Tuesday, March 12, 2013

You Suck for Missing This! Us vs. Them Presents: Oil & Water

My best friend is an artist with big fish syndrome who lives in Arkansas (and he will be featured heavily and often against his will in this blog).  Despite that, he's usually infinitely cooler than me, and he proved it once again this weekend when, from his small, cultureless town in a state basically owned by Wal-Mart, he pointed me towards this fantastic art show.  Neither of us knew too much about it, other than the fact that some great artists such as Neko Burke, Peeps Kid and Deph would be featured.  We didn't even really fully understand the concept, but luckily it hit me in the face as soon as I walked in: art done on or as cars, bikes and surfboards - water meets oil.  Simpistic?  Nope.  As I walked around and snapped pictures of things I vaguely recognized, I couldn't help but also notice all the different types of people milling around - you had bikers, hipster art people, members of the tattoo community - all in one space.  Everyone seemed to be mixing well and to know each other in some capacity or another. 
As I mentioned, much of the art was actually featured on motorcycle gas tanks and surfboards as well as skate decks and helmets.  A Peeps Kid piece was even on a gas can.  It was a really interesting clash of media, people, and culture that seemed to blend at the same time.  
I managed to track down the owner of Us vs. Them and organizer of this event, now in its sophomore showing.  Jason Banuelos gave me a better understanding of how he came up with the concept: "Traditionally oil and water do not mix. The surf, hot rod and motorcycle cultures that grew out of Southern California from the 50’s-70s however, were all connected by the idea of personal freedom and expression-not conforming to the standards of the societies they existed in (Oil & Water press kit)".  It seems that the clothing and deck line that Banuelos deveoped also goes along with that theme.  Banuelos told me he was really excited that he'd been able to pull so many heavy hitters from the motorcycle design and tattoo world to contribute to this show.  You can tell he really believes in what he's doing with this idea of freedom of expression in all its forms.  
From my perspective, it was great to see this space, formerly a Segway rental shop and doggy daycare, being used to showcase such major talent, creativity and subculture.  It seems a fitting opening review for this new syndicated blog, which I hope puts accross the same message: live as weird and wild as you want to live.  In the shadow of the Horton Plaza mall next to the Os Gemeos mural from Viva La Revolution, I urge you to come check out the great array of pieces from different genres and cultures, all reflecting one thing: individuality and sidestepping the norm.  Also stop by the Us vs. Them flagship store to check out the decks, clothes, and maybe get a tattoo from one of James Banuelos' talented friends.  Hastily taken pics of some of my favorite pieces appear below, as well as the flyer with all the featured artists.



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