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BEEN ON TASK

From tats to tags, visual artist Jus Ontask takes us inside his creative process in a couple different mediums. Luckily, the homie and OnTask family member Veeejzilla was around to document, giving us a step-by-step look at these pieces coming together.

SPRINKLE ME

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

SPRINKLE ME

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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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DOMA YOGA

Malidoma Collective's donation-based approach to community healing

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Malidoma Collective

Malidoma Collective is a powerful group force of female vision for creativity, community, and wellness. And for anyone paying attention in the town these days,the group and its members are an integral piece of Oakland’s social and cultural fabric. Through their unified productions, as well as individual endeavors, Malidoma offers opportunities for cultivating cultural empowerment and social regeneration through art and engagement, not unlike their beautiful and experiential installation at our original Feels event last May. The latest development to evolve out of the Collective is Doma Yoga–a donation based yoga series dedicated to healing people of color, their communities, and specifically West Oakland, through radical self-restoration.

Doma Yoga manifests as a series of three-month-long intervals, with a one month break in between, and rotating instructors and locations. During a given series, classes take place from 11am to 2pm each Saturday and include two yoga sessions and one guided meditation. Instructors are invited to facilitate a class on the basis of their representation and engagement in yoga and communities of color.

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LOWLIFE TAKES NEW YORK

Lifetime shooter and accidental documentarian Scot Sothern brings his brand of Americana to Chelsea

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Scot Sothern

A few months back, I had the privilege of chatting with Scot Sothern for an hour or so. Over the course of our conversation, he managed to dig pretty deep into a career spent behind the lens, which has brought him to all kinds of fucked up and wonderful and surreal places over the years. Of course, it’s hard to squeeze that all into an hour, so fortunately, Vice has given Mr. Sothern an outlet to drop bi-weekly reflections on the many strange scenes he’s found himself in over the last half century.

More recently though, the adopted Angeleno travelled East for his first ever solo show in New York City, which opened on Thursday night. Lowlife, hosted by Chelsea’s Daniel Cooney Fine Art gallery, features some of Scot’s better known work, with 25 prints from his book of the same name. The prints, depicting some of the prostitute friends Scot made during repeated trips to some of L.A.’s seedier locales in the ’80s and early ’90s, are one-of-kind, the only ones ever printed. And despite the potentially tidy “this guy took pictures of hookers! edgy!” storyline, Scot’s been pretty consistent in downplaying the work’s sensational side, rather choosing to highlight the fact that his images offer a window into the world of a few “disenfranchised Americans, usually existing under the radar and out of touch.” For those of us who missed the opening, Lowlife runs until February 28th. I highly recommend dropping in for a visit.

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BEHIND THE SCENES WITH SUP!

Alina Vongsamart and her crew will feed you in these streets

A line of customers is building at SUP! Southeast Asian Streetfood’s pop-up outside of Mary Weather Gallery. Sets of small, red and green plastic tables and chairs surround the makeshift kitchen where SUP!’s chef and founder Alina Vongsamart is rolling noodles and vegetables into rice paper while monitoring shrimp in a fryer. On the other side of the table, a blow-up palm tree is distinctly perched; a playful detail that sets a sunny mood on a Saturday night in Downtown Oakland. Alina’s set-up is far from haphazard. When she says street food, she means in the street and under the sky. Her reference for Southeast Asian street food is the fresh cuisine that’s captured her imagination and her appetite since childhood trips to her parents’ homelands of Laos and Thailand.

As the block party thickens, SUP! customers in miniature chairs watch the scene unfold between bites of fresh rolls and sips of beer. Orders are coming in steady and Alina swiftly assembles plates with generous scoops of rice, cucumber salad, fresh lettuce leaves, and crispy, golden coconut shrimps. The ease and care with which she makes and serves her food is unmistakable. A couple of busy hours pass and she greets the late-comers with a familiar statement: “We’re all sold out”.

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SCENES FROM VIETNAM

Kris Kozlowski takes us on a journey into the cities and landscapes of Vietnam

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Growing up stateside, our views of the rest of the world are largely defined by the images we see on TV and on the silver screen. In Vietnam’s case, those images are often tragic reminders of a war that left destruction in its wake. Kris Kozlowski’s recent photos from Vietnam, however, remind us that time, nature and people power on. It’s been roughly fifty years since the onset of that war and Vietnam is a different place, a place where modernity resides albeit with a traditional flare, where old and new intersect.

Kozlowski’s work shows a Vietnam with lush landscapes and bustling cities, a countryside where time moves a bit slower, a busy street where resilient cyclists jostle for positioning with scores of cars and scooters. The photoset is notable for its imagery and composition, yes, but maybe more importantly, I can feel the fog’s moisture creeping in on the countryside like a thief in the dead of the night. I can hear the buzz of a dozen mopeds swerving through cramped city streets, the gentle sound of a wooden paddle pushing water back, over and over again. That is photography at its best, when it can transport you somewhere you’ve never been and submerge you into that world. Kozlowski’s sublime skill does exactly that. We reemerge from that world with just a sliver of knowledge of what Vietnam is now, of how its people live, how its cities sound, how green its forests are.

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ILLUSTRATIONS BY KYLE PLATTS

Colorful scenarios from this London-based illustrator

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Platt1

I stumbled on Kyle Platts’ work and couldn’t shy away. I mean how could you? I hesitate to say that the London-based illustrator’s work is “layered.” In a sense, that designation rings true, but really Platts lays it all out there at once. There really aren’t layers at all, just a collection of images that could stand alone, but instead work in unison to create a sort of puzzle, one that you can marvel at and appreciate, section by section. There’s a sort of poetry in his work, a sense of acknowledgment of the absurd. It’s easy to see some of his work and chalk it up as juvenile and vulgar, and to an extent you wouldn’t be lying; but there is an undercurrent present throughout that reminds you that the artist is witty, informed and has something substantial to say. Take his most recent work: asked to “create a utopian version of 2015,” Platts, in his trademark style, does exactly that. In one detailed illustration, Platts touches on everything from gun violence to Kobe’s embattled achilles, from a cure to Ebola to peace between Palestinians and Israelis. All in all, Platt’s work is reminiscent of an Archie comic–if Archie comics were made by someone hip, unafraid and just a bit absurd.

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JESUS THE DUNKER

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

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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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YOUTHFUL KINFOLK PRESENTS: REVOLVE

A meaningful show on the way from the Town-based creative collective

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Over at Youthful Kinfolk’s site, setting the stage for the official preview of their upcoming gallery show, Revolve, is an image of the Oakland protests that shut down 580 last month. In the description below, the show itself is positioned as a reaction–to a fraught political climate, to dysfunctional systems of one kind or another, to what they see as a less-than-inspiring media landscape. With those themes in the foreground, the Town-based collective has assembled an impressive, dynamic group of creatives showcasing work meant to spark new conversations.

As the mission statement tells us, the lineup of artists–anchored by YK members and collaborators like Valentin Saqueton (AKA Veeejzilla), Amir Aziz, and Carina Moreno–“brings together artists that push for an agenda bigger than themselves and are looked at as the “other” within what it is that they do.” Working across a variety of mediums, from photography to graphic illustration to video work, the crew will take over Oakland Terminal this Friday, the 9th, with a selection that promises to be visually stimulating and thought-provoking. Needless to say, we’re juiced to see what our slightly more youthful contemporaries have been working on. Below, a brief selection of work from artists in the show, but for the whole scoop, spend some time with the full preview here.

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AZURE DREAMS

Issue returns with a 30-song suite of heavily based vibes for the teaholic faithful

AZURE DREAMS

Issue

Not a lot of cats out there have been carrying the based torch quite like Issue. Over a small handful of strange and mystifying projects, Earl Stevens’ most masked son has managed to carve out his own lane, channeling tea-steeped vibes into fuzzy, out of focus jams from behind a thick metal faceplate. “Why you wear the mask?” Issue asks himself rhetorically on the brief Azure Dreams standout “Why”. And there aren’t a lot of easy answers here.

There are however, no less than 30 tracks, running the gamut from loopy 8-bit synth to jazzy Rhodes to murky lo-fi guitar loops. There are Bruce Lee samples and loopy adlibs and anime references and Kool AD verses and a pretty ass piece of low-BPM, chopped and screwed Makonnen-y disco, which like, fuck, what if that was a real genre of music. Anyway, Azure Dreams is soundtracking an AM hour work-and-Soundcloud-sesh alone at the crib, which seems optimal as far as listening experience goes. Highly recommend diving into that thang for a while, plus a few other things below.

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MEET BASS COAT

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

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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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HIGH FIVE

Jay Stone's 5th Handed looks to breathe new life into the vintage sportswear realm

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Jay Stone

A pursuit cherished by those with an appreciation for the past, vintage clothing has experienced a resurgence in recent years. While many claim the realms of style and fashion to be cyclical by nature, it’s maybe true more than ever that today, everything old is new. No better is this truth revealed than in the world of vintage sportswear, where celebrated aesthetics from seasons past have found a new home on the backs of today’s youth.

Central to this resurgence is the vintage dealer, the person with the eye, the connections, and the hustle to source the hard-to-find items, and provide them to their customers. Jay Stone–known to the world as both a spitterand gear connoisseur–is one such person. The founder of Oakland’s 5th Handed Apparel Company, Jay has amassed a dizzying collection of rare throwback gear, and vintage sportswear that he’s now opening up to buying public.

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FANTASTIC PLANET

Superior Viaduct unearths the soundtrack to a psychedelic sci-fi masterpiece

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La Planete Sauvage

Not that it should surprise us in the least, but Superior Viaduct continues the tradition of reissuing epic, strange landmark albums this month with the vinyl release of Alain Goraguer’s soundtrack to La Planete Sauvage. Originally released in 1973, Planete–or Fantastic Planet to the English-speaking world–is a stop-motion visual feast, a psychedelic sci-fi collab from director Rene Laloux and illustrator Roland Topor that’s surreal and probably vaguely terrifying off a handful of mushrooms.

Gorageur, a former collaborator of Serge Gainsbourg, created a sonic backdrop that’s since become the stuff of lore, a lush 37 minutes of sweeping, baroque prog-jazz slow burners. Woozy funk vamps give way to narcotic Rhodes textures, backed up by big heavy breaks and sweeping orchestral elements. As Superior Viaduct’s description puts it, think psych-era Gainsbourg with a few extra “space-age synth flourishes.” Naturally, OG copies fall into the special class of crate gold that you’re unlikely to find outside of say, Madlib’s personal collection, or on Discogs for something astronomical. Thankfully though, SV’s got us covered, in store and online. Get acquainted below, and swoop a copy now before they disappear.

La Planète Sauvage (1973) from Chaivalla on Vimeo.

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