Fandom Rising: Stan Leeâ€™s Comikaze Expo 10
Bill in Cardboardland 14
The Oppenheimers 16 Caroline Geys on Her Art 18
Tales of an American in Ireland 20
L.A. Made: Four Fashion Designers 23
Accessory Recon: Designers to Watch 28 Preservation of the Fittest 30 Point Break Live! 32 Beauty is Embarrassing 33
Artist Profiles: Christopher Ulrich 36 Nathan Ota 39 4 POP LA Oct/Nov 2012
CONTRIBUTORS Michelle Carmen Gomez is a journalist by trade, but has spent the last ten years as a working artist and photographer in Los Angeles. She is also the Executive Editor and co-owner of LA POP MAGAZINE. Dedicated to art and community, Gomez champions grassroots causes; her paintings, photography and publication reflect that commitment. She currently works out of her art studio in Los Angeles and exhibits her work in Los Angeles, Laguna Beach, Las Vegas, Texas and New York. Aboutmichelle.com
Lisa M. Berman, Contributing Editor of LA POP MAGAZINE and visionary proprietor of Sculpture To Wear Gallery, describes herself as a "social butterfly with purpose". She's the founding designer of Statements Accessories and has launched several brands like GoToStyleDiva, FashionForwardPhilanthropy and FabulousisNOTFree.com. Lisa is a freelance writer who loves art and fashion; she curates exhibitions, cultivates artists’ careers, consults with fashion houses, styles celebrity clientele and hosts television shows.
Ashley Heaton is a writer and editor based in Los Angeles. A former fashion columnist for 944 Magazine, she has contributed to publications including California Home & Design, American Contemporary Art, and international editions of ELLE, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire and Glamour. She blogs at www.thefashiongeek.net.
Lindsay Parker is a recovering academic turned freelance writer currently residing in Los Angeles. She holds a Master's degree in political and cultural studies and enjoys writing about politics, art, fashion, and music. A Seattle native, she has also lived and worked in London and Prague where she wrote and did various freelance media consulting work. She hates writing about herself in the third person.
Josh Skye Allouche is one of those master of none guys that isn’t quite a Jack of all trades, he bounces around the country looking for interesting people and spends the rest of his time staring wistfully off his balcony at the Hollywood sign. A golden age thinker, anachronistic but sanguine, he’s optimistic that doctors will determine scotch and cigarettes actually improve health, good manners will replace ironic clothing as ‘cool’, and that Freddy Mercury will come back from the dead and write the soundtrack to his life. Joshua Rubin is a refugee of New York City, recently transplanted to Los Angeles, he makes his living as a photographer, laments the proliferation of Instagram filters, classic film remakes, and cilantro, and his retirement plan is focused on preparations for the zombie apocalypse.
PUBLISHERS Richard Kalisher Michelle Carmen Gomez EDITOR Michelle Carmen Gomez
citypopmagazines.com For advertising, contact: Michelle Carmen Gomez firstname.lastname@example.org 818-383-3436
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CONTRIBUTING EDITOR Lisa M. Berman Lindsay Parker FASHION EDITOR Ashley Heaton
Kat Higgins is an actress and writer living in LA. Her favorite self-‐-‐made quotes are “bit by bit” and “whatever ties your shoe”... people who wear Crocs, clogs & flip-‐flops are exempt from that last one. A graduate of Tufts University and a native New Yorker, Kat can’t wait to make LA go “POP!” with this magazine (insert smile). www.kathiggins.net Photographer Alisa Schulz was born & raised in the Midwest. Blessed to have travelled the world as an International Model, Curiosity got the better of her so picking up a camera was a natural progression. With 20+yrs experience on both sides, inspired by life & capturing spirits through Fashion, Art, Music & color. Her style is photojournalistic with a modern twist of Fashion meets lifestyle. A self proclaimed perpetual student of light. Gratefully ever evolving as an Artist. Alisa Schulz Resides in Los Angeles where she works as a Lifestyle, Fashion & Portrait Photographer. www.alisaschulzphotography.com
COVER ARTIST John Van Hamersveld, an iconic American graphic designer and contrubitor, is the face of the magazine. His groundbreaking art and history with the community epitomizes the direction of the LA Pop magazine.
Fandom Rising The Origin Story of Stan Lee’s Comikaze Expo By Josh Allouche
with photography by Joshua Rubin
Photo by Josha Rubin
ike all good comic origin stories, this one begins with a down-on-her-luck heroine who makes a transformative vow that changes everything. A lifelong comic fangirl, competitive Magic: The Gathering player, and lifelong disciple of sci-fi and horror, Regina Carpinelli was bummed out. Regina’s geek credentials are unassailable: she drives a Delorean and owns a massive comic collection that began when she was 8 years old, the prize of which, despite
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all her #1s, is Uncanny X-Men #130, the first appearance of Dazzler. Try as she might, she could not score tickets to San Diego’s Comicon, the “Action Comics #1” mint condition convention against which all other conventions are graded. But one year later, she was at the helm of the biggest geek-fest in Los Angeles. In her own words, “It was hard, [my brother and I] didn’t have any money, we couldn’t get tickets to Comicon, and we ended up going
to another convention in the LA area; tickets were 35 bucks and it was really crappy. So we just decided, let’s make our own. We didn’t know how big it was going to get. We called the convention center. They gave us this really little hall. We pulled it off: every ticket we sold, every booth we filled, we realized we can do this.” It took about a year to pull it together, “about 7 months into it is when we started getting
Stan Lee, Regina Carpinelli, and Cassandra Peterson (Elvira). Photo courtesy of Regina Carpinelli.
talked about.” Through the time-tested tools of guerilla marketing, flyering cars in parking lots, posting everywhere they could, the buzz grew. “We had this Jaws moment, ‘We’re going to need a bigger boat’”, Regina explains, “We told the convention center, we’re going to have 5,000 people, and they had this basement area that had opened up. It was lucky for us, because it was actually able to fit all the people who showed up…the morning of the event, there was a line wrapping around the convention center all the way down Figueroa.” With the power cosmic at her disposal, Regina wrought from the raw stuff of the universe a geek Mecca to which thirty five thousand fans made their Scott Pilgrimage. On her website, Regina writes “On Saturday, Nov 5th  with a staff of about ten family members and close friends, we arrived at the LACC to be greeted by over thirty-five thousand fans. We ran out of program guides in ten minutes, and each staff member was doing the job of about twenty people. It was crazy, hectic, stressful, and honestly, I wouldn’t change a single thing. We broke every record for a first year show of our kind. Comikaze Expo was the result of friends and family coming together to create an honest fan event.”
The first real score, as Regina sees it, was securing Cassandra Peterson, better known as Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, the buxom b-movie booster that enchanted a television audience with her comedic quips and copious cleavage. According to Regina “It took a lot of convincing, I harassed Elvira, our guest of honor last year; I still joke with her that she didn’t file a restraining order against me” “My business manager… was in contact with Regina Carpinelli from Comikaze and he had such a good feeling about her and her team that he convinced me to attend. To be honest, I had my doubts about a first year show, especially in the Los Angeles market. Comic book, sci-fi/pop culture shows are not easy to put on and there are many lessons to be learned in the first year. In the end, I showed up and was very impressed with the show, how professionally it was run, the number of attendees and the caliber of others involved, especially my friend Stan Lee.” Quoth the raven-haired heroine. Enter Stan “The Man” Lee, the patriarch of comic culture, legendary co-creator of some of the most well known pop-cultural icons of the medium, Iron Man, the Hulk, the Fantastic Four, and the web-slinging vigilante Spider-Man, among a host of other house-
hold-named heroes. For the handful of humans who are unfamiliar with “The Man’s” origin story, Stan Lee has been in the game since the golden age of comics, and his impact is inarguable. The former president and chairman of Marvel Comics, Stan Lee has consistently used “Stan’s Soapbox” to challenge social injustice in the form of intolerance, bigotry, and racism; he’s no stranger to the convention circuit, having been active as a speaker, lecturer, and panel member for much of his career. Stan Lee, and Elvira’s appearance, as guests of Honor, at Comikaze 2011 was the ultimate stamp of authenticity that turned the event from a successful con into a spectacular, incredible, amazing, uncanny success; and apparently ‘The Man’ was impressed; Regina gushes “He actually called me, and said he’d never actually seen anything like this, ‘You were really interactive your fans I really liked it’ and he asked if he could be a part of it, and I had a mild heart attack. Here’s Stan Lee asking if he could be a business partner with me, how could I say no to that?” “Shortly after our partnership with [Stan Lee’s] Pow! Entertainment, Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, followed suit. The two guests I originally strived to have at Comikaze Expo were
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now my business partners – Truly a dream come true for any fan girl. Stan Lee’s Comikaze is now the first pop-culture event owned by true pop-culture icons.” - Regina Carpinelli, comikazeexpo.com With the two iconic personalities as her partners, and an impressive roster of guests, Regina began the preparations for 2012 immediately. The guest list was daunting, reading like a who’s who of Fandom’s finest: Kevin Smith, the only filmmaker to sell out Carnegie Hall speaking extemporaneously, Todd MacFarlane, the comic book legend that created Spawn and Co-Founded Image Comics, The original cast of the Batman television series, Adam West, Burt Ward, and Catwoman Julie Newmar, Goth Idol Peter Murphy, lead singer of Bauhaus, Geek Goddesses Felicia Day and Adrienne Curry, The Cast of the cult-favorite vigilante flick Boondock Saints, with Norman Reedus pulling double duty thanks to his show-stealing role as Daryl on AMC’s the Walking Dead, and that’s barely scratching the surface. Besides the guest list, the Expo also boasts a 75,000 Square Foot zombie obstacle course, a 250,000 square foot main hall, over 400 exhibitors and 200 artists, announcements from movie studios and television producers, and a cultural ‘museum’ as Regina puts it, to showcase the contributions of the genre’s heaviest hitters, “It’s chock full of events for each genre… We included everything.” Stan Lee’s Comikaze Expo 2012 boasted an attendance that doubled the previous year; the main hall of the Convention Center was packed with fans, many of whom were in elaborate ‘cosplay’ costumes from all genres of geekdom. Stan Lee himself spoke on three different panels during the two-day event, each time pulling together a massive crowd from around the expo to absolutely fill the center of the massive hall. The venerable godfather of geeks made himself available for photos with fans, signed countless comics and merchandise, and even invited a handful of contest winners back to his Beverly Hills home for a private meet and greet. Upon hearing they would be traveling to “the Man’s” secret headquarters one of the contest winners burst into tears. For many fans, the highlight of the event
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was Kevin Smith’s panel, where he sat with Adam West as part of his ‘Fatman on Batman’ podcast series, and hashed out the history of the iconic actor’s role. The conversation, available on Smith’s Smodcast website (Fatman on Batman #13: True West), featured Smith’s masterful banter, as he drew many a heartfelt moment from the Hollywood hero, to be shared with the massed crowd, to laughter, applause, and a few nostalgic sniffles. Throughout the event, Regina’s true superpower was revealed, in constant contact with the staff throughout the convention hall, she was able to be wherever she was needed in a moment, resolving issues before they became problems. Despite her impenetrable professional façade, moments of her inner geek burst through, on numerous occasions, after welcoming the guests, shaking hands and chatting
pleasantly, a giddy grin would spread across her face as she privately enjoyed the simple pleasure of meeting her heroes. Part of Comikaze’s success, no doubt, can be attributed to the ‘indie-cred’ factor, the industry giants, the television networks, movie studios, and video game behemoths that fill the halls of San Diego’s Comicon were absent at Comikaze, replaced instead by the independent producers, cult favorites, and up and comers that are out there striving to advance the medium in their own ways. Elvira’s Horror Hunt Film Festival, and a number of exhibitors helped contribute to the Independent spirit, with How To panels dominating the lineup of attractions outside the main hall. Though, with the back–to-back success of the 2011 and 2012 events, it seems inevitable that the industry heavyweights will be able to stay away in 2013. We’ll see. Regina asserts that she’s not trying to do
battle with San Diego’s Comicon, Los Angeles deserves an event like Comikaze because “This where pop culture is made, so why not?”, “Los Angeles is Magical, we have Marilyn Monroe’s footprints in our back yard… we live in this magical place that dreams come true, that so much inspiration comes from I think LA’s an important place to have a convention like this.” Doron Ofir, casting director and pop culture guru, investor and partner in the Expo, compares Stan Lee’s Comikaze Expo to San Diego’s Comicon “It’s like Comicon’s hot sister, that you can date”, From his Hollywood office, home to his impressive array of collectibles, featuring a showcase that includes every iteration of wonder woman toy ever produced, “Los Angeles is the Epicenter of entertainment, and this event gives fans access to that, right in it’s heart. I’m one of them, and I’m involved because I believe that true fans deserve an event like this, an opportunity to interact with the dream makers, those same people that allowed my imagination to soar.” Regarding her favorite moment of 2012, Regina gushed “Standing on stage with Stan, looking at what we created; it was a humbling and proud moment. To do anything for your community, and work with a living legend is always an honor.”, and regarding the future… “We’re going to keep it as geeky as possible, Photo by Joshua Rubin everything has to be relevant to nerd culture. We don’t want this to just be the Black Friday for Nerds. Just keep in mind, this show is put together by someone who’s completely insane. There’s something for everyone. This show is for Los Angeles, this is about Los Angeles, I want this to fuel the economy in this city, this show really is about the people of LA”. With a $20 ticket price and free admission for children under 12, inclusion isn’t just a buzzword, it’s a mission statement. Regina laments that there are no famous Superheroes from Los Angeles, but to the attendees of Stan Lee’s Comikaze expo, she might qualify. Stan Lee’s Comikaze Expo took place over the 15th and 16th of September at the Los Angeles Convention center. The 2013 event is being planned for three days in November of next year. Get all the details at www.ComikazeExpo.com.
Bill in Cardboardland by Lindsay Parker
t’s a warm day and my usual general surliness has plunged me into downright unpleasant territory. As traffic on the I-10 comes to a standstill, I take a moment to calm down and repeat, as if in a karmic state “Wake up. Be nice. Wake up. Be nice”. I’m headed to the Robert Berman Gallery in Santa Monica and I find myself staring at the billboards, strangely craving a McDonald’s soda. Why is that? It seemed an interesting craving for the occasion, since artist and innovator Bill Barminsky, my interviewee, finds the same impulses and inspiration in his work. Located at one of Los Angeles’ cultural meccas, Bergamot Station, THIS SIDE UP is Barminski’s first solo exhibition in five years. His work is notable for its unapologetic take on pop culture, consumerism, and mass media. Often referred to as a “third wave” or “neo pop” artist, Barminski doesn’t pigeonhole himself to one medium and appears equally comfortable utilizing paint, video, mixed media, digital media, and sculpture to critique what can be generalized as American society . Arbitrary movement titles aside, THIS SIDE UP still offers up the subversive material Barminski is known for but also takes visitors into a more playful world of sculptures crafted out of cardboard including guns, spray paint cans, a cannon, cassette tapes, shoes, and even a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken. “Some people ask, ‘Why did you make a pair of sneakers out of cardboard?’ Because they fucking look cool! Look at them!” It is hard to not be impressed by the work and the enthusiasm Barminski has toward it (not to mention I am immediately enamoured by anyone who offers up cuss words as adverbs as often as I do). My mood starts to brighten as we walk around the show and he encourages myself and other patrons to pick up the items and experience them. He wants you to feel the textures, the weight, the sounds they make (you can shake the spray paint cans and hear that familiar rattling). It is a bizarre, colourful cardboard wonderland I have entered. Though some items such as the spray paint and guns may reflect a deeper subversive nature, it seems Barminski is foremost concerned with the playful element of the sculptures, both as a process and the finished result. It’s a breath of fresh air. The cardboard sculptures were initially used as props in Barminski’s video work with Christopher Louie. Collectively known as Walter Robot, the duo has collaborated on films, commercials, and music videos for artists such as Modest Mouse, Death Cab for
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Cutie, Gnarls Barkley, and Kid Cudi. Featured in the exhibit, the video installations depict the pair as embroiled in a film noir gun battle, sneaking into galleries destroying priceless works of art with neon paint, and shooting up downtown’s Disney Concert Hall. For Barminski and Louie, the content of the videos serves to toy with preconceived notions of what sculpture and art is. Of the medium
and its legitimacy Barminski tells me, “The original impetus is making stuff. The guns were the first thing we were making, and they flowed into the videowork we were doing and it sort of started creating a weird commentary on what’s real and what’s not. They’re so cool, but yeah, they’re guns. It’s such a perfect thing being in Hollywood; the evolution of taking sculptures and making them look real. When
you get them on screen they’re in my mind every bit as real as what you’d see in any movie. People think that just because it’s cardboard it’s not really sculpture. Well, it is. It’s a different material.” A self-taught artist, Barminski got his start drawing satirical comics for the University of Texas’ school newspaper and then went on to self-publishing comic books including the
underground cult classic, Tex Hitler, Fascist Gun in the West. Barminski tells me, “It became my currency. As a broke college student, it was what would get me to make a new comic book by Friday night: knowing I could give it to the door guy at a punk rock show.” Bartering for entry to see punk bands and beer. I dig it. After dropping out of college, in 1985 he
moved to LA and continued making comics and began painting after somebody convinced him to abandon wall murals in exchange for creating pieces that could be displayed in an exhibition. He continued painting, experimenting with digital media, and as he puts it ‘making stuff ’ into the 90s when he eventually took a spot teaching at UCLA’s School of Theater, Film, and Television. It was there where he met student Christopher Louie and they soon began collaborating on projects. Besides the sculptures and video installations, mixed media collages and pieces taken from his personal sketchbooks are also on display. They still lend a critical eye on what it means to be a consumer in a commodity driven society, but stylistically they’re looser than some of his earlier work. Including such messages as “I WANT WHAT I WANT” and “THIS IS TOO EASY” incorporated into the pieces, there seems to be a deeper level of satisfaction and comfort in these new works that are less of an attack on consumerism, but an artist coming to terms with his place in the art world and as an individual in a collective consumer conscious. He tells me that for a while he was sick of painting, but that these selections were important because they were fun to do as well as an extension of what he has been doing. “Thematically they are basically meditations on what I’ve been dealing with since I started painting. Consumerism. Icons. Imagery. I hate a lot of this stuff but I love a lot of this stuff. There’s a certain dichotomy that goes into it.” I was curious on this transition. Upon further discussion he tells me, “For me I’ve found a lot of critiques I was making early on were really cheap shots in some regard. It’s so easy to say ‘Down with the System!’ sort of stuff but I have to meditate on it more to see where it [societal critiques] shows up in my work because I don’t want to do the easy thing, make an easy statement. I want it to be thoughtful.” It’s a surprisingly sweet sentiment from a talented, intelligent artist. This surreal exhibition, and Barminski’s artistic direction, pushes the boundaries of artificial and authentic, individual and collective, conscious and subconscious and left me in a state of unusual optimism. I think that is part of his goal as a creator. Barminski wants you to contemplate the world around you, but he also wants you to have fun while doing it. Mission accomplished. I was contemplative. I did have fun. And then, I thought about traffic, again, as I walked back out into the Los Angeles sunshine.
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THE OPPENHEIMERS by Lisa M. Berman
(above) Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Johnson County Community College, Overland Park, Kansas. Photo: Michael Spillers; (below) Left to right: Allison Schulnik, Skipping Skeletons, 2008, Oil on canvas, 84 x 136”; Stephan Balkenhol, Man Lying on Platform, 1998, Cedar wood and paint, 45 x 95.5 x 34”; Both works Collection Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Johnson County Community College, Overland Park, Kansas, Gifts of Marti and Tony Oppenheimer, Los Angeles, CA. Photo: Susan McSpadden; (opposite page, top) Marti and Tony Oppenheimer in their Los Angeles, California home. Lovers in a Dump by Dana Schutz is visible in the background. Photo: Dusty Cunningham (opposite page, bottom left) Left to right: Elizabeth Murray, Landing, 1999, oil on four canvases, 115 x 138”; Do-Ho Suh, Some/One, 2004, Stainless steel military dog tags, steel structure, fiberglass resin and fabric, 75 x 114 x 132”, Gift of Marti and Tony Oppenheimer, Los Angeles, CA; Kerry James Marshall, Untitled (Altgeld Gardens), 1995, Acrylic and collage on canvas, 78.5 x 103”, All works collection Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Johnson County Community College, Overland Park, Kansas. Photo: EG Schempf; (opposite page, bottom right) Left to right: Nick Cave, Soundsuit, 2005, Found sequined and beaded materials, hand sewn, mixed media, mannequin and armature, 100 x 26 x 14”; Nick Cave, Soundsuit, 2011, Buttons, wire, bugle beads, basket, upholstery and mannequin, 80 x 30 x 24”, Both works Collection Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Johnson County Community College, Overland Park, Kansas, Gifts of Marti and Tony Oppenheimer, Los Angeles, CA. Photo: EG Schempf
he Oppenheimers? They’re different”, as relayed to me by Brett Stimely, a handsome actor who sat in his pick-up truck waiting for my arrival to the party hosted by the Oppenheimers’ close friend Marny Maslon. He was systematically ignored by the passing attendees - Without as little of a glance his way, so typical of the LA party scene.... until the Oppenheimer’s walked up and Tony flashed him an ephervesant smile and gave him a clear wave “hello”. That type of unassuming approachability speaks volumes about who the Oppenheimers are as individuals and how they approach their love of
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collecting and “giving” art to all... in a lot of varied places. They are intensely interested and interesting. During the last two decades, the Oppenheimers and the Oppenheimer Brothers Foundation have donated more than 150 pieces of art to the Nerman Museum in Overland Park, KS, near Kansas City, which comprises the majority of the museums permanent collection. The collection is valued at well over $10 million and encompasses sculptures, paintings, photographs, ceramics, works on paper, new media, textiles and jewelry. In 2006, Johnson County Community College was cited by
Public Art Review magazine as one of the top 10 college campuses for public art in the United States. "Marti and Tony have transformed our campus with their generosity and passion for art," JCCC President Terry Calaway said. "We all benefit from their extraordinary vision and commitment." Through her numerous conversations with the dynamic couple, art historian Elizabeth Kirsch stated in her essay: Marti, who had returned to Kansas City following twenty years in Texas, was introduced to Tony in 1992. Five months following their initial meeting, they were married. During this time, they met Bruce Hartman, now executive Director of the Nerman Museum and began one of the longest patronage relationships in the arts in American history. Marti and Tony now affectionately refer to themselves and Bruce as the “Three Art Musketeers.” When Hartman and the Oppenheimers started out, Hartman traveled to Los Angeles to present a $300,000 proposal for acquisition funds from the Jules and Doris Stein Foundation, a precursor to the Oppenheimer Brothers Foundation. Jules Stein was a Hollywood mogul who founded MCA, which later became Universal Studios. He also was Tony Oppenheimer's grandfather. The foundation granted the request and thus the fertile seed for the collection was planted.... One of their goals, the Oppenheimers said, was to introduce art in a unique way to students who might never step into a museum or gallery. "And now they are surrounded by art," Tony Oppenheimer said. "And so that has been wonderful." Twenty-one major pieces of sculpture now adorn the campus grounds and its buildings. One of the first sculptures acquired was Woman with Packages, an important bronze by Louise Bourgeois, then in her 80s. Other major pieces are Walking Man (On the Edge), made of fiber and steel by Jonathan Borofsky, Hare & Bell, a bronze by Barry Flanagan, and Two on Beam, a bronze of two headless figures by Magdalena Abakanowicz. In 1992 Tony Oppenheimer had retired as head of Oppenheimer Industries, a major cattle and real estate company, whose business took him around the globe. He continued his work, as a writer and international speaker on topics regarding family wealth - their companies and foundations. The product of a fascinating background, he is the eldest of four brothers. His father Harold Lawrence “Larry” Oppenheimer, a Marine Corps general, “commonly referred
to as General Dad,” attended Harvard and later became one of the youngest marine battalion commanders during World War II. Tony’s ever-adventurous mother, Sally, was raised in Beverly Hills, California, has trekked the arctic circle/globe and “knows how to handle a gun,” according to her son. While he attended a military academy and worked the family ranch while growing up, Tony was also exposed to a privileged life on both coasts – a life in which the critical nature of philanthropy was stressed. Jules Stein, an ophthalmologist, founded the internationally renowned Jules Stein Eye Institute in Los Angeles, while his wife created the Doris Stein Eye Research Center at University of California,
Los Angeles. Throughout their lives, they generously supported numerous charitable organizations. Marti Oppenheimer originally studied and pursued a career in fashion design, and she is now an acclaimed jewelry designer. Her unique works are showcased in museums and have graced such legendary necks as Elizabeth Taylor’s. Marti was raised in Prairie Village, Kansas, the daughter of George and Floriene Lieberman, both noted philanthropists. “From childhood, my brother, sister, and I were consistently told how important it is to give back,”
Marti reflects. This is evidenced even in their unassuming approachability... Marti and I were introduced because our shared love of jewelry - an immediate discussion of the “wow factor” of jewels, baubles, shape, color, scale ensued. Marti is self professed “vertically challenged” but displays a “large presence” and adores beautiful, large scale accessories, which she adorns herself with verve daily... Yet another love-affair created through the vehicle of art. The majority of the Oppenheimers eclectic collection resides within the confindes of their beloved Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art in Overland Park, KS, but their passion for giving art to all is profound in Los Angles as well. They have been very active board members of the Collection Committee of LACMA for over 15 years and recently joined MOCA’s Acquisition Committee. Through their collaborative efforts, dozens of artworks have been added to the local Angeleno art landscape. Tony & Marti have also donated funds to the National Gallery of Art in D.C, as part of the museum’s Collection Committee When in Los Angeles, they reside in one of Frank Gehry’s first residential structures built in Beverly Hills. In 1997 they commissioned Robert Graham, the famed sculptor of Los Angeles to create a large scale memorial sculpture, of Charlie Parker, called “Bird Lives” for the American Jazz Museum in Kansas City. The Nerman Museum celebrated the 20th Anniversary of the Oppenheimer Collection with a Gala on Sept. 29th, 2012. During the evening, the Nerman unveiled more than 15 new gifts from the Oppenheimers including: painting from Dana Schutz, whose Swimming, Smoking, Crying graced the cover of Art in America in November. Other artists exhibiting new works will be Nick Cave, Kim Dorland, Asad Faulwell, Kirk Hayes, Angel Otero, Cordy Ryman, Kent Michael Smith, Stefanie Gutheil, Lonnie Powell, Ian Davis, Allison Schulnik, Leidy Churchman, Brian Calvin, Warren Inessee and Brian Tolle. Over 700 International art aficionados traveled to the heartland to view the diverse collection created with a clear vision, focused inspiration and especially heart. “There are some people who collect art with their hearts and others collect with their pocket book. Tony and Marti collect with their heart - that’s why we connected immediately”, says Marny Maslon about her LACMA Acquisitions’ Committee co-Board Members.
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IN HER OWN WORDS
y drive to be an artist started early. My father owned an art gallery in our native Antwerp, Belgium and when we moved to Florida, I grew up with his collection surrounding me and would accompany him every weekend to auctions and galleries, and learn about many different types of art. By seven, I started drawing colorful abstracted compositions, and still life’s of Murano glass and Italian modern furniture that filled our house. Unlike many artists, I didn’t receive an art degree; instead I received a Bachelor’s in Business Administration majoring in both Marketing and Real Estate. Although I took a few different types of art classes in high school and college, I am a self-taught artist who developed my own style without any influences from traditional fine art educators or coursework. There are of course pros and cons to either path and perhaps my work and my journey would have turned out completely different had I attended art school, but I wouldn’t turn back the clock, not for one minute. My work has long been inspired by the urban landscape of both cities I've visited, and
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cities I've dreamed of visiting. My first trip to New York City in 1999 provided my first creative spark, and has continued to serve as a source of ideas since. In the last few years, my work has become more non-representational, however, it still draws from the same sources as my previous, more literal architectural compositions. The last two series are more focused on exploring the various individual forms that make up a city in a macro and micro dynamic: architecture, topography, cultural and physical infrastructure, dynamic human activity and organic nature. Furthermore, every line, dot, and color illustrates a connection made among these elements as they meld and recreate each other within this found composition. My family and I moved to Florida from Belgium when I was three and after living most of my years in Florida, I decided to move to Los Angeles, California last summer. After receiving a marketing position with a local Los Angeles architecture firm, my biggest goal upon moving was to exhibit in a gallery. Last December, I exhibited with several other artists at Mark Moore Gallery in a benefit
for 826 LA (a local non-profit organization dedicated to writing and tutoring). I received the opportunity to have a solo exhibition this past July precipitating exclusive Los Angeles representation by Ann 330 Gallery and shortly thereafter, to create an installation for The Standard Hotel’s “The Box” in Hollywood for the month of August. This year I was able to travel to several different European countries that influenced the tree-like sculpture I included in my solo exhibition and the installation at The Standard. While traveling I collected a breadth of materials from the places I visited: 1954 French topographical maps, Belgian, Grecian, and Czech maps as well as Belgian, Parisian, Grecian, and Italian public transportation tickets. Each piece included in both the sculpture and installation signified different moments endured throughout the last several months. Ann 330 Gallery compared my solo exhibition, Grow Till Tall Olifant (Olifant means Elephant in Dutch) to one of Nietzsche’s philosophies in the sense that it’s a progression of childhood into now. Grow Till Tall Olifant represents the
idea of continuing to grow up, but never losing a certain part of your innocence when life was so simple. As I grow older, I value both the simplicity of life and the chaos. Throughout my work, whether it is a more chaotic piece or a minimal piece it represents my state of being at that moment and how I felt. Even the minimal pieces have little moments of chaos that come across in a more delicate manner than say the more chaotic pieces, and just the opposite, that the chaotic pieces even have moments of subtly.Growing up in Florida and now living in California, my palette has definitely been inspired by the copious amounts of sunshine, always changing while remaining vibrant. I noticed on my three-month visit to Belgium the weather had a great effect on my usual effervescent color scheme, making my palette more subdued than it ever had been. When I teeter between drawings, paintings, sculptures, and installations my aesthetic always wrestles back and forth between chaos and simplicity, constraint and looseness…as it has throughout the years
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LIKE A LEPRECHAUN IN A GIFT SHOP… TALES OF AN AMERICAN IN IRELAND article and photographs by Michelle Carmen Gomez
urrounded by leprechaun pencils, bottle openers, erasers, and flasks, the elitist in me immediately regretted ever setting foot in this tiny, Godforsaken gift shop in Cobh, Ireland. But then I decided there was a silly photo to be had, and posted on Facebook of course, so I promptly began to turn the super-green, super-ridiculous leprechaun shelf into my mini-photo shoot. Arranging leprechaun heads and moving canisters of leprechaun pencils about with such fervor that I lost all track of time and space, I was an American in Ireland and I was on fire! My gift shop in seaside Cobh, is home to a mammoth Catholic Church that looms over the community like a female probation officer. I immediately felt like I was in error for leaving my "Scarlet A" at home, but Cobh also happens to be the home of some of the warmest people you'll ever want to meet, so perhaps I was projecting some old Catholic guilt by proxy. It's
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possible. Shifting clouds and shifting light, the kind of light that inadvertently set the tone for my immediate impressions of the country, dominate Cobh, and Ireland for that matter. Cobh’s history, as the last stop for the Titanic, should have been an indication that, while visiting, I’d confront my hubris, discover just how American I truly am, and recognize just how hysterically accepting the Irish can be. My tragedy was the realization that being American comes with a ton of good juju and a measure of "adolescence". It occurred to me that in terms of our world chronology, America is like that bratty teenager, who has an impulse problem, but is so free-spirited that it unintentionally sets trends and influences others. The flip side? Our hypersensitivity prompts us to practice so much political correctness and "fairness" that visiting other countries can become an analytical nightmare and an exercise in perspective and ratio-
nal. Which isn't a bad thing, I guess; however, I found myself running a non-stop internal dialogue about why people say what they say and why people do what they do and how people decide to confront an issue. And why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Then I decided to take my Ritalin, like a good teenager. But wait, I don't take Ritalin. Deep breath Michelle, you’re in Ireland now, the land where pubs are an extension of community and where you can easily stumble into more than two boisterous establishments on most blocks. Okay, don’t judge me America, the political correctness is deafening. Truth be told, having spent good quality time in Ireland, most Irish folk wouldn't judge me. Publicans, also known as bar owners, would most likely offer me a Guinness and say, "Why do what's expected Michelle? Surprise them, that's how Collins beat the Brits after all. Isn't travel about new experiences? Why shouldn't travel articles be a new experience as well?" So, with that, I'll
give it a go! In Dublin, the capital of the Republic of Ireland, I tackle the city like I do most photographic assignments: the " no plan" plan. In other words, I take a quick peek at my Frommer’s guidebook, maybe Google a few phrases, listen to people's stories then set out with my camera and iPhone. I'm usually led by inspiration and I manage to make friends wherever I go, so I'm a lucky traveler. I've been saved many times by a generous stranger and Dubliners would not disappoint. My immediate thought was that Ireland is a country of great contrasts. Much like the aforementioned shifting light that lends itself to murky clouds of rain then blinding sunshine in the span of five minutes, the people of Ireland have amicably contrasting modes of existence. The common denominator is their prevailing humor. Black humor, biting humor, then thought-provoking humor, much like the American comedians I've dated. Yeah, I said it. The kind of black humor that draws you close because it's underlying, identifiable pain and contrasting messages are palpable. Contrasts, like the jovial crowds of people bustling in city centers that stand side by side with the broken homeless folks bent over on stoops, Ireland is a country established through years of ongoing extremes and, until its cease fire in 1997, dramatic bloodshed between the Anglo and the Irish. So why wouldn't there be some pain? Religious conflicts, independence, and social change have all proved self-creative and self-informing. What remains constant is the warmth and the honesty and the enchanting pace. The Irish enjoy life differently than Americans. There is a party every day of the week, without apology. And in the time I was there, a little over a week, there were regattas, horse shows, concerts and art shows in the park. For the Irish, life is constant, work is not. And no one here regrets bacon. American's get this reference. I had more bacon and alcohol in Dublin than I've had in my entire life. Even if the American in me thought it made me look fat and the Catholic in me made me feel guilty about having eaten it. Speaking of guilt, the religious conflicts
not withstanding, social developments have informed the people's cumulative attitudes, no doubt about it. Laughter is buoyant. We could learn a few lessons perhaps? For the Irish, self-proclaimed inhibitions meet self-sustaining humor, with a dominant underlying pride in community and religion, of course. I grew up catholic so I can understand shame and guilt, what I lacked, until adulthood, was the ability to make light of it. The Irish have this quality in spades. Contrasts also extend to the physical landscape; rural living is juxtaposed by cityscapes, so much so that it's an arresting site to see rolling hills set against row houses. What they have
that we lack, especially in big cities, is plenty of sky. Dublin has so much sky that you almost forget you’re in a city, and the capital of the Republic of Ireland nonetheless. Where America has built up and on top of itself with tall buildings and tall billboards, Dublin has chosen to preserve sky. Or just stop building, perhaps. After all, they have parties to plan!
Dublin has it's own unique sensibility. On one corner, I was saved by a whistling professor type who generously offered to walk me to my destination when he saw that I was rifling through my Frommer’s guidebook and looked lost, then a few moments later, I was confronted by a pained woman, besotted with grief crouched on her doorstep. Cheerful, selfless, upfront and then "in your face", there is no hiding in Ireland. The shine is not on the surface, Dublin’s “shine” comes from within and it’s well-earned. They are generous, so generous that they are kind enough to remind Americans that they should look right before crossing the street. “American’s can hurt themselves here,” warned my happy professor with a chuckle, “They forget that we drive on the opposite side of the street.” Honesty, in Dublin, comes with a mountain of humor and a swig of pain, but who is to say we are any different? Well, we kind of are. Our homeless are picky. In America, you can offer a homeless person a snack and they'll ask to take a peek at it before they'll accept it, while Dublin's homeless snatched up my M&Ms faster then Mitt can say offshore account. Oh snatch! By the way, that’s not a word to use here. It’s not a polite word. I used it at the airport when security asked me if this was my bag and I yelled, "Nope. It's this one. I'll snatch it!" Crickets for the teenager, as luck would have it… Okay, so American's happen to be more ostentatious perhaps, but I find that the Irish and the Americans are more similar than we are different, especially with regard to religion and family. Our differences, I suspect, help us ask more pointed questions of ourselves and of our thought-process, so all and all, world community endures! Yet, from an external, detached sort of observation, I noticed that unlike America, where our signage is born from the theory that bigger is better, Dublin merchants keep it small. The doctor’s offices and taxidermy placards are neatly placed beside the colorful doors. Colorful doors that send a message, as Dublin would have it. Locals say that when Queen Victoria died, loyalist Brits chose to paint their doors black in reverence, but the independent Irish
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chose to paint there doors anything but! This kind of tale speaks of an underlying current, one of playful disdain for British rule. So maybe the lesson is: keep business subtle, but make politics and commentary like walking through your front door, routine, celebratory and colorful? Small lettering and small voices? No "yellers" here. As a matter of fact, a lovely woman, Catherine, whom I met on the streets of Dublin, confirmed this. When I asked her about the countries religious conflicts and her impressions of Americans she offered up a unique perspective. "The North has more conflict than the South. In Northern Ireland, which we gave up in the treaty with Britain, if you are found in the wrong neighborhood, you could find yourself 'cut at the knees' and religion is still a sore subject to talk about. But for the most part, the whole of Ireland is peaceful," says Catherine, who grew up and lives on the border of Northern Ireland. "The North can't let go of the struggle to be free. But some people won't leave. Their history is there." Maybe that's why colorful doors, colorful houses in rural areas and colorful humor are a mainstay in Ireland? Even the brightly colored doors that are along the row houses, with there doors so close to the street that there is little separation from residents and the community, behavior and answers are found in the way people live and the way they choose to position themselves in their environment. Maybe the message is: I'm not moving? I found that telling. What it says? Probably up to ones perspective, but another contrasting fact, perhaps. Fiercely stubborn and private, yet doorsteps set two feet from the street and front stoops for days. I also asked Catherine, a cheerful, petite blond mother of two grown boys, about her impressions of Americans. She said, "The Irish accept, silently, and nod. But Americans, if something is not right, they say it! They don't stand still." True? Probably. Maybe enthusiasm is the mark of genius? Now, back to the Leprechauns in seaside Cobh. Truth is, no one cared about my photographically leprICONIC masterpiece. Oh, side note, that's another thing, American's often make up their own words. And for two mornings in a row while I was traveling, drive time DJs were analyzing them, "If someone's packin, what does that mean?" asked one radio jock of another. Yeah, we start stuff. Maybe that should be our motto: America, yeah, we start stuff. But NOT me, in that isolated gift shop, I mean. For the leprechaun shelf, and me, not one single shopkeeper batted an eye or minded my self-indulgent spectaculรกria. I was the only one who was really annoyed with myself, but I guess it goes to show that you can learn a lot from a teenage leprechaun party in Ireland. And you can appreciate a people when you are willing to look up, with zero judgment. That may truly be the luck of the Irish.
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Four local fashion designers are garnering national acclaim â€“ while staying close to their LA roots. By Ashley Heaton
(clockwise from top-right) Again; Love Zooey; Korovilas; Mike Kensel
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Photographer: Alisa Schulz Designer: Amber Model: Amber Kekich-Purling Photographer: Alisa Schulz Make up: Renata Rensky Retoucher Ritaproductionphoto.com
Amber Kekich-Purling’s much buzzed-about line draws its name from the philosophy that everything in fashion “comes around again.” The brand, launched in 2010, is designed and produced in Los Angeles, and offers modernized vintage-inspired looks with a youthful, rock-and-roll edge. Its signa-
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ture form-fitting pieces are splashed with eclectic prints and detailed embellishments. For Fall, Kekich-Purling was inspired by the garb of the 1800s, 1920s and 1970s. Her latest collection is rendered in detailed textures like delicate lace, bold quilting and hand-sewn sequins and beading.
Love Zooey Designer Grace Chon’s original label, Zooey, shuttered more than four years ago. However, increasing customer demand for the brand’s popular knit basics led her to launch a new line, Love Zooey, in 2011. Love, Zooey expands on Chon’s original collection, and is now known not just for its luxurious, comfortable knitwear, but also for more tailored pieces. “Love, Zooey is for the style conscious who do not want to sacrifice comfort - the woman who likes feeling dressed without feeling overdressed.” Chon shares. “Each season references a classic silhouette while adding a contemporary variation.” Inspired by 18th century tapestry and fencing uniforms, Chon’s Fall collection incorporates form-fitting, highly constructed dresses and suits, and rich colors and fabrics.
Photographer: Alisa Schulz Designer: "Grace" Model: "Tigi" Photographer: Alisa Schulz On set stylist: Marina Gelnak Make up: Renata Rensky Retoucher Olivia Chon
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Photographer: Alisa Schulz Designer: Maria Korovilas Model: Kristina Stonebreaker Photographer: Alisa Schulz Make up: Renata Rensky Retoucher Ritaproductionphoto.com
Korovilas The idea of handcrafted local design is very important to Maria Korovilas. Disenchanted with the ubiquitous “fast fashion” brands of today, she launched Korovilas earlier this year as “a nod to the bespoke workmanship of the past.” The label, which is completely designed and manufactured in Los Angeles, is already quickly becoming known for its fine craftsmanship and quality fabrics. Korovilas’ Fall collection features timeless shapes and light, flowing layers that recall the 1920s and Old Hollywood. Bold touches like asymmetrical hemlines and plunging scooped backs, however, ensure that these pieces are also thoroughly modern.
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Mike Vensel Pittsburgh-born designer Mike Vensel has been crafting minimalist masterpieces in his adopted hometown since 2007. His pieces are a fusion of the naturalistic and the futuristic, using traditional natural materials such as organic cottons, bamboo, recycled leather and silk overstocks to create flowing looks characterized by soft, flowing draping and architectural clean lines. Vensel’s Fall 2012 collection is titled Horus Hawk. The designer explains that, like his Spring collection, it “explores the theory that ancient Egyptians were visited by aliens which helped bring much of the technology that shaped the modern world. Much of the ancient Egyptians’ clothing, art and design was simple and elegant, and used geometric principles that still apply to modern-day aesthetics.” The line’s otherworldly themes are brought to life in a largely black and white palette, tempered with subtly opulent dashes of bright blue, gold and silver.
Photographer: Mike Vensel Designer: Mike Vensel Model: Anastasia C. at Pinkerton Models Make up: Renata Rensky Retoucher Ritaproductionphoto.com
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ACCESSORY RECON Designers to watch By Ashley Heaton
Farbod Barsum Since launching his label in 2010, Farbod Barsum has made a name creating the most luxurious handbags this side of Hermes. The designer’s bags are already favorites of luminaries including Christina Hendricks and Heidi Klum. Born into a family of architects and holding a Master’s degree in the subject, Barsum possesses a knowledge of structure and form that clearly influences his collection. The designer uses sustainably farmed exotic materials like alligator and ostrich skins. Bags can be customized to a wide selection of colors and materials, making each handcrafted piece truly unique. The brand also shows a commitment to giving back – Barsum’s sister is autistic, and a portion of profits from every piece purchased is donated to autism research.
Misa Jewelry Designer Misa Hamamoto draws inspiration for her jewelry from her upbringing in Hawaii and Micronesia. Her collection aims to balance the beauty of nature with the sophisticated style of modern city life. Consequently, her designs feature bold, angular shapes tempered with fluid organic lines. All pieces are handmade in Los Angeles using the ancient art of wax casting. Precious and semiprecious stones like labradorite, peacock agate and moonstone lend a mystical, natural quality to her work. “The inspiration behind the (Fall 2012) Sea Shells collection is quite simple, really - I went back to my love for the ocean,” Hamamoto explains. “Every time I go home to Hawaii and Guam from LA, I'm just so in awe of the beauty of the blue beaches and its marine life as if it's the first time I've laid eyes on them. I always dive for shells when I'm vacationing, and I also go "treasure hunting" on the beach with my nephew and niece. I experimented with the spirals of cone shells and the geometric shapes of turtle shells for this collection.”
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Ban.Do Designers Jen Gotch and Jamie Coulter started their LA-based line selling handmade vintage headbands. Today, they are better known for their ultra-feminine, whimsical and often very sparkly more modern accessories. The current line ranges from tote bags to bowties to corsages and even tiaras, in addition to their trademark hairpins and headbands. The design duo still offers its more elaborate vintage bridal and couture pieces as part of their Black Label collection. Launched only a few years ago, Ban.do is already a national editorial mainstay, with appearances in Vogue, Nylon and InStyle, and a devoted following that includes pop starlet Taylor Swift.
Liv Haley Liv Haley is truly a labor of love. Co-designers and sisters-in-law Olivia and Hali Thornhill brought their two brands of unique expertise together, creating their jewelry line after each launching their own separate careers as a stylist and gemologist respectively. Inspired by the California landscape and the ocean, Liv Haley’s pieces feature chunky cabochon stones in statement-making geometric shapes. The label uses rich-hued, high-quality stones, hand-set in sterling silver, 14-karat gold, or gold vermeil. Liv Haley’s latest collection showcases a new pale, earthy palette. The designers share, “For Fall, we are loving our signature bold cocktail rings in soft color tones like grey agate and pink and white opal set in yellow gold; as well as our stacking rings in a combination of earth tones such as smoky quartz, white opal, and white topaz.”
Lone Wolf Accents Molly Pearson has been designing her unique line of high-fashion body jewelry, Lone Wolf Accents, since 2009. Her pieces accessorize the whole body, ranging from head chains and hand chains to body necklaces. Pearson’s 2012 “Warrior Goddess” collection is tribal-inspired and organic with a bohemian flair. Its stunning, eye-catching pieces are designed to make the wearer “the most standout woman in the room.” The soon-to-launch Kazuri Hand Chain collection, meanwhile, telegraphs fashion with a conscience. All beads are purchased from a bead workshop providing safe, fair-wage work to single mothers in Nairobi, Kenya , and 100-percent of profits from each sale go toward building a school for a community of 600 displaced refugees in Kenya.
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PRESERVATION OF THE FITTEST By Jackson Truax
ake some of the Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour and mix in The Moody Blues’ Days of Future Passed and you could, arguably, get the Los Angeles based folk-rock trio Song Preservation Society; they first appeared on the Los Angeles music scene in July 2011, with a string of shows at such legendary venues as Molly Malone’s, the Whiskey-a-Go-Go, and the House of Blues. Band members Trevor Bahnson, Ethan Glazer, and Daniel Wright instantly garnered attention for their immaculate harmonies and intricate guitar interplay. With a wait and see attitude, Preservation Society has marked their territory with good intentions, “My biggest hope for this album is that some song on it is ‘the Song’ for somebody; that somebody’s totally in love with it. Because I know when I find a song that really nails it for me, it’s the best feeling in the world,” says Bahnson. Although they were still promoting their self-titled debut EP, their sets quickly filled up with songs from their follow-up album Ready Room. Since Song Preservation Society’s initial run of L.A. shows, their ever-growing fan base has followed the band all over town, including to multiple shows at Hotel Café and a recent residency at Bar Pico. The anticipation for their next CD, Ready Room has reached an almost deafening fever pitch, as the album has spent most of 2012 in post-production. With time to play and explore, a luxury for most bands, Preservation Society has always had it’s own timetable, which is reflected in the music. Bahnson said of crafting Ready Room, “We had no cap on the studio time… We could really explore what we wanted to do…and try a bunch of different sounds, until we liked something. We were working with this producer Nino Moschella who’s a great, great man and collaborator.” Wright added, “I remember us saying, ‘Do
we need to keep this acoustic because it’s our sound? Or do we need to basically have the greatest time of our lives playing all these crazy instruments in the studio?’ We just went for the fun time… The way I hear it, it’s the songs we play live. It’s just that they’re all expanded.” Bahnson, Glazer, and Wright met in Boston while attending the Berklee college of music, then relocated to Northern California where they first performed together as Song Preservation Society in August of 2010, before relocating to Los Angeles in March of 2012. For over two years, their sound has always been three acoustic guitars intermingling with their signature threepart harmonies. On Ready Room, the band decided to buck their tradition of purely “wooden music” for an album that finds the band providing their own rhythm section via overdubs and looping, as well as having friends provide a string quartet, wind section, brass, and more. Ready Room marks the first time fans will be able to take home with them songs that have become staples of Song Preservation Society’s show, including “We Think What You Think,” “Circus,” “Love Me Like She Did,” and the singa-long showstopper “Stars.” Glazer said of the latter, “That song was pretty personal to me... [Wright] wrote the bridge to it. That was really well done, because he maintained the vibe of the verses… It just kept building the more we worked on it.” Building a sound, a throw back to past? Make that the preservation of the fittest. Tickets to the show are currently available through Hotel Café and the album is available for pre-order digitally and on CD and vinyl on http://songpreservationsociety.bandcamp.com/.
POINT BREAK By Kat Higgins LIVE! I
t’s a Saturday night at one of LA’s longest running clubs, Dragonfly, and POINT BREAK LIVE!, a theatrical production based on the movie of the same name is in full effect. Touted as the West Coast’s version of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, cast members buzz backstage, circling actor Gary Busey. Having just witnessed the cast perform a hit comedic adaptation of his 1991 cult-action movie Point Break, Busey erupts in hysterical laughter, telling the actor who played his FBI agent character Angelo, “I can give any actor that’s playing a part I played, instant diarrhea”. It’s not exactly an elegant way of expressing admiration for Point Break Live!’s stellar work, but it is the Busey way of connecting. While celebrities like Busey & director Kathryn Bigelow do have “point break” in common with the show, that’s not the only reason why they are drawn to watch it. The fun, edgy, party-like feel of Point Break Live! has created a successful formula that has created a cult following nationwide. It has been called a “reality play” for several reasons. First of all, the front row of seats is encouraged to wear rain slickers to protect itself from squirts
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of fake blood and water that explode out of super soakers and “surfers” hands through out the show. Second of all, the main role ‘Johnny Utah’, played by Keanu Reeves in the movie, isn’t even cast until the first 5 minutes of the show beginning. Audience members who wish to play the part are called on stage; put through a mini faux audition with the winner being picked by an applause-o-meter! A cue card assistant then follows Utah around with his lines, ensuring the same plot line of the original movie on stage. Also, ensuring that the newly appointed lead actor delivers the same melodramatic, broken inflections that Reeves often delivers. This X factor of the show was initially created by default when an actor, who was cast as Johnny Utah during the first few runs of the production, was a no show and the director reluctantly permitted an audience member to take over. The accident struck entertainment gold and stuck as tradition ever since. Ironically, the tradition of Point Break Live! did not begin where surf waves crash on sunny shores. It began in Seattle, Washington where the shows creators/adaptors
Jaime Keeling and Jamie Hook (the founder of the Northwest Film Forum) joined forces. It wasn’t until the show was moved to New York, where Jamie Hook asked the show’s current producer/director, Eve Hars, to take over its reins. Funny enough, Eve’s first boyfriend was Jamie’s brother. (So girls, be wary of boys you date in the 12th grade! Your teenage boyfriends can get you future production gigs!) Jamie was very smart to hand over his show to Eve. She is an easygoing creative force of nature that is clearly able to make the best of any situation… characteristics that are crucial to a show that has heavily evolved from improvisation by its actors & audience members. And despite skepticism while moving Point Break Live! around from Chicago to Louisville, KY to LA she was able to steadily increase the shows profit margin. And as the show celebrates its 5th year anniversary in LA this month (check out its October 20th show), she looks forward to growing Point Break Live! at its own venue. So grab your tickets now at www.pointbreakliveLA.com for “100% pure adrenaline”!
Beauty Is Embarrassing... but so is Editing Documentaries
by Kevin Klauber
magine sitting in front of a computer watching countless of hours of footage of a real person living their life, sharing intimate stories to the camera, walking their dog, whatever it is that they do… that’s what I do, I’m an film editor. Now imagine shaping these moments of captured reality into a story that entertains people. Imagine building a character out of digital representations of a living breathing person, a character that remains fixed in a constructed alter-reality while the real person continues living, a form of meta-literature of the photographic age. And then there's the experience of meeting the actual person after having built their character…. but we'll get to that later. Unlike editing narrative film, the editors of documentaries have no script to follow (we get story outlines if we're lucky) and thus, must essentially write the story as they cut. Of course every director/editor relationship is different; some directors have a very clear vision for the tone they hope to achieve, some have each scene outlined on paper, while some have already selected pieces of footage for the scenes. But despite every possible way directors prepare to cut a documentary, the truth is that documentaries are made in the editing room. With no subject in front of a camera, this is the first time in the process when honest unfiltered objectivity enters the equation, when its time to take a hard look at the materials and figure out what the hell kind of house to build. And in that space of creative construction, I find pure joy.
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Like most people, before being brought on as additional editor on the documentary "Beauty Is Embarrassing", I had never heard of Wayne White. I had laughed with that strange impish man-child on Pee-Wee's Playhouse (a show that I distinctly remember creeping out my father, making me like it even more), learned science from an eccentric dude with a man-sized rat sidekick on "Beakman's World"-- I remember watching VHS reruns in the back of my Godparents' Eurovan on road trips. In high school I obsessed over the beautifully designed Melies-inspired music video for "Tonight Tonight" by the Smashing Pumpkins, watching it over and over again with my girlfriend, and in college I drunkenly chuckled at the sarcastic biting phrases meticulously painted into cheesy thrift store landscape prints from the plastic booths at the Los Feliz diner Fred62s… phrases like "HUMAN FUCKING KNOWLEDGE" or "YOU'RE JUST AGREEING WITH ME SO I'LL SHUT UP" or "PUSSYHOUNDS ON PARADE". So when I walked into the minimalist offic-
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es of Neil Berkeley's production company last year to take a crack at reshaping a documentary about some artist I had never heard of, I had the same reaction that most people have after seeing the movie now, "Wait, he did that… and that? And that!?" I knew Wayne White without knowing his name because he had a hand in shaping all these iconic pop-culture works that profoundly affected me. I love editing documentaries about artists. I believe that every creative impulse allowed to manifest itself through action carries with it a piece of its creator, imbued with the thoughts and experiences and persona of the artist. When examining an artist's body of work in a linear fashion, a narrative can sometimes appear. When working on art documentaries I strive to allow the artist's work inform my choices. When the juices are flowing, this channeling can be a truly transcendent experience. And my experience as additional editor / co-writer on "Beauty Is Embarrassing" was exactly that. I watched the rough cut of "Beauty Is Em-
barrassing", edited by Chris Bradley (who also helped director Neil Berkeley shoot much of the film), and I was immediately struck but how much potential I saw on the screen. Rarely are documentary rough cuts this rich, this joyful, this loaded with beautifully shot footage of such an inspiring individual, and this… funny. Wayne says in the film "My mission is to bring humor into fine art. And if you agree with me, you're gonna come up against some resistance because a lot of people in the art world have sticks up their butts. And you know what you say to them? FUCK YOU!" Well, the same can be said about the world of documentaries. A funny documentary? Aren't documentaries supposed to teach us things about history or politics or water shortage or our failing education system? Or at least make us angry like Michael Moore? After watching the rough cut of "Beauty Is Embarrassing" I wanted to make things - pure and simple. And I did. I helped make a movie fueled by the very inspiration that Wayne White exudes.
The process of getting the film from that two hour cut I watched to the version now playing in theaters had two major components: structure and tone. Structurally, we needed to take the viewer on a journey from having no idea who this artist is, tease out his accolades early to create that familial sense that you know his work but don't know him (thus earning us the right to take the viewer on a trip through Wayne's life where we come to understand what formed him and his artistic sensibilities), show his ups and downs while working in Hollywood, then reveal his serendipitous second life as a punk of the fine art world. In terms of tone, the film needed to feel like Wayne White, it needed to embody his exuberant irreverence, so I adopted a fun-loving punkish attitude toward cutting and threw in moments of humor from Wayne whenever possible, even if it meant taking a little detour from the story. If something works and the audience likes it, they will always forgive a detour. Wayne talks about the importance of listening to your artistic mediums and
letting improvisation lead to artistic discovery. Since the artist / medium dialogue pervades all art forms, since all artistic mediums speak to their manipulators, this is universal. In the case of filmmaking, the essence of the story is captured in the footage and speaks just like any other medium. And those who are receptive enough to hear the voice over the din of their own ego typically end up with the most honest and powerful films. By adopting Wayne's ethos and approach to art making, we hoped to communicate his spirit that much more. After the film's screening at LA Film Festival Wayne said something during the Q&A that struck me because it was an idea I had been mauling over in my head for quite a while. He said that all fundamental truths are rooted inside dichotomy, that through the power of contradiction the truth emerges. Finally, I had something to talk to him about! Now, I had met Wayne a couple times before in passing, I had partied with him and the film's crew in Austin at the SXSW premier, but never really knew
what to say to him. Remember, editing documentaries is fucking weird, right? So later that evening at the after party I started up a conversation with Wayne about this idea, explaining how I share similar views about the nature of fundamental truth, and his eyes lit up. "Yeah, man. Because something is and is not, and from that complexity emerges what's really going onâ€Ś you know, the truth," he said. He went on to say how weird it is that people leave the film looking at him like he's this self-actualized guy who's made it when, in reality, he's fumbling his way though this life just like everyone else, making it up as he goes along. "People see that guy up there and he's not me, or not entirely. He's just a part of me." "He's the character of Wayne White we made for the film, because we find you inspiring and wanted to share that," I said. "Well, it's fucking weird," he snaps back. I know, Wayne. This whole thing is fucking weird. "Beauty is Embarrassing" is in theatres near you. For info and tickets call 323.654.2217
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CHRISTOPHER ULRICH ARTIST PROFILE
hristopher Ulrich is not of these times. His discomfort with modern technology, fascination with alchemy and most noticeably his technical skill level would all seem more at home in the Baroque era than in the 21st century Los Angeles of his birth. His training is very grounded in mannerist methodology and his dedication to craft, which in the last seven years has been month upon month of eighteen-hourper-day marathon sessions exposing a work ethic without peer. There is a truth inherent in his neoclassical brushwork that adds perspective to the historical realism of his otherwise religious allegory paintings. His themes are far deeper and his ability more advanced than most critics would be comfortable classifying as “pop art,” and yet his dissection of contemporary society
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By Matt Kennedy
through a rococo tableau is fully rooted in the popular culture–though revealing much more affinity for Joseph Campbell’s pop mythology than for Andy Warhol’s factory. Christopher’s natural artistic abilities from a young age found great inspiration and encouragement in the museums and cathedrals of his European parents’ homeland. Studies at Loyola lead to a mentorship with revered illustrator Burne Hogarth, and a scholarship at Pasadena’s Art Center School of Design, which he was forced to forgo, traveling instead to Asia, where he worked and studied for several years. Upon his return, he began work on a massive concept called “The Christ Chronocrator Project.” Broken down into three cycles of large format oil paintings on wood and canvas, the
first cycle, “Demoneater,” was devised in 2005 via a singular prototype for Alex Grey’s Chapel of Sacred Mirrors, then expanded to a full exhibition in 2007 at the Lang Design Group Gallery in Bergamot Station. “Demoneater” featured fifteen “keys” (measuring two-by-two feet) to fifteen “doors” (measuring four-by-eight feet) represented in each oil-on-wood piece by a single character. An exhibition at Billy Shire Fine Arts in Culver City preceded an encore presentation at Grand Central Art Center in Santa Ana, and a limited edition catalog produced for the exhibition is now a highly sought collector’s item. Ulrich unleashed the second cycle of his Christ Chronocrator series, “Illuminator,” in 2010 at La Luz de Jesus Gallery. Charged by the number 8 (referring to Ulrich’s August 8th
birthday), and composed of 16 paintings and 16 illustrated studies, the metamorphic process continued, focusing on the light rather than the darkness of his previous oeuvre. Each three-byfour foot oil-on-canvas painting was housed in a custom built wooden temple, and the studies were made available either as original drawings or as proof edition lithographs. Ulrich spent the better part of a year in isolation, working around the clock to create what he termed “the final exorcism of the low-brow influence” on his work. When the show opened two days before his birthday, he found a new crowd of supporters that had previously eluded him: art critics and serious collectors. Legendary critic Molly Barnes arranged to have some of his older pieces displayed in New York City, and Nike CEO Mark Parker acquired one of the “Illuminator” paintings and several of Ulrich’s large scale drawings for his private collection of important pop surrealist works. An encore presentation of “Illuminator” was hosted in the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery at Barnsdall Park, giving Christopher his second museum exhibition before his fortieth birthday. Despite such encouragement, Ulrich was completely spent after unveiling the second part of his trilogy. His sacrifices–both physical and emotional, were many, and his self-imposed exile in the desert of Lancaster required a term of
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decompression. But following the success of his show and given an exhibition date of December 2012, Ulrich took a cue from the Mayan calendar and dove without hesitation into the final cycle of the Christ Chroncrator Project. And thus was “The Reckoning” born. “The Reckoning” represents the first time that Christopher Ulrich has ever had the luxury of two years to deliver an exhibition of new work. Unfortunately, the first quarter of the first year was spent acquiring the funds for materials. A return to wood from canvas would be necessary to replicate the look of the great masterworks he had seen as a child in France. It would cost over fourteen thousand dollars before he painted a single dot, and he was more than willing to trade work to accomplish his goal. So Ulrich initiated a kick-start program that placed pieces from his early group show period in the collections of his supporters in exchange for the cost of the surfaces and framing devices for his upcoming show. The campaign was a success and with four months of discovery under his belt, he was ready to begin painting. In the past two years, Ulrich has taken only two weeks away from painting. It was to work on a film with his boyhood friend, director Nimród Antal, for the band Metallica. Initially expected to work only a couple of days, his enthusiasm (and that of his employers) led to a longer stint
on a 3D film scheduled for release in 2013. Upon his return, he experienced an incredible wave of productivity that may have advanced his completion of the series rather than hinder it. Having seen the works in progress, I can attest that I have never seen such magnificent work hang in a non-museum setting. "The Reckoning" is a perfect exhibition for the rumored end of the world, embracing the pivotal events of Christianity and older mythologies into the framework of twelve celestial coordinates. The centerpiece is a sixteen-by-eight foot painting of the Last Supper in which various deities of Egyptian, Greco-Roman and Hindu dogma are seated at Christ’s table. The amount of allegory to be found in this one painting could fill a book single-handed. Ulrich intimated, “I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of a meal as a meeting place, and I wrestled many times with whether or not I wanted there to be any food on this table. I finally realized these zodiacal beings required no sustenance–their sheer existence is nourishment enough.” Matt Kennedy is writer, producer and curator. He recently presided over a career retrospective for Myron Conan Dyal at the Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art. He is the author “Pop-Sequentialism” and “The Panik Diaries.” He lives in Pasadena and works in Los Angeles.
F new worlds, both dark and fantastic, to explore in his paintings. Ota has used a blind
or years, Nathan Ota has been pursuing
bird, a drunk monkey, and a lost, one-eyed robot as stand-ins to travel through idyllic and tragic dreamlands on his behalf. Each of these simulacra is perfectly composed with the artist’s signature backlighting, which tricks many into searching behind his paintings for an artificial light source that isn’t there. Such subtleties of craft blur the line between oil and his chosen medium of acrylic, which harkens back to his formative years as an aerosol writer. As a young, aspiring artist, Nathan Ota found himself drawing and copying anything he could get his hands on–from cartoons and comics to photographs and Punk-rock flyers. “I can still remember sneaking into my older brothers room and raiding his Vampirella stash and trying to copy or trace all the covers.” With no exposure to classical art, Nathan gravitated toward popular culture and graffiti. “I loved everything about it, the clicking of the ball in the can when shook, the sound of the con-
stant flow of the paint, the scraping of the can against the wall when drawing, the colors, the scale, the friendships and the complete feeling of freedom. Till this day, whenever I smell spray paint in the air, it brings back good times.” After joining a graffiti crew and making a name for himself in that scene, he decided to continue his dream in the arts by attending college and a galaxy of possibilities opened. Nathan majored in Illustration and received his Bachelors degree from Art Center College of Art and Design in 1993. He currently teaches at Otis College of Art and Design and Santa Monica City College, where his superb analog skills have made him an invaluable figure instructor. Several of his students have gone on to their own successful gallery careers (Bob Dob, JAW Cooper and Jessica Dalva to name just a few). Ota currently freelances in the commercial arts, working for newspapers, magazines, recording companies and the gaming industry, and he exhibits his gallery work worldwide. Last year he reconnected with high school friend and LA graf scene royalty RISK, and the two
By Matt Kennedy
collaborated on a major body of work which has brought Nathan’s former street identity as “Cooz” back into his gallery work. The two continue to work together and Ota credits his friend for re-energizing his work. “With my work always following a thread of autobiography it makes sense to bring this older and very important part of my life back into it. I never knew what I wanted to do when I entered college and kind of left it in the hands of the instructors to lead me in whatever direction I was going. It was a bit frustrating at first but soon after, I started to get it and knew that I was going to be an Illustrator. I think around that time I built a wall between this new academic phase and my past as a graffiti artist. Reclaiming that past recently with RISK has given my painting a whole new dimension. I can mash-up techniques from the street and from the studio to produce something entirely new, but still homogenous. I’m having the most fun I’ve ever had and I think it shows.”
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