Omens & Offerings: A Conversation with Hannah Stouffer

Omens & Offerings: A Conversation With Hannah Stouffer

Illustrator Hannah Stouffer breaks down her artistic journey and her new show at RVCA SF

Every once in a while, you come across artists whose back catalog is so stacked, it’s hard to even make sense of. Looking at Los Angeles-based illustrator Hannah Stouffer‘s CV, some names come popping out at you right away. There’s her tenure at Juxtapoz. There are high-profile solo shows in LA, New York, and Miami. There are commissions for cultural institutions like Nike, Vans, Levi’s, and Dior, and editorial illustration work for The New York Times and NPR. The work itself is just is varied: natural phenomena, human bodies, metaphysical symbols, psychedelic glitter panels. There are common threads between works, but dozens of different mediums, from gigantic murals and in-store installations, to hand-drawn prints and textile patterns.
If you’re the kind of person who finds themselves browsing through Juxtapoz often, Hannah’s fingerprints would be hard to miss. Serving as the mag’s Illustration & Erotica Editor for several years, Hannah’s taken on curatorial projects to go along with her individual artistic ones, serving as a key player in putting together anthologies like Juxtapoz New Contemporary and Juxtapoz Psychedelic. In looking over Stouffer’s career so far, you can see a lot of intention–both in the detail and conceptual aspects of the work, and in building the kind of relationships that allow you to get paid for doing cool shit by people who have the budget for it. It’s an elusive balance, and one I think a lot of us are still working out.

Hannah’s latest work comes in the form of Omens & Offerings, a solo exhibition up at RVCA’s SF flagship location. When the homie Bob Sagat made the hike out the Haight a few weeks ago, we were able to set up an opportunity to talk to Hannah a little about the show, the meaning behind it, and about what she does more generally. Naturally, I found a way to wedge in a question about Ludacris. Read on below.

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RARE COLLECT

RARE COLLECT

Oakland's own Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment is a video game archive for the people

The first time I walked into The MADE, it was a trip. A trip because I hadn’t expected to confront my childhood and feel the nostalgia of remembering how dope it was to be a kid. As the bleeps and bops, loading screens, and box art images flashed in my head, I kept asking myself, “how haven’t I heard about this place?”

If at some point in the past, you were obsessed and consumed with video games, The Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment is quite literally a safe place you can go to relive and reflect on a time when NBA Jam Tournament Edition was all that mattered and which one of your homies got all 120 stars in Super Mario 64. Looking around at everything for me started to trigger vivid memories of once meaningful video game achievements and that one time on my birthday when I wanted Street Fighter 2 for the SNES but that shit was sold out everywhere. Haven’t fucked with birthdays since then.

The MADE is a non-profit museum that houses a collection of historically significant works in video games. It is dedicated to educating and teaching the public about how video games are created, and how they’ve changed over the years. Its main goals are preserving the history of video games and heralding them as an artistic medium.

Oh, and you can play them.

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OUT FROM WITHIN

OUT FROM WITHIN

A look inside the visual mind of Ryan L. Rocha

Meeting Ryan Rocha makes you wonder how many budding artists are standing behind coffee counters around the world. It was a simple interaction at the coffee counter that led to our initial conversation. My $5 Yeezus Tour tee always a grand conversation starter. Our conversation about music, led to a conversation about art, and a conversation about art introduced me to his work.

Raised in Sactown, with relatives in the Bay, Ryan’s work serves as a road map into the mind of a critical thinker. Drawing much from his experiences and relationships for inspirations, Ryan cites his grandmother as one of his primary influences.

As one of the visual artists from last November’s FEELS II Festival, we thought it only appropriate to check in with the mixed media artist. After recently publishing a collection of drawings, writings, and paintings entitled “Four Piece,” Ryan spoke with us about life in Sac, the meanings behind his work, and his beloved Vava.

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THE POLITICAL LINE

THE POLITICAL LINE

A closer look at the de Young's massive Keith Haring retrospective, before it goes away

If you haven’t had the chance yet to check out The Political Line, now would be a good time. Like now. Go. As of today, you have less than two weeks. The exhibition, which opened up at the de Young in November, is something to behold, showcasing dozens of works from Keith’s ridiculously productive, tragically short ’80s run. Haring, for folks in our generation, is one of the two or three most iconic visual artists of the last century, a figure whose influence is completely inescapable if you have even a passing interest in art or own a Tumblr account. Seeing the work in person though, reminds you why he’s so ubiquitous, and why the work is so essential.
Visually and physically, the show is spectacular, with Haring’s symbol-language spilling out across an insane variety of media, from giant tarp canvases to subway drawings, ceramic pots to ten-foot totem poles. Naturally, it’s also a feast of ideas, placing a particular emphasis on Haring’s most politically charged pieces, and grouping them loosely by theme. While some pieces refer explicitly back to the circumstances of their ’80s genesis (Apartheid or the AIDS and crack epidemics), others–say the ones where computers supplant human heads–seem to foreshadow where we’re at today. And then there are more personal pieces: everything from journals full of dick drawings, to unearthed art school videos, to the heartbreaking “Pile of Crowns” for his fallen friend Basquiat.

If Haring’s language was something of a constant, it was a language that whose communicative power he was compulsively, constantly pushing into new territory. Taking in that volume of work firsthand, you get a chance to see just how much he was able to communicate in such a short time. To the extent it’s possible, The Political Line makes you feel like you’ve actually gotten to know someone.

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TOTALLY STOKED

TOTALLY STOKED

All-around artist Marilyn Rondon keeps it unapologetic and all the way 100

In a world that tells women to shove it up our twats and shut up, I’m just trying to take up space. It’s a simple mantra, really. One that reminds me, while in a hurricane of rage for all things socially and systemically oppressive, that I’m ready for war. A call to action, if you will: Women! Let us take up space! I wear this mantra daily–in the width of my hips and the volume of my voice and the texture of my hair. I wear it in refusing to apologize for my biology or censoring my talk of vibrators and diva cups. And I’m just out here, really. Living that simple truth one day at a time. Trying not to get felt up on public transportation, or belittled for every expressed emotion, or violently yelled at for politely denying a sexual advance from a car full of dudes on my walk home. But a real win is finding other women putting on in the fight, beside me. And my latest ally discovery is the multitalented warrior goddess, Marilyn Rondon.

Marilyn is a self-made Venezuelan queen with a tatted crown to match, a master of all things creative and of keeping it all the way 100. Since beginning her artistic journey at a design high school in Miami, Rondon has followed her heart and affinity for adventure and authenticity into a layered career involving 35mm photography, zine production, paint, installations, modeling, and writing.

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OH DANG DUDE

OH DANG DUDE

SF's Odang Udon serves up freshly made noodles, inspired by a strong tradition

Odang Udon

About a year ago an Instagram account popped up in my follow requests by the name of odangudon. Off top, I thought it was some sort of random udon appreciation account judging by the first picture it posted: a modest looking bowl of udon with the caption “Odang! First bowl!” I fucking love noodles, so I got curious. A couple of weeks later our homie Ben Falik popped up on the odangudon account and things started to make a bit more sense.

Turns out, Odang Udon is a food truck (a trailer technically) that serves up on-the-spot freshly made udon dishes, both traditional and eccentric. A collaborative effort between longtime friends Matt Palley and Ben Falik, Odang is one of very few spots in the Bay Area that makes noodles fresh to order daily. It all started when Matt was visiting his girlfriend’s family in Hawaii. A popular udon spot in the area was known for serving up fresh noodles on the spot, in a specific regional style, and attracting massive lines daily. After a little background research, Matt traced the lineage of that particular udon, the Sanuki udon, to the Kagawa prefecture of Japan.

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Supposed to Bubble: On “Houston Rap” Through photos and interviews, Peter Beste and Lance Scott Walker lovingly chronicle a legendary regional scene

Supposed To Bubble: On “Houston Rap” Through Photos And Interviews, Peter Beste And Lance Scott Walker Lovingly Chronicle A Legendary Regional Scene

On Houston Rap, and the decade-long project to preserve its history

When I spoke to author and Houston rap connoisseur Lance Scott Walker last year, he was in New York. A few months earlier, boutique publishing house Sinecure Books had released the second of two books centered around his and photographer Peter Beste’s decade-long journey into Houston’s legendary rap scene, Houston Rap Tapes. Its predecessor, Houston Rap, probably already belongs on a list of the very best collections of hip-hop documentary photography ever compiled, thanks in no small part to the context provided by the dozens of interviews Walker conducted with just about everybody he could reach from the city’s storied rap pantheon.

Tapes, he explained, felt like a necessary extension of the first book, given the abundance of source material, presenting in full his conversations with Texas luminaries like Bun B, Z-Ro, Paul Wall, and just as important, a laundry list of hometown hero types whose names might not register to a national audience.

As we talked about some of those lesser-knowns, I couldn’t help but draw out some of the parallels to the Bay scene. Specifically, I asked him about 2005 and 2006, when both our regional scenes enjoyed a brief share in the national spotlight. Around the same time folks were memorizing Mike Jones’ phone number, E-40 was enjoying his first Top 40 exposure since the mid-’90s. And while “Vans” was tunneling it’s way into rap’s subconscious, Houston’s slow-mo psychedelia was soaking into the genre’s collective psyche even more visibly. Slim Thug, Mike Jones, Chamillionaire, and Paul Wall all charted heavy, while OGs like Pimp, Bun, Scarface, and Devin made the most of their well-deserved new exposure. Zip files of obscure DJ Screw tapes became rap forum gold. “The Strangest Sound in Hip-Hop Goes National,” proclaimed the Times’ Kalefah Sanneh, in April of ’05. By then, Peter Beste had been shooting for over a year, and planning for almost five.

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SPRINKLE ME

SPRINKLE ME

Brandon Tauszik & Cameron Woodward take us inside the creative video production house known as Sprinkle Lab

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It was Brandon Tauszik’s poignant documentation of streetside murder memorials that originally introduced us to one half of the creative partnership behind Sprinkle Lab. A videographer turned photo documentarian, Brandon’s a fixture of the Oakland arts scene, and has popped up here and elsewhere for work that’s stark, deliberate, and no frills in its approach. In 2012, Brandon partnered with his business savvy co-founder Cameron Woodward to form the indie video production house Sprinkle Lab.

Having crafted memorable videos for Bowties favorites like Antwon, Main Attrakionz, and Queens D. Light, and lifestyle campaigns for Levi’s and Mishka, their portfolio is an eclectic mix of art house visuals and for-hire commercial work. A few years in, it seems the future is bright for the duo. Having added a team of creatives to the squad in the past two years, today Sprinkle Lab runs as a lean business with their eyes on developing engaging visuals. Sitting down with Brandon and Cameron in their studio, we spoke to the founders about their early days as business owners, the challenges of entrepreneurship, and the greatness of Beyonce.

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JESUS THE DUNKER

JESUS THE DUNKER

How a kid from West Oakland learned to fly with the Golden State Warriors

Jesus Showtimedunk

It’d been two months since I had talked to Jesus. Phone tag and missed opportunities nearly sinking what could’ve been a dope feature on an Oakland native. I hadn’t given up, but I had moved on when my phone rang on a Sunday night. An unfamiliar number, I picked up, it was him, Zeus. By Zeus I mean Jesus El, the first name pronounced Juh-zeus, with the emphasis on the second syllable.

“What’s good man?” he asked me. I apologized for the delay. We had started an interview over the summer that I had yet to follow up on. A staple of Golden State Warriors games since the early 2000’s, Jesus’ penchant for high flying acrobatics has earned him a place as one of the Warriors’ preeminent acro-dunk entertainers. Known for dazzling crowds by launching himself 30 feet into the air, since starting more than a decade ago, Zeus has parlayed his extraordinary abilities into opportunities to travel the word, and to put on for the youth in his community here in West Oakland through his work.

“I just wanted to follow through on our interview,” I told him, “I didn’t wanna fully drop the ball.” He had invited me to his gym when we first spoke, but I didn’t know if the invitation still stood. I reminded him of his offer. “We train on Mondays and Wednesdays,” he replied. “Bring some shorts, and a shirt you can sweat in.” “Okay…” I responded, but I must’ve sounded a bit unsure. “If you want to write about this, you should go through it, so you know what we’re doing out here. So you’re not just writing from speculation.” I couldn’t object.

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MEET BASS COAT

MEET BASS COAT

Joshua Fisher and Eda Levenson fuse nail art and music into an immersive live experience

Joshua Fisher and Eda Levenson are best friends and creative collaborators. After meeting in their freshman year of college at UC Santa Cruz, they quickly connected through their shared interest in social justice work and artistic expression. But when the two entered separate grad schools that put 1,000 miles of separation between them, their bond only strengthened, inspiring the duo to expand culturally and creatively, together.

These days, Joshua is better known as DJ Creelfish, with a residency at The Layover and a stacked Soundcloud, while Brooklyn-based Eda works under her alias Lady Fancy Nails, boasting an impressive collection of nail artwork, and a following of adoring fans. Together, however, they are Bass Coat; a bi-coastal collaboration of audio, visual, live, and wearable art. In fusing their respective mediums, Eda and Joshua manifest as Bass Coat to create eclectic mixes and performance-based events for their friends and following. The latest edition of the Bass Coat mixes just dropped this week, in anticipation of their collaborative event with our friends at Flavourhood, fixing to crack this Saturday night at Urban Stitch Boutique. “It’s going to be multiple forms and ways to interact with creativity,” says Eda. “Like, audio, visual… or nah,” she laughs. To unpack the meanings and makings behind Bass Coat, and their upcoming event, I sat down with Joshua and Eda, who expanded upon their creative instincts, gender politics, and art as a means for social activism.

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UP ALL NIGHT

UP ALL NIGHT

Zine press and street photo collective Nighted celebrates the release of their sixth anthology

Nighted

Two years ago, I moved back to the Bay from LA. Coming back home can mean lot of things, but for me, coming back at 23 instead of 18 included taking stock of all the cool shit that had happened since I left. At first glance, it was easy to feel like an unusual amount of cool, creative shit had been popping up in Oakland while I was gone. In retrospect, it’s pretty obvious to me that that ground-level creative bubbling–from art shows to zines to weird music–has been pretty consistent since I was a kid. Maybe the climate in Oakland and SF these days offers fuzzier lines than ever between skate culture, punk, rap, rave, and “serious” art. More likely though, tall tee/Killa Season Will just wasn’t really plugged in to quite as much shit back in ’07.

Sometime around then, in early 2012, Nick Garcia was making a pivot from the graffiti game into indie print publishing. With a new daughter around, Nick decided to rein in the later, weirder nights, in favor of being a cool dad. Still though, Garcia felt like there were stories he needed to tell, from himself and others. Pooling some resources with other shooters–most of them leaning toward gritty, street-level stuff–Nick created NIGHTED Life #1, an anthology of photos and stories, capturing moments both grimy and glorious with a curator’s sensibility. From weird drugs to street carnage to more subtle, cheeky juxtapositions, Nighted’s output balanced a no-frills, limited-fuck-giving approach with a firm dedication to giving unheralded but deserving shooters a platform to do their thing.

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HIGHER AND HIGHER

HIGHER AND HIGHER

From hometown heroine to international soul star, Goapele's still expanding her horizons

Boom, boom-clack, boom…clack. It was sometime around ’03 and “Closer” had every car thumping with those drums. My mom would drop me off at school to it and my boyfriend would pick me up with it slapping in the trunk. It felt like “Closer” was on every radio station, from rap radio to quiet storm to Top 40 countdowns, as the Bay watched Goapele rise to stardom off a song that defied genre or target audience. But that’s the Bay, am I right? Only an Oakland native, half-Jewish, half-South African songstress could lace her sultry vibes with slap so hard that it could soundtrack side shows and emotional romantic comedy scenes alike. It was the early 2000’s and Goapele had blessed the Bay.
In the years since, she’s cut her locks, expanded her musical repertoire, toured the nation numerous times, and raised a daughter, all while managing to drop another four albums, including this fall’s Strong as Glass. Goapele’s latest finds her making a few departures from earlier work, with occasional nods to more traditional piano-driven ballads and sleek disco-pop. Still though, this is a Goapele project through and through, textured, immersive R&B with a forward-thinking approach. This month she’ll debut that new material live, kicking off a multi-city tour that starts in NY tonight, stops off at the El Rey in LA, and wraps up with a host of shows at Yoshi’s in Downtown Oakland. But in the meantime, I had the chance to catch up with her about the new album, her relationship with the Bay, and her intentions for creating community around her art.

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