It was right around Lakeshore near the amphitheater when it set in. 6:45pm or so, the vision of the bike party had come to fruition. It was an adventure. It had been almost a year since the idea came to mind…happening upon a techno bike party in SF one night that illuminated what a bike party in Oakland could be. We linked up at Eli’s as noted, with more heads trickling in as the minutes passed. Around half past six, our guide for the night, Benny Golstein offered up some rules for the ride. And shortly thereafter we were in motion. Only a corny cat like me would want to ride out to some Drake, (“Trophies” FTW) but alas, the moment called for it.
OSC's celebrating their second birthday with friends and fam
It’s been nothing but love since we first linked up with Oakland Surf Club. It seems like many moons ago when we first interviewed Max & Ari about their tastefully curated (literal) mom and pop shop in Downtown Oakland. Fast forward a year , and they’re our partners in crime, providing us an ideal space to host our documentary screenings for the community. Saturday, the 12th, OSC will be celebrating their second birthday with “Heat in the Streets”, a party and group art show, with sounds by DJ Willie Maze and others. Good times to come.
Steph Curry puts on an unannounced show at the San Francisco Pro Am
Contrary to popular opinion, summertime is a wonderful time for hoop fans. For fans who didn’t make it to an NBA game this year, summer league and celebrity basketball games are the next best thing. Shit, remember two years ago during the lockout? It was joyous. KD at the Rucker, and Lebron at the Drew League? It doesn’t get much better…
Unless you’re a Warriors fan maybe. SF’s Kezar Stadium might just be the summer joog spot after what went down when hometown hero Steph Curry stepped inside the gym doors for last week’s Pro Am game. What transpired was nothing short of incredible, but then again, that’s just typical Steph.
Rick Ayers looks back on a career on the front lines of education reform
He’s like the coolest person you’ve ever met. Mid-60’s, sleeve tat, just chillin. We meet on the outdoor patio of one of UC Berkeley’s favorite study hubs, littered with international students and finals tension. He sips an espresso and we share a piece of carrot cake, catch up on Berkeley High gossip and update each other about the making-its of Bay kids these days. His effortlessly chill affect makes it easy to forget that we’re decades apart in age, that he’s a local legend himself, an underground political revolutionary, and that in many ways, he can be credited with the student successes we discuss.
Rick Ayers taught at Berkeley High School for 11 years, and in that time, helped guide generations of kids through Communication Arts and Sciences (CAS), the small school within BHS he founded with fellow teachers to promote modes of academia they deemed lacking in the traditional classroom setting. CAS was formed around a vision of combatting this model, taking aim at conventions like test-taking, homework, antiquated curriculums, and arbitrary punishment for seemingly non-negotiable mistakes. Ayers fought for an academic space where students could be recognized and celebrated as individuals, experts, and visionaries through often controversial methods.
Along the way, Rick has never pulled punches in sharing his opinions either, offering harsh and honest critiques of an educational system he sees as fundamentally flawed. It’s been six or seven years since either of us have seen the inside of our own CAS classrooms, but Ayers is still on the front line of radical education reform, and as I learned in our conversation, as candid about his opinions as ever.
Our good friend Lambo opens up shop with some limited edition prints
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.
Drunk gigs and a dog suit in the latest visuals from Berkeley's bedroom pop superstar
If you’re not familiar with Yalls, now’s as good a time as any. Over the last few years, the Jersey-to-Berkeley multi-instrumentalist has been active under a plethora of names–Dan Casey, Steezy Ray Vibes, and Yalls–a one-man band that combines groovy, psychedelic pop sensibilities with a healthy taste for digital experimentation.
A month removed from the latest Yalls full-lenghth, United, Mr. Casey has sprinkled some visuals upon us, and god damn are they likeable. “Like a Fool”‘s squiggly synth leads and distorted falsetto crooning are paired off with balloons, drunk wedding dancing, and Dan in a big furry dog suit. If for some reason, none of that appeals to you, I don’t know if we can hang out anymore. In any case, more from dude coming very soon, and more good things below.
Understated but unapologetic, Queens D. Light makes her voice heard
“You’ve got to be able to hold your own,” she tells me. A little while into our conversation at Grid Gallery, we’re covering some familiar territory, since I just asked Queens D. Light one of those eternally basic, cliche questions female MC’s tend to have to field too often. I ask whether she was ever intimidated by having to navigate the dude-heavy waters of the rap game, and in pretty clear teams, she’s telling me no, not really. She talks to me about growing up on gangsta rap as a little girl in L.A. and about how her dad was really with the shit, and how her upbringing left her with an inclination towards what she calls the genre’s “warrior-oriented” tendencies.
But even as she’s explaining it, she’s smiling, and for a sec, she trails off a little into a digression, “…and you gotta be graceful too, and be vulnerable…loving,” she pauses for a second to gather her thoughts, “and be yourself, unapologetically.” That push and pull figures pretty heavily into Queens’ art. Most of it is inviting–smooth, jazzy boom bap textures and spaced out, languid grooves. But her poetry is sharp, dense little thickets of words and imagery, with occasional pauses for a quick observation, or to create space. The music touches on her experience as a woman, as a black woman, as an artist–but without necessarily pushing an agenda. It’s conversational, which is to say, that it feels a lot like an actual conversation with Queens does. In person and on record, she radiates calm, cool energy. But under it, there’s a subtle intensity–a certain kind of focus.
A look at some visuals spawned by Mr. Vazquez's latest
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.
Oakland's Obi Kaufmann takes his painting work into the wild
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:
Next weekend, we're going on a ride around the Town
Patently obvious that summertime and leisurely ass bike rides go well together, so this seemed like the natural thing to do. The Saturday after the 4th, we’ll be meeting up at Eli’s Mile High Club on MLK to kick off the inaugural Bowties Bike Night, an extended mobile celebration of good things like friends and beers and warm weather. Over the next ten days, we’ll be rolling out the map for our ride, which will kick off in the West, and include a stop off to visit our friends at Oakland Surf Club. We’ll end up not too far away from where we started, at a secret outdoor spot to wrap things up with a party. More details on the way, but for now, pencil us in and tell your folks.
A few pics from our closing party and a final word on Feels
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.
Psychedelic booties and iconic tragedies in the latest from Danielle Schnur
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.
Visual artist Jus OnTask on satire, psychedelia, and the scattered inspiration behind his FEELS collection
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.