Wine & Bowties visits the Windy City and Pitchfork Music Festival
A look inside Aris Jerome's growing collection of gorgeous portraits
It’s been quite the journey for Aris Jerome. When we first met, he was shooting music videos for Kreayshawn and Bobby Brackins. Today he’s still shooting videos, but his photographic work has taken precedent. Creating lasting images through his lens, Aris’ Tumblr looks a lot like a casting call for Nasty Gal, with dozens of wonderfully composed female portraits. But wonderfully composed doesn’t quite capture exactly what’s going on here. To put it bluntly, calling the women Aris photographs attractive would be an understatement. But he hardly seems phased. When asked how he’s happened to come across so many pretty women, Aris took the high road, simply telling me, “I just capture what I see as beautiful.”
But there’s more to Aris’ resume than slender figures and pretty faces. Shadowing fashion photographer Solmaz Saberi on her test shoots, Aris transitioned into photography, taking on shoots of his own over time. Also working alongside Joseph Tran, Aris picked up perspective from a few talented teachers and channeled it into his own distinctive style of portraiture. “Having them as mentors changed my whole perception of photography,” he remembers. Today though, Aris is showing us how it’s done with his own work, and by the looks of things, there’s plenty more up his sleeve. We spoke with Aris about his career, his successful transition from film to photography, and where he’ll take it next.
IAMSU! has emerged as the leader of a new Bay movement, and this time, he's making sure things are different
A few weeks back, we got the chance to sit down with Richmond’s own Iamsu, to talk about his role in the recent resurgence of Bay rap. In our conversation, Su talked humble beginnings, the resurgence of hyphy, and meeting Hov and Tom Hanks. Plus, our good friend Daghe snapped some icy portraits.
The Fairoaks Project paints an unforgettable portrait of San Francisco's storied gay bath house scene
Part of me feels like they can tell us, but we’ll never quite understand. Maybe you just had to be there. As much as I’ve been told, and as much as the ’60s and ’70s have served as a boundless reservoir of inspiration for me, there’s still something elusive about it all. The sense of freedom, and exploration, and radical imagination that defined those decades is something our generation, and others, have tried to recapture, but could never really duplicate. There’s something about a photograph though–whether taken for artistic or documentary purposes, or just as a memento of a moment someone wanted to hold onto–that can communicate a feeling instantly, across decades.
I’d imagine Gary Freeman felt that pretty powerfully when his longtime friend Frank Melleno pulled down a dusty cardboard shoebox, and started to thumb through the treasure trove of Polaroids that would become The Fairoaks Project. In 1978, Frank, fresh off an adventure in Alaska, had found a gig as the night manager at The Fairoaks Baths in San Francisco. Owned and operated by a gay commune, The Fairoaks was known in the late ’70s as a hub for sexual liberation and experimentation, but also close-knit community. Unlike most gay bath houses at the time, also, The Fairoaks was situated on the edge of a largely black neighborhood, and welcomed a steady influx of young gay men who reflected back the city’s rich diversity. It was a place to stay, to find support, to find friends and to indulge. Openness, unabashed sexuality, interracial love, friendship, fucking and LSD: it would be hard to imagine another place so broadly embelematic of the progressive ideals that defined San Francisco during the ’70s. Fortunately, Frank found himself at the center of it all, with a Polaroid camera in hand.
Photographer Alexis Vasilikos invites us to escape the ego
There’s something very deliberate in Alexis’ presentation too. His website consists of ten collections, pristinely laid out and accompanied only by vague, open-ended titles like swimming in the wind or back to nothing. No artist bio, no background info, nothing to take in but the images themselves. It’s that sense of mystery that gives the photographs so much power. Free from outside context, Alexis’ work allows your imagination to wander, to ruminate on whatever feeling you pull out of the image itself, rather than searching for something external to it. Later on, Alexis gave me a bit more context–about places he’d been, and things he’d learned in his seventeen years behind the lens. Whether the context is necessary is still up for debate, and given what you know already, I’d suggest digging in to Alex’s archives here first. At the very least though, our conversation offered a chance to dig a bit beyond the surface of those gorgeous shots.
Rio-based photographer Tiago Sperotto on his photographic journey back home to Porto Alegre
It was 2010 when I first connected with Tiago Sperotto. On the verge of being fired from my first post-college job as a barista, on my last day, Tiago approached me with a simple question. “Dude, do you know anyone that needs some photography work done?” It was a serendipitous question, as the Bowties, still in its infantile stages, was in dire need of a shooter to add to the team.
From there, the rest is history, although our journey is still only beginning. Lending his photographic skills to a number of shoots for us over the years, it was love that eventually brought Tiago back to his native country of Brazil in 2011, where he still lives today. Currently residing in Rio, but raised in Porto Alegre, Tiago’s most recent work showcases some of the gorgeous environs the city has to offer. Chatting about his upbringing in Porto, the city’s evolution, and the magic of Guaiba Lake, Tiago offered some insight into what makes Porto Alegre so special.
Photography by Roloff Beny
Canadian photographer Roloff Beny is often described as having “obsessed with the beauty of the world”. Reading the words he wrote about India, or even a glance at the images he brought back from a handful of adventures there confirms that pretty convincingly. Aside from the beauty he found in the visual world, Beny was also famous for his illustrious lifestyle: friends in high places, storied parties and a lavish penthouse in Rome all seem to surface often when Beny’s life is being discussed.
Most importantly, Beny was a world traveler, and India is one of a number of his works which could effectively be described as a love letter to the place it documents. One of the most impressive examples of his eye for color, scenery and natural beauty, India finds Beny exploring a place with no shortage of gorgeous landscapes, architecture, and rich culture. In some ways, these images read like an idyllic Westerner’s portrait, an aesthetically idealized version of a complex place– and you could definitely make the case. Either way though, they’re pretty spectacular shots.
There’s always this feeling of uninhibited freedom to Ryan McGinley‘s photography. Images of young, naked bodies set against the backdrop of strange wilderness. Faces that look youthful and places that feel expansive and otherwordly. Fireworks, caves, starry skies, and even, in many cases, wild animals themselves. It only seems appropriate then, that animals themselves would be the subjects of McGinley’s latest exhibition, entitled, appropriately enough, Animals. A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to drop in on Manhattan’s Team Gallery and see the collection on a grand scale.
Animals, despite the presence of McGinley’s trademark nude models, focuses primarily on the animals themselves, using the bodies as a sort of living, breathing canvas. During the process, McGinley traveled to a number of animal sanctuaries and zoos in order to pair his models with a gorgeous and unusual set of animal counterparts. And while the images are certainly stylized in certain ways, the interactions between human and animal are real, including the numerous scratches, bite marks, and visibly uncomfortable poses. The details of McGinley’s process help to add some context, but really, these shots speak for themselves. See the whole collection here.
You have to love a photographer that manages to capture all the beautiful depravity that goes down in the underbelly of a big city. Pretty much regardless of the era or the location, it’s out there, as long you’re looking hard enough. Granted, my knowledge of Tokyo in the ’70s is limited, but from what I can tell, folks were getting down in the park. Frequenting Tokyo’s Shinjuku, Yoyogi and Aoyama parks, photographer Kohei Yoshiyuki documented some of the city’s more adventurous citizens in action, as well as a handful of their secret–and, apparently, sometimes not-so-secret– spectators. Armed with 35mm film, an infrared lens and a camera with a flash, Yoshiyuki managed to capture a snapshot of a fascinating sexual subculture, in all its desperate, voyeuristic glory. The Park has been shown at galleries worldwide, and was re-published as a book in 2007. Try to find a copy here, or enjoy the gallery below.
Photography By Jeff Divine
Amassing one of the largest collections of surf photography in the world is no easy feat. But give a passionate photographer 45 years and endless beach terrain and you might do some damage. Such is the life of photographer Jeff Divine whose four and a half decades of photographing the culture and lifestyle of surfers has taken him all over the world. Frequenting many of the earth’s most pristine destinations for surfing, an initial staff job for Surfer Magazine in 1971 launched the photographer’s career. Iconic shots of the beach, coupled with images of surfers on and off their boards serve to relate what it really felt like back then, when everything was groovy.
Yesterday, my homie told me he fucked a pornstar for the first time the night before. He told me she hollered at him at the bar, left him a sexy note; he hollered, she slid through and the rest is history. It was a pretty cool story, and a series of events that I wouldn’t say happens all the time (unless it does). Regardless, the real lives of adult performers remains a topic that’s piqued my interest since my early days of sneaking Striptease VHS’s from the movie store.
Apparently I’m not the only who’s been interested in the subject. In an ongoing project from Chicago-based photographer Saverio Truglia, the artist has assembled a series of photographs portraying the lives of adult entertainers in the comfort of their own homes. Revealing in their reflection of the performers’ lifestyle, Truglia’s work reminds us of just how similar, and just how different our lives really are.
It’s a fascination with nature and its processes, and with those vast pockets of the planet virtually untouched by humans that seems to inform Bernhard Edmaier‘s stunning aerial photography. Most centrally, Edmaier describes his work as “abstraction” from nature, and the description only seems accurate, with Edmaier’s lens capturing textures and patterns in nature that only become apparent when seen from a distance. Not only is Edmaier’s selection of subjects extraordinary, but his eye for framing awe-inspiring shots is hard to overstate.
Earth on Fire, one among many of his impressive collections, finds the German photographer examining one of nature’s most impactful, sublime phenomena, travelling the globe in search of volcanoes and their varied effects on the world around them over time. From massive lakes and craters to active eruptions, the selections below represent just a brief sample of the images from Earth on Fire, published by Phaidon in 2009. Cop here, or from your local bookstore.