery in Oakland
April 21, 2014 by Will Bundy
This Friday, we’re proud to be bringing you “Feels”, a group show featuring twelve of our favorite artists from Oakland and beyond, at West Oakland’s own Grid Gallery. It’s a beautiful thing to be able to bring folks together, and we’re honored to be working with some of the creatives who inspire us on a daily basis. “Feels” celebrates the community around us–both physically in Oakland and SF, and digitally–with a focus on points of connection and common threads in our experience: sex, nostalgia, pop culture, iconography, strange and absurd shit that pops up out of mundane everyday life.
The Bay, and particularly Oakland right now, is host to a community of creative folks working outside of the margins, creating extraordinary, imaginative work despite the fact that the traditional avenues for forging artistic careers are vanishing in front of our eyes. The logical response to that reality is collaboration–linking with like-minded collaborators on the ground level (or like, Twitter and shit) to build. “Feels” is meant to facilitate those collaborations, and though the artists have different lenses–whether psychedelic and surreal, tongue-in-cheek, or gritty and direct–there’s a certain kinship, and a common set of sensibilities shared between the works.
Put a little more simply, the show is an opportunity to link with dope and unusual people. So in that spirit, we’ll be hosting an opening party this Friday with booze and slap and trippy ass projections. Sounds will be curated by the formidable Trill Team 6 and Yung_SMH, and once again, the show will feature works from the folks on the flyer above, some of which you’ll know and some of which you won’t. To get you better acquainted, below is a preview, offering a brief introduction to each of our artists and what they do. Peep this for now, and slide through Friday between 7 and 10 PM, to see the latest from everyone involved.
April 21, 2014 BY Will Bundy
Melbourne-based illustrator Susanna Rose Sykes makes feelings fun
April 20, 2014 by Danielle Schnur
In the deep, dark depths of the Instagram world, hidden in the cracks between morning Starbucks selfies and gym mirror shots, there exists a contrasting, authentic world of actual art. Though we know all too well by now that the internet is making us both more informed and more isolated (blah blah) it would appear that this paradigm works out well for artists and art fans alike. Today, young, even mildly tech-savvy creatives can enjoy their characteristically emo solitude while employing the good old IG to effortlessly share their work and process with the masses. That’s where, under piles of red-eyed bottle service snapshots, religious memes, and endless ego, I found Susanna Sykes. The 3-by-infinity digital grid revealed a pastel toned world of fruit, tears, and titties – and with just a couple scrolls and double taps, I was hooked.
April 20, 2014 BY Danielle Schnur
A couple snaps from our latest Wine & Bowties film screening
April 18, 2014 by Max Gibson
Photography by Kyle Davidson
We said it Thursday during the screening, but we’ll say it here again. From the outside looking in it may seem like Wine & Bowties is a one, two, or three person operation, but in reality it took a village. Shout out to the folks that have spread our name. We can feel your energy. We’d also like to take a moment to give some supreme love to Jacquie and Sarah for their contributions to the screening, as well as the homie Halston for joogin the projector through and through. Max & Ari, salute to you as well, thank you for the space to do our thing.
As we mentioned, our mission is to unite our generation. To celebrate the culture around us while giving nod to the past. That mission embodied Thursday’s screening of Style Wars, and in a sense embodies our pursuit. Kyle of Intwovision blessed us with some snaps from Thursdays screening. Take a look for yourself…
April 18, 2014 BY Max Gibson
Belgian illustrator Ellen Van Engelen gets groovy with color
April 13, 2014 by Juan Gomez
If you ever go back and watch any early Sesame Street episodes you’ll notice two things: the wacky characters, and the psychedelic art. The latter seemed impervious to the idea of sharp right angles – be it in commercial ads, album covers, or school textbooks, there seem to be no shortage of lines in motion. Enter Belgian illustrator Ellen Van Engelen, whose work unabashedly recalls this free-flowing era, only occasionally inserting subtle glimpses of modernity – a laptop or cell phone – to distinguish it from her acid-dropping forbearers.
Though much of her thematic focus lies in the simplicity of the seemingly mundane, it’s the Edelmann-like dreamscape in which her characters bask in that drive her illustrations. Whether it’s melting away on a classroom desk, summer love in an open meadow, or a mere telephone conversation, Van Engelen’s art allows the swirls of color, rather than the subject matter, to depict eternal ambition and youthful absurdity.
April 13, 2014 BY Juan Gomez
We return to Oakland Surf Club this Thursday with a hip hop classic
April 11, 2014 by Max Gibson
The screenings were getting good. Moments in time for our community to come together around a memorable flick. From the story of Father Yod and The Source Family, to Michael Jordan’s early days, the films varied widely in voice and message, yet each was unified through their peculiar and extraordinary qualities. Fortunately for us, Max, Ari and the rest of the OSC fam were down with the movement, so we continued on.
This Thursday we’ll be screening the seminal 1983 hip hop documentary Style Wars. For those that have seen it already, come for the vibe, for hip hop fans who haven’t, this is a must see. Remember seating is limited so come around 7pm to ensure a seat. Beer and popcorn on deck, but BYOB. Much love ya’ll.
April 11, 2014 BY Max Gibson
How unsung Oakland design duo Phunky Phat Graph-X quietly shaped the aesthetic of '90s rap
Tumblr, and I guess the Internet in general, has a tendency to play out trends to death. One of the most prevalent of these in the last few years (which I want to say, like many Internet trends, started with the BasedGod) has been the resurgence of Pen & Pixel-style album artwork. Known for their gaudy, and often straight up ridiculous imagery and fonts, The Houston-based design firm rose to prominence in the late ’90s and early ’00s for its work with Rap-A-Lot, No Limit, and Cash Money. Now, alongside pictures of Actavis pints and naked women, the Pen & Pixel aesthetic has become a Tumblr staple.
But before Master P returned to his native New Orleans from Richmond, California, and before Wayne and B.G. uttered the phrase “bling-bling” on a track, an East Oakland graphic design company called Phunky Phat Graph-X was producing a high volume of artwork for a thriving Northern California independent rap scene. Founded in 1992 by brothers Thomas and Tracy Underwood, Phunky Phat Graph-X produced the artwork for the initial releases by Master P and his then-fledgling No Limit Records. In addition to their work for No Limit, Phunky Phat was also responsible for some of the most iconic artwork for West Coast rap cult heroes like C-Bo, JT the Bigga Figga, and E-40 among many others. Phunky Phat remained active throughout the ’90s but their work slowed to a halt in 2001, and a decade later, in 2011, Tracy Underwood passed away.