E B R U A R Y
A R C H
[Table of] Contents
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2 0 1 3
J. Van Hamersveld
The Future of LA Greenspace
Richard Kalisher Michelle Carmen Gomez
Michelle Carmen Gomez
Contributing Editor Lindsay Parker
Art Director/ Layout Artist Charles Ponce
/ / citypopmagazines.com / / 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
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, Harperʼs Bazaar, Marie Claire and Glamour. She blogs at www.thefashiongeek.net.
Josh Skye Allouche is one of those master of none guys that isnʼt 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, heʼs optimistic that doctors will determine scotch and cigarettes actually improve health, good manners will replace ironic clothing as ʻcoolʼ, and that Freddy Mercury will come back from the dead and write the soundtrack to his life.
Lindsay Parker is a recovering academic turned freelance writer currently residing in Los Angeles. She holds a Masterʼs 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.
Morgan Schutte is a Writer and Actress. She was born and raised in Missoula, Montana and recently graduated Wake Forest University with a BA in English and Communications. She moved to LA in October and is ecstatic to be joining the LA Pop team!
Lauren Cullen is an art director/graphic designer and artist living in Los Angeles. Her writing for multiple publications includes articles regarding the cultural, aesthetic, and technological aspects of graphic design and art. She is a graduate of Wesleyan University. Feel free to check her out at LaurenCullen.com.
Bryan Buss was managing editor of “Out” magazine for 7 years, and then, after a 2-year stint in gay porn, decided to jump into the deep end and start churning out screenplays. Buss loves Los Angeles and is super-happy to be able to pop with LA Pop. He hails from Michigan, loves horror movies and pop music, wants to travel everywhere, and lives with his boyfriend and cats, Puss and Jizzy. Oh, and heʼs in Mensa. But heʼs one of the cool nerds.
For advertising, contact: Michelle Carmen Gomez email@example.com 818-383-3436
John Van Hamersveld, an iconic American graphic designer and contributor, is the face of the magazine. His groundbreaking art and history with the community epitomizes the direction of the LA Pop magazine. THINKER
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Designer Elliott Evan wows with dark cerebral custom menswear ﬁt for a science ﬁction epic. Ashley Heaton
Chad Attie, Brad Eberhard, Doug Harvey, Roger Herman, Steve Schmidt, Mira Schnedler
January 17th - March 1st THE PROSPECTUS Design Lab at the Paciﬁc Design Center Suite B226 8687 Melrose Avenue West Hollywood, CA 90069 firstname.lastname@example.org
In a city replete with endlessly trendy fashion, Elliott Evan is a true original. Unlike most modern designers, Evan eschews ready-to-wear to create one-of-a-kind, exclusively artistic garments that are only available via commission, word-of-mouth and waiting list. Known for his impeccable construction and one-of-a-kind workmanship, Evan rendered his most recent pieces in monotone black and grey, with a heavy dose of tough, rugged leather. His work is imbued with themes of darkness, formality and futurism. He also draws inspiration from the severity of the male form—and the precision that dressing it requires. “It’s the challenge of menswear that I find enticing,” Evan explains. “I really enjoy those strict guidelines. You have a very solid shape which you don’t have too much room to deviate from, but when you do it properly it can be absolutely beautiful.”
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Photos by Michelle Carmen Gomez
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Interview with [ ]
Photos by Jeremy Brautman
Junko Mizuno will be celebrating fifteen
work of Aubrey Beardsley led to an interest in
see people take my art however they want. I
years of publishing fame in 2013. Upon
erotic/fetish art by Alberto Vargas, Eric Stan-
just love depicting women full of strong energy,
meeting the eternally youthful artist, it’s hard
ton and others, and in high school she began
no matter if the energy is negative or positive.”
to believe that her first graphic novel, “Pure
working with acrylic paint on explicit pieces
Trance,” was released back in 1998. On the
that she had to hide from her parents.
Junko Mizuno’s art refuses to be categorized. Her sources of inspiration include fetish
other hand, her “Cinderella” was so immedi-
Eventually, one of Junko’s hand-made
ately influential on western artists when first
magazines made it into the hands of an editor
advertisements, vintage toys, greeting cards,
translated into English in 2002 that it’s hard to
who gave the artist her first professional art
fashion magazines, comics, food, movies, and
recall a time when Junko wasn’t a multimedia
assignment. The rest, as they say, is history.
everything else around her. She is constantly
phenomenon. Mizuno started drawing on
Twelve years later, Mizuno relocated to San
working on new comics, paintings, illustra-
random pieces of paper from a very early age
Francisco and started working worldwide. She
tions, and product designs ranging from toys
and was making her own comics and stories
has exhibited in one way or another on five
from the age of five. By age seven, she was
continents, has garnered several awards for
making her own magazines with comics, sto-
her printed and painted work and her art has
ries, fake ads, recipes and even set her own
been featured in multiple museums worldwide.
deadlines—mostly for an audience of one, her
In the last decade and a half, Miss Mizuno
older sister. She also created toys from her
changed the face of manga, transitioned from
own original characters, including dolls and
commercial to fine art, helped to pioneer
dollhouses made out of paper and clay.
the collectible art-toy market, established a
Junko mailed out her first professional art
clothing brand, and even released her own
submission at the age of ten. The editor of one
line of intimate novelty items. Throughout, she
of Japan’s biggest comic magazines gave her
has remained approachable, appreciative and
encouragement and she continued to learn
avant garde, building upon her love of Japa-
her craft and create more comics in hope of
nese pop culture to establish a unique genre
debuting as a professional. In her teens, she
of powerful, erotic female imagery.
put those comic dreams on hold to focus spe-
“My art is very personal and I don’t like
cifically on illustration. Her fascination with the
explaining or analyzing it too much. It’s fun to
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and folk art, religious iconography, pin-ups,
Junko’s latest exhibition, “Euphoria,” is on display from January 4th to 27th at La Luz de Jesus Gallery in Los Angeles.
Steven Shein is something of a jack of all trades. Perhaps best known for his costume jewelry label Nievz, the Los Angeles-based designer is also an accomplished sculptor and furniture designer. This year he launched a brand-new jewelry line, Steven Shein, which features higher-end materials and a more sophisticated design sensibility. LA Pop sat down with Shein to discuss his latest collection, his other upcoming projects, and his home city’s unique fashion sense. FEB/MAR 2013
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Tell us a little about your new jewelry line. The jewelry line is an ongoing exercise in design itself. Through a
modular and sectional, and can be worn in a variety of ways. Some
I got my start as a designer when I sold my first piece that someone
buildings and the wide streets, and the mix of colorful cheapness
pieces, like our diamond (pun intended) tufting selection, riff on
and the phenomenal beauty of nature. But, I also think that I had a
continuous process of experimentation and discovery, I seek to create
furniture design. Others play with subtlety and restraint, like our peel
jewelry that is imbued with character and charm, and is at once
ring, which offers a high-polished surface that seems to peel off the
timeless and clearly contemporary.
In designing this collection we explored the technical aspects
preexisting aesthetic or style that has not really been affected too What led you to go into jewelry design? It was really just an accident. I was working on an art project that
How is this collection different from the jewelry you’ve designed
built environment. An instructor suggested I make something actually
building and modern techniques such as 3-D printing. We then
in the past?
wearable and useful, so I made a piece of jewelry—a big blocky
understanding of how people will wear, react to and experience jewelry objects.
My previous collections were made from laser cut Plexiglas and
We realized some pieces using 3-D modelers and printers,
What do you most appreciate about fashion in Los Angeles? I appreciate that I could walk around wearing the same thing every
bangle. That design was the starting point for what I do now.
day and it would be perfectly fine.
Are there any artists or designers who have influenced your
What’s next for you?
wood, and occasionally leather. I used to do a lot of plastic—in fact, in around 2005, I jokingly called myself the king of plastic jewelry. Those pieces were about
What materials did you use in creating the jewelry?
mental and experiential.
dealt with objects around the body and the body’s engagement of the
of creating jewelry through both age-old techniques such as handapplied these techniques to varying design concepts to gain a deeper
much by living here. The effects of the environment are really more
maximizing the laser cutter and figuring out what to do with the
work, or whom you particularly admire? I would not say influence, because the most important thing to me
More hustling—we’ll be doing tradeshows next year in Vegas, New York City, and possibly Berlin for the jewelry line. We will also be
Plexiglas. Ultimately it became relatively futile because so many other
is to try to never do what anyone else is doing. That said, there are a
doing more promo events in Los Angeles and creating more exposure
and I hand-made the pieces that we cast. We direct-casted bronze
people started making similar pieces, and plastic has such a low
lot of artists I like who do things that I find very interesting, especially
on the internet. Object-wise I am working on two chair designs,
using laser cut Plexiglas. We cast the pieces in sterling silver and
internet artists and artists who deal with issues in art. I’m kind of a
along with some other furniture concepts and designs. And definitely
purist when it comes to art.
working on newer jewelry designs as well; I’m really looking forward
bronze, and plate them with 24-karat yellow gold and black and white rhodium. We also powder- coat some of the components, using a milky white-and-blue gloss that looks incredible. Some of the pieces
How did you get your start as a designer? Technically, designing jewelry professionally stemmed from the
As far as design, I like people who make very strange things as
to developing the jewelry into the future.
well as people who make things that are formally beautiful to me. I’m
juxtapose matte and polished surfaces to create additional visual
first conception of a jewelry line that I created while studying at Art
also amazed by the designers who are making things with the internet
Anything else about the collection or your work in general that
Center. But I think being a designer is something innate. I’ve always
and creating all these incredible apps that are radically changing the
you’d like to share with our readers?
made things and fixed things and built things, but never really took it
way we engage each other and the workings of the world around us.
What are the inspirations behind the collection?
seriously until I studied art (sculpture). Learning about art was crucial
That the work is about the work. The aim is to create pieces that can stand on their own as objects and vibrate accordingly. In the case
How has living in LA affected your aesthetic?
I tend to shy away from the term inspiration. For me, design is
to my development as a creative person because I was exposed to
really more of a process. That said, though, there are some specific
critical theory and to art as a serious engagement. Art is special and
ideas that are at play throughout the collection. Many of the pieces
poetic, and I really believe in it. Being a designer is a little different
speaking, I have been affected to a degree by all that is overtly cliche
relate to both the body and to the playful nature of pieces of jewelry
because it’s really about creating functionality and developing work
about LA: sunsets, palm trees, the 101, warm weather, traffic, the
like Tenoversix in Los Angeles, the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas,
as miniature hand-held objects. This resulted in designs that are
that is there to be used by someone else in a particular way. So really,
beach, the layout of the city, Hollywood, the overall feel of the low
Wolf and Badger in London, and of course at stevenshein.com.
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I think environments always affect an individual. Aesthetically
of the jewelry, the intention is to create something special and to pass on this energy to the wearer. Also, for the jewelry, you can already find us at some great stores
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HUDSON M ARQUEZ Josh Allouche
During the late ‘60s, Hudson Marquez
Over the years Mr. Marquez has ac-
There are eight paintings total, each one
left his beloved New Orleans and found
cumulated an impressive resume of unusual
distinctly reflecting the personal history of
himself in San Francisco, where he joined
occupations, ranging from being a road
the artist and the town where he grew up.
the Ant Farm Art Collective. He was a
manager for a rock band and touring with
driving force, pardon the pun, behind the
Led Zepplin to designing shoes for Bette
ings: “I was always interested in Jayne
iconic Cadillac Ranch installation in Amarillo,
Mansfield because she died right outside of
Texas. The collective was widely known for
Throughout all of his strangest years,
Jayne Mansfield appears in two paint-
New Orleans, and there was always some
its ‘happenings’, of course these ranged
nearly every significant experience in his
kind of mystery about what happened to her.
from massive art installations, to public
life can be viewed through the prism of an
I’d seen her, in her latter days when she had
performances of daring-do, including one
artists eye, and Hudson takes that vision
a nightclub act, she did this dinner theater
notorious event where the members of the
and as he puts it ‘makes pictures.’ He makes
thing where she’d do these dance numbers
Ant Farm dressed as astronauts and drove a
pictures of people from New Orleans, and
with other performers and different acts
Cadillac through a flaming wall of television
celebrities from his youth, and the quasi-
between, and each time she came back out,
sets. However, before the Caddy blasted off,
underground bars and nightclubs that he
she’d have fewer and fewer clothes. A short
Mr. Marquez left Ant Farm to impact media
frequented when he was too young to legally
time after she died I was getting my hair
in his own way.
be in them.
cut on St. Charles Avenue when two state
In 1973, Hudson co-founded TVTV,
Hudson’s latest exhibition, High Humid-
troopers came in chatting up the barber.
short for Top Value Television, the semi-
ity, opened on January 4th and features
They were the first ones on scene for her
nal “guerilla television” group of its age,
a rogue’s gallery of unlikely companions
accident out in Slidell. They had pictures of
producing programming that was renowned
juxtaposed in classic Marquez style. He has
the wreck, and they showed them, passing
for journalistic excellence as well as cut-
Ernie K. Doe begging Sophia Loren to be his
them around. One was these two cops hold-
ting edge content. Notably, TVTV earned
mother-in-law at the Flying Fox Club over a
ing what looked like her head. I looked and
the prestigious Alfred I. duPont award for
dinner of red beans and rice. He’s got Ahmet
my jaw dropped, like ‘Wow!’
excellence in television journalism, and as
Ertegun giving Ray Charles a Mercury that
member of TVTV, Hudson was voted into
he says is a Cadillac, with Bobby Marchan
saw this picture. So anyway, at the bottom of
the Broadcasting Hall of Fame.
sunning himself poolside in the background.
this painting I wrote ‘I saw a head.’”
People say she wasn’t decapitated but I
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J.A.W. C OOPE R Bryan Buss
Photos by J.A.W. Cooper
J.A.W. Cooper grew up a globetrotter. And that nomadic childhood informs her life and her art. Born in England, Cooper (as she likes to be called) found inspiration from living in such varied landscapes as Africa, Sweden, Ireland, and California. She took to drawing as a light way to entertain herself while traveling, and it quickly supplanted her previous passions for lanyard keychain weaving and mud sculpting. In addition to drawing from her father’s experience as an aquatic biologist and ecologist and her mother’s as an entomologist and scientific illustrator, Cooper also had on hand an impressive array of exotic animals and picturesque landscapes to pique her passion from doodles to sketches to studies. Her youthful way of passing time turned into a passion for creating,
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whether it was a sketch, a painting, a sculpture, or a concept. She went on to earn a BFA in communication arts and illustration from Otis College of Art and Design in 2009, and has since worked for commercial and fashion art directors, and her textile designs have been distributed by the United Kingdom’s ClickforArt. This success, however, has not dampened her love of nature and the beauty within it. Her curiosity about the world has continued to inspire her work, which has been featured in Silver Lake’s La Luz de Jesus Gallery. She’s now staging her fourth exhibit, her first solo, “Laid Bare,” debuting April 5th. While her previous shows have dealt with evolution and how it connects to art, her new show deals with vulnerability as both
a source of strength and an obstacle to fulfillment, both personally and socially. “This series is about the struggle to let go of anxiety and fear and the constructive and destructive power of vulnerability,” she says. Some of her recent pieces, with titles like “Rot,” “Grasp,” “Flinch,” “Rattle,” and “Rise,” refer to the circle of life in a wilderness setting (think the Serengeti), a setting that is both versatile and universal. Imperfection, a common theme throughout her artwork, is also versatile and universal. Cooper says, “Flaws are beautiful because they are authentic and humanizing. When we allow others to see our flaws, when we accept vulnerability as necessary and stop trying to control how we are perceived, we open ourselves up to truly authentic experiences and relationships.
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Heads up, actors! Naomi shares… What she’s learned from Pepper the pinhead.
Hollywood: Be someone people want to work with. Shave your head if they ask. It’s just hair. They’ll probably give you a great wig and a bunch of money anyway. Don’t tiptoe around work like a guest—go in and do your job like you live there. Have fun with the character. Stay in it on set. Make friends with the crew. Enjoy every minute. Especially craft services, unless you have silicone hands.
The Beauty Behind the Beast Morgan Schutte
Your Craft: Be more prepared than you would ever imagine necessary, then relax and TRUST. So long as you’ve done your preparations, the work will come through. Be open to play, and depending upon what the director says, be ready to throw it all away. Also be able to it with one eyeball. Photo by Mike Mekash (Tinsley Studios)
Fox’s hit anthological drama, American Horror Story, is filled with deranged and gruesome characters. But this season introduced viewers to Pepper, a deformed and grotesque patient who drowned her sister’s baby and then cut of its ears. This extreme behavior is made even stranger by Pepper’s seemingly innocent appearance. After all, the character’s first scene in the series shows her frolicking up to Lana (Sarah Paulson) with a flower and asking her to play. Not very threatening, especially when the character’s wearing a baby doll dress and your grandma’s favorite sweater. That’s what makes Pepper so marvelous! Her deception and depth slowly unravels layer by layer. What’s even more surprising is the actress behind Pepper. Naomi Grossman, a gifted actress and comedian, is a beautiful and charismatic performer who didn’t believe she’d ever land the part. “It was the first drama I ever auditioned for,” said the actress. “I remember the casting session... it was just me and a bunch of little
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people. I kept thinking that there’s a difference between ‘small,’ and ‘little people’ and wondered if my agent also knew that.” But the Groundling’s star obviously had something special. Pepper may have made Grossman an overnight sensation, but she is a Hollywood veteran. This creative and inspiring actress is all over YouTube with hilarious videos like “Touch My Junk,” and “Wigga Pleaze”. She has also gained much recognition for her two oneman plays: Girl in Argentine Landscape and Carnival Knowledge: Love, Lust and other Human Oddities. Girl in Argentine was LA Weekly’s “Pick of the Week”, while Carnival Knowledge enjoyed a twice-extended, sold-out run in Los Angeles. It was later shown at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland, and then transferred to London’s West End. LA Pop caught up with Naomi to find out what makes her tick, what she has learned from Pepper, and how American Horror Story has transformed her life.
Photo by Brian Jordan Alvarez
Character: Be authentic. You can’t predict what will resonate with the audience. Just do what’s called for and is true to your intention, and forget about the rest. Experience: What you give out, you get back. Pepper smiles a lot, and the world smiles at Pepper. It’s so simple, really. Preparation: Go to school. Of course you don’t HAVE to. But do. And don’t just study acting. Learn about mental disorders and film history and everything in between—you never know when it’s going to come up. Google and call everyone by name. Be able to do your part (literally) upside-down and underwater. (I often rehearse while doing yoga or laps in the pool.) Practice with your dentures at home. Makeup and character transformation: I hear about actors who refuse to sit hours and hours in the makeup
chair… Don’t be like that. These makeup ARTISTS are often times, especially in case of AHS, CREATING your character. Yes, at the end of the day, it’s a piece of silicone—it’s up to you to bring it life. But it really is collaboration. Let them do their job, always making it easy and enjoyable for them. You, in turn, will also have a job! Win-win! Also, blow your nose BEFORE they apply the prosthetics. 15 hours is a long time to want to pick your nose. Miscellaneous: Don’t wear wigs in hot tubs. Don’t tell a guy you’re bald too soon (he might think you’re sick), but don’t be afraid of it either (at the end of the day, they really don’t care). In fact, stop wasting time worrying about your hair. Put that half hour each morning to better use! And don’t bother with Botox and all that bull either—you might just get a TV series where they cover your wrinkles with silicone, and NEED you to move your face!
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John Van Hamersveld:
Fifty Years of
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was a twenty-two year old surfer still attending
be just the beginning. Van Hamersveld then
Summer” image illustrates the profiles of three
art school, never thinking that this film poster
immersed himself in the rock n’ roll scene,
surfers standing poised with their surfboards
project would have such an incredible, ever-
creating renowned poster art and album design
on the day-glo fire orange sand, as the bright
lasting impact. At the beginning of his prolific
yellow giant sun sits on the horizon under the
career, which continues forward now in its sixth
vibrant magenta sky. Visually articulating the
decade, he himself was embarking on his own
surfers’ wonderment and awe as they gaze
journey into the waters, emerging as a transfor-
upon the vast beach, the image powerfully cap-
mative graphic designer and pop artist.
The brilliant, instantly recognizable “Endless
tures the moment in which the surfers prepare
A timeless representation of surf culture,
to create ubiquitous imagery is applied in the
ues to inspire. His upcoming book, 50 Years of
spirit of postmodern psychology. His fine art
Graphic Design, which is scheduled by Gingko
the psychedelic “Signs of Life” digital projec-
illustrations, designs, and photography provide
Press for release this year, provides a compre-
for the Beatles, Hendrix, and Cream, to name
tion for the Fremont Street Experience in Las
insightful conceptual commentaries on culture
hensive contextual view of his extensive catalog
Vegas. For “Signs of Life,” he applied digital
as well as on mass media. Van Hamersveld’s
in riding the artistic wave. It also includes an
symbols that he had originally created in the
active artistic process often begins with an
insightful introduction by Shepard Fairey.
imagery, which forms and reflects upon pop
1990s. From psychedelic pop art to identity proj-
intriguing metaphoric narrative. He then simpli-
culture. His artistic imagery for the surf world
ects, Van Hamersveld creates flawless iconic
fies these stories in forming his symbolic, iconic,
Angeles art community, Van Hamersveld has
includes design for Jimmy’z, Gotcha, and Billa-
images, and they become permanently embed-
and reductive imagery.
illustrated a series of covers for LA Pop maga-
ded in our collective consciousness.
Van Hamersveld creates groundbreaking
to embark on their eternal journey and venture
the “Endless Summer” rapidly diffused virally,
bong. It has shaped the aesthetic of Southern
into the ocean. They stand dedicated to their
impacting masses of people across the globe
California surf culture. His rock n’ roll imagery
perpetual pursuit of the perfect wave.
and throughout the decades as surf culture
Fifty years ago, when John Van Hamersveld created the iconic “Endless Summer” poster, he
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You Get is integral to punk rock style. Also, in 2009, Van Hamersveld designed
Now, as the fiftieth anniversary of the
Sharing his remarkable legacy with the Los
zine because his iconic art aesthetic embodies
A highly influential member of the LA pop
“Endless Summer” image is currently being cel-
the essence and philosophy of LA pop itself. For
for the Rolling Stone’s Exile on Main Street,
art community, Van Hamersveld creates images
ebrated with an anniversary edition poster, we
this current edition, Van Hamersveld’s “Thinker”
exploded with the remarkable power of this
Blondie’s Eat to the Beat, and Public Image
in a diverse range of styles and in multiple
can more fully appreciate the enduring legacy
reflects philosophically on the intuitive nature of
ubiquitous image. Yet, this image proved to
Ltd.’s This Is What You Want… This Is What
forms of media. His effective usage of media
Van Hamersveld’s work provides as he contin-
referential, reductive, pop art.
LA POP | 29
1. In 2011, the Endless Summer poster was collected by the LACMA as part of the Pacific Standard Time exhibit entitled California Design 1930–1965: “Living in a Modern Way.” Credit: The Endless Summer LACMA photo by Klee Van Hamersveld
2. John Van Hamersveld’s design work from the 1990s has adapted into the digital age. For the “Signs of Life” digital projection in Las Vegas, his Coolhous Studio graphic works were connected with the Viva Vision technology. The 7 minute movie is projected onto a 1,500 foot screen. “Signs of Life” had run there for three years and approximately 30 million people have viewed this digital art piece. Van Hamersveld is currently working on another project for 2014. Credit: Construction by John Van Hamersveld
3. In 1972, the billboard of the Rolling Stones’ Exile On Main Street album cover on Sunset Strip. This is in the new popular book Rock ‘n’ Roll Billboards of the Sunset Strip by Robert Landau. Credit: Stones billboard in photo by Pacific Outdoor
4. The 2005 Cream Reunion Poster during the “Crossing America Tour” as a Rock Poster Artist. Credit: The Cream photo by Alida Post
5. For the 40th Anniversary of the Johnny Face character, this mural was displayed on Abbott Kinney in Venice. First Friday events sponsored by Gjelina Restaurant with artist/ promoter Jim Budman. Credit: Johnny Face photo by John Van Hamersveld
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IN THE SHADOW OF
OSCAR Michelle Carmen Gomez
Through the years, Oscar has courted controversy and, since he is gold, sculpted, mysterious and brooding, he’s inherently designed to create hype as well. From conspiracy theories, to the “Oscar curse”, to erroneous award winners, the Academy Awards extravaganza that is The Oscars, has captured the public’s imagination in a way that other award shows have failed to achieve. Skeptics viewed the first Academy Awards ceremony, in 1929, as a public relations tactic to draw more attention to the budding film industry in Los Angeles. Now, after 84 years, this king-sized award show has evolved into arguably the most well-known and sought after, if not always well-respected, platform for filmmakers, artists, and producers alike. But is Oscar’s impact on society durable, or ephemeral, like the changeable nature of film audiences who consume the hype? To address that and other burning questions, we must revisit a line of longstanding urban legends because it wouldn’t be award season without some drama and some self-obsessed dialogue, so the Cultof-all-Oscar-Retrospectives goes to....
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Some Conspiracy History Conspiracy theories abound for Oscar. Just ask any Academy devotee, “Who actually won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for 1992?” Most can’t be sure if Marisa Tomei won the Oscar for her role in My Cousin Vinny because rumors have persisted for years that presenter Jack Palance, who had been cracking jokes and delaying the revelation of the winner, had become discombobulated and read the name of the fifth nominee (Marisa Tomei) off the teleprompter instead of the winner listed on the envelope. Did Judy Davis, who had won every single Supporting Actress award that season for her role in Husbands and Wives, actually get the Oscar? We’ll never know for sure and although, Tomei has continued to do notable work, the whispers of doubt persist in Hollywood and beyond. Another conspiracy theory that lurks in the shadow of the Academy Awards is the so-called Oscar curse. Oscar winners often find their lives, both personal and professional, changed for the worse after the big win. The most memorable curse in recent years was Sandra Bullock’s Best Actress win in February 2010. Days following the ceremony, a cheating scandal erupted involving her then-husband, Jesse James, and a series of tattooed strippers. But the curse isn’t considered a recent phenomenon. When Tatum O’Neal, at age 10, became the youngest Oscar winner ever for Best Supporting Actress in 1973’s Paper Moon, Tatum quickly vanished from Hollywood, eventually becoming addicted to drugs. And that’s not all of Oscar’s supposed shadiness.
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The Noms of War Most recently, in 2009, the Academy offered ten Best Picture nominees, rather than five—a standard number that had existed for decades. Some accused the organization of “selling out” and adding more movies to its coveted list for commercial purposes. Statistically, a nomination for Best Actor or Best Actress can increase box office revenue by over $600,000 and for a Best Picture nomination the boost can jump to well over 6 million. Furthering rumors that the Academy is primarily interested in making more money. What better way to increase visibility and widespread viewership than to include more movies on the rooster—especially movies that appeal to both mainstream audiences and industry insiders? Is it hype at it’s most strategically profitable? Such behavior is not the case, according to Sidney Ganis, the Academy’s former president who was in place when the change occurred. “Support for the change was very strong among the academy’s governors,” says Ganis, “Doubling the number of best picture nominees to 10 from 5, was us returning to a practice [the Academy] used more than a half-century ago, when the number of films released was much larger.” But the change was considered the most radical revision of the Oscar ritual in recent memory and produced a slew of gossip and ridicule. Ganis said the Academy, which has about 6,000 voting members who work in the film industry, did not consult studios about the possible implications for business. “We’re the arts organization, not the business organization,” Mr. Ganis said.
So, with that, one more misconception is squashed, at least for now. Ageists Beware Oscar offers up oldies and goodies, but does ageism play a starring role in Academy nominations and winners? That’s another hush-hush subject we must explore when we delve into the shadowy world of Oscar. Amour, one of this year’s Best Picture nominees, boasts the distinction of featuring the oldest performer to be nominated for Best Actress, Emmanuelle Riva who is 85. She competes with the youngest performer ever nominated for Best Actress, Quvenzhane Wallis, 9, who was only 6 when she filmed the four-time-nominated “Beasts of the Southern Wild.” It seems odd that Wallis, while nominated at age 9, isn’t being touted as the youngest performer tapped at age 6—her age when she played the role that has brought her so many accolades. Sure, she’s 9 now, but it was her 6-year-old self who brought such complexity to a largely wordless role. Another point of interest regarding Riva is that her role even existed. As is often noted, there’s a dearth of complex characters for women over the age of 40 in film. As Goldie Hawn pronounced in The First Wives’ Club, “There are only three ages for women in Hollywood: Babe, District Attorney and Driving Miss Daisy.” This is consistently reflected in the performers nominated for Best Actress, where it’s clear that women in their 20s and 30s are favored by the voting body. Maybe fuller roles are tailored to those ages. Women un-
Photos by Michelle Carmen Gomez
der 40 simply have better material from which to choose. But looking back at random years, it’s clear youth is usually in vogue: Charlize Theron over Diane Keaton (2003), Halle Berry over Sissy Spacek and Judi Dench, and Hilary Swank over Annette Bening (1999 and 2004). Sometimes older actors have a shot, like Meryl Streep who won for Best Actress over Michelle Williams and Rooney Mara in 2012. So could our cinematic tastes be evolving? Could Riva be a catalyst for change? This may fall into the “myth” category of Oscar’s shadow, but the sharp line dividing the young and the old is becoming, well, less sharp. Take Betty White! Who wouldn’t pay for a bit of Betty?!
The Shadow At the end of the day, if you can name last year’s Oscar winners, then you are a superlative exception to the proverbial rule because for all the reports, theories and assessments, the bottom line is that the public salivates with excitement for a few months prior to the big night, even in Hollywood. But then, like children who finally get their dream toy and move on moments later, we get comfortable in our short-term memory bubble and, for the most part, can’t, or don’t, really think about Oscar after the big night. But we do, however, remember the moments in those dark, shadowy theatres. We remember the cinematic moments that fill our hearts
with hope and profound insight into our human nature. Movies are a delicious form of escapism, a glamorous way in which to forget our problems for a few hours. Whatever the reason, awards shows come and go, but the films and the memories of their lessons live in our unconscious. Like mythological shadows looming over us, movies depict versions of our hero’s journey, and our own. That said, the public eagerly chooses to swallow the hype, especially when it comes with an irrevocable teaspoon of cinematic bliss. Oscar shouldn’t be disappointed if people don’t remember the winners in the morning, because chances are, they’ve already moved on. No offense Oscar.
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THE FUTURE OF
Lindsay Parker Oh Los Angeles. It is a city like no other. Adored by many and equally loathed by many, this is a city that elicits polarized opinions from everyone. Similarly, this city is often compared to the other urban epicentre that is NYC and it seems people often fall into the LA camp or the NY camp. Out here, West Coast enthusiasts don’t always mind the car culture. We love the year round sunny weather. We love the ‘cities within a city.’ Hell, we even relish in our laid back mentality. We can go to the beach in the morning and go skiing by midday. We never actually do that, travel from beach to snow, but it’s always nice to know that we have the option. What’s not to love? But even with all these qualities, one group is convinced that we can be better and what this iconic destination is missing is a central park in the heart of the city. That’s where the Friends of the Hollywood Central Park come in. On a characteristically beautiful autumn day, I had the opportunity to meet with the Friends of the Hollywood Central Park (FHCP) President, Laurie Goldman and Vice President Alfred Fraijo, Jr. to discuss the project of a Hollywood ‘cap park.’ Named for the ‘capping’ that would be built above a stretch of the 101 Hollywood Freeway, the park would cover 44 acres spanning from Hollywood and Bronson to FEB/MAR 2013
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Santa Monica and Western. The parks
playgrounds. The Hollywood Central
improvements to ramps and overpasses.
proposed amenities would include a dog
Park wants to change this. “In this park,
Equally, as a tourist destination the park
park, multiple sports fields, a restaurant,
everyone is equal,” Goldman tells me.
would potentially require more public
a community center, bike paths, water
It’s a nice sentiment to hear in a city
transportation options which would pro-
features, a community garden, and a
where some have so much and others
mote the utilization of mass transit in the
viewing center of the LA skyline. As I
city something that would be beneficial
spoke with the two board members, it
The idea for capping the 101 was conceived more than 25 years ago by
Supported by California’s mayor,
ate they were about this park and the
the long-time Hollywood resident and
senators, congressmen, and other politi-
benefits it would bring the city.
landscape architect, Edward V. Hunt.
cians and influential figures, the funding
His dream lay dormant until 2006 when
needed to secure construction of the
is to promote urban equality. Already
the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce
park still remains a challenge and many
utilized in cities such as San Diego,
decided it was finally time to revive the
obstacles need to be overcome before
Sacramento, Seattle and New York,
project and soon after in 2008 the FHCP
park construction can begin. Fortunately
this new park would serve as a beacon
was born. In March 2010 independent
the non-profit group cleared a hurdle
of community justice bringing together
economic research group, Beacon
in August 2012 when the Aileen Getty
neighbourhood’s long Balkanized by the
Economics, completed an extensive
Foundation donated $1.2 million to fund
101 freeway. According to Goldman, this
report. The report titled “Hollywood
the necessary Environmental Impact
park would, “Reunite the community.
Central Park: Evidence for Return on
Report. Outlook remains positive as of
The way it should be.” This park poor
Investment” presented a lengthy list
January 2013 when the group held their
neighbourhood is one of the worst in the
of economic, environmental, energy,
annual gala celebrating Aileen Getty,
city (and state) with just 0.005 acres of
community, and infrastructure benefits
the Aileen Getty Foundation and other
open space per resident as compared
drawn from the completion of the park.
influential honourees including Con-
to the rest of the city at 0.012. Within the
Besides reuniting diverse communities,
gressman Adam Schiff, the US Depart-
city, existing park space is also dispro-
the park would create an estimated
ment of Transportation, Captain Beatrice
portionately concentrated in wealthy,
45,000 direct and indirect jobs, “includ-
Girmala of the LAPD and Kaiser Perma-
more affluent neighbourhoods. Of the
ing 30% entry level and apprenticeship
nente Los Angeles Medical Center.
more than 180,000 people (including
programs and local hire” (U.S. Depart-
40,000 children) that live within one mile
ment of Transportation). The park, which
park are acknowledged but will only
of the park the median income is just
would ideally be self-sufficient, would
be realized once actual construction
$23,481, nearly half of the full region’s
employ bio-remedial techniques includ-
begins. The potential this park holds for
median income level. And compared
ing permeable concrete to filter smog
the city is remarkable and the enthusi-
to New York where 91% of its children
improving air quality, reducing effects of
asm emanated from its board members
live within walking distance of a park,
greenhouse gas emissions and global
is contagious. Known as a city where
2/3 of children in Los Angeles do not
warming. Construction of the park would
dreams come true, let’s hope the dream
have that luxury. Because of this, many
also provide much needed improve-
of the Hollywood Park becomes a reality
non-white minority children have less
ments on the existing infrastructure of
and once again puts LA on the map of
access to safe public space, parks, and
the area and freeway itself including
cutting edge innovation.
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“Before and After” Cap Park renderings provided by Friends of Hollywood Central Park and the Goldman Organization.
to those who drive and those who don’t.
was immediately clear how passion-
One of the central goals of the park
The transformative properties of this
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A popular culture magazine for the greater Los Angeles area. Mission LA Pop aims to combine what we get from pop culture with what we can gi...
Published on Feb 20, 2013
A popular culture magazine for the greater Los Angeles area. Mission LA Pop aims to combine what we get from pop culture with what we can gi...