Pop Surrealism (Summer 2011)

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Street a.k.a. Museum May 11 – September 11 2011 Co-Curated by Beau Basse

New England’s most talked about street art exhibition Five diverse artists navigate the space between museum and street Bumblebee (Los Angeles) Andreas von Chrzanowski (Germany) Herakut (Germany) Shark Toof (Los Angeles) Alexandros Vasmoulakis (Greece) See their work both in-museum and around the streets of downtown Portsmouth

Portsmouth Museum of Art One Harbour Place Portsmouth, NH 03801 603.436.0332 portsmouthmfa.org


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Publisher Richard Kalisher Designer Eric Kalisher Contributing Editors Ana Kim, Tracy Tomko


On View May 15 - September 4, 2011

490 East Union Street Pasadena CA 91101 pmcaonline.org 626 568 3665

Image left: Clayton Brothers Wishy Washy (from series Wishy Washy) 2006 Mixed media on wood panel with electrical and sound 96 x 96 x 100 in. Courtesy of the artists

FAC S I NATI O N Lisa Alisa Graphite 38 Marcy Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11211 June 10 - 26, 2011

Paintings by

DOUGLAS ALVAREZ www.douglasalvarez.com

Monkeyhouse Toys and Gallery


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Group show Saturday, June 18, 2011 5pm-9pm 2874 Rowena Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90039 www.monkeyhousetoys.com

Ichae Ackso, Ahh'd Art, Grace Albelda, Douglas Alvarez, Dawn Anderson, Kim Bagwill, Terri Berman, Julie B, booleep, Nicole Bruckman, Johnathan Bueno, Stephan Canthal, Deryke Cardenaz, CHATISMO, Cookie Doe Monster, L. Croskey, Marcel deJure, Nick Gallo, Sophia Gasparian, Cristian Gheorghiu, Kio Griffith, Patrick Haemmerlein, Walt Hall, Lisa Hull, Jinx, Jason Jordan, Cori Keller, Billy Kheel, KORTEZ, Sylvia Lizarraga, Jose Lopez, Carl Lozada, Jon Measures, Yuki Miyazaki, Max Neutra, Javier Nieves, Tom Oliver, Angela Ortiz, Anselmo Ortiz, Vera Paras, Carol Powell, Lysa Rhean Provencio, Ritchie Ramirez, Sarah Ramirez, Paula Tade, Paul Torres, Jessica Valencia, David Vandelinn, Ted Von Heiland, Susan C. Weber, Christopher Willingham and more.

“Street a.k.a. Museum” Portsmouth Museum of Art Portsmouth, NH [Through Sept 11]

Street a.k.a. Museum features a group of internationally-known contemporary street artists, who as part of the exhibiton, will create new work on a selection of walls throughout Portsmouth. Guest-curated by Beau LaBasse, this exhibiton is a companion to Outside/In, an earlier show at LaBasse Projects in Los Angeles that featured the same group of artists. For this exhibition, an entirely separate series of paintings by the artists will be shown. Artists were selected as representatives of the next-generation of street art, The international group includes Herakut and Case, both from Germany; Hush from the UK; Alexandros Vasmoulakis of Greece; and US artists, SharkToof and Bumblebee. Work from each of these artists is shown in the museum. Additionally, all arrived in Portsmouth before the exhibition opened to create a series of outdoor murals that that became part of a permanent downtown walking tour. It is this special component that opens up the streets of Portsmouth as a living museum and allows the work to be shown in its true context.With its roots in popular culture and artists like Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, and Jean-Michael Basquiat, street art has been with us for more than 30 years. Once considered an underground art form, it is now “mainstream” and is a genre that has gained acceptance and popularity in the art community and by the general public, playing an increasingly prominent role as an art form and cultural influence. Street art now exists in galleries and museums as well as on the streets, actively engaging an international audience. The artists in this exhibition have distinct messages they contribute to the urban environment, creating contemporary art and adding it to the walls of cities around the world.


REVIEW: “Street ‘n Low” Robert Berman Santa Monica, CA

The Street ‘N Low show at the Robert Berman Gallery in Santa Monica, CA, houses a large and eclectic assortment of street and lowbrow art, showing work by Keith Haring and Robert Crumb alongside that of Shepard Fairey and Barry McGee. Borrowing its name from the ubiquitous packets of sugar substitute, the show anticipates the upcoming MOCA exhibition Art in the Streets while referencing the brillo box-inspired logo of the now defunct Deitch Projects. The former constitutes the first major survey of street art in an American museum, while the latter represents a gallery known for launching the careers of street artists such as Barry McGee, Swoon, and Os Gemeos. The Street ‘N Low logo thus pays double homage to Jeffrey Deitch, former owner of the Deitch Projects, current director of MOCA, and a man who Berman considers a colleague in the exhibition of street art. Street ’N Low’s carefully wrought branding urges the viewer to take notice of work that, in Berman’s estimation, is too often discounted for its display of technical skill. More often polished than painterly, pieces by artists like Greg Gibbs and Robert Williams have the easy beauty of the

comic, the billboard, and the magazine. Like the pop artists of the 1950s, adherents of street and lowbrow continually sample from consumer culture. Williams’ paintings draw their action and color from Marvel comics, while Gibbs casts himself as pop culture icon Frankenstein in Frankie Takes LACMA. From the consumer packaging-inspired logo to John Colao’s Vote Obama, painted in the style of Warhol’s 1972 Vote McGovern, the show repeatedly makes reference to its hallowed pop art forebears. These allusions to high art carry over into the allocation of gallery space. Paintings by Ron English hang side to side and top to bottom with prints by Robbie Conal and illustrations by Mark Ryden. This salon style method of hanging, taking its name from the Royal Academy salons of 17th to 19th century Europe, traditionally segregates paintings into hierarchies of size and importance. Salon style in the Robert Berman Gallery, however, carries populist connotations. It echoes the ordered chaos of the magazine spread, the storefront window, the website portal. It is the visual language of the modern consumer masked in the trappings of the Academy salon.

Berman refers to art as the mere “souvenir of an idea,” and like a peddler of souvenirs, he reminds us that moments in time are fleeting. His show presents a rough chronology of street and lowbrow art, attempting to preserve and highlight the roots of an ever-growing movement. The show, like the sugar substitute from which it takes its name, seems sweet and light, delighting the tongue but eluding the waist. Robert Berman’s deliberate timing, branding, and hanging, however, lend heft to the motley of work. - Jessie Kim


Adam Caldwell & Jonathan Darby White Walls San Francisco [Through July 2]


Intersection, a dual exhibition of new work by Bay Area artist Adam Caldwell and the UK’s Jonathan Darby, positions the work of two painters from seemingly disparate artistic backgrounds to meet at the one point where they cross over: their deeply anthropological investigations of contemporary culture. This place of intersection is the point of departure for each artist, with Caldwell piecing together fragments of American life — the good, the bad, the hard-to-grasp — and Darby continuing to probe the stories behind the inhabitants of Brazil’s impoverished favela (slum) communities. By placing these works side-byside in the gallery, the artists provide the viewers with a platform for reinvestigation of two cultures, each with their own realities of absence and excess. For Caldwell’s portion of the exhibition, he created a series based on the novels of his grandfather, Erskine Caldwell. A best-selling author of more than 50 books, including “Tobacco Road” and “God’s Little Acre,” Erskine’s paperback editions often featured lurid depictions of seductive southern women, something that Caldwell is pulling from for his work in Intersection. Erskine’s publishers marketed his critically acclaimed, socially conscious written portrayals of the economic and social conditions of southern sharecroppers as soft-core semi-pornography. In an interesting twist, Erskine’s wife, Margaret Bourke-White’s photos also display an intense interest in race, class, and social issues. Within his detailed oil paintings, Caldwell is actively juxtaposing her celebratory images of women against contemporary depictions of the stereotypical, southern, white-trash “seductress.” Throwing in layers of images of ancient ruins, social protest, war, and architecture, he seeks to explore the tension between the work of Margaret Bourke-White, an amazing 20th century self-made female photographer who made her own way in a man’s world, and the contemporary depic-

tion of sexy, southern, white-trash women, who are a stereotypical result of writings by Caldwell’s grandfather. (Ellie-Mae Clampett and the other Beverly Hillbillies are all based on the characters from his novels.) Darby’s artistic concern deals with socio-political and humanitarian themes. His work portrays people in a cultural context where innocence and the vulnerable have been impacted by forces of social, economic and political change. His focus is on children, specifically those that live in Brazilian slums, as he believes they can and will determine their own future. Darby has teamed up with CARF (Children at Risk Foundation), and will be selling prints at the show, with 100% of proceeds going to benefit the foundation. Contrasting elements of softness and beauty against severe brutalities, Jonathan's paintings are both seductive and harsh in their subject and technique. Using an array of different media with two and three-dimensional elements, the paintings consist of smooth layers of paint contrasting with rough, reworked textural elements.

Nick Mann Gallery Heist San Francisco [June 25 - July 23]

Astral Rise, a solo exhibition featuring new works by Nick Mann (Doodles). Mann currently lives and works in Oakland California. His work has been shown throughout the world in places ranging from Wellington, New Zealand to Portland, Oregon. His travels have a direct relationship with his artistic practice, as though his artwork is documentation of the spiritual and physical experiences he has while traveling. His lifestyle is intertwined with his art making, obscuring the lines between both. This convergence of lifestyle and practice has placed Mann into the contemporary folk-art movement. Because his work is exhibited in both private and public space, he has been asked to participate in the Living Walls Conference on Street Art and Urbanism in Atlanta, GA, for the second consecutive year. Nick has also lectured at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, discussing the process of art making. He has been a recipient of multiple residencies with Together Gallery in Portland, Oregon and Islands Fold in Pender Island, British Columbia. Mann explores the realm of the subconsciousness, the language of archetypal dreams and universal symbols. Combining an absence of linear perspective and mixed media compositions, he guides the viewer through a primitive, rhythmic, narrative. Doodles’ communicates through the history of symbolic signs, found objects and mysticism. His intentional and emotive distortions of the figure are reminiscent of indigenous Folk Art found in South America, Mexico and Native cultures. There is a constant rhythm pulsing underneath the body of his work resulting in detailed, repetitive patterns throughout the figuration and landscapes. Nick also works in a variety of scale ranging from large outdoor murals to small intricate drawings. Mann has recently returned from a three-month trip traveling to and throughout Mexico. The experiences of his voyage are translated through his current body of work.


Max Kauffman & Brian Robertson Illiterate Gallery Denver, CO [Through June 24]

Two solo exhibitions will soon show in one of Denver’s most interesting spaces for contemporary art. Illiterate Gallery will be host to Max Kauffman and Brian Robertson’s new bodies of work. Some of Kauffman’s most thought provoking work to date, commenting on migrations, will be shown alongside work by Robertson, who will make a highly anticipated return, after a kind of migration of his own to the West Coast. His travels and his recent links to the Los Angeles art scene have made great impacts on his newest work, Whoa.


Max Kauffman’s Migrations is about the ebb and flow of humanity; those who’ve traveled across the country and the world taking little with them except a taste for a brighter future. We are constantly moving and striving for something better, yet often drawn back to our origins, to honor those who came before us. An escape, a journey, an adventure combined with coming home, returning with new experiences and a sense of wonder in the world around us. Migrations are not always spurred on by a lust for adventure or knowledge; sometimes they are forced by disaster or ill will. But each movement offers a chance; a chance to start again, a chance to be better, a chance to return if we want, or to head forever on towards the horizon. These changes are not up to us; this urge is embedded deep within our own humanity. Sometimes we do not even understand the why, we just understand the need: move, forward, pushing, striving. This movement, this journey is often the end itself. Our joy in being on the road, our excitement in the next adventure. Whatever has spurred

us onward, it is this movement that is our true joy: migrate, explore, escape,

journey, and wander. We do it because we must. - Nina Kauffman

Brian Robertson on his exhibiton Whoa : “A man’s work is nothing but his slow trek to rediscover through the detours of art, those two or three great and simple images in whose presence his heart first opened.” – Albert Camus The images that have opened up my heart are plucked from my environment. Growing up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, I was surrounded by Navajo, Zuni and other Native American art. The colors from the native pigments and the story telling in American Indian folk art influence my own images. The desert architecture and Spanish Catholic/ Byzantine art and craft style, also prominent in New Mexico, have an air of simple, orderly geometry and my mental landscape has adopted much from this aesthetic. Later, I discovered and became involved with the more urban and contemporary influences of graffiti letter

style, skateboarding culture, and the work of progressive street artists of the San Francisco mission school. From these cultural inspirations, I learned to incorporate flow and style from the fluid movement of a quick graffiti tag going up on a wall to the weightless ease of a kick-flip down a set of stairs. Every day, I continue to have my mind opened and inspired by the art and culture that is all around me in Los Angeles. I paint from the gut. I use art as a way of interpreting emotion and as a method of exploration. My art is painstakingly spontaneous, and I spend hours chipping away at the never-ending sculpture in my mind. I enjoy using the gesture of simple shapes to convey feeling and insert elements of stylized realism to connect the real to the abstract. Through the collage elements in my work, I fill my characters with pattern; we are all filled with pattern. The technique originated with the use of

found paper, often ripped from walls or found rummaging through garage sale and antique store bins. Lately, the color and shape of the paper have become more important, and I think of the methodical application of hundreds of individual pieces of paper as a greater metaphor for the sometimes dog-like repetition of life. My current body of work entitled “Whoa” fluidly explores the topics of rebirth, control, community, love, money, sadness and fear. It will take you on a journey through moments in time, each one preserved as a still shot of subconscious influence and personal mythology. “Whoa” is a shot in the dark at a moving target. It is rawness refined. It’s a heavy-dose of mystery presented as truthfully as I know how. It is a family of whimsical characters triumphantly stumbling through beauty. It’s about a wish to really be alive and a wish to make it all go away. It is my gift to you, and I hope it does something for you.


Denver Notes by Tracy Tomko


B&W Photographs © Dave Wood Photograohy

If Denver was nominating a King and Queen of it’s counterculture, the names Brandan Styles and Ellie Rusinova would be on the tips of everyone’s tongues. This dynamic duo who form the Mad Tatters -- in character around town as Dr. B. Zurk and Madame Madness and known for their Apocalyptic Neo-Vaudevillian art and clothing -- are making big moves. After years of dreaming up ideas together, Cirque Voltaire became a reality as Denver’s first Surreal Circus event, on April 22nd. The Mad Tatters and The Meadowlark, located in Denver’s RiNo Art District, hosted an art show of over 30 dark and intriguing artists work, fire performers, jugglers, aerialists, snake charmers, The Human Blockhead, mentalist magic, belly dancers, burlesque lovelies, three bands, and more. Surprises unfolded throughout the night as more and more odd characters arrived, and beats by the Whomp Truck drew people in from the street. Highlights of the night were acts such as Tovio, a juggling, xylophone playing, stripping accordionographer with Calliope of the Future, featuring a tap-dancing beauty working out a beat on the stage. The uniqueness of the evening was quite something to behold! Cirque Voltaire is affectionately named after the Café Voltaire, meeting spot of some of the best of Europe’s Dada movement. It is meant to be a place to bring the disjointed community into a more collaborative artistic frenzy. Over 500 circus enthusiasts came out in support of the first of these events, making it a grand success. The ticket holding public came dressed in their most creative attire and were as much a part of the entertainment as the scheduled performers. The Mad Tatters plan to continue bringing together the finest of Colorado’s oddities, for extravagantly surreal evenings. The next is already in the planning stages and will be held in the fall of 2011.

Photograph © Sophia Rose

“Cirque Voltaire” The Meadowlark

Street Cred joins the work created by Los Angeles graffiti artists for a fine art context with graffiti art they’ve made in the streets. Internationally renowned as one of the most fertile grounds for graffiti art, the City of Angels has its own idiosyncratic graffiti styles created from the innovative New York “wildstyle” that heralded the birth of graffiti as it is seen today, filtered through local influences such as gang writing styles that greatly predate the modern movement. The artists for the exhibition have been consistently making influential public work, but their practice has expanded into work that is viewed in galleries and museums. Street Cred was first conceived in 2008 by PMCA Exhibition Manager Shirlae Cheng-Lifshin, who subsequently brought on Los Angeles graffiti historian Steve Grody as co-curator. Grody, who is the author of Graffiti LA, has been documenting high-quality work in the streets of Los Angeles since 1990. The exhibition will include his photographs from the crucial years of the graffiti scene, providing key insights into the visual “language” of graffiti, its development in Los Angeles, and the ways in which the street work informs the canvas work in the exhibition. Ironically, the fine art production of these artists are meant for wider audiences than their graffiti works, so the artists incorporate a more universal pictorial language than the specialized typography evident in graffiti in situ, usually readable only to other graffiti artists. Yet the artistic skill and dialogue with modernism displayed by many of these artists demonstrates that their place in the continuum of art history is well deserved. Works in the exhibition are grouped according to style, further underscoring both the breadth and depth of this contemporary art movement. on the whole, Street Cred shows how a genre born on concrete translates into canvas, and how the two worlds interact.

“Street Cred” and “Inside Out” Pasadena Museum of California Art

Pasadena, CA [Through Sept 4]

Clayton Brothers: Inside Out, the first solo museum exhibition of the work of Rob and Christian Clayton. Featuring their paintings and mixed-media installations, the exhibition surveys the brothers’ edgy aesthetic inspired by California skateboard and surf culture, punk rock, folk art, cartoons and street art. The Clayton Brothers have been working together since 1996, constructing complex narratives that introduce memorable characters and comment wryly on contemporary life. After graduating from the Art Center College of Design, the brothers initially maintained separate studio practices, but soon found that their best work was done collaboratively. Through a continuous, organic process of each brother altering what the other creates, a visual harmony and shared idiosyncrasies are established. The resulting dynamic works thus each represent a visual conversation between the brothers, revealing incisive commentary about their personal symbols, memories, and subconscious states, as well as their environment at large. Inside Out presents work from six major series created since 2001, beginning with four paintings from the In Green Pastures series and ending with the bold, large-scale canvases of the Jumbo Fruit series, whose title suggests the disquiet and irony that characterize the individual works. The pieces in the series As Is are connected by the concept of people, like houses or other objects available for purchase, being presented “as-is,” while the Patient series portrays the medical industry and its patients with both humor and dismay.


POP SEQUENTIALISM Q&A with Matt Kennedy of

La Luz de Jesus gallery director Matt Kennedy recently curated a show called Pop Sequentialism which in his words is an “elevated presentation of comic book art.” To document the show, Kennedy published his first catalog/book via La Luz de Jesus Press. Give us a snapshot of your history.


At 19 I moved to Los Angeles and got a job working at the comic book shop that bought my comic collection. The shop manager and I became roommates and started buying and selling original comic book art that we bought directly from the art-

La Luz de Jesus

ists and collectors. I went to work at Soap Plant on Melrose, moving to the gallery when a management position opened. While working there in 1994, I was spotted by Mel Brooks who cast me in a commercial he was directing and I found myself working in the entertainment business while broadening my knowledge of lowbrow art and counterculture literature until entertainment became an actual career. I went from on-camera talent to writing to production and formed my own company, Panik House Entertainment, in 2004. Billy Shire asked me to come back and run La Luz de Jesus in 2009. I never stopped collecting and

maintained contact with Billy, who has been so much more than an employer – really more of a father figure/mentor, for most of my adult life. As a collector, fan, and friend of many artists, has becoming a gallery director changed your relationship with artists? I am still very much a fan of the art we showcase. I never have to bullshit anyone. Following a decade and a half in the film business, you can't imagine how great that feels. My relationship with the artists differs from each to the next; some have a solid vision of what they want to bring forth and some

(opposite page) Matt Kennedy with his catalog, Pop Sequentilism (above, from left) The Invincible Iron Man (2008) by Matt Fraction & Salvador Larroca, Issue #2, Variant Cover, Reprinted on Omnibus Cover, Graphite and ink on board, 11”x17”; Punisher (2007) by Garth Ennis & Tim Bradstreet, Punisher #49, Cover: Widowmaker conclusion, Graphite and ink on board, 11.5"x17”; Joker Graphic Novel (2008) by Brian Azzarello & Lee Bermejo, Issue #1, Page 5: Joker Released from Arkham, Graphite and ink on board, 11.5" x 17".

need encouragement. In every case I limit my unsolicited advice to pricing and logistics; I never enforce my will or taste upon the creator. This is Billy's gallery and it's their work. My job as the director is to select the artists and help them reach their audience. Our exhibition agreement invites a lot of artistic freedom. There are several artists with whom our close friendship has resulted in more collaboration than that would perhaps suggest, but I think Billy and I do a good job at recognizing talent and letting that talent blossom on its own. How long has “Pop-Sequentialism” been in the works? Did you anticipate the overwhelmingly positive reactions the show has generated? This show really is the culmination of a lifetime of comic book fandom and I began planning this particular exhibition about three years ago. I expected more of a challenge in getting the attention we’ve received, and while I’ve always been confident that this artwork deserved the presentation it’s received here, I had no idea that it would

be so widely or highly acclaimed. What lead to your first purchase of comic book production art? I started collecting comics as a young kid and started paying more than cover price for collectible comics in 1983 at the age of 12. I dropped my paper route to work at that shop. This was early in the Alan Moore run on “Saga of the Swamp Thing.” Series artist Steve Bissette lived nearby and occasionally visited the shop. The owner purchased a couple of his art pages for resale, one of which was an alternate cover of “… Swamp Thing.” I spent an entire summer and part of the fall working to pay off that piece. You coined the term "Pop-Sequentialism”, please define for the readers. Comic books are a collection of illustrated panels that tell a story using words and pictures. In the mid ‘80s, comic art grandmaster Will Eisner coined the term "sequential art" to describe the elevated examples of comic book layout and comic historian and

creator Scott McCloud elaborated on the term, helping it to gain popular acceptance. Just as "lowbrow" was abandoned in favor of "Pop Surrealism" in art circles, I felt that it was necessary to assign a new term to describe the elevated presentation of comic book art. It is inherently pop art, and the nature of it being sequential made PopSequentialism a natural choice. There are generations of comic collectors that view the work of Jack Kirby, Jim Steranko, Will Eisner and Neil Adams as fine art. It has been completely uncredited for its impact on the pop art of Warhol and Lichtenstein. PSM: Do you intend to pitch this show or a show like it to museums? MK: I’ll be altering the collection slightly for presentation in Italy at this year’s Festival Lucca Comics & Games in Tuscany, one of the most important Comic and Toys festivals in Europe, and shortly thereafter will present it in a gallery in Paris, France. I think it’s important to embrace both the audience that celebrates this art and the comic fans.


“Miss Danger on the Loose” LAB ART Los Angeles [JuLy 14 - August 18] Miss Danger on the Loose will put a spotlight on the female artists in the street art scene. The all-female show will showcase artwork in LAB ART’s main front room - with some of the biggest names in the female street art movement including: K H No.7, Random Act and KymCBS. The exhibition is curated by artist K H No. 7, notorious for her signature spark plug designs, along with LAB ART co-owners, brother and sister duo, Iskander Lemseffer and Rachel Joelson. The back rooms of the gallery will exhibit art and installations from over 30 street artists, including big names in the street art scene like Alec Monopoly, Thank You X, Cyrcle, Dog Byte, Gregory Siff, Cristian “Smear” Gheorghui, and This Means Mar.



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Art has always been a part of my life. As my parents inform me, I’ve been drawing since I could hold a pencil. I suppose my path with art has changed over the years, though. When I was a kid, I wanted to be an animator. I enjoyed drawing animals and dinosaurs; I loved all the Disney’s films growing up. Later on, though,. I got more into anime and videogames, and I started thinking that I’d like to do comics, illustration or concept art for those sorts of genres instead. Yet, after some

time looking into those career paths, I think I finally settled into fine art, because I liked the freedom and ability to work for myself. I paint whatever I want without needing to look up to an art director. I think now that I have had more experience in the art industry I can see how all of these things are still something I cling to and would enjoy bringing to life at some point. I’d still love to maybe make my own comic or do my own children’s book someday. And

it’s not as though I abandoned them just by pursuing painting. All of my interests in art history, anime, video games, and comics have inspired my work into a hybrid. I believe this is why I was so easily accepted into the low brow/pop surrealist scene; there is a strong illustrative, pop cultural, rock ’n’ roll sort of approach to the work being created in this growing movement. I love it. The joy of painting: there’s nothing quite like it. It’s my passion, my

therapy, my job, and in a way, my identity. I think it’s a natural thing for me to be making art. Everyone has their own way of thinking and interacting with the world and I feel purpose from creativity. It’s hard not to think about painting. Whenever I listen to music, watch a film, read a book, I see beautiful, provoking imagery. It’s not really something I question anymore; I just need to paint at least 3-5 days a week to feel happy with myself. I only really started to make my own paintings when I was about 16. Before that I drew from a lot of existing imagery or worked mostly in a sketchbook. But due to me being so young and new to painting, I had a lot of freedom to be all over the place with my work -- whether it was realistic, landscape, cartoon, aggressive, collage etc. I had a lot of time to experiment and no one was expecting a style or approach from me. It’s not quite the same anymore. It’s not to say that I’m not making the art I want to make -- because I thoroughly enjoy what I do -- but it wouldn’t be accepted in the art world to flop all over the place. Just as a band tends to stick with a certain musical process and fashion, you kind of find your voice. Over years of painting these girls that I paint — or maybe I should say girl — there has been a lot of development on her part though (and still is). She started out as this awkward,

short, stubby girl with big eyes and a whimsical disposition. After I finished high school and went off to art college, she matured and grew a long, slender neck. The melancholy grew in my work around that time too. It was more pensive and dark; there was more technological undertones, more of a concise style emerging. Shortly around that time I started having shows in the States and with that came a lot of excitement and motivation to make more work. The changes haven’t been as dramatic since, but the neck has shortened to a more anatomical size now, her eyes have shrunken, there was a slow integration of more noir aesthetics. I also enjoy doing work here and there that incorporates flat shapes and graphic qualities (see this magazine’s cover image). And although there has been less room for experimenting recently, I have all the while developed a separate body of work, below the radar, which has a more Ralph Steadman, aggressive ink, satirical quality about it. Most recently, I just had a solo show at the Last Rites Gallery in New York, and for it I developed a new body of work called “Lilith”. With the gallery being a more gothic space, I took the opportunity to go dark and celebrate the femme fatale, and, in a sense, the work was a bit of a return for me. Though the women I portrayed in the pieces were bolder, more sexual and

more mature than those of my previous work, I’ve decidedly brought back some of the whimsy that I’d abandoned after years of schooling. There was a lot of twisted fairytale and folklore sort of imagery in them, a lot of sass and myster. It was a fun show to make! Since that show ended, I’ve been sketching up a storm. I certainly want to keep a darker, more surreal feel to the images, but maybe not quite so powerful a woman -- more vulnerable and broken. I’m not entirely sure yet. I’m planning to start taking more life drawing classes and pump up my skills a tad. I’m somewhat lucky to have a bit of time away from bigger shows this year to experiment and develop my work more. Typically when painting, I think about how to get the best visualization out of my ideas, instead of thinking about the painting’s eventual viewers. The greatest compliment I get from people who take interest in my work is that they feel inspired; either to make something of their own or emotionally. Generally, emotion is what I’m trying to convey. There are often narratives and other themes and ideas being portrayed in each piece, but it’s not my goal to make sure everyone knows what’s going on in them. People will make their own interpretations, which is best. And subtly can be a hard thing to balance -- finding a good spot between revealing too much and hiding too much. Mystery keeps us locked in and the pregnant moment is a fun scene to paint. I don’t always hold onto that feeling, but looking back at all the work I’ve made, I enjoy the ones which are more open to interpretation. For more information about Sarah Joncas, visit sarahjoncas.com



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GARY BASEMAN by Tracy Tomko

At the behest of AIGA, Gary Baseman spoke at the Denver Art Museum on April 4th about his journey as an artist. Baseman gave the most ideal of artist talks, the kind that other artists are always hoping their idols will come and give. He entered the stage in what could be described as a horned god worshipping monk outfit (see below left), embroidered with a few of his signature style designs. With lights low and music from the band Nightmare & The Cat playing, he danced in slow rhythmic form. He moved back and forth across the stage, without saying a thing. The audience wasn’t even sure it was him, until he took off the hood and looked like “Gary Baseman Monk Action Figure”. When he started to speak, it was fast and seemed unrehearsed like we were having a conversation in someone’s living room. It was charming and endearing. He was trusting of the audience as he passed around one of his sketchbooks and Toby (the character that seems to play his alter ego and gets a ton of action all over the world, as seen in photos during the show). There were two more costume changes, one of them a flashy red with white fringe, Western shirt he had picked up in Downtown Denver (see right center), and he spoke accompanied by a soundtrack from the bands he works with. Baseman was candid about his experiences with his first illustration contracts, his animated film Teacher’s Pet, his work designing toys and games, the fun he’s having becoming a rock star with no real musical abilities, his move to the gallery scene, and how his father’s death affected his most recent body of work Walking Through Walls, which showed at the Jonathan Levine Gallery. His presentation revealed how he has realized the close correlation of objects he was raised around and his artistic expression. He gives them credit for “why he is the way he is”. It was particularly interesting to hear about the ideas that form the personal symbologies that his work is based upon. He was carried away with the stories, as were we, and left no time for the question and answer portion. He solved the issue by inviting the audience to Sputnik, a local bar, to have drinks with him. Here, he gave his time to anyone interested and answered questions, looked at sketchbooks giving free advice, talked about the early days of the Los Angeles scene and how it formed, and most memorably – he danced every time he was standing. It struck me that it’s possible his success was born of all the dancing he does between painting sessions. For more information, visit GaryBaseman.com



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Out of the depths of photographer Hayley Murphy’s psyche spills out some colorful goo, in the shape of a Martian painting a Statue of Liberty with chocolate, and an Islamic rebel strapped with a machine gun, devouring a table of sweets. Murphy captures images that pop into her head, that stew in her subconscious as she sleeps and dreams, and glues these mental clues together, bringing life to what her unconscious brain is trying to tell her, which results in insanely-colorful photographic riddles that never stop producing questions, or giving answers. With the rawness of Hans Bellmer, the flamboyance of David La Chapelle and the confusion-inducing genius of David Lynch, she wrestles her mind-blips in front of the lens to see what the puzzle looks like once all the pieces are in place. Here’s a look into how her mind rolls.

How did creating a photo of a green Martian painting a Statue of Liberty with chocolate even begin? I was thinking about life on other planets, and who put the idea in our heads that people from Mars were little green creatures…do people in Siberia think the same thing? So in my head I saw this photograph of me at a Halloween party when I was eight, trying to eat an apple hanging on a string, and I was dressed in a Martian costume. I’d taken a brown paper bag, colored it with green crayon, cut some armholes and a head hole—got some green face paint, some bobbly antennas and voila! So I had that image in my head—and I’m sort of a sci-fi fiend, so I thought, a Martian needs a spaceship, how do you make a spaceship? I thought of aluminum foil—like a Da-

Interviewed by Leah Pietrusiak

vid Bowie-esque spaceship, with red lights and a Buck Rogers-like flavor. And then I started thinking about a lady I met who covered her head in tin foil because she thought people were reading her mind. Maybe Martians? So I started taping aluminum foil on my walls, thinking that there are people out there who probably cover their houses like this, and then that got me thinking about obsessive compulsive disorder…it took me forever to put up all that tin foil. Each time I put up a new piece I had to crinkle it, then make it flat, put all this tape on it, then figure out where it was gonna go… And being that obsessive made you crave chocolate? Well, with the Magic Shell ice-cream topping—you know, that stuff that

hardens when you pour it over ice cream?!—that brings me back to my childhood too, around the same time as the Martian costume. And yeah, maybe I just really wanted some. But being an artist, I thought it’d be cool to make the Statue of Liberty out of that. Why a Statue of Liberty? I was reading about how Boeing was trying to manufacture war planes for Saudi Arabia, and was also thinking about how it’d be smart for artists to make peace art for other countries. Like how France gave us the Statue of Liberty as a symbol of friendship. Instead of building things that are going to kill people, build something that could benefit people. I sound all hippie, but it’s been done before, it’s just that our attitude toward other countries today makes the idea seem so out there. So what do you think when you see the photo now?

I’d do anything for sugar. I had this one health problem and nothing would get rid of it, and I’d read about the benefits of a no-sugar diet. So I was really dedicated to this diet, and I walked past this candy store and saw all these really beautiful candies, and I just daydreamed that if I were to eat them, I’d be such a rebel. What is the writing in the background?

Whatever is going on in my life or the world at the time somehow gets revealed. For instance, I put the Martian picture—which I later titled “Symbol of Friendship”—out as a Halloween promo, but once I sent it out I realized that the gubernatorial election was in two days, and the Statue of Liberty was in there… so then the photo took on a different meaning for me.

I looked up “yummy” in the Internet translator because I wanted the background to look like the terrorists’ group-labeled backdrop on TV. “Yummy” was translated into “delicious”— so it’s supposed to say “delicious” in Arabic.

It’s funny that the Martian is green, and the real Statue of Liberty is greenish.

I could stare at a wall for days and be totally entertained by what I see in my head. I feel like I’m in between two worlds a lot. My process has a lot to do with consciousness and unconsciousness, and how I figure things out. The unconscious brain—like when you’re dreaming and sleeping—makes up stories with pictures, in order to say

Oh…you’re right, I didn’t realize that. Wow, it’s just crazy. I can relate to your “Delicious” photo, of the woman with the machine gun behind those sweets—sometimes I feel like

You say your photos are from daydreams… can you explain more?

something to your conscious mind, to work out problems. It’s a smarter way to learn. What do you feel like your mind has figured out so far? A woman at a gallery once told me, “Oh you’ll never make it as an art photographer, only a certain amount of people do.” But I think that’s total bullshit. Whatever your dream is, it can be done. Everybody has art that hangs in their house, why shouldn’t my art be hanging in their house? Or in a museum? When I go into a museum, I’m surrounded by all these things that represent a moment in history. As artists, we’re telling a story of our experience in this world, at this moment in time. And here’s my interpretation. Hayley Murphy’s Symbol of Friendship is being considered for display in the children’s wing at the Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery in England. Symbol of Friendship and Delicious were recently part of the lauded Modern Fabulists show at View Art Gallery in Bristol, and are available for purchase. Visit viewartgallery.co.uk



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City life offers the distinct advantage of being able to access greater art culture; and each city possesses a unique hum of creative happenings, reflecting the personalities that make it up in music, fashion and art. If one were to map the current creative frequency of Denver, Colorado, they might notice a high concentration of activity coming from the artist duo, Like Minded Productions. Jonathan Lamb and Michael Ortiz, respected in their own rite as individual artists, have created a synthesis that reaches far beyond what the two of them could accomplish separately. Since 2007, they have produced countless art shows of their own work (solo and combined), built creative networks both locally and nationally, established a thriving business and continue to support several other artists along the way. Like Minded Productions began on the horizon of an uncertain time, just one year before one of the most challenging financial periods in history, in an already tight market. As a testament to the enduring quality of their operation, Like Minded Productions emerged at the end of 2009 not with stories of struggle, but with reflections of abundance, in work, inspiration and momentum. Ortiz attributes this result to engaging the right formula and filling a specific niche. Since Like Minded Production’s inception, Lamb and Ortiz have shared the same vision: enable other artists to function as artists, see more art appear in public places and generally make art more accessible. Lamb notes that during some of his earlier creative endeavors, he had quickly grasped the concept of mass printing and production, characteristic of urban and street art, which forms the basis for much of the

work that Like Minded does. Originally, Ortiz and Lamb met by happenstance, as strangers in an elevator. In time it takes to ascend 20 floors, they discovered a commonality, both are artists. From this first meeting, the two continued their dialogue on all things creative and over time, after many discussions on teaming up to combine their talents, Like Minded Productions emerged as a full-time collaboration. Before their meeting, both were producing art in their own separate studios, but each also had a strong desire to do something larger, expand their own reach and the reach of other artists. Lamb highlights one of the factors leading to their current success; he says they didn’t wait for a break to come along, they simply moved forward doing what they wanted to do and in the process have attracted other likeminded individuals. Functioning as modern Dadaists, the two have helped perpetuate the current underground art movement happening in Denver. Like Minded Productions is consistently commissioned for outdoor murals and large-scale installations, often involving a strong community aspect. With a large-scale printer on hand, they have also worked with countless artists in marketing and distributing their work as well as supplying images for use in poster printing, gallery installs, wheat pasting, and trade show booth design. Performing site-specific installations at various art and music festivals has assisted them in growing their expansive creative network in other cities. While there is a large collaborative and communal emphasis in their work together, Ortiz and Lamb demonstrate individual styles that express unique perspectives. Both

have a foundation in painting and currently work with digital as well as mixed media. Graffiti writing is a significant indicator in the work of Ortiz, while Lamb works with more stencil and fine line qualities. Giclee printing represents the intersection where Lamb and Ortiz have merged to combine their pieces in multi-layered compositions. With the capacity for producing a vast supply of original images, the pair stacks the sum of their work to reflect a maze of visual stimulation. There is something combustable about the result and a palpable energy present in the work. Ortiz says he is more driven by a figurative and graphic approach, while having a pronounced sense of design, graffiti, surrealism and pop art in his work. “My evolution as an artist comes from a long history of practice. That is where I get my techniques. Style and techniques have also come from studying the printing process. In printing there is all sorts of ways to make art. My growth also comes from motivation to seek other ways to view the world.” Lamb, otherwise, began as a landscape painter, whose work transformed dramatically when he moved to a more urban environment. He says, “Now I embrace more of an urban sense and digital techniques. It was a change of perspective from painting alone in the woods to painting together in the streets.” Both separately and together, influences include: Powerful American art, Lichtenstein, Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Jim Dine, Gemeos, Morning Breath, The London Police and the The Date Farmers to name a few. The two artists also influence each other. Ortiz says, “Jon's opinion matters a lot to me and my opinion matters a lot to him. When working collaboratively or individually, we can always count on each other to give advice as to how to go about the next part of our art.” Part of the appeal with Like Minded Productions is their ability to keep things fresh, from continuously re-contextualizing their brain logo (simultaneously pushing their design progression) to hosting and participating in art events around Denver, leveraging each one to link up and promote the next. Like Minded Productions is not just working as creative professionals within a city, they are in fact helping to define it as well as develop a sustainable creative economy.

Lamb points out the uniqueness of Denver in this way, “You feel an open dialogue going on between the artists, gallery owners, collectors and city government. Everyone is Like Minded here, we all want to see Denver grow into a cultural hub of American and international art. The amazing thing is you can see it happening more and more everyday, the art scene in Denver is literally flourishing right in front of us.” On the whole, Like Minded Productions is thinking big and producing results. Lamb and Ortiz say they strive to create an explosion of art in everything they do, utilizing as many techniques as possible, and that the networks they have built are responding positively to this, opening door after door. Whatever Like Minded Production’s exact formula, it is potent and only adds to the narrative of not only Denver’s history-in-the-making, but to the story of contemporary, pop-surrealist, American art in the twenty-first Century. Fore more information, visit likemindedproductions.com



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Observations first: a space in chaos, signs of a individual constantly in motion, always on the go, and in search of the next challenge. “You notice I’m hardly here, huh?” the artist says. Obviously complacency doesn’t live here. We finally get situated and start the interview. Not native to Los Angeles, Codak was born in the quiet Midwest college town of Stillwater, Oklahoma, on August 1, 1974. Residence was quickly

Profiled by Ana Kim

shifted to Portland, Oregon, where he would spend his formative years and where his life in art would begin. He was raised by creative parents, a mother who throughout his entire life has taught interior design at a collegiate level and a step-father who was an architect and furniture designer. This backdrop helped expose him to a variety of forms of art at a very early age. From contemporary art, cinema and other forms of modern pop cul-

ture. One instance noted by the artist is being taken to see such films as famed Japanese director Akira Kurosawas film Ran at a young age. experiences like this could very well explain the strong use of Asian asthetics in regards to color, composition, and form in his work. Also heavily influenced by comic books, manga and cartoons, his first real artistic endeavors were drawing his favorite comic book characters and selling them to friends at the daily

lunch tables for small change. By the time he reached middle school he became heavily involved in skateboarding and alot of the new experiences that came with it in the late 80’s. Exposure to punk, hardcore, hip-hop, and eventually graffiti. By the time he reached his freshman year of high school, he and a group of his friends and had came across “Spraycan Art” by Henry Chalfant at the local public library. Immediately intrigued by what they saw, the next day they got all kinds of markers from the art store and started tagging, everywhere. Initially trying to mimic the styles of artists he saw in spraycan art like “The Chrome Angels” crew with Mode 2 and others. This would be expanded upon when a group of writers from Los Angeles and their families moved to Portland in the late ‘80’s, bringing their trademark styles to the city. Helping to expand upon what had already been started and really setting the stage for the city’s burgeoning graffiti scene. At the end of his junior year of high school, Codak’s family moved from Portland to the small Kansas town of Manhattan, where his mother had began teaching at Kansas State University. Needless to say moving to a small town didn’t really fit right

with him and the walls suffered the cost. Soon after high school, Codak moved on to Kansas City, the nearest metropolitan area. Here marks an important development phase for the artist, for he was surrounded by a multitude of artists, musicians and other creatives that interacted on a regular basis. Prior to Kansas City, he concentrated primarily on the notion of bombing, but here he found writers that really pushed the boundaries with piecing and full blown conceptual productions. Inspired by the actions of East, Scribe, Gear, Aero, Gasp and others he shifted from bombing to focusing on character and piecing development. After his time in Kansas City, Codak moved on to Memphis, Tennesseee, studied Graphic Design at the University of Memphis, and began the next development phase of his career. Memphis presented a lack of graffiti and with open space allowed for codak to really begin experimenting with his style and begin incorporating elements of design, architecture and other various mediums into his artistic process. In essence, Codak set the spark that would later become the Memphis “Style” of graffiti. Repeated trips to Nashville put him in contact with the TM crew, which would in

turn help expand his work once again. Working with Rex 2, Pako, Audroc, Scar 1.0, Task and a trip to England to paint with Re-knowned UK artist Shok 1 the stage was set for the future of the artists work. Cut to 2011: for the last 6 years Codak has been living in Los Angeles, a move brought on by the need to expand his horizons. Where better than one of the United States cities best known for a culture that got him to where he is today? The journey has been fruitful, quickly working into the local arts landscape and showing work with artists he formerly could only admire from a distance, the reception has been a positive one. Codak is noted to have an almost obsessive desire for progression in his work. Never fully satisfied with one body of work, he continues to expand his vision year after year. Though heavily ingrained into to the culture of graffiti, he keeps a firm eye on the artistic sphere as a whole drawing inspiration as much from Streetlevel works to modern masters such as Robert Raushenberg and other contemporary designers to simple folk art and cultural iconography. Allowing him to bring to the table a variety of approaches to his work, where some


pieces can be heavily layered with musically composed brush strokes and others with heavy layers of media and stark composition. To even highly minimal works concentrated on pure spacial composition. The notion of order out of chaos can sometimes be very evident. Codak tries not to define the direction of the work but rather let the work define him and speak to his creative process and development. Essentially pulling the order and function of his works out of an emotional field rather than a set thought process. Letting the viewer let their emotions interpret the work rather than being lead by self-evident meaning. The future looks bright and many doors have opened within the last couple years for the artist. As he continues to grind away in the fields of art & design, a cohesiveness of his works and vision undoubtedly will come more and more into play and the results will no doubt be impressive. After recently completing a solo opening at Little Tokyo’s Hold Up Art Gallery last month and a piece in “Street Cred� a graffiti based opening at the Pasadena Museum of California Art (see page 21) we are anxious to see what comes next.


For more visual explorations of the artist, visit under-developed.com

Charles Swenson

Showing at The Hive, Los Angeles and Marji Gallery, Santa Fe 8835 Crescent Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90046 323 656-9733 charlesgswenson.com unklbob@mac.com

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