e geles issu the los anvolume one
kiran gandhi allah-las fruitmilk clara balzary slow culture pari desai bijou karman ben medansky sissy sainte-marie otherwild rebexxa veith look at this pussy assembly los angeles heather culp molly cranna
OBJ ECTU R NAL JO
Object Journal was founded with a couple ideas in mind. 1. Make people think about their relationships with women in a new way. 2. Find out what makes an object worth keeping around. We wanted this to be a place to share stories about momentous women told through objects. This study aims to correlate positive representations of women with items in our lives in an effort to further share the power of female kindness, gentleness, strength and potency. What we found in the process of making this was that the connection of these women and their impact on the work of our subjects was directly correlated to what they’ve created, their ethos in doing so and their personalities in general. What you’ll find is a few offshoots of this idea; interviews with people about specific women, conversations with people that curate objects for a living, and plays, poems, photo essays and stories that tie into that abstract. What we expanded on via those formats was how having an older sister helps you be more confident, how having a caring mom makes you want to nurture others in their careers and how having a grandmother who is known as the talk of the town makes you want to embrace life by the balls. All the people featured here have a tie to Los Angeles, a city known for constant sun, lackadaisical attitudes and a slight energy of superstition due to our weird and early love for healthy shit and tarot readings. What we hope to capture in this vignette of the people that reside and work here is the change the city has been going through over the last few years. What was once a vapid wasteland for Hollywood dreams has transitioned to a place where people can create what they want without the intensity of high rents, gross competitive ladder climbing and the exclusiveness other places have about what is considered credible work. We don’t know if it’s passé or just hopeful thinking to request what reading this evokes for you, but what we really want each piece to bring to mind is who has affected you and what you still own after the Kondo purge of 2015 (Does this bring you joy??). And also, call your mom/ex-girlfriend/current girlfriend/mentor/grandma/friend/aunt/old boss and tell her you love her! Like, now.
Chloe Parks + Megan Laber
visit us online: objectjournal.com follow us: @object_journal
editor-in-chief megan laber @wonderwomanbread
Ian Flanigan @ianflaniganphotographs Josie Simonet @josiesimonet
chloe parks @chlob
Laura-Lynn Petrick @lauralynnpetrick
Matt Brand @mattbrand.poetry
Adri Law @adri_law Albert Kodagolian Allah-Las @allahlas Bijou Karman @bijoukarman Chelsea Jones @look_at_this_pusssy @awinkandsmile
Molly Cranna @mollycranna Paley Fairmen @paleyontology Rebexxa Veith @rebexxaveith Robbie Corral @robbie_corral
Clara Balzary @clarazara Eva Sealove @look_at_this_pusssy @evasealove Gabbie Bautista @_baby__g_
special thanks alison parks kayten schmidt @kaytenschmidt
All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part without written permission is strictly prohibited. Object Journal is produced by Rodeo in Los Angeles, CA. When finished reading, recycle Object Journal or give it to someone you love. Object Journal is printed in Canada by The Prolific Group, an FSC certified printing company. The stocks used on the cover and interior are both FSC certified. The interior stock is made from 100% post consumer waste. The inks used are vegetable based (soy) and all paper waste accumulated throughout the manufacturing process has been responsibly recycled.
the los angeles issue volume one
Pari Desai Ben Medansky Fruitmilk Kiran Gandhi Heather Culp Sissy Sainte-Marie Slow Culture
4 14 24 40 64 74 88
Otherwild with Rachel Berks Assembly Los Angeles with Greg Armas
contributions Listicle: The inspiration of Allah-Las Written: “The Yellow Velvet Chair”, a story by Megan Laber Photo: A series by Clara Balzary Written: “Reinventing Her Self”, a poem by Matt Brand Photo: “Trace”, a collaboration by Chelsea Jones and Eva Sealove of Look At This Pussy, Gabbie Bautista, and Paley Fairman Listicle: An illustrated series of objects by Bijou Karman Written: “We Are Your Friends”, a play by Rebexxa Veith Photo: A letter from a friend by Molly Cranna
10 22 30 49 50 72 80 95
Pari Desai photography by robbie corral
The designer with a close bond to ‘90s Perry Ellis’ references and knitwear talks with us about the difference between friendship and sisterhood, why we give objects sentimental value and the keeping of our cultures amidst the tyranny of minimalism.
Object Journal: Can you explain the object you chose and it’s giver to us? Pari Desai: This is a two-piece set is a traditional Kutch textile. The Kutch are a nomadic tribe in parts of India and Pakistan. They have maintained this type of embroidery and embellishment, and it’s typically passed down from mother to daughter. My sister was finishing up her thesis in India and visiting extended family in the more rural regions. She found this and thought it was really beautiful. The reason why we both love it is it’s very idiosyncratic. It’s obvious people started and stopped working on it at different points. There are also patch jobs. It’s an evolution that could be added to. It’s the direct opposite of the throw away culture we live in now. There are a lot of Hindu festivals, and one in the beginning of spring has organized folk dancing and it’s called Garba. I think it was a costume for that. The idea is that light hits the mirrors and casts shadows as you all dance around. OJ: How would you describe your relationship with your sister? PD: My sister has a big influence on my life because we’re only 13 months apart. From a young age she was a free thinking person. She has her own business now, but her background is in international relations and that’s the thesis she was working on when she got this for me. She’s a mix of qualities; an intellectual and a Scorpio. She’s fun loving and enjoys doing social things. A lot of my personality I think comes from her setting an example. She’s the older one and I was more outwardly rebellious. There is something about being someone who comes to your own conclusions and isn’t following any set of rules. That spirit is probably why I had the confidence to do my own thing. I like to experiment with new things. I want to work with mills and do the things that are new for them. I want to explore, and what you end up seeing is the product of that. I do think sibling birth order impacts personality. She was a trailblazer. I was allowed to be more subversive. It shows in what I do for a living.
pari at her home in echo park
I also have a younger brother who is 26. It’s funny because there is less than ten years between him and my sister, but when I catch them talking you can tell the generational divide is there. I mean you can really tell he grew up online.
OJ: I think that has to do with how technology has put a huge gap between such minimal amounts of time. My sister is only six years younger and we have a huge difference in how we communicate. Like, I was laying in bed this morning and she texted me when I was looking at Instagram or something, and I texted her right back and she was like, “You’ve never responded that fast! That’s how most people respond.” And I was like, “That’s crazy! They shouldn’t. Is everyone just staring at the screen waiting?!” PD: I definitely take too long in my response. OJ: Same. I usually read it, think of what I need to say back and then forget about it. I also can’t talk to people in person and text others at the same time. It’s impossible for me. She does it sometimes and I look at her like, “Are you even listening to me?” Her response is always yes, and then she reiterates what I said. I can barely believe it. PD: I know. I don’t really understand how they do it. OJ: Can you speak to some of your sister’s strengths? PD: She prepares. I love that. There are people with quick opinions, but my sister is well-read. She’s rigorous in her process. That makes her a talent to be reckoned with. She has another quality that is unique for an intellectual person. She is very intuitive. She has a great emotional intelligence. Most develop one much stronger than the other. When you meet someone who has both things going, it’s kind of beautiful. The EQ allows compassion. The IQ allows you to get lost in the world of ideas, and come to new conclusions. Both are equally important. OJ: I would agree because I meet a lot of intellectuals that are difficult to have a conversation with due to their nature of being in their head. And once we get on a topic that fascinates them they tend to open up, but if it’s emotionally involved or small talk there seems to be a real challenge. Sometimes I assume they’ve gotten to some philosophical conclusion that the conversation is pointless.
PD: Academia makes you see things in parameters, yet the creative world does too. Some people can get really sucked into only being able to focus on their craft. I find more interesting people have diverse interests. There was a point in my sister's career where she was working on policy for the Canadian government, and in that position where someone is making social programs to help people you have to have both this care for the people you’re helping, as well as the logical mind to problem solve and marry the two. OJ: What are some lessons you’ve taken away from knowing her? PD: It’s interesting because people ask me all the time about how I gained the confidence to do what I do. It wasn’t a question for me if I could do something or not. My parents are likely to do with that, but my sister was more the one showing me the way. I can’t think of one time my sister dulled her shine to impress a guy or make them feel comfortable. My sister is very attractive and had a lot of boyfriends, yet she never did that. I think a lot of women are socialized to turn it down. My sister doesn’t play small, so she’s a powerful role model. Because she has this EQ, she is good listener. She’s assertive but not at the expense of other people.
OJ: If you would, how would you differentiate between a sister and a best friend?
PD: The whole sister relationship is really complex, and I’m surprised that it’s not more of a storyline in pop culture or film. I think the difference with a friend is that they can ask your opinion and you pull the punches and are apt toward “that’s right for her, but not right for me.” When it’s your sister you give them all your feedback. The honesty can be painful, but at the end of the day if you have someone who tells you the truth it makes you better. It’s harder to lie to yourself that way. OJ: When my sister and I are talking, I hate that moment when she’s like, “Don’t do that!” They will reiterate it until you totally get that they don’t agree. It makes you think about the friendships you have and it makes you begin to question if those people are genuinely caring if they never disagree. Most of the time when you are with friends you turn it to yourself by saying “I don’t think I would do that.” With a sister, you directly say “No, that’s a stupid idea. Don’t do that.” PD: Our relationship has evolved. In our twenties we definitely had moments of questioning each other’s actions. I rarely say that anymore because I honestly
don’t know. At this point you have incredible faith in her. When you’re young you’re trying to keep them from harm. Throughout life you go through many transformations, and family can be a thing that reminds you of the older versions of yourself, sisters especially. You start to acknowledge how people change and realize you can’t bring them their 13 year old self when they’re now 36. That insight was big for me. I want to see who my sister will become. I don’t put her in a box, and she gives me that freedom, too. OJ: I try to give my sister as much freedom as well, but it’s harder because she is 18 and I feel really motherly toward her in a lot of ways. PD: See, that’s how it is for my sister and I toward my younger brother. I’m sure it’s like that for parents, too. I don’t know if you’ve gone through this yet, but I realized when I was younger I was really hard on my parents. I’m now the age they were when they were making these complex decisions I didn’t agree with, and I realized you come to adulthood with all your flaws. You’re not perfect. They are fallible, and so am I. I hope someone doesn’t expect total perfection from me.
“ I think to be human is to make things, covet things, adorn yourself and beautify your surroundings.”
PD: I think a lot about the fact that people are doing the best they can. You can try to go around and control people, but at the end of the day that’s not possible. OJ: What makes objects meaningful to you? PD: I’ve been making physical things my whole life. There is something about it that makes me return to it. It’s part of being a human being; making and accumulating. Maybe in the beginning it was just tools, but when you look at cave paintings you see an expression and ornamentation. I think to be human is to make things, covet things, adorn yourself and beautify your surroundings. It’s hard to say where it comes from, but it’s clear it’s more than narrative. OJ: I would agree. I don’t like to separate humans and animals too often, because I think we give ourselves way too much credit, but sentimentality, or why we keep things around and why we value something over the other seems very evolved. I love that about us. I can have a sock and it can be meaningful just because of what I was doing when I was wearing it. It triggers memories. It’s amazing we can attach ideas, past events and emotions onto that object and keep it as a tiny visual reminder. PD: Thinking about it now, I do meditate and value not being too attached to things, but there is something permanent and lasting about them which means we probably won’t ever be rid of that practice. OJ: If anything we will probably make them more utilitarian. I mean, we are already doing that now. I don’t think we’ll ever get to a point where people stop giving items sentimental value. There is the whole depiction of the future, especially in film that minimizes everything.
PD: Soylent is a great example. No food or ritual, just pure nutrition. That’s a future I don’t want to be a part of. OJ: It’s not pleasurable. We are supposed to head toward full function, and nothing else? I don’t find that enjoyable and don’t really know who would. It makes us sound robotic. I get why we would try to compete with these computers we’ve created, but come on. PD: Not every culture in the world would roll with that. I mean, I get it. I was at Calvin Klein. I’m a ‘90s kid, and love minimalism and saying things simply. But my background is rooted in being an artisan. Everyone is always drawing, dressing and ornamenting. Bringing that into everyday life is meaningful to people. Japan and Scandinavia seem versed for it, but if you look at the others it doesn’t seem possible or likely. OJ: I doubt it as well, because if everyone assimilates you are losing culture. Why can’t we just evolve cultures and further their personalities, as opposed to “Applefying” into a Mac world? PD: Sometimes I resist that too. Like I said, I like my object because you see the people that might have worked on it, and it’s not perfect. I think that’s what separates. I don’t like the idea of this perfect future. Fast fashion is doing something similar in that they are refining so much that you won’t offend anyone when you wear their pieces. I think you lose something in terms of the soul. You can wear refined things and look “chic”, but I don’t think that’s our relationship to clothing. Its exciting to me to see what sparks people who dress up for themselves. It’s a powerful expression. Pari Desai is a fashion designer living in Echo Park, Los Angeles, CA. She is currently working on her next collection, which will be available at PariDesai.com
OJ: You definitely overlook their mistakes more. Not fully, and I think that’s healthy so you can evolve past them. If I ever have children I hope they evolve past my mistakes as well.
photography by Laura-Lynn Petrick
We asked Allah-Las to curate a list of artists that inspire them through their power, technical skill, and tbh great hair. We picked five of their faves to focus on here, but for the full effect hop on over to our website where weâ€™ve distilled their inspirations into a neat Spotify playlist you can stream at your desk while you pretend to work.
imone A child prodigy, S r at played piano by ea the age of three.
Francoise Hardy r vapid nature of he Turned off by the t rsona, Hardy go French girl pop pe d astrology. really into yoga an
sophomore Tapestry, Kingâ€™s the charts album, stayed on for over six years.
was in Sade’s first career ation from fashion post-gradu l of Art. St. Martins Schoo
Hope Sandoval real voice you The groaning ethe e Attack’s “Paradis hear on Massive val’s, which she Circus” is Sando zy Star and did post ‘90s Maz pre-reformation.
Ben Medansky photography by josie simonet
The sculp to his arts-m r and ceramicist m e home pie ets-design by wa ost recognized f or c y and her r es, talks about his of mugs, pipes, a ecipe bo ok meets grandmother Co nd okie family bio graphy.
Object Journal: How long has your grandmother been working on this cookbook? Ben Medansky: I think her entire life, really. For the last five years she’s been working on the pages and layout. They recently decided to print it. It’s funny because this book is about the history of the family and it took the entire family to make it. They were going to get it printed, but my dad bought a printer instead. They didn’t want me to help them out using the internet. They wanted to do it together as a whole. My uncle drilled the punch holes. My cousin found the binders. Originally it all fit, but they kept adding on so now it’s just busting at the seams. The beginning part is her life and legacy. She has 109 first cousins. I have 11. The second half of the book is all the recipes. They’re a compilation of her personal recipes and the family’s. Every page is a different font and look, tons of clipart from the ‘90s. She loves writing in calligraphy. It’s a hodgepodge. My grandma loved to make people laugh. It was the intention of her existence. Her real name is Anita, but when she was born her dad said she looked like a cookie. Everyone called her Cookie from that day on. OJ: Did you live near her, or visit her a lot when growing up? BM: She lives in Illinois and I grew up in Arizona. As soon as my parents got a house there, both sets of my
grandparents got homes out there. She is a snowbird, spending six months in Chicago and six months in Arizona. I also flew out there with my sister twice a year. Her way of existing really struck me. All my work in college was based on her. She has a craft studio in the basement, very ‘60s and ‘70s. She has a lot of booby art and butt sculptures around. Her light switch for the studio is a lawyer leaning on his desk (my grandpa is a lawyer) and his pants were down. The switch was his ding-a-ling, as she would say. I make her sound like a perv, but she’s just fun. She was an interior designer, and I think my sister and I both inherited that knack from her. She designed all her neighbor’s homes and every person’s in our family. You can tell walking into one of her spaces that it was her because she had the signature smoky mirror to make the space look bigger. It’s still up in her place now. OJ: How would you describe her to someone that has never met her? BM: Instantly, you would get along. Walking down the street she runs into people she knows all the time. She’s the life of the party. She survived breast cancer when technology was at it’s starting phases. It took surrounding herself with family, love and laughter. I still think that’s what really heals a person. She has such a sense of humor about what she’s gone through. I was staying with her once and she
inside benâ€™s studio in downtown
woke up and said “I woke up this morning and my left boob was in my shoulder!” I’m sitting there shocked, and she’s explaining that the implant is 15 years old now and floated up there. She’s the most open. OJ: How often do you guys talk now?
OJ: Did you guys eat together a lot as a family? BM: Yeah, definitely. But after college I forgot about how we all ate together. She recently gave everyone a copy of this book and it sparked a fascination with food for me. The Netflix show “Cooked” and reading this made me feel like I needed to get back into it. I usually wander around and try to find something to eat when I am in the studio. Soylent came out and I’ve been drinking that during the day to fill me up. I just had one as a snack. I want to buy a grill and start cooking for the whole crew.
OJ: How do you think your grandma would describe herself? BM: Fun-loving. Lucille Ball is her idol. That’s a lot of ladies’ idol but she could have chosen anyone from that era. Lucille was her jewel. If she had a different life she would have been a stand-up comedian. OJ: When you are reflecting on objects you’re making or objects you own, what gives them meaning to you?
OJ: What does your grandma think of your art? BM: She loves it. A lot of things I do I’ve learned from her. She makes these amazing greeting cards that she sends to everyone. She has 7000 rubber stamps. She’s selling the cards in a few stores.
BM: Having a story behind it. I have a hard time giving up things with a story attached. I just went through the process of inheriting a lot of furniture from my mom’s dad, and as I was going through it there were things I didn’t want but felt like I needed to keep.
BM: I call her every month if I don’t see her. During the process of making the cookbook I’ve talked to her a lot. I talk to my family often. I call my mom every day. My dad calls his mom every day. Reading this book I realized how much of what my grandma says sounds like me. She says in the book after she married my grandpa that she cooked more and stopped only eating bananas, bologna and bagels. That’s cute that she wrote that because it’s not true. That’s still all she’s eating. All this love around cooking comes from seeing people enjoy it. She rarely liked any of it. She makes this amazing pumpkin pie but doesn’t even like pumpkin pie.
She has a doll house that’s a six story Victorian with 17 rooms that are immaculately decorated. My grandpa was mad that she would redecorate their house all the time so he decided to help her make this dollhouse. There is one room that’s all Christmas, one that’s all Hanukkah. They are a multi-religious family. There is also a greenhouse on the roof that I built some furniture for in college. In Arizona she has an adobe version with a restaurant in the back of it. There is also a pinata store. Her being so crafty has made me that way as well. She’s in her late 70s now, and she is still friends with people from her childhood camp experiences. She really taught me how to keep friends and not have a life full of acquaintances. But it’s funny, she calls all her acquaintances too. I remember telling her once that I wasn’t going out that night because no one was asking me to hang out. She said “Well, no one's ever going to call you! They want to hang out with you, but you need to call them!” That stuck me and I think it has crossed over to how I run my business. I reach out. I meet someone and I follow-up.
My grandma would take me around art fairs or stores. Shopping was her favorite pastime. The way I look at the material world is so influenced by her because she taught me to shop with my hands, not my eyes. I wasn’t forbidden from that. She would take me to exclusive interior design stores. She loves color and glitz, but also likes muted and subdued shades. It’s had a big influence on my aesthetic.
OJ: There is a lot of utility to what you make as a ceramicist. In comparison, I look at her stuff and a lot of what she creates isn’t functional. It’s more for personal enjoyment. Why do you think there is so much function in what you make? BM: I think it’s unrelated. The most selfish thing you can do is make art. I am doing this middle ground of mixing the design and art world. I love making these functional things, but I didn’t always want to make cups. I started making mugs for coffee shops so I didn’t have to work in those coffee shops. I knew that building a practice was important. I came to find that it was much easier to enter people’s lives by allowing them to see the utility in it. Whether you end up using it for it’s intended purpose is your choice. Sculptures I make definitely don’t have that same appeal, dependent on where it’s showing or selling. OJ: It’s funny because she is a interior designer and goes into people’s homes and wants to be a part of that, and your objects really do the same thing. BM: Yeah, I don’t think I had put that together consciously until you just said it. Being around art with her was always about art for art’s sake. Her house in Chicago is basically my gallery from college because she was so close. I would bring my giant ceramic pieces there and everything I was making then had no function. OJ: Yet you both really focus your lives on the function of things and people’s ability to live amongst what you make or create.
at “ The way I look d rl BM: Yeah, her greeting cards are a good example of that too. We’re both making the material wo y functional work that we sell. The Guerrilla Girls talked at my graduation and they were screaming at us. At o influenced b s is first I wasn’t very excited because I didn’t know who they were. One thing she use she said stuck with me. “Sell out, but don’t sell out, just sell out.” I was like, ‘Ok, I can her bec a do that.’ It’s important to sell work. That was after four years of a school telling ght me to shop me art is all about concept, not commerce, but then you spent a few hundred tau thousand dollars and that doesn’t make sense. Only 2% of students in art school with my hands, get a career in making their art. I always felt like I was that 2%. Obama was also getting elected that year and talking about job growth. It not my eyes.” made me realize I should grow this so I could support others and build a studio of people who can create. I can’t do it on my own, nor do I want to. We make these objects and cups to sustain something for all of us.
Ben Medansky is a ceramicist based in Downtown Los Angeles. You can find his work and home goods at benmedansky.com and see what’s going on at his studio @benmedansky on the Insta.
The Yellow Velvet Chair by megan laber
Marked by no definitive age mark, the armchair that radiates a golden yellow aura sits in a carpeted Silver Lake apartment the size of a shoebox. It’s seen the days of drunk college women excitedly jumping on it upon returning home from a party. It’s been fidgeted in and around to get comfortable while watching a film, though that’s nearly impossible due to size. It’s detachable arm covers magically disappear and reappear under beds, couches and in drawers. It’s been a resting stoop while deep cleaning a grandmother’s home on a weekly basis, the type of rigorous work most people save for “spring cleaning.”
Born in a small town in Iowa, Henrietta Van Tol immigrated back to The Netherlands after her Dutch father decided that America’s promise of sheen and opportunity didn’t live up to the advertisements. Soon after their return to Europe, he passed from illness, leaving her mother widowed. Her following years there would see Henrietta survive World War II, The Holocaust and plagues of illness during a time where penicillin was unlikely a concern for allergic reaction. Henrietta changed her birth name Haak when she married John Van Tol, formerly known as Johannes, which was changed upon his arrival to California by the American government. The two grew up hours away from each other but met when John was drafted for the Korean War shortly after his immigration. John became a translator for his fellow Dutch bunkmate who could not read his cousin’s (a.k.a Henrietta’s) letters. Soon, he began writing notes in for her himself. Notes turned into separate letters, and when John was released of his duty he took trains and ships back to The Netherlands before returning stateside to meet and marry Henrietta. It was on a train station platform that they first laid eyes on each other.
My parents moved back to the Central Valley of California to escape the turbulent 20-something lifestyle they’d found in Orange Country. To their surprise, my mother was pregnant upon signing the contract on their first house, but thanks to
Oma, the Dutch term for grandmother, they had someone to watch me until I was able to go to school. I remember learning Dutch terms for goat and apple. I remember how she would make me kneel by the bed to pray before tucking me in. I remember walking through fields of corn and wheat, nut trees and apple orchards. We were always outside, my clothes constantly covered with a light layer of dust. In the summer before my last year of college, my Oma and Opa were in a time of transition. Not yet needing the care of an elderly home, though not as mobile as they needed to be to live on their own, I moved in with them for those three months. I made breakfast, cleaned their house everyday as if we we’re selling the thing and ran all their errands to the pharmacy, hairdresser and grocery stores. I watched as my Oma’s mind forgot my name on occasion and my Opa’s legs gave up on his broad shouldered, 6’5 body. By the end of the summer, it was clear that without me they would have to move from the place they called home for over 30 years to an apartment complex for people their age in similar situations that attempted to lighten the mood by offering an hour for Wii Tennis daily. Upon realizing this Oma would randomly pick up objects she loved and say, “Megan, you want this? This is yours. I can write your name on the bottom of it so people don’t get confused.” (This was also her attempt to make sure her more prized possessions didn’t go to in-laws she didn’t care for). One afternoon after vacuuming the slightly crumbed carpet I sat down in a room saved exclusively for things she didn’t want seen, similar to a junk drawer but on a larger scale. The room was wood paneled with an ironing board, a dresser full of bags of spoons, piles of yarn in all different shades and home lady journals dating back 20 years or more. In that room sat a yellow velvet chair that didn’t fit the muted floral tones of the ‘90s décor that filled the rest of the house. It probably dated back to the ‘60s but thanks to her meticulous love for cleanliness it looked almost new. The fact that it was never sold or taken away made it special to me. She had kept it around because she simply liked it. I
commonly used it as a resting post between cleaning tasks. Oma surprised me in my texting haze by turning the corner to find me perched on the sun-hued stoop. “I just needed a rest,” I said. I always felt like I needed to apologize when I wasn’t living up to her militant work ethic. They were paying me far too much to assist them, so I assume the guilt stemmed from that. “You want that chair? Could you use it?” she said looking at my soft chips-for-dinner college body lounging in it’s comfort. “Really?” I sat up and took a better look at it. “I would love that. Our apartment doesn’t really have a theme, so it would totally work.” She nodded “It’s yours.”
Worrisome by nature and logically decisive, Henrietta loves reading, walks in the orchards when she lived on her farm, small animals, picking oranges, classical Dutch hymns and anything that combines sugar, butter and flour, with which she will dunk into her coffee. John Van Tol passed in the summer of 2015. To say it was his time always sounds crass, but without being able to live up to his former physical self his mind failed to cope, and it actually seemed like the peace of death was something he was awaiting.
When we got back to the elderly facility 45 minutes away from my childhood home on Christmas night, I got Oma out of my parent’s large SUV and took her down a series of confusing winding hallways back to the memory care unit where her small room with a twin bed and armoire resided. I suppose the design of the building might be intentional in case one of their patrons went rogue. There seemed to be one male nurse on duty, so I took the liberty of helping her get dressed, brush her teeth and get her into bed. Her short-term memory seems to reset on a 30 second basis (as if an over-eager professor erases the blackboard of concepts and ideas before the student has
a chance to take any notes) but she seems happier without her mind being able to concern herself with the things that had given her slight forehead wrinkles for the last 60 years. She smiled up at me as I put the blankets over her. “You come for coffee and cookies tomorrow?” I smiled back. I had just told her I was going back to Los Angeles the next day and would come visit in February. “Soon, very soon.” Keeping it together as I tried to find my way out of the facility, the cigarette-scented SUV provided a place for me to break down. The overwhelming thought of her impending death covered me in a way that I hadn’t allowed before.
The yellow velvet chair will likely outlive Henrietta. I will likely outlive Henrietta. Together we weave a small thread of her legacy into the pattern of the world, both a bit askew, both louder than we sometimes would prefer, both speaking back to her own complexities and intricacies that make her unlike anyone else.
Fruitmilk by megan laber photography by robbie corral
BFFs Kelynn Smith and Pauline Shaw curate a hybrid creative studio, gallery and event space to allow fellow artists to have a place for their voice and vision.
Just a s ra re a s falli ng in love five minu with som tes of kn eone in owing th friendsh the first em, findin ip with s g immed o m e o iate fema ne in Los sidered le tr ying. F Angeles irst, if th could be two mile ey live an c onradius , p y w here outs repare yo affair tha ide your urself fo t will like r a long-d ly yield a tion of “I istance b a ck and fo ’m soooo rth text c oo busy, Next we onversabut let’s ek? ”, wit get toge h a small ther soo pening. chanc e n?! S ec ond of that a , it takes ctually h cosmic a blue m apoccurre o o n n o c e r some oth to find yo a s some er urself in one who the sam is genuin Our cliq e room ely look in ue cultu g fo re r ru n ew frien ns deep portatio ds . , as dicta n system ted by o and layo m o m e nt ur transut of the occa sio cit y. Yet n a lly a magic occurs th with som al e o n e wo at brings rthy of h you toge of their e elping th ther nemies . em bury (Definite the bodie ly k iddin s g. We are pacifists .)
Once you’ve found a nearby, non-soul-sucking lady that you vibe with on all regards, let the courting of drink invites, gif sending and story swapping (regarding the complicated relationship with your mother and it’s relevancy to your current mental status), begin. Two people that the stars thankfully aligned for are the women behind Fruitmilk, with their immediate bond forming over their deep love for hard chilling. “When I met Pauline she was wearing a long pink dress with a denim jacket. It was very off from the tailored look I know her by now. We got to talking and we we’re both like, “You stay home and don’t want to go out all the time, too?” We both just love to chill. That night our friends wanted to go to a party after dinner, and this might just be how my memory wants it to be, but we both got in the car to drive together and we were
kelynn and pauline in echo park
like, “Let’s just not go.” On that drive we talked about our interests, and realized we’re both into doing the same things. Our friendship was really built through starting Fruitmilk right after that.” Friend crush formed, their mutual affinities for doing something different with their energy led the two to start the joint venture. Kelynn’s background in fast fashion was killing her softly. Pauline was working solo with her fine art. The dream of doing something with someone else within an open, unstuffy format where friends could do their art and showcase it felt right. “I think looking back, we were both interested in the idea of presentation, as opposed to retail or a typical art show. We wanted to make people confront and question what they saw.” As curators of objects, the two found that their love for certain pieces stemmed from that concept. They gravitate to things that make you reevaluate how you use it or find it’s various purposes. “We wanted something transformable, or something you could use in multiple ways. I think it’s about it being
exaggerated, or making you questions its uses. A lot of the items we show are denying their functionality, versus the clothing where we are drawn into hyper functionality. We are drawn to pieces that speak to how they’re made and what they’re supposed to be doing. We want it to be very clear that you can use it multiple ways.” Kelynn and Pauline embody the work wife relationship dreams are made of. Best friends, partners-in-crime, and co-creators, they’ve taught each other so much about the other’s craft. In a world where females are constantly shown competing, whethe in a D-List bridesmaid movie where sisters pine for the same Ryan Reynolds look-alike, or a reality television show in a magazine office setting where the interns go at it (close to knocking each other out with quilted Chanel bags), the reality of relational female partnership in the workplace not often documented. “Women can be up against each other in a catty way because we’re striving toward this unattainable thing that seemingly only some of us can have, as
constructed through history, but meeting women like you guys, who just go for it and work together to create something, is inspiring to us.” The relationship of working with a friend takes nourishment and thoughtfulness, much like living with a roommate who isn’t a Craigslist rando, or making a serious romantic relationship last. Seeing each other all the time and sharing your daily occurrences can feel like a means to closeness, though the vulnerability that that much face time allows can cause a lack of tact or a comfortable, settled in feeling that builds up resentment. An openness has to be put on the table where each party needs to be able to express themselves in a safe space. “At first it was trying, because we were really just getting to know each other. It was a little insane. We were secretly freaking out about what the other was doing or thinking. We got a big account right off the bat, so we really had to just go for it. Slowly we figured out the right balance of working together. Now we have an easy way of collaborating. We definitely got in
fights, but they pushed us to realize what we needed to make the work better.”
“ We are drawn to pieces that speak to how they’re made and what they’re supposed to be doing.” When geography comes into play, Kelynn and Pauline’s location speaks to what made the project’s quick success possible . We’ll try not to reiterate countless Times articles on the subject, but Los Angeles has recently become a magnet for even the bitter cold New Yorker that used to scoff at the idea. Why? Rent prices being (sort-of-kind-of) lower than other areas has a say. Not having to know that tightening pain that envelops your bare face due to freezing temperatures during the winter season also doesn’t hurt. Yet what
Industries with craftsmanship and design bents are using each other through their respective mediums to evolve the art sphere. “I think what we’ve always loved, besides the landscape, is that in terms of people, the way it works is there is no hierarchy. If you want to start your own thing here, you can totally do it. The fact that I had been here for a year when we started this is insane. I came, met Pauline and no one questions what we did before. I feel like in other cities, it’s very different. There are also so many more transplants in LA. Everyone is coming from different places. It’s this time period. It allows you to move between so many different areas. Just because you’re from a different background doesn’t mean that your point of view isn’t taken seriously.” In motion and finally becoming known for taking on enterprises worth giving up time spent day drinking on our beloved patios, Los Angeles can now be a catalyst burgeoning a new frontier for creation. Yet that said, an issue in the space that is still existing is the unrelenting sexism that doesn’t allow for women, especially those from a diverse background, to garner the same success, despite merit and authentic perspective. “I realize in the art world, I’ve always struggled with it being white and male-dominated. I remember so clearly people telling me when I was younger that if I didn’t make it as an artist for my talent that I was pretty enough to date someone in the scene, and get famous that way. Not just from men, but from other women. There are women curators who treat women artists differently. The stereotypes that you read about are there in an underlying way. It’s a feeling of authority, and as a woman you have to shift the authoritative tone so that way people will take it.”
Making objects and physical forms for everyday use has historically been women-centric. From circles of women in ancient native tribes weaving intricate, beautiful baskets strong enough to carry water for miles, to modern ceramic studios being filled with mostly female patrons, the process of making functional goods with aesthetics and character seems to be something that many of us are geared towards. As we allow for the strong distinction between art and craft to possibly crumble, letting us view pieces with functionality at a higher level than the belittling tone they’ve been witness to in the past, could create the possibility of seeing woman-made work, past or present, on an entirely different plane. “Object-oriented work has really shown how women gravitate toward things with stories, and the history of it creates even more meaning for them.” If Los Angeles is a place where openness is allowing growth, it would be wise to consider it’s large craft-making community as an equal, as opposed to lesser than. Fruitmilk is a multidisciplinary concept studio founded by Kelynn Smith and Pauline Shaw. For creative services or to view their latest projects visit fruitmilk.net and follow them @fruitmilk.
“ Object-oriented work has really shown how women gravitate toward we’ve found that most people living here are finding, especially in those looking to just create and work on things with stories, shit they like, is an openness to other people on that same mind track. Where the warm and stoner-level and the history of it friendliness LA has been known for for decades has creates even more called us out as laid-back guppies with no ability to hustle, an air of receptiveness with a drive to financially meaning for them.” sustain from our passion projects is becoming a norm.
Kiran Gandhi photography by ian flanigan
king London in th e e fr d n ding a arvard The free blee r, M.I.A. drummer, and H ne tle. Marathon run rtance of a ti o p im e th s re graduate sha
Kiran Gandhi comes straight from the recording studio where she is spending a couple days in Los Angeles working on her music. Object Journal: So, are you making an album? Is that what’s going on here? Kiran Gandhi: Ya! It’s so interesting because of my business world background it’s difficult to do this for myself. It’s me, and I am disorganized as opposed to having a direct strategy. Now I’m trying to allow it to have its own life. I want each release for the songs to be intentional. OJ: I don’t think there is anything wrong with a good marketing strategy in music if it’s just resonating the original intention of what you’re releasing. KG: Ya, like I have one song that goes “the future is female,” and it’s all revolving around the concept with Rachel… OJ: Rachel Berks? She’s also going to talk with us! We chat about how our original conversation with Berks (Otherwild Store Owner) and the fact that we
didn’t feel uncomfortable having a long-form conversation about the politics in feminism with her, as if there was a time limit to the topic in other settings. We also start making these weird positive ‘ugh’ noises that kind of encapsulate what you take away from a conversation with Berks. Kiran stops to send a voice memo to Rachel about our mutual love for her. OJ: So, why did you pick your object? KG: A woman from Portugal emailed me about her streetwear line called Landisch. She sent a photo of this sick sweatshirt that said ‘Madame’ on it, and the name I go by in my music is Madame Gandhi. There are different representations to the word Madame that I vibe with. The first is a reference to Sonia Gandhi and Indira Gandhi because when they were prime ministers of India they were called Madame Gandhi, in the same way that if Hillary becomes president she will be called Madame President. The idea is that female leadership is something we haven’t seen enough of. People think it’s this female militia over men or a femme fatale thing, but that’s women taking on masculine stereotypes. We do that in our head because we don’t have a precedent because female leadership doesn’t happen as often as it
“ We want both men and women to be themselves, where they can be feminine and masculine at times.” should. There are more CEOs named John than there are female CEOs, period. That is proof in the pudding that we don’t know what women can do when they are given the space to be authentically themselves. What happens when they aren’t given the advice to be hard, be masculine, be strong and wear a suit? We want both men and women to be themselves, where they can be feminine and masculine at times. In society we have subordinated female qualities as lesser than and we have all taken on more masculine qualities to make up for that. The notion of Madame reclaims the idea that a woman does her own thing, getting to work and making the world a better place. The second is more personal as I lived in India for three years and they address some of the senior women in the house as Madame. When I was 8, I was very opinionated and people would make fun and ask what the Madame wants. It’s still a novelty for women to be boisterous about what they want, but I felt like I was just being myself. Sometimes it also unfortunately looks like a pimp reference… OJ: But you’re bringing it back to that original place of respect. KG: Exactly. OJ: It’s funny because I find that when I am working and need something done and am not getting what I need, especially when working with men, I get more aggressive. Like my natural response to not getting what I want has to be this cold “give it to me now” mentality, when in actuality all I want is to explain why I need something in a long form, and try to be concerned for the other person. KG: You want to be collaborative. You want to do this together. If we let female leadership thrive we would
see a more collaborative world. We need male qualities so much, and we have obviously done so well with their leadership, but there are a lot of shortcomings that make me wonder what would happen if women were given the space to act freely. OJ: I think a lot of the aspects of leadership that we’re missing are the relational ones. Men take on this “get the task done” mentality. KG: At any expense! OJ: Do I think women would see it in the same way? I really don’t, because I think that women take that into perspective and care about others in a way that is innate in our beings. I think women are better at that relational level with people that allows them to see others as a full human being as opposed to a means to an end. KG: My friend Kim Thompson, who drums for Beyoncé, said if we gave women power, whatever that looks like, she predicts that we would take the power and give it back to the community that we’re leading. We would see it as a responsibility to the people that are looking at them. And again, this conversation is difficult because we’re generalizing. There are obviously men who do that so well and women who will fall short. OJ: Can we talk about moments in your life that led you to a place where women’s issues became a passion in your work? Like, when did it start to become a part of the ethos in what you’re making? KG: I can speak to three. When I was four years old my best friends, John and Nicolas, were all going to a Halloween party on the roof of our apartment building, and we all agreed to be Power Rangers. We went to the They looked so mad! They were like “The red Ranger?!
kiran at kayten schmidtâ€™s home in silver lake
roof and I got out of the elevator and they were so mad. He’s a guy. You’re a girl. You were supposed to be the pink Ranger!” The red guy is the boss, beautiful, gets all the girls and runs the show. It showed me it causes problems when you do what feels right to you, because gender roles are so deeply ingrained. When I got to college I noticed sexism pretty immediately. Like, all of us are getting ready to go to a party and we were waiting outside, and this guy goes “You can go, you can go, Kiran can go, but that girl doesn’t get to go because she’s not hot enough.” Then I was like “Why are we even going to this party?” It was for the free beer. Like, wait a second. These boys are in the same economic status as us. We are all 18. Why are we trying to get free beer when we could host these parties and the guys could come to us? It felt so lame. I ventured into Women’s Studies after that. The books and teachers gave me the vernacular to express the difficult subtleties I was seeing. The most recent one was with the London Marathon. In the act, I would have never imagined it would turn into the big thing that it was. It was so crazy. It really wasn’t a big deal to me. It was like a 2.0 version of the Power Ranger story for me. I mean, what are these people tripping about?
OJ: You trained for a full marathon. 26 fucking miles. KG: Right, I don’t want to run with that stuff. No dude would run with cotton between his balls. That’s horrible. It would be a nightmare. Let’s actually talk about the logistical stuff. There are no rest stops on the way. There is a porta-potty every ten miles. It’s not comfortable. You don’t want to stop when you’re running like that. I was doing it because it was comfortable, but I guess I also liked the idea that it would be pretty punk rock. Bleeding from anywhere for 26 miles is dope as fuck. That’s where my mind was. It’s so awesome that it became this thing because people are talking about it and saying this is an issue that we are so uncomfortable with, yet it’s a normal bodily function. OJ: Who are some momentous women in your life that changed the game for you? KG: My mom is one. When we would be at a restaurant as kids, if the waiter would bring the bill to my father my mother would flip a shit and be like, “It’s the 21st century and I’m paying for this meal, and I make more than my husband.” This was mostly an internal dialogue because she didn’t want to be rude, but she was the one paying the mortgage and wondering why the checks were going to him. My first job out of college was at Interscope Records, and I had an amazing boss. She ran the digital marketing department. She was so young, but everyone at the label, from Dre to 50 Cent and all the heavy hitters, would be listening to this young white woman because she was so on top of it all. She was always up to bat for me. Most people at the label get coffee for 5 years before they do anything interesting, and she really picked me up and taught me a lot. M.I.A. is another one. Maya was amazing. She would throw drumsticks at me to get my stuff sharper. To this day my ear is better trained from the tour I did with her. She would treat me with a lot of respect. She would converse with me on an intellectual level, and we would talk about my business school’s poisonous effect on the world and debate it. We had a lot of deeper conversations about that and she really pushed me to think deeper on those issues. Kiran Gandhi is working on her album under the moniker Madame Gandhi. Check out her new website MadameGandhi.com for more.
ild We Visit: Otherw by megan laber
The Otherwild store owner and woman behind the comeback of “The Future Is Female” mantra, Rachel Berks, shares about curating goods, having a supportive community when starting your own business, and what makes something so special you want to protect it from the friends you sublet your apartment to.
A great litmus test to tell if a guide to LA is any good is if Otherwild, a retail space carrying a gamut of independent designers, is included. Recently moving from the Echo Park hills to a retail block in Los Feliz, the space is much more than a shopping experience for our population of palm tree dwellers. In collaboration with makers, teachers, artists, and The Women’s Center For Creative Work, founder Rachel Berks has hosted a wide range of community events that allow for people, especially women, to connect, learn and expand their personal circles. Her intention for the space, (and the idea as a whole), has always gone beyond the brick and mortar model. Thanks to her move she only sees that part of her creative studio expanding. “I’ve never really been interested in Otherwild only existing in the sense of a retail space. I’ve always hosted music, comedy shows, indigo dyeing, tarot card readings and weaving workshops. It’s always been an interference with the Echo Park space because I could either only host it at night or host it during shop hours, which made it kind uncomfortable for people just wanting to shop. The second floor of the new space will be devoted to the events, which I am really excited about.” Where you may know Berks from is the Instagram-viral movement of tees and sweatshirts that read “The Future Is Female.” Created for Labyris Books, the first women’s bookstore in New York City, photographer Liza Cowan captured her girlfriend, musician Alix Dobkin, wearing it in 1975. In collaboration with Cowan, Berks set out to revive the design, all while giving 25% of the proceeds to Planned Parenthood. Soon after it’s creation, artists, musicians and other influencers across social media began repping the empowering statement (including Object Journal woman Kiran Gandhi, found on page 40.) The thing about Rachel’s store that stands out to me is that I consider it the first of many shops in LA that do different renditions of what she’s created. It was one of the first independent boutiques pushing burgeoning artists goods, an ethos that Otherwild holds at its core. It’s not that other shops are copying their idea, (well, maybe some on occasion). It’s more that it’s obvious in the way she curates her store. The original ideas that are clearly present in what she creates and how she runs her business model have spawned an entire aesthetic that’s tied so deeply to East Los Angeles.
“We initially just wanted to open a space that would feature work made by friends. My original business partner and I were both graphic designers and in our community there were people doing a variety of things that went beyond their art, some of it expanding into commercial territory. For example, Anna Sew Hoy, a prominent Los Angeles sculptor, has a home line of ceramics and housewares that I’ve carried since I opened. She is a really good example of what I wanted Otherwild to gear towards in the beginning, and stands as a precedent for what I do as I continue.” As object curators, Chloe and I both find it really interesting to peek into the mind of someone who takes a lot of puzzle pieces and somehow pulls them into something cohesive with one encompassing vision. By being able to connect so many artists' works and have them all under one roof, Berk's ability to speak to the meaning or connection of things is heightened. I asked her about what makes something uniquely special, in terms of the objects she uses in her daily life. “When I think some of my favorite objects, I don’t really know the person who made them. In my shop I do, even if it’s over email or Instagram. They are my friends. That brings their own specialness. When I think of objects in my everyday life, I think a good example is this set of Japanese glasses that I only use to drink wine out of. They’re green and really different from other things I’ve seen. My girlfriend broke one once, and it definitely caused one of the larger fights we’ve had. I don’t know anything about them, but I guess it’s the fact that we bought them together when we first moved here. She’s the first person I’ve ever lived with. Before we left LA the first time, (because now we live on both coasts throughout the year), I was telling my girlfriend we should hide them because of all the friends we were going to let stay in our place while we were away. She was like, "I think they’re fine." I think it's the first time I’ve been so protective of an object.” For those that don’t know, Los Feliz lives as the middle child between Hollywood and Silver Lake. Very much a product of both, there is an odd clash of “hip” businesses that cater to creatives, combined with a crowd that lives for improv shows and acting classes. The dissonance of the two is easily spotted once someone has spent enough time in the city to be
able to decipher between the very different circles, most easily referenced between a wide brim fedora and a newsboy cap. “We started in Hollywood. You had to go down this alleyway to get in, so you definitely had to know about us to find us. It was so small, maybe less than 300 square feet. After eight months we saw it was really working, and moved to Echo Park. We wanted to be more visible, in a neighborhood that made more sense. We did everything on consignment as we were on a limited budget. I will say I love Echo Park. The idea of moving to Los Feliz was really difficult for me. I was connected through a friend who had just opened a spot on Vermont at the same time I was considering the New York space. I definitely debated if Otherwild loses its special weirdness by leaving Echo Park, but what I’ve discovered is that the shop and what I produce bring that factor to the store. I am also opening the New York space in a basement store on the Lower East Side, so I think I am still keeping it weird.” The NYC space Rachel is referring to is a test popup shop for Otherwild that will be opening sometime in 2016. Living in New York as a dancer for many years, I wanted to get her opinion about the communities in the different cities and what made LA her next move. As for most, the option of switching coasts often lies between love, work or both. “My partner is an artist and a professor, and when I say partner I mean my life partner, not my former business partner. She is extremely connected to people here and really social. When we moved from New York for her job, I felt embraced by the community that was mostly in the arts, and mostly queer. I was counting on that community to support my project when I first started, and they did! They came to the events, and they made things for the store. It’s been really amazing.” With a new storefront, a New York location on the way and an expanding online business with “The Future Is Female,” Berks remains a fixture in the feminist community of the city as well as a resource for those looking to venture into craft and connectivity in the community. Follow Rachel’s ventures @otherwild.
a collaboration by chelsea jones and eva sealove of look at this pussy, gabbie bautista, and paley fairman
f lowing beneath the surface
and so it is
it never felt this much like the void before
your blood is also my blood
youâ€™ll never be able to lie, if
itâ€™s not sacred, i just like it
like i normally do but harder
based on writings by chelsea and eva photography by paley
Heather Culp The fashion and interior design photographer, drawn to natural light, supernatural energies, and handmade objects, dispels our throwaway culture and utilizes positive forward movement on a community level to change society at large.
by megan laber photography by robbie corral
“It’s more fun and beautiful to support people you know, and it’s a small scale way of affecting those around you.”
About an hour away from the East Side of LA, you’ll find a winding road that leads you through Topanga Canyon, transporting you to someplace unrecognizable when compared to the flat valley of freeways a mile or so off. At night, the lights of your vehicle guide your path, illuminating hillside reeds and rocks as you wind further and further up the hill. Small cabins, wooden domes, and mini-mansions make their appearance. Finally, on the edge of a cliff with a view of the ocean lies a small rectangular studio with a hammock in the front yard. It is here that Heather Culp, photographer and Mercado Sagrado co-founder, lives and works. As mystical and haunting as the area is, due to its landscape and references, I believe the people that reside here are what truly make the canyon a world of its own. The community's energies and inclinations towards things most people don’t understand are what keeps
this place on the ethereal trip it’s been on since the ‘60s. It’s hard not to become entranced by the polarizing lifestyle that is slow, steady and so off-beat from how we live in LA proper. Once you spend a couple of hours with one of its residents, you find yourself asking about rent prices and considering what life would look like if you decided to make macrame and sell it at the farmer’s market every weekend. From her digs in Brooklyn, Culp ventured to the opposite side of the U.S. and moved to the canyon a couple of years ago. Always more attracted to a natural environment, the bold move was more like coming to a place of belonging than the typical story of an overworked New Yorker with an idealistic plan for escape. Once planted, Culp integrated into the close-knit local community. She realized many of her neighboring artisans were makers that needed a space to show
heatherâ€™s home in topanga canyon
help others, that make this a better place, and in turn make them cool?” How someone steps out of the path of least resistance and into “the light” is usually a culmination of happenings and realizations that finally give one the wherewithal to stop using aerosol hairspray. Culp says her family’s cabin in Michigan where they would spend summers had a large play into her aesthetic as an artist, as well as a conscious consumer. “I didn’t grow up in an artistic family, and my parents don’t have appreciation for those things like I do. We have a cabin that is from the ‘30s, and it came fully stocked from that era. It had the Fiestaware, handmade tea towels and everything was tied to that period. Like a time capsule. I think so much of my aesthetic came from that. It’s in the forest, yet on the lake. I still go through all the cupboards when I visit, as if I’m checking on things and making sure it hasn’t changed. There is so much beauty in the quality of it. I noticed the difference between that place and the way we kept our home. I think that started a precedent for handmade objects in my life.” Besides her upbringing playing a part, something I wanted to delve into was how a visual artist like Heather sees an object. Or how the objects she surrounds herself with affect her work. Every little thing in Heather’s studio seems to have a place; pebbles lined on a window sill, books stacked by size, different keepsakes taking up a corner and telling their story, even though they aren’t perfectly related. Working with Jim Shaw, (the New York-based painter and sculptor), at the beginning of her career, Heather saw how an artist's belongings can make for an input of inspiration. These objects may find themselves distorted and played with in a finished work later on. “One summer we all organized his studio. It’s a huge space on the East Side and it was like going into the recesses of Jim’s brain. There were dream diaries, toys from the ‘30s and ‘40s, and he didn't want to get rid of anything. It was fun to see all this stuff that really funnels into his work. He has an amazing book collection and pamphlets on cults.” This direct tie to the things we have, even those stored away slightly out of sight, asks the question of
and make their craft lucrative. Carly Jo Morgan, a jewelry and furniture designer, (also residing in Topanga), became Culp's partner for a collective event they titled Mercado Sagrado. Bringing together aesthetically aligned designers, musicians, food specialists and artists, their purpose was to create a weekend-long space where people could shop local, hear talks revolving around innovative thinking and enjoy a sense of togetherness that Los Angeles, in general, has an issue embracing. Their first round was a complete success, with attendees clearly looking forward to their next go-around. The ethos of supporting people face to face, knowing the origin, the story of a piece, was something that resonated. “Having friends that make their own stuff, and then seeing the impact on our culture and society and what you’re giving money to has been a big shift for me over the last ten years. I’ve realized you can control what you give your money to. It becomes a conscious choice. It's more fun and beautiful to support people you know, and it’s a small scale way of affecting those around you.” From the clothing that she buys, to the food that lines the ledges of her wood-walled kitchen, to the utilitarian items she keeps in her home, Culp believes buying with intention is the most positive response we can have to the large-scale problems that come with the plague of consumerism. When faced with the massive changes needed to make a dent in the issue, a feeling of overwhelm may cause someone to freeze up, stop reading the news, and put their hands in the air. Yet, Culp expresses with a calm simplicity, that the next step after acceptance is small action. “I think I'm someone who compulsively needs to act. If something is wrong, I need to go forward and change what’s happening. Let’s not get overwhelmed and freak out. Look at what you can do in your community. I think the best approach is being an example and trying to demystify certain things. People think their financial state affects their ability, but there is always a way to make a better choice. It’s subjective, but there are clearly some better options to what we’re all doing now. We live in a world that's about public relations and how something is presented. What if we elevated things that were good for the planet, that
“ Even when you get something utilitarian you want to feel some joy from it.”
how powerful the objects we retain are to the creative process. Are those ugly ass sandals from high school hidden under my bed the source of my lack of inspiration? Unlikely, but I don’t think keeping an item with no use or value is doing the psyche any good. Knowing what is propelling us forward or limiting us from our full potential, is usually saved for an article about Marie Kondo. But there are questions we can ask ourselves that might make it easier to keep or part with certain things that have an impact on our lives. “I definitely know when there is something to an object that makes me drawn to it. I’m very fetishistic about objects, going to flea markets, collecting things. It’s often things that are hand crafted or have a sense of history to them. Ritual objects. I treat everything that I keep that way.” I’ve noticed that visual artists and their spaces have a much different relationship than those of us inclined to other creative forms. There is this cohesion, even if it’s chaotic or overgrown with things, that shows the way their brain is able to connect pieces together like a puzzle. Even books stacked on every flat surface have the ability to feel at home in their place. “Visual people think more intuitively about the history, who made it and where it came from. It’s easier to be opposed to things made in China. Was it made in a sweatshop? You’re looking for beauty in everything. Even when you get something utilitarian you want to
feel some joy from it. I think artists have different levels of sophistication with that. I’ve known amazing artists that don’t care about the space and keep piles of things. Then there are those that need an aesthetic. Everything you look at is feeding into your practice. You have to keep things around that inspire you. If I’m not in that environment it’s kind of oppressive. It doesn’t mean it has to be fancy. It means it needs to be inspiring.” The fascination I had with Heather and why I wanted to speak with her is because the space she dwells in said so much about her life, even before we had our first conversation. The way her objects are presented and connect to her story, interests, inspiration, and ethos, make it clear that what we surround ourselves with, and what we invest in, changes so much about our life and work. It’s conscious consumption, along with a conscientious keeping of things that seems to affect us much more than we know. I’d call it a good enough argument for you to clean out your closet after reading this. Heather Culp is a photographer and co-founder of Mercado Segrado. To see more of her work visit heatherculp.com.
Bijou Karman The fashion-oriented illustrator sifts through items that speak back to her person by way of pen, paper and endearing quips.
three two lanruoj tcejbo
1. I got this T-shirt from one of my oldest friends. It belonged to one of her boyfriend’s best friends, who I always kind of had a crush on. I guess he left it at her house. I can’t remember if I stole it or if she gave it to me. But I remember thinking “I need that shirt.” I have no idea what the image on it is from or about, but I like that. It’s worn in so soft and perfect, with holes and sweat stains all over, and I feel cool when I wear it. 2. Ghost World is my favorite comic/graphic novel. It was my gateway into the world of comic books, which I now love, and to Daniel Cloves, one of my favorite artists. This copy is special to me because it was my first comic book, and because I got to get it signed by him. 3. My mother gave me this necklace with a tiny key charm. She has given me many gifts in my life but I love this one especially, and never take it off. The key doesn’t have any meaning to me, other than it makes me think of her. People always ask me “What’s the key to?” as a joke. I hate that question. 4. I bought this Clare V. bag as a present to myself. It’s made of really good leather, so I feel nice wearing it every day. One night I drunkenly spilt beer all over one side of it, which left a giant stain. I’ve come to accept it as something that makes it “me” since all of my clothes end up with stains. 075 5. My best friend made this necklace for me from a severed Barbie hand. It describes her perfectly and I love it.
She’s been referenced as ethereal, statuesque and otherworldly, yet her kind nature and openness to collaborate with young artists in the wake of their careers is what sets her permanently apart from the rest. When we first met Sainte-Marie, she was one of the only stylists in the city changing its fashion reputation from glamorous and glossy billboard ads, to quietly experimental editorial work. This style has taken LA by storm over the last three years, creating a new scene in and of itself. Tied to many LA-based labels, Sainte-Marie is also known for pushing designers that matter to the forefront. When she notices a designer creating something great, she promotes it, gets it in print, and helps pave the road to their success. Much like the others referenced in this journal, a sense for collaboration is the main priority.
The current temperature of LA-based style wouldn’t be the same without her. Stylist Sissy Sainte-Marie talks about burgeoning sexuality, Madonna’s “Sex” and her mother.
photography by albert kodagolian
“ I think it was that moment that my perspective shifted in terms of monogamy, sexuality, openness, and body image.”
Object Journal: Can you describe the object you chose? Sissy Sainte-Marie: I chose “Sex”, a book put out in 1992 by Madonna and Steven Meisel. I got it when I was 18. There is kind of a two-part story to who gave it to me. My mom and I were taking a photo class together and I wanted the book. I was slightly more into the fact that it was a Meisel book as opposed to a Madonna book. I think I told myself that because I didn’t want my mom to think I wanted it because it was about sex. It also felt cooler to tell my friends I wanted it because of a photographer as opposed to a pop star. My mom went to the nearest big town to get it for me, which looking back was really loving and supportive. Sex had always been seen as shameful and never really talked about. I think because I had just turned 18 and was now an adult she appreciated my budding interest in art, if not my budding sexuality. I took the book to the photography class my mom and I were taking at our small local community college. Michael, our teacher, also taught at CalArts during the week and would stop in because it was on her way to a mountain retreat that her and her husband shared, which also housed their polyamorous relationship. She was somewhat unimpressed by the book and said to beware of the white male corporate aesthetic. She started reading some of the quotes from the book and I tried to shush her because my mom was sitting right there. She was kind of shocked and asked me if we talked about that stuff. When I said that I
didn’t she reassured me it was ok. Today I would call that sex positive. It was the first time I heard someone reference it as something outside of deviant or mischievous. I think it was that moment that my perspective shifted in terms of monogamy, sexuality, openness and body image. OJ: Why did you and your mom take that class together? SSM: I think it was like a summer school course. The art history professor had come to my high school before I graduated and it blew my mind the way he was talking about it. After that I decided I wanted to study art. My mom was going back to school to get a degree, which is something she hadn’t gotten before because she had me. OJ: Why do you think she was so quiet about sex? Were you guys religious? SSM: We weren’t religious but definitely super conservative. She was from the hippie counterculture generation, but she grew up in a small town with a ‘50s value system, so I think you had to pick sides of one extreme. OJ: Coming from a small town with little creative outlets available, how did art come to interest you? Why did you choose a creative career?
sissy in her home in los feliz
SSM: I think it was something I was naturally drawn to. I have this little book I’ve had since I was four or five, and it takes you through what you want to be as a kid each year, giving you a space to fill in that information. I wanted to be an artist and a housewife. Also, my grandma was really the only person that exposed me to the creative side of making things as she sewed our dresses out of these old ‘30s and ‘40s dresses she had kept around. We loved playing dress up like that. OJ: How would you describe your relationship with your mother?
OJ: And what about the relationship with that teacher? How did she affect you? SSM: I think she really just made me feel like it was ok to talk to my mom about that stuff, and she made it more clear that it was important that my mom talked to me about it. Sex positivity and making it more normal. I was also taking a lot of self-portraits at the time and she was warning me, well not warning me, but making me question why I wanted to be sexy. The term objectification was new to me. As a young girl at that time, it felt like something you do on autopilot. OJ: Did you experiment a lot with your look growing up? SSM: I didn’t in my youth as much, but I dyed my hair red a bit later. I saw my friend had bleached her hair and I tried to make mine a strawberry blonde. It came out bright red, which actually looked really cool, and people definitely treated me differently. I got a different kind of attention.
OJ: If you had to describe your mother to a stranger, how would you? SSM: She’s like the salt of the earth. A simple, good person. She’s loyal. She believes in goodness. She’s really hard on herself. OJ: Do you see a lot of yourself in her? SSM: Kind of. She was married three times. She had her heart broken for the last time, and now she has this amazing group of female friends. They have so much fun together. They go to wine tastings. They’re in a book club. She works on getting funding for battered women that need assistance. She’s working in these really positive areas for women, and she wasn’t always like that. Before, she was a really hard worker just dedicated to her employer and husband. I’m kind of like that. I don’t really have a lot of women socially that I spend time with outside of work. I don’t have those types of interactions. She’s become this independent woman, and anything she does to make herself happy makes me proud. Sissy Sainte-Marie is a wardrobe stylist. To view her full line of work go to sissysaintemarie.com or follow her @sissysaintemarie.
OJ: What value do you find in the objects you have? SSM: For me it’s how it makes me feel and that’s the most important thing. I like things that are functional, airy and light, almost invisible. I like to keep it really
SSM: Me and my mom were best friends. Her and my stepdad had a house in the country and we had to drive really far to get into town. A lot of my memories are of us driving in the car, listening to music together. I think that was around ‘92. We just had a really great time. Today we text mostly. We don’t see each other a lot. It's the worst drive to Bakersfield. It’s like torture. I really don’t like driving there, and they feel the same. We were both really grateful when texting became a thing.
organized because before everything was a bit more chaotic. I value order now. We transitioned our house in the last couple of years. It used to be painted very dark, and had heavy velvet tapestries. We cleaned it out, painted everything white and got white furniture. We have a lot of glass now, too. It feels so much more peaceful. It saves time. It allows more light to come in. My husband read this saying about how ridding the clutter makes way for your destiny. Having a cluttered house allows your destiny to just bounce around in there. We’ve definitely felt the difference. When we did this, things started going really well for us. We also set up the living room where everything can just slide to one end, put up a seamless and have a studio. It streamlined our creative process.
We Are Your Friends by rebexxa veith
CHARAC TE RS: Jessie Lisa Compute r Mom Lola aka lolacitam amacita Tonie aka tonie_wo nie
SETTING: The year is 2006 in a ranch style home located in California’s Silicon Valley. Not the rich part, but the middle part, right below the famous part. This is the bedroom of a 16 year old girl that is both messy and aspirational. The walls are covered in a meticulous grid of Vogue editorials and pictures of the Olsen Twins. Her furniture is surrounded with piles of clothes covering the floor. The only visible floor space is located in front of the door, where her full-length mirror hangs. The blinds are shut and the room is dark. No one has entered since the tenant exited at 7:00AM to drive her 20 minute commute to high school. In the near distance a garage door opens. The engine of a used VW Jetta is muffled by the tired and stripped sound system blaring Andre Nickatina “Dice for Life” as it pulls into the garage. A key turns, a door opens, steps are heard until we see the door opened by JESSIE, a malnourished 16 year old in a hot pink J. Crew polo shirt and skinny black Cheap Monday jeans. Without turning the lights on she goes to the window. With a swift tug the blinds are open and the room becomes illuminated. We get a closer look at her. Her skin is shiny, the layers of foundation and powder she applied while in traffic on her way to school have sweat off in her AC-less car on the drive home. JESSIE tosses her backpack on the floor, she sits on her bed and opens her laptop. The screen is projected behind her, allowing the audience to share her screen. Her stomach growls as she types myspace.com/TONIEEEEWONIE in the URL. She is now on the homepage of the hottest scene boy in San Jose. His myspace song: Justice’s “We Are Your Friends” begins to play.
JESSIE Ugh, he is so fucking cute (scrolls down to top 8) Wait, LOLA is in his top eight?! Since when?! (Opens new tab. Goes to her own homepage)
COMPUTER Maybe you could be too. But you have to actually talk to him first. JESSIE Um we did. He said ‘hey’ to me at that show in Morgan Hill last weekend. COMPUTER You were standing in a group! He said ‘hey’ to everyone. JESSIE (Defeated) Yah, you’re right. JESSIE continues scrolling through TONIE’s comments left by the who's who of myspace celebs before opening a new tab and going to her homepage. COMPUTER Jessie, you are now on your home page. You have received 10 views since you last checked at lunch. Frankie, DD, and lolacitamamacita have posted new bulletins. JESSIE undresses. She is now wearing a neon soft bra and patterned hipster boy shorts. She walks to her mirror and stands in front of it. She starts dancing around to the music coming from TONIE’s homepage. She turns and looks at herself from behind. Grimacing, she stops dancing and begins pulling at the tiny bits of fat in between her thighs. She separates them, giving herself thigh-gap, then let’s go. The flesh ripples back into place. She repeats and then moves on to her
stomach, turning sideways and sucking in, then out, then in again. She walks over to her bed and bends down, pulling out a box containing a red, green and yellow plastic bong with a hello kitty sticker on the front. She masterfully packs a new bowl. The music on TONIE’s page has stopped. JESSIE goes back to TONIE’s profile and refreshes. Justice’s “We Are Your Friends” replays as she takes a bong rip. Holding the bong smoke in her lungs a second too long, she begins coughing loudly as she goes back to her homepage and quickly reads through the most recent bulletins. She stops on lolacitamamacita’s post titled: “10 ThiNgS YoU WaNteD To kNoW BUt CouLDn’T AsK”. Before JESSIE reads LOLA’s answers she C & V’s the survey and opens up a new tab. She pastes the survey into the bulletin form and begins filling it out. COMPUTER Title: “My 10 Things You Wanted To Know But Couldn’t Ask ;]” JESSIE (Typing and speaking) Stolen from lolacitamamacita, luv u grl. COMPUTER 1. What color underwear/boxers are you wearing now? JESSIE (Deletes LOLA’s answer: “not tellingggg, guess you will have to find out for yourself.” Looks down at her
Macy’s juniors department underwear and grimaces. Types “um, black?” Shakes head and deletes) none ;] COMPUTER 10. Who is your one true love? JESSIE (deletes LOLA’s answer: “‘me, myself, and i’ - Beyonce”) good one Lo. Ummmmm (Types: Toniiiiieeeeeeejakdjf;ljkasf. Deletes. Types: Larry David, he is hawt tho.)
COMPUTER He is like, 50.
COMPUTER Lola is just saying that. She doesn’t “like like” Toni.
JESSIE Try 60.
JESSIE I said next!
JESSIE & COMPUTER (laughs)
JESSIE gets a text message. It is from LISA, her best friend from freshman year: “my mom found our xanga. They are sending me away 2 Arizona. My mom is probs telling ur mom. Dnt b mad”
COMPUTER Okay. Next question. 2. Do you have a crush on someone? JESSIE (Deletes LOLA’s answer: “hmm i guess if i HAVE to answer: Joey, Kevin, Tonie, Mark, Tom, Travis, I like errryone!!!”) i’m skipping this one.
JESSIE Just move on to the next one.
FUCK. fuck fuck fuck fuck. The home phone rings loudly from outside JESSIE’S room. She does not get up to answer it, but instead freezes with bong in hand, waiting for the answering machine.
Whatever, it doesn’t matter. They won’t send me away, we aren’t rich like Lisa’s parents. And if they do, that will be FINE. I would love to get the fuck out of here. Plus there are probs so many hot guys in rehab. COMPUTER Do hot guys have eating disorders? JESSIE Of course they do. Don’t be sexist! The answering machine message plays and JESSIE hears her mom’s voice on the machine.
JESSIE Please let it be about something else, pleaaase. JESSIE’s ringtone, Peaches’ “Fuck the Pain Away”, blasts through the silence.
COMPUTER (Indignantly) 4. Met someone who changed you in the past month? JESSIE (Deletes LOLA’s answer: “yah my gurl Lil_J aka Jessie Wakowski, luv u so so much to infinity and back bitch!”) Aw, that was sweet. COMPUTER You barely know her! JESSIE Jealousy isn’t a good look on you. COMPUTER I’m being honest with you.
Fuck fuck fuck. (silences her phone) She knows.
JESSIE (Refreshes TONIE’s homepage and “We are Your Friends” plays again)...What was the question?
Defeated, JESSIE takes another bong rip. She goes to the window to exhale.
COMPUTER Met someone who changed you in the past month?
COMPUTER 3. Kissed someone & regretted it?
JESSIE I wish...It feels like I have met all of the good people there are to meet. (Shrugs) I guess I’ll just say Lola also.
JESSIE (Deletes LOLA’S answer: “No regrets! not even you joey LOL”) I regret ever trusting that dumb slut Lisa. Like, who doesn’t know how to hide something from their fucking parents. Only a major dumb ass COMPUTER Ahem...kissed someone & regretted it? JESSIE (Hurriedly) Um, my ex-boyfriend Mike from camp. And my only regret was dumping him on AIM. OKAY?! COMPUTER 4. Met someone who changed you in the past month? JESSIE (Texting LISA back) at least u r so thin they got scared.
COMPUTER (Critically) You sure are one-of-a-kind, Lil J. JESSIE (Rolls her eyes). COMPUTER 5. Last time you cried. JESSIE The last time I weighed myself…(Starts to cry) I just don’t want to talk about it. Can’t I have secrets? COMPUTER Jessie, it will be OKAY. Your Mom has probably been worried about you and is using Lisa as an opportunity to bring it up.
MOM Hey honey, it’s Mom. Are you home? (pauses) Jessie, it’s Mom. Pick up! Alright, I guess you aren’t home yet. I will try your cell.
plus there are a TON of hot scene guys in AZ. stay strong girl xx, thanks for telling me. (To COMPUTER) I fucking hate Lisa.
JESSIE Bring what up?! How she is ruining all of my fucking hard work when she forces me to sit and eat dinner? It is all pointless. (Wipes at her eyes, keeping her eye makeup in tact) NEXT QUESTION!
COMPUTER 6. How many times have you done drugs? JESSIE (Deletes LOLA’s answer: “um, never. i just drink..and do molly XD” Types: sm0ke w33d erryday @_@. Takes another bong rip, through full lungs) erryday! (explodes in coughing) COMPUTER 7. How do you think people perceive you? JESSIE (Deletes LOLA’s answer: “i don’t :p”) (earnestly) That I am ugly and suck butt? JESSIE’s phone vibrates. She has a new voicemail, from MOM. JESSIE listens to it MOM Hey honey. Just calling to see if you will be home for dinner. You haven’t been for the last few nights. Call me back. We need to talk. I love you. JESSIE (Emotionally exhausted) Ugh, get off my fucking nuts mom!!! JESSIE goes back to the tab with TONIE’s profile. Justice’s “We Are Your Friends” starts playing. COMPUTER 8. What would you change about yourself? JESSIE Ummmm, body, hair, face, personality. COMPUTER Don’t put that. JESSIE (Deletes LOLA’s answer: “nothing, you wouldn’t put a bumper sticker on a lamborghini now would ya?!” Types: nada, God is my creator and he doesn’t make mistakes.) ha. yah, right.
COMPUTER Final question. 9. Are you misunderstood? JESSIE (Ignoring the question) Ugh stupid Lisa!! (Burying her tear stained face in her hands) No one else has to eat at home. (Composes herself and types: duh, i’m a teeeenager XD wah wah!) JESSIE hits submit and posts her survey. She goes back to TONIE’s page and Justice’s “We Are Your Friends” starts over. She gets up to dance on the empty floor space below her mirror. COMPUTER Oh my god. Tonie replied to your bulletin! JESSIE & COMPUTER (Screaming) AHH!!!! There is a knock at the door. MOM I’m home. Is everything alright? JESSIE (Irritated) YES! I AM CHANGING OKAY? MOM Okay, I am gonna start dinner. Come out when you are done. I want to talk to you about something.
JESSIE (Barely trying to hide her annoyance behind a fake smile) K! JESSIE (Runs back to her bed) Holy fuck! JESSIE opens her messages and there it is. tonie_ wonie: Re: My 10 Things You Wanted To Know But Couldn’t Ask ;]
JESSIE (Eyes go wide. JESSIE is stunned) Oh my god. How did he know? (Types: wut did lola tell u?) TONIE lola? nm, but I guezz that means there is something 2 tell :3 wat r u doing right meow?
JESSIE (Types: @_@ home, u?) TONIE u blaze? JESSIE (Feeling more confident she types: u read the survey ;-]) (To COMPUTER) What am I doing? What did I just do? MOM (Through the door) I have some news. I need to talk to you. Can you come out now please? JESSIE (Staring back at her computer) Okay! JESSIE opens the door to leave and is blocked by MOM standing in the doorway.
JESSIE (To COMPUTER) What do i do?
MOM (Sniffing) Were you smoking weed in here?!
There is a knock at the door.
JESSIE (Rolling her eyes) It is incense, mom! Geez, where would I even get weed?
MOM Are you done changing? JESSIE ALMOST! (Back to her computer) Fuck, what do I say?
MOM (Peering inside the door opening into her room.) Jess, you were smoking weed in here. I am not a fucking idiot. JESSIE (Escalating) No one said that! Stop putting words in my mouth! MOM What are you doing with yourself, Jess? You quit the school play, you never see your friends and you don’t answer my calls..and you are smoking weed in my fucking house! JESSIE First off, I have friends. You just don’t know them. (Goes back to Tonie’s profile, automaticall resarted “We Are Your Friends) Secondly, I got home like two seconds ago! When you called I was driving. YOU were the one that told me not to talk on the phone and drive! And about the…
lh an tir eu voajxtxc ee bjebro
TONIE Why did you skip #2 ;-]
COMPUTER Not the truth.
MOM Turn that shit off. (Pushes past JESSIE and sits on the bed) I really need to talk to you about something. COMPUTER pings. TONIE responded. JESSIE One second mom.
MOM No. Your computer can wait. This is important. JESSIE (Whining) What? MOM Lisa’s mom just called me. JESSIE (Acting surprised) Oh really, that’s weird. MOM She found an online diary, that you and Lisa made... about your bikini body challenge. JESSIE Oh my god! That was so long ago, I don’t even remember. What did it say! MOM (Seriously) Is this why you aren’t at home for dinner?
MOM (Snaps) Don’t say “retarded”! They sit together in silence on JESSIE’s bed for a few moments. MOM I’m sorry honey. Lisa has just gotten so thin and I know you aren’t like scary thin like her, but... JESSIE Sooo can I go meet some people at Santana Row?
JESSIE Um, no I just have plans and no one else has to eat with their family.
MOM AFTER dinner (exits).
MOM So it isn’t so you can go days without eating?!
COMPUTER tonie_wonie sent you a message!
JESSIE MOM! I can barely make it past lunch without food (continuing to play dumb.)
TONIE u drive.
MOM Don’t lie to me. Now is the tme. Just tell the truth. JESSIE (Beginning to cry) It’s just...no one noticed me last year! It was a phase! Obviously starving yourself is so totally retarded..
JESSIE (To COMPUTER) Did she just say I’m not as thin as Lisa? Jessie goes to TONIE’s myspace profile and replays Justice’s “We Are Your Friends” plays. THE END
lh an tir eu voajxtxc ee bjebro
Fred Guerrero photography by adri law
Normal art openings involve wine in small clear plastic cups that you likely refill a few times, an assortment of polished people maneuvering around each other to get a good look at the pieces, and a general sterile feeling that says “everything here is expensive, so don’t touch.” Walk up to Slow Culture’s Chinatown location on an exhibition’s opening night and you’ll find yourself in a long line of the very LA community members the gallery is built around. From young skaters to prominent contemporary artists, their shows attract people that enjoy a human element to art appreciation. Slow Culture balances the importance of inspiring others with running a new kind of platform. Founded in 2013 on the quickly expanding (read: Pop Physique moved in) Figueroa Street of Highland Park, brothers Fred and Max Guerrero and friend Steve Lee, created a burgeoning gallery. The gallery has since moved and expanded to include a workspace for artists in their new Chinatown spot. With the goal to establish the art space as a fixture in the creative culture of East LA, and the intent to grow even further in the coming year, Slow Culture is an artistic force to be reckoned with. Fred Guerrero selected a small framed photograph of his mom as his object. We spoke with Fred about art, his mom, and how her hospitality plays a role in why they do what they do.
Object Journal: Why this object? Fred Guerrero: I guess my mom is the most important female figure to me. She’s Super Mom. She’s a mom to everyone. As soon as people meet her she is taking care of them. I think the photo is kind of funny. OJ: You grew up in LA? FG: Glassell Park, yeah. Glendale, too. My mom is still close and is always around. She’s actually going to start working with us a little. She does accounting and bookkeeping. When we moved to this space we knew we would have to grow, and part of that is building the team. She knows what she’s doing, so that works really well. OJ: What made you pursue creating a gallery space? FG: We fell into the family business of restaurants, and were doing that for awhile. It wasn’t necessarily what we were passionate about. We were more into music and zines. When we had the opportunity to make it happen, we jumped at it. OJ: Because you’re from LA and based here I wanted to ask what you thought about the climate of art here. FG: It’s funny. I went to this really crazy party last night in the Hollywood Hills. They take you in this shuttle all the way up. I don't ever do that anymore, but a friend was producing it. I was talking to a photographer visiting from New York, and we touched on the fact that in LA you can really make it your own. I think that’s for everything; art, music, food. There are so many different scenes and you can do what you want within them. OJ: Yeah, I was in Beverly Hills for the first time in maybe a year getting some background on the food scene from a couple friends in that industry. Though five minutes outside of that you have La Brea, and this more relaxed culture, within that square everyone acts different, dresses differently and the stores are shiny and polished. It’s amazing how segregated we stay to our small areas, but I
guess that allows for people to really thrive in the small spaces and audiences they surround themselves with. FG: I think the way that Uber and Lyft has changed the way we interact with the city is also relevant. Whether people want to drink or don’t want to deal with parking, you are able to navigate the city much easier.
OJ: Would you say that your mom fostered your creative side when you were growing up? FG: Yeah, I mean, both my mom and my dad did. My dad was an artist. My mom did some of that, too. My dad fell into food, and then my mom took up the business side of things. I went to a new age hippie school as a kid. They were always making sure we went all around the city, to the museums, to Olvera Street, to Chinatown. I remember this one time I was complaining about going somewhere, and they told us that experiencing these things are really important. I guess it clicked then. OJ: In terms of the art you guys choose to show, is it a lot about the circle you’re in and the people weaving through, or are you seeking them out more? FG: We are always open, but a lot of the people happen to be in our network of friends. Also, people we’ve always looked up to. Hamburger Eyes (the opening show at their Chinatown location) is a perfect example because it’s been going for 15 years, and I was in high school collecting these zines. Now I am able to feature them in this way, which is really special to us. A lot of it is referrals too; meeting other artists coming through here. I am getting anxious about this year because we are being offered so many amazing works and we have so many, we will have to turn down a bunch of them. This is why we wanted to keep going. We were talking to friends in the same vein, and all of us being present in the scene allows for these artists to show when they might have not gotten to if we weren’t around. OJ: That was kind of my next question. What are galleries in the city before you that kind of set a precedent? FG: Heavyweight in West Hollywood is important. They have a space in Berlin and we are going to collaborate there. New Image as well. She has had her gallery for over 15 years and showed some of the same artists in that vein.
OJ: How do you want to expand this idea you already built?
FG: I think we want it to be a platform where it’s not only in this space, but we could do shows elsewhere. Having a blog, curating murals, having workspaces for artists and musicians. All around giving people we respect an outlet to showcase their work. OJ: How do you think you got in the position to do that? FG: I think its community and how we developed that community. We came out of the food world. Steve had some history working in this realm. All of our friends respecting what we do and helping us got us here. It’s a mutual relationship where we can give back to them now. OJ: Do you think that’s strongly tied to LA, or that nature exists in a lot of other places as well? FG: Hard to say. I think it is like that in other cities, but it’s really strong here right now because of the expansion of the neighborhoods and communities. Online helps too, but having a physical space is necessary. People have been doing this forever. Not just art or the skate culture tied back to us, but DIY punk rock spaces. That happens everywhere. OJ: I’m sure this is a simulation of your tagline in every article about you guys but it’s interesting that skate culture has a stigma of being rooted in deep friendships as well as an acceptance of each other. That isn’t the energy in a normal gallery setting, but it is a part of what you’re doing here. FG: When we first started people were weirded out by the idea of a gallery because that is an exclusive idea to a certain demographic. We always wanted to go against that and for it to be accessible, whether you’re some kid with a skateboard or you’re a millionaire who owns a production company. There is art for everyone here. OJ: I kind of want to end this by circling back and asking you to describe your mom if you had to describe her to a stranger. FG: She is just the most caring person I know, even to the point of being detrimental to herself at times. She puts everyone else’s concerns before her. I get frustrated because I want her to look out for herself more often. I think that rubs off on us a lot. That’s inspired us. Working with the artists is a collaboration and everyone works really hard. I think that caring ethos is there in all of that.
fred guerrero and steve lee in their gallery in chinatown
Slow Culture is a gallery turned culture-based platform located in Chinatown. To find upcoming exhibits and their collaboration work visit slowculture.com.
Los Ang ly b m e s s A : it is V We
The designer and storeowner of Assembly shares his love for LA’s insular nature, his ideas on what makes a collection worth carrying, and his constructive analysis of modern fashion seasons and their usefulness.
A huge supporter and voice for many independent designers, Greg Armas is a bicoastal curator, a fellow artisan, and a big-picture guy. Armas started out as a key player in one of LA’s best vintage boutiques, and went on to open up shop on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in 2009. In 2012, he was a CFDA finalist for the Vogue Fashion Fund, and last year he brought his vision back to the west coast, opening Assembly Los Angeles on Melrose. As someone with a distinct eye for what takes up residence in his shop, we wanted to get his thoughts on what makes a piece unique, as well as the modern ploy of constant fashion rotation. It’s his analytical view of the fashion world, along with his constant devotion to the tried and true artist, that make Armas a source of wisdom and inspiration for those looking to enter the industry. Object Journal: When you first opened shop, what was your main intention? What were you creating that wasn't currently out? Greg Armas: Assembly is always intended as an intelligent conversation between design, culture and application. The chief intention is "experience,” to instill a sense of curiosity and engage the highest part of the brain. It's a bit anti-market in that so many shops now
are looking to strictly sell product, and we are more concerned with context. OJ: How has designing altered your idea about how lasting or meaningful something is to someone? GA: I personally waited a long time until I believed I had something worthwhile to contribute into design. Being trained in vintage, there has always been a concern for what can become "future vintage,” isolating those qualities that give a garment longevity and relevance regardless of the years. We look to edit more than just design, following Bukowski's idea that an "artist says a hard thing in a simple way." OJ: Why was your next store opened in Los Angeles? Can you talk a bit about the design and creative scene here over the past couple of years? GA: I started in LA with Scout (a designer-oriented vintage store on Melrose) years ago, and always wanted to have a presence on both coasts. Starting in New York allowed for such a great following as well as a good response from the press and media. Los Angeles has such different concerns and priorities, and once Assembly was established I was dying to get back to LA and its culture. Obviously there is a huge exodus
types from the East to West Coast right now, and I think our timing reflected that collective movement. LA has such a great lack of accountability, compared to New York, that can allow for a very unique, disjointed city culture with lots of cliques and insular mentalities that can be a good environment for the creative thinker and doer. OJ: What makes an object special to you or gives it meaning? GA: Authenticity. Either through the history or an irreplaceable hand-done technique. Objects that have great intention imbued into them offer more opportunity for personal meaning over time. Inversely, a transient object holds less significance over time and distracts from beauty. OJ: When you are choosing designers to carry, what about their collections makes it a good fit for Assembly? GA: It really can vary from designer to designer. Sometimes we love their humor and irreverence, others for their delicacy and discretion. Behind each of our collections is an artist, really. Most of our designers could just as easily be sculptors, curators and writers. For these designers, their collection is an idea, highly emotive and with larger, meta concerns about human experience and interaction. Itâ€™s not about clothes. OJ: Can you speak to the current fashion landscape and what as a designer pushes you forward to create new collections?
GA: We've reached a saturation point with the amount of overlapping brands all vying for the same audience. Larger shops drive designers to create more seasonal deliveries every year, and the intellectual common denominator is suffering because of it. Many labels are based off their popularity, not the actual garments. Some of this has, of course, always existed, but the more recent infatuation with streetwear has confused the scene more so, I feel. When screenprinted hockey jerseys and hand beaded couture gowns are spoken of in the same realm, it gets challenging. In the past couple years it has been really exciting to see the youngest new garde of American designers rivaling the European collections for creativity and luxury.
OJ: Who are some women in your life that have played a major role for you? GA: I mean, good olâ€™ mom started the whole thing obviously. Both my parents never shied away from supporting my creativity growing up, really. Also, the relationships I have been in with women. There are elements of personal style that inspire me, but it is the spirit itself that moves me most. I have been blessed to know amazing people in my life thus far. Greg Armas is the founder and owner of Assembly New York / Los Angeles, which has two retail locations in each respective city. Shop their curation online at assemblynewyork.com and follow along @assemblynewyork.
A letter from a friend
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