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SO OBSESSED

Some vibrant nostalgia from the mind of Michelle Guintu. East Bay raised but SF residing, Michelle has developed her aesthetic simply by painting the things she likes. From 90′s R&B superstars, like Missy and Aaliyah, to Joe Montana paintings and McDonald’s installations.

Category Archives: Art

MEET VEEEJZILLA

A brief introduction to one of our favorite new shooters, SF's Valentin Saqueton

Veeejzilla

Always cool to meet talented young shooters out here. Through working with Jusand Jerm from the OnTask fam, I stumbled on the catalog of Valentin Saqueton, perhaps better known to his following as Veeejzilla. At 23, the SF-based shooter and graphic designer has already built a portfolio of a few thousand images, scattered across his Tumblr, Flickr and Instagram accounts.

From rap shows and editorials, to street scenes and ambient landscapes, VJ’s work showcases an eye for peculiar, subtle details and a talent for capturing the vibe of a moment. In particular, his 35mm film work tends to fix even the rowdier action shots into place, bathing everything in a dreamy, nostalic ambiance, somehow without losing the energy. Last week, we had the pleasure of watching him in action, shooting for an upcoming piece on the Bowties, which was good times all around. Keep an eye out for that soon, and soak up some more of Valentin’s work below.

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LONG EXPOSURE

Scot Sothern reflects on a lifetime behind the lens in America's underbelly

Scot Sothern

Tracing a dude like Scot Sothern‘s personal history can be a little challenging. At first glance, the most prominent points on the timeline seem oddly scattered–thematically, geographically, and temporally, across a good five or six decades. Sifting through his greatest hits, you’ll find cults in middle America and disappearing tribes in the Middle East. His series of vintage photo essays on Vice finds him draft dodging during ‘Nam in Kansas City, tripping in the San Gabriel Valley with blood-drinking Satanists, and drunkenly wandering the streets of 1980s Cairo. There are too many stories to count, and very few don’t involve either sex or substances. When I asked Scot to piece it all together for me, it felt almost like a gonzo Forrest Gump–if Forrest Gump had been really into taking pictures of hookers.

Sothern spent a solid block of time in the ’80s exploring the seedy underbelly of Southern California, meeting and photographing the sex workers who called it home. Scot’s work from that era was collected and published in 2011′s Lowlife, and through the Vice ecosystem, found the audience it always deserved; the book, along with a handful of solo exhibitions, reprsented a high water mark for exposure in Sothern’s career. But to look at his journey through the prism of any one project is more than a little reductive. A half century spent as a freelance shooter and hedonist have left Sothern with a body of work that’s expansive, fearless and occasionally brutal in its honesty. To put it mildly, he’s seen some things.

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INTRODUCING MAS#ALLAH

Hawa takes over Babeland to celebrate the Middle Eastern voice in the arts

Shouts out to Hawa for consistently putting dope artistic things together out here, as one half of Browntourage, and beyond. We’ll be talking a little more extensively about this, but for now, a brief heads about Hawa’s latest project. MAS#ALLAH (from Mashallah, an Arabic phrase of praise, gratitude and protection), which had its soft opening last night, is a multiplatform effort to, in her words, “create a space from the collective imagination of Middle Eastern artists, thinkers, storytellers, and creators of all sorts.”

More specifically, it involves an artist residency at Chinatown’s Babeland Gallery, including a collaborative, inclusive gallery show and an underground function to celebrate the work. Additionally though, the MAS#ALLAH Tumblr represents an effort to build that platform into the digital realm, sharing work submitted by Middle Eastern artists and writers on a global level. For the time being, Hawa and friends are still collecting funds to back the project, so take a look here to learn more and pony up for the cause.

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PRINT AIN’T DEAD

Tepsic Magazine and its founder, Morgan Tepsic, put your favorite artists' lives on 35mm film

Tepsic

Ladies and gentlemen, print isn’t dead, it’s merely evolving. If you take a close look, you can witness the transformation. Large scale conglomerate publications being brought to their knees, their beloved advertising dollars making an exodus the greener pastures of the internet. But in their wake new generation of print is on the rise, magazines and publications with an acute focus on quality, loads of passion, and more times than not, a shoestring budget.

While there are numerous mags in this revival worthy of being celebrated, today we’re focusing in on Morgan Tepsic’s eponymous Tepsic mag. Notable for its fan-first approach, Tepsic was born with the simple goal of offering a unique window into the lives of musicians. After personally decorating 35mm disposable cameras for his favorite artists, he sends them out to wherever they’re at, encouraging them to photograph their experiences before sending him back a fully used camera. Backstage access is the norm in Tepsic, with intimate tour shots from Toro y Moi, dinner dates with Ariel Pink, and posse shots with A$AP Rocky and the Mob all falling between Tepsic’s poster-size 11″ by 7″ pages.

Recently, we caught up with Morgan in the midst of an active Kickstarter campaign launched to support the publishing of Tepsic‘s fourth issue. Lending us some insight on the power of analog, and on his journey so far, Morgan also sketched out some bigger plans to come. For now, Tepsic’s movement is definitely one to keep an eye on.

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A LOOK AT THE NIGHTED LIFE

New zines from the Bay-based photography and publishing hub

Nighted Life

The folks over at Nighted have been quietly building something special for a while now. Defined by a gritty, late night aesthetic and an emphasis on collaborative projects, the collective has been steadily churning out high quality, limited edition publications from a wide variety of artists in the Bay and beyond. Founded by photographer Nick Garcia, Nighted functions as both a photo collective and an indie publishing imprint, creating a vehicle to showcase the works of their favorite folks.

Definitely not the last time we’ll be hearing from them, so for today, we’re taking a quick look into their latest releases: Brvinfreeze’s “Colors” and Evan McKnight’s “They Don’t Know”. Brvinfreeze is an LA-based photographer and visual artist working in a variety of mediums, and “Colors” combines his film photography work, drawings and graphic design work into a large-format 8.5 x 11 zine. Evan McKnight is a New York photographer, and “They Don’t Know” is a full-color document of his adventures through the streets of the city. Peep some scans below, and you can scoop either or both, at the Nighted online shop, and keep up with their latest here.

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ENTER THE LAMBODEGA

Our good friend Lambo opens up shop with some limited edition prints

Lambo

A few weeks back, we spoke to Lambo about his work in our May group show, Feels. In our interview, we chopped it up about some personal history, video games, Master P, and for obvious reasons, the power of nostalgia. This week, the LA-via-Bay collagist opened up his online boutique, The Lambodega, where you can find his latest limited edition prints. There are a few pieces from the show left, plus some new pieces, running the gamut from Pac to Pat Riley and beyond. Browse below, and go shopping here.

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KOOL A.D. MADE HELLA VIDEOS

A look at some visuals spawned by Mr. Vazquez's latest

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Kool AD

Shouts out the FADER for compiling a few of these, and shouts out me for having the wisdom to jack their article. But in light of Victor dropping a collection for FEELS, this one seemed important. Victor Vazquez, better known as Kool AD, has been churning out quality media in a lot of different formats lately. By the end of 2014, it looks he will have been responsible for a very dope rap album, a novel, hella art, some gear, and possibly even another human. Also, songs from the album have already soundtracked a gang of videos, including our personal favorite, “Word”, which is punctuated by some gratuitous psychedelic drug use and fucking, all animated in Victor’s signature style. They’re all worth watching though, so go ahead and do that.

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THE MOUNTAIN VERSES

Oakland's Obi Kaufmann takes his painting work into the wild

Obi Kaufmann

My first encounter with Obi Kaufmann‘s stuff was at Surf Club. It was the first time I had set foot in the gallery, and I was greeted by Obi’s “Athena Portfolio,” a gorgeous series of paintings of classical, mythological figures from antiquity, slathered across plywood and found objects. The juxtaposition was crazy, and ever since, I’ve been watching Obi’s output from afar.

The Oakland-based artist’s latest showcase puts his “Mountain Verses” on display, a selection of “trail paintings,” handpainted on various trails spread across the California wilderness. In the paintings, watercolor abstractions, strange creatures, and symbols come accompanied by “verses,” short poetic musings on nature. A few selections here, but you can check out the “Mountain Verses” in its entirety over at Coyote & Thunder. Below, Obi offers up a little insight on the collection:

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ONE LAST NIGHT AT THE GRID

A few pics from our closing party and a final word on Feels

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Damn, okay. So that one’s in the books. In case these pictures need a little context, we spent the last month hosting a group art show, Feels, showcasing work from a dozen or so of our favorite artists from The Town, SF and beyond. This Saturday marked the end of that run, capped off by a function with sets from Friendzone, Trill Team 6, and Yung_SMH, and a birthday celebration for our good friend (and Feels artist) Freeman. The building filled up fast, so apologies to the folks we had to turn away. Trying out new shit means new variables and we appreciate you guys rockin with us regardless. Still though, the energy was crazy in there, and the superstars showed out as usual. Our crowd is amazing and beautiful and diverse and occasionally random as fuck, and we love you all.

Considering the scope of this thing, there are hella thank yous in order. Let me be clear in saying that this is not the Max and Will show. This thing doesn’t happent without the team so shouts out to D, Ben, Morgan, Deellan, Jenna, Lilly, Manhattan, Simeon and the whole squad for putting in work to make this go. Huge thanks goes to Maat and M1 at Grid Gallery for holding us down and opening up their home to us. To the (many) artists for sharing their work, Justin for the dope ass promo materials, to Mike and Daryl and the TT6 squad for setting the vibe, we’re grateful. Finally, to the Freemans, thanks for sharing that moment with us, and making it a family affair. For now, we’re gonna fall back and take of stock of what happened over the last month. But please believe we’ll be back. In the meantime, peep the recap below.

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FEEL IT OUT

Psychedelic booties and iconic tragedies in the latest from Danielle Schnur

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If you’re even vaguely keeping up with Danielle Schnur these days, you probably have an idea of what her art is like. The first time she surfaced on the Bowties, her aesthetic was just kinda beginning to take shape, but the signature elements were there. Boobs, butts, crisp black-and-white lines, Haring-inspired all-over symbols. Since then, a cult following has started to grow, and the experiments have taken off in all kinds of directions. Personally, I’ve been able to see a lot of it happen in real time, but zooming out on it objectively, it’s crazy to see the growth.

These days, naturally, Danielle is a force of nature. Those naked bodies have exploded into a cumulative statement on womanhood, filtered through new colorways and fragmented into patterns across a host of different media. There have been commissions, nudie portraits, crying rappers, and celebrity desperation, in shows with everybody from Flavourhood to Native Thinghood. I’m pretty sure Gangsta Gibbs still has a Schnur hanging on his wall at the crib.

Danielle’s FEELS collection contains some of her biggest steps out of the box yet, taking her nudes and collage work into psychedelic, experimental territory. There are 3-D pieces you’re encouraged to feel on, and portraits of Maino and Ja Rule sobbing, framed in glitter or pink fur. In other words, it’s the kind of stuff you can’t help but interact with. I get to talk to D pretty often, but like any great artist, some of the wisdom behind these pieces stays tucked away on a day-to-day basis. So, for you and for me, I decided to sit down with Danielle and pick her brain a little bit before the show wraps up tonight. Peep the latest from her below, along with some thoughts on Belly, Bieber, and the unifying power of the booty.

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DANCING IN THE FALLOUT ZONE

Visual artist Jus OnTask on satire, psychedelia, and the scattered inspiration behind his FEELS collection

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JusOnTask

When you’re back home, sometimes the most important shit kinda just falls into your lap. You’re in the right environment, you hit the right party, someone puts you onto a song. It was some time last year when OnTask Family surfaced for me. I saw that logo in all the right places. Otto and Ben hipped me to that Galactic Jazz. A few months after, at the Flavourhood group show, OnTask struck again. I met Jeremiah just as he was hanging up his pieces. There was a Sun Ra-type pharaoh figure and a girl fucking an alien, in loud pinks and blues and yellows. And then, tucked off in a corner behind the bar, was Justin’s stuff.

Justin’s work from that show–a series of digital collages combining carved-marble, classical female figures with futuristic neons–got me digging. Shuffling through Justin’s work on his site and his Tumblr, you start to get a sense of the dude’s versatility. There are psychedelic, warped colors. Stark black and whites. Internet 1.0 graphics and acid trip textures, ancient symbols and gothy darkness. Flyers, album covers, video collages, digital pieces, and print publications. There was shit I had seen before and never knew was him. And despite the disparate source material, it all made sense together. More importantly, it all made you feel something.

When it came time to build the art show lineup, Justin was near the top of my list and I barely even knew what the dude looked like. Two weeks later, after Jerm put us in touch, Jus rolled through the gallery and told me he’d have some pen-on-paper work to contribute. Naturally, Justin’s pieces for the show are crazy. Even from point-blank range, the level of detail is so crisp they could damn near be printed. They’re elegant black-and-white, but the images themselves are dark and seedy and fucking fun. Full of sex and death, with titles like “City Baby Attacked by Rats.” In other words, my kinda thang. With FEELS on the way out Saturday, it seemed like a prime opportunity chat with the SF-via-Oakland artist about the new collection, his appetite for influences, and the state of the OnTask union. Get to know Jus a little better below.

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FEELS: OUR CLOSING PARTY & RECEPTION

Our group show comes full circle next Saturday night

FEELS: OUR CLOSING PARTY & RECEPTION

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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.

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NOSTALGIA ULTRA

Ben "Lambo" Lambert on early Master P, Super Nintendo, and mining our collective memory

NOSTALGIA ULTRA

Lambo

“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.

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LESS IS MORE

Some insight into the latest from photographer and FEELS artist Kristian Contreras

LESS IS MORE
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.

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