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Sunday, February 9, 2014

DWS Relaunch! October '13 Brewery Artwalk Wrap-Up OR April '14 Prequel



Well, I've been sitting on this piece and rotating, as I have with my entire writing career (how did it all fit up there?) lo these 6 months, but I'm happy to see that many of you are still checking in with DWS, and I really appreciate it.  With all the apathy and self-loathing through which I wring myself, it's awesome to know there is an audience for this stuff.  I don't believe in resolutions, but it is a sincere goal for me to take this unapologetically Po-Mo/Pop Fuck to new heights this year, and I'm glad that some of you are sticking it out with me.  And so with that, I bring you the unofficial re-launch of (Dropping) Weird Science with, unsurprisingly, a wrap-up of the last Brewery Artwalk in October 2013.  It was a doozie, so strap in.

Ok, I feel like I've been on my soap box for long enough; if you are in Southern California and haven't made it to the LA Brewery for their semi-annual artwalk, I don't even know what to do with you.  Luckily I have this blog, so I shall once again spend hours trying to summarize and sell this wonderful phenomenon and convince you to go to the next one on April 26-27, 2014.  Please, for the sake of your own cool points, listen to me this time!

I'm not going to spend much time on the history of the LA Brewery or the nature of artwalk, I think those are covered pretty well in my three previous harangues: the Artwalk Preiew, the April '13 Review, and my Interview with the Brewery's Press Director, Kristine Schomaker.  I also want to spend more time featuring the many and sundry artists who opened their doors to the public this time around; they are the true heroes of the Brewery.

"Hole" image from randihokettfineart.com
Randi Hokett     On first glance, Randi's Hokett's work seems simplistic and modern, but as so often is the case, it's all in the details.  Multimedia takes on a different meaning than usual in the many materials Randi uses to create different textures, shadows, and effects in her pieces.  However the real interest in Randi's work, for me anyway, are the ridged, textured rifts and holes which look like prisms and feature often in the center of each piece but also appear on the sides in more recent works.  On largely blank backdrops, these topographical features, for lack of a better term, spring out with sparkling reds, graduated blues and purples, even black.  One could make the obvious vaginal reference here (keep it classy, San Diego), but the holes and chasms seem to represent more in my opinion.  An emptiness that comes form the human condition here on earth;  a gaping wound, a blind jump into a deep abyss.  Looking at them, one is able to re-connect with the heart of what makes us what we are; fear, beauty, pain.  It's all right there, not to be covered up or sterilized by man-made materials; the glaring fact that we are organic, perishable, fallible.  Check out her portfolio at www.randihokettfineart.com and see her unique take on textures, found materials, and the nature we can't escape.

Image used by permission from artist.
Christina Ramos     My friends and I had a differing of opinions on thought-provoking artist, Christina Ramos.  I thought her featured images of G'd out nuns throwing up gang signs and other fun poses were interesting, charming, even - dare I say - quaint.  My friend, not so much; she found them offensive and possibly a little racist, stating that we should go out and get some real cholos and see what they thought about their "quaintness."  Personally, I think most of my friends who are ex-bangers would think they were cool.  I'm not sure, however, how a nun would feel about them, but that point was not raised at the time.  What I think we can agree on (arguing friend has not been asked for further comment, so I'm positing here), is that the juxtaposition of religious piety with imagery generally associated with urban culture in these pieces is definitely meant to raise some eyebrows, and it's a cool commentary on the paradox of many criminals' seemingly extreme devotion to the Catholic faith.  I see it as a reversal of the tattoos many of these guys have all over their bodies: instead of a big dude in a wifebeater with the Virgin Mary slapped on his back, does it still look cool when an archetype of faith and chastity is playing poker while smoking a spliff?  I say yes, but I'm not part of either of those archetypes, so until we are able to drag a cholo and Sister Sassy to Ramos' studio, my friend and I will have to agree to disagree, but which one of us has a blog, hmmmm?  Check and mate, graciously unnamed buddy.  Christina Ramos' full portfolio, which includes some not-not-so-pop portraits, can be seen on her website at www.christinaramosart.com.  Title of image shown is "You Can Take the Sister out of the Hood, but You Can't Take the Hood out of the Sister." 


"Fly" image used with permission from the artist.
Sarah Jane Hardt Photography     Do you like pubes?  As many of my friends know, I'm not much of a fan, but Ms. Hardt got me to care about them again in two of her photo series, "The Skin Series" and "Redhead Fetish".  There's body hair aplenty in "The Skin Series," and one of the photos from "Redhead Fetish," featuring a closeup of a ginger pubis, has earned quite a lot of attention.  From the artist, "As a photographer and Celtic-born redhead, I'm curious with the preoccupation some men and even women have with us 'gingers'...And naturally it (the series) took a slightly provocative course."  In my opinion, provocative is an understatement.  Beyond the shock value (many of us have taken pics of our parts mid-coitus, but few of us have the balls to immortalize them in lacquer and show them to the public), it's the lighting, the colors (or lack thereof), and the sense of illicit movement in these pieces which really stun.  Both gritty and pretty, Sarah's eye for the interesting art that can be found right in our own bodies makes her a truly stand-alone talent.  Sarah has put "The Skin Series" up on her professional Facebook page, and it'll be available for a limited time via this link.  If you want to view more of the "Redhead Fetish" series or are interested in purchasing her work, she can be contacted via email at memorieswithhardt@gmail.com.  Sarah also takes her unique eye and techniques to her commercial work, and if you are looking for very high-end event photos, check out her commercial website at http://www.memorieswithhardtphotography.com/.


Image from www.kevinflint.com
Kevin Flint/Dystopia     Termed by the artist as "apocalypse chic," Kevin Flint's Dystopia studio jumps out at visitors from a corner as they first enter the Brewery.  Hooks, chains, industrial surfaces, gas masks, and much more adorn every inch of this loft, so "apocalypse chic" seems a very apt descriptor, indeed.  Flint also has a line of "functional art," which includes coffee makers, water coolers, and other architectural features with which to adorn one's kitchen or office.  I usually find my way to the actual paintings and photos in the Dystopia studio, however, most likely because these pieces cross the border separating apocalyptic architectural oddities and just plain kink.  While the photos of nudes with gas masks are obvious, there's also something to the flat, textured pieces with surfaces being rended apart by hooks and chains that has something vaguely (or not so vaguely, in my case) shows kinship with BDSM imagery.  The deep blues, reds, and purples of this "industrial flesh" with hooks in it being dragged apart by some unseen force - it just seems inescapable.  The victim without a body, the sadist pulling at the rope just out of view.  The industrial wasteland feel of the studio is haunting enough, but when you add this layer to it. it's downright sexy.  Kevin has a brand new Etsy store at which you can purchase his curious pieces, and it's linked to his website, www.kevinflint.com, where you can view all his work.

Image taken from www.artexture.com
Keith Collins/Artexture     What do you do when you're walking around an art city and you see a huge, photorealistic image of Siegfried and Roy with their white tiger hanging in a window and it's a fucking CARPET?  I'll tell you what you do - you get your ass into the adjoining studio as fast as your fat little legs can carry you.  Upon entering Keith Collins' studio, wonders abound.  It's set up like a high-end furniture shop, and most of those gorgeous furniture pieces are also for sale, but the show-stoppers of course are the tapestries; Marilyn Monroe in life-like detail, Muhammed Ali after knocking out Joe Fraizer, a stunning Martin Luther King mural.  They even have T2!  Even more amazing is where you think these would be woven tapestries, they're really hook rugs, and all of them are made from found/recycled yarn scraps.  If you think it's possible to get any more awesomely hipster than that, you're delusional.  This guy should be featured on Portlandia immediately, and if I ever win the lottery, my first unreasonable purchase will be the Siegfried and Roy piece.  Keith Collins also does home installations of more modern carpet pieces as well as floor mats, and they're all pretty sick.  Check out the crazy stuff this guy can do with yarn on his website, www.artexture.com but save the tiger rug for me!



Tuki Lucero     Tuki Lucero's business card titles her as an "Artistic Recycler."  This is true; she does create tiny sculptures in found objects, mostly old tin cans.  The label she gives herself, however, belies the full emotive scope of her tiny sculptures.  Part Dia De Los Muertos, part religious imagery, part sparkle, these tiny vignettes are usually only about 2"x4", but pack a huge visual punch nonetheless.  The tin cans are all vintage, and it looks like the pieces inside are done collage-style, with images of the Madonna and child, disembodied masks, etc.  One would think these pieces are meant to be gruesome or some sort of tiny phantasmagoria, but I don't think that's Tuki's aim, though some of them do seem to make a comment on the true nature of organized religion.  There is definitely an element of the past; somewhat Victorian and somewhat Mexican religious imagery, but to me the ultimate goal is whimsy with a deeper meaning and a connection to those past ways of making found objects or items around the house into folk art (think those weird hair sculptures from the Victorian and Edwardian eras).  I think Tuki's creations are far from folk art, but there is definitely a nod to it there.  Tuki Lucero's Etsy store is currently under construction, but if you're interested in viewing more of her pieces or purchasing, you can email her at tukilucero442@gmail.com.

MNKR Clothing     It didn't take much for me to know I would be featuring MNKR in this post.  When I walked into Designer Matt Fellows' studio, there was a podium with a poster glued on in the style of those annoying inspirational paperweights which read "Be the Change, Sucka."  Sold!  I'm a sucka for tongue-in-cheek satire that's done so simply and eloquently.  At that point I didn't even really care what this place was selling.  Luckily, this would not simply be fleeting hipster lust.  MNKR's website advertises itself as "t-shirts and other weirdness," and both t-shirts and weirdness are on point.  Most of the t-shirts do indeed contain weirdeness, continuing the irreverent wit I saw on the podium into wearable art.  You might have seen some of these before: "Helvetica is Awesome," for example, or an outline image of the state of California with the word "home" inside.  These clothes hit me right where I live and if I don't snap them all up, visit MNKR's website and Be the Change to your wardrobe, Sucka!  The site also has a list of vendors in case you're 80 years old and prefer going to stores to shop over online shopping.  "Like" MNRK on their Facebook Page or follow them on Instagram for news and product updates and - I'm sure - more weirdness.

Dave Lefner Reduction Linocuts     Well, nothing says "Pop Art" more than a linocut of a Tootsie Pop wrapper with a large yellow overlay that reads "POP!"  With so many permutations of Pop Art and street art these days, it's nice to see a literal translation of the form, whatever "literal" might mean in the Pop Art world (I can feel Andy Warhol's smug glare bearing down on me from the ether over a pair of sunglasses as I write this).  Literal or not, I really enjoy Dave Lefner's purist commentaries on pop culture and advertising, and his linos are some of the cleanest you'll ever see.  Now these aren't photographs, mind you or even paintings.  They're carefully etched linocuts which are made to look somewhere between a photo and a litho, but the tiny cuts create a greater dimension to the image.  In the example above, the wrinkles in the candy wrapper do look photorealistic, but it's literally cut out of a template.  Lefner's website is awash with examples from his Pop! series, as well as a number of old theatre marquis and some more abstract pieces.  Many of the Pop! series are sold out, so if you want to know how many cuts it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop, contact Lefner on his site.

Wyatt Mills - Just Badass Art     I hope you're still with me here, because Wyatt Mills was one of my favourite finds this time around, and I'm not the only one who thinks this retro skater-looking kid is going to blow up.  The image to the left here is actually a self-portrait (awesome) which I believe was to be featured in his most recent show, "Phantasmagoria."  In a YouTube video about the show, he says that his style is mean to shock, and meant to wake people in up out of their computer realities and look around.  His technique is great - oils slapped onto various media with a trowel or other unconventional instrument so that he gets crazy textures, shadows, and sweeping madness.  It's a very modern or Dadaist approach, and I always marvel when artists can slam paint on a canvas (or door, in the case of this portrait) seemingly haphazardly, and pull not only a clear face or shape out of it, but something so emotive and full of perspective and depth.  There's not many of those around anymore, save David Choe and a handful of other street artists.  In keeping with the Dadaist theme the pieces in this show and that I saw at The Brewery also incorporate news clippings, headlines from gossip mags and other verbal pieces set up in a collage format either over or under the oils.  If you didn't get an emotion from the haunting, twisted faces, the words and nods to the brutality of our screwed up media system will strike a nerve on that tip.  Mr. Mills has probably the most kickass website I've seen in a while as well, and you can take a look at his other pieces or hit him up about pricing at www.idoesart.com.  Good God, I hope he shows at the next one!


Rob Silverman Photography     My obvious inclination toward the strange, the weird, and the avant-garde of the art and music scenes would imply that I also lean that way when it comes to photography.  With all the options for different washes, digital manipulation, and lacquering, one can make a photo look like pretty much anything else.  While I do love a good surrealist photo, I actually tend more toward the classic in both my own photography and in other artists.  Working almost exclusively in black and white yet somehow able to capture shading and light grades expertly, Rob Silverman is an excellent example of all that is awesome about classic photography technique.  The ability to capture the beauty we find all around us in the real world in all of its stark, unpixelated reality is, in my opinion, something only photography can wholly do as an artistic medium.  Not so easy to do, especially in black and white, is the ability to capture the emotions and true feeling of the subjects of this photography; the forlorn energy of a dog in front of an old gas station, the stern and enduring countenance of a Navajo brave in full headdress.  Turning motion and light into still life and back while not losing any of the emotive quality and without digital covering is what separates good technique and good eye from good photography, and Mr. Silverman is a good photographer.  I don't even feel the need to make the requisite reference to Ansel Adams here.  Silverman has a solid, deeply emotive style and technique all his own.  Though I've prattled on about his black and whites quite a bit, Rob Silverman has a whole array of photo styles, including commercial and event photos, on his website www.robsilverman.com.  You can also contact him via the site for pricing on current works or bookings.

So, there we have it.  Ten of the great artists making me jealous by living at The Brewery and doing what they love.  Now the next Brewery Artwalk is upon us, just two weeks from today, and I am once again planning to wander through it in awe, bumping into more weird and wonderful art and people, wistfully wishing I could live there as well but also gaining hope for the future of art.  Ironically, San Diego's much more commercial and therefore LAME artwalk takes place in San Diego on the same weekend, April 26-27 and it's literally outside my doorstep.  I will choose, however, to drive 2 hours up to downtown LA to the LA Brewery and support my new friends and idols in the pursuit of truth, love, and beauty in art.  Pardon me as I'm waxing extremely sappy at the moment, but I think The Brewery is really important in sustaining a real art culture in America, and that makes this event important, because for two weekends a year, the general public and unartistic schmoes like you and I can be a part of it.  How can you not get sentimental about that?  Do yourself a favor and take that weekend to go do something good for your soul and witness a living, breathing art community at its very best.

2 comments:

Kristine Schomaker said...

Thank you so much for the great article on the Brewery!!! Stop by when you are here!! Would love to see you again!!

Layla Marino said...

Thanks Kristine! PM me your new address on FB when you have a chance. See you in a week!

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