Friday, June 28, 2013

Review: Power Animals III: Spirit Guides Presented by Thumbprint Gallery at The Spot Barrio Logan

I love how suddenly everyone is waxing surprised about the "explosion of new art talent" in Barrio Logan, as if it hasn't been happening for literally decades.  It never went away, you hipsters.  Just because a few bloggers finally pulled their heads out of their asses to comment on it doesn't mean that the art scene in Barrio Logan and Golden Hill is just becoming as vibrant, funny, and smart as people suddenly think it is.  Those of us who have lived there, grew up there or just new it was the place to go for cool quirky shit have known this for a long time.  The only thing it was ever missing was money and white people who cared.  This is an area that has been hiding amazing talent in plain sight for years.  The city just kept whitewashing over it.

Hopping off my soapbox now, The Spot on Main Street in Barrio Logan is a relatively new artist's collective that rents spaces to artists at reasonable prices, does shows and events of all kinds, and apparently does some street vending on the side.  They've given new meaning to the term "multi-purpose," as there was even a Hip Hop video being shot in the loft upstairs when we went to the opening show for Power Animals.  Despite its newness, The Spot is completely run by locals, and while it's well-lit for art shows and devoid of graffiti (that we could see), the space definitely has that great Barrio Logan/Chicano Park, art-but-no-art vibe that those of us who know and love the area can immediately recognize.  It's great to see these crews and groups starting to be able to go legit and have spaces and shows of their own, and I love that Thumbprint Gallery chose this space to showcase Power Animals III.

Since I didn't see Power Animals I or II, I'm sort of firing blind here, but no matter.  Thumbprint has a great way of not explaining itself too much before a show and letting the art speak for itself.  I think this is a great tactic, because it allows both the artists and the viewers interpret the themes on their own terms.  The theme of "Spirit Animals" was widely interpreted this time, with everything from a Sloth running a vacuum in a pink dress a'la Freddy Mercury in "I Want to Break Free" to abstracted, ghostly street-inspired panels.

The show only ran from May 18-25, and I once again found myself in a situation where I was so stoked on all the art that I didn't write down many names.  About 30 artists participated in this special short show, and I'm really just going to let the photo gallery above speak for itself.  Truly an amazing show.  If you know any of the artists, please feel free to leave the names int he comments and I'll tag them, and if you're interested in any of the pieces again just comment and I'll do my best to find out.   You can also get more info about upcoming events at The Spot or artist rentals by going to
Thumbprint Gallery is currently showing Werkaholic: Works by Kreemworks at their La Jolla Studio through July 8.  They also have two upcoming short shows opening on July 2 and July 23 respectively at Bar Basic downtown.  For more info or upcoming events go to  Hopefully my crappy pictures from this show will inspire you to come and check them out.  Thumbprint are truly tapping some great unseen talent in San Diego and beyond, and we should all be thankful to have collectives like them and The Spot in this town.  They are our true culture.  Hey, where'd that soapbox come from again  Enjoy!

**All photos in this post by LKL Studio**

Thursday, June 27, 2013

What the Hell is Going on Here?? I Must Know Who Did these Stickers!

I'm calling these stickers the Tittongues.  I think they pretty much speak for themselves - these things have been going up all over the place lately, and I think they're hilarious!  But no signature, nothing - BUT professional-style stickers!  I keep trying to grab one for my fridge collection, but as you can imagine they come down almost quicker than they go up.  The bottom ones were actually on the electrical box outside of my building, so missing those really chapped my ass.  Who takes them?  I'm hoping it's a combination of rabid but confused fans like myself, and people who are horrified/titillated by them (also like myself).  We must find this artist!  If people respond, I'll re-implement the prize policy, so take a look.  It's not like you can un-see them now anyway.  Oof.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

New Review: Junglist Fridays with RAW at Kava Lounge SD

Now that we're in sight of Bulletproof and Dub Chamber's monthly collaboration event's second month, I think it only appropriate to give those of you who weren't at the first event.  Junglist Fridays was kicked off with a bang on May 17, featuring Socal's, and, let's face it, international legend, RAW (we can't keep him to ourselves forever), and our OG prodigal son did not disappoint. 

I hadn't been to the Kava Lounge in a while, but were it not for RAW (Woofer Cooker Records, Dub Chamber), I'm sure the fun, pesudo-hippie vibe I've come to know and love would have still been there.  RAW, however, is still capable of turning pretty much any room into La Casa ca. 1998 and I'm still not sure if it's the beats or the man.  Probably a combination of the two if I'm honest. 

The supporting DJs, Sixfootunda (Tonz of Drumz, Dub Chamber), Rebellion (Special Technique, Dub Chamber), NKey (, and Dregen (Dub Chamber) certainly set the mood that night, and I found myself dancing pretty much as soon as we walked in.  A great surprise also was that MC Tez is back in the mix, and helped host with Oozi and Reflex. 

Then it was time to be transported back to a magical time in DnB history, a time when beats and peeps were hard, rough, and full of soul.  RAW's set was ragga-heavy but not so much that it made me feel like I was growing dreds.  There was a very impressive selection of old hits with some modern tracks thrown in for flavor, just how I like my jungle (being the crotchety oldschooler that I am).

RAW at Kava Lounge 5/17/13 Photo by LKL Studio
The vibe was definitely sick; chill but still hard and from what I can tell everyone had a great time.  That's one thing I can say about the Kava Lounge: I've literally never seen any drama go down there.  If they just had some diet cola for my vodka, I'd never leave!

The next installment of Junglist Fridays will be this Friday, May 28 and features RAW's long-time partner-in-bass, CRS? (Tonz of Drumz, Dub Chamber).   We can also look forward to Quest with MC Reflex (Bulletproof, Dub Chamber) whom I haven't seen in a while, the always impressive Peacemaker (Special Technique, Drumz SD), and Joeyanimals (Future SD).  Hosted as always by our benevolent residents Tez and Oozi, Junglist Fridays will once aain take place at the Kava Lounge on Kettner and is 21+ with only a $5 cover.  I expect this monthly to be a great success going forward and they have even more heave hitters coming up in future.  More info can be found on the Junglist Fridays event FB page.  See you suckers there!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

An Interview with Kristine Schomaker: Second Life, Psychedelic Drip-Paintings, and Challenging Body Image; a Merging of Media and Self-Perception

Kristine Schomaker is the board-elected media boss of the LA Brewery Artwalk, a large collective of artists housed in (obviously) an old brewery in LA.  I've been moderately obsessed with the LA Brewery since I was about 18 when I started raving in Los Angeles and would often drive by the huge creepy structure, thinking it would be a great place to break into for the purposes of rave or just architectural nerdism (you can see my many tirades on the subject in my preview and review of the LA Brewery Artwalk).  Turns out it's hardly vacant or eerie, and Kristine has been tasked with promoting the Brewery's events and social media, which is how I met her.  As soon as I found out the Brewery was inhabited, let alone by artists(!), I was all over their webpage, Facebook page, and Twitter.   This meant Kristine had to handle my barrage of gushing and pleas to speak to whomever could tell me the most about it, the lucky lady.

One of my pleas to Kristine was to allow me to come interview her about the Brewery so I could find out every little thing, but once I entered the studio she shares with a roomate in the atrium building, that interest quickly waned when the conversation turned to her own art (and besides, all of my questions were easily answered on the LA Brewery's website).

Kristine's art on first glance is a high-octane colour-fest, which clearly uses a lot of layering to create texture and dimension.  There are canvases of varying sizes all over the walls and in the loft of her studio, but on the day I was there most eyes were immediately drawn to the four life-sized mannequins in the center of the room, all covered in the same rich neon swirling patterns as what could be found on the wall  Behind the figures, there was a projected strip of film from a computer which showed more digitized figures of the same type of art, but rather than the mannequins' uniform skinny elongated figures below, these figures (which were all dancing), were of all different sizes and shapes.  It made an impressive display, and I was curious about how Kristine had arrived at this idea.  The answers went much deeper and were much more innovative than I expected.  Enough to kick my obsession with the building we were standing in out of my brain for the duration of my visit that day, and certainly enough for me to want to give Kristine a spotlight in this blog.

Close-up of Kristine's great layering technique.  Photo by LKL Studio
DWS: So what's the significance to you of these real-life models vs. the digital ones projected on the wall?

KS: Well, I've been in Second Life for over six years, and I started with my paintings; I uploaded digital copies of my paintings, and that was it - I was an artist in Second Life selling paintings.  And then when I was working on my Master's degree, I showed my Professor what I was doing with the paintings, and she saw my Avatar and started asking me, "well, who is your Avatar and why does she look the way she does?" - a very ideal version of myself.  And so I started to think about it, and I started to write tons of notes, journal, sketch - all sorts of things, and I started to see her as a self-portrait.  I had never ever done a self-portrait before, so I started researching self-portraits and what they mean; delving into identity and why my Avatar was ideal and why I created her (to look the way she did). 

DWS: What kind of things did you find in your research?

KS: Well I found research from, like, Stanford where they showed how your Avatar influences you in real life, and I thought it was so fascinating.  So I did my Masters' thesis on the relationship between me and my Avatar, it was called "My Life as an Avatar," and we had conversations, my Avatar and I, and I focused on body image, I started to really look into the media's representation of women, and how all of this influences society's perception of beauty, so that was my thesis.
Schomaker conversing with Avatar Gracie in one of the comics Schomaker created.  Image used by permission
DWS: So once you'd finished that thesis, where did you take it from there?  Now that you had all of this understanding of you vs. your Avatar?

KS: I kind of took a little break, and I started to think about other peoples' identity with their Avatars, why they chose the Avatars they did.  It made me more open about who I was in real life.  And so I decided to change my Avatar, which I hadn't done in years.  I took one of my paintings, and used it as a skin on my Avatar.  That just started something totally new.

Schomaker's Avatar, Gracie, and an art-skin Avatar
DWS: What direction did that take you?

KS: A few months after I put the painting skin on my Avatar, a friend of mine saw that Avatar and asked to buy the real-life mannequin.  So of course I said, "well there is no mannequin, this is all digital," and so then of course that led me to...

DWS: To the idea of doing the paintings on real mannequins?

KS: Yeah, I mean I'm always looking for ways of mixing realities and ways of bringing the virtual into the physical world, so this was just like "duh!"  So I went looking for mannequins, and started painting them like my Avatars.

DWS: Sorry to change the subject to technique for a moment, but I noticed that the mannequins have little drip stalactites coming off the fingers and backs.  Was that on purpose?

KS: Yes, good eye!  A lot of people don't notice that.  I noticed that the little drips were happening on the first one I did, and then on the rest of them I kind of concentrated on that, and I put more layers on because I wanted to form more of the drips.

DWS: I was hoping it was on purpose because it looks really cool.  Back to where you went next with these Avatars, though...

KS: Well because I'm focusing on body image, all the next mannequins are going to be plus-sized.  It's about being an individual and being yourself.  This whole project is called "A Comfortable Skin."  In my Masters' thesis artist statement I state that I'm not comfortable in my skin.  But now that was three years ago, and since going through this journey I really feel that I've evolved along with the project and I feel like I'm much more comfortable with who I am, inside and out.

DWS: So do you now have an Avatar that looks more like you in real life?

KS: (Laughing) No!  Well I do, but I don't use it very much.  The Avatar created from my actual self is that first one on the left (of the dancing digital models).

Still of Schomaker's dancing digital Avatars.  Used with permission

DWS: Oh yeah, because you created all of these for the project.  I have to say, that one looks like it's the happiest and having the most fun.

KS: That's what a lot of people have said, it's funny.

Its clear that Schomaker's journey to self-acceptance, much like anyone's, is still evolving.  In the meantime, she's managed to use her considerable artistic talent and great techniques, and the new and sometimes confusing reality of Second Life not only to help her on this path, but to make a point about how we view ourselves and how we wish we were.  There's no shortage of controversy surrounding Second Life these days, but the positive potential is clear with participants like Kristine: the virtual world can be used as a reflection of ourselves as well as a way to further understanding about the differences between us and accepting all the possible permutations, whether virtual, real, conscious or subconscious.  Aside from that, Kristine's a kickass artist, and I can't wait to see more from this project.

Schomaker with her models, both tangible and virtual.  Photo by LKL Studio. contains more pictures of Kristine, her work and her Avatars, and an in-depth look at "A Comfortable Skin," including the comics she created from the conversations she had with her Avatar.  Being the social media maven she is, Kristine's site gives a much better picture than I could hope to of this groundbreaking project, so make sure to check it out.
Kristine is currently showing at Tractionarts in Los Angeles.  The closing reception for her show, "Ce n'est pas une peinture" will take place on July 6, 2013.  For location and details, visit www.tractionarts.orgTo find out more about the LA Brewery or any of the artists in the collective, go to or the LA Brewery Facebook Page.

**Images from used with permission.**